How the Philadelphia Eagles make the Playoffs in 2013
Out of all the NFC East teams this offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles impressed me the most. Everything from Chip Kelly, the free agent acquisitions and the 2013 NFL draft selections are very intriguing. They’re also in a division that has had a completely different division winner each season since 2005. That means the Eagles could very well make a trip to the Playoffs this season and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. So let’s make a little offseason case for why the Eagles will make the Playoffs in 2013 and why they might not.
Let’s start with what has to happen for the Eagles to make the Playoffs in 2013 first. The first key to a 2013 Playoff run is Michael Vick. When Vick was on fire in 2010, the Eagles were arguably the most explosive team in the NFL. However, that early success in 2010 led to lots of hubris on Vick’s part that saw his play decline, injuries pile up, turnovers pile up and it eventually cost Andy Reid his job in 2012. If Chip Kelly’s offense can revive some of Vick’s 2010 play, then the Eagles will be well on their way to contention for a division title in 2013.
But Vick won’t be the only key to a division title this season. It will also depend on the unlikely defensive free agents Connor Barwin, Isaac Sopoaga, Patrick Chung, Kenny Phillips and Cary Williams to prove the teams that let them go wrong. Barwin has to prove the 2011 Connor Barwin that racked up 11.5 sacks wasn’t fluke. Sopoaga has to prove his 2011 performance wasn’t a fluke either. Chung has to prove he can stay healthy.
Phillips needs to prove he can cover people, and Williams just needs to keep his composure in big games. The bottom-line is the defense isn’t broken, because there is a lot of talent on the roster. Fletcher Cox, Trent Cole, Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Mychal Kendricks, Jamar Chaney and DeMeco Ryans to name a few are veterans with a lot of talent. Add in rookies Bennie Logan, Earl Wolff, Joe Kruger, Jordan Poyer and David King, and if you get half to stick will make the defense a lot better overnight. Defensive Coordinator Billy Davis will have a lot of talent to compete and should put out a more formidable defense in 2013.
An improved Michael Vick and defense is the key to a 2013 Playoff run for the Eagles, but a lot of things can go wrong. Vick’s play could regress even further or have another injury plagued season. The defensive free agents could all be mediocre players that either can’t stay healthy or are just not very good. The Eagles made a lot of bets this offseason that may not pan out exactly the way they were envisioned to be, but at least the vision is there. It’s better to have a Head Coach that has a vision for his team versus one that’s just improvising the season.
Kelly has a vision for where he wants this team to go. It’s not just the music playing during practice or personalized smoothies after. Chip Kelly’s free agent targets and draft are the blueprints to a plan that he wants this team to execute. It may not work out in the end, but the 2013 season shouldn’t define it. However, there is enough talent on this roster for the plan to breed results early in 2013 and you’ve just seen what could happen. Vick improving his play and the defense improving too is not a lot to ask for, and that should bring hope to Eagles fans that this team isn’t rebuilding, it’s reloading.
James Cobern is a NFC East Division Leader for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com or follow him on Twitter @Jmcobern1