Football season is FINALLY just around the corner. For the Philadelphia Eagles, training camp gets underway in just ten days for rookies and selected veterans, with the first full team practice taking place on July 27th. With that said, it’s time to once again delve deep into the roster to provide the most comprehensive guide possible to a training camp that is among the most important in recent memory for the franchise. Of course, it makes sense to start at the most important position in Football, the quarterback.
Drafted second overall by the Eagles one year ago, Wentz was expected to sit his rookie year behind Sam Bradford, learning the ropes and the marinating under the tutelage of Chase Daniel. Instead, Wentz set a rookie record for most passes attempted in a regular season, as well as ending the year with 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns.
2016 was a year of development for Carson Wentz. With a lack of offensive weaponry at his disposal, the rookie came on leaps and bounds as both a quarterback, and a leader. Whenever Wentz appeared to hit a Wall or present a flaw in his play, it would be corrected within the coming weeks. The long release that was slated by the Browns was absent in week 2 against the Bears. The decisions to slide when scrambling became far more educated and Wentz as a result grew into a far more confident quarterback outside the pocket. His tendencies to stare down receivers, once punished by the Seahawks, began to dissipate.
Now, with an army of receiving weapons, a deep offensive line and a fresh committee of running backs, Wentz looks poised to take the next step. From the top down, the pieces are finally in place for the Eagles to once again elevate to a playoff contender. For that to happen however, Wentz is going to need to step up and reap the rewards of the arsenal of talent bought in to help spur his growth.
OTA’s were a rollercoaster for the young signal-caller, but ended on a promising high…and that’s something we’ll explore later in the article. Wentz will be the primary focus of Training Camp for many and is undoubtedly the future of the franchise. It’s an exciting time to be an Eagles fan…and it will be even more exciting to see just how far Wentz has progressed after an offseason of mechanical improvement.
One of the few major changes at the position was the implementation of a new backup quarterback. The Eagles parted ways with Chase Daniel, who was adamant he could start in the NFL, and decided to bring back a former Eagles quarterback who is beyond familiar with Doug Pederson, Nick Foles.
Foles, while actually cheaper than Daniel, brings a lot to the table. The former Pro Bowl MVP is someone who has experience of being a starter in the NFL and the system, as well as Philadelphia culture. The Eagles have a familiar face and one who has the right attitude to help the locker room culture flourish. While mentoring Wentz may be the focal point, it doesn’t hurt that Foles has had far more playing time either.
He may have regressed since that sensational 2013 season, but he’s still a quarterback who is more than capable of stepping in if called upon..and is likely to be far less rusty. For one, he has completed 776 of his 1,286 career passes, while Chase Daniel had thrown a total of 78 passes in the 8 years he’s been in the league.
It was Pederson who was the driving force in bringing Foles to Philadelphia to begin with…so if anyone knows just what he can bring to the table, it’s the Eagles Head Coach.
While we can’t really gauge too much from OTA’s and Mandatory Minicamp, it will be interesting to see how Foles builds relationships within the team and if he is able to rekindle some of that incredible 2013, record setting form. For a receiver core that is hungrier than ever and has so much on the line, a competent second arm who can make all the throws and help the unit to flourish is also extremely valuable.
The Eagles made one more addition to their QB room this offseason in the way of former Oakland Raider, Matt McGloin. It was well documented that the Eagles wanted a project arm to develop under Carson Wentz…and this is where McGloin is a very interesting player to have signed on a one-year deal.
McGloin has appeared in 14 games during his career so far, starting 7 and completing 58.1% of his passes. 11 touchdowns, 11 picks and 1,868 yards add to the rest of his stat line..which for a third string quarterback on a short-term contract is of immense value to the Eagles. So the question is, do the Birds view him as a developmental arm, a camp arm, or competition for a certain QB4?
McGloin may not be direct competition for Nick Foles, but it’s worth noting that he has of course been a backup to none other than Derek Carr..a man who many believed to be a leader in the MVP race until his heartbreaking injury. There’s one more element worth considering when discussing Matt McGloin…but we’ll get to that a little later.
The wildcard in all of this is the most recently signed quarterback to the roster, Dane Evans.
Doug Pederson announced at the end of Mandatory Minicamp that he intended to bring in former Tulsa QB, Dane Evans, to sit behind Wentz, Foles, and McGloin for the remainder of the offseason…but the tryout wasn’t signed to a contract after impressing during rookie minicamp. A Minicamp where he battled with the likes of Jerod Evans and Dakota Prukop. However the Birds parted with ways with wideout Dorial Green-Beckham, opening the doors for a very intriguing undrafted free agent.
This pro-style quarterback ended his career in stunning fashion. Evans completed 59.4% of his passes in 2016, throwing for 3,340 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. At 6’1, 210 lbs, Evans has nice size for a pocket passer, but has largely been inefficient when scrambling..actually totaling -29 rushing yards last year, fumbling twice. Evans will be competing for an eventual QB3 spot with Matt McGloin..but it will be a tall mountain to climb.
