Since free agency opened March 10, front offices around the league have been busy retooling rosters and preparing for the upcoming season. Here at CSNWashington.com, we’ve kept a watchful eye on the moves made by teams that appear on the Redskins’ 2015 schedule. Who’s gotten better? Who’s slipped a bit? Let’s take a closer look.
Philadelphia Eagles (Week 4)
2014 record: 10-6.
Key additions: QB Sam Bradford (Rams), RB DeMarco Murray (Cowboys), CB Byron Maxwell (Seahawks), LB Kiko Alonso (Bills), RB Ryan Mathews (Chargers), DB Walter Thurmond (Giants), WR Nelson Agholor (1st round pick), CB Eric Rowe (2nd round pick), WR Miles Austin (Browns) and WR Seyi Ajirotutu (Chargers).
Key departures: QB Nick Foles (Rams), RB LeSean McCoy (Bills), WR Jeremy Maclin (Chiefs), LB Trent Cole (Colts), G Evan Mathis (unsigned), CB Bradley Fletcher (Patriots), LB Casey Matthews (Vikings), CB Cary Williams (Seahawks), G Todd Herremans (Colts) and TE James Casey (Broncos).
Best move: Replacing the 2013 rushing champion (McCoy) with the 2014 champion (Murray). Last season, Murray led the league with 1,845 yards—484 more than Le’Veon Bell’s total. The 27-year-old also topped the league in yards after contact with 998, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Unfortunately for the Redskins, Murray simply moved from one division rival to another.
What it all means for the Redskins: To me, there are really only two possible outcomes for Chip Kelly and the 2015 Eagles: 1) They’ll get over the hump and Kelly will be viewed as a genius for his bold renovation of the roster or 2) they’ll regress and, well, you know how that will go over in Philly.
By my count, the Eagles could have as many as 10 new starters this fall. That’s right, as many as 10. On a team that won 10 games in each of the previous two seasons.
Kelly, quite obviously, was not messing around this offseason. But does he know what he’s doing? Are the Eagles better or just different? By the time Eagles visit FedEx Field on Oct. 4, we’ll know whether Kelly’s risky overhaul is working or not.
As you might expect, it’s really difficult to say what the key matchup will be three months out from the teams' first meeting. It’s even tougher when you’re evaluating a lineup that could feature five new starters on either side of the ball. But we can be sure of this much: Kelly didn’t give the NFL’s leading rusher $21 million in guarantees not to be the focal point of his offense.
We also know this: Murray carved up the Redskins’ defense last season as a member of the Cowboys. In their first meeting, he rushed for 141 yards on 19 carries (7.4 yards per) and hauled in four passes for 80 yards. In the second meeting, Murray went for 100 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown and snagged three passes for 21 yards.
Indeed, it's not much of a stretch to predict that this Week 4 division showdown will be a huge test of the Redskins’ improved defensive line and unit coordinator Joe Barry’s scheme.