Predicting the Eagles’ Most Valuable Players in 2015


As the Philadelphia Eagles begin to rise out of the ashes that was the most turbulent, franchise-changing off-season in recent memory, the future could not be more hard to predict. Between being the NFL’s All-torn-ACL-team to the home of the league’s most racial allegations, this off-season has not been a relaxing stroll down South Street for Philadelphia fans.

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Since Chip Kelly became took over as the de facto General Manager back in January, he completely overhauled the roster, tailoring it to his liking, to improve the team to the level he thinks can lead to a playoff birth, and hopefully a Lombardi Trophy.

If Philly fans had questions following the end of last season, they most likely have more this season as the majority of impact players for the Eagles have yet to play a game in Philadelphia. How they, and the team as a whole, will fare is a question weighing on the minds of many throughout the league.

Which players will step up and prove themselves most valuable to the Eagles?

Offensive MVP: QB Sam Bradford

When I first heard of the Eagles’ trade for Sam Bradford, like many others, I was in disbelief. I didn’t understand why the Eagles would trade a serviceable quarterback in Nick Foles for a guy with a bunch of question marks. But after gathering my wits, I began to look at the situation without any emotional prejudices and it immediately began to make sense.

Aug 2, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford (7) during training camp at NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

At Oklahoma, Sam Bradford played in an up-tempo, spread offense similar to the one Chip Kelly implements in Philadelphia. Bradford will be the first quarterback with previous experience in such a system to play under Kelly in Philadelphia. Bradford is also reunited with Eagles’ Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur, who was Bradford’s Offensive Coordinator for his rookie season in St. Louis, putting him into a setting where he will be able to prosper.

Unfortunately, we do have to address the elephant in the room–Bradford has torn his ACL twice. Tearing it once is a scary enough to make teams turn their heads and look elsewhere for their needs. But in today’s day and age the recovery for and ACL tear is drastically improving as more and more research goes into orthopedic surgery. Last season Jeremy Maclin had a career year for the Eagles, only one year removed from an ACL tear, while in 2012, Adrian Peterson had an unforgettable MVP season less than a year after suffering a torn ACL and MCL. As the medical landscape improves, so do Bradford’s chances of making an injury-free rebirth with a team that places a high-significance on sports science.

Bradford staying healthy is key, and if he does he will thrive in Kelly’s fast-paced system due to his ability to distribute the ball quickly. He is surrounded with the most talented receiving corps and backfield he has ever played with and has a fast release which will help to move Kelly’s offense even quicker and bewilder defenses in the process. Bradford is in the best possible environment to revitalize his career, and I believe that process will begin this year as he helps lead the Eagles to a playoff birth.

It’s a risky pick, but I believe Bradford will have an excellent first year as an Eagle, and will turn out to be the most valuable and important player on offense, and the whole team, this season.

Defensive MVP: OLB Connor Barwin

Connor Barwin has been nothing short of stellar while playing for the Eagles since 2013, and I don’t see that stopping this season. He seems to improve every year leading the NFC with 14.5 sacks in 2014 and obtained 47 tackles, earning him his first Pro Bowl honors.

Nov 10, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin (98) celebrates after sacking Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After his performance last year the Eagles deservedly locked Barwin up, restructuring and extending the contract of the man who was a dark horse candidate for 2014 Defensive Player of the Year.

It’s not the sexiest pick for Defensive MVP, but Connor Barwin is a dominant outside linebacker in the NFL and is a prime reason why the Eagles front seven was so successful last season. I see him having another monster year for the Eagles, earning himself more personal accolades in the process of making quarterbacks around the league shake in their boots.

Special Teams: P Donnie Jones

Dec 7, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles punter Donnie Jones (8) punts the ball down the field against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

Donnie Jones has been the unsung hero of the special teams squad the past few years. He has set multiple franchise punting records including a 40.5 yard punting average, which is the best in team history. He has shown an incredible ability to pin opponents within their own 20 yard line, a feat which has been marveled at by Eagles fans after some disappointing punters throughout the years.

This is a valuable commodity to have, and with the emphasis Chip places on special teams, he surely values Jones, who puts his defense in great field position in the efforts to hinder opponents from scoring.

I expect Jones to have another solid year for the Eagles and to be a cornerstone of the Eagles’ special teams.

The 2015-2016 NFL season is full of uncertainties and question marks that have fans biting their nails in anticipation to see how it will turn out.

The first glimpse of Eagles football will be available this Sunday, August 16, when the Eagles play the Indianapolis Colts in their first preseason action of the year. The Eagles’ most impactful players this season may turn out to be those who went unmentioned. Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball that can see the results of 17 weeks of the NFL season, so we will have to wait no-so-patiently to see who will prove most valuable to the Eagles this season.

Next: Eagles Roundtable: Who Will Lead the Eagles In Receiving Yards?