Ultimately there are so many question marks around this team. It could all be over by week three. Can Wentz be the star of this team? Can the new players gel together? Can that defensive line be effective with the worst secondary in the league? We’ll find out soon!
Where to start? What a whirlwind of a season with so much change going into the season. It was really difficult to gauge how this team would fair. Mostly, the Eagles found their purpose and their future around quarterback Carson Wentz.
In surprising fashion, the Eagles burst out of the gates and went 3-0., culminating in a dominant 34-3 win over the Steelers going into the bye week. Unfortunately, what followed was a mixed bag. It continued to be obvious where the weaknesses were. Wentz had little weapons to utilize and soon teams realized as much.
YouTube: Steelers vs. Eagles | NFL Week 3 Game Highlights
What followed was mostly expected. The evil empire aka The Dallas Cowboys and their rookie QB Dak Prescott became the toast of the NFL and the NFC East. Playoffs slipped away and even the New York Giants managed to get a wildcard.
But hey, the Eagles did manage to beat big teams like the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers, and it ended the season by beating the Giants and Cowboys at home.
Weaknesses, as mentioned above, were addressed immediately. Alshon Jeffery surprised everyone by signing a one-year deal with Philly. Immediately giving Wentz a top-10 receiver.
LeGarrette Blount will add the goal-line threat that the Eagles need. Though he has struggled to perform outside of New England.
YouTube: Best Pass Rusher in Tennessee Football History || Tennessee DE Derek Barnett 2016 Highlights ᴴᴰ
Derek Barnett was considered the 2nd best pass rusher in the draft. Adding to the Eagles’ strongest unit makes them formidable. Veteran Connor Barwin made way for Barnett on the D-Line. Fan favourite Bennie Logan left for the evil empire and was replaced by Tim Jernigan.
Jernigan, Blount, and Jeffery all have one-year left on their deals. This means that the Eagles will have plenty of hungry players betting on themselves. Hopefully, it means they won’t be leaving for greener pastures this time next year.
Defensive line. Fletcher Cox is a pressure machine, despite not getting as many sacks in the 4-3 system. Along with Brandon Graham, that combo is as good as any pass rush combo outside of Houston. Adding in a motivated Jernigan, Vinny Curry, Chris Long and top prospect Barnett, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is not going to be shy with blitz calls this year.
Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod also make up one of the best safety tandems in the NFL. A healthy Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham makes for a very solid centre to the defence.
If Wentz continues his upward trajectory it could also reap major benefits. Jeffery, and Torrey Smith also create a much more suitable receiving core. There is a lot of upside all over the young roster but it won’t necessarily all materialize.
The pass coverage is abysmal, It’s not going to be Bradley Fletcher bad, but it’s going to be close. All the good work the pass rush is going to do will be for naught as every receiver in the league licks their lips at the Eagles secondary.
Jalen Mills was a surprise starter last year coming in to play slot when Ron Brooks got injured, then moving outside. Now he’s the number one corner. In no way is Mills fast enough or strong enough to match up against Odell Beckham Jr, Dez Bryant, and Terrelle Pryor Sr for six games a year.
At number two is Patrick Robinson who was deemed not good enough for the Colts last year… yeah, let that settle in. Sidney Jones was the 2nd round pick in the draft. Regarded by many as first round quality, Jones tore his Achilles tendon in March and won’t be available for at least half the season. Even when he returns, his ability to come in and make an impact is very questionable.
Ultimately, this will get ugly.
Best Case Scenario
NFC Champs. It’s really not improbable. I don’t think the Cowboys can replicate their record season last year. They had the last-place schedule and got tee-off games like Browns, Bears, and 49ers.
I still think the Giants will be the team to beat, but the NFC East is arguably the tightest division. If the pass rush and safeties can cover enough for the corners, it can keep Wentz within touching distance of the other teams. The main problem last year was Wentz being in desperation mode by half-time. It eliminated the run game or any of kind of game plan.
If that can happen, then I think the Eagles can absolutely pull off 10 wins. 10-6, first place in NFC East, NFC Champions
Worst Case Scenario
Any injury or regression to Wentz would be devastating. Ask any Colts fan and they’ll tell you that betting your franchise on a Quarterback is only effective if he actually plays. This team is Wentz’s team so to see him struggle or leave any doubt he isn’t the man going forward would be a Browns-level implosion.
Even still, because the division is so tight it’s not out of the question that the Eagles finish 4th. They did last year, even though they won seven games. A repeat season of 2016 would be disappointing but not improbable. Like the Cowboys last year the Eagles get the last-place schedule which is much friendlier. 7-9, 4th place in NFC East.
It’s really hard to pick but 9-7 whether that’s good enough to win the division or get the wild card is to be determined. The offence is much improved only a Wentz regression would halt that. The defence is terrible in pass coverage, which will be the main reason the Giants will be the only team to beat them twice. But the defence is very strong through the middle, better than anyone else in the NFC East.
Wins against Redskins, Broncos, Chargers, Cardinals, 49ers, Cowboys, Bears, Rams and Raiders.
Losses to Panthers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Seahawks, Giants x2, and Redskins.