What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Here’s a look at what the national media are saying about the Eagles this week.

Alex Marvez of Fox Sports writes that Chip Kelly‘s decision to acquire Sam Bradford was influenced in part by Nick Saban.

When with the Miami Dolphins in 2006, Nick Saban had the opportunity to sign Drew Brees as an unrestricted free agent. Saban passed because team doctors felt Brees couldn’t mount a successful comeback from the shoulder surgery he underwent the previous season.

Brees continues to prove Miami’s medical staff wrong each year while forging a Hall of Fame career with New Orleans. As for Saban, he retreated to the University of Alabama after a 6-10 campaign with the Dolphins.

Kelly strongly believes Bradford can enjoy similar success to Brees by rebounding from the knee injuries that have sidelined him for the better part of the last two seasons in St. Louis.

“The impact Drew had on the Saints was really what we studied,” said Kelly, who traded 2014 starting quarterback Nick Foles to the Rams last March as part of a package for Bradford. “What would this league be like if Nick Saban had Drew Brees? Would Nick have ever gone back to Alabama?”

Football Outsiders unveiled its annual rankings for under-25 talent. The Cowboys came in first. The Eagles are slotted 14th.

2014 ranking: 13

Cody Parkey is the only Pro Bowl kicker in the study, but the Eagles rank 14th thanks to the strength of four very important players: wide receiver Jordan Matthews, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, tight end Zach Ertz and defensive endFletcher Cox. After losing DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin the past two years, this is the first time Chip Kelly doesn’t have a clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver in his offense. Matthews had a very good rookie season, but expectations are rising. First-round rookie Nelson Agholor also should command his share of targets in 2015.

Philly’s 2014 first-round pick Marcus Smith is still lagging behind at linebacker, but it’s a different story for 2015 second-round pick Eric Rowe, a former safety. After losing both starting cornerbacks from 2014, the Eagles brought in Byron Maxwell from Seattle and drafted Rowe 47th overall. The 6-foot-1 rookie should be a Week 1 contributor, ready to match up with the NFL’s big receivers.

Jenny Vrentas of MMQB kicks off her Ten Things I Think I Think column with a thought on the Eagles.

I think this was an interesting Chip Kelly quote, highlighted by CSN Philly’s Reuben Frank, about how a lack of depth at the offensive skill positions last year hampered the Eagles’ play-calling: “Yes, there were times when you were calling plays and thinking, ‘Who is in the game?’” Kelly said. “The play call changed a little bit.” It speaks to the master plan behind the Eagles’ roster overhaul that we’ve all speculated about this offseason. A priority for the Eagles was not necessarily having one or two stars at the receiver or running back position, but a deep group of skill position players. They need to rotate in and out because of how much they run in the up-tempo offense, so Kelly prioritized a top-to-bottom upgrade to be able to call the same plays no matter who is in the game—something he didn’t feel like he could do in 2014, as Frank writes.

Robert Weintraub of Sports On Earth selected a breakout candidate for each of the 32 teams. For the Eagles, he went with Jordan Matthews.

Chip Kelly’s madness in letting DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin leave without a fight makes more sense when you watch Matthews. In a normal year, he’d be better known after a rookie season in which he produced a stat line like 67-872-8, but due to the inordinate number of stud wideout frosh in 2014, Matthews was lost in the shuffle. He struggled some against press man coverage and required the scheme to free him up last year, but he’s been the best player on the field in Eagles camp and is ready to dominate this year.

Ken Daube of ESPN.com thinks Bradford is a fantasy sleeper.

Last season, the combination of Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez placed 16th in terms of Team QB fantasy points. Say what you want about the fragility of Bradford, but he’s a better quarterback than either of the guys he’s replacing. Expect Bradford to challenge for a top-10 QB rank if he can remain healthy.

Pro Football Focus ranked the top 10 running back depth charts in the NFL. The Eagles came in second behind the Kapadia-led Seahawks.

DeMarco Murray would not be my second pick if I were ranking individual running backs right now, but the depth of the Eagles’ rushing attack makes them the choice at No. 2 on this list. Philadelphia goes three deep in quality backs. We all know about Murray’s outstanding 2014 season, which was boosted by the Cowboys’ excellent offensive line, but Murray has been running at a high level for some time now. He actually had a much higher yards per carry average in 2013 than last year (5.2 versus 4.7), and he averaged more yards after contact (2.7 versus 2.5). Backup Ryan Mathews has graded positively every season since his rookie year, despite running behind a bad Chargers offensive line, and the Eagles also have the most prolific scat back of the last decade in Darren Sproles, who averaged 5.8 yards per carry last season.