Division Champs

Posted: December 30th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 116 Comments »

The Eagles went 10-6. They won the NFC East. This is a heck of an accomplishment in Year One for Chip Kelly. It also says a lot about the players.

Remember that last year the Eagles went 4-12. There were some talent issues, but sloppy play was as big a culprit as anything. Think about Mike Vick’s awful showing in the loss at Arizona. Brent Celek had a key drop and key penalty in the loss to the Lions. STs gave up a PR touchdown that broke open the first Dallas game. Bryce Brown had crucial fumbles in a couple of games. Nick Foles made his share of bonehead plays in multiple games. The entire defense was a disaster after the firing of Juan Castillo. That was a combination of tackling and coverage.

The Eagles made good personnel moves in the offseason, but just as importantly, Chip Kelly eliminated a lot of the mistakes. The Eagles went from leading the league in turnovers to having the 4th fewest. That is huge. Brent Celek was money in the Red Zone. He had 6 TD catches, the 2nd most of his career. The receivers became good, if not very good, run blockers. Tackling improved dramatically. There were still some coverage issues, but this was a completely rebuilt secondary and they were learning a new scheme.

For the first time in a while, the Eagles were a smart team. Celek went down instead of scoring against the Lions. That sealed the game. Just last night Brandon Boykin went down after picking off Kyle Orton. Boykin could have run around and tried to make a play, but there was no need for that. Be smart, be safe. Nick Foles took sacks rather than throwing the ball up for grabs. In the Red Zone, he threw the ball out of the back of the end zone rather than taking sacks. Always try to put yourself in a favorable position.

The players could have fought Kelly and his “interesting” ideas. That didn’t happen. The players embraced Kelly and ate up everything he was selling. There were some bumps in the road early on, but nothing too big. These guys wanted to win. They were willing to adjust the way they trained, practiced and played.

Just look at some key veterans. Trent Cole became a pretty good OLB. Brent Celek caught his fewest passes as a starter, but had the best blocking season of his career. Jason Avant had his fewest catches since 2008, but did a great job as a blocker. Todd Herremans moved to a new position. It took time for him to adjust to RG, but he played better down the stretch. Michael Vick lost his starting job. He never complained once. He never made an odd comment that the press could try and read into. This is a group of high character players that helped the team on and off the field.

So often we think of leaders as rah-rah guys. That’s somewhat of a media myth. Leaders can be fiery in your face guys, but just as important are guys that talk to and teach other guys in more basic ways. DeMeco Ryans might be the best leader on the Eagles. The other 52 players respect him. They listen to him. Ryans isn’t getting in someone’s face all the time. He’s just a veteran player who has a gift for knowing what needs to be said and when to say it.

Let’s also give credit to the young guys. Nick Foles handled the QB situation well. He could have complained to the media when Vick got the job immediately, but Foles said all the right things. He could have expressed frustration when he wasn’t named the starter after beating the Bucs and Giants, but again said the right things. Vinny Curry could have been tough to deal with after being inactive for the first 2 weeks, but he stayed pretty quiet and worked his way into the lineup.

Almost across the board, players chose to buy in to Kelly’s ideas. This was a huge part of the team’s success in 2013. It also gives you a lot of hope moving forward.

The Eagles are a work in progress. This should be just one step on the way to the top. Time will tell how close the Eagles get to the ultimate goal. The good news is that Chip Kelly didn’t sell out for this season’s success. This isn’t the 1995 Eagles, loaded with veteran cast-offs and one-year signings. The 2013 Eagles have plenty of young talent.

I don’t think winning the division will distract the team from loftier expectations. The Eagles have won plenty of division titles in the last 15 years. This isn’t going to be like the 2012 Skins, where winning the division was a landmark event. That city and organization acted as if they’d just won a decade’s worth of Super Bowls. Kelly will keep his players hungry. The leaders on the team will keep the players focused.

It feels great to get back to the playoffs, especially to be hosting a game. No matter what happens on Saturday night, the 2013 season has been a success. That said, I’m greedy. Let’s go beat the Saints and keep this ball rolling.

_


  • Thiago Pereira Vital

    Tommy, here in Brazil we also have many fans of the Eagles! We were ecstatic with this win over the Cowboys! We have a facebook group with over 400 people always very moving! A big hug.

    ps:.’ve used google translate, sorry for any grammatical error or inconsistency.

    • TommyLawlor

      Good job with your comments.

