Philadelphia eagles 2019 season preview
By Josh Edwards
Philadelphia was nursing the usual Super Bowl champion’s hangover last season. They could be forgiven for that being a particularly brutal one following their first-ever Super Bowl victory and first title since 1960. Despite this, and a week three, season-ending back injury to returning quarterback Carson Wentz, they battled bravely through. They reached the playoffs as the NFC’s 6th seed. They then scraped past Chicago on wildcard weekend courtesy of a tipped and missed Cody Parker field goal (the ‘double doink’). The Eagles were competitive in New Orleans in the divisional round but ultimately came up short. That meant their attempt at a famous Super Bowl repeat, with Nick Foles again at the helm, ended in the Superdome.
There were a lot of moves in Philly this offseason, including signing extensions for key players. The headlines were Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham, Jason Peters and, of course, QB Carson Wentz. It was important to lock up these leading contributors given that the team had its second draft in a row with only 5 selections. With their first round pick the Eagles took athletic OT Andre Dillard. Dillard figures to be insurance for the oft injured Peters. There is also a lot of excitement about second round pick Miles Sanders. The reason for the hype? He is the first feature back taken by Philly in a decade.
In terms of veteran moves the Eagles added Jordan Howard to an already stacked running back room. They also brought back to Philly the deep threat wideout DeSean Jackson. Jackson led the league in yards per catch again last season, so should help the Eagles stretch the field. Finally, they addressed their defense by adding veteran linebacker Zach Brown from divisional rivals Washington.
Nick Foles might never have to buy a beer in Philadelphia again, but Carson Wentz is a considerably better quarterback. If it wasn’t for his injuries, he would probably be consistently thought of among the NFL’s elite signal-callers.
Despite repeated absence, the Eagles offense has been built around Wentz. There will be a huge amount of optimism that he can take advantage of an improved roster which now includes Jackson, Howard and the rookies Sanders and Arcega-Whiteside. Second-year tight end Goedert will look to build on an encouraging first year and will likely see much more of the field to facilitate further growth. Re-signing Jason Peters and centre Jason Kelce was key to ensuring continuity on the offensive line.
Last season the Eagles secondary was probably the unit most adversely affected by injuries in the whole of football. The team was forced to use a combination of 15 safeties and corners throughout the season. Going into 2019 the group has settled down, and the Eagles will feel much more comfortable with Jones, Mills, and Darby at CB as well as Jenkins, Maddox and McLoed at Safety. Barring another horror show smorgasbord of injuries, the secondary won’t be the weak spot as in 2018.
In fact, it’s hard to find a weak spot in Jim Schwartz’s defense. Despite trading away Michael Bennett and losing Chris Long through retirement, the defensive line is revamped and ready to roll. Ex-Eagle Vinny Curry is returning and the signing of Malik Jackson to pair up with elite DT Fletcher Cox, who gets better and better, will anchor the defense. Despite not building a defense based on linebackers in their recent history the Eagles will be pleased that the Redskins let Brown go, as his speed against the run will help, as will his knowledge of their divisional rivals.
Philly can legitimately consider themselves as NFC contenders this season and will hope to live up to their billing as NFC East favourites. A lot rests on the health of Wentz, but given the confidence they showed in him by signing such a huge contract extension, the organisation is clearly bullish. This is a genuine Superbowl window for the Eagles, who were aggressive and positive in the offseason in an effort to take advantage, and it would be surprising if they aren’t playing deep into January.
Record Prediction: 11-5
Image Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports