A Darkening Future: The Tale of Carson Wentz

The Philadelphia Eagles currently have two quarterbacks in the NFL Hall of Fame, Norm Van Brocklin, and Sonny Jurgenson. The latter of the two played his last game for the Eagles in 1963. It’s fair to say that the Eagles haven’t found a great deal of success at the position. Of course, players such as Ron Jaworski, Randell Cunningham, and Donavan McNabb are the more recent examples of fruitful quarterbacks for the Eagles. 

Although, from the names I mentioned, none of them were the “future of football”. McNabb, having the best case to argue, didn’t even seem possible to overthrow Peyton Manning, and certainly not Tom Brady as the best player in the league. Yet, only a few distant years ago the Eagles, fans, and the league thought there might be one coming out of Philadelphia. 

Carson Wentz, the former second-round pick, former MVP contender, was thought at the start of the 2020 season to be fighting to reclaim his rank at the top of the NFL. Noone thought that within ten games he would be fighting to keep his job. Yet, that is where we currently stand, the future of Philadelphia football is at a critical standpoint as the team faces the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football. 

Rumors from this past week have foreshadowed a potential change coming at the quarterback position, as Jalen Hurts, the team’s second-round pick, is waiting in the wings. Tonight could be the conclusion of an era that was believed to last decades. The stark reality of the Eagle’s current starting quarterback is in the most danger that it’s been since his arrival. 

Of course, the looming change doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has watched the Eagles play this season. The team’s putrid 3-6-1 record speaks volumes of the struggles that the team, and it’s quarterback, has faced this year. With errant passes, poor decision-making, and lack of consistency, Carson Wentz has become more of the problem than the solution. 

As mentioned, reports leading up to the game have drawn in the idea that Jalen Hurts will receive more playing time, potentially without Wentz on the field. When the Eagles drafted Hurts in last year’s draft, many assumed that this was merely an expensive insurance policy, few imagined he could be the future. When I state “many assumed” of course those set on the demise of Carson Wentz saw the draft pick as an easy decision to dump the former second overall pick. 

When it comes to replacing a quarterback, especially one that was deemed the future of the franchise last year, it isn’t easy. Considering that the Eagles tied themselves to Wentz by signing him to a 4 year, $128,000,000 contract, averaging $32,000,000 per year, they made it almost impossible to move on. But why would they? Wentz at the time was one of the best QB’s in the league, if anything the concerns of his health were the cause for concern. Never was his performance brought into question, when evaluating the contract when he initially signed.

 Wentz’s contract goes through the 2024 season, and it isn’t until next year, and the years after that his annual salary jumps even higher. 

The takeaway is, the Eagles crash if Wentz does. This isn’t an explanatory piece on how the Eagles can break or buffer the blow if the Eagles move on. Simply, I’m stating the implications of moving on. 

Further, bringing in Jalen Hurts draws into question of whether this decision would work for a team that doesn’t just have quarterback issues. If Doug Pederson truly believes that Hurts is the heir apparent, or at this point, the next best thing, to take over, the Eagles, is this the way to go at it?

Assuming in the next couple of games, Wentz is benched; throwing in a rookie quarterback to a dumpster fire, doesn’t scream great outcomes. Although, this is one of the reasons he was drafted for, right? Of course, the question that has yet to be fully examined is if Jalen Hurts is even good? When the Eagles drafted him, the conversation was more about the implication of the pick rather than the value of it. 

From evaluation, Hurts was deemed as second to third-round pick, so with that, this is the talent that the Eagles should expect. It doesn’t take a genius to review the history of second-round quarterbacks. They usually don’t work out. 

Mahomes, Jackson, Allen, Murray, the names have become synonymous with the future of the NFL, all of them were first-round draft picks. Again, this also isn’t an article breaking down if Hurts can succeed with the Eagles. But just showing the other aspects of a move as major as the one being considered, is needed to understand the full matter at hand. 

If the constant rain, and thunderstorms today is any sign for how the Eagles will fare tonight, it won’t be great. Yet, as the saying goes, “after every rain comes a rainbow”. The question is, will the sun have already set before the rainbow can reach across the sky? 

The Flyers take a controlling 3-1 lead against the Canadians

The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Montreal Canadians in Game 4 of the first round of the NHL playoffs 2-0. The win gave the Flyers full control of the series, as they move one game within advancing to the next round. Since the embarrassing performance in Game 2, the Flyers have won both games, and Carter Hart has since put up two shutouts. The 22-year-old goalie for the Flyers has been exceptional in the last two games for the Flyers. Hart has helped carry the team to two wins with only three goals to help support him.

In Game 4, the Flyers played a much stronger, more complete game, then they have had all series. Yet, they still struggled at times clearing the puck out of their zone, but Carter Hart was able to hold the Flyers through. In addition to Hart being spectacular, the Flyers defense also has stood up to the occasion and held their own against the Canadians. So far in the series, the Flyers haven’t shown the same polish they showed through the first three round-robin games. To some fans, this may seem like a concern, but let’s remember, it doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you win. Of course, I would love for the Flyers to win every game 3-0, but that’s not going to be the case. What’s going to be the case is what’s happening, a series where teams slug it out to see who will work harder to win. If anything comes from the close games in the series so far, it should be used as a testament to the Flyers’ ability to win close games. Winning is a habit, and so far the Flyers have kept that habit no matter how they do it.

I’m not the biggest fan of comparing two sports experiences, especially in the playoffs, but let’s look at the 2017 Eagles. Once Carson Wentz went down, it wasn’t pretty, but the team clinched the number one seed. After that, they faced the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs, and it took till the last play to win. It’s that “Fight until the end” ability, that carries team when there are 5 minutes left in a game. Every championship team has this trait. Look at the 2008 Phillies, they repeatedly showed that they were able to give their all in the closing moments. It wasn’t clearer than in the World Series. After the Phillies fell in game 2 4-2, they responded by winning game 3 by a one-run margin of 5-4. Proving to themselves that they can win close games, gives teams confidence when they are in moments like that in the future. The Eagles demonstrated that in the Falcons game, and had the confidence to make key plays in the final moments of the Superbowl. For the Flyers, they were able to win two very close games after being blown out, the trait was demonstrated.

Winning Game 4 for the Flyers was huge. It doesn’t have to be stated how 3-1, and 2-2 are two completely different ball games. Since the Flyers did win, they can have an opportunity to clinch the series tomorrow at 8 pm est. As of now, the next team the Flyers will face in the playoffs isn’t determined. Right now it seems like the Flyers will be facing the New York Islanders, as they have a 3-0 lead on the Washington Capitals, and the Columbus Blue Jackets are down 3-1 to the Lightning. I’m not going to start to look that much ahead, but no matter who the Flyers end up facing it will be challenging of a fight than the Canadians.

It’s not just because the next challenger will be a higher seed, but also because whatever team the Flyers play will be red-hot. Although, this is exactly why this first-round matchup for the Flyers was perfect. The Canadians, as we have seen, are a hard-working, gritty team. After the wake-up call in Game 2, the Flyers were able to demonstrate they fight back. This is the exact needed to win in the playoffs. The Flyers have responded, and they have responded strongly. They have placed themselves where they needed to be, in a position to advance, and they have shown that they can respond to adversity, which will be key if they expect to make a deep run in the playoffs.

76ers face the Celtics in major series

The Philadelphia 76ers are set to face the Boston Celtics tonight in Game 1 of a best of seven series. The 76ers are entering the series as the sixth seed in the East, versus the Celtics who hold the third seed. This year has been extremely disappointing for a 76ers team that had aspirations of claiming the number one seed, and moving on past the second round for the first time in the Brett Brown era. Yet, this isn’t the case. After sub-optimal performances from basically all 76ers players, especially including major off-season acquisitions Al Horford.

From championship hopes, to hope that you can win one series in the playoffs, clearly shows how flat this team came this year. Of course, entering another battle with the Boston Celtics is going to be hard enough, but the 76ers will also be without star Ben Simmons who suffered an injury during the remainder of the regular-season games. So the team who has been mediocre all season is going to be entering the playoffs without its second player, and you wonder why the fanbase’s mood is down.

This year’s playoffs have a different feel for the 76ers. No, it’s not just because they are in a bubble playing in Orlando, it feels like an end of an era. Brett Brown has been the coach of the 76ers for the past seven years. The team has not made it passed the second round of the playoffs, and have only made the playoffs a total of three years (including this one). Brown’s position was in the hot seat after another let down as the 76ers were knocked out of the playoffs by the Toronto Raptors. Brett Brown was given another chance with the 76ers this season, with some new weapons in Al Horford, and Josh Richardson. The 76ers had a returning big three of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris.

The mood at the beginning of the season was through the roof. Although, as I mentioned injuries, lack of development, inconsistency, and poor play riddled the 76ers this entire year. Since returning to play in Orlando, those issues weren’t resolved. Ben Simmons is injured, Joel Embiid is playing his yearly will-he-or-won’t-he-play, and the rest of the team isn’t able to rise to the next level needed to win playoff series. Brett Brown’s job is on the line, if the 76ers lose in the first round it will almost be automatic, but Brown could once again fight to see another season if the team makes a run. They won’t.

As fans, it would be unfair to bait yourself into believing that this team is going to “do the unthinkable”. Now the next step once the 76ers do the inevitable and fire Brett Brown, they will be faced with the structural change. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The two titans of the game were supposed to bring title(s). Both the brain-children of former 76ers GM Sam Hinkie. It’s a decision that is coming for the 76ers. Of course Brett Brown will be the last-ditch to save the idea that the 76ers can work with an injury-prone center and a shotless point guard/power forward. The 76ers will try to do their best Phillies impersonation by changing coaches but not removing the root cause. Although, that’s an article for another day.

