The Eagles offense looks explosive, but a dream offseason could blow up in their face

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – OCTOBER 31: Tennessee Titans Wide Receiver A.J. Brown (11) carries the ball up the field during the NFL football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts on October 31, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles have had an offseason of dreams. They have a dominant wide receiver tandem, have built a real base for development on defense, and have done all they can to provide Jalen Hurts with a platform to succeed. But is it a little short-sighted?

In the grander scheme of things, this makes no sense. The Eagles have built their roster extremely well, have two first-round picks next year and now have a plethora of exciting young talent to develop. But when it comes to the wide receiver position, something doesn’t quite click.

*Before reading on, please understand that it is the end of June, Eagles Training Camp is months away, and I have to find things to write about. Unfortunately, I overthink a lot and end up diving down rabbit holes like this one. The A.J Brown trade was a fantastic one, but not all that glimmers is gold and it’s just an element of the move I wanted to explore.

The A.J Brown trade

The A.J Brown trade sent Eagles twitter into the stratosphere and understandably so. He’s easily one of the best wideouts in the game, is still only 25-years-old, and will now have a few years to grow alongside his best friend Jalen Hurts, and former first-round pick DeVonta Smith. You couldn’t ask for more if you’re an NFL QB, during the NFL Draft, giving Smitty a dream running-mate.

The only worry is that the Eagles are paying him a lot of money, and he himself drew a team-leading 105 targets, while the second-highest amount on the team was a lowly 56. Smitty drew a team-leading 103 targets in 2021. That’s 27 more than the man who had the second-most on the team, Dallas Goedert. We can expect that number to take a tumble in 2022.

The Eagles offense has a problem

If we assume that Jalen Hurts has an uptick in passing attempts this year, the ball still has to be spread between Smitty, Brown, Goedert, Watkins/Pascal, and running backs. Smith and Brown were both clearly dominant WR1’s in 2021. They’ll now have to complement each other and likely be okay with a likely sizeable drop in their production.

Does all of this matter if the offense ends up blowing defenses out of the water? Not really so long as everyone is on the same page. That can be hard when ego’s come into play. To play a Golden State style of basketball requires seflessness of the utmost degree. We saw what happens when the blueprint is the same but the execution is off during the Alshon Jeffery era.

Endless reports critiquing QB play surfaced, and it became very clear that several players were unhappy with how the ball was/wasn’t being spread out. That’s not to say that history will repeat itself, but you now have 3 very dangerous receiving targets, all of whom could ascend to the pinnacle of their games if they became dominant #1 candidates. It’s unlikely anyone gets the chance in this offense. This is without the fact that Jalen Hurts is yet to prove he can take that step up. We all want him to, but if his accuracy doesn’t improve, it’s only going to further complicate things.

Payday will be interesting

DeVonta Smith’s rookie deal will expire after the 2025 season, with a fifth-year option taking it to 2026, the same year that Brown’s new deal expires. It’s easy to say after year one that the rise of Smitty should lead to big-time money. But if he feels that his game would be elevated without another WR1 opposite him staggering his target-share, could you blame the former Heisman-winner for wanting to bet on himself?

The Eagles have paid A.J Brown $100M, rewarding him for his thunderous NFL career up to this point. But with DeVonta Smith alongside already putting up over 900 yards as a rookie, there is a chance could both A) Put a glass ceiling over Smith’s prodcution trajectory and B) mean that by the time Brown’s deal expires, the Eagles won’t be able to justify that kind of money for a wideout who’s now having seasons that don’t pop off the stat sheet anywhere near as much.

There’s a lot that chan and likely will change between now and that fateful 2026 offseason. But if we assume that neither wideout will be able to better their 2021 numbers so long as they’re tied together and sharing targets, frustrations could soon start to flare up if the Eagles don’t start taking significant steps towards returning to the Super Bowl.

Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire