Considered to be genuine contenders for a tilt at the Super Bowl last season, things didn’t quite go to plan for the Philadelphia Eagles. The team coached by Doug Pederson certainly had enough depth and talent available, balanced with a fine mixture of youthful enthusiasm and veteran experience, although injuries in key areas blighted what should have been a far more successful campaign.
While the Eagles did manage to grab the NFC East title, they were the least convincing divisional winners with a 9-7 record. It could have been much worse, were it not for a superb four-game winning streak to conclude the regular season, earning a spot as wildcards in the post-season playoffs.
However, that’s where the 2019 campaign ended for the Eagles, defeated 17-9 by the Seattle Seahawks. The biggest setback of that game was the early injury suffered by Carson Wentz, yet the team still battled and were just a whisker away from making a comeback.
Despite what ultimately turned out to be a frustrating 2019 campaign, Eagles fans will undoubtedly be looking ahead to the 2020 NFL season with plenty of optimism. Although they’re not considered to be amongst the leading contenders to win the Super Bowl, many of the leading, legal sportsbooks operating in PA, listed here, have the Eagles priced as appetizing outsiders.
Points, Points, And More Points
If the Eagles are to harbor any Super Bowl ambitions this year, they will certainly need to put more points on the board. Last season Philly registered 367 points in total and averaged 22.9 points per game, and that placed them 18th in the overall NFL statistical rankings. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this isn’t anywhere near good enough to be considered authentic Super Bowl contenders, which means that scoring more points will be a priority in 2020.
Miles Sanders gave us an exciting glimpse of what he’s capable of during his rookie season. The Week 15 win against Washington was quite literally a Sanders showcase, when he became the first Eagles rookie to surpass 170 scrimmage yards, served up the first 100-yard rushing performance in two seasons, whilst also scoring rushing and receiving touchdowns. Fans will be hoping he can produce such displays consistently throughout the 2020 season.
That said, everyone else will need to weigh in too. Jordan Howard needs to produce a big season, having scored 7 touchdowns in 10 games last season. DeSean Jackson and JJ Arcega-Whiteside will be keen to improve their numbers, while the continued progress of Dallas Goedert should make for exciting viewing, if he can continue realizing his potential.
Keeping Carson Wentz Protected
This must be a major priority for the Eagles, because their franchise quarterback can serve up vital points on a silver platter. Last season Carson Wentz threw 4039 passing yards, completed 388 of 607 attempts, and contributed to 27 touchdowns. Those numbers were statistically amongst the best in the NFL in 2019, even during what otherwise proved to be a distinctly average season for the Eagles.
It goes without saying, Wentz will need to make his fair share of intelligent decisions during key plays, although he’ll also need plenty of protection whilst making those split-second decisions. While his focus will be throwing with the utmost efficacy possible, keeping his options open will be imperative for the offensive line to keep him safe. The Eagles can’t afford to lose him again, as happened in the playoffs.
Stay Stronger for Longer
One startling statistic from last season is that in three of their seven regular-season defeats in 2019, the Eagles blew leads in games that could just have easily been won. Some of those were even games in which the Eagles were in a commanding position, two touchdowns in the lead in the second half, only to blow everything and suffer humbling defeats.
That was never more apparent than early in the 2019 season, during a period in which the Eagles really should have been getting much better results. Instead, the slack start to last year’s campaign meant a frantic do or die approach towards the end of the regular season, which thankfully produced an excellent winning streak. However, that became a necessity following a dismal three-game losing streak.
Blowing leads is by no means pointing the finger of blame at the defensive unit, although they certainly play their part, disrupting rival plays and providing vital protection. This year, watching whether Andre Dillard can dominate at left tackle will be interesting. Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier in the need to score more points, the offensive unit will need to do their part too, maintaining focus and concentration, looking for every chance to kill games with more points on the board.
Will the Eagles Soar in 2020?
According to 2019 season predictions from ESPN, nothing less than another divisional title and reaching the playoffs will constitute a successful campaign for the Eagles. One advantage is that while other teams have been making wholesale changes, whether it’s new coaching teams or switching out numerous players, the Eagles already have the core of everything they need. This level of continuity could really matter this year, especially when the chips are down in tight games.
Fans will also be hoping that Carson Wentz gets to enjoy his first playoff win with the Eagles, if the 2020 season is to be considered successful, and that’s one of the minimum objectives for the campaign ahead. Can this Philly team repeat their successful 2017 Super Bowl triumph? While that’s perhaps an unrealistic ambition, pretty much everyone will be happy with a significant improvement on last season.
Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire