Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Stars

Cody SwartzSenior Writer IJuly 25, 2013

Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Stars

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    With Chip Kelly at the helm, the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles have the potential to be one of the league's most dynamic offenses.

    LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are all young and in the primes of their careers. Brent Celek and Zach Ertz should be a top tight end duo, while James Casey is a versatile H-back. The offensive line could be spectacular if Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans can all return successfully from injuries.

    The great unknown will be the quarterback position. It's essentially a three-way race between Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Matt Barkley, although Barkley is much more of a long shot than the others.

    Should the quarterback position backfire, it could drastically affect the rest of the offense. The running game won't be as efficient, the receivers won't put up as many yards, and there will be significantly more pressure on the defense to keep the Eagles in games.

    Here's a look at both the best- and worst-case scenarios for this year's Eagles, broken down by player.

Michael Vick

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    Best Case

    Heading into the Philadelphia Eagles’ opening game against the Washington Redskins, Michael Vick is elected the starting quarterback. Chip Kelly cites Vick’s leadership, versatility as both a passer and a runner, and high upside as the deciding factors.

    Vick starts 14 of 16 games, missing just two with a concussion sustained in midseason. The Eagles are 9-5 when Vick starts, finishing at 10-6 with a playoff berth.

    Vick is asked to throw far fewer times than under Andy Reid; as a result, he completes 62 percent of his 409 passes for 19 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He is also rejuvenated as a runner, gaining 679 yards and six scores on the ground and losing just two fumbles all season.

     

    Worst Case

    Kelly bypasses Vick as his starting quarterback, opting to go with the younger Nick Foles. Vick rides the bench for the first six weeks, and attempts to trade the 33-year-old in October fall through.

    Later in the season, Kelly skips over Vick again when Foles gets hurt, choosing to go with fourth-round rookie Matt Barkley.

Nick Foles

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    Best Case

    Nick Foles becomes a surprise (or maybe not a surprise) choice to be the starting quarterback. His quick decision-making make him a natural fit as the leader, and he’s intelligent enough to audible at the line of scrimmage when needed.

    Foles finishes the season with close to 4,000 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He isn’t a threat to run, but his superb footwork make him among the least-sacked quarterbacks in the NFL.

     

    Worst Case

    Foles loses the camp battle to Michael Vick, sitting on the bench while Vick’s running skills make him a top-10 quarterback in the game. At midseason, Foles is again passed over for Matt Barkley when Vick gets hurt. Barkley plays well enough that Foles requests a trade after the season.

Matt Barkley

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    Best Case

    Matt Barkley comes out of nowhere to steal the starting quarterback spot in training camp. He lights it up in preseason and carries that into the regular season, winning his first two starts. Barkley plays way beyond his years, tossing 23 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions, completing an impressive 64.6 percent of his passes.

     

    Worst Case

    It becomes evident in preseason that Barkley simply doesn’t have the arm strength to compete at this level. He spends the campaign as the third-stringer, taking four meaningless snaps. Nick Foles plays well enough that Barkley is shopped around during the offseason.

LeSean McCoy

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    Best Case

    LeSean McCoy is even better than his All-Pro 2011 season. He carries the ball 309 times for a ridiculous 1,563 yards, averaging over five yards per rush.

    McCoy finishes with 49 catches and close to 500 yards out of the backfield, tying his career-high with 20 touchdowns. The three-headed running attack of McCoy, Michael Vick and Bryce Brown vaults the Philadelphia Eagles into the playoffs.

     

    Worst Case

    McCoy struggles behind the shaky offensive line. Chip Kelly’s hurry-up offense doesn’t translate as it should, leaving McCoy to try to create too many plays out of nothing.

    As a result, McCoy suffers a season-ending ankle injury in Week 10, giving way to Bryce Brown for the final contests. McCoy’s final numbers look much like 2012: just 798 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 3.9 yards per carry.

Bryce Brown

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    Best Case

    Bryce Brown recaptures the magic he showed in his first two starts of 2012. He pushes LeSean McCoy for a regular role, finishing with 175 carries and a ridiculous 5.8 yards per carry. Best of all, his fumbling woes all but cease, as he loses just one fumble.

     

    Worst Case

    The Brown that looked to bounce outside every carry down the stretch a year ago is back. Brown rushes for 59 yards on 24 carries in his first four games before losing time to Felix Jones.

    Brown finishes the season having played a limited role, scoring just twice while accumulating 293 total yards from scrimmage.

DeSean Jackson

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    Best Case

    The DeSean Jackson that electrified the NFL in 2009 and 2010 is back in 2013. Chip Kelly finds a way to make Jackson his Percy Harvin, giving him touches via receptions, rushes and returns.

    Jackson catches a career-best 64 passes for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 224 yards and three scores on the ground. As a punt returner, Jackson twice takes a punt back to the house, earning his third career Pro Bowl appearance.

     

    Worst Case

    Kelly struggles to utilize the undersized Jackson in the offense, and Jackson’s numbers suffer. He again fails to top even 700 receiving yards, finishing with just 698.

    Jackson disappears for large stretches of games, going through a four-week span in the middle of the season with just seven total catches and 112 yards.

    After the season, Kelly figures Jackson’s contract exceeds the value of the player, and they part ways.

