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Previewing the Lions 2016 opponents: The Philadelphia Eagles

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After taking a beating from the Lions last season, the Eagles return an entirely different team in 2016.

NFL Draft Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

Much like the 2015 Detroit Lions, the 2015 Philadelphia Eagles told a story of two different halves. Though their record in the first half of the season (4-4) was similar to their record down the stretch (3-5), the team could not have looked more different. Throughout the first few weeks of the season, the Eagles had a formidable defense that kept them in nearly every game. In the last half of the season, their defense fell apart, giving up an average of over 36 points per game over an eight-week span.

As a result, the Eagles barely missed the playoffs in the highly contested NFC East and then blew everything up. The Chip Kelly era ended just three years after it started, and Philadelphia finds themselves with a new coaching staff and a potentially new franchise quarterback. With the drastic changes, will the Philadelphia Eagles be able to compete right away? The folks at Bleeding Green Nation helped give us an in-depth look into the 2016 Eagles.

2015 record: 7-9

Matchup with Lions: Week 5 in Detroit

Line: Lions by 1

Last meeting: Lions 45, Eagles 14 (2015)

Notable free agent additions:

S Rodney McLeod, OG Brandon Brooks, CB Leodis McKelvin, WR Rueben Randle, WR Chris Givens, QB Chase Daniel, OL Stefen Wisniewski, CB Ron Brooks, LB Nigel Bradham

Notable free agent departures:

DE Cedric Thornton, DB Walter Thurmond (retired)

Trades:

  • RB DeMarco Murray and Eagles 2016 fourth-round pick (No. 113) sent to the Titans in exchange for Tennessee's fourth-round pick (No. 100)

  • CB Byron Maxwell, LB Kiko Alonso, and Eagles first-round pick (No. 13) to the Dolphins in exchange for Miami's first-round pick (No. 8)

  • QB Mark Sanchez to the Broncos in exchange for Denver's (conditional) sixth-round pick in 2017

  • Eagles trade 2016 first-round pick from Miami (No. 8), 2016 third-round pick (No. 77), 2016 fourth-round pick (No. 100), 2017 first-round pick, 2018 second-round pick in exchange for Browns 2016 first-round pick (No. 2) and 2017 fourth-round pick

Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:

R1 - QB Carson Wentz - There’s a non-zero chance Wentz could outplay Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel this summer, but it’s more likely he’ll spend his rookie season on the bench.

R3 - OL Isaac Seumalo - The versatile Seumalo is competing for an opportunity to start at left guard. Veteran Allen Barbre is considered the favorite for now.

R5 - RB Wendell Smallwood - Philadelphia plans to use a running back by committee. Smallwood is likely stuck behind the injury-prone Ryan Mathews and 33-year-old Darren Sproles on the depth chart, but he’ll get some regular playing time.

R5 - OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai - Likely won’t play much in 2016 unless there are a lot of offensive line injuries.

R6 - S Blake Countess - The backup safety doesn’t seem to be primed for much playing time this season.

R7 - Jalen Mills - Could potentially earn a job as a starting cornerback on the outside. More likely to contribute in nickel and dime packages.

R7 - Alex McCalister - Might not make the team, could be practice squad material.

R7 - Joe Walker - The Eagles are thin at linebacker. Special teams contributor.

Biggest offseason addition:

The Eagles’ decision to trade up and select Carson Wentz with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft will ultimately define this offseason. Philadelphia believes Wentz is their franchise quarterback of the future. The team is planning for him to sit behind Bradford and Daniel as a rookie before likely taking over as the starter in 2017.

Biggest storyline heading into training camp:

The Eagles have been upfront about their quarterback plan: Sam Bradford is the starter, Chase Daniel is the backup and Carson Wentz is the third string guy for now. But maybe that could change depending on how the quarterbacks perform this summer. Could Bradford lose his job if he struggles? Can Bradford stay healthy? Can Daniel make a run at the starting job? Can Wentz look so impressive that he forces the Eagles to abandon their plan and get him on the field sooner than anticipated?

Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:

The Eagles generally lack talent on offense, but the wide receiver position is especially questionable. Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor, who struggled mightily as a rookie, is facing sexual assault allegations. No one knows what to make of his situation. [Editor’s note: Since written, Philadelphia’s district attorney office announced Agholor will not be charged.] Slot receiver Jordan Matthews appears to be the Eagles’ only reliable pass catcher, and even he’s struggled with drops in the past. Philadelphia took a flier on the likes of Rueben Randle and Chris Givens to see if they can bring anything to the table.

Notable injuries heading into training camp:

None.