The global pandemic has been at the heart of all things 2020 and has taken a lot of the air out of the sails of the NFL season. Usually riding a high at this point in the year with training camps ramping up and preseason on the horizon, this year just doesn’t feel the same. The whole process has overshadowed a lot of exciting moves and adjustments the Eagles have made this offseason. Combined with some of the developing storylines from last season, there is a ton of intriguing storylines to follow for Philadelphia’s 2020 season. Let’s count some of the most exciting for Eagles fans to look forward to – starting with number five:
5) Captain Carson
Bidding adieu to Nick Foles before last season, after inking Carson Wentz to a big-money contract, the Eagles made it clear that this was Wentz’ team. Yet some were still on the fence. There were murmurs inside and outside the locker room that not all the players, nor Eagles fans, were completely on board. Now in his second season under his new contract, Carson will look to cement his place and entrench himself as the hands-down leader of the Birds.
The young players seem to already have bought in. Greg Ward and Miles Sanders — as well as possibly every member of the offensive line — went out of their way to praise Wentz’s leadership in 2019. Off the field, it seemed as if the team was slowly getting more comfortable with Carson at the center of it all. Then came the playoff bid.
Wentz almost single-handedly dragged a beleaguered offense to the playoffs. We all know about the numbers he put up and the records he set. What was more impressive was the team banding around him. Once a man knee-deep in controversy, he pulled up his bootstraps and made something out of nothing. In 2019, Carson became the clear leader of the Eagles.
A leader is something the Eagles will need in 2020. Malcolm Jenkins and Nigel Bradham are gone, Brandon Brooks is out and Lane Johnson has already come into conflict with something that may become a recurring issue this season. With the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, the faith that Wentz can lead any group of players to a winning season is paramount.
Now in his fifth season, coming off an incredible season and an NFL Top 100 Players snub, I am very excited to see how Carson can bring this group together.
4) DT Dominance
The general consensus was that any team with Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson in their defensive tackle rotation couldn’t possibly need more star power. Howie Roseman disagreed; and so the Eagles added 27-year old stud Javon Hargrave. When the news broke, Eagles fans licked their chops as opposing interior offensive lineman shuddered. That combination is a nightmare, and there’s no way around it.
After two straight seasons of almost 80% of the defensive snaps, Fletcher Cox actually had a down season in 2019. That didn’t stop him from being the second-best pass rusher at his position or cracking the NFL Top 100 list. The truth is he’s been working with mediocre help on the inside. The Eagles had hoped that Malik Jackson would be able to provide some aid before he was lost for the season in Week 1. This season, Jackson will be the third option.
Having Jackson return from injury and adding Hargrave doesn’t just give the Eagles the deepest DT group in the league, it also allows them to do something most teams can’t — switch it up. How many teams in the league have three starting-caliber defensive tackles? Frankly, it won’t be that surprising to see all three guys on the field at the same time, with Jackson bumping out to a 5 or 7-tech. It gets me giddy.
A DC’s fantasy, as well as an OC’s nightmare, this defensive line will be one of the most exciting to watch in 2020. If any of the young defensive ends can develop into legitimate stars, it may be one of the best defensive lines we’ve ever seen.
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Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports