Philadelphia Eagles Are One of the NFL's Biggest Mysteries

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 6, 2013

Apr 26, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly addresses the media during a press conference at the NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming that Robert Griffin III continues to recover from early offseason knee surgery successfully, the NFC East's top three teams from 2012 won't have changed a whole lot by the time 2013 begins. Griffin's Washington Redskins didn't gain or lose much, while the Dallas Cowboys went splash-less, and the New York Giants continued to maintain a look and philosophy that has worked throughout the Tom Coughlin era.

And that's why the division's true and only wild card is the unpredictable Philadelphia Eagles, who will have a whole new offense, a whole new defense, an entirely new coaching staff and at least six new starters in 2013.

In fact, it's hard to find a bigger conundrum league-wide. That's why Sports Illustrated's Don Banks called the Eagles the NFL's biggest mystery in a column last week:

With a minimum of eight new starters, a rookie NFL head coach, and someone other than Andy Reid calling the shots in Philly for the first time since Bill Clinton was in his second term, the Eagles have more unknowns than any team in the league. New is everywhere you look in Philadelphia -- which is the newest development of all for a team that had led the league in stability for seemingly forever.

Of course, we've yet to even mention the quarterback controversy that is most certainly looming. Michael Vick is the presumed starter for now, but you never know what to expect from the erratic veteran. The moment Vick slips up—likely before the regular season has even begun—they'll be calling for Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Dennis Dixon or maybe even G.J. Kinne.

Does anyone really expect Vick to start 16 games for only the second time in his 11-year career?

And then there are those new starters, at least five of whom will come on defense. The way things look now, a shaky secondary has been completely replaced by four free-agent acquisitions. Whether that makes it any more or less shaky is to be determined. 

Seven free-agent pickups—Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Kenny Phillips, Patrick Chung, Isaac Sopoaga, James Casey and Connor Barwin—are expected either to start or play significant roles. Rookie first-round pick Lane Johnson will start along an offensive line that is riddled with question marks (how will Jason Peters hold up after missing the entire 2012 season, for example), and fellow draft picks Zach Ertz, Bennie Logan and Earl Wolff could be asked to contribute from the get-go.

That offense will be moving quickly under Chip Kelly, who is expected to bring a whole new tempo to the City of Brotherly Love. And the D will be ditching its standard Wide 9-oriented 4-3 look for a 3-4 under hybrid implemented by new defensive coordinator Bill Davis. 

There's just nothing that is certain right now. That's gotta be scary, Philly fans, but it also has to be pretty damn exciting.