The Philadelphia Eagles had back-to-back ten win seasons in 2013 and 2014 under Chip Kelly. The prevailing thought was the team would make a few adjustments that would put them over the top. What they actually got in 2015 was something they did not expect. First, no one thought that Chip Kelly would be given the power to move personnel. But when he was given it, he went a little crazy. He made a few questionable decisions like trading away their leading rusher, LeSean McCoy, to the Bills. And in return, Chip got a linebacker that stayed injured and did not produce in Kiko Alonzo. But Chip was not done there. He signed running back DeMarco Murray from the Dallas Cowboys and cornerback Byron Maxwell from the Seattle Seahawks with the money freed up from McCoy’s contract. And unfortunately for him, they were not successful signings in his system. And to top it all off, he also let the leading receiver on the team leave in free agency for Kansas City (Jeremy Maclin). Needless to say, when all these moves did not pay off and the Eagles did not make the playoffs, someone had to pay for it. And when Eagles brass decided to pull personnel power from Kelly and he balked, they had no choice but to let him go. The Eagles fired Chip Kelly right before the last game of the season and have since been on their search for a head coach. Plenty had speculated who they would get, but in the end they chose a former assistant in Philly to lead the team. Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson has accepted the head coaching position with the Philadelphia Eagles and will be the next head coach there.
Coach Pederson comes into an interesting situation in Philly. The team has a starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, is a free agent. The free-agent-to-be was traded for by Kelly from the St. Louis Rams for their starter in 2014, Nick Foles. If the Eagles decide to pay Bradford to stay, then they are taking a big risk. Bradford has had an injury-riddled past and they could be paying him to not play potentially. Another option is to start Mark Sanchez at quarterback. The Eagles and their fans saw what that could look like when he was subbing for an injured Nick Foles in 2014 and the results were not pretty. He would make a play that would make you think he was ready to start and take over for the Eagles. And then he would make a play that is inexplicable and so bad it would make you think it was a bad dream. If the Eagles fans have their way, he stays in a backup role. But there is also the scenario of the Eagles drafting a quarterback. As unlikely as it may seem, there could be a quarterback they like that drops to them. And if that is to happen, they would snatch that quarterback up as quick as possible. That would allow for them to keep Sanchez in a backup role and would also give Peterson his own quarterback to groom. Of course, there has to be a few things go their way for a quarterback they love and think can start to drop to them. But anything and everything is entirely possible.
Another thing that has to be solved is the defense. There has been no decision made on who will be the defensive coordinator. Billy Davis was the coordinator under Chip Kelly and his defense was predicated on pressure and man-to-man defense. Unfortunately, the defense got worse as the game went on. The main reason for that was the offense that Chip Kelly ran. He wanted his offense to run so fast that he did not pay attention he was tiring out his defense. And with the amount of three-and-outs his offense had, the defense was not allotted much rest at all. Even though not all the defensive struggles to close games out was not on him all the time, Davis will not be back more than likely in Philly. It is being reported that former Lions head coach and Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is going to be the new defensive coordinator. If Schwartz is named the defensive coordinator, then that means the Eagles will be switching defenses from a 3-4 to a 4-3. If that is to happen, then one personnel decision has to be made with outside linebacker Connor Barwin. He had a great season in 2014 with 14.5 sacks and declined this season, only tallying 7 sacks. But with that being said, he is their best pass rusher. Unless they have plans to replace him with someone that is out there, then they need to keep him around and figure out how they are going to use him. He is not a natural fit at outside linebacker or defensive end in the 4-3 defense. So in keeping him around, he is going to have to adjust what he does to be effective. If they let him go, then it will be interesting to see if Brandon Graham becomes that guy for them as an edge pass rusher.
As far as what we all can expect Pederson to bring, look for the West Coast offense to return to Philadelphia. The tight end will become more of a focus in this offense along with there will be short routes as well. The funny thing about that is there were some that criticized Andy Reid for the routes his team ran and they are going to an Andy Reid assistant to be your head coach and to put you in a system you once did not want. It will be interesting to see what happens with Pederson becoming the head coach there where he once played and coached. The Eagles have started a science experiment that fans will have to witness. Whether it works or not depends on the defensive coordinator he brings in and also the offense and how effective it could be. Congratulations to Coach Pederson and good luck in the City of Brotherly Love.