By Jack Ryan
The Eagles ended last season in a dumpster fire — and they fired Chip Kelly because of it.
They lost four of their last five games at home, including 45-17 to Tampa Bay and 38-24 to the Redskins, to finish 7-9. Kelly was fired after the loss to Washington.
The Eagles probably traded too much to jump up and get QB Carson Wentz with the No. 2 pick in the draft, but the plan is to let him learn under the careful tutelage of Sam Bradford, who seems thrilled about the mentoring assignment.
They added coach Doug Pederson too, because apparently the echo of Andy Reid is comforting at this point. QB Chase Daniel is also on the roster, though it is unclear whether he simply tagged along with Pederson and started making throws at practice.
The interior of the offensive line was rebuilt with free agents Brandon Brooks and Stefen Wisniewski and draft pick Isaac Seumalo. The Eagles swung a trade in training camp to see if Dorial Green-Beckham, a talented wide receiver who wore out his welcome in one single year with the Titans, would suddenly become a professional if he moved to another city.
Defensive backs Rodney McLeod and Leodis McKelvin should be solid, and are a better fit for new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and his 4-3 scheme.
The Eagles traded QB Mark Sanchez, RB DeMarco Murray, LB Kiko Alonso and CB Byron Maxwell. This is basically more trading than most NFL teams do in a decade.
The Eagles’ offensive line could be very good, if RT Lane Johnson turns out to not be suspended for 10 games. The tight ends — Zach Ertz and Brent Celek — are both above average.
DT Fletcher Cox is a game-changing presence on the interior of the line that should allow Connor Barwin, Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham to apply some pressure. ILB Jordan Hicks was a very good player before getting injured last year, and SS Malcolm Jenkins is a true pro.
The Eagles’ running backs are well below average. Ryan Mathews may thrive with more consistent work but has struggled with injuries. Darren Sproles remains versatile but he’s 33.
A young wide receivers group has shown nothing to indicate it will be special.
The defense looks like it can be good — or even very good! — but may have to be transcendent to make the Eagles a playoff team, even in the weak NFC East.
Pederson is a first-year coach. Bradford is a lame-duck quarterback. The skill position players are largely uninspiring. The defense should be respectable but without truly dynamic cornerbacks and outside linebackers it could struggle with the quick passes that are a staple of NFL offenses at this point.
Eagles fans will most certainly be pushing to see Wentz, the former North Dakota State star, before the year is out. If he can even come close to living up to the hype, the Eagles may be on solid ground by next season. But they’ll likely need to find a way to replace star LT Jason Peters, who has been declining, and add playmakers without having a first-round pick in the 2017 draft.