No matter who you talk to – past players, NFL Analysts, or coaches, almost everyone is talking about the Eagles‘ schedule. Coming off a 9-8 record that saw the team roll through week after week of bad teams, the 2022 schedule might be even more forgiving for the Eagles.
The hardest schedule of games has Philadelphia at home for both games, with the rest of their own division having major questions from a roster construction perspective.
So what does this mean? Should Eagle fans expect a minimum of 12 games? Why bother worrying about the schedule now while we’re two months away from any pre-season games even starting?
For most of the Philadelphia faithful, last season showed Hurts deserved another year as the Eagles starting QB and face of the franchise. Leading a team that won just four games the year prior to the playoffs is beyond impressive.
Of course, Hurts does have his detractors. His limitations as a passer was shown in the team’s lone playoff game against Tampa Bay, and his success was usually against very weak defenses.
This year, there are no excuses. The Eagles’ front office gave all their resources to add talent around Hurts, and the coaching staff is the same as last season (something Hurts has never had since high school). That stability shows that Philadelphia is behind Hurts. Now he has to go prove it.
To his credit – Hurts is well aware of the pressure that is on him.
It also helps that Philadelphia will be playing a lot of mediocre defenses this year.
Of the 17 defenses the Eagles will see this year (counting division opponents twice), nine of them ranked in the bottom 12 for points allowed. A whopping 11 of them were in the bottom half of the league in yards allowed. Only four squads were in the top 10 in yards allowed, and five were tops in the league in points allowed.
What does this mean? The Eagles’ offense has enough weapons, and they are playing a lot of mediocre defenses that Jalen Hurts should absolutely show massive improvements from last season.
Fans across the country can debate what they think is the ceiling for Jalen Hurts. In reality, the fanbase will be able to finally see just what they have with the former Oklahoma QB by the end of the year.
While many people can look at the pure numbers of the Eagles’ defense last year, the eye test showed a defense that was slow, inconsistent, and flat-out terrible against top QBs. A lot of the questions this offseason turned not just to the development of Jalen Hurts but the development of the Eagles’ defense.
Many Gannon defenders claimed that the DC did as much as he could with the talent he was given. That is fair to a point. The Eagles got career years out of Avonte Maddox and Josh Sweat while still being young players. But it’s clear the defense was lacking in both talent and schematics.
With additions like Haason Reddick, Jordan Davis, and Nakobe Dean, Gannon’s excuse of a lack of talent is no longer acceptable. Even with questions in the secondary, a stronger front seven should give Gannon the ability to develop younger talent into quality starters.
Like Hurts, it helps that the Eagles’ schedule is very team-friendly on paper.
Of the 17 opponents, the Eagles will face ten offenses that ranked in the bottom 12 last season. They only play legitimately five offenses that were in the top 12 of yards. Not exactly a strong list of names.
While people can point out the improvement of the New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions, and Jacksonville Jaguars on offense, it’s also fair to point out the Eagles play a Cardinals team that won’t have DeAndre Hopkins, a Cowboys offense that no longer has Amari Cooper and a Green Bay offense without Devante Adams.
Having the right players to fit a scheme is important. Last year, Gannon didn’t have that. It’s clear this offseason has been dedicated to adding to that talent pool.
The excuses are gone for Gannon, and the defense must show massive improvements with this schedule now.
What about Nick Sirianni?
It’s an interesting question. Why isn’t Sirianni under the same pressure as his QB or DC?
In reality, after a 4-11-1 season, a terrible opening press conference, and odd locker room speeches, it’s clear Sirianni has done more than enough to warrant a few years as Eagles head coach: more so than his employees.
Sirianni showed last year that he can change his offense in a flash to be able to maximize the roster’s skillset. Not even Doug Pederson showed he could do that.
When Jalen Hurts went down with an ankle injury last year, Gardner Minshew was called upon, and again, the Eagles changed their offensive scheme for a week and ended up winning. Sirianni’s shown his ability to adapt and get the best of his players. While some players on the Eagles’ defense improved (Maddox, Epps, Sweat), there wasn’t enough from an overall unit to give Gannon that same pass.
Sirianni’s job seems safe for 2022. But it’s clear his QB and Defensive Coordinator will have all eyes on them when the season opens.