An Eagles playoff push might be far-fetched, but if the team have any chance of mounting one, a win against Washington is critical. Playing with their backs against the wall after a week of controversy that saw their effort called into question, all eyes will be on the response of the Eagles come Sunday..but who are five under the radar players to keep an eye on?
There is a possibility that the Eagles receiving corps will be light on depth once again this weekend, meaning that both Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz lean more on the tight ends. Washington are already acquainted with Zach Ertz, but one man they’re yet to see unleashed is third string TE Trey Burton.
Burton has 218 yards on 22 receptions this year to go with a touchdown but has featured prominently in the Offense in recent weeks, accounting for a season high 53 yards and nine targets in the loss to Cincinnati.
The Eagles Offense desperately craves a playmaker and at this stage, Burton remains an unknown to many. His ability to line up as an outside receiver, as a tight end or even a fullback make him an invaluable weapon in an Offense that lacks them.
The Eagles lead rusher is set to return to the field this week having recovered from his MCL sprain, but how much he will feature in the Offense remains to be seen. Rookie running back Wendell Smallwood has been carrying the workload in his absence..and Doug Pederson told the media that he could be moving the focus to developing the younger guys in the coming weeks..so what does this mean for Mathews?
It’s simply now or never if he is to cement his spot at the top of a competitive yet inconsistent backfield. With Sproles, Smallwood and Barner all behind him waiting to pick up any leftover snaps, Mathews has to give Pederson a reason to keep rolling with the veterans for the remainder of the season.
A week after Carson Wentz attempted 60 passes, Mathews could see plenty of action..but what he can do with a high workload could well determine the shape of the backfield.
The cornerbacks were another position group called into question this week, especially after veteran Leodis McKelvin expressed his frustration at a lack of playoff appearances. Well, now he’s lining up against a man who could become his teammate next year, DeSean Jackson.
McKelvin has been inconsistent at best this season, handling business on shorter routes efficiently but struggling on deep plays and often giving up huge chunks of yardage..which also happens to be DeSean Jackson’s specialty.
McKelvin’s future is by no mean’s secure and with Jim Schwartz pressing from the sidelines the pressure is truly on for the cornerback in his ninth year to really show his leadership and lift a struggling group of players above a high flying Redskins Offense.
After an explosive start to the year, Steven Means has seemingly fallen down the depth chart. But with Pederson placing a potential emphasis on the development of young players, and guys ahead of him showing signs of regression and lacking effort..it could well be time for Means to shine again.
Means turned heads this week after he drilled Bryan Braman in practice..and if it was enough to turn the heads of Jim Schwartz and Doug Pederson then he may, just may be in a position to make something happen on Sunday.
This is without a doubt the first time that Carson Wentz hs faced adversity in his career. Having come from a winning program, Wentz has now had to deal with the trials and tribulations of the NFL, the ruthless Philadelphia media and the challenges of a regular season.
After throwing 60 times against the Bengals only for Doug Pederson to point out his mechanics and Frank Reich to state how losing could be getting to the rookie, it’s time to see how Wentz responds.
There is no doubting his mental toughness..but as the leader of this franchise for the foreseeable future, it’s time for Wentz to step up, take the Offense by the horns and make a statement on Sunday..ending a regressive streak and proving many wrong.
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Liam is a 24-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.
You can contact him here: Phillysportsnetwork@gmail.com