Should Eagles fans be optimistic in 2020? 2019 saw the Philadelphia Eagles make their way into the playoffs with a 9 – 7 record before losing to the Seahawks 17-9. This article outlines two reasons why the outlook is rosy for the birds and a reason why they may struggle.
The Need For Speed
At the end of last year the offence was powered purely by the concentrated will of Carson Wentz! After DeSean Jackson’s Week 1 performance much was expected but he was subsequently injured and barely saw the field. Alshon Jeffrey nursed injuries most of the year and then got injured, missing the last 6 games of the season. Nelson Agholor regressed before also getting hurt and finally, second round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was a no factor all year. This meant their receivers at the end of the season were a group of former XFL stars and street walk-ons. The list included Greg Ward Jr, Deontay Burnett, Jordan Matthews and Robert Davis!
In 2020 DeSean Jackson is healthy and looks ready to take up where he left off before injury. Jalen Reagor was drafted out of TCU in the first round because of a reported 4.2 second run in individual workouts. He will be expected to contribute significantly from day 1. Further reinforcements come from Day 3 selections, John Hightower and Quez Watkins. All three rookies offer a huge speed upgrade over last year
In addition, the Eagles will see Alshon return to the field with a chip on his shoulder and a humbled Arcega-Whiteside who will begin his quest to avoid bust status after a very positive training camp. Just by being healthy the Eagles will improve here, but the draft picks add extra spice for this season.
2019 was a tumultuous season at corner. Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas and Ronald Darby all struggled opposite Jalen Mills. All three of the former are gone and Mills will make the move to safety; a move that may suit his skill set more. I’m
Mills will now try to replace the departed Malcom Jenkins, who was the undoubted leader of the defence. While this may be a move they regret the Eagles made a splash of their own, signing the top corner in free agency, Darius Slay Jnr. Slay will be the team’s best corner in over a decade and brings with him shutdown potential and a penchant for causing turnovers.
One of last year’s few bright spots, Avonte Moddox, will start opposite Big Play Slay. Although he is diminutive in stature he is extremely athletic and offers an upgrade. Additionally, Nickell Robey-Coleman was bought in to upgrade the nickel corner spot. He’s regarded as one of the best in the business. Rodney McCleod will start the season at safety. He’ll likely be challenged by two new additions, Clemson’s K’Von Wallace and injured Will Parks, another new addition.
Reason To Worry
The Eagles’ offensive line has long been regarded as one of the best in the NFL. However, this year they are a reasons to worry. All Pro guard Brandon Brooks suffered a season ending injury before training camp. Next, new starting left tackle Andre Dillard struggled in camp before suffering a season ending injury of his own. This caused resigned Jason Peters to move to left tackle after being signed to play right guard. Whilst this may be an upgrade at tackle, it’s likely a net loss.
Although 40% of their starting offensive line has altered, it’s the bench that may be the real Achilles heel. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, a player the Eagles trusted and won a Super Bowl with, signed a lucrative deal for the Panthers in free agency. Instead the Eagles will try to plug gaps with the likes of Nate Herbig, late round rookie is Jack Driscoll and International Pathway and former rugby league player Jordan Mailata, none of whom have started an NFL game.
I have no doubt that the Eagles will improve in 2020 but the TT line is a worry. Injuries to are already playing their part. Defensive end Derrick Barnett and emerging star Miles Sanders and Pro Bowler Lane Johnson, will miss the season opener. The Eagles injury descriptions continue to confuse all!