The Eagles have built a Super Bowl-caliber team on paper but many questions still remain. How will injuries impact the team this season? Who will step up from the WR group? What will the offense look like now that there are so many voices in the offensive coordinator room? There are several players that will be very key to the team making a run in the playoffs. Some may surprise you, others may be obvious but no matter how you look at it, these five players hold the season in their hands.
Fletcher Cox will be 30 years old by the time the Eagles are fighting for their spot in the postseason, one that may be very defining for the starting DT. Cox had a bit of a down year last season but his impact on the defensive line can never be questioned.
He’s dealt with a carousel of tackles next to him that have failed to stay consistently healthy. Timmy Jernigan only played 10 games last season and Malik Jackson appeared in just one. This offseason, the Eagles front office added the young disruptor in Javon Hargrave who looks to be a space-eating cornerstone alongside Cox from here on. Cox could have his best season yet with a healthy Malik Jackson rotating in and a young stud in Hassan Ridgeway backing up the dominant duo.
The Eagles will need their defensive anchor to contribute in a big way if they’re looking to make a run and with a full offseason to get healthy and a new supporting cast, the veteran could be in the best position possible to put up those elite numbers once again.
Before you rip my head off for saying that Wentz needs to step up even more than he did last season, hear me out first. I believe he pulled off an unbelievable feat last season and wished that he would’ve played a full playoff game if it wasn’t for Clowney.
The fact of the matter is this – the Eagles front office has given Wentz the most weapons that he’s ever had in his career so far this offseason. They traded for Marquise Goodwin, they drafted Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins. All of these players scream speed which is what Wentz wants in his WR group. He displayed just how good he could be with a deep threat in last seasons game against the Redskins where he threw two 50+yard touchdowns to DeSean Jackson. After that, the deep ball didn’t exist due to the inconsistency of Nelson Agholor and the disappearance of the entire WR group except for Greg Ward Jr.
Now Wentz has all that he needs, he’s fully healthy, not recovering from any lingering injuries either. It’s time for Carson to set himself apart from the pack of QBs in the league and excel. We saw the potential back in 2017, that was no fluke but no other QB besides Andrew Luck has had such poor luck on the field so far. No pun intended.
So this may just be the first offseason in Derek Barnett where he’s fully healthy and not rehabbing. Barnett was drafted in the first round with the 14th overall pick. The Eagles brass has invested a lot in the selection of Barnett and pressure is building on the young edge rusher to live up to the hype.
Derek had a decent season last year but it seemed at times that his attitude was contained. Last year he had 6.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 22 QB hits. He also had 26 pressures on the Quarterback while knocking them down 15 times, but only hurried the QB on 4 occasions. It’s a lot of up and down in that regard, and while the addition of Hargrave should also impact DB, he can’t rely on that. Last season, Brandon Graham led the Eagles defensive ends with sacks and overall effort as well. It’s time for Barnett to follow suit and step up to the next level.
More than just the 2020 season will ride on Goedert. With the cap situation of next season looming and the rumors of Ertz being moved growing more worrying by the day, Dallas will have a lot riding on him.
While it will make all the sense in the world for the Eagles to find a way to keep Goedert and Ertz together, the money may not be there especially due to the impact of COVID-19 on the salary cap.
Goedert had a very quietly productive season last year as he caught 58 passes for 607 yards, scoring 5 touchdowns in the mix of it all. The potential with Goedert is obvious and the great part is that the impact of Ertz doesn’t seem to be affecting his number negatively. The focus of the Eagles offense will be 12 personnel with the tight ends being prominent receiving options. It could be a big year for Goedert but it will be an even bigger year for the team if he can make the jump to the next level.
I know what you’re thinking, there are so many other players that I could’ve inserted in this slot but the truth is that Goodwin’s role is very important. DeSean Jackson is 32-years-old and is coming off of a very significant injury.
The Eagles drafted two prospects in the late rounds that could either be impactful in a good way or complete misses. With the impact of COVID-19 shortening the offseason, experience will be everything, especially in the early goings.
Marquise Goodwin is the middle of this chaos and the Eagles will either count him on more if Jackson goes down, or the team will count his veteran experience in order to slowly develop Hightower and Watkins. His health with this team is very important to what they want to accomplish. Goodwin has the speed and capability to lift this offense when he’s lined up next to Jackson and Reagor. It could very well mirror the offense of the Chiefs if he and DJax stay healthy.
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