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The Eagles will be the NFL’s biggest mystery this season


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The Eagles will be the NFL’s biggest mystery this season

New York Daily News |
May 07, 2020 | 7:30 AM

Trying to figure out what the Philadelphia Eagles will look like in 2020 is difficult. There aren’t many teams in the league that have as much talent as they do question marks around them. Philadelphia is featuring so many new faces and players returning from injury this season that predicting how they’ll perform together almost feels like an exercise in futility.

On paper, the offense looks to be in good shape. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson will return from injuries and they drafted Jalen Reagor with the 21st overall pick in the draft to ensure Carson Wentz has talented wideouts to throw to. Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert will continue to be a dangerous tight end duo; they combined for over 1500 yards last year. Miles Sanders looks like he’s ready to be the starting running back after a rookie year where he had 1327 yards from scrimmage and averaged 10.2 yards per catch.

However, no one really knows how Jeffery and Jackson will play after missing a combined 19 games last season. Jeffery recently turned 30 and Jackson will turn 34 during the season. Reagor looks like a promising prospect, but how much can a rookie receiver be relied upon to immediately serve as a reliable piece of the Eagles passing game? While the Eagles’ wide receivers look nice on paper, they’re no sure thing.

Wide receiver isn’t the only unit in question here. The Eagles entire team is composed of players that haven’t spent a ton of time together, sans the offensive and defensive line. Philadelphia released long time safety Malcolm Jenkins and appear to be replacing him with Jalen Mills and K’Von Wallace. Mills has proven himself to be a starting-caliber player in the NFL, but he’s spent his entire career playing cornerback. Wallace starred at Clemson, but he was just a fourth-round pick for them this year. There’s no way to know whether or not Mills or Wallace will be viable replacements for Jenkins, but both players seem to be talented enough to not be complete sieves.

Even the acquisition of cornerback Darius Slay is a bit of an unknown right now. According to Pro Football Focus, Slay is coming off of his worst season as a pro, allowing 689 yards and a completion percentage of 58.3%. Prior to last season, Slay was consistently one of the top cornerbacks in the league, so it’s impossible to say whether last year was an aberration or if this is who Slay is going to be moving forward as an aging cornerback.

Philadelphia’s linebackers barely have any experience playing together. Linebackers Nathan Gerry and Duke Riley are the "veterans” of the group and they entered the league in 2017. Behind them are a host of rookies and young players that have yet to make their imprint in the NFL.

Following the departure of Malcolm Jenkins, the Eagles will look to Carson Wentz for stability and leadership.
Following the departure of Malcolm Jenkins, the Eagles will look to Carson Wentz for stability and leadership.(Chris Szagola/AP)

The one constant with the Eagles is Wentz, who has proven himself to be worth the $128 million contract the Eagles gave him last summer. By the end of last season, Wentz was throwing passes to former University of Houston quarterback Greg Ward and the Eagles still made it to the postseason. Sure, they needed the Cowboys to implode in the second half of the season in order to wrap up the NFC East title, but Wentz performed admirably with a decimated supporting cast.

Wentz started all 16 games for the second time in his four year career and threw 27 touchdowns to seven interceptions. He ranked 25th in yards per attempt (6.7), but that doesn’t detail exactly how much he carried the team on his back. During the final four games of the season, all wins for the Eagles, Wentz threw seven touchdowns to no interceptions and had a passer rating of 100.8 as the Eagles marched towards a playoff spot they had no season being in.

Having Wentz as a stable figurehead should encourage Eagles fans for the upcoming season because the majority of the roster looks far different from a season ago. Health, inexperience, and new faces are all over this Eagles team and, like the rest of the league, they’re dealing with a limited offseason to put it all together.


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Instead of just doing the negative nancy thing by calling everything a "mystery", let's look at some things with a optimistic eye:  

The defense, which many media and fans thought was terrible last year, finished 13th in the Aikman ratings last year.....a little better than average....with all those injuries.  This year they added a top corner who played on a terrible lions defense with no pass rush last year.  This year is a little different for him.  The eagles get Malik Jackson back from IR, they signed Javon Hargrave in FA.  Fletcher Cox will be 100% healthy going into this season.  Barnett and Sweat showed good improvement last year.  The eagles pass rush could be one of the best and most dangerous in the NFL.......always a huge help to defensive backs.  

The defensive backfield always gets hammered from fans and media, but Darby, Jones, LeBlanc, Mills and Maddox all missed some time last year.  All but Darby are back and they also signed Robey-Coleman for the slot....They all have talent and they need to stay healthy.  But with Slay locking down one side of the field, it will be a huge benefit to the defense. Jenkins is gone and that a big hole to fill.  But they have guys who have been in Schwartz's system and a good camp battle is coming.  They added 5 LBs in FA and the draft...with more speed.

The eagles defense will be better than last year, and I predict a top 10 or better season. They may start a little slow, but will get progressively better as the year goes on.

Offensively, Wentz ironed out his issues in the last 5 games last year......overcoming confidence problems and looked like the 2017 MVP candidate again.  The receivers, who media and fans constantly called terrible, were statistically about average.  Their shortcoming was big plays and low YAC.  But Jackson coming off IR, adding Reagor, Hightower and Watkins in the draft, trading for Goodwin, and eventually getting Jeffrey back adds a ton of speed they didn't have last year. JAWW will benefit from the field being opened up and Wentz being more confident in tight windows.

 Ward, Davis and Burnett got valuable playing time last year and will compete for a roster spot.  Marcus Green is an electrifying return guy but is raw........and all this speed and talent being added will take time to jell with Wentz, and I think the eagles end up with 6 receivers.  And with the best TE combo in the NFL, Sanders and Scott as dual threats in the backfield, that offense, that finished 9th in the aikman ratings last year with a ton of injuries, will be very underrated early in the season, will be a nightmare to try to contain, especially if Wentz spreads the ball around again.  The Oline will settle in as a top 10 unit.

So there are some unknowns, the talent is certainly there.  Injuries are always a factor and all we can do is hope that isn't as bad as the last 2 seasons.  The media will underrate the eagles going into the season but, if they stay relatively healthy, I think they can go 12-4.

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...for the 3rd year in a row.

Good news is that their new Chief Medical Officer from last year was supposedly in just an observational role for the year, and that we should start to benefit from his UPenn medical background this year.

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Our LB core will surprise people. Edwards is good and I like the Taylor and Bradley pickup

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It's really hard to gauge how our team is going to do this year. I think our schedule has fallen nicely enough for us though because I think we can get a couple of wins before a loss and then bounce back straight away. I think the schedule has allowed us to avoid a major slump. 

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Strength of Schedule is one of the most useless media talking points and predictor of anything.  Teams go thru so many changes from year to year that it's impossible to determine how those changes translate to this year's possibilities.

With players coming off IR, losing and gaining free agents, trades and the draft, teams can overhaul half the roster......add in the unknown of 2nd and 3rd year players emerging, the new coaching staffs and preseason injuries, last season's record means absolutely nothing.  

I wish they would just stop talking about SOS......


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