      Great to hear the Eagles have a strong following down there. That’s really awesome.

      • teltschikfakeout88

        Tommy you’ve gone international bro!!! Google Translate…..what a world we live in….

        • bridgecoach

          Google Translate: PBR – did you mean Por Beber? Why yes, I suppose I did.

    • mtn_green

      Maybe nfl should expand south. Futbol and football. Surprised football isn’t more international.

      • bdbd20

        I never understood why they keep trying England when Mexico City would be a much easier transition.

        • iceberg584

          I wonder if there are security considerations that would deter a franchise/the NFL from considering Mexico City as a permanent location.

          • TheRogerPodacter

            i hate that city. its awful and i pray i never have to go back!
            lol

          • iceberg584

            I was probably more concerned for my personal safety in Mexico City than I was in Baghdad.

          • TheRogerPodacter

            yea man, i hear you. granted, haven’t been to baghdad, but mexico city scared the ish out of me.
            i was there for an overnight work trip and hated every second of it.
            the crazy thing to me was the air quality. it seemed like Smog City to me and i had some trouble breathing, even in the hotel. of course, the restaurant we went to for lunch was jam packed with more of those ionic breeze air purifiers than actual wait staff. lol.

          • P_P_K

            Wait, what… oh, I thought you meant Philly.

          • Neil

            The short answer is yes.

          • iceberg584

            Yeah, plus, try convincing rich American athletes to live (possibly with their families) in Mexico City for six months. Not happening.

          • theycallmerob

            eh. they’re in DET and BAL. we can handle Mexico. Keep players on a tight leash, though; screen the hookers at the hotel door and have 15 drug tests a week

          • P_P_K

            Lol.

        • Mac

          Money is in London or Mexico City?

          Next expansion after Europe is Asia not South America…

        • D3FB

          I think it would be for sheer health concerns of opposing players. Mexico City makes Denver seem like a beachfront. There would be huge issues with altitude sickness.

      • jshort

        Gladiatorial games were more popular in the Roman empire. Interesting thought though.

    • P_P_K

      Muy bien mi hermano!

      • Neil

        Muito bem, meu irmao.

      • iceberg584

        Brazil = Portuguese

        • P_P_K

          My language skills, as you can tell, are limited. Once, in Costa Rica, I thanked someone for being a dog. Anyway, TPZ, welcome to Eagles Nation.

    • theycallmerob

      please link to facebook group!

    • Stephen Stempo

      I agree thanks tommy big hugs from all of us!

  • Alex Karklins

    It’s really anyone’s game in the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles made a run or lost in the first game. Right now I’m just enjoying playing with house money. Maybe they can pull of a Giants/Ravens string. Stranger things have happened to teams with bigger holes than this team.

    Also, a great new video from the Eagles: “Crashing the Party” https://vimeo.com/82963876

    • mtn_green

      Best I’ve seen this year.

      • Alex Karklins

        Definitely rivals the “Brotherly Love” video.

    • OregonDucker

      Thank you. This reflects my view of the season. Now the playoff journey led by Chippah can begin.

      • Alex Karklins

        For me, anything more that 8 wins was going to be gravy, but now I’ve got an appetite for the whole turkey dinner, including dessert.

  • bdbd20

    Tommy,

    Do you think playing indoors had a negative effect on the guys? They struggled in Minnesota and played a little below standard yesterday (especially the big guys). Just curious about your opinion.

    • mtn_green

      They practice indoors. I think the quality of competition has more to do with it than indoor/outdoor, home/away, bad weather/good weather. Maybe max of 3 point swing total for for all those factors. Goes for NO too they played tougher competition on road in open air.

    • TommyLawlor

      Indoors? No biggie.

      Veteran QBs who got rid of the ball quickly? That was the big deal. The fact that both QBs were at home in a cozy environment did help them to perform well, but it didn’t hurt the Eagles per se.

      • GEAGLE

        Alex henrey certainly didn’t struggle..Chip said Donnie hit the jumbotron booming a punt pregame

  • Yuri

    I would also add (on the “let’s not overreact” theme) that the Eagles got more than their share of luck this year (and probably less that ‘fair’ share in some other years). We have faced lots of backups to the stars on other teams. But on the other hand, from 3-5 to 10-6 is a very good story of players + coaches ‘growing into the system’ that bodes well for the future.

