You could argue that they still have to prove they can score like the Denver Broncos, but if the Philadelphia Eagles didn't already have the NFL's best all-around offense prior to free agency, they've moved a lot closer to that throne with Thursday's acquisition of Darren Sproles.
That deal, which was first reported by Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, will only cost Philly the fifth-round pick it got from New England in exchange for Isaac Sopoaga last year, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.
An easy price to pay in order to add one of the most dynamic backs in the game to Chip Kelly's offensive arsenal.
Everyone knows Kelly likes to use smaller backs as receivers, and Sproles is the ultimate receiver out of the backfield. Since joining the Saints in 2011, he has more catches, yards and touchdowns than any other back in football, and it's not even close.
|Most prolific pass-catching running backs since 2011|
|1. Darren Sproles||Saints||232||1981||16|
|2. Ray Rice||Ravens||195||1503||4|
|3. Matt Forte||Bears||170||1424||4|
|4. Pierre Thomas||Saints||166||1292||5|
|5. LeSean McCoy||Eagles||154||1227||8|
|6. Chris Johnson||Titans||135||995||4|
|Pro Football Reference|
LeSean McCoy ranks in the top six in all three of those categories as well, but McCoy is a very different player. There's no reason the Eagles can't use both backs frequently—an approach that would give opposing defenses tremendous headaches.
Of course, that would also help to lighten McCoy's load, which could be a lifesaver. Since 2011, McCoy has had two seasons with 850 or more snaps at running back, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). During that span, only two other backs—Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte—have hit that plateau once.
But back to the offensive arms race. Last year, the Eagles had the league's second-ranked offense and were fourth in points scored, but their offensive numbers were actually more impressive when you isolated games in which Nick Foles was the quarterback.
After eliminating Michael Vick and Matt Barkley from the equation—which is only fair considering he's the franchise quarterback moving forward—the gap between Denver and Philly is minuscule.
|Offensive comparison, 2013|
|Broncos, with Manning||38.1||457.3||1.7|
|Eagles, with Foles only||33.0||436.0||0.7|
|Packers, with Rodgers||30.6||443.1||2.2|
|Patriots, with Brady||27.8||384.5||1.3|
|Eagles, any quarterback||27.6||417.3||1.2|
|Saints, with Brees||25.4||323.8||1.1|
|Chargers, with Rivers||24.8||393.3||1.3|
|Pro Football Reference|
Regardless of the quarterback, the Eagles and Broncos each averaged 6.3 yards per play in 2013. Nobody else in the league was above 6.0.
This offense is now officially good enough to compete for a Super Bowl. But of course, the offense is only on the field half the time (and in Philadelphia's case, because of their breakneck pace, less than that), and three of the last four teams to actually reach the Super Bowl—Baltimore, San Francisco and Seattle—were there as a result of strong defensive play to more of a degree than strong offensive play.
So don't overlook what Philly has done to shore up its defensive backfield the last few days, starting with the addition of veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins on Tuesday and peaking with the signing of cornerback Nolan Carroll Thursday, according to CSN Philly's Geoff Mosher.
Jenkins will start, and Carroll could too. The 27-year-old has started 22 games the last two seasons in Miami and is coming off a career year with three picks, two sacks and an opposing passer rating of just 47.8, per PFF.
|Lowest opposing complete percentages vs. CBs, 2013|
|Player||Team||Opp. comp. %|
|1. Trumaine McBride||Giants||43.8|
|2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie||Broncos||44.1|
|3. Leodis McKelvin||Bills||46.1|
|4. Nolan Carroll||Dolphins||47.8|
|5. Johnathan Joseph||Texans||48.3|
|Pro Football Focus|
Carroll should at least push incumbent starters Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher while giving the secondary some much-needed depth in a league that continues to emphasize the pass (and defense of the pass).
That's something this team has been struggling with for years. And although it felt as though it was always sunny in Philadelphia last season the Eagles still had the league's 32nd-ranked pass defense.
That should change this year. Combine a strong D with an upgraded offense featuring new weapons like Sproles and Maclin and there's no reason the Eagles can't win their first championship in half a century.