2019 NFL Season Preview- Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles followed up their greatest season in franchise history with one of their most disappointing.
Philadelphia never seemed to find their stride until the final month when the won their final three games to grab the last wildcard spot. In the playoffs, the Eagles upset the third seeded Bears 16-15 in the wildcard round but lost in the divisional round 14-20 to the top seeded Saints.
Quarterback Carson Wentz in hindsight probably came back too soon from his torn ACL as he went 5-6 as the starter before a stress fracture in his back ended his season. Nick Foles started the first two games of the year in place of Wentz before going back to the sideline. Foles took over in Week 15 and rekindled the same magic to help the team win Super Bowl LII, winning three straight including on the road against the Rams and the Texans at home. The running backs were plagued by injuries. Jay Ajayi was lost for the year in the fifth game with a knee injury and Darren Sproles missed 10 straight games after injuring his hamstring in the season opener. Corey Clement was banged up most of the year before being deactivated the final month. Tight end Richard Rodgers spent most of the year on injured reserve before being reactivated in mid November but didn't make much of an impact. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery missed the first three games recovering from shoulder surgery but still had a solid season. Nelson Agholor set his career high with 64 receptions in the final year of his rookie deal. The team traded for Golden Tate midseason, but his impact was minimal as was Jordan Matthews and Mike Wallace. The offense took a while to find their groove due to injuries. Left tackle Jason Peters has lost a step after going in and out of the line up with injuries. Halapoulivaati Vaitai was the back up at both tackle spots but has been really inconsistent.
Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan missed most of the season recovering from back surgery. Defensive end Brandon Graham was solid after missing most of the offseason practices. Derek Barnett played seven games before being placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury that required season ending surgery. Michael Bennett and Chris Long were solid as rotational players. Outside linebacker Nigel Bradham tied for the team lead in tackles while middle linebacker Jordan Hicks was solid despite missing four games. The injury bug hit the secondary hard as three starters ended up on injured reserve.
Kicker Jake Elliot was solid overall with just five missed field goals and two extra points. Punter Cameron Johnston set franchise records in gross and net yardage.
The team had five Pro Bowlers in tight end Zach Ertz, left guard Brandon Brooks, right tackle Lane Johnson, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, and safety Malcolm Jenkins while Cox and center Jason Kelce were named to the All-Pro team. Ertz set an NFL record for most catches in a season by a tight end with 116and tied his career high with eight touchdowns. Brooks and Johnson made their second consecutive Pro Bowl teams but Brooks tore his Achilles in the divisional round loss to New Orleans. Cox finished the year with a career high 10.5 sacks. Jenkins remains the most dependable member of the secondary as he led the team in tackles for the second straight season. Kelce made his second straight All-Pro team and shows no signs of slowing down at age 31.
The rookies were thrust into the lineup due to injuries, but the jury is still out on some of them. Tight end Dallas Goedert caught 34 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns while playing behind Ertz. Cornerback Avonte Maddox played both corner and safety could push for a starting role in the future. Defensive end Josh Sweat spent the year in a developmental role before landing on injured reserve with three games left. Tackle Matt Pryor didn't play a single snap as he learned to transition to guard. Tackle Jordan Mailata showed enough promise to make the roster, but is still learning the sport as a former rugby player. Undrafted running back Josh Adams took advantage of injuries ahead of him and finished as the team's leading rusher after spending the first two weeks on the practice squad.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
After the disappointing 9-7 season, head coach Doug Pederson has to steer this ship back in the right direction if the Eagles ever expect to return to another Super Bowl.
Notable Additions- QB Cody Kessler, QB Josh McCown, RB Jordan Howard, WR DeSean Jackson, DE Vinny Curry, DT Malik Jackson, LB Zach Brown, CB Orlando Scandrick, S Andrew Sendejo
Notable Departures- QB Nick Foles, RB Jay Ajayi, WR Jordan Matthews, WR, Golden Tate, WR Mike Wallace, G Chance Warmack, DE Michael Bennett, DE Chris Long, DT Haloti Ngata, LB Jordan Hicks, LB DJ Alexander, S Corey Graham
Eagles 2018 Highlights
2019 NFL Draft
Going into the draft with the 25th overall pick, the Eagles have several pieces to address. Especially at running back, left tackle, and defensive lineman.
The team traded for Jordan Howard, but he is coming off a poor season. The offense needs a true number one running back who can move the chains in short yardage situations.
Jason Peters will be 37 and Halapoulivaati Vaitai is not the long term answer. The team has to find the future successor on the blindside.
Chris Long and Michael Bennett are gone and Derek Barnett and Timmy Jernigan are coming off injuries. The group could use some depth and Fletcher Cox could use abscond partner on the inside.
On draft day, Philadelphia traded up with Baltimore to the 22nd pick to draft Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard. Dillard is an outstanding pass blocking tackle, but due to Washington State's system his skills as a run blocker are questionable.
Other Notable Draft Picks:
Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State- Powerful runner, fumbling issues
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford- Strong red zone target, struggles to gain separation
Shareef Miller, DE, Penn State- Quick off the snap, confident to the point of cocky
Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern- Good size and fundamentals, never played beyond offense's limitations
Notable Undrafted Free Agent Signings:
TJ Edwards, LB, Wisconsin- Top pass defending middle linebacker, lacks explosiveness
Nate Herbig, G, Stanford- Top pulling and trapping guard, weight management and injury concerns
Miles Sanders Highlights
What To Expect
Many analysts have the Eagles as the out right NFC East champs and a darkhorse Super Bowl, but to me they have to answer Manny questions before is see that happening.
Carson Wentz has had several injuries dating back to college and if he were to go down again, the team doesn't have Nick Foles to save their season anymore. The team has a stable of running backs who each have their own special talents, but they don't appear to have a back that can do it all. Zach Ritz and Dallas Goedert can be a dominating tight end duo for years to come. The receiver corps has a solid starting set with Alshon Jeffery being the No. 1 option, DeSean Jackson being the deep threat, and Nelson Agholor being the slot man. Andre Dillard is the likely successor to Jason Peters and Nate Herbig has an outside shot of replacing Isaac Seumalo at right guard.
The defensive line will like having Vinny Curry back and Derek Barnett and Timmy Jernigan healthy while Malik Jackson could be a solid complement to Fletcher Cox. Zach Brown is a suitable replacement for Jordan Hicks and TJ Edwards will likely find his way into the starting lineup, but the linebacker corps as a whole still lacks impactful depth. The defense will enjoy having the starters in the secondary back, but they still have a lot to prove as they were near the bottom of the league in pass defense when they were healthy.
Philadelphia is without a doubt a talented team, but until Carson Wentz can prove he return to his 2017 form, I them battling it out with Dallas for the NFC East crown.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 10-6