Eagles NFL

July 24, 2015

The complete NFC East dumpster fire series: Redskins, Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles

Over the last week and a half, we published our NFC East dumpster fire series, in which we pointed out the flaws of all the teams in the NFC East. Now, you might ask, "So every team in the NFC East going to be a dumpster fire, Jimmy?" No, of course not, but it's July and nothing is happening right now, so point out your plot holes elsewhere, jerks.

Reaction to the series was fun. Here's how I would rank the negative reactions from each fan base, from most butthurt to least butthurt. 

• Cowboys fans: The negative feedback from this series was roughly 90 percent Cowboys fans, and their replies were mostly personal attacks. Almost none attempted to refute the actual, you know... content of the post. I especially enjoyed the Dallas Morning News offering a half-hearted take down of the Cowboys' dumpster fire post, and not even putting an author's name on it.

• Redskins fans: There were a smattering of angry Redskins emails that trickled in, although to be fair, I was probably more brutal with them than any of the other teams, because, well, they were by far the easiest team to pick on.

• Giants fans: Crickets. I'm not sure if Giants fans are just apathetic, or are just like, "Meh, we have two recent Super Bowls. Whatever."

• Eagles fans: Eagles fans actually liked it, oddly enough. However, I do wonder what the reaction would have been if an out-of-town writer published this.


Here's the series in its entirety, in case you missed any. To note, this will be published in the Eagles Almanac, which you can pre-order here.

REDSKINS

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1) The Redskins score fewer points than their opponents

The Redskins lost nine games in 2014 by at least 10 points. They lost five by at least 20. Three of those 20-point losses came to teams with six or fewer wins. My analysis: Scoring fewer points than your opponents is a poor strategy.

Here were the NFC teams' point differentials in 2014:

Team Point differential Team Point differential 
 Seahawks+140 Saints-23 
 Packers+138  Rams-30 
 Cowboys+115  49ers-34 
 Eagles+74  Panthers-35 
 Lions+39  Falcons-36 
 Cardinals+11  Bears-123 
 Vikings-18  Buccaneers-133 
 Giants-20  Redskins-137 


And here's what they were in 2013:

 TeamPoint differential Team Point differential 
 Seahawks+186 Packers-11 
 49ers+134  Rams-16 
 Panthers+125  Bears-33 
 Saints+110  Giants-89 
 Eagles+60  Vikings-89 
 Cardinals+55  Falcons-90 
 Lions+19  Buccaneers-101 
 Cowboys+7  Redskins-144 


Is that bad, Dan Snyder?

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Nevermind, Dan. Don't hurt yourself.

2) The Redskins hate possessing the football

Over the last two seasons, the Redskins have a combined turnover differential of -20. That was good for 3rd worst in the NFL.

 TeamTurnover diff - 2013 Turnover diff - 2014 TOTAL 
 Seahawks+20 +10 +30 
 Patriots+9 +12 +21 
 49ers+12 +7 +19 
 Chiefs+18 -3 +15 
 Panthers+11 +3 +14 
 Cowboys+8 +6 +14 
 Packers-3 +14 +11 
 Bills+3 +7 +10 
 Colts+13 -5 +8 
 Cardinals-1 +8 +7 
 Rams+8 -2 +6 
 Broncos+5 +5 
 Eagles+12 -8 +4 
 Buccaneers+10 -8 +2 
 Bengals+1 +1 
 Bears+5 -5 
 Dolphins-2 +2 
 Falcons-7 +5 -2 
 Browns-8 +6 -2 
 Ravens-5 +2 -3 
 Steelers-4 -4 
 Lions-12 -5 
 Texans-20 +12 -8 
 Chargers-4 -5 -9 
 Titans-10 -10 
 Jaguars-6 -6 -12 
 Saints-13 -13 
 Vikings-12 -1 -13 
 Giants-15 -2 -17 
 Redskins-8 -12 -20 
 Raiders-9 -15 -24 
 Jets-14 -11 -25 

Take that, Raiders and Jets!

