Having witnessed the heartbreaking end to the 2013 season, fans and media outlets alike still mourn and dissect the outcome of the Eagles-Saints playoff tie. The fact of the matter is that said game is in the past, and what lies ahead is an era of success. Fans are back in time to 2000, when Andy Reid took the Eagles well past they were expected to wind up. These Eagles have put Philadelphia football back on the map. As the offseason commences, next year’s goal is clear: Super Bowl or bust.
Offensively, the future appears bright. Quarterback Nick Foles has earned the starting quarterback job, as Chip Kelly himself stated, “The Philadelphia Eagles are a franchise, and Nick Foles is their quarterback.” In his second major season, Foles will likely post solid numbers. It has become increasingly clear that, no matter what the situation, Foles will not turn over the football. Though the Eagles will face tenacious defenses in Seattle, San Francisco, Carolina, and Green Bay, Foles will be able to compensate, likely winning at least two of these contests. A ballpark estimate of Foles’ numbers would appear as 30 touchdown passes, 6 interceptions, and around 4,400 yards passing.
Beyond Foles, running back LeSean McCoy will likely duplicate—or at least come close to—his MVP-caliber 2013 season. McCoy may well be in the MVP running next season, especially if Peyton Manning returns back to Earth. Look for McCoy to post 1,500 yards rushing with 9 touchdowns and about 400 yards receiving. Joining McCoy in the passing game will be at least two of DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Riley Cooper. It’s likely that all three return to the team, unless Cooper earns a massive deal from another suitor. Jackson will face a small drop in production from 2013, mostly due to Jeremy Maclin’s return. Jackson will amass 1,000 yards receiving along with 5 touchdowns. Maclin will also reach 1,000 yards, but will notch 8 TDs, with Cooper accounting for 700 yards and 8 TDs. Rookie tight end Zach Ertz is going to break out in 2014, possibly becoming a Pro Bowl player. Ertz will gain 800 yards and 8 TDs himself, taking receptions away from Brent Celek.
On the other side of the ball, Billy Davis will undoubtedly see improved personnel at his disposal in 2014. The team will likely add either Jarius Byrd or T.J. Ward in free agency(which of the two is another story). it’s likely that whomever of the two is brought in will post a strong season with 2 sacks, 45 tackles, and 8 interceptions. Philadelphia will also need another pass rusher to pair with and ultimately replace Trent Cole.
As for the current Eagles, it’s fairly clear that Cedric Thornton will burst out and have a Pro Bowl season himself, Thornton will complement Fletcher Cox well next year, both having gained a year of experience in the scheme. The line will play even better than it did this season under coach Jerry Azzinaro. For playmakers Connor Barwin and Mychal Kendricks, the sky is the absolute limit. Both are under contract for the long run, and will post similar numbers: 2 interceptions each along with 6 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.
Lastly, the special teams will see a huge improvement. A great deal depends on who the new kicker is, s Chip Kelly made it clear that Chip Kelly Hates Alex Henery Right About Now. In the punt return game, Kelly will clearly work with Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipp design a way to improve DeSean JAckson’s productivity. In kickoffs, Brad Smith will lead a heavy competition in training camp containing signees and draft picks. Competition is the name of the special teams game.
The future is bright. The window is open. Next year’s goal must be Super Bowl or bust. With a projected 11-5 record, Philadelphia will have a great chance and a chip on its shoulder.
Photo: Huffington Post