Ask any Eagles fan and they’ll tell you last year didn’t go to plan. The Eagles quarterback fell apart, the team suffered a ridiculous number of injuries (particularly along the offensive line) and a reported power struggle between coaches and front office saw numerous changes in the off season. So, with the slate wiped clean ready for the new season what am I look at as the Eagles start training camp.
Has Hurts progressed?
Carson Wentz was benched last season as he self destructed in a monumental regression. Second round pick Jalen Hurts came in to close out the season and started 4 games. There were some highs and the dual-threat player sparked the offense and brought the best out of the Eagles still on the pitch. However, Hurts struggled with accuracy, often held on to the ball too long and failed to take care of the ball with 6 fumbles and 3 interceptions in the last 4 games. Can he progress in all areas whilst also taking command of a new offense?
How healthy is the offensive line?
Last year, the Eagles offensive line suffered injury after injury. Only center, Jason Kelce, played in all 16 games. Andre Dillard, Isaac Seumalo, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson all missed significant time. In fact, Brooks was lost to a torn Achilles in June, before the season even started.
Perhaps the lone bright spot was the emergence of Jordan Mailiata who emerged as a viable option at left tackle. Even promising young players like Jack Driscoll, who wasn’t even expected to play, saw significant time before getting injured. Can the Eagles stay healthy and continue to develop in 2021?
Can the young receivers step up?
Jalen Reagor was drafted in the first round last year and was expected to light a fire under the Eagles offense. That didn’t happen. Instead, it was in-season addition Travis Fulgham who looked like a superstar…but only for a month. He was still the leading receiver but no Eagles’ player had over 600 yards receiving.
To rectify this the Eagles drafted perhaps the most exciting receiver in college football last year, DeVonta Smith. Does the 22-year-old Heisman Trophy winner live up to expectations? Can Fulgham put it together for a whole season? Will Reagor rebound from his 2020 struggles.
NFL Draft debate: Which Alabama WR has the edge, DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle?— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) March 6, 2021
Brokedown their route running, releases, YAC, contested catch, and separation ability with cutups
🔗: https://t.co/ulGnh6CZCX pic.twitter.com/65973csmHd
What about the youth on defence?
The strength of the Eagles defence is ageing. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are both 30 or older, as is veteran addition Ryan Kerrigan. In the backfield, both last year’s big acquisition, Darius Slay, and Rodney McLeod are also the wrong side of 30.
Last year’s rookies S K’Von Wallace and LBs Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley barely got on the field in 2020. It’s important they see more playing time and this year’s rookie crop are given time to develop too.
Which player surprises in camp?
There’s always one player that jumps out in camp. Sometimes they continue to shine, other times they show up as fool’s gold (Hank Baskett). This year’s star has yet to emerge but I’m interested to see what former quarterback, 6’7 Tyree Jackson, can contribute as he converts to tight end.
As you can see, it’s safe to say there are a host of new stories developing in Philadelphia While the Eagles come together under new head coach Nick Sirianni and his new staff, there will be be opportunities for new stars to emerge. Whatever happens, I’ll be watching closely.