RG3) The Redskins' QB isn't good

In games Robert Griffin III played the majority of the snaps in 2014, the Redskins went 1-6. He threw four TD passes on the season, was picked off 6 times, fumbled 9 times and was sacked 33 times.

And yet, the Redskins found it necessary for some reason to name him the starter... in February! Why would they do that, you might ask? It probably has something to do with the Redskins' front office structure.

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4) The Redskins' defense as a whole isn't good

The Redskins have surrendered more touchdowns than any team in the NFL in each of the last two seasons:

 TeamTD allowed - 2013 TD allowed - 2014 TOTAL 
 Seahawks22 27 49 
 Chiefs34 26 60 
 Panthers21 44 65 
 Ravens37 30 67 
 Cardinals35 32 67 
 Bills42 28 70 
 Lions38 32 70 
 Bengals32 38 70 
 49ers30 40 70 
 Patriots39 32 71 
 Dolphins33 42 75 
 Chargers40 38 78 
 Saints33 47 80 
 Steelers41 40 81 
 Browns46 36 82 
 Texans48 36 84 
 Rams44 40 84 
 Colts38 46 84 
 Jets41 46 87 
 Giants42 45 87 
 Broncos47 41 88 
 Buccaneers42 46 88 
 Titans40 48 88 
 Packers51 40 91 
 Eagles43 48 91 
 Cowboys51 43 94 
 Vikings57 38 95 
 Falcons49 46 95 
 Jaguars53 45 98 
 Bears56 49 105 
 Raiders54 51 105 
 Redskins59 53 112 


The Redskins added a "party deck" to their stadium a few years back. This was unnecessary, as there is already plenty of celebrating going on in their end zones.

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5) The Redskins' defense is old

The Redskins' defense isn't just bad -- It's old. The Redskins have the fourth-oldest projected starting defensive backs in the NFL, and the fourth-oldest projected starting front seven. As a whole, it is the second oldest defense in the NFL, behind only the Colts.

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6) The Redskins' special teams are always awful

The Skins' special teams rankings in each of the last seven seasons, via Football Outsiders:

 YearFootball Outsiders ranking 
 200825th 
 200923rd 
 201025th 
 201121st 
 201228th 
 201332nd 
 201429th 


In the last two years, the Redskins have given up eight special teams TDs. They've scored none.

7) The Redskins' offensive line went from bad to inexperienced

In 2014, the Redskins gave up 58 sacks, which was second worst in the NFL, behind only the Jaguars. While the quarterbacks were the culprits on many of those, the OL still gave up a ton of pressure. Trent Williams is awesome at LT, and first round pick Brandon Scherff might be awesome some day, but the projected starters at RG (Spencer Long) and RT (Scherff) have a grand total of 18 career NFL regular season snaps between them.

8) The Redskins have almost no really good young players

As noted above, the Redskins have the second oldest defense in the NFL. But it's not even that they're old. They don't have any good young pieces that they can build around. When the season begins, the Redskins will have just six projected starters under 27 years old: Spencer Long (18 career snaps), Brandon Scherff (zero career snaps), Jordan Reed (can't stay healthy), Robert Griffin (isn't good, as noted above), Trent Murphy (2.5 sacks as a rookie), and Alfred Morris (the only actual productive "young" player).

9) The Redskins' one productive young player might not even be a strength

As noted above, RB Alfred Morris might be the Redskins' only productive starter under 27 years of age when the season begins. He has racked up 3962 rushing yards just three years into his NFL career. However, a whole lot of running backs have had a whole lot of success in Mike Shanahan's zone blocking scheme, then fizzled out in a new offensive scheme. Is that what we saw out of Morris last year under first-year head coach Jay Gruden? Here are Morris' stats the first three years of his career:

Year Att Yards YPC TD 1st (%)
 2012335 1613 4.8 13 83 (24.8%)
 2013276 1275 4.6 57 (20.7%)
 2014265 1074 4.1 48 (18.1%)


In a new scheme, Morris posted his lowest numbers in attempts, yards, yards per carry, first downs, percentage of runs going for a first down, runs of 20+ yards, and runs of 40+ yards (he had none). 

