Eagles' biggest key to success

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
12:00
PM ET
Jones
Kelly
The elephant in the room when discussing the Philadelphia Eagles' prospects for the next few years is named Nick Foles. If Foles continues to be the quarterback who threw 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions last season, who led the NFL in passer rating in 2013, then the Eagles should be in fine shape for the foreseeable future.

But I don’t think that’s really the question we should be asking. To me, the Eagles’ chances for continued success under Chip Kelly depend largely on the coach himself.

Remember, Foles went 1-5 as a starter under Andy Reid in 2012. He certainly benefited from that experience, but the single most important reason for his big 2013 season was Kelly’s offensive strategy. Foles performed at an elite level while LeSean McCoy led the NFL in rushing. That doesn’t happen by accident. It happens as a result of good coaching that finds ways to get the most of the players available.

As long as that is Kelly’s approach, the Eagles have a chance to contend for the next few seasons. And there is no reason to believe Kelly will change his approach.

Consider the worst-case scenario regarding Foles. If he regresses significantly in 2014, the Eagles are under no obligation to sign him to a long-term contract. They would be free to see if Mark Sanchez or Matt Barkley can excel in Kelly’s system. If the answer is no, they could draft a quarterback in 2015 -- Marcus Mariota, anyone? -- and let Kelly work with him.

If Foles is able to replicate his success, or even build on it, then the Eagles will be fine. So it’s easy to conclude Foles is the key. But in truth, the No. 1 determining factor for this franchise in 2015, 2016, 2017 and beyond is Kelly.

Phil Sheridan

ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter

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