Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chip Kelly's hiring and a look at the D

Last time we looked at the offense and since then there has been some big news. The Eagles have hired Chip Kelly as their new head coach. It took awhile but the Eagles end up getting the guy they wanted. What does this mean? Look for player and coaches to be evaluated to see if they will buy in and/or fit into the schemes that Kelly is going to be using with his new team. I still stick with my last post about what should be done personnel wise on the offensive side of the ball. Now that Kelly is in charge however, Mike Vick may get another season in Eagles green. He should be the most looked at player by Kelly and the rest of the staff. At first glance one would think that Vick would be a perfect for for Kelly's uptempo style offense but, Vick still does have a turnover problem that needs to be corrected if Vick is not only going to run the offense but also if Kelly is going to win over fans and win as soon as much as soon as he wants to.

The offense, minus the QB position, was never really the main concern for the Eagles coming into this next season. A healthy offensive line will solve a myriad of problems for the Eagles and other than QB and maybe RG no major changes need to happen going forward. The defense on the other hand is a disaster to say the least. This had been a unit that was supposed to get us back to the hard hitting, stifling defense of the Brian Dawkins era. Bad moves on both the coaching side and with player acquisitions allowed this "dream team" to fall flat on their face and become another cautionary tale about teams trying to buy a championship. Moving forward the roster moves that the team decides to make will largely depend on the scheme that Kelly decides will be the new face of the Eagles D. For this post we'll assume Kelly won't be making sweeping scheme changes keep the current scheme.

With that lets take a look at who's on the roster, and where the team needs improvement. The first line of the defense looks to be in fairly good shape. Look for Trent Cole to bounce back and return to his old form. Opposite him Brandon Graham was penciled in as the end of season starter and showed promise, both should continue to start unless and upgrade is made over Graham. Inside on the D-line was Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox. Jenkins has been a decent starter for the Eagles since his signing and has shown he's a team player by renegotiating his contract in order to stay on the team. Cox was one of the bright spots for the defense as he impressed and made All Rookie team honors. The team also boasts a great amount of talented depth all along the line (attributed that to Andy Reid's love of D linemen), so don't expect any grand moves to be made especially with only a few intriguing names in free agency.

LBs for the Eagles have been an overlooked position for the team for quite awhile. Last year ended with Jamar Chaney, DeMeco Ryans, and Mychal Kendricks making up the starters. Ryans was a clear upgrade to the unit and brought a positive veteran leader to the defense that has been missing since the departure of Dawkins. Kendricks is another rookie who showed a lot of upside and he should continue to show improvement. Chaney has been serviceable at best. He is a good football player but not starter pedigree. An upgrade would be nice but I don't see it coming via free agency as there are bigger fish to fry then the SAM position.

Lastly, we move to the secondary which has been the biggest disappointment of all. The big free agent signing Nnamdi Asomugha and trade bait Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made up the starting CBs while Colt Anderson and Kurt Coleman ended the season as the starting safeties. Two seasons ago the Eagles secondary was supposed to be the envy of the league and we'll it never panned out. Now the team is faced with some tough decisions Rodgers-Cromartie is set to become a free agent and Asomugha is set to be highly overpaid after his performance the past two seasons. Neither CB dazzled anyone this year but the argument that the two former Pro Bowlers could be coached back to an elite level of play, if the price is right. Asomugha should be requested to have his deal restructured or shown the door. At his age and recent level of play there may be teams out there who would welcome him but not at the price the Eagles are currently paying him. Rodgers-Cromartie should be able to come back for a reasonable price, however the free agent class this year is filled with guys who either haven't hit that "elite" level of play or are decent CBs but have question marks in the injury column. It looks like Rodgers-Cromartie is the best bet for the Eagles moving forward for the time being. After that look for Kelly to use a high round pick on a CB to become the cornerstone of the secondary.

 The safeties also disparately need to be addressed. Once upon a time Nate Allen was set to be the guy to fill the SS slot for years to come but since has been a let down. It is obviously that the Eagles don't have a clear guy to be a long term starter at either the FS or SS positions. This is where free agency might be able to greatly help the Eagles guys like Dashon Goldson, William Moore, or Jairus Byrd would be a huge upgrade and fix half of the Eagles last line of defense woes. It will be interesting to see what Kelly does moving forward but a rejuvenated defense would be a gift to a fan base that has sorely missed great defensive play for several years

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