Eagles players and fans expected to be reading a preview of their playoff matchup this week instead of a look back at their failed season.
Chip Kelly expected to be plotting his next controversial trade, or how he could convince Sam Bradford to stay in Philadelphia instead of seeking a new coaching gig in San Francisco.
In one way or another, the Eagles players and leadership failed miserably this year and a 7-9 record and long offseason is what they have to show for it.
With so much attention being paid to the team’s search for a new head coach and looking back at what went wrong, there were a few contributionsthat deserve recognition from the 2015 Eagles squad.
Team MVP: Fletcher Cox
Fletcher Cox’ impact on the Eagles’ defense expands far beyond his impressive stats, 9.5 sacks, 79 tackles and threeforced fumbles.
The big, powerful defensive lineman applied consistent pressure all seasonand served as a potent pass rusher and run-stopper, earning a well-deserved and overdue Pro Bowl selection.
Cox will remain with the Eagles for one more season at least, as the team exercised a 7.7 million option to keep him for the 2016 season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Offensive player of the year: Jordan Matthews
It’s an embarrassment of riches on offense, with the Eagles plummeting toward the bottom in most categories and few players posting impressive numbers.
Almost by default, Matthews’ 997 yards and eight touchdowns give him the designation of the best offensive player. But it’s not really saying much.
However, in just his second year, the wide receiver has become a leader in the locker room and a proud representative to the media, happy to talk for as long as reporters ask him to.
His 152 receptions also rank as the 10th highest total in NFL history by a player in his first two seasons.
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Defensive player of the year: Malcolm Jenkins
Malcolm Jenkins played most of the season in a slot role in the sometimesperplexing Chip Kelly secondary. But he was almost always near the ball, leading all Eagles with 109 tackles — though few defenders were able to stay healthy for all 16 games like Jenkins did.
He also snatched two interceptions, one of them a 99-yard pick six in the Birds’ highlight of the year, their Week 13 win in New England.
Rookie of the year: Jordan Hicks
Another decision by default, as the rest of the Eagles rookie class seemed to underachieve, Hicks was the Birds’ best defensive player leading up to his year-ending injury at the season’s midpoint.
Still, he was able to compile 50 tackles, the seventh highest team total while adding two interceptions, one of them a pick-sick, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and sack.
Most overpaid player: Riley Cooper
Cooper caught 21 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns in 2015. He was paid $4 million dollars for his effort, or just under $200,000 per catch. Though in the middle of a five-year deal, he is no longer owed guaranteed money and could possibly be cut this offseason.
Most underpaid player: Lane Johnson
While Jason Peters was honored with a Pro Bowl selection this season, based mostly on reputation, it was Johnson who anchored the Eagles offensive line — a unit that was constantly adapting and changing as injured players (including Peters) shuffled in and out.
For the low price of $585,000, Johnson played through a bevy of injuries himself but remained a constant up front helping to protect Sam Bradford.
Biggest offseason blunder: DeMarco Murray
Everyone knows how much money Murray was paid (he signed a five-year, $40 million deal this past spring). They also know how he was neglected by Chip Kelly and did not produce nearly as well as he did last season as the NFL’s leading rusher. He had just 3.6 yards per carry and 702 yards total.
With Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews talented enough to take the lion share of the carries from him, it will be interesting to see if Murray can become the main cog in the Philly offense under the new regime.