In the meantime, the 76ers will try to out-run the Boston Celtics as they can see the sun setting on the hope and future of the team. But, hey the Flyers won yesterday, so…

The Flyers prepare to rebound for Game 3 against the Canadians

The Philadelphia Flyers are set to face the Montreal Canadians tonight at 8 pm est, Game 3 of the first round of the NHL playoffs. After a dismal 5-0 lost in Game 2, the Flyers are looking to rebound and take back the lead in the series. It doesn’t have to be stated that this is a crucial game for the Flyers (most playoffs games tend to be). Although, this game has some added pressure considering that the Flyers are looking to make a deep run in the playoffs. The expectations for the Flyers have drastically changed since entering the round-robin. Since then the Flyers have earned the first seed in the Eastern Conference, and improved to one of the best odds to win the Stanley Cup. So, for the Flyers to fall behind the Canadians in the first round is going to be added trouble in an already difficult road to the championship.

Flyers’ goalie Carter Hart, will face the majority of the attention for tonight’s game after being pulled from Game 2. Of course, Hart wasn’t at fault for a terrible Flyers performance but will be expected to carry the team if they do start to fall behind again. Also facing pressure is Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux, who has yet to score in any of the Flyers games since the NHL has started back up. As a matter of fact, the entire first line for the Flyers is scoreless. You can see how quickly a storyline can change from “The Flyers’ Amazing Depth” to “The Flyers’ Lack of Superstars”. Like the majority of playoff runs and eventual championships, teams need players to step-up. Of course, the Flyers have had great performances, such as Carter Hart in Game 1, but the team will need one of its leaders to carry them further than round one.

Of course, the Flyers shouldn’t be sirening all the alarms because they lost one game out of the five since the return to play. Although, they should be worried about falling back to a Canadians team that has already beaten the odds against the Penguins and one of the league’s top goalies with Carey Price. Flyers’ coach Alain Vigneault, who is one of this year’s contenders for coach of the year, is going to prove he is worthy of such an award with tonight’s game. After being embarrassed by the Canadians, it’s going to be in the hands of Vigneault to make the correct decisions either with line changes or with mental preparedness for the Flyers. This game will be the tone-setter for the rest of this series and the Flyers championship aspiration. Will the Flyers roll over and die, or are they going to fight back and bounce back to reclaim control? For the Flyers Game, 2 could be a (very painful) blessing in disguise. There aren’t many times in the playoffs when a team can be beaten 5-0 and still have the opportunity to look at it as a “teaching moment”.

In conclusion, let’s hope that the Flyers win because if they don’t, then we are stuck with the 76ers and Phillies. Trust me, I’m not prepared to go into another Brett Brown post-season, or forced to witness continuous bullpen explosions without some good news.

What Will Winning A Championship During A Pandemic Look Like?

Today sports return to Philadelphia (sorry Union). The Philadelphia Phillies are set to play a regular-season MLB game for the first time since September of last year, the Philadelphia 76ers have an exhibition game against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Flyers are just around the corner. With the start of sports getting back to play, so come the high expectations that are placed on these teams. With the 76ers, they are hoping to turn around a mediocre regular season performance, the Flyers are looking to keep their hot pace going, and of course, the Phillies are expected to make the playoffs with the new 16 team format. 

Very possibly, Philadelphia could have all four major sports teams play a playoff game in the calendar year. Which is pretty impressive because it’s only happened four times since all four teams have been playing. The latest time was back in 2011 (2009,1981,1978 where the other years for those interested) when the Phillies lost to the Cardinals in the NL Division Series, the 76ers lost to the Heat, the Eagles lost Green Bay, and the Flyers fell to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup. So if you have a basic understanding of how math works, the more teams in the playoffs mean the likely chance that one of those teams can win the championship. So with that knowledge, it made me ponder what does a championship look like during a pandemic?

A lot of the joy that comes from watching your team winning a championship is celebrating with other fans, and joining together to celebrate. Although, considering that the MLB world series concludes at the end of October, and both the NBA and NHL championships before that, what will that mean for a parade? For fans, the parade is the crown of winning the championship (a close second is being able to brag to your friends that support other teams that they suck). Of course, we have no idea what the coronavirus’s impact could be at that time, but with Philadelphia officials already banning fans from the Eagles stadium for the upcoming season, it feels unlikely that a parade could work. With that out of the picture, how can fans express their joy? One big Zoom call? 

I understand I’m getting ahead of myself, and just as easily as these teams can make the playoffs, all of them could be swept out of the first round. Although, strangely it feels exactly what a Philadelphia sports team would do. The one year when fans can’t attend, they go on and win a championship. 

