It didn’t take long for the Eagles to turn things around and regain their perch atop the NFC East division. In Chip Kelly’s first season as the head coach, the Eagles roared down the stretch in 2013, winning seven of their final eight games in the regular season, to win the division and reach the postseason for the first time since 2010.
The season ended too quickly, with a last-second loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round, and now the Eagles are back for more. They approached the offseason aggressively and continued to improve the roster and now enter 2014 as the defending division champs and one of the league’s rising young teams.
“Last year was a taste for this team of having some success and getting back to the playoffs,” said tight end
To do so, the Eagles must navigate through a first-place schedule based on their finish last year, and they must win the battle against an improved NFC East. The challenge is there for Kelly and his team, and everyone is ready to, as Kelly preaches “complete the mission.”
“It’s a matter of improving every day, working together and then going out each week and playing our best football,” said quarterback
Foles is a big reason the Eagles are so optimistic that the team is heading in the right direction for the long haul. Foles, in only his second NFL season, never looked back after becoming the starting quarterback and finished the regular season with a remarkable 27 touchdown passes and two interceptions. His passer rating of 119.2 led the entire league. And the way Foles guided the Eagles down the stretch and into the playoffs belied his relative inexperience. He was calm, cool and outstanding the entire way.
“It was a great experience for me and for the entire football team and it hurt for a long time to lose in the playoffs because we wanted to keep playing,” said Foles. “But we have a great group of guys here and great coaching and we’re all excited about what’s ahead. We’re playing for each other and for our fans and it’s a fun time.”
It sure is for an offense that looks to build upon last season’s success, when the Eagles led the NFL in rushing yards and explosive plays of 20 or more yards. Running back
McCoy is the perfect fit for Kelly’s spread-it-out offense. With his ability to make tacklers miss in the open field, combined with the excellent blocking from a strong offensive line and a passing game that gains yardage in gulps, McCoy rose to the top of the NFL charts at age 25. His brilliance, though, is just one part of a varied and versatile offensive attack.
The Eagles go three deep with experience at tight end with Celek,
What helped take the Eagles to a new level on offense in 2013 was the play of the offensive line. Left tackle
The defensive overhaul continued during an offseason in which the Eagles added safety
Special teams were vital to the Eagles’ success a year ago, and by adding players like
The task ahead is a challenging one for the Eagles, who take to the road against teams like Indianapolis, San Francisco, Arizona and Green Bay, with tough home dates against the likes of Seattle, Carolina and a much-improved St. Louis team.
But that’s what it’s all about, right? The Eagles have to beat the best to be the best, something they began in earnest last season. The next step awaits, and the level of anticipation is incredibly high.
“Everybody feels it,” said linebacker