Jeremy Maclin

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    Best Case

    Jeremy Maclin finally breaks out in his contract season. He pushes DeSean Jackson for status as the No. 1  receiver, grabbing 82 passes for 1,232 yards and 11 touchdowns. Six times Maclin records 100 yards in a game, earning himself a long-term deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

     

    Worst Case

    Injuries and inconsistency plague Maclin once again. He appears in just 12 of 16 games, missing four with a knee injury. Maclin’s final numbers are fine for a No. 2 receiver (743 yards, five touchdowns), but it’s not enough for the Eagles to bring him back in 2014 or to justify his status as a former first-round pick.

Brent Celek

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    Best Case

    Despite the acquisition of Zach Ertz, Brent Celek doesn’t miss a beat. In fact, the two of them complement each other extraordinarily well. Celek plays all 16 games, lining up mostly as a traditional tight end with Ertz out wide or in the slot.

    Celek is the target of frequent short passes, and he’s tough enough to bring down that he picks up 823 yards on his 79 catches. Best of all, Celek doesn’t drop a single pass.

     

    Worst Case

    Midway through the season, it becomes evident Celek has been surpassed on the depth chart. While Chip Kelly doesn’t officially announce that Zach Ertz is the new starter, it’s obvious to anyone watching.

    Celek spends most of his time blocking and continues dropping a high percentage of the throws his way. His final numbers (43 receptions, 443 yards, two touchdowns, nine drops) are a staggering decline from the near-Pro Bowler of ’09.

The Rest of the Running Backs

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    Felix Jones

    Best Case

    Felix Jones makes the roster as the third running back. He fills in admirably when Bryce Brown is injured, rushing for almost 600 yards and four touchdowns on 4.5 yards per carry.

     

    Worst Case

    The skills Jones had when he was a first-round pick are gone. He's released three games into the season.

     

    Chris Polk

    Best Case

    Chris Polk becomes a valuable special teams player and contributes with three to five carries per game as the third running back.

     

    Worst Case

    Chip Kelly realizes why Polk went undrafted and cuts him in training camp.

The Rest of the Wide Receivers

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    Jason Avant

    Best Case

    Damaris Johnson pushes for time in the slot, but Jason Avant’s steady hands and reliable presence keep him involved. He catches 50 passes for the fourth straight year.

     

    Worst Case

    Considering the Philadelphia Eagles are nowhere near the salary cap limit, Avant makes the team. But he plays a limited role, grabbing just 17 balls for fewer than nine yards per catch.

     

    Damaris Johnson

    Best Case

    The Eagles get solid results out of Johnson, who is essentially a poor man’s DeSean Jackson. He catches 34 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns and gets some carries when Jackson is hurt. Johnson adds another punt return touchdown, cementing himself as a key contributor on the roster.

     

    Worst Case

    Johnson proves too be too small to make an impact as a receiver. He returns 14 punts for a boring 7.9 yards per return, and Russell Shepard takes over the duties in midseason.

     

    Arrelious Benn

    Best Case

    Arrelious Benn eventually overtakes Avant as the primary slot receiver, finishing with 48 catches for 596 yards and five touchdowns. His height makes him a good presence in the red zone.

     

    Worst Case

    There are too many mouths to feed. Avant, Johnson and Riley Cooper take catches away from Benn, who finishes his season with just seven.

     

    Riley Cooper

    Best Case

    Riley Cooper establishes himself as the big receiver Eagles fans have needed in recent years. He totals 38 catches, including six touchdowns. Three come strictly from outjumping the opposing cornerback, making Cooper a top target for Michael Vick.

     

    Worst Case

    Cooper who? Benn, Johnson and Avant fill the third, fourth and fifth receiver spots behind Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Cooper spends the season unemployed.

     

    Russell Shepard/Ifeanyi Momah

    Best Case

    Simply put, they make the roster and take advantage of their specific skills—Shepard as a versatile utility player and Momah as a big-play target.

     

    Worst Case

    Both are cut in training camp, never to be heard from again.

The Rest of the Tight Ends

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    Zach Ertz

    Best Case

    The Philadelphia Eagles reap immediate dividends from their second-round pick. Zach Ertz pushes Brent Celek for playing time immediately, forcing Chip Kelly to use a slew of two-tight end sets. Ertz’s final numbers are stellar for even a veteran: 61 receptions for 734 yards and seven touchdowns.

     

    Worst Case

    It’s difficult to envision Ertz being a bust, but he struggles as a rookie. Celek and James Casey play well enough in 2013 that Ertz’s snaps suffer. His stats are a letdown: 32 catches, 312 yards, two scores.

     

    James Casey

    Best Case

    James Casey lines up everywhere for the Eagles, seeing time as a fullback, tight end, H-back and even slot receiver. He shatters his 2012 numbers, putting up over 60 receptions and six scores.

     

    Worst Case

    Like many fullbacks, Casey’s playing time suffers. The Eagles utilize Casey in fewer than 20 percent of the snaps for the season, and he spends most of the time as a blocker for LeSean McCoy. That gives Casey just 14 receptions for 146 yards and one score.

     

    Clay Harbor

    Best Case

    Clay Harbor provides a valuable enough depth piece that he still makes the team as the fourth tight end. He takes snaps away from Casey and finishes with solid receiving numbers (30 receptions for 356 yards and four touchdowns).

     

    Worst Case 

    Four tight ends are too many for one roster. Kelly parts ways with Harbor in the preseason, opting to go with an additional receiver instead.