I'm not yet ready to add Morris to the "Mike Shanahan All-Stars" alongside guys like Olandis Gary, Reuben Droughns, and Mike Anderson, but he could be on his way.

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10) The Redskins are still owned by Dan Snyder

No further commentary.

This week we're taking a look at each of the Eagles' divisional enemies, in detail. Yesterday, we blasted the Redskins. Today's target will be the New York Giants. To note, we will not be talking about the positives of any of the Eagles' NFC East rivals, because, well, that's no fun. This will be 100 percent vitriolic. Also to note, this will be published in the Eagles Almanac, which you can pre-order here.

GIANTS

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1) Eli Manning was good last year

Statistically, 2013 was easily Eli Manning's worst season. A year later, statistically, 2014 was arguably Eli Manning's best season. So wait... Why is that a reason they'll be a dumpster fire in 2015? Well, going into any new year with the Giants, their prospects of a successful season ride on the play of Eli Manning. Last year he was really good, and they still sucked.

Also, Eli makes funny faces:

2) The Giants' safeties have never played football

OK, so they might have played in college or something, but they have next to no experience in the NFL. The Giants list seven safeties on their roster. Here is how many career snaps each of them have played (via PFF):

Giants safeties Career snaps played 
 Josh Gordy1457 
 Nat Berhe32 
 Cooper Taylor
 Landon Collins
 Mykkele Thompson
 Bennett Jackson
 Justin Currie
 TOTAL1494 


Gordy has been on four other rosters before landing with the Giants, mainly as a slot corner, but is the mentor of the group in terms of experience.

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It's a good thing the Giants won't face many good receivers this season. Oh wait...

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But wait, the Giants can offset the safeties' inexperience by getting to the QB, right? Except that...

3) Jason Pierre-Paul lost a finger

OK, so I'll be sensitive here. No stick figures. But still... JPP lost a freaking finger. The remaining Giants defensive ends, and their career sacks totals:

Player Career games played Career sacks 
Robert Ayers84 17 
 George Selvie68 13 
 Damontre Moore31 5.5 
 Kerry Wynn1.5 
 Brad Harrah
 Jordan Stanton
 TOTAL188 37 

In other words, the remaining Giants DEs get to the quarterback 0.196 times per game.

If I'm the Giants, and I know my job is secure long term, JPP is a goner and I'm carrying his $15 million over into next year's cap. However, with Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese on the hot seat, they're probably looking at the "other" DEs on their roster and talking themselves into keeping JPP around a little longer.

4) Tom Coughlin hates modern medicine

The Giants have been the most injured team in the NFL over the last two years.

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You can call that bad luck. Maybe. Much has been made of the Eagles' #SportsScience program, and they were the least injured team in the NFL the last two years. Former Giants defensive back Walter Thurmond recently said that Tom Coughlin "doesn't believe in modern medicine." We'll call the Giants' program #SportsAntiVaccer.

I can understand why Jason Pierre-Paul wouldn't allow the Giants to visit him in the hospital. He didn't want Tom Coughlin telling him to rub some dirt on his hand.

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OK, so obviously, Thurmond went a little far with his "modern medicine" assessment, but there is certainly evidence to support the Giants' inability to stay healthy.

5) Will Beatty is out for the season

The Giants will be without starting LT Will Beatty for the season, after he tore his pectoral muscle lifting weights.

As a result, rookie first-round pick Ereck Flowers will be asked to start immediately at LT, and it was thought that Justin Pugh would slide back out to his previous spot at RT. However, Pugh's 32" arms were the shortest of any offensive tackle competing at the Combine since 1999.

As a result, Pugh and his T-Rex arms are better suited to move inside to guard.

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Instead, it appears that Marshall Newhouse will fill in at RT. That could potentially severely hurt two positions along the Giants' OL.

