Defensively, they left a lot to be desired, but that was expected with such a big switch from 4-3 to 3-4. Billy Davis did his best with what he had and the defense finished 10th in run defense. Inside LBs DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks both had over 100 tackles, picking up 127 and 106 respectively. There was no real dominator when it came to the pass rush, but OLB Trent Cole led the team in sacks with 8. While the pass defense was pretty much terrible, I blame that mostly on the safeties, as the cornerbacks had very good seasons. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher were a nice combo, each getting 65+ tackles and 10+ passes defensed. Slot CB Brandon Boykin also had an excellent season, getting 6 INTs, 17 passes defensed, and 2 forced fumbles. There was then a huge drop-off at the position as Roc Carmichael came in next, who I think is the worst player on the roster.
I think a big trade or free agent signing is imminent regarding the defense, whether that be trading one of their players they tried to convert for a player that’s already used to a 3-4 defense, or maybe it’s signing a big name in the market such as S Jarius Byrd (please, please sign him Philadelphia). There have always been rumors about trading Brandon Graham since he doesn’t really fit in anywhere and hasn’t performed very well, but his value isn’t enough to get much out of him. Vinny Curry is in a similar situation, although he’s performed much better. He doesn’t play too much, but when he does, he plays great. Figuring out a way to play him more next year will likely still be a challenge though as the defense probably won’t change too much.
Since the Eagles won the division, they now have to face a much more challenging schedule next year. I’ll provide a more in-depth look at who they face next season in a separate post, but having to play all the division winners will certainly be a challenge. The weak AFC South should be a good break from that, but that’s what everyone was saying about the AFC West before this year until it became one of the best divisions in football. But, if the Eagles continue to improve on this year’s accomplishments, they should do just fine next season.
In conclusion, Chip Kelly was able to completely turn around a miserable 4-12 team into a playoff 10-6 team in just one season. If he can improve the team by 6 wins in only one year, I’d like to see what him and the rest of the coaching staff can do for next year. I think dropping Michael Vick and getting a new backup QB should be one of those moves, as well as improve the secondary. Other than that, the team is in a very good place both financially and in terms of upcoming free agents, so they have a lot to be happy about there. If this team stays relatively similar minus a few minor changes, this team can build a franchise around Foles, McCoy, and Jackson on offense and all the young guys on defense to keep the winning ways going.