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Season preview: QB, RB and WR

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As the 2013 season went along it was hard for most to gage just how good this offense was due to the weak schedule. The one thing that’s certain was Chip Kelly and his spread offense caught the league by storm. The Eagles finished the 2013 season scoring 27.6 pts/game which was good enough for 4th in the NFL in total offense.

As good as the offense was we only saw 3/4 of it’s potential. Chip still is searching for a QB that can fully execute the offense. Our receivers unit needed to be upgraded and we needed a quality backup that could spell Shady without having to the offense shift into 4th gear which was accomplished. Even with the subtraction of Desean Jackson, this offense is more dynamic than it was last season with the additions of Matthews, Maclin and Sproles. However, this offense will be tested with a much more challenging schedule. Here is what you should expect from the starters:

Foles

Was 2013 a fluke season for Foles? It is unfair to expect another record setting year but what he must do is continue to be productive and not hurt the offense. Defensive coordinators will look to make Foles move in the pocket where he struggles and force him to make bad decisions. He was very successful last year because a defender never got in arms length of him and it allowed him to take his time and make good accurate throws. The scary part of his game is when Foles is forced to move in the pocked it seems as if he is stuck in quick sand and the play ends in a sack, or a forced throw which we have seen this pre season end in an Interception. I fully expect Nick Foles to still put up good numbers due to the system and additional weapons but if he can’t get out of harms way…Enter Mark Sanchez.

Shady

He initially didn’t like the idea of Chip coming to the NFL but after he got a taste of it…He couldn’t get enough! Shady saw a high in ATT (314) and yards (1607). This was a match made in heaven. The offense is designed to stretch the defense with it’s O-Line splits that creates gaps that allows for him to pick up his 5 yards/att. Shady just needs to do what he does and he will see himself wearing the rushing crown once again. He has made it clear that his sights are set on 2k but with the new addition of Sproles his att/yards should decline slightly but expect nothing but pure greatness.

Sproles

When the Eagles signed Darren a lot of people were wondering what his role exactly will be. He enters his 10th season where many are questioning does he still have it. Keep in mind, he has been mostly a third down back who hasn’t taken a pounding and who catches the number of balls in the range of a WR. I am sure Chip only can wish he got his hands on Sproles early in his career. Expect the Eagles to get Sproles in space to use his speed and create mismatches in the passing game. You will see him line up at RB, in the slot, at the X and Z. He will be a great addition and fits like a glove.

Maclin

The ability is not what worries me about Maclin it his inability to stay on the field that is a concern. He is coming off an injury that saw him completely miss the 2013 season and has played a full 16 games once. It was hard for him to sit and watch this offense perform the way it did last season and he his chomping at the bit to get a piece of the pie. If he can see a full season expect to see him catch over 70 balls and reach 1,000 which would be all career highs for him.

Cooper

I guess Riley needed a spread offense to break his shell. The spread offense is what he was most successful in at Florida. Last season Cooper looked like the guy that many hoped for. He used his athleticism and size to have his most productive season to date. He lacks explosiveness off the line of scrimmage which allows defenders that play press to slow him up and not get into his route which makes the QB look him off. He is a strider and once he gets going in his route he his tough to stop even if the defender is in good position because he is athletic enough to go up and get the ball. He finished the season with career highs in every statistical category. With his limitations in routes in and the new additions to the offense I think he sees a decline in production.

Huff

This third round draft pick is no stranger to this dynamic offense as he played at Oregon under Kelly. Huff who has been recently sidelined to a shoulder injury will be ready to go but don’t be surprised to see him shelved at some point. He will mostly be used on special teams as the primary returner but will be used in some 4/5 wide sets. His value will not only be on the field but off as his familiarity with the system will be beneficial to other young players and new additions. Once again, if healthy expect to see exciting plays in the return game which has been missed for years now.

Matthews

Jason Avant’s leadership not his production allowed him to reside in Philly longer than many wanted but his days were numbered when Chip landed with his inability to stretch a defense. Enters Jordan Matthews, a 6’3′ rookie from Vanderbilt with speed and great hands and could be the steal of the draft. I think his ability to stretch a defense and pick up YAC (yards after catch) maybe his greatest asset will give defensive coordinators something else to think about. Chip will work him out of the slot and get him in space. Once the mental part of the game slows down for him expect him to make a lot of noise this season. Rookie of the year?

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