How far would the Philadelphia Eagles have gone in 2013 were it not for Nick Foles’ unexpected historic season? Could they have made it to the playoffs without the second-year quarterback’s breakthroughs under center?
Unlikely. Foles’ breakout campaign was one of several that propelled the Birds from a 4-12 record in 2012 to division champions in Chip Kelly’s first season on the sidelines. Center Jason Kelce also took his game to a new level in year three. Defensive end Cedric Thornton and cornerback Brandon Boykin played huge roles in the sudden reversal as well.
Even running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver DeSean Jackson, a pair of Pro Bowl-caliber players already, enjoyed breakout years to a lesser extent.
Needless to say, the development at these positions had a huge role in elevating the Eagles back into the postseason. It stands to reason if the franchise is going to take the next step toward becoming a legitimate contender in 2014, it’ll need more young players to come into their own in year two under Kelly.
It just so happens Philadelphia is well-stocked with candidates to reach that next level. If the following five players continue to improve in 2014, the Eagles should continue their ascension in a crowded NFC.