We've spent a lot of time discussing what the New York Giants have done this off-season, but like they always says it's good to keep your enemies closer. With that in mind, let's take a look at what the Giants NFC East division rivals did this off-season.
The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a disappointing 4-12 season that lead to the dismissal of long-time coach Andy Reid and the arrival of former Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly, which was one of the most covered stories off the entire off-season because of his unique brand of fast paced ground and pound football. The arrival of Kelly is the most interesting story surrounding the Eagles off-season because we're not entirely sure yet what it means for the Eagles and, more importantly, for the Giants. The safe assumption is that Kelly will run a fast-paced no-huddle offense, but there is uncertainty, in part because of the Eagles second-biggest storyline acquisition this off-season: USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Barkley was at one time considered a potential first round, if not a potential first overall pick, but ended up being selected in the fourth round. Barkley doesn't have the mobility that has been a stable of Kelly's offense, but does have a pedigree and Kelly saw a lot of him in the Pac 10, so there was plenty he liked.
Those are the splash story lines, but often teams will succeed because of the nuts and bolts moves a team makes during the off-season.
Key Players Added
Offensive tackle Lane Johnson. Johnson was the fourth pick overall in the 2013 NFL Draft and had one of the most impressive combine performances ever for an offensive linemen. He's a rare athlete with a lot of upside and the Eagles most likely hope he is the future replacement for their all All-Pro offensive tackle Jason Peters.
Half-back/tight end James Casey. James Casey is a hybrid player who is part tight end part full back and all athlete. Casey was a guy who was getting more and more involved in the offense for the Texans having snagged 34 balls in 2012 after totaling 32 his first three years. Kelly also drafted Stanford tight end Zach Ertz, so there seems to be a plan to involve the tight ends in the offense a lot in Philadelphia.
Linebacker Connor Barwin and defensive linemen Isaac Sopoag.
Barwin has been a guy who has had success rushing the passer, which the Eagles could use help with in the 2013 NFL season. Sopoaga adds some beef to the Eagles defensive line, which they will need because they did lost some players up front.
Safety Kenny Phillips. Quality Giants starter coming off a knee injury who signed with the Eagles, I think I've seen this story before. Only time will tell what kind of results the Eagles can get out of Phillips, who is a very good player if and when he's healthy.
The Eagles also added CB Bradley Fletcher and Safety Patrick Chung, which makes sense because there was a stretch last year where the Eagles pass defense was atrocious.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers Cromartie (DRC), cornerback Nnamdi Asmougha, and defensive linemen Cullen Jenkins.
Jenkins only scored a +2.4 according to Pro Football Focus, which is not great, but the Eagles will miss his +9.7 pass rush, which is good for an interior defensive linemen. Likewise DRC did not have a great overall score, but did do well in one particular area where he scored a +2.9 in pass coverage. Asmougha was once a great player, but in 2013 was more of a reminder that the Eagles tried to take the quick way to a championship with big free agent purchases that did not pan out.
Overall are the Eagles better than they were last year? That's tough to tell. The Eagles defense was pretty bad in 2012 and gave up points at an alarming rate, and they may not have improved a lot on individual players. They did, however, change the complexion of the defense and that is likely to help.
On offense a lot of it will depend on who the quarterback is for the team and how well he can play. The Eagles and Michael Vick have had a habit of too many untimely turnovers and bone-headed plays they have cost them enough victories over the last two years (and Andy Reid his job). Kelly's offensive system will only be effective if the quarterback -- Vick, Nick Foles, or Barkley -- can protect the football. The Eagles do have a pretty good offensive line and exciting running backs in LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Felix Jones. The Eagles might not be playoff contenders this year but should be more competitive than they were last year, and if recent history has anything to say still a thorn in the Giants side.