6) The Giants have no OL continuity

If we're projecting a Giants starting OL of Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Geoff Schwartz, and Marshall Newhouse, here is how much experience each guy has playing next to the guy to their left and right in regular season games:

• Snaps Flowers has played next to Pugh: 0

• Snaps Pugh has played next to Richburg: 0

• Snaps Richburg has played next to Schwartz: 0

• Snaps Schwartz has played next to Newhouse: 0

That's not good.

7) The Giants' run game stinks

A season ago, the Giants couldn't run the ball to save their lives. They averaged 3.57 yards per carry, which was 30th in the NFL, and had an NFL-low four rushes of over 20 yards.

Here are their backs heading into 2015, and their 2014 stats:

Player Att Yards YPC TD 
 Andre Williams217 721 3.3 
 Rashad Jennings167 639 3.8 
 Shane Vereen (w/Pats)96 391 4.1 
 Orleans Darkwa23 2.6 
 TOTAL489 1774 3.6 14 


Gross. By comparison:


Player Att Yards YPC TD 
 DeMarco Murray392 18454.7 13 


Orleans Darkwa sounds like a bad guy in a Star Wars movie, by the way.

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8) Victor Cruz's numbers decline every year

Victor Cruz was amazing in his breakout season in 2011. But as his career has continued, his numbers have declined every season:

Year (Games) Rec Yards YPC 1st downs TD 
 2011 (16)82 1536 18.7 59 
 2012 (16)86 1092 12.7 52 10 
 2013 (14)73 998 13.7 45 
 2014 (6)23 337 14.7 13 


Cruz's career arc reminds me a little bit of Miles Austin's. After Austin's breakout (81-1320-11) 2009 season, the Cowboys handed him a six-year deal worth $54 million. His numbers steadily declined from there on out. In 2013, after his two good seasons, Cruz cashed in with a five-year deal worth $43 million, and has produced very little since.

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9) Odell Beckham Jr. sucks

Ha, just kidding.

But he does seem to be a chronic soft tissue guy, kind of like, um, Miles Austin.

10) Then again...

The Giants have stunk the last couple seasons, their coach is on the hot seat (again), and they've had a lot of nonsense happen this offseason (Beatty's injury, JPP's love of fireworks, and their punter running his mouth).

...which means some weird stuff will happen this year and they'll win the Super Bowl again.

COWBOYS

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1) The Cowboys' offensive line is massively overrated

Google "Cowboys offensive line." Here are some of the headlines you'll find:

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OMG BEST EVERRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!

The Cowboys certainly have an offensive line that can run block. You will not get an argument from me on that one. In 2014, as every Eagles fan knows, DeMarco Murray won the rushing title by a margin of almost 500 yards. You simply don't do that without a strong offensive line opening up some holes along the way.

However, the Cowboys' offensive line is far from a great pass blocking group. Including the playoffs last year, the Cowboys gave up 40 sacks. Here's a sampling of some egregious examples:















I figured 15 egregious examples were enough to make the point that maybe the Cowboys don't have the best OL in the history of the Universe. Apparently not. The reaction on Twitter was largely this:

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Except...

In 2014, the Cowboys gave up a sack on 7.07% of their pass plays. That was good for 21st in the NFL:

 RankTeam QB sacked percentage 
 1Broncos 2.83% 
 2Ravens 3.08% 
 3Colts 3.70% 
 4Patriots 4.01% 
 5Raiders 4.26% 
 6Saints 4.35% 
 7Bengals 4.60% 
 8Falcons 4.68% 
 9Giants 4.71% 
 10Eagles 4.89% 
 11Texans 5.09% 
 12Cardinals 5.10% 
 13Packers 5.17% 
 14Steelers 5.44% 
 15Browns 5.81% 
 16Chargers 6.06% 
 17Bears 6.31% 
 18Bills 6.31% 
 19Lions 6.92% 
 20Panthers 6.98% 
 21Cowboys 7.07% 
 22Dolphins 7.18% 
 23Rams 8.36% 
 24Jets 8.62% 
 25Seahawks 8.83% 
 26Titans 8.88% 
 27Buccaneers 8.92% 
 28Vikings 8.98% 
 29Chiefs 9.04% 
 30Redskins 9.59% 
 3149ers 9.65% 
 32Jaguars 11.31% 


And who knows how many other sacks Tony Romo saved the Cowboys OL with that little Houdini spin he does.

• Great run blocking offensive line? Yes.

• Young, with a boatload of potential? Sure.

• Complete, elite unit that does everything well? No freaking way.

Pass protection is kind of an important thing, and the Dallas offensive line is only average in that regard. Somewhere along the way, the Cowboys OL hype train became thought of unanimously as the best line in the NFL. I'd be a liar if I said I've studied every offensive line in the NFL in great detail, but this is most definitely not an elite unit. Not until they improve their pass protection, anyway.

2) The Cowboys are indeed going to miss DeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray is blinder than a bat, or slow, or something. Or so I've been told by Cowboys fans ever since the Eagles signed him during free agency this past offseason. He doesn't see holes, he doesn't make the most the of his opportunities when he gets into the second level of the defense, he should have had 4000 yards instead of 1800+, blah blah blah.

That rhetoric was further emphasized by Murray's backup, Joseph Randle, who said during OTAs that Murray left "a lot of meat on the bone," which means he didn't gain as many yards as he should have.

Randle is so good that the Cowboys let him touch the football during the playoffs. Twice.

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Oh, and the Cowboys have Darren McFadden too, who has averaged 3.3, 3.3, and 3.4 yards per carry the last three years. So there's that.

3) The Cowboys haven't been able to get to the quarterback

The Cowboys sack totals and NFL rankings the last three seasons:

Year Sacks NFL Rank 
 201234 20 
 201334 25 
 201428 28 


The Cowboys made two key additions to bolster their pass rush this offseason. 

First they signed obsessive gun enthusiast and woman beater Greg Hardy.

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Hardy had 15 sacks in 2013, but he missed 15 games in 2014 for his off-the-field issues, and will miss the first four games of the 2015 season as well.

The Cowboys also drafted Nebraska edge rusher Randy Gregory in the second round of the 2015 draft. If Cowboys fans are expecting big production from Gregory, they should know that edge rushers rarely make an impact their rookie seasons. Below is a list of first round edge rushers selected in the last three drafts and the number of sacks they had their rookie seasons:

 PlayerTeam Drafted overall Sacks 
 Ezekiel AnsahLions 
 Bruce IrvinSeahawks 15 
 Chandler JonesPatriots 21 
 Whitney MercilusTexans 26 
 Barkevious MingoBrowns 
 Khalil MackRaiders 
 Anthony BarrVikings 
 Dont'a HightowerPatriots 25 
 Bjoern WernerColts 24 2.5 
 Shea McClellinBears 19 2.5 
 Dion JordanDolphins 
 Nick PerryPackers 28 
 Dee FordChiefs 23 1.5 
 Jarvis JonesSteelers 17 
 Melvin IngramChargers 18 
 Jadeveon ClowneyTexans 
 Marcus SmithEagles 26 


That would be 3.38 sacks per player. The Cowboys could get increased production from Tyrone Crawford and Demarcus Lawrence, but there isn't exactly a lot to be excited about on the Cowboys defensive line unless Hardy returns to the form he showed in 2013.

4) Sean Lee's soft tissue is made out of dandelions and papier-mâché

The Cowboys are getting Sean Lee back from injury this season, as they do every year. Lee's injury history going back to his time at Penn State:

• 2008 (Penn State) - Torn ACL.  Missed the entire season.

• 2009 (Penn State) - Sprained knee.  Missed 3 games.

• 2010 (Dallas) - Strained hamstring.  Missed 2 games.

• 2011 (Dallas) - Dislocated wrist.  Missed 1 game.

