The Philadelphia Eagle will enter Training Camp with a chip on their shoulder. After a 7-9 season in which they ushered in a new era with a rookie head coach and Quarterback, the team is ready to take the next step. The offseason was handled outstandingly with moves to improve their passing game with the signing of Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery. Then the Eagles hit the NFL Draft like a team looking to with the NFC East with upgrades to the defense.
However, there are no guarantees in the NFL and here are 3 questions for the Eagles heading into Training Camp.
Who will be the go-to-receiver for Carson Wentz?
Wentz and Jordan Matthews already has a year of chemistry but with the addition of Smith and Jeffery, that may be at risk. Last season Matthews caught 73 passes for 803 yards. Smith, while with the San Francisco 49ers hauled in 20 passes for 270 yards. Jeffery, in his time with the Chicago Bears in 2016 managed 52 catches for 821 yards. While the numbers will suggest that Matthews gets the nod, OC Frank Reich may look to Jeffery when times get tough. Jeffery has sure hands, much like Matthews but his speed is what will set the two apart. Alshon’s Y/C for his career sits at 15 while Matthews stands at 12. It may seem slim but those 3 extra yards could be the difference between a 1st down or touchdown.
How will the Eagles manage the backfield?
Having talent is a good thing but having too much may come back to haunt you. The Eagles were a pretty solid running team in 2016 despite the injuries and suspensions to the offensive line. It was headed by a three-headed attack of Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, and Wendell Smallwood. Now, the Eagles added a 4th with the addition of former New England Patriots running back– LeGarrette Blount. In 2016, the Eagles rushed the ball 438 times for 1813 yards and 16 touchdowns. With Blount now the likely starter will he be comfortable with taking a lesser role after carrying the ball 299 times for 1161 and 18 touchdowns in 2016? The Eagles have the backs to make any defense pay but are there too many?
How much pressure will be on Derek Barnett?
With Barnett coming from the University of Tennessee, the comparisons to Reggie White were sure to make headlines. However, Barnett is just a rookie and will take time to develop. But do the Eagles have that luxury? In a conference that houses the like of Eli Manning and Dak Prescott, the Eagles will need to get as much pressure on the QB’s as possible. Barnett is a great pass rusher but he’s still wet behind the ears. Do the Eagles make him a member of the second unit or do they throw him into the fire immediately? As a unit, the Eagles registered 33 sacks, far below what they were able to do in 2015. Barnett got to the QB in college 32 times for sacks while also registering 52 tackles for losses.