Continuing the idea of what the fan experience would be, I don’t know how much more changes past not having a parade. Of course, I’m not oblivious to some of the fans that will argue “It’s my American right to stand inches away from strangers, in cold weather, while I only get a glimpse of the team”. Parade or not, I think fans will still have the same communal experience as they can throw it in the faces of the losing team online. I’m sure the championship memorabilia will still come (although delayed because come on it’s a pandemic, cut some slack!) and you can wear it next season when hopefully fans can enter the stadiums once again. 

In terms of the value that the championship will have, shouldn’t change. Now I’m fully prepared to make the opposite argument if the Mets, Yankees, Penguins, or any team from Boston wins. With the setup of the season for baseball, it’s simply just more meaningful games. The NBA and NHL will have slightly different setups but will still have the same elements of a normal post-season. Again, this season will always have an asterisk next to it, but so do dozens of other championships that fans don’t remember. All that matters is that the team that wins, won. 

“Now I’m fully prepared to make the opposite argument if the Mets, Yankees, Penguins, or any team from Boston wins.”

Lastly, if you haven’t been paying attention (which I don’t blame you), please take this last advice, look at Liverpool. Yes, the soccer team from England. Liverpool recently won the Premier League, and this was the club’s first title in 30 years. Just like Philadelphia sports fans, their first instinct when their team won is to celebrate with other fans. Fans were gathering around the Mersey Ferry terminal, which resulted in their mayor Joe Anderson asking fans to go back home. Now, I think you know what happens next. Until that point, the Liverpool area totaled 544 coronavirus deaths, on June 25th that number jumped to 1,677. Since then, of course, fans have stayed home, but the impact was done. I understand just like you, that if one of our teams won a championship it would be very disappointing not to celebrate with all of our other fans to rejoice in victory. Again, this all may mean nothing for Philadelphia fans but someone team will win, and we must understand the importance of keeping people safe. 

DeSean Jackson Under Fire for Posting anti-Semitic Quote

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is facing major backlash and scrutiny after posting anti-Semitic quotes Monday on social media. On Jackson’s Instagram story feed, was a quote supposedly by Adolph Hitler about how white Jews “will blackmail America. [They] will extort America, their plan for world domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were”.

In addition, on Jackson’s Instagram feed he posted photos of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan who has been identified as an anti-semite. 

Later on Monday, Jackson went back on Instagram to clarify his posts saying “Anyone who feels I have hate towards the Jewish community took my post the wrong way. I have no hatred in my heart towards no one !! Equality Equality”. Part of the public backlash was former Eagles president Joe Banner who said that DeSean Jackson’s post was “absolutely indefensible”.

Others on social media have called for the Eagles to part ways with the wide receiver. The Eagles have yet to comment on the matter, but according to Adam Schefter, the Eagles will do so today.

[News story still unfolding, expect more to be added]

Expectations Have to Be High for Joel Embiid

The NBA is coming back! Today the NBA owners approved for the league to have a comeback in Orlando, Florida, by a vote of 29-1 (the only no vote was from the Portland Trail Blazers). The season will be modified with only 22 teams being brought down to the Walt Disney World Resort. The teams that will be brought down are the 16 currently placed playoff seeds (1-8 in each conference), in addition to the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, and the Washington Wizards. The 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams will play eight regular-season games to round out the year. There is also a possibility of a play-in tournament for the eighth seed. The reason for more Western Conference teams is because there were more teams that fell into the requirement of being six games of eight place when the season was postponed. Other than that, the league will be its normal one through eight, each conference, best of seven series as always.

Now pertaining to the 76ers it’s going to be very interesting what these times will have meaning for the team. A positive from the hiatus is that 76ers PG Ben Simmons is going to be reportedly healed from the injury that was originally going to have him miss the rest of the regular season. The other side of it, well that’s the unknown. The 76ers were not at the top of their game before the season broke off. They were 4-4 in their last eight games and in addition, were one of the worst road teams in the NBA. Inconsistent play dropped the team down to the sixth seed, and who knows how far they could have fallen if league play continued. 

Before the season the 76ers had championship aspirations but shortly those expectations started to become dreams. The team couldn’t win on the road, Al Horford’s play was nothing that the 76ers paid for, Tobias Harris wasn’t putting up max contract numbers, Ben Simmons hadn’t developed his shot, and Joel Embiid was riddled with mediocre to bad performances. Yet, the team was still able to beat the Bucks on Christmas Day, down the Celtics on the road on Opening Night, and beat the title favorite Lakers on the way. Frustration grew high with the team with rumors about deals of Simmons or Embiid, the firing of Brett Brown, or any other possible distracting headline. 

