This intriguing NFL season has showcased several teams that have gone from being mediocre or abysmal a year ago to displaying a determined resiliency. While the Kansas City Chiefs have made a name for themselves because of their remarkable success they have garnered this season, the Philadelphia Eagles have combined a high-octane offense with a scrappy defense that should allow them to easily make the post season.
At the start of the season, the Eagles decided to stick with quarterback Michael Vick who had the potential to flourish under head coach Chip Kelly’s fast paced offensive schemes. Although Vick has never been known as a supremely accurate passer (his career average completion percentage is 56.2%), his capabilities as a versatile rusher made it difficult for opposing defenses to consistently bring him down. Unfortunately, Vick’s once prolific running abilities have slowly dissipated with each successive season. In the last couple of years, Vick has sustained one unavoidable injury after another. While Vick has never been down and out for an entire season, his once unprecedented toughness and resiliency has finally left him.
Luckily, the Eagles had a gifted a back up passer who quickly stepped up to rejuvenate this once ailing franchise to become a competitive unit that could valiantly compete where they couldn’t before. Despite his brief tenure in the NFL, Nick Foles has made tremendous strides in both his passing attack and his once inadequate scrambling abilities. In twelve games, Foles has managed to throw 25 touchdowns and just two interceptions, which is markedly better than his mediocre efforts from last season (in seven games last season, Foles threw for only six touchdowns and five interceptions). Although sophomore passers Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have been praised for their second year accomplishments, Foles’ transformation from a finicky rookie passer to a disciplined and patient sophomore quarterback is truly astounding. The fact that Foles was able to drastically improve his scoring capabilities while simultaneously being able to avoid careless turnovers is a sign of Foles’ promising potential going forward as a starting passer.
While Foles deserves high praise for his commitment to becoming the Eagles confident quarterback and distinguished leader, this team as also rallied around their gifted running back LeSean McCoy. Although McCoy has always been a sensational rusher in his own right throughout his career, this year has easily been one McCoy’s most productive seasons since he entered the league in 2009. This year, McCoy has already eclipsed his career yardage record per season with over 1,400 rushing yards (he ran for just over 1,300 yards during the 2011 season). However, McCoy’s unrivaled accolades expand beyond his stout and swift rushing prowess. Although McCoy isn’t the only back with coveted receiving capabilities, his quickness and keen awareness make him dangerous dual offensive threat. While McCoy has only caught one touchdown pass this season, he has become a well-utilized receiving target that can make critical catches for decent yardage (he has averaged 10.5 yards per catch this season).
Although the Eagles offense has been monumentally successful throughout this season, the same cannot be said for their wildly inconsistent defense. While the Eagles defensive front as done a respectable job at stopping the run (the Eagles are 12th in the league at stopping the rush) their woeful secondary has allowed 285.2 passing yards per game this season (30th in the NFL). However, while the Eagles have developed a dubious reputation for relinquishing massive amounts of yardage; they’ve been fairly effective at stopping teams from entering the end zone. While this is by no means a feat that the Eagles have been able maintain from game to game, it has allowed them to garner big wins down the stretch, particularly in their latest win against the desperate Chicago Bears who could only muster 11 points of offense. Although this defense may never be as stout or effective against offensively elite teams, it is more than capable of keeping the Eagles in games to allow their explosive offense to do the rest of the work.
In the end, the Eagles are a team that has the talent and youthful confidence to make the playoffs. While their erratic defensive performances have prevented this team from being considered a Super Bowl favorite, their superior offensive attack has given this team a chance to persevere through the adversity that they will inevitably face in the post season. If Foles can continue to be a productive passer while getting some assistance from a defense that has potential to more than simply adequate, this team could make a surprising splash in a conference that is loaded with teams that are overconfident.