Major roster turnover for the Philadelphia Eagles has never been an issue. It seems each season Philadelphia brings in a host of new talent, fresh faces designed to bring the city its first Super Bowl championship.
But for the first time in a decade-and-a-half, the Eagles' biggest move of the winter came not from a shifting in personnel—but the departure of the man leading those fresh faces.
Gone after 14 seasons, 130 regular-season wins and five trips to the NFC Championship Game was Andy Reid. In his place, offensive savant Chip Kelly, brought over after only four seasons as a collegiate head coach at Oregon. To put it another way, Kelly was beginning his first season as the offensive coordinator at FCS school New Hampshire the same year Reid took over for the Eagles.
Nevertheless, Kelly brings something Reid hasn't to the Eagles in some time—excitement. An offensive guru with a sterling reputation for molding young players, Kelly moving to the NFL is one of the most intriguing storylines of the 2013 season.
And, of course, what would an Eagles offseason be without roster turmoil. Expected to be jettisoned alongside Reid, Michael Vick will return essentially as a rental player. Departing, though, are Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, once viewed as a nightmarish duo for opposing receivers.
Philadelphia also brought players in, most notably linebacker Connor Barwin and safeties Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips. But with the NFL draft still in the offing, it's impossible to judge the Eagles' offseason of turnover at least for another week-plus.
What we can judge, though, is Philadelphia's schedule. The NFL introduced the 16-game slate for all of its teams on Thursday, and there are more than a few doozies for the Eagles.
With that in mind, here is a look at the entire 2013 schedule for Philly along with a detailed breakdown of a few enticing matchups.
|2013 Philadelphia Eagles Schedule|
|1||Mon, Sept. 9 ||@ Washington Redskins||7:10 p.m.||ESPN|
|2||Sept. 15 ||vs. San Diego Chargers||1 p.m.||Fox|
|3||Thurs, Sept. 22 ||vs. Kansas City Chiefs||8:25 p.m.||NFLN|
|4||Sept. 29||@ Denver Broncos||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|5||Oct. 6||@ New York Giants||1 p.m.||Fox|
|6||Oct. 13||@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1 p.m.||Fox|
|7||Oct. 20||vs. Dallas Cowboys||1 p.m.||Fox|
|8||Oct. 27||vs. New York Giants||1 p.m.||Fox|
|9||Nov. 3||@ Oakland Raiders||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|10||Nov. 10||@ Green Bay Packers||1 p.m.||Fox|
|11||Nov. 17||vs. Washington Redskins||1 p.m.||Fox|
|12||Nov. 24||BYE WEEK||N/A||N/A|
|13||Dec. 1||vs. Arizona Cardinals||1 p.m.||Fox|
|14||Dec. 8||vs. Detroit Lions||1 p.m.||Fox|
|15||Dec. 15||@ Minnesota Vikings||1 p.m.||Fox|
|16||Dec. 22 ||vs. Chicago Bears||1 p.m.||Fox|
|17||Dec. 29 ||@ Dallas Cowboys||1 p.m.||Fox|
Note: For a complete look at Philadelphia's 2013 schedule, check out NFL.com.
Week 1: At Washington Redskins
When: Monday, Sept. 9 at 7:10 p.m. ET
Where: FedExField in Landover, MD
The NFL might not have done the Eagles any favors difficulty-wise—Washington is the reigning NFC East champion—but it's hard to call Philly's opener anything less than a must-watch. The contest marks one of only two prime-time games for the Eagles this season, and more importantly, the donning of the Chip Kelly era.
To say Kelly heads into southern Pennsylvania with high expectations is a massive understatement. The 49-year-old coach's spread-style offense sparked a mini-revolution in college football, and its translation to the NFL game will alter the next half-decade of Eagles football.
Fans will get a sneak peak of how Kelly's offense will translate professionally during the preseason; they just won't get a good look at the real thing until Sept. 9. By then, the Eagles' quarterback situation—currently an open competition between incumbents Michael Vick and Nick Foles and offseason signee Dennis Dixon—should be solved.
Vick, who looks like the on-paper favorite and has a contract worth up to $10 million to prove it, has said recently he already feels the position is his.
"This is still my team," Vick said (via Geoff Mosher of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia). "This is still my job."
However, there is a storyline on the opposite side of the field that will arguably be the most intriguing of the entire first quarter of the season. Redskins quarterback and reigning Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III's health looms over everything in the NFC East, from preseason predictions to fantasy rankings to the reputation of head coach Mike Shanahan in Washington.
Griffin, who is recovering from an ACL tear suffered during last season's playoffs, has said his goal is being on the field Week 1. The second pick in the 2012 NFL draft is coming off one of the better rookie seasons for a quarterback in league history, throwing for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns against only five interceptions. One of the most dynamic playmakers in recent memory, Griffin also added 815 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
If Griffin returns, all eyes across the nation will be superglued to the offensive side of the ball for both teams. If Griffin sits, Philly might just get an easy early season road win against a division rival.
Week 3: vs. Kansas City Chiefs
When: Thursday, Sept. 19 at 8:25 p.m. ET
Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia
Watch: NFL Network
It's almost impossible to blame Eagles management for firing Andy Reid after last season. A Super Bowl hopeful—a "Dream Team" reunited, no less—Philly marched through one of the more miserable seasons in franchise history. Dissent brewed about the team's quarterback situation, and the Eagles offensive line play was truly dreadful.
Despite a 3-1 start, it was obvious that this wasn't a team en route to a 12-4 record. The Eagles subsequently nosedived, finishing 4-12 during a slog that fans remember all too well at this point. Reid was canned, which became a foregone conclusion by Week 17.
Reid had run into the same problem many tenured coaches do: He'd been tuned out. Fans had long tired of his oft-derided mismanagement of the game and play clocks, and his inability to develop a top-flight defense after the late Jim Johnson left in 2008.
Reid's firing may have been expected and deserved, but there is little doubt his first trip back to Lincoln Financial Field as Chiefs head coach will come with the grandest connotations.
A brilliant cultivator of offensive talent, Reid is either the greatest or second-greatest coach in Philadelphia football history—depending on how highly you view Dick Vermeil. Prior to last season, Reid was a bastion of consistency and a regular fixture in the postseason, though those runs often ended in disappointment.
It's that level of savvy and consistency Kansas City was looking for. The team's last three head coaches ranged from mildly incompetent (Herm Edwards) to unmitigated disaster (Romeo Crennel). Though the days of Reid being mentioned among top head men are likely over, Chiefs fans will likely settle for something Eagles fans no longer could—consistency.
The game should be just fine on the field. But the pregame introduction of Reid may provide the most interesting theatre of that Thursday night affair—hopefully Eagles fans act appropriately.
Week 10: At Green Bay Packers
When: Sunday, Nov. 10 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc.
Starting their schedule with four of their first six games on the road, Kelly's bunch will already be battle tested outside of the greater Pennsylvania area come Week 10. Each road tilt carries a varying level of importance, whether as an indicator of where they stand among top contenders (Broncos) or simply as an opportunity to gain a critical interdivisional win (Redskins and Giants).
However, Week 10 marks Kelly's first trip to a piece of NFL royalty. Lambeau Field, with the raucous crowd of knowledgeable football fans and ghosts of triumphs past lingering on every inch of field turf, is arguably the hardest stadium in all of football to play in—college or professional.
Talking about playing at Lambeau is one thing—it's just another football stadium in theory. But in practice, there have been many coaches who have called the worst game of their professional lives before a rabid group of Cheeseheads.
In terms of the football outlook—which can always be taken with a grain of salt in April—Green Bay seems like a strong on-paper matchup for what most think the Eagles will be in 2013. Packers star Aaron Rodgers should be able to torch a secondary that lost both Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha this offseason, and Clay Matthews is one of a select few linebackers smart enough and quick enough to take down opposing scramblers.
But we all know football is fluid; the results of the 2013 NFL season are less predictable in April than the plot points of the third season of Homeland.
Instead, with a Week 12 bye in the offing, this trip to Green Bay is a midseason litmus test. Projections vary on the Eagles about whether they are a team on the rebuild or were merely a few pieces away. By the time the clock strikes zero at Lambeau, it's very likely fans in Philly will know what to expect from their team during the final third of the season.