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Introduction to the Philadelphia Eagles

Chip Kellys new offense will benefit players like running back LeSean McCoy

Since the new millennium the Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the better teams in football. They have won their division, the NFC East, six times, made the post season nine times, only had a losing record twice, made four consecutive NFC Championship games plus another one later and made a Super Bowl. Most fan bases would be reasonably happy with such a high level of productivity. The fans in Philly though, are an entirely different breed. This is a fan base so rabid and passionate about their team that they will openly boo and mock their own players if they feel they aren't performing well. Ask Donovan McNabb, quarterback throughout most of this recently successful period, about the famous Pennsylvanian hospitality. No one is safe from the ire of Philly fans in a bad mood; they even booed and threw snowballs at Santa Claus when the team was playing poorly during the 1968 season. For a fan base and organisation so obsessed with success, you don't have to do much wrong to fall from grace in the City of Brotherly Love. So that's why last year the Eagles severed ties with long serving head coach Andy Reid, who had been in the position since 1999. Despite all his success he just wasn't successful enough for either the Eagles ownership or their fans and after a 4-12 record in 2012, his worst in head coaching, the Eagles ownership decided to go in another direction. Well you can't say they don't lack ambition. Stepping into Reid's shoes and looking to bring Philadelphia the championship they so dearly crave is Chip Kelly. Kelly, in his first ever NFL head coaching job was a highly successful college football coach at the University of Oregon and architect of a revolutionary style of up tempo offense. With the start of the season already underway we have seen some mixed results. In the first two games Kelly and his offense certainly impressed a lot of people racking up plays and yards in quick succession. Since then the offense has stumbled a little bit so it remains to be seen if it has staying power in the NFL or can bring Philadelphia that much closer to its first championship. Kelly is relatively fortunate that the Eagles have retained most of an impressive personnel group that will help him make an instant impression on the NFL landscape.

A Revolutionary Offense

The hallmark of any Chip Kelly is going to be the offensive side of the ball and the Eagles depth chart is loaded with offensive playmakers that can help run this fast paced offense. Running back LeSean "Shady" McCoy looks to benefit most from the system as an all-purpose multi-talented back. An agile and fast player Shady is certified threat in not only the running game but the passing game as well. Able to make vicious cuts and go North to South in a heartbeat McCoy is an entertaining back to watch, able to not only get hard fought yards but break off large runs once he gets into the backfield. Two seasons ago McCoy played so well that he broke the Eagles single season records for touchdowns and rushing touchdowns that had stood for nearly 70 years. McCoy will need to replicate this form again this season but Kelly's offense will help him as the speed at which plays are called and the deception involved only looks to enhance McCoy's attributes. Another player set to benefit from Kelly's offensive style is quarterback Michael Vick. Vick is a controversial figure in the NFL. Once one of the most electrifying quarterbacks to play the game, with a skillset that can not only throw the ball but run the ball with speed and elusiveness to avoid sacks, he was kicked out of the league for off field legal troubles regarded involvement in an underground dog fighting ring. Having served 21 months in prison Vick was released and looked to make a comeback in the NFL. It was the Eagles that picked him up and despite sitting out most of his first year there, he made a triumphant return in 2010 posting then career high yards, touchdowns and quarterback rating. Though Vick has been less effective since then he will be hoping to regain his form in the Kelly offense. As you would expect from a quarterback that likes to run, Vick has had injury problems throughout his career and staying healthy will be his and the Eagles main concern.

Talent To Work With

If he can stay upright Vick has the talent around him to make the Eagles a dangerous team for anyone to face. As a quarterback, Vick has a variety of targets to throw too, none more dangerous than wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson, a onetime All Pro, is a small but nimble player who can burn defences over the top with blazing speed. Though standing only 5"9' he is durable enough to make catches and take a hit or two and is lethal in the screen game as well. Injured at the end of last season D-Jax has made confident return to the league this year and appears the number one option in the passing game for the Eagles. Also injured for the whole of the 2012 season was left tackle Jason Peters. Peters has returned for the 2013 campaign and will be looking to enforce an otherwise weak offensive line. The four time All Pro is considered by many to be one of the best at his position and is a great asset to the Eagles offense. It remains to be seen how much his injury will affect his performance but if he can regain even a fraction of his former prowess he will be a dominant player once again. Though this offensive unit will grab most of the headlines while Kelly is coach, the Eagles still possess a formidable defense. Though their defense seriously regressed in effectiveness last year it still has the potential to become once again one of the best in football. Players looking to rekindle their past form will be studs like outside linebacker Trent Cole and inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Both are former All Pro calibre players and will be leading the Eagles defense as they look to assert themselves this season. Cole, nicknamed "the Hunter" is an experienced pass rusher and leads the current line up in sacks. Ryans is a former every down player but will probably see a reduced snap count due to Kelly implementing a 3-4 system. He is well equipped to adjust to this having played in a similar style at his former team, the Houston Texans, and will be looking to eclipse the 100 tackle mark again.

Growing Pains

As a new head coach with a radical new offensive scheme, it would be expected that Kelly and his side would suffer some growing pains but should the style work it could revolutionise not only the Eagles but the entire NFL. For it to work though the Eagles have to face some tough teams and playing in the NFC East is not easy. A highly competitive division it is often referred to as the hardest in football with each divisional match being highly charged with emotion. The Washington Redskins won the division last year and will be looking to build on the success of their surprise breakout. The Dallas Cowboys are in a similar situation to the Eagles possessing no doubt a talented squad but never seem to fit it all together, if they get going they will be difficult to stop. Biggest rivals though are the New York Giants. As one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports it is a spectacle to watch these teams play each other. Although the Eagles have won more games between the two over the last few years, the Giants undoubtedly have bragging rights having won two Super Bowls since 2007. In fact the Eagles are the odd team out in the division being the only team to have never won a Super Bowl. This could be the main reason behind their relentless strive for excellence and the pressure is on for Chip Kelly and his team to deliver it sooner rather than later.

Head Coach: Chip Kelly

Super Bowl Appearances:  1980, 2004

Division: NFC East

Biggest Rivalries: New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins

Jersey to buy: #25 RB LeSean McCoy, #7 QB Michael Vick, #10 WR DeSean Jackson, #71 T Jason Peters, #58 OLB Trent Cole, #59 DeMeco Ryans

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