The Eagles have three different potential outlooks at quarterback when it comes to QB3. McGloin, Evans, or none at all. The perk of having Dane Evans on the roster is obviously that he could be stashed on the practice squad, but he wouldn’t be ready to be dropped into a live game scenario…or so we think.
For the Eagles, it becomes a case of whether or not they would prefer a guru quarterback, or an arm whom they can develop into one day taking over the reins Nick Foles has just inherited. Preseason is going to be of extreme interest for this one reason alone…as it’s anything but meaningless for QB’s 3 and 4 on the roster.
It’s worth noting that there was on crucial name involved with the Eagles quarterbacks who was very nearly poached by the New York Jets. QB Coach, John DeFilippo. The Eagles did everything possible to retain the same tree of coaching staff and supporting talent around Carson Wentz in order to help develop their franchise quarterback effectively. This may not sound like much, but there’s a strong link here.
Not only did John DeFilippo coach Derek Carr during his time at Oakland, acting as an integral part in his growth that led to his path over to Philadelphia…but he also coached current QB3, Matt McGloin. The duo were regarded as integral during the growth of last year’s scintillating breakout quarterback, and it should come as no coincidence that the two reunite in Philadelphia to help develop another star in the making.
It’s this unique bond that may play into McGloin’s favor when in a vicious battle with Dane Evans. I wrote extensively about how the Eagles have followed a near-identical rebuilding model to Oakland, making that connection even stronger. The Birds have the perfect pieces in place for Wentz to really flourish…and it’s something they will likely do anything to protect.
Three things to watch:
After an encouraging rookie season, there was a lot of discussion surrounding the mechanics of Carson Wentz. While the changes many had hoped Wentz would make to his game were near invisible to the naked eye, what was really impressive is that the quarterback sought extra curricular help. Knowing what lied ahead,took it upon himself to hire Adam Debaux, a quarterback coach, to help combat his “mechanical” setbacks.
After an OTA period of impressive rises and some sophomore setbacks, Wentz ended the program with plenty of promise. Now as Training Camp approaches and the pads go in, all eyes will be on the face of the franchise to see just how much progress he has/hasn’t made since his rookie season. The criteria for that development will vary depending on who you ask…but what really counts is how Wentz approaches year two.
As the leader of the Offense, this is the first full offseason that Wentz has been entrenched as the starter and with the direction now set in stone, the momentum is surging upward. Can Wentz make the most of it and enter Camp as hot as he ended OTA’s? Worrying about mechanics that we can’t see without film analysis seems a little pointless during OTA’s, but if Wentz can start off red-hot, elevating those around him and making the Offense look far more dangerous against a Defense that kept them silent during OTA’s, that will be a strong sign of improvement with the pads on.
Life after Fargo:
By now, we all know that Carson Wentz rounded up several of the team’s receiving threats in North Dakota for a week of workouts and bonding. With those relationships strengthened, it’s all about how Wentz can build on them entering Training Camp.
Chemistry between Wentz and the likes of Zach Ertz only grew as his rookie year progressed, while his relationship with Trey Burton and Paul Turner was clear from the get-go, after spending most of the offseason taking reps with them and learning their timing habits. With a full offseason and trip to North Dakota under his belt, Wentz has now acquainted himself with newcomers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, not to mention the two newest rookie wideouts to the nest in Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson.
Wentz was often noted to have overthrown receivers during OTA’s, and if this was due to timing kinks or minor setbacks that would be ironed out with more reps, then it will be apparent as Camp progresses and that symbiotic relationship between quarterback and receiver begins to strengthen further.
A battle at the bottom:
Of course, the only real battle at the QB position will be between McGloin and Dane Evans. The Eagles receiver pool is so deep and the cornerback corps are ALL in contention to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster, meaning reps with the ones are just as valuable as they are with the three’s and beyond. This competition should bring out the best of both McGloin and Evans, but the question is, who’s going to make the most of such an intense environment?
McGloin could be competing for his NFL future, as many teams are electing to get younger with their backup arms and he’s already sat behind Foles, while Dane Evans will be doing all he can to prove to Coaches that he’s got all the tools in the box to earn a spot on the practice squad at very least.
This is a battle that could be sided at large during preseason, but the initial impressions will undoubtedly be made over the coming weeks. McGloin is going to have the upper hand after spending more time with the team during the spring workout program, but if Evans could unseat the former Raider for some reps with the three’s, then we could see a real battle at quarterback.
The next edition of our ultimate Training Camp preview will focus on the Eagles freshly formed committee backfield. What will you be watching for over the coming weeks? Leave a comment below!
Mandatory Photo Credit: Christopher Szagola/CSM & Cal Sport Media via AP Images