Although with all of that the 76ers will have a chance to turn it around. Of course, I don’t know what the home vs away aspect of this neutral territory for the 76ers will be but that can’t be any excuse for this team. This team went into this season expecting to compete for a championship, this still has to be the expectation. One of the main ways that the 76ers will get to that point is on the shoulders of Joel Embiid. It’s not just that Embiid is the team’s leader but it’s because he has to show the organization and most importantly the fans that this is his team. It will have been 22 weeks and two days since the 76ers last played to the point that they will step on the court again on July 31st when the season opens up. That is a huge amount of time, which can be an issue for Joel Embiid. Dating back to Embiid’s first season reports of Joel Embiid not wearing his walking boot helped contribute to Embiid requiring surgery again forcing him to miss his second season with the team. Even from that point pictures of Joel Embiid eating fast food while warming up have drawn criticism. Yet, another example last year as Joel Embiid missed time at the end of the season due to injury but came back out of shape when the team faced the Nets last year. That mixed with illness in the Raptors series also plagued Embiid’s performance in games. 

Now Joel Embiid has had 22 weeks and 2 days without being allowed in the 76ers facility, and certainly fewer restrictions on dietary habits compared to if he was with the team. Nobody is questioning Lebron James if he is going to be ready when the season opens up, but Joel Embiid certainly hasn’t earned that confidence in my mind. This is a moment where the character and the future of Joel Embiid will be tested. If he comes back in MVP type form and is in his peak physical shape then we know that this is the player that can lead them to a championship. If not, if Embiid comes back out of shape, lackadaisical, or just not at his level, then it’s clear that he isn’t ready. I understand that COVID-19 has restricted people from going out, but let’s not kid ourselves and say that Embiid wouldn’t be able to work out that. Not just in a negative sense, but staying in shape at home is what millions of people are doing daily, you can’t use an excuse that an NBA player can’t. 

The reason for placing my attention on Embiid rather than per se Simmons is because this is Embiid’s sixth year in the NBA. Embiid’s 26 years old, it has to be expected of, not asked, that he can act like a professional athlete. For Simmons, he’s rehabbing but I still expect that same conditioning from him. Nothing in Simmon’s career makes me think that he won’t come back in his normal shape, it’s Embiid who has the track record. Again, this 76ers team was expected to make a championship run, Embiid will play a huge part in that. If he comes back out of shape, that the team has to question his ability to lead the team because this would then be three straight years so “going all in” but coming up empty-handed. 

Eagles Defense Has Taken Step Forward in Off-Season

A lot of Eagles fans are skeptical of how much the Eagles improved from this year to last. Although it’s absolutely fair, I think we have to give more credit to Howie Roseman and the Eagles staff for improving the Eagles defense. From the playoff lost to Seattle to now, the Eagles are a much better team. 

When starting off with an evaluation like this, we have to look back at what was the original product (most recent) that took the field for the Eagles. In the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks the Eagles had Jalen Mills as their number one cornerback in the game. The Eagles defense only allowed 17 points in the loss to Seattle. D.K. Metcalf, like many other WR’s this season, lit up the Eagles secondary with 160 receiving yards, setting the rookie record for most receiving yards by a rookie in a postseason game. Although, giving up a total of 325 receiving yards in the game, the Eagles only gave up 64 rushing yards, and 45 of that came from QB Russell Wilson. The Eagles defense was led by Malcolm Jenkins with 9 tackles, and had the only sack in the game for the Eagles. 

The next part of the evaluation of the Eagles off-season specific to the defense is what the Eagles lost. The major lost for the Eagles defense was Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins wasn’t just a productive starter for the Eagles or that he played nearly every snap, but Jenkins was also the captain of the defense. The Eagles also watched Timmy Jernigan, and Kamu Grugier-Hill sign contracts with other teams. Also, Vinny Curry and Nigel Bradham are currently free agents. 

Finally, the additions to the Eagles team on the defensive side of the ball. The major acquisition for the Eagles this off-season was the trade and extension of CB Darrius Slay. In addition, the Eagles added Javon Hargrave DT from the Pittsburgh Steelers and signed Nickell Robey-Coleman CB. Smaller signings for the Eagles consisted of S Will Parks and LB Jatavis Brown. Lastly, the Eagles drafted LB/S Davion Taylor in the third round, and S K’Von Wallace in the 4th.

Now that we have it all laid out on the table, we can finally look at how the Eagles stack up. The first part you start off, the secondary. The by far biggest weakness of the Eagles defense, and would have been the number one addressed spot if the WR position did self-destruct last year. I find it hard to make an argument that the CB position, in particular, didn’t improve greatly. The Eagles got a true number one CB. The last time the Eagles had a cornerback make the pro bowl was Asante Samuel in 2010. for 10 years, the Eagles have had bad to mediocre play at that position. Adding Slay into the team will allow the Eagles to not be lit up by top WR’s and give more time to the Eagles defensive line to get the QB. 

