There has been so much speculation surrounding the Eagles Quarterback scenario this off-season that it’s almost difficult to focus on anything that doesn’t involve the words ACL or #TebowTime. But with Chip insisting on there being an open Competition at the position and also that it’s going to be purely performance related, it made us wonder..the media are making it out like this is do or die for the birds but do the Eagles hopes of reaching the Superbowl rest on the Quarterbacks shoulders?
Whilst the Quarterback in ANY system is vital, this year for the Eagles, there are a lot more factors. Here are just a few things to bear in mind before wasting hours debating with your buddy if Sanchez should start over Bradford.
5. The Defense.
There is no questioning that Chip Kelly focused highly on the other side of the football this season, and had every reason to do so. 2014 was a very bad year for the Defense, and Chip responded. Instead of going all out for Mariota, Chip traded away LeSean McCoy and brought in Bills sensation Kiko Alonso. Yes Alonso was injured last season but his rookie stats are beyond promising. Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond join the squad whilst Eric Rowe was drafted and expects to look for a spot on the roster. The team allowed 6000 yards last season and surrendered a whopping 400 points. It would be highly unfair to blame the Defense completely for the reason the Eagles missed the play-offs, but it’s definitely fair to say the team are far more equipped to go all the way this season because of the off-season upgrades. That alone takes a LOT of pressure off of the birds signal caller, whoever it may be.
4. The System.
If you look at the Quarterbacks who have competed regularly under Chip Kelly’s up tempo Offense and the stats they put up, it’s difficult to fault his system. Nick Foles broke a franchise record and had one of the best seasons of any Quarterback in the league, sending him to the Pro Bowl in that season. Mark Sanchez last season threw 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions whilst Michael Vick in his short tenure seemed to fit perfectly. The point is, the system is going to put up a lot of points, regardless of who’s in the pocket. The Offense will run itself, the train will run itself. All you’re doing is replacing the driver. If someone like Nick Foles who dropped off dramatically last season can look good or Mark Sanchez who has a disappointing history can get consistent wins, then whoever is at the helm will have a huge chance of success before you even take into account their Quarterback ability. That’s not to take anything away from the talent of the QB’s, but the numbers definitely compliment the Quarterback in this Offense.
3. Receiving Core.
This is arguably the position that carries the most responsibility for the Eagles. Jordan Matthews had a huge year last year and is predicted to hit close to 1,000 yard this season. Nelson Agholor has already found his way into the headlines for his athletic ability, his speed and his work ethic. Riley Cooper was disappointing last season, struggling from the off, the Eagles struck lucky with Matthews. Cooper’s blocking ability is what is keeping him on the roster, but with the likes of Miles Austin and Bailey now competing for starting spots without even mentioning Josh Huff, it would be fair to go out there and say the Eagles receiving core is the best in the NFC East. Whilst it can be argued, the fact is that the birds do not have one “star” like Dez or Odell..but indeed a team of 3-4 players who carry different threats, from the speed of Agholor to the physicality of Cooper. The burst speed of Josh Huff to the route running of Matthews. It’s a lot harder to shut down a whole core than it is just one man. That makes the Quarterback job a whole lot easier.
2. Special Teams.
Last year saw the birds special teams unit rise to become one of the best in the league..and it’s showing no signs of diminishing. Cody Parkey had a brilliant rookie season, making the pro bowl and making all but four of his field goals. Darren Sproles averaged 13 yards per return, picking up more than 100 yards more than his nearest league competitior whilst Josh Huff also had a great year. So why will this be even more important this year? Chris Maragos had two forced fumbles alongside 12 special teams tackles..his main competitor? Seyi Ajirotutu..so who did the Eagles go and sign…
All of these players exploded last season, making the unit arguably one of the best in the league. That statement may well read THE best come the end of next season.
Think about it. You don’t need to have a Peyton Manning or a Drew Brees to lead your team to the Superbowl in this Offense. Whilst a player like Marcus Mariota would have fitted perfectly, guys like Nick Foles have paved their way into the history books in this system. Sam Bradford is a former number one pick and both of his ACL injuries, whilst unlucky should not worry fans. With a 12% chance of re-injury..EVEN if Bradford does fall injured, he’s not tied to the team for more than one season. Sanchez is familiar with the Offense and has a great relationship with Jordan Matthews. That’s without mentioning his five wins last season. He can play with the team, we’d like to think he improved this Off-Season and the inter team competition will only spur the leagues best backup to win the starting role. Then if Sanchez falls injured…there’s always Tebow Time….