3 Reasons Why the Philadelphia Eagles Will Be a Must-Watch Team in 2013
The team that is just over two years away from being named the "Dream Team" by then-backup quarterback Vince Young is now under new leadership with the removal of longtime head coach Andy Reid and the addition of former Oregon coach Chip Kelly.
But the coaching change doesn't cover up for the mess that was left behind, as the franchise fell to 4-12 last season and gave up 444 points over the course of 16 games.
So what makes the Eagles so watchable? I have three reasons why you'll want to make sure you have your TV tuned in to the Philadelphia game every chance you get.
The Offense Will Keep You Entertained with Fast Pace and Big Plays
Since Chip Kelly was hired by the Eagles, not many members of the media were clear on what his offense would look like. But after one preseason game, we got a better idea as to the objectives of the NFL version of the "Chip Kelly offense."
The first objective of the offense is to run as many plays as possible.
The Eagles ran 86 plays in their first preseason game of the Chip Kelly era and did so despite not holding the time of possession advantage. Compare the 86 plays in just under 29 minutes to the 72 plays by their competitors, the New England Patriots, and you can see that the goal under Kelly is to get as many plays off as possible.
As Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports pointed out late last year, the NFL has seen an increase in plays per game in recent years, but the Patriots averaged only 74.4 snaps per game at the time of writing his article in 2012. That means Kelly's offense improved upon the New England formula from day one, and he did go against the master of the high-tempo offense, Bill Belichick.
Will Chip Kelly Succeed at Bringing His Offense to the NFL?
The next goal of the new-look Philadelphia offense is to spread the ball around in the passing game. The five players to step up under center for the Eagles completed passes to 18 different players over the course of the contest, as compared to 11 for the Patriots.
No Eagle had more than three receptions, and there were as many running backs and tight ends listed on the receiving portion of the box score as there were wide receivers. That's why the loss of Jeremy Maclin may not be as significant for the Eagles as some would have thought, because there is going to be a lot of sharing on offense in the City of Brotherly Love.
Yet another aim of the Eagle offense is to run the ball—even if it doesn't work.
Chip Kelly coached an offense that scored a ton of points at Oregon, but he did so with a continued commitment to running the football. The Ducks finished fourth in rushing in 2012 in the NCAA, after finishing first in 2011.
Check out this video below to see how the Oregon offense was quick hitting while still running the football.
And just like Kenjon Barner in Oregon, both LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown will have the chance to score early and often off of running plays.
Kelly's Eagles didn't get off to as hot of a start in their preseason opener, but they committed to the run game. The Eagles carried the ball 35 times for 131 yards, which is a poor average, but it helped set up the passing game out of play-action situations.
And with so many plays run by the Philadelphia offense, continued rushing attempts serves as a battering ram to wear down the opponent's defense.
The Defense Will Put the Offense Back on the Field with Terrible Performances
The Eagles spent plenty of time and money this offseason improving their defense, hoping to improve upon the dismal performances put forth last season. But if the preseason opener was any indication, they have failed and failed miserably.
Khlad Elsayed of Pro Football Focus reviewed the game using the advanced charting statistics at PFF, and still had no words for the Eagles defense, stating that the unit "started off badly and got worse as the game went on."
The newly converted 3-4 defense allowed a quick drive comprised solely of rushing attempts to resolve in a touchdown during the first possession by New England. The unit followed it up by allowing Tom Brady to sling the ball to his receivers en route to another score for the Patriots.
And then, something that words will fail to describe happened. So I'll allow this GIF from NESN.com to do the talking for me.
Every player on the field during a LeGarrette Blount double-cutback 51-yard touchdown run should be placed on waivers immediately. But this is the sort of play that can and will happen against a shaky Eagles defense in 2013, and it's a great reason to watch each and every game the team plays.
Your Fantasy Football Team Will Be on Display in Every Game
It's fantasy draft season, so hopefully you're already planning out which players you want to target.
And while I don't advocate drafting players based on their schedule, you should consider yourself lucky any time your players face the Eagles in 2013. Even if the defense is better than I give it credit for, the fast pace and quick-strike ability of the Eagles offense means your fantasy players will get more opportunities on offense, and you will score more points.
Furthermore, you should really consider adding a few Eagles to your fantasy squad this year, because they're going to rack up the points. LeSean McCoy is going to be the focus of a run-heavy scheme, and his ability to catch passes out of the backfield only adds to his value.
His backup, Bryce Brown, is also valuable, because Chip Kelly is going to have more of a need for a backup running back than any other offensive coach in the NFL thanks to the heavy workload he'll force his runners to endure.
And whichever mediocre talent wins the quarterback job might be worth a late-round flier, because he's going to make up for his shortcomings with an incredible volume of pass attempts, yards and garbage-time scores.
So if you're a fan of one of the 31 teams in the NFL that doesn't hail from Philadelphia, but you want to be entertained when your favorite team isn't on the field, be sure to tune in to the Eagles every week.
They're going to be the reality show of the 2013 NFL season. You know you shouldn't watch, because it's a bit of a train wreck, but you watch anyway and love every second of it.
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