Health and continuity could Galvanize Eagles offense in Year 4 of the Pederson Era

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Just one season after suffering through a summer of absences of their captains Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, and Darren Sproles- among others- due to injury, the Eagles seem to have all their troops back and ready for war in 2019. Right before the team kicked off their mandatory training camp, some positive news broke regarding the health status in Philly:

While this obviously isn’t the best news for CB Jalen Mills, having just one player on the PUP list is a fantastic situation to be in for Philly- notably their offense, who have zero players unable to perform. This is huge news considering Pro Bowl G Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles just six months ago. Having 37-year old LT Jason Peters healthy and out on the field as the enforcer is also a huge win for the Birds. The future Hall of Famer’s presence on the field should bring a wealth of familiarity and calmness to the offense as he continues to work hard and mentor the younger players.

Now, fully healthy to begin training camp for the first time in a long time, the Eagles offense will be able to focus more on refinement than rehab this year. In addition to being healthy, the Eagles offense is also entering year 4 of the Pederson era. Here’s how his unit has fared through the first three years of his tenure:

Year Pts/G Total Pts Yds/G 1st/G ToP/G
2016 22.9 (16th) 367 (16th) 337 (22nd) 20.8 (14th) 32:31 (1st)
2017 28.6 (3rd) 457 (3rd) 365.8 (7th) 21.1 (4th) 32:41 (1st)
2018 22.9 (18th) 367 (18th) 365.3 (14th) 21.6 (11th) 32:39 (2nd)

The numbers don’t do Pederson justice, as the lowly offensive outputs of 2016 and 2018 came in rather extreme circumstances.

Back in his first season in 2016, the offense never really had a chance to take off. Pederson inherited a lackluster group of skill position players following the Chip Kelly tenure and the group understandably didn’t have much familiarity with his scheme given it was his inaugural season. Pederson was also primarily focused on the development of Carson Wentz, whom the team deemed worthy of the second overall pick in the NFL Draft that spring, and likely valued that along with the implementation of his offense in Year 1.

After completely revamping the offense in 2017- acquiring Alshon Jeffery, Jay Ajayi, Torrey Smith, and LeGarrette Blount- the offense took a quantum leap under Pederson in Year 2. The sophomore head coach remained aggressive and was constantly one step ahead of opposing defensive coordinators. The offense thrived all year despite losing it’s starting quarterback, left tackle, and running back along the way and, as we know, the team went on to win the organization’s first-ever Super Bowl. In the Super Bowl game itself, it was Doug Pederson’s offense that once again stole the show, as they compiled 41 points en route to defeating the New England Patriots in the highest-scoring Super Bowl championship game ever.

In 2018, the offense seemed primed to take off yet again. Wentz was healthy and once again ready to take the reigns of the offense and the team replaced incumbent starter Torrey Smith with the historically more effective WR Mike Wallace. Unfortunately for the Birds, injuries plagued their season and the offense failed to maintain much momentum. Jay Ajayi, Mike Wallace, Darren Sproles, and Carson Wentz were all lost for the season before the Eagles improbably made the playoffs and Brandon Brooks was stricken with a severe injury once they did. Ultimately, the injuries were simply too much to overcome and the offense regressed drastically as a result.

Assuming that half the offense won’t be plagued with injuries this season, it’s fair to expect a sizable spike in offensive production under Pederson in 2019. Not only did every offensive player manage to avoid the PUP, but the Eagles are ​stacked​ on that side of the ball. For your viewing pleasure, here’s a look at a tentative depth chart of the Eagles skills players:

Quarterback: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld

Running Back: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams

Wide Receiver: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor,
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins

Tight End: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rogers

GM Howie Roseman and Co. left no stone unturned this offseason and successfully filled every roster hole from last season. Through diligent, savvy front office work, weaknesses were made strengths and strengths were made stronger in Philly.

Heading into Year 4 under Pederson, the Eagles core offensive players are all familiar with his scheme- having played in it the last few years- and are simply looking to refine the intricate details of it, as opposed to learning a new scheme from scratch like some of their NFC competitors. Pederson’s aggressive, West Coast scheme has proved to be a handful for defenses before, and now with a loaded cast with extensive knowledge of the game plan, the Eagles offense seems destined for big things in 2019.

 Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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