Making any point about the Eagle secondary this upcoming season, has to look at the loss of Malcolm Jenkins. The leadership part of Jenkins will be missed but let’s not pretend that the Eagles defense doesn’t have leaders. Look at Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and even Rodney McLeod. Replacing Jenkins production is more of a question I believe for the Eagles. First things first, Malcolm Jenkins wasn’t a pro bowl player in the prime of his career, he’s clearly on his last stretch, I think most fans would agree with that. What most fans have a problem with is, who’s going to replace him? I know a lot of people are saying Jalen Mills, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. The report that Mills was going to be coming back to the Eagles to play safety made fans assume he would take the Jenkins role. Yet, the Eagles signed Will Parks, and invested two picks Davion Taylor, and K’Von Wallace at the safety position. It wouldn’t make sense to put that much capital into one position and still start the player that could be a solid CB 2. For replacing Jenkins productivity will be hard for the Eagles but if the Eagles believe that one of the two draft picks, or an improved Will Parks can take that place, then I don’t think the drop off is dramatic. 

The secondary as a whole is a better team, the Eagles invested resources in it which is the only thing they could have done. The Eagles mixed the defense with proven talent in Darius Slay and new rookies such as K’Von Wallace. When evaluating the Eagles secondary, they have improved. Then, you have to look at the position beneath it. The linebackers. 

Some Eagles fans think that this is the biggest need for the Eagles team. Of course those fans would be wrong but nevertheless it is a position that is almost less clear after the off-season. The Eagles did add LB Davion Taylor but with an undersized body, he might be the replacement for Malcolm Jenkins instead. Other than that, the only signing the Eagles had at the linebacker position was Jatavis Brown, who is far off of a major name. Eagles fans shouldn’t be surprised, the LB position in a 4-3 defense, but more importantly an Eagles defense under Jim Schwartz doesn’t value the position that highly. Howie Roseman doesn’t draft LB’s high in the draft, and the team watched Jordan Hicks leave the team last year. So with the Eagles LB position looking like Nathan Gerry, TJ Edwards, and Jatavis Brown leading the front, I don’t think there is going to be a major difference if Kamu-Grugier Hill or Nigel Bradham were in their place. I would say the Eagles took a step back, but far from saying that this is going to be the difference between making the playoffs or not. 

Lastly, the other main component of the defense is the defensive line. The Eagles added DT Javon Hargrave who was one of the more surprising decisions by the Eagles this season. The reason was because they committed big money to another DT only a year after signing DT Malik Jackson. Although, the Eagles value the D-Line position heavily, which is one of the reasons why they put together so many resources. I understand some of the confusion at first from the fan base, not so much criticism of the player but more of the decision to invest at a strong position. Now along the D-Line, the DT position is going to be one of the best in the game, the question still remains outside. Derrick Barnett hasn’t stepped into his potential, and Brandon Graham isn’t getting younger. The Eagles will need a contribution from Malik Jackson, or Josh Sweat to step up as well. There is no doubt the defensive line improved, and I think the Eagles made the right decision to go all in to get pressure, because we all know that pressure forces mistakes.

In conclusion, the Eagles invested all free agent resources in the defense, and got high quality players in the draft. I think this Eagles defense is going to be the best in the NFC East, and pairing that up with Carson Wentz doing his thing on offense, the Eagles are setting themselves up for a successful season.

Eagles 2020-2021 Season Predictions

The Eagles 2020-2021 NFL season schedule was released yesterday, and our instant reaction is to predict how many wins the Eagles will get. Of course millions of things will change from now until game one but here is my Eagles predictions for the 2020-2021 season.

Week 1 Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins (1PM) W 1-0

The last time the Eagles played in Washington to start a season they ended up Super Bowl champions. Heading to Washington, the team had the number two overall pick in the draft for a reason. With new head coach Ron Rivera, the team might be a little better this season. Yet, it’s still the Redskins. Dwayne Haskins didn’t have an impressive rookie year, and to learn a new offense on zoom probably doesn’t help. Desean Jackson’s first time returning to Washington (to play) as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles since he rejoined the birds will make for a special opening game. 

Week 2 Philadelphia Eagles vs Las Angeles Rams (1PM) W 2-0

This is one of the surest wins of the season in my eyes. It’s not just because the Eagles have had the Rams number in the past years, or that’s Jared Goff’s first time in the link, it’s that the Rams are starting to fall into disarray. Releasing former first round pick, and offensive player of the year Todd Gurley, not having a first round pick, and trading away WR Brandin Cooks, the team isn’t better from last year. Of course the last time Wentz was suiting up to play the Rams, it didn’t end well. Chalk this up for another Eagles win. 

