The ultimate Eagles OTA preview part 1: Quarterback edition

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OTA’s are just around the corner for the Philadelphia Eagles, which means it’s almost time for us to get our first real look at the team since the end of last season. Although rookie minicamp provided some insight into the new additions to the roster, there are still plenty of questions that require answers..and OTA’s will be the first step in finding those last remaining puzzle pieces. With that in mind, I decided to create the ultimate OTA preview, holding the spotlight over each position on the roster to identify exactly what we should be looking for when the action kicks off on May 23rd.

It makes sense to begin at the quarterback position. Although the future is cemented with franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, there will still be plenty to watch out for.

 

Mechanics:
Towards the end of last season, there was plenty of debate over the mechanics of a quarterback who wasn’t drafted to start in his first year. As his rookie campaign progressed and his game developed, the areas for improvement became more and more apparent. Wentz took it upon himself to hire Adam Debaux, a quarterback coach, to help combat his “mechanic” setbacks.

This will be the first time that we’ve seen Wentz throw a football since the impressive week 17 win over the New York Giants, and there will certainly be eyes on his footwork, touch on the deep ball, and more importantly how close he holds the ball to his body after the snap, which affected his throwing motion a lot last year.

Although OTA’s are still too early in the NFL calendar to make a solid judgement on such intricacies, we should certainly still see visible differences in how Wentz throws the ball.

 

Chemistry:
Many criticize Zach Ertz for his late-season breakout tendencies, while other are quick to throw the red flag at wideouts for drops or missed opportunities. Chemistry is one of the most overlooked aspects of an NFL roster..and it takes time to build. For the first time since the beginning of the Chip Kelly era, the Eagles will be moving into the new season with stability at the quarterback position.

Sam Bradford’s rehabbing cost him valuable time during the offseason leading up to his lone-year in midnight green, and something that arguably cost Nelson Agholor too. A perfect example of the inverse would be how quickly Carson Wentz was able to strike a chord with Paul Turner after he made his NFL debut. Although limited, Turner caught 9 of 14 passes during his rookie season, averaging 14 yards per catch. It was toward the end of the season when things really began clicking for the Eagles..and that wasn’t lost on WR Jordan Matthews.

Talking exclusively in an interview for the first issue of our brand new magazine, – = +, Matthews

“My first experience [with Carson] wasn’t as intimate at first just because he was trying to find his way. I still had a very close relationship with Sam, so I was gonna make sure at the time I had to spend most of my time getting reps with our starting quarterback. Once the trade happened with Minnesota and we knew Carson was gonna be the guy, it was like “okay well we gotta get this ball rolling.”

“I’m not the type of guy to build a relationship just because somebody is my quarterback. Youv’ve gotta know as a person as well whether you’ll mesh or not. That’s a totally different aspect. You don’t wanna be fake. This is a grown mans business. “

Mesh, they did. The duo turned up early to the team’s offseason workouts, working out alone inside the NovaCare Complex and building an early chemistry.

“There’s been a lot of QB/WR combos who weren’t friends. At the same time, I still wanted to get to know him and work out if this person is a friend, if this person is a brother. As time went on, we grew close man. I consider him a brother, we’re extremely close and he’s a great person outside of Football. The swagger, intensity and competitive- ness that he brings everyday to practice and games makes me like him that much more.”

Jordan Matthews and Carson Wentz, as mentioned in the above excerpt, attended OTA’s early in order to lay the foundations of a relationship that would later blossom. It will be extremely interesting to see how Wentz meshes with Matthews and Ertz after one full season of working with them..while also having to build a new relationship with Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.

 

Is Matt McGloin a lock at QB3?
When the Eagles signed former Raiders QB, Matt McGloin, earlier this offseason, it looked to be the perfect match..except for one area. Doug Pederson has voiced his interest in developing a third quarterback behind Wentz on numerous occasions, and with the Draft offering little in the way of strong candidates, the team would find an extremely intriguing prospect in the weeks after the Draft, UDFA Jerod Evans.

The former Virginia Tech quarterback looked primed to walk into rookie minicamp and assert himself as a contender for the position. With a tremendous chip on his shoulder, Evans began to excite fans..until a foot injury sealed his fate. The Eagles parted ways with Evans, instead signing former Oklahoma State offensive lineman, Victor Salako..so the Eagles are back to square one, or are they?

The team notably worked out former Oregon Ducks signal caller, Dakota Prukop, as well as Tulsa’s Dane Evans. While it hasn’t been announced that either of these quarterbacks have been invited to OTA’s or anything further, the team certainly like the idea of adding competition at every spot on the roster.

It will be interesting to see if the Eagles bring in another UDFA QB to replace Jerod Evans, or simply stick with the hand they have. While there’s no guarantee that the Eagles will take three quarterbacks into the season, it is still a possibility worth considering.

Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo spent two seasons with McGloin during his time at Oakland. McGloin also played a hand in the development of Derek Carr during the early stages of his career..a link that will surely hold some merit when deciding who the third arm should be with Training Camp looming in the distance.

 

The return of Nick Foles:
Nick Folean dynamite is back in the building and will be backing up Carson Wentz for this year and beyond. It’s very much a homecoming for the signal caller who was heavily recruited by Doug Pederson coming out of college, and for the man who made NFL history against the Raiders. However, there have been clear flaws to emerge in the game of Nick Foles since his departure, which ultimately led to his return.

The Eagles have such a strong quarterback room, with Frank Reich, Doug Pederson and John DeFilippo having all played the position. Growth is key..and if the Eagles can rekindle the fire that Foles once torched teams with under Chip Kelly, then their backup QB situation becomes far more appealing.

 

The previous experience of Nick Foles will be invaluable not only to the development of Wentz, but to a very young receiving corps brimming with positional battles. While most of the attention will inevitably be placed on Carson Wentz, seeing how Foles looks upon his return will carry a lot of weight into the Eagles quarterback room, and how the “twos” develop throughout the OTA period.

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