    Let’s see where the playoffs take us, we have not been eliminated yet. The next year challenge #1, to me, is personnel. A successful team returning intact is usually a recipe for disaster, and it is doubly hard to continue to rebuild after a good year. As Tommy pointed out, 2013’s cuts have been pretty easy to live with based on where those players are. This offseason the decisions should be harder.

    The other major challenge is of course the copycat nature of the league. Teams will implement similar offenses (of course they need a De/LeSean to be explosive) and defenses will do better against them. The youth of most key players should work well for us though!

    • TommyLawlor

      The Eagles did get some lucky breaks and those will be factored in when evaluating this season. No one is going to try and make this season into something it wasn’t.

      • Stephen Stempo

        You play hard, play smart and limit mistakes and you tend to get those lucky breaks

        • GEAGLE

          No one ever won a Super Bowl being unlucky

  • Nah__Roots

    As far as the Eagles, I'm not sure. There is alot of speculation about players being disgruntled it does not look promising.— Leonard Weaver (@LeonardWeaver) June 10, 2013

    • TommyLawlor

      Ha, I forgot all about that. Heard it was totally bogus at the time. Turned out to be completely false.

    • Andy124

      Context?

      • Nah__Roots

        http://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2013/6/11/4419688/leonard-weaver-worries-about-the-unity-of-the-eagles-under-chip-kelly

        I don’t think I would have even remembered about it if it wasn’t for this article.

        • Andy124

          Couldn’t ask for better context than that. Ha!

      • iceberg584

        Well there was the documented consternation involving DeSean…and in his presser yesterday, McCoy seemed to indicate there was some early skepticism of Chip Kelly.

      • Stephen Stempo

        That’s when Kelly wasn’t naming any of his starters (desean was taking snaps with 2nd and third teams in some of the mini camps) and people in the media were all like “It’s not college these aren’t college players these are man and you have to give them the respect..” blah blah blah…

  • iceberg584

    Tommy, any thoughts on Dallas succeeding in shutting down our screens? That seemed to really diminish much of our arsenal, and undoubtedly made things tougher for our offensive line in the second half.

    • mtn_green

      Noticed that too. Seemed 2 or 3 of the sacks were busted screens where Foles couldn’t throw or illegal man downfield. Smart play by Foles.

      I recall an article saying that cowboys were really good at sniffing out screens and opposing QBs had low QB rating on those.

    • TheRogerPodacter

      take a look at the chip wagon breakdown of this one.

      turned out, it wasn’t a screen play at all. we had two places to go and they were both well covered.

      http://chipwagon.typepad.com/eagles/2013/12/more-packages-for-the-new-year.html

    • TommyLawlor

      The biggest thing with screen passes is awareness. Dallas expected screens and did a great job of taking McCoy out of the passing game. Kelly can tweak some things, but defenses can shut down the screen pass if they focus on the RB.

      • iceberg584

        Well hopefully Chip works something in to take advantage of that tactic. It looked like Ware and Co. were basically bear-hugging McCoy the moment that Foles gave ground implying a screen.

      • bill

        If they focus on the RB screen, doesn’t that usually tend to slow down the pass rush a little? It seems like the Eagles had a “tell” for their screens, because the Cowboys were getting to the QB pretty quickly, even with playing the screens well.

  • ACViking

    Re: 6-day forecast

    Saturday night’s weather: clear, mid-20s, 8 mph wind.

    Friday’s weather? 30% chance of snow, high of 19 degrees, 22 mph wind.

  • HipDaDip

    On an interview with Boykin on PE.com, he said that he was trying to run the interception back for a TD, but Connor Barwin told him to go down. Boykin said he realized his mistake. Yet another example of the trickle down of good coaching and good personnel decisions, helping groom the young talent. Of all the positives, the progress of the young players is the most exciting part of this season (other than the Jerry Jones “glory hole” video).

  • ICDogg

    I think Dallas has been well prepared for the most part to play against other teams in the division, perhaps at the expense of teams not in the division.

    • http://www.aceandson.com/blog Richard O’Connor

      5-1 in the division is going to get you into the playoffs 9 out 10 times if not more. It’s a decent strategy -especially for a team whose lack of depth kills them every December.

    • GEAGLE

      Totally agree…they were extremely well prepared last night, for our RB screens, playing man to shut down our bubble screens…they were well prepared and played their ass off and have been playing the division tough all year..
      ..,
      A team like the saints is going to really struggle with us when they see us for the first time, assuming our Oline plays better then they did yesterday

  • OregonDucker

    Many wondered why some duckers started visiting Eagles blogs. Now you know.

