Eagles training camp is set to begin this upcoming week, so now is the perfect time to give you five things to get excited about, and five things to be worried about in 2017. Let’s start with some things that may concern us.
1.Who is going to stick all the elite WRs in the NFC East?
We now know our starting CBs will be Jalen Mills and a combination of Patrick Robinson/Rasual Douglas. Sidney Jones is starting the seas on the “Physically unable to perform” (PUP) list for the time being. That means Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Terrelle Pryor will have very favorable match ups on the outside – something we are too used to seeing in Philly the last few years.
2. Tough, tough match ups
The Eagles do not have a very easy schedule. They already play in a competitive NFC East, have to travel to LA twice this season. Oh, and let us not forget the power houses of Oakland on Christmas day and the always tough trip to Seattle. In order to have a chance at the post season, the Eagles are going to have to beat some really good teams.
3. Is the Doug Pederson the right coach?
Last year, certainly Pederson showed some ups and downs. His play calling in the early part of the year was great, but once the team went on their losing streak, he began to make some questionable decisions. If everyone stays healthy, there is no reason Doug can’t succeed. But if this season spirals out of control fast, talks of his exit will begin.
4. How will the backfield carries play out?
With the signing of former NEw England RB LeGarrette Blount, the backfield may seem a little crammed. Blount will be our starting back, splitting carries with veteran RB Daren Sproles. However, after that, it’s a little shaky. Second-year man Wendell Smallwood showed some flash last year but may be too small to carry a heavy load. Rookie Donnell Pumphrey turned some heads in OTAs but may be more of a gadget player. If Blount goes down, or under performs, it could be an issue.
5. Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery is just a few years removed from a Pro Bowl-caliber season. However, coming off a four-game suspension, and an injury plagued campaign the two years prior, a lot is riding on him. If he is suspended again, the Birds could have a Lane Johnson type situation all over again. Or if his injury history arises again, they will have a mediocre WR corp at best.
Now for the positive. Here are five things that will pump you up for the 2017 Eagles!
1. Alshon Jeffery
Now I know I just had him as a concern, but for as much that could go wrong with Alshon Jeffery, the positives may be even better. The Eagles have not had a WR with this much physical strength and ball-hawking ability since Terrell Owens. If Jeffery does everything right, there is no reason he can’t dominate opponents this season. Seeing him along with the rest of the core working out with Carson Wentz all offseason is a sure positive.
2. This front four is going to be GREAT!
Following a pretty up-and-down season for the D-Line, the Eagles have retained Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. One of the biggest offseason moves that will pay off the most is trading for Timmy Jernigan. From what has been written, his jump off the ball at OTAs was disrupting the offense every practice. Adding a veteran like Chris Long will help Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz substitute fresh guys constantly, and 0f course their young first-round pick of Derek Barnett should contribute from day one. This front four could lead the Eagles to the playoffs.
3. Lane Johnson is back
Lane Johnson may have single handily ruined the Eagles playoff chances last year, and that’s a real bummer. However, that just proves how great of a player he is. In OTAs he was dominating the right side, and in the last two games of the season, showed he could be the player he was before the suspension. I have a feeling Johnson will be making his first Pro Bowl appearance this season.
4. Wentz will rise again
Wentz had an amazing start to his rookie season, and also had so pretty bad plays that are to be expected out of a rookie. Overall, you saw a guy who can play in this league. Of course, he is still gonna make some bad throws this upcoming season. Rome was not built in a day, but fans should be excited to see how he will improve now with all the weapons around him.
5. It’s the Eagles, were always excited.
I could have put something else here like Jordan Hicks continuing to grow as a leader, or the combo of Jenkins and McLeod improving. But no matter what, as Eagles fans, you are going to be excited. A young QB, with new weapons, a defense that is ready to hit the opposing quarterback, and a city that is ready to scream and roar. So let’s enjoy the summer knowing football is right around the corner!
Countdown to Week 1 vs. Washington: 50 days awayAuthor: John Purificato (Twitter Handle: @johnpurificato Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)