49ers opponents offseason review 2014: Philadelphia Eagles

Mitchell Leff

I take a look at the Eagles in anticipation of the coming season.

The 2014 NFL Draft is officially a wrap, which means offseason additions are just about complete. There will be some small free agent additions here and there, but training camp rosters are just about set. With that in mind, we are back to review each of the 49ers 2014 opponents. Each team has gained and lost numerous players, so this series will help get you more familiar with the rosters of each opponent.

This is a legitimately scary team.

I'll just say that upfront: the Eagles are quickly becoming a scary team. While they do have some problems, and while the 49ers are playing them at home, this game could be really tough. The offense is explosive and the defense is getting better.

This offseason, the Eagles have faced their fair share of Philly-media induced controversies. That whole DeSean Jackson thing? Yeah, that was annoying. And anytime a QB named Michael Vick does anything involving the media circuses that are Philly and New York, there's going to be a big hoopla.

But, besides media lightening rods, the Eagles did face some problems this offseason that it appears they have overcome. For one, replacing DeSean Jackson is going to be tough. The Eagles' offense seems to thrive on the perimeters. By having speedy, yet capable receivers, on the outside (and in the slot), the Eagles spread out opponents and then pick them off at their weak points. Complimented by a very strong rushing attack, this passing attack is multiform and potent in its variety. Jackson was a big part of that.

In addition, the Eagles need to stop winning only shootouts; it can be an exciting, and occasionally effective, style of play. But, it strikes me as unsustainable. I don't know if there are numbers on this, and I would be interesting in reading a report on it if such a thing existed, but I imagine that shootouts quickly become a 50-50 chance of victory. Basically, they can come down to who has the ball last. So, the Eagles needed to fix a few things a defense this offseason; making their pass rush seems to be the direction in which they went in the draft.

Free Agency:

Additions: CB Nolan Carroll, S Malcolm Jenkins, S Chris Maragos, LB Bryan Braman, RB Darren Sproles (trade), OT Andrew Gardner, QB Mark Sanchez.

Losses: DE Clifton Geathers, WR DeSean Jackson (cut), QB Michael Vick.

The big move was obviously the trade for Sproles. I cannot think of a better RB fit for that style of offense (except maybe LaMichael James -  you hear that Eagles? Wanna give use oodles of draft picks for him?). His addition deepens the versatility of an already strong backfield and gives Philly another body who can play in the backfield or out on the perimeters of the offense.

Signing Jenkins and Carroll should add some necessary competition to the secondary. The Eagles really needed some help last year at the Safety position, and CB help is never bad in this league. Brandon Boykin, their slot CB, is one of the best. Any help he can get on the outside will really strengthen the defense.

Draft:

26. Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville
42. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
86. Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
101. Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
141. Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
162. Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
224. Beau Allen, DT, Wisconsin

In preparing for these write ups, I always look at different grades that websites hand out for the draft. The Eagles are pretty consistently sitting in the high Cs to low Bs. Now, I'm not scout - like, not at all - so I will defer to the experts on this one, but this draft looks solid to me. I like that the Eagles took players that address needs but seem appropriate for their slot. The big exception, though - and this is why people are grading the Eagles low - is first round pick Marcus Smith. Most people seem to think that he would be a better fit latter in the draft, but if the Eagles want a guy to rush the passer, and they think he can, then I don't see why not pick him.

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