    Philly now has “the master magician”. Kids are growing into men. Football in Philadelphia is fun again. “We’re from Philadelphia. We fight!” again.

    • jshort

      Many of us became Duck fans too…..Looking forward to knocking off Texas this evening.

      • Mitchell

        Lookin forward to watching jeffcoat.

  • P_P_K

    This is my favorite Eagles team since the glory days of Trotter, Dawk, Runyan, DMac, and Westy. This a young team with character and guts. Going from a sloppy, lazy 4-12 team to a 10-6 Division Champ (including 7-1 down the stretch) is huge.

    Now let’s roast some Saints in the fire of Lincoln Field hell.

    • fran35

      Ditto here. It is the most fun and optimism I have had in 8-9 years with the Eagles. Honestly, even if we lose Saturday, it has no bearing on my optimistic feelings. We are absolutely a team on the rise and will be a force for the forseeable future

  • HipDaDip

    I think I can blame (read: thank) this website for my hatred of Ashley Fox. The opening of her espn.com article: “Six wins are what I predicted for the Philadelphia Eagles in Chip Kelly’s first season as their head coach. That would’ve been progress. That was realistic. For a team coming off a two-year stretch that had produced 12 wins and players who hadn’t exactly given it up for their head coach, six wins would indicate progress after 14 years of Andy Reid football.”

    No, following a 2-year stretch that produced 12 wins, 6 wins would not be progress. 6 wins would be the expectation after averaging 6 wins for 2 years. Why not just make the argument based on last year? I do not understand this person.

    Edit: Also, “Although running an up-tempo offense, Kelly has repeatedly said he doesn’t care about time of possession.” That is exactly why he doesn’t care about TOP! No “although” about it.

    • TommyLawlor

      Many don’t.

    • Miami_Adam

      I can’t believe you have me defending Ashley Fox, but the opening of that article is, “I was wrong.” Ignorance aside, you have to give her at least a little credit for accountability.

      • HipDaDip

        I’d give her credit if she opened with “I am perpetually wrong.”

        • Miami_Adam

          haha

  • ICDogg

    Super Bowl Odds posted

    Seahawks: 9-5.
    Broncos: 5-2.
    49ers: 13-2.
    Patriots: 8-1.
    Panthers: 9-1.
    Packers: 12-1.
    Bengals: 15-1.
    Eagles: 20-1.
    Colts: 25-1.
    Saints: 25-1.
    Chiefs: 28-1.
    Chargers: 40-1.

    • BlindChow

      Wow, I’m surprised the Saints have worse odds than the Eagles. They must be taking the road game thing pretty seriously.

      • Ark87

        The Eagles are favored to win the head to head against the Saints. So being favored to get out of the wild card round is a huge advantage in the over-all super-bowl odds.

        Either way your point stands. Nobody really likes the saints when they’re not in their dome.

    • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

      Ha-ha, better odds than AR!
      So much for that 9-0 start – reality is about to hit the fan over in KC!

    • OregonDucker

      So, there’s a chance?? Heeeeheeee

      The Chip Train is rolling. Get on Board or get off the tracks – cause we’ll roll right over you!

    • BreakinAnklez

      Based on history…take the Chargers.

  • Tom33
    • BlindChow

      Haha! That is terrific.

    • TommyLawlor

      That’s awesome.

  • ICDogg
  • austinfan

    I thought this team had 10 win talent, they had underachieved for two years and Howie did a good job with the draft and free agency, but the switch to Chip’s offense and the 3-4 convinced me that they might well end up winning only six games, and the key was how they performed after the bye week, when they would have had time to get comfortable with the new schemes. They managed to hit that point a month early.

    However, this team is more like 2000, if they win a playoff game it’s gravy, more important is a lot of young players are going to get playoff experience. There’s a lot of work needed on the roster, and Foles’ statistics are a bit of a mirage, he’s far from a polished playoff QB at this point though he’s done a good job of working on his mechanics and improving his accuracy, his field vision and reaction time need lots of work (compare to say Rodgers after he shook off the rust).

    It’s a fun ride, and I’m not going to be bummed out when it ends, rather, they’ve laid a great foundation, and another solid offseason could build them into a perennial contender. In the same fashion I just want to see Foles to continue to develop, I expect a few pratfalls on the way.

