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An autopsy of the 2014 Eagles season

The Eagles led the NFL with 36 turnovers. Chip Kelly said he has never been part of a team that turned over the ball at that rate. The quarterbacks combined for 27, but the blame could be spread all around - from Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez to trusted veterans LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek.


The Eagles led the NFL with 36 turnovers. Chip Kelly said he has never been part of a team that turned over the ball at that rate. The quarterbacks combined for 27, but the blame could be spread all around - from Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez to trusted veterans LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek.

Big plays on defense

The Eagles allowed 18 passing plays of 40-plus yards, which was three more than any other NFL team. While cornerback Bradley Fletcher and safety Nate Allen were the prime offenders, defensive coordinator Bill Davis often played a single-high safety scheme that made the Eagles more susceptible to big plays.

Red-zone offense

As well as the Eagles offense played, the team had the 10th-worst red-zone offense in the NFL, scoring touchdowns on fewer than half of its visits. The Eagles were 8 of 17 in the red zone in their six losses, and they failed to score a touchdown despite four red-zone visits in losses to San Francisco and Arizona early in the season.

Offensive production

Despite playing with two starting quarterbacks and a depleted offensive line for much of the season, the Eagles had their third-best offensive output in franchise history. Jeremy Maclin recorded the best season of his career, LeSean McCoy had his second-best season, and the Eagles passed for their most yards ever.

Development of defensive players

Linebacker Connor Barwin made his first Pro Bowl, defensive end Fletcher Cox emerged as one of the NFL's top defensive linemen, and linebacker Mychal Kendricks has shown promising development. Add defensive linemen Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton, and Vinny Curry along with safety Malcolm Jenkins, and the Eagles have a nice core of young defensive players.

Special-teams prowess

Chip Kelly made special teams an emphasis in 2014, and the results were evident under second-year coordinator Dave Fipp. Darren Sproles made his first Pro Bowl after finishing as the NFL's top punt returner. Josh Huff and Chris Polk both returned kickoffs for touchdowns. Cody Parkey was a top-10 kicker, connecting on 88.9 percent of his field goals and four from 50-plus yards. The Eagles also blocked three punts.

Nick Foles

The 2014 opening-day starter should be the front-runner to keep the job in 2015. He was inconsistent in his eight starts, with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing only 59.8 percent of his passes. His passer rating was worse than that of backup Mark Sanchez. But Foles was a Pro Bowler in 2013 and is 14-4 as a starter in Kelly's two seasons. Plus, he is under contract and will turn 26 in January. Foles can still develop into a top quarterback, and he already knows the offense and the personnel.

A draft pick

Any hope of Kelly's landing Oregon's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota seems far-fetched. Mariota is the front-runner to be the No. 1 pick on April 30. It would be difficult for the Eagles to trade up from No. 20, and especially not if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers want Mariota at that spot. It is not considered to be a strong quarterback class behind Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston. UCLA's Brett Hundley might be available when the Eagles pick.


Sanchez likely did not do enough to convince Kelly to make him the starting quarterback, and No. 3 quarterback Matt Barkley was never able to impress the coaching staff enough to give him an opportunity. Those are the top internal options. Free agency is bare at the position, with Sanchez, Cleveland's Brian Hoyer, and Tennessee's Jake Locker as the top options. Quarterbacks such as Washington's Robert Griffin III, Chicago's Jay Cutler, and Buffalo's E.J. Manuel might reach the trading block.

Defensive backs

Michigan State's Trae Waynes is expected to be the top cornerback in the field if he enters the draft. Washington's Marcus Peters will be an intriguing prospect despite character concerns, and Florida State's P.J. Williams is another heralded underclassman. Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu could be the top senior cornerback and played for Kelly, but he suffered a serious knee injury in Rose Bowl practices. If the Eagles address the safety position in the draft, Alabama's Landon Collins and Louisville's Gerod Holliman will be the top prospects.

Inside linebackers

With DeMeco Ryans coming off of a major injury, the Eagles could pursue his eventual replacement in the draft. Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney is one of the best linebackers in the country, and his 6-foot-5, 249-pound frame would give the Eagles size in the middle. UCLA's Eric Kendricks was named the Butkus Award winner as the nation's top linebacker and could team up with his brother Mychal Kendricks. Miami's Denzel Perryman will also draw attention.

Outside linebackers

The Eagles drafted Marcus Smith in 2014 and he was not much of a contributor. The team can look for an outside linebacker again this season. Nebraska's Randy Gregory and Missouri's Shane Ray will likely by gone by the time the Eagles pick, but Clemson's Vic Beasley and Florida's Donte Fowler are both productive pass rushers who will go in the first round.

Will LeSean McCoy return?

McCoy is only 26 and had his two best seasons with Kelly as the coach, so this is not a question of talent or scheme. The Eagles must decide if they want to absorb a salary hit of $11.95 million. McCoy wants to stay, and he could renegotiate his deal.

What's Jeremy Maclin worth?

Maclin established himself as one of the NFL's top receivers, and now it's up to the Eagles to compensate him like one. He will be 27 next season, so Maclin will be paid like an in-his-prime player. DeSean Jackson received $16 million guaranteed last offseason, and Maclin would likely command more. The Eagles can use a franchise tag if they don't reach a deal with Maclin, but look for them to try to reach an agreement.

Who starts at right outside linebacker?

Trent Cole has spent 10 years in Philadelphia and started both seasons for Kelly, but he has a salary-cap number of $11.625 million next season. Brandon Graham impressed in a rotational role in 2014, although Graham won't want to re-sign with the Eagles unless he gets more playing time. He could also be more attractive to a team with a 4-3 defense. If the Eagles don't re-sign Graham, they could try to renegotiate with Cole and then draft or sign someone to play in Graham's role. Maybe Marcus Smith can earn playing time.

Byron Maxwell

When you watch the Seahawks during the playoffs, pay attention to No. 41. Byron Maxwell, a starting cornerback in Seattle's "Legion of Boom", will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and fits the profile the Eagles seek. At 6-1 and 207 pounds, he has size. He will be 27 next season, so he's still in his prime. He can play in one-on-one coverage and has versatility to play outside and in the slot. He will likely be expensive if Seattle lets him loose.

Mike Iupati

Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans are productive guards, but they are both over 30 and suffered injuries this season. If the Eagles look to get younger at that position, San Francisco's Iupati will be one of the top free agents. The three-time Pro Bowler turns 28 in May. He has started 75 games in his five seasons with the 49ers.

Jason Worilds

he Eagles never had the chance to pursue Worilds last season because the Steelers put the transition tag on him. If Worilds hits the market this season, the Eagles could have their chance. Worilds, a New Jersey native, had 71/2 sacks and one interception this season - his first as a full-time starter in Pittsburgh. He turns 27 in March.