Back-to-back 10-win seasons is good, but not good enough for the
Not in a city where the season-ticket waiting list is 50,000 names long. Not where the dearly departed are buried in
Double-digit victories have solidified Coach
So, whereas other coaches might look at a 10-win season as a few pieces away from the Super Bowl, Kelly dragged an eraser across the white board and made major changes. The Eagles have new running backs, a new quarterback, two new guards, a new marquee linebacker, and three new defensive backs. Kelly could swap out as many as a dozen starters.
"We weren't trying to make news," the coach said. "We were just trying to make our team better."
Can Kelly, in this pivotal third season, pull together all of these just-acquired players and quickly break through with some big steps forward?
Put simply: Is he a mad scientist, or just plain crazy?
Already, Kelly is encouraged by what he's seeing.
"We are way ahead of where we've ever been from an installation standpoint," he said. "But I think it's because of the amount of reps we get in the spring. We go pretty hard in the spring, but there's a reason for that. It's so that when we come back, it's not starting over again. It's picking up where we left off."
The fresh start hinges on a big gamble: the development of quarterback
Kelly's support and enthusiasm for Bradford is unflinching.
"If you're not going to pick one or two [in the draft], how do you go get a quarterback?" the coach said in a recent interview with Eagles beat writers. "
Both Denver's Manning and New Orleans' Brees got to Super Bowls after switching teams. For many, the expectations are equally high for the Eagles in a conference with several strong teams — Seattle, Green Bay, Arizona, Dallas — but probably no overwhelming juggernaut.
Another key gamble for Philadelphia is running back. The Eagles added last season's rushing champion,
That's a roll of the dice considering Murray had 392 carries last season, the ninth-most in league history. The eight players on that list averaged 831 yards fewer in the following season.
Setting the stage for the acquisition of Murray, the Eagles traded running back
In exchange for McCoy, Philadelphia got linebacker Kiko Alonso, who was runner-up to defensive rookie of the year in 2013, but missed his entire second season with a torn knee ligament. He will be key addition to Philadelphia's defense, which was strong up front last season but highly vulnerable in the secondary.
The Eagles will spread the carries around, adding oft-injured running back
"If you have multiple backs you don't lose anything when you take one out, and I think we probably relied on one too much in the last couple of years," Kelly said. "But I have great confidence in those other guys that when they go into the game you don't have to change what you're doing.
"Ryan and DeMarco are very similar in terms of how they run and what they're doing so it's almost like you think you catch your breath when you take DeMarco out of the game but then here comes Ryan, that's going to be a real difficult task for people, I think."
There are more challenges at receiver after, for the second consecutive year, the Eagles have parted ways with an All-Pro wideout. Two years ago, they bid adieu to
"The changes in the off-season sent us in the right direction," tackle
In the last two years, there has been so much emphasis placed on Kelly's unconventional, up-tempo style, and how players will adjust. But now, with so many changes and so little time to get up and running, the spotlight — and the stopwatch — is trained on him.