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32 Teams in 32 Days: Philadelphia Eagles

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

 

Eagles Expectations

The Philadelphia Eagles are an intriguing team. Last season they started off blazing. They were undefeated heading into the Week 4 BYE. Then, things went south. The once hot Eagles were ice-cold and lost nine of their next eleven games. Philly was eliminated from the post season early after a promising start.

Carson Wentz first few games showed the Eagles made the right decision to trade up. That warm-fuzzy feeling lasted about a microsecond as the hard to please Philly fans questioned if the trade was worth it. The Eagles knew in order to develop Wentz to his potential, they would need to revamp the receiving group and find a way to make the running game respectable.

Photo Credit/Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

 

The Eagles are looking to bounce back from a disappointing season. They were active in the offseason. With focus on addressing the receiving corps, they brought in ex-Bear, Alshon Jeffery and former 49ers’ pass catcher, Torrey Smith. They traded Jordan Matthews to the Buffalo Bills. Matthews finished second in receiving yards to tight end Zach Ertz last season. Former first round pick Nelson Agholor has been a disappointment and looks to prove he is still worthy of being apart of the Eagles receiving group. The Eagles cut bait on Dorial Green-Beckham as his production didn’t meet expectations.

Leading rusher Ryan Matthews was released. His replacement is pretty good, though. LeGarrette Blount left the championship atmosphere in New England for “greener” pastures. Blount was brought in to bring physicality to the running game that can be leaned on in the event Wentz struggles. Former first round offensive linemen, Chance Warmack, is looking to make the most of his second chance. Warmack suffered an injury requiring season ending surgery and was not a priority for the Tennessee Titans this offseason.

The Eagles drafted Donnel Pumphrey in the fourth round. Pumphrey is undersized, but was very productive during his time at San Diego State. Pumphery’s production made him one of the top two rushers in FBS history. He hopes to bring his quick, scat-back style to Philly. Darren Sproles can be a mentor that can help Pumphery learn how use his size to his advantage.

Defense

Former Buffalo Bills linebacker Nigel Bradham had a solid season in 2016. He led the team in tackles with 102 and recorded two sacks and a pick. He’ll look to continue production in year two in Philly. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox combined for 12 sacks. Connor Barwin put up 5 sacks, but now is an LA Ram. Tim Jernigan will help make up for the loss of Barwin, as he totaled 5 sacks last season with the Baltimore Ravens.

Photo Credit/Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

 

Jordan Hicks led the team in interceptions last season with 5 and was second in tackles. His productivity in the middle of the defense is invaluable to this defense. The concern is in the secondary. Ronald Darby was acquired in the Matthews trade and joins Jalen Mills as the starting duo at the cornerback. Rodney McLeod and Malcom Jenkins man the safety spots. The Eagles spent a high draft pick on Sidney Jones, but there is no set date on when he will make his debut. Rasul Douglas, a third round draft choice in 2017, is competing for a starting role. The Eagles need the secondary to be somewhat fortified due to the level of competition Philly faces in their own division.

Photo Credit NJ.com

 

The first round selection of Derek Barnett appears to be a home run. In preseason play, Barnett has already recorded three sacks. His high motor and knack for finding the quarterback seems to have translated very well into the pros. If Barnett’s productions gets better week after week, he could be in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year, in my opinion. The guy just produces. He’ll be a pass rusher Eagle fans will fall in love with.

Schedule walk through

Week 1: VS./@ Washington Redskins

Philly heads to the nation’s capital for the season opener. NFC East rival Redskins will make the game competitive and close. Wentz and Eagles escape Washington with a win in a close defensive matchup.

Win 17-13

Record (1-0)

Week 2. VS./@ Kansas City Chiefs

Andy Reid hosts his former team. His Chiefs will start the season hot and will handle the Eagles. Wentz looks out of sync, but Barnett finds Smith for his second consecutive regular season game with a sack.

Lose 28-17

Record (1-1)

Week 3. VS./ NEW YORK GIANTS

Photo Credit/AP Photo/Matt Rourke

 

Eli Manning meets the Eagles newest pass rusher, Derek Barnett. Ferocious and disruptive, Barnett spends the day hurrying Manning’s throws and putting the QB on his back a few times. Wentz has a solid game and the Eagles home opener is a success.

Win 24-20

Record (2-1)

Week 4. VS./ @ Los Angeles Chargers

Phillip Rivers has a depleted receiving squad, but he still has long-time favorite target Antonio Gates. Rivers and Gates show age is just a number. Melvin Gordon runs wild and the Chargers find a way to get him the football in space. Hunter Henry shows up and moves the chains. The Eagles are punched in the mouth and lose to LA.

Lose 34-21

Record (2-2)

Week 5. VS./ ARIZONA CARDINALS

Philly host the Cardinals, who possess a tough defense with new, speedy faces. Wentz struggles early in the game and the Eagles fall behind after a few costly turnovers. Carson Palmer does just enough to keep the Cardinals offense in a groove. Philly loses in back-to-back games. Barnett records another sack. This is becoming a routine thing for the rookie pass rusher.

Lose 28-14

Record (2-3)

Week 6. VS./@ Carolina Panthers

Christian McCaffrey runs circles around the Eagles defense. Kelvin Benjamin has a big game as he makes Philadelphia’s secondary look abysmal. Wentz and Jeffrey begin to build chemistry, but the Panthers are just too much to handle.

Lose 35-17

Record (2-4)

Week 7. VS./ WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Oct 16, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) is sacked by Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (91) during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

 

Kirk Cousins makes it a point to split the series. By this point in the season, the Redskins begin to heat up. Terrell Pryor has a big day and rookie Jonathan Allen is finding his niche as an offensive disruption. Cousins and company hand the Eagles their fourth straight loss.

Lose 28-21

Record (2-5)

Week 8. VS./ SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

The Eagles can’t catch a break. Wentz faces another revamped defense oozing with rookie playmakers. He gets pulverized a few times. Blount is leaned on heavily due to the offensive line struggling to buy Wentz any time. Eagles lose again. Barnett has a pair of sacks.

Lose 14-10

Record (2-6)

Week 9. VS./ DENVER BRONCOS

Barnett records a sack on the opening series and sets the tone. Blount has a good game rushing and the Eagles don’t rely on Wentz’s arm to win the ball game. Philly is fortunate for the Broncos’ QB woes, as Barnett records a strip-sack and change of possession gives the Eagles the upset.

Win 20-17

Record (3-6)

Week 10. BYE

Week 11. VS./@ Dallas Cowboys

Although Barnett has had a standout rookie season, his production slows against the division rival Dallas Cowboys. Dez Bryant will be testing the Philly corners all game long. He’ll have a monster game. The Eagles offense will struggle.

Lose 27-14

Record (3-7)

Week 12. VS./ CHICAGO BEARS

Photo Credit/Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 

Mitch Trubisky is playing at this point in the season. He has the Bears offense in a rhythm. Bears running back Jordan Howard has a strong performance. Barnett wraps up Trubisky. Jeffery scores on his former team. Eagles edge out the Bears at home.

Win 23-20

Record (4-7)

Week 13. VS./@ Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are a playoff team. The Eagles aren’t. This game highlights the difference. Eagles lose in Seattle.

Lose 26-13

Record (4-8)

Week 14. VS./@ Los Angeles Rams

Wentz goes into this game with a personal vendetta. He won’t lose to the team that passed on him with the first overall pick. He has a solid showing against a Rams team that also sports a losing record at this point in the year.

Win 28-16

Record (4-9)

Week 15. VS./@ New York Giants

The Giants host a do-or-die game against division rivals. Odell Beckham Jr. has a monstrous game and makes plays all over the field. His play garners much attention, opening things up for Evan Engram, Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard to operate. The Giants get revenge and split the series with Philly.

Win 24-13

Record (5-9)

Week 16. VS./ OAKLAND RAIDERS

No way the Raiders lose this game. Oakland is on a mission following last seasons disappointing finish. Derek Carr is zeroed in on the playoffs. Marshawn Lynch is a Christmas beast, but he doesn’t bring cheer to Philly. Raiders win on the road.

Lose 30-13

Record (5-10)

Week 17. VS./ DALLAS COWBOYS

Photo Credit/Getty Images

 

The Cowboys travel to Philadelphia needing a win to secure the division crown. The Eagles are on the outside looking in. They look to take on the role of the spoiler. The game is a close one, with both teams avoiding the big mistake. Ezekiel Elliott has fresh legs and makes up for missed time. Dallas wins a close one.

Lose 20-19

Record (6-10)

Player Predictions
  • Carson Wentz3400 yards, 21 touchdowns, 17 interceptions
  • LeGarrette Blount980 yards, 16 touchdowns
  • Alshon Jeffery1050 yards, 7 touchdowns
  • Torrey Smith750 yards, 4 touchdowns
  • Darren Sproles540 rushing yards, 690 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns
  • Zach Ertz900 yards, 4 touchdowns
Surprise Stars:
  • Derek Barnett13.5 sacks, candidate for DROY
  • Donnel Pumphery900 yards from scrimmage, 7  touchdowns
  • Corey Clement600 yards, 5 touchdowns
  • Mack Hollins580 yards, 3 touchdowns
  • Tim Jernigan6 sacks

The Verdict

Expect the Eagles to miss the post season. The receiving group looks improved on paper, but chemistry is difficult for Philly to build week in and week out. Inconsistency is the biggest problem for this team. The offensive line, ranked first by Pro Football Focus, doesn’t look like a top ranked unit. Blount’s production slips in Philly.He still is a battering ram and scores inside the red zone. He just doesn’t have a Tom Brady led passing attack to balance the offense.

Derek Barnett is the biggest gem for the season and will be a great Eagles player for a long, long time. He’ll make it getting to the quarterback a habit. The former Tennessee Vol standout will be a cornerstone of the Eagles defense in the future.

The secondary is what prevents the Eagles from finding consistency. Darby will do well, but Philly will count the days all season long until Sidney Jones can be fully healthy. He’ll help solidify the secondary position. Once the secondary renovation is complete, the Eagles can again compete for the NFC East crown. Just not this season.

Ceiling – 9-7

Floor-5-11

Even at best, the Eagles will finish – at the very highest – second in the division. If things are worse than what is outlined above, it could mean a long season.

 

 

 

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