The Philadelphia Eagles enter 2013 amid expectations that newly-named starter Michael Vick can recapture the magic he displayed in his prime. Vick possesses elite athleticism and the ability to direct a high-powered offense should he be able to limit his turnovers and stay healthy.
As I predicted in a previous article, I think the Eagles will finish just 6-10 this season, largely because of a defense that will struggle to adapt to the new 3-4 formation. I expect the Eagles to score over 400 points but give up close to 30 points per game, especially if the secondary doesn't show major improvement from a year ago.
To see the award predictions for the 2013 Eagles, click here. The following breaks down the projected stats of all the skill-position players, plus the top defensive players, on the Birds.
Chip Kelly has finally announced Michael Vick as his starting quarterback over Nick Foles, which should lead to an exciting season for the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles.
Vick is still a dynamic presence on the football field, even though he is 33 years old. He's a terrific runner and possesses a laser of a throwing arm. His biggest downfalls as of the last several years have been his inability to stay healthy, which is why I have him starting just 12 games in 2013.
Vick has averaged 11.67 starts per season since 2010. He's seen a significant drop in his passing numbers over the years, going from a 62.6 completion percentage in '10 to 59.8 in '11 to just 58.1 last year, a figure that rated just 25th among 32 qualifiers at the quarterback position.
Vick's touchdown percentage has dropped from 5.6 to 4.3 to 3.4, and both his yards per attempt and passer rating have declined each season as well. Still, he should perform better in an offense that returns all starters on the offensive line, and one that will look to run the ball significantly more.
While with the Atlanta Falcons from 2001 through 2006, Vick was asked to throw the ball 40 or more times just twice, and he lost both starts. He did so seven times with the Eagles, losing six of the matchups (the only win came by one point against Cleveland a year ago). The key will be limiting Vick's pass attempts, as he is 5-2 for the Eagles when he passes 30 or fewer times.
2013 Predictions: 235 of 380 (61.8%), 2,645 yards (6.96 YPA), 16 TD, 10 INT; 72 rushes, 484 yards (6.7 YPC), five touchdowns
While Michael Vick is injured, Nick Foles will start at quarterback, barring an unforeseen circumstance that sees Foles get traded or Matt Barkley jumping ahead of Foles on the depth chart.
Foles won't be able to run the same kind of offense Vick can as he's not a runner, but he should be more accurate on quick, precision-passing and running the high-tempo offense Kelly likes.
2013 Predictions: 91 of 141 (64.5%), 1,145 yards (8.12 YPA), 8 TD, 4 INT
I expect LeSean McCoy to have a banner year in 2013. The offensive line has returned at full strength, notably All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters, one of the finest all-around run-blocking tackles in the business. The addition of Lane Johnson at right tackle gives the Philadelphia Eagles a potentially elite tackle duo, one that could help the Eagles lead the NFL in rushing yards. As I predicted, I think McCoy will be the team MVP in '13.
2013 Predictions: 304 carries, 1,503 yards, 4.94 YPC, 11 TD; 44 receptions, 426 yards, two touchdowns; 348 touches, 1,929 total yards, 13 total TD
If McCoy and Bryce Brown can stay healthy for 16 games this season, the Eagles will have an unstoppable rushing duo. The Seattle Seahawks led the NFL with 536 rushing attempts a year ago. Considering the Eagles will run a heavy run-balanced offense and will likely lead the league in plays on offense, it's possible that Philadelphia exceeds that total. Then again, the Eagles won't likely be leading for as many games as the Seahawks.
2013 Predictions: 92 carries, 420 yards, 4.57 YPC, four touchdowns; six receptions, 31 yards, zero touchdowns; 98 touches, 451 total yards, four total TD
Chris Polk should beat out Felix Jones for the third running back position, which will get him several carries per game in the Kelly offense.
2013 Predictions: 36 carries, 144 yards, 4.00 YPC, one touchdown; four receptions, 23 yards, zero touchdowns; 40 touches, 167 total yards, one total TD
For the Philadelphia Eagles to succeed in 2013, they're going to need DeSean Jackson to recapture the magic he displayed in 2009 and 2010. Those two years, Jackson was selected to consecutive Pro Bowls, and he revolutionized the NFL with his 40- and 50-yard touchdown catches (and 70-yard punt returns).
Considering the injury to Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles need Jackson's presence on the outside. If he gets injured, the Eagles are down to unproven players like Riley Cooper, Russell Shepard, Damaris Johnson, and Greg Salas on the outside while reliable Jason Avant plays the slot.
2013 Predictions: 49 receptions, 924 yards, 18.86 avg, five touchdowns; 22 rushes, 131 yards, 5.95 YPC, one touchdown
The Philadelphia Eagles' eighth-year slot receiver was likely going to see his role in the offense diminish until Maclin and Arrelious Benn suffered season-ending injuries. Then again, Avant will likely still see his streak of 50-catch seasons end at three given that he's a slower, possession receiver with a limited skill set who very rarely catches touchdowns (just 10 in seven seasons).
2013 Predictions: 28 receptions, 305 yards, 10.89 avg, one touchdown
Chip Kelly loves players like Johnson who offer versatility and the ability to line up at multiple positions (slot receiver, outside receiver and even running back). Johnson will see his role increase with the injury to Maclin, and should Jackson get injured, Johnson will be the top candidate to try to assume his role.
2013 Predictions: 36 receptions, 392 yards, 10.89 avg, two touchdowns
The Eagles will try to use Riley Cooper in the role of the taller receiver the offense has lacked for so long, but he hasn't proven yet he's a reliable threat.