    • TheRogerPodacter

      i think the comparisons to the 2000 season are pretty good.

      i’m with you – i certainly didn’t expect the team to reach 10 wins or make the playoffs so if they win anything from here on, its just bonus experience for the young guys.

  • Mike Roman

    This team is starting to remind me of the 2001 group. We’re young and hungry and where nobody expected us to be. This wasn’t supposed to happen for at least another year. We have a legitimate shot at making a run, and even if we fall short I think you can safely say that this group of players aren’t fully ripened yet.

  • Tumtum

    “This isn’t going to be like the 2012 Skins, where winning the division was a landmark event. That city and organization acted as if they’d just won a decade’s worth of Super Bowls.”
    —-
    Ha so true. There aren’t enough beans in the world to count how many times I heard Redskins fans say the phrase “division champs”. Honestly, big deal. Its an accomplishment but sheesh. Ever read the comments on PFT from the guy “logicalvoice”? He could be considered only a slightly aggressive Redskins fan after last year.

  • Scott J

    I just read an article by Ashley Fox where she admitted being wrong about Chip Kelly. I give her credit for eating crow.

  • OregonDucker

    Playoff Match-up: 2 QBs from West Lake HS. Each a standout record holder. One 10 years older than the other. One who bested all the records of the first. Foles verses Brees. You can’t make this stuff up. Two hometown heroes battling for The Prize.

    • GEAGLE

      “Time for the student to kill the master!!!”

      • jshort

        Time for the latter to get a SB ring too.

  • McNabbulousness

    has anyone posted this inspirational piece of art from deadspin yet?

    http://deadspin.com/10-sports-vines-that-will-restore-your-faith-in-humanit-1491758662

    • A_T_G

      I noticed a theme…

  • BC1968
  • BC1968

    Not sure how this will come out, had to cut this down big time. Who’s the weirdo pulling his shirt over his head? LOLLL Edit: Sorry didn’t come out as a gif. Iz aint noez computa wizzard

  • ICDogg
  • Mitchell

    Jeffcoat has me salivating this bowl game.

  • ICDogg

    Hard to believe they didn’t call a face mask on this one

    http://cdn2.sbnation.com/assets/3786641/marcusfacemask.gif

    • Flyin

      No clear evidence. He could have been grabbing a loose decal on the helmet.

    • SteveH

      Hard to believe his head wasn’t separated from his body.

    • D3FB

      Facemasks should only be called in the event of decapitation.

  • ICDogg

    pic.twitter.com/0GdNauGhBI

  • ICDogg

    Boathouse Row in Green

    pic.twitter.com/I6slzownp9

  • ICDogg

    I believe this is at the Constitution Center

    Even our Founding Fathers are going green! #Eagles Tweet me your pics! pic.twitter.com/pBlO1BRU9J— Jamie Apody (@JamieApody) December 30, 2013

  • ICDogg

    There are also a bunch of Eagles cut outs on the Art Museum steps. But this is the only picture I can find so far.

    pic.twitter.com/xVe829PnsA

  • Mitchell

    Trade out of the first round, pick up a/some seconds or thirds, grab Jeffcoat, successful draft.

    • Insomniac

      New man-crush already?

      • Mitchell

        I have one every year. My upper-tier man-crush was John Cyprien, and the later rounder was T.J. McDonald. Unfortunately we didn’t get either. hopefully that changes :)

        • Insomniac

          Already over Justin Gilbert? Lol I kid.

          I’m not as high on Jeffcoat as you are though. He’s way too inconsistent for me to view him as a 2nd round talent. I’m pretty lukewarm on the idea of trading down. Kelvin Benjamin and Rashede Hageman are pretty hard to pass up if they’re there.

          • D3FB

            I would be shocked to see big shede be available when the Eagles pick. Benjamin is going to rise during the offseason process and also probably won’t be around but I have some reservations about him. He turns 23 before the draft despite being only a redshirt sophomore. He failed 2 grades and also got in some legal trouble as a kid. Tons of talent, but also red flags.

          • Mitchell

            Still like Gilbert and was hoping we could get Jeffcoat in the third, sadly he will be gone by then.

          • GEAGLE

            Yes and yes…love Benjamin and shede

    • GEAGLE

      Rather have Kony Ealy..

      I want the huge beast of a WRnfor FSU

      • Mitchell

        Can he play OLB and DE? What I really want for Christmas is to draft Justin Gilbert!