• 2012 (Dallas) - Toe. IR. Missed 10 games.

• 2013 (Dallas) - Hamstring. Missed 5 games, including Week 17 finale vs Eagles.

• 2014 (Dallas) - Torn ACL. Missed the entire season.

Lee doesn't just have to prove that he's healthy. He has to show that he's still good.

As long as we're talking about Cowboys linebackers, we should also note here that MLB Rolando McClain will miss the first four games of the season with a suspension. If Lee's ligaments are made of dandelions, McClain's brain is made of a different type of weed.

5) Tony Romo DID have a pair of back surgeries in 2013

Just a reminder.

6) The Cowboys don't have a competent backup quarterback

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Yes, that drawing is my official analysis of Brandon Weeden, for the record.

7) The Cowboys have to play the Seahawks and Packers, and the rest of the NFC East doesn't.

As the NFC East champs a year ago, the Cowboys have to face the NFC North and NFC West champs. Those two teams (the Seahawks and Packers, as noted above) are the two best teams in the NFC.

In 2014, the Cowboys beat the Seahawks, which #CowboysNation hailed as the greatest achievement of modern mankind. However, they lost to the Lions Packers in the playoffs:

8) Jason Witten is old

...and his numbers are in decline:

Year Rec Yards YPC TD 
 2012110 1039 9.4 
 201373 851 11.7 
 201464 703 11.0 


Witten turned 33 in May.

9) The Cowboys pay their corners a lot for very little

The Cowboys are on the hook for $27,856,663 against the cap for the corners in 2014, per overthecap.com. That's the second highest dollar figure in the NFL at CB. For that money, the Cowboys had the 26th ranked pass defense a year ago. The Cowboys don't exactly have awesome safeties either, although you can say that for 90% of the league.

10) The Cowboys' defense still isn't good.

In 2013, the Cowboys defense was historically bad. In 2014 it was just "regular bad."

 Stat2013 Cowboys 2014 Cowboys 
 Total yards415.3 (32) 355.1 (19) 
 Yards per play6.1 (30)  5.8 (26)
 First downs per game24.2 (32)  19.7 (17)
 3rd down %43.3 (28)  43.6 (29)
 Pass yards286.8 (30)  251.9 (26)
 Pass yards per play7.8 (27)  7.5 (21)
 Pass TDs allowed33 (T-30)  22 (T-6)
 Opp QB rating96.0 (26) 88.5 (13) 
 Sacks34 (25) 28 (28) 
 Rush yards128.5 (27)  103.1 (8)
 Rush yards per attempt4.7 (30)  4.2 (16)
 Rush TDs allowed17 (26)  18 (31)


Credit the Dallas coaching staff for recognizing what the Cowboys were a year ago. They knew they had to keep their garbage defense off the field, so they successfully pounded the run with DeMarco Murray, stayed on schedule, and the offense converted third down conversions at a very impressive rate (47%), which was second in the NFL. They were able to sustain long drives, convert those drives into points, and make life easier on the defense.

It seems simple, but it worked. But it all started with the run game.

However, if the run game falters without DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys could experience a domino effect.

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EAGLES

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1) The Eagles' new QB apparently has a history of injuries.

Over the weekend I did some research on Sam Bradford, and it turns out that he tore his ACL. Twice! 

After doing some more digging, I learned via several credible sources close to the team that Chip Kelly knew about Bradford's injury history when he traded his existing starting QB, a second round pick and other stuff for Bradford, while taking on his $13 million salary.

Wait... What? Chip knew about this?!?

(OK, steps out of sarcasm character)...

