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A Counterpoint To ESPN's Question About How The Cowboys Will Deal With Chip Kelly's High Octane Offense

This morning ESPN staff writer Phil Sheridan posed a question to his fellow NFC East beat writers. Now BTB takes a turn at answering those question as well.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I will start by saying that Phil Sheridan is one of my go to sources for keeping up with what is going on in the Philadelphia Eagles camp, and on the surface his question makes good sense. The Eagles put up over 30 points per game and over 400 yards of offense against division foes last year. The Chip Kelly Eagles have featured a high-octane, high-speed offense during his tenure as head coach and there is no indication that Kelly has changed his football philosophy one iota.

So, what did Sheridan ask?

Is there any reason to think Dallas, Washington and New York have come closer to countering Chip Kelly’s offense in Year 3 of his tenure?

The thing to remember is that this Eagles team is not the same team that Chip experienced some success with during his first season in the City of Brotherly Love. Gone is LeSean McCoy, two seasons removed from leading the league in rushing and the centerpiece of the 2013 Eagles attack. His place in the offense will be taken by the man who inherited the rushing title in 2014, DeMarco Murray. That seems to be a fairly even swap, until you consider that Murray won his rushing title running behind the best offensive line in professional football in 2014. This season he will be running behind a line that struggled last year due to injuries and the advancing age of the key members of the unit.

It is not like Murray does not have experience running behind such a line. He spent the earliest years of his career running behind the Great Sieve Of Dallas. Murray did a solid job behind such a conglomerate when he was healthy. The problem is that Murray has an issue with staying healthy. The 2015 season was the first time he managed to play a full season. He has missed an average of nearly three games per season due to injury. It must be noted that the only "healthy" season of his career was when he ran behind the best line in the league. DeMarco no longer has that luxury.

The offensive line in Philly will also play a key role in the success of the rest of Kelly's offense. The front five of the Eagles is not terrible by any means. Lane Johnson and Jason Peters are still the bookends while Jason Kelce plies his trade in the middle. Philly will have to replace guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. Even if the Eagles are fortunate enough to fill both slots this season, offensive lines take time to gel and perform as a unit rather than a collection of players. That takes time.

Time to gel may be something the Eagles offensive line may not have. Jason Peters is on the far side of 30 and he has not been a pinnacle of health, either. His injury history includes not one but two ruptured Achilles tendons. He also has a history of shoulder, quad and pectoral issues that have impacted his performance. While Kelce is still on the short side of the 30 year mark, he too has experienced health problems. Knee injuries and a sports hernia have limited his availability over the years. Lane Johnson appears to be the one piece the Eagles will be able to count on week in and week out. That is assuming that he does not run afoul of the league's substance abuse policy again.

Even if the Eagles offensive line returns to the level it played at in 2013, the group of passers that it will protect are not going to strike fear into the hearts of many teams around the league. Sam Bradford should be the starter, but if he is not the Eagles have players like Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow waiting in the wings. Matt Barkley could also throw himself in the mix. None of the members of this quartet have done anything to prove themselves as anything more than mediocre at best, none are the guy who can be counted upon to lead a high-powered game-breaking offense although Bradford and Sanchez may be considered serviceable if the stars and moon align for Chip Kelly.

The Philadelphia offense, as constructed, should't necessarily scare opposing teams. With so many moving parts this offseason, it may take time to function as the machine it was, and if the QB or offensive line positions have trouble, all bets are off. Additionally, the Cowboys defense, at least on paper, should be much better. Based on this, I will not fear the Philly offense just yet.

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