It’s quite sad to think that Eagles football will be over for another nine months after Sunday’s game against the Cowboys..but while some Week 17 games will be meaningless for some teams, this is a big matchup for the Eagles even without playoff implications. With twelve players in their final contracted game as an Eagle, others fighting for their spot on the depth chart and the Head Coach striving end the season with two divisional wins, there is everything to play for. But who are the players of note to keep an eye on?
The undrafted Defensive Tackle battled his way onto the final 53-man roster during Training Camp and preseason and has gone on to play in 26% of Defensive snaps. Bennie Logan’s contract extension is something that has been up in the air since the start of this Calendar year, but the Birds have been placing more and more emphasis on both Vaeao and Allen over the veteran in recent weeks.
Vaeao is currently sat toward the bottom of the depth chart, but with 13 tackles and 2 sacks on the season..it’s clear that he has the potential to develop into a reliable option. One big performance against the Cowboys could be all it takes to sway the Eagles away from spending money they arguably would be wise to avoid. Vaeao has flashed plenty in his rookie season and even if he doesn’t alter the grander scheme of things, there’s nothing to say he won’t shoot up ahead of Beau Allen in the depth chart moving forward if he can turn heads yet again on Sunday.
The preseason hero is just 4 yards away from 100 receiving yards this season and there’s a very good chance he will hit that milestone on Sunday. The Eagles WR corps has left a lot to be desired this season, with the addition of Turner being pined for since the end of preseason. His eventual arrival in the NFL regular season sparked excitement and with the Eagles figuring out how best to address the position going forward, the Louisiana Tech star has to shine again against Dallas.
Turner’s chemistry with Wentz has proved invaluable when he’s active. The problem is, he remained sidelined for the second week in a row against the Giants..but there’s a good chance that will change in the finale. The Eagles have plenty of questions blanketing their receiving corps and allowing Turner to have one last crack at breaking out would probably be in their best interests when it comes to evaluating the talent..especially when he’s doing this in practice:
— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) December 29, 2016
If Turner is active on Sunday, it will be extremely interesting to see just how much attention he receives from Carson Wentz.
Marshall flashed heavily in his NFL debut that largely acted as a learning experience, but didn’t receive a single carry one week later. Ryan Mathews and Wendell Smallwood are now injured, leaving Sproles, Marshall and potential NFL debutant Terrell Watson to carry the backfield in Week 17..and for Marshall, it’s one more opportunity to prove he belongs.
Kenjon Barner, Wendell Smallwood and Ryan Mathews are all absent and if Marshall can build upon the fundamentals shown against the Ravens, then without much in the way of competition, Marshall could force the team into keeping him around next season. Barner and Mathews are set to become free agents in 2017 and 2018..so with a longer term plan and emphasis of development in mind, Marshall knows that a big game this weekend could make all the difference to his long-term future.
Reports of a contract extension have already started to surface for Nolan Carroll, who has acquired a new agent this season. But a year of inconsistency and yet more injury struggle could only hamper his stock as the Eagles seek long-term stability at the position.
When he’s hot, Nolan Carroll is lethal. An aggressive tackler bursting with confidence who isn’t afraid to get handsy with some of the biggest names in Football. But it’s getting hot and staying hot that seems to be the biggest problem.
After a huge game against the Giants, Carroll will need to ensure he ends the season on a high if he is to give himself leverage when negotiating a deal to stay in the City of Brotherly Love.
The return of Lane Johnson last week showed just how much the Eagles missed his presence. Playing like a man possessed, Johnson ran rampant for the Eagles against the Giants and opened up the run game in ways previously locked. However, that was just a one game sample..and the Eagles have only played 25% of their games this season with the Franchise right tackle.
In terms of building for the future, it’s imperative that Johnson rekindles that fire he has burning against the NFL each and every week if the Eagles are to build from the ball outward. The development of Carson Wentz will no doubt sky-rocket if he’s hit less often and has a run game behind him.
It will be interesting to see how Johnson plays in his second game back from suspension and if that anger still fuels his game..because if it does, the Eagles O-Line could become a very scary unit in years to come.