There are few sports where the future of a team can change so quickly. In 2017, the Eagles won the Super Bowl and although quarterback Carson Wentz was injured that season, things were looking good for the squad. A young, talented quarterback coupled with a coach who can get the most out of his players. The Eagles looked set to dominate the NFC for years to come.
A few years later, the situation is completely different. After a dramatic season, the Eagles parted ways with Doug Pederson , the coach who brought the club to the Super Bowl, and Carson Wentz. The latter was sent to the Colts in exchange for two draft picks. This puts the club at a crossroads. The Eagles still have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, but also a lot of young lads who still lack the experience to really compete for the trophies.
The Philadelphia Eagles have always had the play-offs as their goal in recent years and they also pulled the wallet for that. As a result, there was hardly any cap space in Philadelphia to lure free agents to the City of Brotherly Love in the off-season. The best and most notable deal was putting on safety Anthony Harris.
GM Howie Roseman’s biggest achievement is that the former Viking has settled for a $5 million salary. Last year, he played under the franchise tag in Minnesota, earning more than double that amount. Harris didn’t quite live up to it, but he is still a reinforcement for a side that struggled against the deep ball last year.
Sometimes it’s not only important which free agents you attract, but also which players you manage to keep. For the Eagles, this is Jason Kelce. The veteran is still a certainty on the offensive line. He had his lesser moments last season, but still made it to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time. At the age of 34, he again did not miss a game, being the only one on the offensive line. With a new young quarterback it is crucial that you have a good offensive line and Kelce is going to play an important part in that.
Before the draft, there were rumors that the Eagles did not trust quarterback Jalen Hurts. Analysts expected they would go for a quarterback in the first round, but this turned out to be a false alarm. The club clearly chose to put Hurts in the best possible situation so that the quarterback can really prove himself next season.
In the first round, the Philadelphia Eagles chose wide receiver DeVonta Smith. The Alabama player won the Heisman Trophy, but questions remain whether he is not too small. Next year he can show that he and Hurts can have the same connection in Philly as in Alabama.
In the second round, the Eagles chose Landon Dickerson. The rookie should initially focus on the guard position, but could be Kelce’s successor in the future. Dickerson is somewhat injury prone, but is seen as one of the best prospects on the offensive line in terms of potential. A little later, in the fifth round, Roseman was able to add some extra attacking talent to the squad. They chose Kenneth Gainwell, the running back of Memphis. He certainly has the potential to play a role in the attack already this year.
Also defensively, the Eagles have added some young talent to the roster. Milton Williams (third round) and Zech McPhearson (fourth round) are especially the players to watch out for. Williams may not start as a defensive tackle right away, but he does add depth to that position. In the past, this has proved to be no superfluous luxury. McPhearson probably plays an important role from the start, because at cornerback the Eagles also had problems last season and the Texas Tech player is badly needed.
There are two big questions for the Philadelphia Eagles offensively. Is Hurts the quarterback of the future and is Nick Sirianni a good head coach? In any case, GM Roseman has done everything possible for both men to distinguish themselves offensively. There are certainly bright spots for the team. For example, in the few games he was allowed to start last year instead of Wentz, Hurts showed that he has talent and can also give the attack something extra on the ground. Still, doubts remain about his arm and whether he’s good enough to turn an National Football League (NFL) team into a playoff team.
Surrounding Hurts, the Eagles have a few young playmakers. One of them is Jalen Reagor. The receiver was chosen by the Eagles in the first round last year and it is a choice that was much criticized last year. That was partly because Justin Jefferson was picked later in the first round and had a much better season in Minnesota. If Sirianni manages to get the most out of Reagor, things can go fast. Especially if Smith is there quickly at the highest level. Add Miles Sanders (RB) to this and you suddenly have a young base to build on.
However, this only applies if all these players actually achieve their potential. That is a big if, because last season the youngsters who were already there did not make an indelible impression. The hope in Philadelphia is mainly pinned on the new offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. He worked for the Chargers with Justin Herbert last year and helped make him offensive rookie of the year. If he can also make progress at Hurts, the Eagles have their quarterback for the future.
The Eagles also have defense talent on their roster. Darius Slay and Fletcher Cox are still among the best in their positions and are the driving force behind the defense. At least if they are fit, because that was also a big problem last season. Only two defenders were able to play all 16 games: Brandon Graham and Alex Singleton. In addition, despite his potential, Slay also had a lesser year last season and the question is whether he is the star he was when he came over to the Eagles.
The biggest loss for the team was the departure of safety Jalen Mills to the Patriots. As a replacement, Harris came over from the Vikings. If the new signing can reach his pre-2020 level, he will be a further reinforcement of the defence.
The defense finished slightly below average in the NFL last season, with stopping the run being a major problem. The Philadelphia Eagles gave up an average of 125.8 yards per game. It’s obvious that new DC Jonathan Gannon will be the first to emphasize this.
The defense is therefore very dependent on the play of the defensive line. If the front four can’t put pressure on the quarterback, the Eagles have a problem defensively. Because as said, the team was vulnerable on the deep ball last year. Only two teams had a higher percentage of catches on passes from more than 20 yards by opponents.
The Philadelphia Eagles are in a build-up period. The team is lucky that the NFC East is not very strong, so the difference between rebuilding and competing for the division title is not great. Last season, Philly only won four games and was in the race until December.
The NFC East seems to be stronger than last year and it will therefore be difficult to rejoin immediately. Everything has to go well for that: Hurts must prove to be the quarterback of the future and the young receivers must also take another step in their development. That potential is certainly there, because the team has gained more explosiveness on running back. At the same time, Hurts can also take yards with his legs and that makes for a completely different attack.
Defensively, there is a mix of potency and experience, making it possible to linger in many matches. Then it must be good for the Eagles in terms of injuries, because the selection is not strong in width. The first step that was taken last year was a quality injection in the selection. However, the Eagles had so many holes that this must first be solved before the team can think of reinforcements in width.
It is therefore more realistic to expect that the Eagles will have a few outliers next year with good games and unexpected victories. However, there will also be less matches and unnecessary defeats. In a full year, the Philadelphia Eagles will not compete and will finish last in the division.