The questions: What are your expectations of the Philadelphia Eagles for the 2013 season? Are are they going to retool or completely overhaul the roster? Have you already written next season off as a “transformation year” under Chip Kelly and his new regime?
Popular thinking is that the Eagles will not be a serious contender and will likely have a losing season while the team re-images itself.
When new head coaches take over a team in disarray, expectations are lowered that first season. Fans almost automatically know not to expect anything while the new coach implements his plan.
As long as they think things are moving in a positive direction, fans are generally supportive during that first season.
In the Eagles’ case, we can add to the fact that Chip Kelly has no NFL experience on any level. Therefore, he will need time to learn the nuances of the big-boy league.
Furthermore, the schemes on both offense and defense will be changing. The defense, in particular, could undergo a massive personnel change to accommodate the new 3-4/4-3-under defense Bill Davis wants to implement.
All of this provides a logical reasoning that allows fans to accept another year of losing as long as they believe there are brighter days ahead. I had thought that way for the most part since the day Kelly was hired.
However, I’m starting to wonder if Kelly and Howie Roseman are taking a slightly different approach to the 2013 season.
Maybe their goal is to be a legitimate contender next season.
Yes, it’s true that every team will tell you they plan on competing every year no matter what the circumstances are. But behind closed doors, they know that they have a “three year plan” and don’t seriously expect to make the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl, in the first year (if they have a new coaching staff in place).
Times have changed in the NFL these days, however. Teams go from worst-to-first all the time nowadays where last year’s doormat is suddenly in the playoffs and competing for a shot at the Lombardi Trophy.
We’ve seen teams with a new coaching staff turn their team around without making dramatic changes. We’ve seen teams that have made dramatic changes in one offseason and find themselves in the playoffs.
It’s the way things are in the NFL these days.
Howie Roseman said recently that he doesn’t foresee an extreme roster overhaul this year. In a recent article by Reuben Frank, here is what Roseman stated:
“You’re still a 4-12 team, so you’re talking about a situation where we want to compete every year and have a chance to be in the tournament and that gives you a chance to win a Super Bowl, and for us, that means make sure we have the best possible team around the schemes that we’re putting together,” Roseman said.
“Because we are changing our scheme and changing our coaching staff, there’s going to be change. There’s natural change even when you keep your coaching staff together, so there’s naturally going to be change, but there are players in place here that we think can be here for the foreseeable future.”
“It’s not about the number we bring back,” Roseman said. “It’s about bringing the right players back and guys who fit into the scheme and fit into the program and what we ask them to do, and what we’re doing defensively fits the guys that we’re bringing back.”
It’s interesting that Roseman specified the defense when he was asked in general about overhauling the roster. So, it sounds to me that most of the change we’re going to see is on that side of the ball.
That’s what mostly everyone has expected anyway.
But, think about that for a minute. If they’re focusing on the defense, that means they believe their offense is already good enough to compete. Given the fact that the NFL is an offensive-driven league, that is the key ingredient for a team poised to take a shot.
Michael Vick will be back and will most likely be the starter. LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and the injured linemen are all expected to be back.
The only challenge on offense will be to learn a new scheme. There could be some bumps along the way, but if Kelly is the offensive guru he is said to be, he should be able to find something that works well for his veteran guys.
If Kelly can get the offense going, that would be the most important piece of the puzzle for competing in 2013. The defense will be the wild card, but they too will have a few core players returning next year.
Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Boykin look to be the key young guys to build around, but the key veterans who should be returning are DeMeco Ryans, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham.
There will be some serious personnel change in the defense, most of which will be in the secondary. However, it’s not impossible for teams to significantly improve even though they’ve undergone such a change, as I noted previously right here.
Defense is as much about attitude as it is about skill. You can have all the skill in the world, but if you don’t have the right attitude it won’t matter. On the flip side, if a lesser-talented defender plays with attitude, it will make him perform better.
Therefore, the biggest challenge for the Eagles is to get the right players on defense (as Roseman stated). I’m not necessarily talking about getting all of the best players available, I’m talking about guys that will embrace the scheme and play hard.
In other words, get guys that will “buy in.” That aspect has been seriously lacking the past two years. Guys on the defensive side of the ball never bought in to the system and the instability amongst the coaches just added to the discombobulation.
If they get the right guys, it’s certainly possible that they will become good enough to at least be competitive next year as long as the offense is performing well. A one-year turn-around is not impossible, not these days.
I think Chip Kelly sees the 2013 season as playing with house money.
There are no franchise quarterbacks available in the draft this year, but several are expected to be available in next year’s class. The Eagles restructured Michael Vick and brought in Dennis Dixon. The offense has good skill players in place.
Kelly could be looking at this upcoming season as one in which he’ll try to take advantage of most of what he already has in place, at least on offense, and see what happens. If they lose, well, nobody expects them to win anyway.
Then they would be in position in the 2014 draft to grab their next franchise QB.
If they win, well, that’s just gravy.
For the first time since Andy Reid’s first year, there are no expectations in Philly for the upcoming football season. Fans can feel free to see all the positives when we win and not dwell on the negatives when we lose.
Therefore, don’t be quick to write-off next season yet. Think of it as a wild-card year and one in which the pressure of winning is not weighing the franchise down. Many teams perform better when they’re playing without heavy expectations.