Great Job, Birds. Now Get to Work: A Guide to the Eagles Postseason

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Photo | Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

No matter how disappointing Saturday’s 26-24 loss to New Orleans might have been, there is absolutely no denying the fact that the 2013 Eagles were successful, exciting and fun to watch. As much as it will pain fans to see the Saints travel to Seattle Saturday, they will look back on this season fondly — once the grief subsides.

The NFC East champions were a juggernaut in the second half of the season, winning seven of their last eight. They found a quarterback around whom they can build, received an historic performance from LeSean McCoy and learned that good health — particularly on the offensive line — can be pretty valuable as the season goes on.

Now comes the real work. Despite posting a 10-6 record, the Birds were a highly imperfect team and enter the off-season with considerable work to do if they want to have playoff success in 2014. Failure to improve could lead to the type of collapse that occurred in Houston, where the Texans went from division champs to the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. Here, by position group, is an Eagles postseason breakdown of what’s needed to allow the team to become a true Super Bowl contender.

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Setting Up the Eagles’ Offseason

Riley Cooper

Riley Cooper. Photo | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Minutes after Chip Kelly watched Shayne Graham’s 32-yard field goal split the uprights with time expiring at Lincoln Financial Field, he stood before a roomful of reporters and was asked to reflect on what his team had accomplished in his first year as the Eagles’ head coach.

“You’re probably right that it’s probably a little too soon for that,” Kelly said. “I thought we were going to be a good team when I met these guys for the first time because I know how hard they worked and how hard they wanted to invest in this. And then I watched it first-hand – them come to work every day and really invest in this whole process. It’s just disappointing right now. But I don’t think us winning the division or getting to the playoffs was a surprise to us. I just think everybody is really disappointed that we’re not moving forward.” Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: ‘We’re Hot Right Now’

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As far as LeSean McCoy is concerned, it all makes sense.

The way he sees it is pretty simple: The Eagles are talented, they put in the work all season long, they stayed healthy, and now they are in position to make some noise in the postseason.

“We’re made for the playoffs,” McCoy said. “Everybody’s so excited for us to be here, but we should be here. Everybody’s so excited about us being division champs, but I think we should be. We prepared hard each game. We have so much talent on this team. And the way we prepare, we prepare to be the champs of this division. And we prepare to win this game. The Saints are a good team for sure. They have a very explosive offense and a solid defense, but I think the guys in this locker room, the coaches we have, we can get the job done.” Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Dallas, From Foles’ Perspective

Eagles QB Nick Foles reads the Cowboys' Defense. 10/20/13
This time two months ago, Nick Foles was recovering from his concussion.

The calendar had flipped from Week 7 to Week 8. The Giants were on deck and Michael Vick was once again the quarterback. Foles had failed in his opportunity to lay claim to the starting job. After a dismal outing against the Cowboys, his future was uncertain. But Foles wasn’t focused on those type of things as the fog began to lift. Read more »

Chip And the Big-Play Concept

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The Eagles have the best big-strike offense in the NFL. They had eight plays of 20-plus yards Sunday, upping their league-leading total to 80 on the season. With three games remaining, they have a shot at surpassing the record of 96 established by the “Greatest Show On Turf ” Rams back in 2001.

Chip Kelly‘s offense has 19 touchdowns of 20-plus yards, which is also tops in the league. Three of those came in the fourth quarter against Detroit, as LeSean McCoy rattled off TD runs of 40 and 57 yards, and Chris Polk got loose for a 38-yarder.

The big play is part of this team’s identity. And it’s not all about getting the big play, it’s also about stopping it. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Trying To Buck QB Trend

Photo | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Photo | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

To put the Eagles’ accomplishments through 12 games in perspective, Sal Paolantonio rolled out this fact during his weekly appearance on the Mike Missanelli show.

If the season ended today, the playoff teams would be:

From the AFC: Denver, New England, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Indianapolis.

From the NFC: Seattle, New Orleans, San Francisco, Detroit, Dallas, Carolina.

What do they all have in common?

“One very important thing,” said Paolantonio. “All 12 have had one starting quarterback all season long. And the Philadelphia Eagles have survived and flourished despite instability at the quarterback position…When you have instability at the quarterback position, it’s very hard — almost impossible — t0 qualify for the playoff tournament.

“This team is not in the playoffs yet but they’re right knocking on heaven’s door here, and they have a shot to do what few teams do, which is to change quarterbacks mid-course and still make the playoffs.” Read more »

No, Michael Vick Did Not Break His Legs In a Car Accident

Michael Vick

Monday’s social media stream includes some posts about Eagles quarterback Michael Vick breaking his legs in a car accident. But as much as some dog lovers out there might wish ill will on Vick, who spent time in prison thanks to his unfortunate affinity for dogfighting, Vick did not, in fact, break his legs in a car accident. Read more »

Eagles-Cardinals Injury Report

Earl WolffHere is the Eagles’ injury report for Sunday’s game against Arizona:

Out: S Earl Wolff (knee)

Probable: S Colt Anderson (ankle), CB Bradley Fletcher (pectoral), LB Mychal Kendricks (knee), LB Jake Knott (hamstring).

As you can see, the Eagles exit the bye in pretty good shape. Read more »

Could Vick Be Featured In Sub-Packages?

Mike Vick running with football on sideline

Michael Vick believes he is 100 percent healthy now and is expected to be active against the Cardinals this Sunday. Nick Foles is the starter, but could there still be a role for Vick?

“Yeah, I wouldn’t reveal any schematics for the game in terms of how we’re going to sub the players,” said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. ”But Mike’s preparing himself to play in whatever situation he goes on the field. He’ll do a good job.”

Chip Kelly does not believe in a two-quarterback system. But might he call on Vick in specific situations? Read more »

From Michael Vick’s Perspective

Eagles QB Mike Vick and Nick FolesChip Kelly had a one-on-one with Michael Vick Tuesday to deliver the news that Nick Foles would remain at quarterback moving forward. The meeting was really just a formality, a courtesy. Vick has been around long enough to know when  the writing is on the wall.

“I see things before they happen. You can’t be naive,” said Vick at his locker after practice. “You’ve got to understand the situation, have to see and know that the most important thing for you to do is try to be there and support your team. I didn’t want to make this a hard decision for Coach, I didn’t want to make this a hard decision for anybody, for myself. Can’t be frustrated about it. I just wanted it to be a smooth transition, and it was.

“Coach Kelly, when we sat down, he didn’t even need to say much because we’re always on the same page. And I think you have to be that way with your head coach, especially at my age and the amount of time I have been in this game. It’s only right.” Read more »

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