Tim McManus of Birds 24/7 spoke to a doctor, who told him that the chances of Bradford re-tearing his ACL a third time are fairly low:

To get a better understanding for the situation, we spoke with Dr. James L. Carey, Director of the Penn Center for Advanced Cartilage Repair and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. From Dr. Carey's vantage point, does the fact that Bradford is coming off two ACL ruptures make it more likely that he will sustain a third?
"No," he replied. "In my opinion, I don't think that he's at an increased risk for a third injury any more so than his other knee or the knees of any other NFL quarterback."
The odds of re-injuring the same knee are relatively low. According to Carey, studies have shown that the probability of re-tearing a reconstructed ACL is about three to six percent. (Those studies were on the general population, not just football players. But they line up with other findings that suggest the chance of a recurrent injury to the same knee amongst NFL players within two years is about five to six percent.) Meanwhile, the probability of tearing the other knee -- or the "native ACL" -- is higher, around nine to 12 percent.

That is reassuring to some degree. However, the concern isn't so much that he'll tear his ACL again. It's more about how effective a player he'll be after having torn his ACL twice.

On a side note, Kelly is really pushing the idea that there's a legitimate quarterback competition between Bradford and projected backup Mark Sanchez. In my opinion, after having invested so heavily in Bradford, the only way Sanchez is beating him out is if Bradford is hurt, or if Bradford is so obviously awful and Sanchez is so obviously good during training camp that Kelly almost has no choice but to start Sanchez. 

Orrrrr... Sanchez can just take matters into his own hands:

2) The Eagles' offensive production is very misleading.

Since Kelly took over in Philly, the Eagles have had very low time of possession numbers because they probably run the fastest-paced offense in NFL history. Kelly couldn't possibly care any less about time of possession, and I don't fault him for that.

However, his fast paced offense leads to incredibly skewed stats on both sides of the ball. For example, the Eagles' basic offensive stats:

Category Stat Rank 
 Yards per game396.8 
 Points per game29.6 
 Rush yards per game124.5 
 Pass yards per game272.2 


Pretty freaking good, right?

However, the reality is that the offense was not as good in 2014 as it appears on paper. The offense's numbers were helped incredibly by two very important factors:

1) Again, as noted, the fast pace with which they run allow them to run more plays than any team in the league.

2) The special teams units and defense scored 11 touchdowns, which on paper benefits the offense, but distorts the reality of how they actually scored 29.6 points per game.

A much better measure of how efficient the Eagles' offense and defense has played, which factors out their fast-paced offense are "points per drive," and other drive stats.

Offensively, according to Football Outsiders, the Eagles scored 1.98 points per drive, which was good for 13th in the NFL. That is certainly nowhere near as impressive as the basic numbers above would suggest. Other drive stats:

 OffenseStat Rank 
 Yards per drive31.43 14 
 Points per drive1.98 13 
 Turnovers per drive0.174 32 
 INT per drive0.104 28 
 Fumbles per drive0.070 29 
Plays per drive 5.79 22 
T.O.P per drive 2:07 32 


In short, the Eagles scored a lot of points and racked up a lot of yards in 2014 because they ran a ton of plays, not because they were actually, you know, efficient. In that respect, Chip Kelly is a better illusionist than Jon Dorenbos.

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Now... to be clear, conversely, the defense isn't anywhere near as bad as the basic stats might suggest, but we're focusing on the negatives here.

3) 11 defense and special teams TDs are a lot.

Speaking of those 11 touchdowns the Eagles scored on defense and special teams a year ago... Yeah, that's not happening again.

4) The Eagles give up big plays. A lot of them.

The Eagles gave up the third most 20+ yard pass plays in NFL history in 2014. The immediate and obvious rebuttal to that is to say, "Well yeah, but that was because of Bradley 'Under the Rainbow' Fletcher," who of course is no longer with the team.

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True, true. Ol' Bradley was certainly a big part of that. But it's not as if the Eagles don't still have serious question marks in the defensive secondary. Opposite Byron Maxwell, the Eagles have a rookie (albeit a promising one) in Eric Rowe competing with a guy who couldn't beat out Fletcher for a starting job a year ago in Nolan Carroll. Meanwhile, at safety, while Walter Thurmond has looked good on the back end in OTAs and minicamp, it's a different world when the regular season begins. Not to mention, Thurmond has played in 2, 12, 2, and 6 games in each of the last four seasons. The secondary still has plenty to prove.

