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As of right now, the Philadelphia Eagles are 9-5. They sit in second place in the NFC East and are currently in the 7th seed in the conference. If the playoffs began today, they would be on the outside looking in. Philadelphia’s heartbreaking loss Sunday night against Dallas exposed a number of major flaws. But aside from what this game showed us, the division was on the line. Whoever won the game would take over first place in the division, and would control their own fate as the season comes to an end. The Eagles would need help to make it to the playoffs now. Philly takes on Washington and then New York. Both opponents have had disappointing years with a combined record of 8-20. But, they will play tough and keep the game competitive. On the other hand, Dallas takes on Indianapolis and then Washington. For the Eagles to gain a game in the standings, they will be cheering on Andrew Luck.

But maybe the playoffs aren’t a good thing.

Everyone says that when the playoffs start anything can happen. That’s just not true. If they Eagles make the playoffs they will not advance to the Super Bowl or win it. The team isn’t good enough. Every Super Bowl team has a top quarterback. Mark Sanchez definitely isn’t the answer. He has proved that time and again this season. Sanchez is a backup quarterback. He will not amount to a starting one. Mark Sanchez cannot throw the ball down the field and continually misses targets or open players down the field. Nick Foles may be the answer but only time will tell. Out of the 32 teams in the league, or the 32 starting quarterbacks, only eight have won a Super Bowl: Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson. All eight of these men are elite quarterbacks in the league. Can Foles grow and progress into a quarterback of this caliber?

All eight of those quarterbacks that have won a Super Bowl have also had something in common: a defensive star with an overall good defense. Players such as Tedy Bruschi, Troy Polamalu, Bob Sanders, Michael Strahan, Clay Matthews, Ray Lewis and Richard Sherman all play(ed) on the defensive side of the ball, and are game changers. As of right now, the Eagles don’t possess any player of this caliber. The front three for Philadelphia is strong. The linebackers are decent but still need improvement. DeMeco Ryans, who tore his Achilles tendon week 9, realistically won’t be the same player. This is his second Achilles injury in four years and by the time next season begins he’ll be 31. His replacement is Casey Matthews who was a fourth round pick in 2011 and is playing like a fourth round draft choice. Matthews is just a body of the field to take up space.

 

Philadelphia’s secondary is absolutely atrocious. Cornerback Cary Williams signed with the Eagles after winning the Super Bowl in 2012. Throughout his two and a half seasons as a Eagle, Williams has done the same thing weekly. Cary Williams is repeatedly flagged for illegal contact passed five yards, pass interference, and forgetting to turn his head around towards the ball. Williams occasionally can make a big play but it’s usually when the ball is underthrown because he’s usually trailing the receiver.
 

Lining up on the other side of the ball is Bradley Fletcher. Fletcher regularly takes poor routes when defending receivers and gets caught staring at the ball. In the Cowboys Eagles game yesterday, Bradley Fletcher was repeatedly burned. He was guarding star receiver Dez Bryant. Bryant had 6 receptions for 114 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bryant was guarded by Fletcher on all of his touchdown receptions. Dez Bryant’s second and third touchdown receptions were for 25 and 26 yards. The Cowboys ran the same exact play both times. Both plays Fletcher failed to turn his head or put his hands up as he ran a step behind Bryant. Bradley Fletcher has made these mistakes all year and he should not be put on the field. He is consistently targeted and always gives up big games. If he’s not benched after his awful performance, he never will be, but it’s time to sit him.


 

On both of the long Bryant TD receptions, there was supposed to be safety help over the top. The safety help should have been from Nate Allen, but he was late both times. With only Bryant lined up to the left of the offensive line, it was obvious that the ball was going to Bryant. I knew it and so did the people next to me, but Allen couldn’t tell. Allen is regularly late to help corners. He doesn’t know how to tackle or stop the run.

 

The best way to fill the Eagles to address its needs is through the NFL draft. But Philadelphia has not had great success in terms of the draft. In Kelly’s first draft he selected offensive tackle Lane Johnson fourth overall. Johnson has played well. In the second round the team selected tight end Zach Ertz from Stanford University. Ertz has had a couple good games but still has not lived up to his potential. Then in the third round the Eagles selected defensive tackle Benny Logan who is good at stopping the run. In the next round Philly traded up to take quarterback Matt Barkley out of USC. Barkley has seen the field but has not done well at all. Barkley is not an NFL quarterback and won’t be.
 

The 2014 NFL draft has not panned out so well for Philadelphia. Philly’s first round selection was linebacker Marcus Smith from Louisville. Smith was a consensus third round pick, yet was drafted 26th overall. The pick confused a ton of people and still does. The team wanted a linebacker and drafted one that they could’ve picked rounds later. At the time of spring training the Birds were using terms like “project” and everyone knew that it was a bad pick. Smith has not recorded a tackle this season and has barely seen the field. Their second round pick Jordan Matthews has shown a ton of potential and looks like a steal. He is a large receiver with good hands. He needs to continue to improve.  Their next pick was Josh Huff. He was selected 86th overall. Huff has shown some potential as a returner but there have been times where he has seemed careless with the ball in his hands.

 

Chip Kelly and the Eagles organization need to come away from the 2015 draft with an A+ draft grade. There are a ton of needs. Almost every position could be in for an upgrade. If the Eagles miss the playoffs they can expect a mid first round pick around 15. If they make the playoffs they will probably drafting in the early 20s. That’s a big difference.

The Eagles could make a big splash during the draft. Quarterback Marcus Mariota out of Oregon University, who won the Heisman Trophy, will be a top 3 pick. Mariota was recruited and played under Eagles current head coach Chip Kelly. They have a great relationship. Mariota is the best quarterback prospect since the 2011 draft when Andrew Luck was selected first overall. The Eagles offense is designed around having a quarterback with quick feet and a strong accurate arm. Kelly’s offense was centered around Mariota at Oregon and he took the same style to the next level. It would take a lot to get a pick high enough to draft him, it might be worth it, but it depends on the asking price is.

 

The Seattle Seahawks have a secondary worth mimicking. Cornerback Richard Sherman is considered the top corner in the league and he was drafted in the 5th round. Opposite him is Byron Maxwell, a 6th round draft pick. Safety Kam Chancellor was a 5th round pick. The other safety is Earl Thomas who was drafted in the first round (the Eagles traded up in the 2010 draft two spots and everyone expected them to draft Thomas but instead they pick Brandon Graham). Maxwell is the only one who hasn’t been selected for a Pro Bowl. The Seahawks also had cornerback Brandon Browner who was undrafted, yet made a Pro Bowl for them. Whatever Seattle does in terms of coaching or scouting the Eagles need to take diligent notes.

To sum everything up: the Eagles are a decent team. They have a ton of weaknesses that good teams are able to expose. They will not be a true Super Bowl contender until addressing those needs so maybe it’s best not to make the playoffs for higher draft picks. 

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