Identifying the Philadelphia Eagles' Biggest Flaws Ahead of 2014 Season
Every team has flaws, but some are more apparent than others. Unfortunately, the Eagles' weaknesses were revealed and exploited often in 2013, which led to a premature end at the hands of the New Orleans Saints.
Through free agency and the draft the Eagles have tried to fill holes, but not all of them have been addressed. Here are four of Philly's biggest flaws entering 2014. How they deal with them will determine how successful the birds are in Kelly's sophomore season.
1. Lack of Consistent Pass Rush
The Eagles' lead pass-rusher last season was Trent Cole, who nabbed eight sacks. But Cole was inconsistent, being nonexistent in the season finale against Dallas and in the playoff game against the Saints.
Connor Barwin is excellent in run support and pass coverage, but less so as a pass-rusher. The Eagles attempted to add a pass-rusher by selecting Marcus Smith in the first round of the draft, but Smith is very raw and is unlikely to make an impact as a rookie.
The pass rush is a weakness the Eagles have not yet thoroughly addressed.
2. Backup Quarterback
If Michael Vick is indeed the backup quarterback for the Jets, letting him go could have been a big mistake.
Having a quality backup is key in the modern QB-driven NFL. Josh McCown and Matt Cassell proved that depth at QB pays huge dividends. Despite having just two years of experience, Foles has already missed two-and-a-half games due to injury.
With Vick at the helm, the Eagles could likely win a few games in Foles' absence. But Mark Sanchez has looked inconsistent at best so far in the offseason. Matt Barkley was very ineffective in 2013, to put it kindly. His 2013 stats were zero touchdowns to four interceptions for a 44.6 passer rating.
No matter who wins the backup job, the Eagles don't exactly have a reliable option yet.
Having a reliable kicker is essential for elite NFL teams. The Andy Reid era can credit many wins to clutch field goals from David Akers. Alex Henery has had time to improve but has consistently missed critical field goals.
Most notably, his 48-yard missed field goal against the Saints turned out to be the difference in Philly's 26-24 loss. His 82.1 field-goal percentage in 2013 was just 22nd best in the league. He also struggled to consistently kick the ball into the end zone on kickoffs.
The Eagles signed Vanderbilt's Carey Spear as an undrafted free agent to give Henery some competition. The team must find a reliable kicker if it wants to compete for a top seed and a playoff run.
4. Strong Safety
The free safety position will likely be manned by newly acquired free agent Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins has a habit of missing tackles, but he should provide immediate improvement in pass coverage.
The strong safety spot, however, is still a question mark. Nate Allen was brought back on a one-year deal as a potential fit. He was adequate last season, but not much more than that. Second-year Earl Wolff will likely get a shot to earn the spot, granted he takes a step forward during the offseason.
But the Eagles don't have a true playmaker at the safety position and failed to focus on it during the draft. Opposing teams will likely continue to exploit this through the air.
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