If the Philadelphia Eagles hope to be competitive in the NFC East, they’ll need to become a proficiently balanced team that is capable of relying on its secondary along with having a competent offensive line. Although Michael Vick had a lackluster season in terms of his underwhelming statistics, the fact that he had little to no protection in the pocket all but condemned Vick to an existence of mediocrity.
While Vick has never been known as a elite quarterback in his own right, when he is given enough time to execute a play, Vick can be one of the most versatile passers in the league. Of course, in order to attain such a reputable title, Vick needs dynamic playmakers that can both protect his blind side while having confident receivers who can run their routes effectively and swiftly.
In a division where the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins look to be playoff contenders once again, the Eagles will need to utilize both their proven veterans and innovative draft picks to firmly become the front runners of their division.
Looking at the Eagles receiving corps, it is easy to distinguish between this team’s proven veterans and their young hopeful rookies. Already in his sixth year with the Eagles, DeSean Jackson has proven to be a highly-capable receiver who has great hands and an innate quickness that becomes extremely useful after he makes a reception. Despite the fact that Jackson had a down year last year with only two touchdown receptions, when he’s completely healthy, Jackson is by far the most agile and gifted offensive player on the Eagles roster.
The 2012 regular season was likewise an underwhelming year for the Eagles other veteran receiver Jason Avant. Although Avant didn’t garner a single touchdown reception, he was still a reliable wideout after he pulled in the most receptions of his career (53) and recorded the second most receiving yards of his career (648). The reason Jason Avant became such a prominent component in the Eagles offense was because he was the only receiver that Vick had enough time to make a legitimate pass to in the first place. Without Avant as an ever-present security blanket, Vick would have been sacked significantly more often than he was during the regular season, which potentially could have led to more turnovers.
After the Eagles disappointing 4-12 regular season, they knew that it was time to bring in some new blood that could effectively address their lingering issues, particularly those involving the offensive line. Unsurprisingly, the Eagles used their fourth overall pick to select a highly versatile offensive tackle in Lane Johnson. From the University of Oklahoma, Johnson has consistently displayed a form of tenacious athleticism that should fit perfectly into Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense. Assuming Johnson doesn’t end up being a complete bust like the Eagles 2011 draft pick of offensive tackle Danny Watkins, he’ll be an avid contributor in protecting a quarterback that needs some relief after he was beaten to a pulp last season.
While the Eagles did an exceptional job at adding some much needed defensive weapons to their roster with safety Earl Wolff and defensive end Joe Kruger, their forth round pick proved to be one of their more intriguing selections of the draft. With the selection of USC quarterback Matt Barkley, the Eagles made it clear that they could utilize the attributes of a passer who wasn’t completely reliant on running. Although Barkley had a disappointing senior year, his hand cannon of an arm and his underappreciated accuracy is what makes Barkley a favorable candidate to be the Eagles future starter.
During his junior year, Barkley completed 69.1% of his passes for over 3,500 yards, making him a gifted quarterback who displayed both a confident demeanor and a calming intelligence that allowed him to make the right play at the right time. As a result, Barkley managed to throw forty touchdowns to just seven interceptions, making him a truly reputable passer who has the innate instincts to throw the ideal pass when situation calls for it.
Even if the Eagles prospects and veterans manage to perform exceptionally well under Chip Kelly’s new high-octane offense, it’s hard to imagine this team dominating their division. The fact that the Eagles have a lot of unknowns when it comes to their defensive prospects and their reformed offensive line is definitely a cause for concern. However, if the Eagles can put their best foot forward while effectively acclimating themselves to their new head coach’s offensive philosophies, this team has a chance to drastically improve themselves while establishing a new successful legacy for the near future.