Heading into 2013, the Philadelphia Eagles had a lot of talent. There was an All-Pro running back, the potential for a great offensive line (particularly the left side) and a handful of talented receiving weapons. The trick was for Chip Kelly to find himself a franchise quarterback, implement his new system with a new staff of coaches and coax at least a passable season out of the defense.
No one thought Kelly would pull it off as well as he did.
Fresh off a nail-biting 24-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles even hosted their first playoff game in three seasons. The offense set the franchise record in points scored and yards gained, and the defense really clicked. Kelly’s ability to get strong results from unexpected players made this season possible, and the following 10 players exceeded expectations the most.
You won’t find LeSean McCoy’s name on this list; after all, McCoy has showcased his talents before (20 total touchdowns in 2011), and Eagles fans shouldn’t be stunned at the kind of season he put up. He’s always been capable of this, and he will continue to do great things in Kelly’s offense. You won’t find Evan Mathis, because he was expected to be the best guard in the league (as he is). And we all expected Fletcher Cox to continue to play well as a 3-4 pass-rushing end.
But who could have expected a backup quarterback to run the team so efficiently? A handful of defensive players came out of nowhere to blossom in Billy Davis’ 3-4 scheme. And a particular wide receiver went from being arguably the worst starter in the league to a downfield threat in a span of a month.
Without these players, there’s no way the Eagles would have won the NFC East crown.