2013 Predictions: 21 receptions, 264 yards, 12.57 avg, two touchdowns
Russell Shepard will play a role similar to that of Johnson, except it's doubtful he puts up the same kind of numbers. Shepard never really made an impact at LSU, finishing his four-year career with just 10 total touchdowns. When he does play for the Eagles, it will be in a versatile role.
2013 Predictions: 11 receptions, 132 yards, 12.00 avg, one touchdown; 12 carries, 54 yards, 4.5 YPC, no touchdowns
When Salas does play, it will be in a similar role to that of Avant as a possession receiver on third-down attempts.
2013 Predictions: 10 receptions, 111 yards, 11.00 avg, zero touchdowns
Brent Celek is my pick to decline among the offensive players, although I still think he will put up solid receiving numbers. Celek will be called upon to block more since he drops a high percentage of passes.
2013 Predictions: 34 receptions, 401 yards, 11.79 avg, two touchdowns
Zach Ertz was a stellar addition to the Philadelphia Eagles with the 35th overall draft pick. He should make an impact as a receiving tight end, especially since he has the ability to line up as a slot receiver as well. Ertz is a future Pro Bowler, although he's not going to make it in 2013.
2013 Predictions: 48 receptions, 605 yards, 12.60 avg, five touchdowns
The addition of James Casey to the offense gives the Eagles a new addition to line up all over the field, whether it be at tight end, fullback or H-back. Casey finished with 34 receptions for 330 yards and three touchdowns, and all of those numbers should increase in Chip Kelly's offense in 2013.
2013 Predictions: 50 receptions, 506 yards, 10.12 avg, four touchdowns
I think Clay Harbor will make the team because Kelly loves tight ends, and keeping four on the roster shouldn't be a problem for him. However, Harbor won't make much of an impact.
2013 Predictions: seven receptions, 71 yards, 10.14 avg
Everything in me hopes Trent Cole will transform back to the extremely underrated defensive end who stopped the pass and the run for so many years. But the switch to the 3-4 defense will be difficult, and Cole will have to ward off Brandon Graham for snaps.
2013 Predictions: 5.5 sacks, eight quarterback hits, 23 quarterback pressures, 32 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery
After an 11.5-sack campaign in 2011, Connor Barwin dropped off to just three in 2012. There's reason for optimism though, as Barwin has played in a 3-4 defense before. And he did put up 12 quarterback hits a year ago, which ranked tied for second-best among 3-4 outside linebackers, per Pro Football Focus. Barwin is a former second-round draft pick with the potential to get 10 or more sacks.
2013 Predictions: 6.5 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, 26 quarterback pressures, 42 tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception
The switch to a 3-4 should benefit the athletic Brandon Graham, a pass-rushing force who quietly broke out in 2012. Graham's 31 quarterback pressures in just 435 defensive snaps was the most efficient pass rushing ratio of any player in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.
2013 Predictions: 11.5 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, 40 quarterback pressures, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception
Many people have questioned DeMeco Ryans' ability to transition back to a 3-4 defense, one that eventually forced his way out of Houston. However, Ryans' 2011 struggles could be more attributed to a torn Achilles tendon from the previous season. Houston's decision to trade him likely stemmed from the improvement of Brian Cushing and the high cap hit Ryans would bring. Still, Ryans is entering his eighth season and he doesn't possess sideline-to-sideline speed or elite coverage skills anymore.
2013 Predictions: 72 tackles, six tackles for loss, one fumble recovery, one interception
Mychal Kendricks is a player who should excel in the new 3-4 formation, given his 4.47 40 speed. He can cover tight ends, although his biggest problem a year ago was a high percentage of missed tackles.
2013 Predictions: 68 tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions, one forced fumble, one touchdown
Cary Williams was signed to a three-year deal that expects him to be the top corner on the Eagles, although he's had an offseason to forget thus far. Williams isn't as good as his four interceptions or 17 passes defensed from 2012 because he's a boom-or-bust player in coverage.
2013 Predictions: 12 games played, two interceptions, nine passes defensed, five touchdowns allowed, 105.4 passer rating allowed
Brandon Boykin has been lighting up training camp thus far, and it looks as if he may steal the starting spot from Bradley Fletcher. Boykin is undersized at 5'9", but that didn't stop Antoine Winfield from having an extremely impressive Pro Bowl career. If Boykin can prove he's physical enough, he will get his chance to play on the outside.
2013 Predictions: three interceptions, 12 passes defensed, one forced fumble, 80.4 passer rating allowed on 92 targets
Alex Henery has been consistent in two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, and in fact, his 87.93 career field goal percentage ranks as the second-best mark in NFL history. The one downfall of Henery is that he's converted just one field goal of 50 or more yards, although a 94 percent clip on kicks from 40-49 yards more than makes up for that.
2013 Predictions: 25-30 FG, 83.33%
Damaris Johnson may be ready for a breakout campaign as a punt returner. He quietly put up an 11.2 return average in 2012, including a 98-yard return against the Dallas Cowboys. Johnson began preseason by taking one 69 yards, and he looks remarkably elusive in the open field.
2013 Predictions: 30 returns, 442 yards, 14.73 average, two touchdowns
Brandon Boykin was extremely average on kick returns in 2012, although special teams coach Dave Fipp has an excellent track record of having improved the Miami Dolphins. That bodes well for Boykin to build upon his 23.0 average from last year.
2013 Predictions: 45 returns, 1,098 yards, 24.40 average, one touchdown