I forget exactly, but I know that I didn’t expect the Eagles to get any more than 4 or 5 wins. In fact, I said they could be even worse than that depending on how many games Michael Vick started for them. Then something happened…I don’t know what it was, but the genius of Chip Kelly started to take effect on his players and they instantly clicked. They had arguably their best offensive season in franchise history, and they had players breaking other franchise records left and right. There was absolutely no way that I expected this much success so early, and I’ll be the first one to admit that I wasn’t too sure that Kelly would be a good enough coach. I was one of the doubters of whether his college offense would work in the NFL, but boy did he prove me wrong. The season was nowhere near perfect, but there was a lot to be happy about.
First and foremost, it is very hard to immediately make an impact with a new head coach and new offensive, defensive, and special teams coordinators. Kelly did an excellent job as the play-caller and Billy Davis did a fair job of implementing the 3-4 into Philadelphia for the first time in franchise history. The Eagles finished the regular season 2nd in the league in offensive yards per game, and they led the league in rushing yards by a large amount. To even say that they were so good at running the ball would’ve been foreign had it been a few years ago. Running the ball has been a big key to their success, and LeSean McCoy was the perfect guy for that system. The passing game was still great too, coming in 9th in the league, which is why their overall offense was ranked so high. It was obvious that the defense wouldn’t be great this year after going through so many changes, so the offensive success was a key part of their 10-6 record.
As I just said, defensively they were suspect at best, finishing in about the middle of the pack in PPG against, but near the bottom in YPG against. They were actually the worst pass defense in the league, which doesn’t surprise me considering how bad their safeties were. But what was surprising was how they finished 10th in the league in run defense, a big improvement over where I thought they’d finish. With all of the defensive lineman from last year having to switch from either DE to LB or DT to DE, there were sure to be some problems, but the front seven did a very nice job in my opinion. Young guys like Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, and Vinny Curry all stepped it up when they needed it and had solid seasons.
Going into this season, I predicted the Eagles to finish in last place in the NFC East, so to finish first is a major accomplishment. I’m sure glad I was wrong about that prediction. They finished 4-2 in the division, losing once to the Cowboys and once to the Giants, although the loss to the Giants was mainly because Matt Barkley played most of the game at QB. They went 9-3 inside the conference, but finished 1-3 against the AFC West, losing to all three playoff teams to come out of that division this year. At the beginning of the season the losses to the Chiefs and Chargers looked bad, but seeing now that they were both very talented teams, it shows that half of their losses were to playoff teams. Next year they’ll have to play better against the AFC though if they want to stay competitive, but since they’re facing the AFC South, that shouldn’t be too hard.