5) The Eagles will have almost no OL cohesion.

The Eagles cut the oldest (Evan Mathis) and sixth-oldest (Todd Herremans) projected starting offensive linemen in the NFL, and they still have the third oldest projected starting offensive line in the entire league. That's what will happen when you only draft one offensive lineman in three years. Mathis and Herremans were released, even though the Eagles didn't have much in the way of awesome replacements ready to go after their departures. 

Allen Barbre looks like a lock to start at LG. Barbre is a 31 year old journeyman with one career start since 2009, and just eight starts over the course of his career. It's anyone's guess who will start at RG at this point, but for the sake of argument we'll call the favorite Matt Tobin, for now. Using Tobin, the OL starters will have almost no experience playing with the guy immediately to their left or right (it isn't any better if you use someone other than Tobin):

 Eagles OL cohesionSnaps 
Number of snaps Jason Peters has played next to Allen Barbre 
Number of snaps Allen Barbre has played next to Jason Kelce 
Number of snaps Jason Kelce has played next to Matt Tobin 223 
Number of snaps Matt Tobin has played next to Lane Johnson 143 


It takes a long time for an offensive line to get good at blocking blitz pickups, stunts, twists, etc. The Eagles' offensive linemen will have logged no significant amount of time playing with the guys next to them. That's a problem.

The Eagles have very good players in LT Jason Peters, C Jason Kelce, and RT Lane Johnson surrounding Barbre and (???) at the guard spots, which should help offset any potential issues at guard, however...

6) OL depth is nearly non-existent.

As noted above, the Eagles really only have four definitive starters along their OL, with the fifth spot to be determined by hoping someone will step up (as opposed to several decent options battling it out for the job). They are particularly screwed at the tackle positions if they lose Jason Peters or Lane Johnson, seeing as they don't employ a quality reserve "swing tackle."

We'll take Peters, for example. Using the projected starting lineup noted above, here are the Eagles' options if Peters gets hurt:

If Peters gets hurt... LT LG RG RT 
 Option 1Allen Barbre Gardner/Moffitt/Kelly? Jason Kelce Matt Tobin Lane Johnson 
 Option 2Lane Johnson  Allen BarbreJason Kelce Matt Tobin Andrew Gardner 
 Option 3Lane Johnson  Gardner/Moffitt/Kelly?Jason Kelce Matt Tobin Allen Barbre 
 Option 4Andrew Gardner  Allen BarbreJason Kelce Matt Tobin Lane Johnson 


That's not a pretty picture. Obviously, Jason Peters is a great player, and you can basically say, "Well any team will be severely hurt if they lose (name of elite player)." While that is true, you'd prefer to not have your season destroyed because you lost an offensive lineman.

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7) The Eagles had the 'Triple Crown of Turnover Awfulness' in 2014.

The Eagles led the NFL in total turnovers, INTs, and fumbles lost in 2014That's "Triple Crown of Turnover Awfulness." Here are all 36 of the Eagles turnovers last year in 35 seconds:


Some view turnovers as luck-driven. In the case of the 2014 Eagles, that was hardly the case. They got poor QB play for the better part of the season, and their skill position players were careless when they ran with the football. Now, many of those players are now gone or may have different roles in 2015, but the #culture of sloppy football on offense has to change.

8) The Eagles' receiving corps are the youngest in the NFL.

If you project Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff to be the Eagles' 1-2-3 trio of wide receiver in 2015 (as I do), the Eagles will have the youngest receiver corps in the NFL. In the long term, that's a great thing. However, in the short term, even with Matthews and Agholor being mature beyond their years, there could be some growing pains with this group.

9) The Eagles still employ Riley Cooper.

Speaking of wide receivers, somehow Riley Cooper is still on the team.

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10) The Eagles don't have a fullback.

As the great Heath Evans of NFL Network pointed out, the Eagles will always be a bunch of ringless namby pambies until they sign a fullback.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be going into hiding. Thanks.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski