Here’s this week’s roundup of national media coverage.
Chip Kelly is the 18th-best head coach in the league, according to Elliot Harrison of NFL.com:
Kelly is a man who could shoot up this board awfully quickly. His first year in Philadelphia was a smashing success, as the Eagles won 10 games and took the NFC East title in the process. Kelly’s explosive offense lived up to the billing, ranking second in the NFL and causing other teams to look at tempo more closely on both sides of the ball.
The Eagles have the seventh-best roster in the NFL, Evan Silva of Rotoworld.com projects:
RT Lane Johnson’s four-game suspension throws a wrench into this offensive line, although Barbre is a trusty reserve and by Week 5 the league’s best front five will be re-stabilized. Offensive wizard Chip Kelly will replace DeSean Jackson’s 82 catches with a committee approach, utilizing second-round pick Matthews at slot receiver, Darren Sproles in the passing game, and Maclin along the perimeter. Ertz can also expect a larger role after playing just 41% of Philadelphia’s 2013 snaps while Brent Celek handled 77%. Kelly’s offense is quarterback friendly in that it manufactures one-on-one chances for its playmakers, and 25-year-old Foles looks to be a rising star in the scheme. He was arguably the NFL’s most aggressive passer last season, leading the league in both yards per attempt (9.1) and yards per completion (14.2). This offense has great young skill players, a top-notch offensive line, and is coached by Kelly. There’s everything to like.
LeSean McCoy is the most complete back in the league, says Bucky Brooks of NFL.com:
Some might be surprised to see McCoy’s name at No. 1, but opposing defensive coordinators certainly understand the challenge that the NFL’s reigning rushing champion poses on the field. The shifty runner has superb vision, balance and body control. He excels at making defenders miss, yet he’s tough enough to gain the hard yards between the tackles. McCoy is also a polished receiver out of the backfield with the footwork, hands and ball skills to produce big plays in the passing game, as evidenced by his eight receptions of 20-plus yards in 2013. Even with offseason acquisition Darren Sproles lightening his load in 2014, McCoy will continue to drive the Eagles — his dynamic nature as a runner/receiver opens up a world of possibilities for offensive wizard Chip Kelly.
“Miracle at the Meadowlands II” was voted the top play in Eagles history, Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com reveals:
When you see fans voting for great plays that led to championships, it’s a painful reminder that the Eagles haven’t won one of those since 1960. In their victory against the Green Bay Packers that season, Bednarik made a game-saving tackle of Jim Taylor. That play probably belonged on the short list, too, but how many fans have even seen it at this point?
Meanwhile, Jackson’s “miracle” return at the new Giants’ stadium in East Rutherford was voted best play in NFL history a couple years ago. That is pretty hard to ignore, even if you allow for the impact of Youtube and social media and being on an endless loop on SportsCenter.
Don’t be surprised by a breakout year from Zach Ertz, Raymond Summerlin of Rotoworld.com notes:
Of all second-year tight ends, Ertz is one of the favorites to breakout. He was highly effective with his limited touches last season, scoring 1.27 fantasy points per target, and is in line for an expanded role following the departure of DeSean Jackson. He is also in an offense that figures to score a lot of points this season.
90 targets are well within reach and could easily see Ertz into the lower reaches of the TE1 tier. He represents great value in the tenth round.
Ertz is also a top-five young tight end to watch, Gil Brandt of NFL.com believes:
The second-year pro is a very skilled receiver and blocker who showed as a rookie (36 catches for 469 yards and four scores) that he can really play well in that Eagles attack, which is a good system for tight ends. Ertz’s fluidity helps him get loose in the secondary; he’s definitely more than just a straight-line speed guy.
Speaking of speed, while his 4.65-second 40-yard dash might not seem fast, can you imagine a 6-5, 250-pounder barreling toward you at that pace? The image should crystallize the matchup problem that many of the tight ends on this list present: stopping a giant who can run as fast as your 5-11 safety — and jump as high, too.
Mike Clay of Rotoworld.com thinks the Eagles will be a run-heavy team this year:
For the most part, Chip Kelly’s rookie-season play-calling was about as expected. He called pass 56 percent of the time, which was the league’s six-lowest mark. The Eagles went 10-6 and led on 44 percent of their snaps, so part of the run-heavy number was philosophy and some was game flow. The Eagles’ roster still has a few holes, but the Kelly offense will keep them ahead on the scoreboard or, at least, competitive in most games. Expect a run-first approach with a few extra rushing opportunities as a result of late-game leads.
The Eagles will repeat as division champs, Rich Eisen writes in a guest column for TheMMQB.com:
I think we may have repeat division winners in six of the eight divisions this year. If you think that sounds far-fetched, well, NFL GameDay Morning researcher Bill Smith says the last time it happened was … 2012. But I’m going to say it happens again, and it’s still not going to involve the division that has yet to have a repeat winner since realignment brought it into existence in 2002: the NFC South. So I predict the Packers, Patriots, Colts, Broncos, Eagles, and Seahawks all repeat as division champions.