Eagles: What we learned in 2013

LeSean McCoy Eagles running back LeSean McCoy set an all-time team record in rushing yards in 2013. Credit: Getty Images

1. Chip Kelly Is Not Steve Spurrier. The biggest thing we learned in 2013 is that Chip Kelly can coach at any level – high school, college, pros, pee-wee league. It’s something we probably should have realized sooner considering Bill Belichick keeps him on speed dial. His high-octane, zone-read offense isn’t a gimmick and was a thing of beauty to watch. Defenses were gassed trying to keep up as the Eagles set single-season records for points scored (442), total net yards (6,676), touchdowns (53) and passing yards (4,406) — all while leading the NFC in total offense (417.3 yards per game) and the entire NFL in rushing offense (160.4 yards per game). We’ll give you a minute, if you need to catch your breath.

2. LeSean McCoy Is Barry Sanders. The comparisons started two seasons ago, but then Shady got injured in 2012 and maybe the league forgot how good he was. Not anymore. Not after breaking multiple ankles, in the snow nonetheless, en route to winning the NFL’s rushing title. His 1,607 rushing yards set a new franchise single-season record and he became the first Eagle to win the rushing title since 1949. He also brings a certain unexplainable swagger to the locker room, as evidenced by his blatant flaunting of a WWE Championship Belt.

3. The Defense Is Actually Good. It was supposed to be a long adjustment period switching over to Billy Davis’ complex 3-4 hybrid scheme. Remember, this was a dismal unit in 2012, one that couldn’t get out of its own way and surrendered a league-worst 33 touchdowns through the air. Many players struggled with it early, especially sackmaster Trent Cole and safety Nate Allen. However, the defense bought into Davis’ system and was one big stop away from preserving a playoff win. Their plus-12 turnover ratio ranked No. 2 in the NFL.

4. Nick Foles Is The Franchise. We were very skeptical of the second-year quarterback after a shaky 2012. We were wrong. The kid was neck and neck with Mike Vick in preseason and handled narrowly losing the starting job with class. When his number was finally called, Foles ran the offense like a surgeon. He set single-season franchise marks in QB rating (119.2), completion percentage (64.04), interception percentage (0.63) and chucked seven touchdowns against Oakland. Scary good. It’s going to be fun to watch Foles go into 2014 as the unquestioned leader, with a full offseason to grow in Chip Kelly’s offense.

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