Week 3 Philadelphia Eagles vs Cincinnati Bengals (1PM) L 2-1

Yeah you’re reading that right. It seems too easy for the Eagles to start off 3-0. Yet, history is what I’m relying on here. Rookie QB’s seem to have a good amount of early success, look back at Wentz’s rookie year (they started 3-0). I think it just feels like one of those games. 1PM. Easy team. 2-0 already. The Eagles will find a way to lose this game, but I’m confident that if they lose, it won’t derail the season. 

Week 4 Philadelphia Eagles @ San Francisco 49ers (8:20PM) W 3-1

The Eagles made up for it! I don’t understand the fear that some fans have when they talk about the 49ers. Just like how I relied on some history for the Bengals selection, this one follows suit. Basically, every team (other than the Patriots) who have lost in Super Bowls have had following year slumps. Yeah, the team the Eagles play in week 2 was in the Super Bowl two years ago. Jimmy G missed the throw to win to get the go ahead TD in the Super Bowl, and just like that he’s going to miss the opportunity to beat the Eagles. 

Week 5 Philadelphia Eagles @ Pittsburgh Steelers (1PM) W 4-1

The last time the Eagles played the Steelers was when Carson Wentz beat them 34-3. The Eagles will be riding high after beating the 49ers, and I don’t see 38 year old Ben Roethlisberger stopping them. Cause for concern clearly is the travel, going from west coast to east coast, but I think the Eagles win sloppy against the Steelers.

Week 6 Philadelphia Eagles vs. Baltimore Ravens (1PM) L 4-2

The Eagles don’t have the best track record as of late, with stopping mobile QBs. Since Lamar Jackson is at the peak of that category, I see the Eagles losing to the Ravens. Yet, I don’t think it’s going to be a blowout. One it’s at home, and two the Eagles will be starting to get more and more comfortable as the weeks go on. A tough defeat, will have the Eagles feeling better as they head into three straight NFC East Games. 

Week 7 Philadelphia Eagles vs New York Giants (8:20PM) W 5-2

I refuse to believe that the Eagles will lose to Eli 2.0. Just like Eli Manning, Daniel Jones will soon learn that you just don’t win against the Eagles, especially at home. It’s a Thursday Night Game, the Eagles don’t lose Thursday night games. This just feels like a complete blowout. It’s great you drafted an OL number four overall, because you’re going to need it this game. 

Week 8 Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys (8:20PM) W 6-2

I’m not going to get into the whole ten days rest thing against this team. I just believe that the Eagles are a more functional team than the Cowboys. This is the game that the Cowboys realized that they hired Jason Garret 2.0. Doug Pederson is going to feast in this game, especially with the deep ball. The Cowboys secondary, well it’s not great. Yeah, yeah, yeah they drafted CeeDee Lamb. Yet, what Cowboys fans and Jerry Jones don’t understand is that there is only one football. Considering the Amari Cooper shut down last time these two teams played because he wasn’t getting the ball, I don’t think he’s going to be that happy now. It takes a masterful coach to handle all of those weapons, and Mike McCarthy just isn’t that. 

Week 9 BYE

But still a win…

Week 10 Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants (1PM) W 7-2

Is Daniel Jones still their QB? Well if so, the Eagles win this game as well. Saquon can only do so much, and if you thought the Eagles’ run defense was good last year, we’ll meet Javon Hargrave. The Eagles are coming off a bye, and it might be a little sloppy in the first half, but nevertheless the Eagles win handily. 

Week 11 Philadelphia Eagles @ Cleveland Browns (1PM) W 8-2

It’s the Browns. 

Week 12 Philadelphia Eagles vs Seattle Seahawks (8:15PM) L 8-3

As long as the Earth is still rotating on the axis, the Eagles will continue to lose to the Seahawks. It’s probably going to feel like a blowout but the Eagles are going to somehow still be within a score away from winning, but still lose. This might be the only guarantee of the season, but at least it’s home right?

Week 13 Philadelphia Eagles @ Green Bay Packers (4:25PM) W 9-3

The Packers were contenders last year in the playoffs, and this is the season when they start to realize that. With no weapons, Aaron Rodgers might start throwing the ball to himself. I think the Eagles will be walking into chaos, and they’ll be able to take advantage of it. 

Week 14 Philadelphia Eagles vs New Orleans Saints (4:25PM) L 9-4

Drew Brees is right behind Russell Wilson for the most terrifying matchup against the Eagles. If Brees is operating at full cylinder, and isn’t falling off a cliff, then it’s very hard to pick the Eagles. In addition, I believe that the Saints will be fighting for a wildcard spot at this time opposed to leading the NFC South. With added fuel, and Drew Brees, I have the Eagles once again falling to the Saints. 

