“I think the Eagles are trying to win now,” expressed their newly signed running back LeGarrette Blount. The Philadelphia Eagles, who by the way are freshly coming off a 7-9 season, set their sights on winning now according to Blount.
Blount would know all about organizations that are in “win-now” preparation. He’s won two Super Bowls as apart of the New England Patriots. So why does a player with Blount’s career accomplishments look at the Eagles and view them in the same light?
Alshon Jeffery signed a one-year deal with the Eagles this offseason. He felt the market was bidding too low for a player of his capablities and he wants to remind the league, after missing 11 games the past two seasons, that he’s still the top-ten wide receiver they grew to know and love.
He didn’t choose Chicago a place where he’s familiar with the offense, the terminology and was looking to upgrade at quarterback play. Jeffery also didn’t choose the Minnesota Vikings, who have the quarterback in Bradford that the Eagles considered expendable. The Vikings were offering more contract security than a one-year deal. Jeffery chose Carson Wentz.
Jeffery is on record saying in his introductory press conference he feels that Wentz can be the MVP of the NFL at some point in his career. For a player betting on his God given abilities to secure him better financial compensation, he chose a second year quarterback coming off an up and down rookie season to help him reach those levels.
That says a lot about Wentz and the entire Eagles organization.
Torrey Smith also signed with the Eagles this offseason in hopes of giving the team a vertical threat they clearly did not possess in their wide receiver corps. He too chose the Eagles over familiar territory accepting their deal over acknowledging interest from his former team in the Baltimore Ravens. He echoed the same sentiments about Wentz.
“I watched Carson from a distance,” Smith said when asked what his initial impressions of his new quarterback were. “You can see that he has that ‘it’ factor. Obviously he’s still young, so he’s not perfect. But, I know he has potential to get it done.”
Smith has also witnessed what it takes to get it done. Don’t brush off that sentiment from him. He saw Joe Flacco lead his former Ravens team to a Super Bowl victory. He’s seen Flacco hoist the Super Bowl MVP trophy. Smith knows what it takes.
Smith is coming off his worst season in the NFL. Clearly, his tenure in San Francisco is forgettable. He was paid and expected to perform up to wide receiver No. 1 expectations. Smith failed to live up to them, but in Philadelphia those expectations are now out the window.
Smith proved to be a great compliment to Anquan Boldin during both of their tenures in Baltimore. That duo help lead the team to their Super Bowl XLVII victory over the 49ers. He can compliment Jeffery in 2017.
Wentz’s preassumed wide receivers are coming off disappointing seasons that they want to improve vastly upon. Blount is accustomed to winning coming from a franchise like New England. All these offensive players expect and believe Wentz can get them to where they want to go. That speaks volumes about the league’s perception of the 2016 No. 2 pick.
This is where the pressure comes in for Wentz in 2017. With all these expectations, dire improvements made at the skill position groups and veteran leadership added, Wentz must deliver this upcoming season.
Wentz isn’t the only Eagle under the microscope and his job security is secured. Doug Pederson, however, not so much.
Wentz has few excuses this season, but Pederson ran out of many after this offseason. The Eagles front office covered every need and filled the holes that they felt were the most concerning and needed to be fixed immediately, especially at wide receiver.
The Eagles decided in year three of the Chip Kelly era to give him full control of the roster, which Kelly always wanted. They decided this is how they’ll finally know if they can improve with Kelly over time or if this experiment needed to end. Kelly simply ran out of excuses and now Pederson might not have many if the team doesn’t improve in year two of his tenure.
The team is clearly invested in Wentz after trading multiple picks to secure him in the 2016 NFL Draft. Jobs are on the line with putting him in the best position to succeed and if the Eagles feel at any point in time that Pederson is not that, they’ll pull the plug and get someone who they feel is.
Yes, the pressure is on Pederson in 2017. I think Pederson did a fine job his rookie season. He took over a complete talent gutted team caused by his predecessor. His presssumed starting quarterback Bradford was traded eight days before the season begun. He rolled with his rookie quarterback after the plan was to originally sit him for the season. In many ways, all those moves panned out when you see the improvements the team made in the offseason, but still Pederson deserves credit.
That 7-9 season was a great welcome to the NFL moment for a rookie Pederson and a rookie Wentz. But now it’s time to improve. This team is built for the future and in a position to show immediate improvement in the win column.
The pressure is on Pederson and Wentz to show they’re the future leaders of the Philadelphia Eagles. Wentz has a longer leash than Pederson, but both are in prime positions to improve individually.
Mandatory Photo Credits: Chris Szagola/Associated Press