A look at what to expect as the Philadelphia Eagles begin the Chip Kelly era:
Biggest change to expect: Speed. Kelly's Eagles want to do everything fast. They don't want to waste time with silly formalities like huddling or relaying the play to the offense through the quarterback. They have coaches whose job it is to flash hand signals from the sideline between plays so that everybody can get it at once while they're lining up. Kelly wants his quarterback to get the ball out of his hands quickly and move on to the next play. The goal will be to run more offensive plays per game than any other team in the league, by a lot, and to confuse and exhaust opposing defenses so that the Eagles can be the stronger and more effective team in the fourth quarter. However good or bad they are in 2013, the Eagles should at least be a lot of fun to watch.
What success would look like: On offense, it would come with big rushing (and likely big receiving) numbers for running back LeSean McCoy and more than you might think for backup Bryce Brown. Kelly's offense is likely to work through the run game, and he has the talent in the backfield to pull that off. If the Eagles' quarterback doesn't have to throw downfield a lot, that'll be because they're controlling the game's tempo with the run, and it'll make Kelly very happy. On defense, success would show up in the turnover department, where the Eagles came up with a league-low 13 takeaways in 2012. It's going to take some time for a lot of the holdover players to adjust to the new defensive scheme, and the coaches seem to understand that. But they have talented, athletic players all over that front seven, and if they're emphasizing turnovers this year and putting people in a position to force them, obviously that number should go way up.
Decisions, decisions: Kelly isn't likely to name a starting quarterback any time soon, mainly because he doesn't have to, but in part because he doesn't have any great options. Veteran Michael Vick is the most likely candidate, but he's no sure thing to beat out second-year man Nick Foles, and rookie Matt Barkley could get into the mix as well. It's entirely possible that all three of those guys start at some point in 2013. The quarterback conundrum remains the most vexing one Kelly has on the eve of training camp, because it's hard to imagine his high-octane offense working if he doesn't come up with a quarterback who can reliably run it. This will be the dominant Eagles storyline of the next month.
More or fewer wins? I say they win more, because they won only four last year and four is a really low number. If nothing else, Kelly should be able to keep the players more interested and invested in the second half of the season than a lame-duck Andy Reid was in 2012. I expect growing pains, especially on defense, and I don't expect this team to contend right away. But I'd be surprised if the Eagles were picking fourth in the draft again next spring. Reserving the right to change my mind as we get closer to the season, right now I'll say they win six.