Week 15 Philadelphia Eagles @ Arizona Cardinals (4:05PM) W 10-4

If I could predict one team that will drag the Eagles into OT this would be it. With DeAndre Hopkins added to Kyler Murray’s weapons, it won’t be easy to defend this team. Yet, that’s the exact reason why the Eagles traded for and extended Darrius Slay. Although, I don’t see D-Hop making the most impact in this game, a player that Eagles fans will remember, Larry Fitsgerald. It’s almost too easy to imagine Larry Fits lighting up whoever the Eagles CB2 is, and single-handedly keeping his team in the game. I still have the Eagles winning this one, and this pushes the Eagles to ten wins on the season.

Week 16 Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys (4:25PM) L 10-5

I believe that this is going to be the game that determines the winner of the NFC East. Just like the NFC West last year, the NFC East will have two teams make the playoffs with 11+ wins. With that, the NFC hasn’t had repeat winners since 2004, and I don’t believe this year is the exception. Looking at a close game, with possibly a bad call that pushes the game in one direction, and that is the case my money (and possibly Jerry’s money) is that it’s going to go the way of the Cowboys. 

Week 17 Philadelphia Eagles vs Washington Redskins (1PM) W 11-5

The first Jalen Hurts start of the season? The Eagles will have one of the wildcard spots locked up, and they might want to rest Wentz and some key starters for the next week. Even with Hurts starting, I have the Eagles beating the Redskins who will be playing for a better draft pick next year. I think rounding at the season the Eagles take care of business for the Redskins at home.

In conclusion, in case you missed my message in the beginning, obviously, a million things can change. Of course, this will not be right, but it’s still important to look ahead at the season and to know as a fan what the possible scenarios will be when the teams play in the season. Key predictions that won’t change, is that I believe two NFC East teams will make the playoffs. Part of that has to do with the downfall of teams like the Saints, and the 49ers. You can look at my predictions and say I’m being too optimistic, and maybe I am. But, it’s more fun to start a season with a little more hope and watch as that hope goes up and down throughout that season, instead of going in with no hopes and being proved right.

Speed is Going to be Key for the Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles had a goal going into the off-season to get Carson Wentz’s speed. I think it’s fair to say that I got some speed. Now the talent of that speed is another question, but let’s evaluate the need for speed the Eagles have.

It’s clear that the Eagles missed Desean Jackson last year. Considering that Jackson totaled the fifth-most receiving TDs’ for the Eagles this season while only playing three games (only one full one), was a problem. We all saw what could happen when Wentz had an option that could get open 25 yards plus, and catch the ball. In particular, the two plays that we all remember from Wentz to Jackson last year were the two touchdowns in week 1. Both of those plays were 50 yards or more (51 and 53 yards to be exact). Even with two 25+ yard touchdowns in one game, Wentz went on to only have three more in the other 15 games of the season. So it’s clear that the Eagles needed speed.

“But we already knew that!”

Yet there is a pattern to Wentz’s performance to the amount of TDs’ of 25 yards or more he has per season. Wentz had five touchdowns that met that criteria in 2019, three in 2018, eight in 2017, and three in 2016. It makes sense, the more big plays you have, the better your team will be.
Wentz’s best year was in 2017 when he was arguably on his way to win the MVP award. It makes sense that his most “big plays” came in that year. For 2019, arguably his second most impressive year, and then 2016 and 2018 follow behind. The Eagles investing a first-round pick in Jalen Reagor, trading for Marquise Goodwin, and drafting John Hightower and Quez Watkins in the later rounds was an attempt to give Wentz more speed.

In the games when Carson Wentz throws 25 yards or more for a TD, the Eagles are 10-4 in those games. For games when he throws 30 yards or more and it results in a touchdown, the Eagles are 9-2 in those games. 40 yards or more 6-1. The outlier in the last one was the Titans game from 2018, so that really doesn’t count.

All those statistics are just evidence to show that Wentz with speed, equals wins. With all of this speed, the Eagles are trying to build a foundation that gives the teams weapons down the field. With Ertz, Godert, Jeffery, and whoever 25 yards and in placing options for Wentz, Jackson, Reagor, and Goodwin will cover everything else.

No Eagles fan will question the method of getting speed for the Eagles, now the players that they acquired to do so, maybe.

“Are Reagor’s hands good enough?”

“Can Jackson or Goodwin play a 16 game season?”

“Why did they draft Jalen Hurts?”

Okay the last one might be for a different matter, but nevertheless before you blast Howie Roseman for having the worst draft ever, evaluate. The Eagles did get faster, Wentz now has speed. We don’t know right now if Reagor over Jefferson was a mistake, or spending two later round draft picks on players with the same skillset was the right decision.

In conclusion, Howie Roseman addressed the speed aspect for Carson Wentz. The players we can debate, but the fundamental ideas were addressed. I’m not saying Roseman has given Wentz everything he has ever wanted, nevertheless, the Eagles have answered on speed end for the Philadelphia Eagles.