Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 8/25/13
A new era has begun in Philadelphia. New head coach, new coordinators, new players, and a new hope. Head coach Chip Kelly brings an innovative mind and a high paced philosophy from the University of Oregon that he has implemented with the Eagles. Along with himself, Chip brought a host of new faces into Philadelphia, be it new coordinators and coaches, or free agents and draft picks. They have all be gelling together this summer in hopes of being a complete team, all on the same page, by the season opener against Washington. So how do the Philadelphia Eagles fit together? Quarterback A few days ago, Chip Kelly made it official that Michael Vick will be starting at Quarterback over Nick Foles, whom he’d been competing with during the offseason. What Vick brings to the offense is the dynamic ability to threaten defenses with his arm or with his feet. His style of play is more in line with what we saw Chip Kelly run at Oregon with the mobile Quarterbackss he had there.  The issues with Vick begin with his decision-making. He has a propensity to try and do too much and ends up throwing the ball into coverage, usually turning it over. This gunslinger mentality is only going to hurt a team that cannot afford to depend on its defense to win games. However, it seems as if Kelly’s offense, at least in pre-season, really simplifies the passing game: Making sure there is always a check down and make that a prioritized read. Vick was making those check down plays in pre-season, which could be a sign of things to come. Vick’s biggest problem is staying healthy. In a run heavy offense, it is very possible Mike Vick gets clobbered when he takes off with the ball and gets injured. If he gets injured, Nick Foles or Matt Barkley would come in to control the offense. This will completely change the dynamic level of the offense and possibly allow defenses to key in on one running threat in an option situation rather than two.   Running Back Running back is by far the Eagles’ best position. Lesean McCoy is arguably one of the best running backs in the league, behind Adrian Peterson of course. McCoy offers the Eagles a dynamic back that can run it up the middle, run outside, or be a receiver out of the backfield. McCoy, in terms of the skill set he brings, is basically a bigger, possibly slower version or former Oregon Star LaMichael James. Out side of McCoy, the Eagles have a host of talented backs; unfortunately not all of them can make the roster. The two that are locks behind McCoy are Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. Bryce Brown, the former No. 1 recruit in the country, is incredibly talented, albeit a bit raw, and he displayed his talents last year as he dominated in limited starting opportunities but he needs to learn how to protect the football. Chris Polk did not see the field much last year, but he is another talented rusher who’s draft stock was derailed by injuries. With a clean bill of health, he likely would have been a Top 5 running back selected. He is healthy now and has flashed his ability in pre-season. He is a solid power runner who could prove effective in goal line situations. It is yet to be seen if the Eagles carry a 4th running back, but if they do, it is most likely going to be Matthew Tucker out of TCU. Tucker is a thick bowling ball of a runner who has decent acceleration, but it is doubtful the Eagles carry 4 running backs. Even without Tucker, a corps of McCoy, Brown and Polk could contend with the best in the league, not to mention the dynamic running threat Vick poses at Quarterback.   Tight End Tight end has a ton of depth, but there is no clear-cut role with the different players. Clay Harbor and Zac Ertz are both vertical type players at tight end and do not offer much as blockers. Brent Celek has been a mainstay with the eagles for the passed few years, he is an alright blocker but really makes his money by catching short passes and bulldozing defenders after the catch. James Casey will be playing a Swiss Army knife type role in the offense; tight end, running back and fullback will all be seen from the former Texan. Kelly is looking to use his tight ends to create mismatches, spread defenses out and run the ball. Casey, Ertz and Celek all seem to have their place and it looks like Clay Harbor will be the odd man out at the end of preseason.   Wide Receiver   Despite the awful loss of Maclin to an ACL injury, the receiving corps has a ton of talent. Desean Jackson has really made strides as a consistent pass catcher the passed year. That, combined with his mind blowing speed could be huge to stretch the field for this offense. Jason Avant has the most dependable hands in the league and offers a dependant 3rd down option. Riley Cooper has really come into his own during the pre-season, using his size and athleticism to box out players and make tough catches. In the slot, former undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson looks to make his mark with great speed and open field ability. Johnson is a valuable player and a potential game changer, not only on offense but also as a returner. Ifeanyi Momah is an intriguing back-up… He is a 6’7” pass catcher who apparently has 4.4 speed, while that physical talent hasn’t translated to the field, he is an interesting player who could have a shot. Greg Salas and Russell Shepherd are the other two receivers with a shot at making the team. Both are talented and have flashed on the field enough to make an impression with the team.   Offensive Line   With guys like Jason Peters (Left Tackle), Lane Johnson ( Right Tackle) and Evan Mathis (Guard), the Eagles’ offensive line is loaded with great athletes. Peters, if healthy, is a Top 3 LT. Lane Johnson has as much natural talent as anybody. He is a freak athlete and it has shown in training camp and in pre-season. He is still a bit raw and needs to clean up his technique, but his athletic ability bodes well for his future in Kelly’s offense. Mathis has been the best guard in the NFL during his time in Philadelphia. He is powerful, quick off the line and smart, and he uses those traits to dominate not only as a run blocker but even more so as a pass protector. The line is rounded out by two very solid players in Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce; Kelce is a strong leader of the line and it showed last year when the line fell apart as he went down. Herremans has a lot of versatility and is not a bad athlete himself. All in all, if the line can stay healthy, there is no doubt they can grind out in the run game and keep Vick’s jersey clean in pass protection, but that is predicated on Lane Johnson’s development as he protects Vick’s blindside.     Offensive Conclusion   Hopefully in keeping with what Kelly wants to do, this is a team built to run the football. The starting offensive linemen all have great ability to get a push as run blockers and the Eagles’ have one of the most talented corps of runners in their backfield. The tight ends allow the offense to spread out the size on the defense and really allow the O-line to push around a nickel defense. For the first time, probably in my lifetime, the Eagles will finally be a ground and pound team. The key’s will be to use the runners as much as possible, about 450 carries between McCoy, Brown, Polk and Vick should allow the offense to dominate and keep defenses honest. When passing, Mike Vick needs to make good, quick decisions and not turn the ball over. Stalling a drive or turning the ball over, any way of giving the ball back to the other teams offense does not bode well for the team. So the offense, ideally, has great potential. The defense on the other hand…
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