Looking at the NFC East alone, it becomes easy to see how it is considered one of the most prolific divisions in NFL history. Between the Cowboys five illustrious championships, the New York Giants success with two proven quarterbacks in Phil Simms and Eli Manning and the Washington Redskins brief yet successful dynasty under head coach Joe Gibbs, the NFC East has an abundance of legendary teams. However, despite the success the three aforementioned teams were able to garner during their prime, one franchise within the same division is still waiting for their first Super Bowl championship. While the Philadelphia Eagles have been in the limelight here and there, they have never had a team that has been competitive enough to win on the biggest stage in sports. Although the Eagles looked like an impressive competitor in the regular season last year, their well-deserved accolades were marred by a poor post-season performance. With that being said, the Eagles are in a prime position to take advantage of a weak division that is discombobulated with inconsistent coaching and awkwardly crafted rosters.
Although the Eagles were not necessarily the most complete team in the NFL, they had the luxury of having some of the most productive and tenacious athletes the league has ever seen. For beloved Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, this was a statement season that displayed to the football fanatic realm just how effective this young back really is. During the 2013 season, LeSean McCoy racked up over rushing 1,600 yards for nine touchdowns. Along with that, McCoy stepped up as a reliable go to receiver out of the backfield as he averaged a career high of 10.4 yards per catch. While the NFL has become a more quarterback driven league, having a dynamic back that can rush consistently and be called upon to catch critical passes is essential to the Eagles success as an offensively driven team.
Speaking of a quarterback driven league, the Eagles were fortunate enough to have a stoic yet determined passer on their roster who proved to be much more reliable than the explosively careless Michael Vick. As a quarterback who had to transition from being a lowly back up to the unconditional starter, Nick Foles handled the pressure with professional poise and with each game he proved to be one of the most disciplined passers in the game. While Foles only had an opportunity to play in 13 games during the 2013 season, he made the most of those moments by throwing the football with consistent accuracy (completed 64% of his passes). On top of that, Foles displayed a sense of patient vigilance on the field by only throwing two interceptions the entire regular season while throwing over 27 touchdowns to counterbalance those minute mistakes. Although Foles still needs to improve his quick release, his development as a young quarterback in the last two seasons has been simply mesmerizing.
While the Eagles did a sensational job at revitalizing their offense this past season, their suspect defense still failed to play with any type of consistency or determination. The most blatantly apparent failure of the Eagles defense was their all but absent defensive secondary which gave up 289.8 yards per game (worst in the NFL). To be fair, the Eagles defensive front did a respectable job at stopping the rush as they only relinquished 104.4 rushing yards per game (10th in the NFL). Still, without a balanced defense that is both skilled and confident, the Eagles inevitably succumbed to their one-dimensional ways when they were defeated in the divisional round at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. Luckily, the Eagles now have a fairly straightforward draft ahead of them as they can concentrate all their efforts on acquiring some eager defensive talent that can compete proficiently come day one of the 2014 regular season.
When all is said and done, the Eagles have the potential to get back to the promised land and have come a long way since they went 4-12 two season ago. While this franchise needs to find some form of a defensive identity, everything else about this team is exceptionally sound and under head coach Chip Kelly, this team has been able to compete in ways they couldn’t have before. If the Eagles can remain patient and properly utilize the draft for all that it’s worth, this franchise may be able to garner their first Super Bowl championship.