With minicamp over and training camp six weeks away week one of the NFL season will be here before we know it. A group of writers with the Last Word on Sports team will be previewing all 32 teams in the NFL by division. We will be highlighting some of the strengths and weaknesses of the team, as well as a final record prediction for the upcoming season. Now it is time for the NFC East, usually one of the most competitive divisions in football.
2018 NFL Breakdown Philadelphia Eagles 11-5
The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the most electric offenses in the league with great weapons on the ground and in the air. Jay Ajayi enjoyed great success with Philadelphia after being traded from the Dolphins sliding in as the number one running back. Undrafted rookie Corey Clement provided a nice complement to Ajayi last season. He was a great receiving back out of the backfield and a safety net. Alshon Jeffery had an outstanding season last year and played much of it with a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder. Nelson Agholor and new acquisition Mike Wallace will provide a great complement to Jeffrey in the slot and on the outside. All of these talented weapons are led by one of the upcoming stars in the league quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz is coming off an MVP caliber season, before he suffered a season ending Torn ACL against the Rams late last season. He has the ability to make plays both with his legs and arms, running past opposing defenders and firing rockets to open receivers. Eagle fans and management probably do not want Wentz running as often, coming off of his ACL injury.
The Eagles still have one of the best defensive front sevens in football led by Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and new acquisition Michael Bennett. Bennett strengthens an already talented front seven in Philadelphia and will be continue to be a very tough matchup for opposing offensive linemen. The defense will get Jordan Hicks back healthy who is an integral part the quarterback of the Eagles defense. Malcolm Jenkins anchors the secondary and he is one of the best players at his position in the league. Going into last season there were some questions about the Eagles cornerbacks. Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, and Rasul Douglas proved they could get the job done. With an outstanding offense and very talented defense, the Eagles have plenty of strengths with very few weaknesses.
Although Philadelphia has an outstanding defense, there is a question mark about who their third starting linebacker will be. Right now the starter at the right outside linebacker position is unknown. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has plenty of talent around this position to make up for the inexperienced starter. An alternative to this could be playing one of the backup middle linebackers in an outside role. Linebackers are usually some of the most versatile players on the defense.
The only other concern with the Eagles is the large personalities they have in the locker room and how they will mesh. Bennett and Jenkins are both very outspoken players when it comes to issues off of the field most notably issues related to social justice. Although Doug Pederson is a very mild mannered guy, he showed last season that he can lead a locker room with a lot of talent. As the defending Super Bowl Champions there are very few weaknesses that the Eagles have.
Team Most Valuable Player QB Carson Wentz
Wentz can do it all. He can evade defenders that are putting pressure on him and he can also fire strikes to receivers into very small windows. After having his season cut short last season, Wentz wants to not only be the most valuable player for the Eagles, but the entire NFL. Had he not been injured last season most believe that Wentz would have won the NFL MVP after an outstanding season. The offense upgraded this offseason drafting another dynamic tight end Goedert and signing Wallace in the offseason who is more productive than Torrey Smith. Expect Wentz to have another outstanding season, leading the Eagles to the playoffs once again.
Team Sleeper TE Dallas Goedert
Watching film of Goedert before the draft, it was filled with outstanding acrobatic catches. He is a human highlight reel, but was overlooked by many teams because he played in the FCS at South Dakota State. Playing alongside Zach Ertz, Goedert can learn from one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL. In addition, he can also benefit from all the attention placed on Ertz. He adds another matchup nightmare for opposing defenses on the Philadelphia offense, spreading the field and challenging linebackers and safeties. Do not be surprised if Goedert finishes the season as one of Wentz’s favorite targets and has more touchdowns than Ertz.
Reason for Prediction
The other three teams in the NFC East are looking up at the Eagles, who are the creme of the crop in the division. Being the defending Super Bowl Champions, they have an extremely tough schedule playing seven playoff teams from last season. Philadelphia has the offensive firepower and defensive talent to contend with and defeat many of these teams. After a 13-3 season last year, Philly will finish slightly worse at 11-5 in large part because of the tough schedule. However do not be upset Eagle fans, your team easily wins the division by three games and will once again contend for the Lombardi Trophy.