Jun 102013
 

Chip Kelly4. Philadelphia Eagles
Head Coach: Chip Kelly
2012 Record: 4-12
2012 Offense: 280 points scored, 29th in points, 15th in yards (13th passing, 13th rushing)
2012 Defense: 444 points allowed, 29th in points, 15th in yards (9th passing, 23rd rushing)

Key Additions
Head Coach Chip Kelly, FB/TE James Casey, S Patrick Chung, CB Bradley Fletcher, DT Isaac Sopoaga, LB Connor Barwin, LB Jason Phillips, S Kenny Phillips, CB Cary Williams, RB Felix Jones, P Donnie Jones, T Lane Johnson, TE Zach Ertz, QB Matt Barkley

Key Losses
CB Nnamdi Asomugha, T King Dunlap, LB Akeem Jordan, DT Derek Landri, CB Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie, G Jake Scott, DE Darryl Tapp, RB Dion Lewis

Why 2013 will be better
The injury bug took a heavy toll on the Eagles in 2012, and any improvement in this regard will increase the team’s win total. Perhaps Chip Kelly will have a better sense of how to utilize LeSean McCoy, who is one of the most talented running backs in the league, but who never seemed to be the centerpiece of Andy Reid’s offensive scheme. Perhaps Kelly will also be the coach who will get through to DeSean Jackson, and bring out his remarkable potential as well. But if 2013 is going to be more successful than 2012, it will be because the defensive additions will perform to their potentials and not force Michael Vick or Nick Foles to play from behind.

Why 2013 will be worse
Although the Eagles were 9th against the pass last season, they gave up a league high 32 touchdown passes, necessitating an overhaul to the secondary. The trouble is while they brought in Cary Williams from the Ravens, the rest of the “upgrades” in the secondary are unremarkable retreads that may not fare much better in 2013. Plus Williams has stayed away from the Eagles’ OTA’s and doesn’t seem to be off to a good start with Eagles’ management. Add this to the open question as to whether or not Chip Kelly can adapt his offensive approach to life in the NFL, and the eternal questions of how many games one can expect Vick to actually be on the field for, and how many mistakes he will make while on the field, and a repeat four win performance (or worse) is not entirely out of the question.

Outlook
On paper, the Eagles look like a team that will do better than 4-12, but how much better? Vick is not a reliable quarterback in terms of his health or his decision-making. He has fumbled the ball 32 times in the past three seasons, losing twelve of those while also throwing 30 interceptions. Toss in 85 sacks during this span of only 35 games (having missed another 13) and it is fair to say that even the most ardent Eagles’ fan should be cautious in setting on setting overly high expectations for the coming season. A final tally of six or seven wins would be a good improvement for this club as they continue to rebuild their defense and allow Chip Kelly a year to become acclimated with football beyond the college ranks. At least the days of the infamous “Dream Team” are behind them.

Apr 262013
 

Meat And PotatoesWell that was quite an interesting first round. One quarterback, one running back, and a whole lot of trench players were taken in last night’s first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.Offensive and defensive linemen were the top targets (nine each), followed by cornerbacks (four), wide receivers (3) and safeties (3). Two linebackers and a tight end were also taken in last night’s action.

Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel came off the board at #1 (Chiefs) and #2 (Jaguars) respectively as predicted, and then the Dolphins threw a monkey wrench in, swapping with Oakland to move up to snag defensive end Dion Jordan. The next trade came at #8, where the Rams moved up to grab wide receiver Tavon Austin to replace Danny Amendola. Oakland used the #12 pick to select the player they were prepared to grab at #3, cornerback DJ Hayden.

The first (and only) quarterback went off the board when Buffalo selected Florida State’s EJ Manuel at #16. The Bills’ smokescreen for the past several weeks was very effective, as just about every quarterback other than Manuel had been associated with the Bills. The 49ers shot up the board to #18 to grab safety Eric Reid to fill out their secondary, and then the Cowboys pulled a bit of a head scratcher at #31 with their decision to take Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, who is widely seen as a late second or early third round pick.

Atlanta swapped with St. Louis to take cornerback Desmond Trufant, a needed addition for the Falcons. The other trade of the first round came when Minnesota, who had already selected defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes jumped into New England’s 29th spot to pick up wide receiver Cordarrelle Petterson of Tennessee. New England, who was prepared to selected a player, opted for the value of grabbing Minnesota’s second, third, fourth, and seventh round picks.

Finally, former Patriots’ offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi was present to announce the Patriots’ move, and this was accompanied by a moving tribute to the first responders and victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. They also revealed a “Boston Strong” Patriots’ jersey that promises to become a future piece of wardrobe in the Ghost Rat household.

All in all, it was a solid “meat and potatoes” round for teams trying to protect the quarterback, pressure the quarterback, and defend the pass. I thought the Jets’ selection of cornerback Dee Milliner with the 9th pick was a bit dicey, particularly with DJ Hayden, Desmond Trufant, and Xavier Rhodes still available. Milliner is a great talent, but having two bad shoulders seems to be a cause of some concern. Cleveland’s landing of defensive end Barkevious Mongo at #6 was a sold selection, and seemingly safer than the Eagles’ taking defensive end Ziggy Ansah at #5, even if Ansah’s potential upside is greater. The Steelers got their man in linebacker Jarvis Jones at #17, while the Giants made absolutely the right selection at #19 in picking up tackle Justin Pugh. Bears’ fans were not thrilled with the teams’ selection of guard Kyle Long at #20, but Long promises to be a long-term starter for Chicago, who desperately need help on the offensive line.

Here are the first round picks… the ones I got right are in bold face:

1. Kansas City Chiefs – T Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – T Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
3. Miami Dolphins (trade) – DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
4. Philadelphia Eagles – T Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
5. Detroit Lions – DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU
6. Cleveland Browns – DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
7. Arizona Cardinals – G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
8. St. Louis Rams (trade) – WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia (right team, wrong spot = half credit)
9. New York Jets – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
10. Tennessee Titans – G Chance Warmack, Alabama
11. San Diego Chargers – T DJ Fluker, Alabama
12. Oakland Raiders (trade) – CB DJ Hayden, Houston
13. New York Jets – DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
14. Carolina Panthers – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
15. New Orleans Saints – S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
16. Buffalo Bills (trade) – QB EJ Manuel, Florida State
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
18. San Francisco 49ers (trade) – S Eric Reid, LSU
19. New York Giants – T Justin Pugh, Syracuse
20. Chicago Bears – G Kyle Long, Oregon
21. Cincinnati Bengals – TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
22. Atlanta Falcons (trade) – CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
23. Minnesota Vikings – DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
24. Indianapolis Colts – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
25. Minnesota Vikings – CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
26. Green Bay Packers – DE Datone Jones, UCLA
27. Houston Texans – WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
28. Denver Broncos – DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
29. Minnesota Vikings (trade) – WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
30. St. Louis Rams (trade) – LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
31. Dallas Cowboys (trade) – C Travis Frederick, Wisconsin
32. Baltimore Ravens – S Matt Elam, Florida