The Philadelphia Eagles went from one of the more dominating teams in the NFC East prior to 2011 to the bottom of the standings in 2012. A lot of things have gone wrong, from poor play from star players to poor coaching decisions. Their poor four-win 2012 season has already resulted in cutting players and firing coaches.
In the coming days we will be taking a look at the current state of all three of the Giants' NFC East foes as the off-season rolls along. Today we focus on the Eagles.
2012 Finish: 4-12, 4th place
Changes already made: Fired head coach Andy Reid (hired University of Oregon head coach Chip Kelly), Fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo during regular season
Changes to come: Hiring of a new defensive coordinator, hiring of Pat Shurmur in the next few days (title still not yet known)
The Eagles wasted no time in firing Reid and to everyone's surprise they hired Oregon's head coach Chip Kelly. Kelly was the Oregon coach from 2009-2012. In 2010 he led the Ducks to a BCS National Championship game, but lost to Cam Newton and Auburn, 22-19. In 2011 the Ducks defeated Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, 45-38, and lost to Kansas State in 2012 in the Fiesta Bowl, 35-17. The Ducks won the Pac-12 in Kelly's first three years as head coach.
Kelly is known for having a fast-paced style of offense at Oregon and coached Oregon's all-time leading rusher LaMichael James, who is currently going to Super Bowl XLVII with the San Francisco 49ers. It's not expected for Kelly to bring the same offense he had at Oregon to the NFL, but the pace of the game should increase.
One of my biggest misconceptions when looking at Eagles' running back LeSean McCoy was the belief that he was underused in Reid's system. Jason, however, pointed out to me that McCoy is on par with some of the better running backs in the league in terms of carries. McCoy is already one of the best backs in the league, having exceeded 1,000 yards in 2010 and 2011 before an injury-plagued 2012 limited him to 840 yards in 12 games. With Kelly as coach McCoy could be even more dangerous.
"Kelly's arrival should mean good things for McCoy," said Jason. "The running game was his bread and butter at Oregon, and LeSean McCoy was born to play in his zone blocking scheme that relies on running backs cutting back."
It's a little tough to address the current Eagles defense situation and what to do there. As of right now they do not have a defensive coordinator. Juan Castillo, who was fired during the regular season, is currently with the Baltimore Ravens, who will be in the Super Bowl in two weeks. The Eagles recently interviewed New York Giants' linebacker coach Jim Herrmann, who declined the position to stay with the Giants. The Eagles defense was once a tough-as-nails bunch. They'll need the right defensive coordinator to turn it back into that.
In the next few days the Eagles are expected to be announcing the hiring of Pat Shurmur. EliotShorrParks writes on Bleeding Green Nation that even though Shurmur's title still isn't known it doesn't matter. He'll have an impact on the offense for the better, especially for Kelly:
"Bringing in Shurmur shows is in many ways a humble move by Kelly. Despite being thought of as an offensive genius, two things Kelly does not have is NFL experience and a history of developing quarterbacks. while how much his lack of experience will hurt him when the season starts can be debated, the fact is that Kelly will need someone to develop a quarterback for him at the pro-level. Kelly did not produce and NFL ready quarterback during his time at Oregon. Shurmur had a major hand in developing Donovan McNabb and has also worked with Sam Bradford. Shurmur will be a major asset to Kelly in helping him get whichever quarterback he decides to go with ready."
Those quarterbacks the Eagles will be deciding between are Vick and Nick Foles. Ever since Vick received his big contract from the Eagles he has played well below par and was riddled with injuries. Vick threw 10 interceptions and fumbled the football 11 times while missing six weeks with a concussion in 2012.
Finally with free agency coming up there are a few changes that will likely be made with some of the players on the current roster, but not many. "I think there could be a decent shedding of dead weight," said Jason. "Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a free agent and is probably gone. They may look to renegotiate Nnamdi Asomugha's deal only because he'd be very expensive to cut this year, although no one would cry if he was let go. Michael Vick is all but gone."
All in all the Eagles could show some flash under whatever system Kelly brings, but there's still a lot of work to be done. The team has talent, and Jason thinks if all goes well it's plausible that they can make a run for the playoffs next year.
"I don't think anyone is expecting one of these super long rebuilding processes. That's really not the way of the league anymore," said Jason. "I've said that whoever the new Eagles coach is, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect them to at least have the team back in the playoff hunt next season. That may mean anywhere from 7-9 wins, but that will at least show improvement and make the team relevant again."
For more on the Eagles' offseason and other news, read SB Nation's Eagles web site, Bleeding Green Nation.