OTA’s are finally upon us. The road to week one officially begins now, with voluntary spring workouts taking place at the NovaCare Complex. While some players are absent due to rehabbing injuries and others for unknown reasons, there’s a renewed sense of excitement in the air, especially when it comes to the offense.
The Eagles were aggressive in free agency, bringing DeSean Jackson back home on a three-year deal and trading for former Bears running back Jordan Howard, alongside some in-house contractual moves. If that wasn’t enough, the team drafted Andre Dillard with the 22nd overall pick. They then spent both second-round selections in this year’s draft on the offensive side of the ball, selecting running back Miles Sanders, and wideout JJ Arcega-Whiteside, before selecting project arm Clayton Thorson three rounds later. It’s safe to say there’s plenty of reason for excitement within the organization.
“This is the time of the year we can do that and really kind of experiment with the personnel we have on offense.” Doug Pederson told reporters ahead of the team’s first practice. “That’s the exciting thing because we’re not playing games for a while, so we are not game planning anything. We are executing and trying to get better with our scheme.
I’m really looking forward to the new additions on offense and seeing how well they fit into what we are as a team.”
The return of Jackson is huge for the Eagles. Pederson has craved speed at the WR2 spot for three years now and has unsuccessfully been able to fill the void that Jackson once left.
Even at age 32, Jackson will answer the Eagles’ ‘Need for Speed’, and his ability to create separation and pose a huge vertical threat will be a welcomed addition to Pederson’s offense.
He still averaged over 18 yards per reception last year, adding a further 774 to his tally along with 4 touchdowns. The Eagles finally have their answer to a deep-threat…and he’s wasted no time in getting re-acclimated with his surroundings, as well as meeting his new quarterback.
“DeSean has been here. That’s probably one of the things that I was excited about with him, that he’s here and working with the guys and working with Carson.” Pederson went on to say.
“I’m just looking forward to getting him out there and moving around and [seeing] how much he’s picked up of the offense through phase one and two and seeing how best we can use him.”
As for the running backs, there’s a complete reconstruction in the backfield. I could sit here all day and talk about Howard’s 74% conversion rate last year in short-yardage situations, or the fact that despite a career-low in yards per carry, he actually averaged 4.3 when rushing out of the shotgun. But when you take the 24-year old’s bruising running style and pair it with the bouncy Miles Sanders, the fun of imagining how each back can be creatively used in this offense really begins.
Sanders spent much of his career with the Nittany Lions basking in the light of Saquon Barkley and after finally getting his shot in the big time, provided enough of a sample size to earn himself a second-round grade. Tallying 1,274 yards on 220 attempts, Sanders showcased his acceleration and ability to be a home-run hit.
OTA’s will be very exciting for all parties. Coaches, fans, and media, will all get a chance to see how Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders look in midnight green, while the package of Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert, on the field at the same time will get its first few test-runs, leaving many purring to see what it could look like against NFL defenses.
The Eagles have lots of shiny new toys to play with, as does a now-healthy quarterback, Carson Wentz. OTA’s is essentially Christmas morning for everyone within the organization. The presents have been wrapped up under the tree for around a month and now, bright an early on the 25th of December, it’s time to rip the paper off and have some fun.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports