I take my hat off to Chip Kelly because of the fact that he has been willing to lay it all on the line in order to give the Eagles a shot at a Super Bowl title. He’s making it very clear that having a good record or just going to the playoffs isn’t good enough. A Super Bowl title is the goal and that’s the only thing that will satisfy.
If the Eagles had had that mentality in the early 2000’s, Philadelphia would probably already have celebrated a Super Bowl title or two, but I don’t know if the organization was as committed to winning it all then, as they are now.
I give Kelly credit for hearing the pulse of Eagles fans, but the key question is how do you go about achieving that goal at this point. Of course, Kelly being an offensive coach feels like the Eagles will need to win it on the offensive side of the ball.
He didn’t feel he could win a Super Bowl title with Nick Foles, so he traded him away for a guy, Sam Bradford, whom he thinks has the potential to a be a Franchise Level quarterback who can carry a team to a title.
I’ve cited numerous quarterback experts, who played the quarterback position at this level, Ron Jaworski and Kurt Warner, and they say Bradford has to regain his confidence in the pocket in order to play the game the way he needs to play it. He’ll need to repair the knee and his confidence at the same time, he’s learning this complicated offense.
Bradford has the ability to be a great passer. His throwing motion is smooth and effortless. The former first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft has the arm, the smarts and the athleticism to be great, but he’s going to need to regain his confidence in both his knee and his ability to make plays, all while learning Kelly’s system in front of a demanding fan base.
Mark Sanchez will be there ready and waiting for Bradford to stumble. Kelly doesn’t have a ton of patience, so Bradford will have to play all year under the threat of being pulled, unless he finally lives up to his potential.
I don’t know what Bradford is made of, so I really don’t want to offer an opinion of whether he will have a great year or not. Pat Shurmur, the Eagles offensive coordinator believes in him and I have a high regard for Shurmur, so I’ll give Bradford the benefit of the doubt.
If Bradford were able to play up to his potential and return to the guy we saw winning a Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma, happy days would be here for the Eagles and their fans.
I think the Eagles will be a good offensive football team this year, even if Bradford gets hurt, or just isn’t able to regain his confidence and mastery of the offense soon enough to lead this football team. I have enough confidence in Mark Sanchez that he can step in and lead this team to the playoffs.
I think their running game is going to be very effective despite the question marks at the guard positions. Kelly knows how to get the opposing defensive lines running laterally and that helps create seams in the defense for the running backs to run through. Their running games takes advantage of the athleticism of center Jason Kelce, who can outrun every nose guard in the league, so they run those outside stretch plays to let him do his thing. I’ll be interested in seeing this new set of backs operating behind the Eagles offensive line.
Running back DeMarco Murray is the ultimate professional and he’s a smart, strong and physical runner, who should gain in the neighborhood of 1,300 yards this season. They should be able to keep him fresh.
Ryan Mathews is a guy, who has gone virtually unnoticed this offseason, but his combination of size and speed is going to be a big plus during the season. I expect some where in the 500 to 600 yards range for Mathews and twenty catches.
Don’t forget the contributions which will be made by Darren Sproles, who is one of the best third down-backs in the NFL. Spirals should be able to run for a few hundred yards and catch 30 to 40 passes.
In Kelly’s offense, the running game opens up the passing game and should allow the Birds young receiver crew to do the job. The running game will force defenses to play man-to-man against them with limited help from the safeties because they will be focused on run support. The Eagles should be able to exploit these coverages and the combination of Chip Kelly and Pat Shurmur designing the route combinations will equal easy throws and catches.
I expect a big year out of Jordan Matthews in both catches and yardage. His catch numbers should be in the 70’s and his yardage should be over a 1000. Rookie Nelson Agholor shouldn’t be far behind with his catch total in the 60’s and his yardage near the 1000 yard mark. Josh Huff and Riley Cooper should be able to contribute 30, 40 or 50 catches apiece.
There’s a chance that tight end Zach Ertz could be the leading receiver on the football team in terms of the numbers of catches. He was almost in the 60’s last year, so a slight improvement would put him in the 70’s. If Ertz can force the coaches to put him on the field more often, he could 80 passes because the running game will force team to cover him with a linebacker and there aren’t many linebackers in the league, who can guard him.
In all likelihood, Brent Celek will again be the guy doing the run blocking at tight end position and he’ll find the time to catch 30 or 40 passes.
Bottomline, the Eagles offense should have a big year in 2015 and be much more effective in the red zone than they were a year ago.