September 05, 2023
The countdown to Week 1 at New England is in its final days, and soon an entire spring and summer's worth of speculation, projections, and unbridled hype will be put to the test.
The Eagles' mission pretty much from the second their 2022 season ended was to make it all the way back to the Super Bowl, and win it this time, but even though the wait to start again was considerably shorter this time, that didn't necessarily make it any easier.
Philly's feeling anxious – especially with its sites on playoff baseball again as well.
But there isn't much longer.
Here's what they're saying about the Birds...
It's been Super Bowl ambitions across Philadelphia since pretty much the draft, but that's the highest a team can possibly go. What could the floor be for a team of the Eagles' current makeup?
Over at CBS Sports, Jeff Kerr tried to project a floor and a ceiling for all 32 NFL clubs, and this is how he gauged Philly:
Ceiling: 14-3, win Super Bowl
The Eagles arguably have the most talented roster in the NFL. starting with franchise quarterback Jalen Hurts and his top two wide receivers in A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Philadelphia still has the the best offensive line in the NFL, while revamping at running back with Rashaad Penny and D'Andre Swift. The offense is going to score points while being backed by a defensive line that finished with 70 sacks last season, and added Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith in the first round of the draft. Being able to keep the cornerback tandem of Darius Slay and James Bradberry was vital for the Eagles defense, which have new starting safeties in Reed Blankenship and Sydney Brown (or Terrell Edmunds). The Eagles seem primed to go back to the Super Bowl, thanks to all the star power at their disposal.
Floor: 11-6, lose in divisional round
As talented as the Eagles are, some concerns arise. The depth at off-ball linebacker is questionable with Nakobe Dean and Zach Cunningham (who was signed in August) starting and little depth behind them. The offense can't afford to have DeVonta Smith or A.J. Brown miss a significant amount of time, with no depth at outside receiver behind them. The depth behind the starting five on the offensive line isn't as deep as in years past. Injuries to key players could derail the Eagles' season, but this team should make another deep playoff run if their players stay healthy. [CBS Sports]
The quality of the roster, especially from within the trenches, has also drawn the praise of the crew over at PFF.
In their updated roster rankings of all 32 clubs ahead of Week 1, the Eagles were right there in the top spot.
Biggest strength in 2023: Trench play
The Eagles led the league in pass-blocking and pass-rush grades last year, making life easier for everyone around them. Their offensive line allowed Hurts to become an MVP-caliber dual threat. Their defense finished with the third-most sacks in NFL history during the regular season. Their units up front are loaded with stars such as Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Haason Reddick and Brandon Graham. While Javon Hargrave is a big loss on the defensive interior, Jalen Carter fell into the Eagles' lap in the draft. The offensive and defensive lines will keep this team competitive despite departures elsewhere.
Biggest weakness in 2023: Coverage between the numbers
There weren’t many consistent weaknesses for the Eagles in 2022, but their middle-of-the-field defenders were often exposed in big spots. The Super Bowl was a microcosm of this, as the Chiefs picked on Philly’s linebackers as well as Avonte Maddox in the slot. T.J. Edwards, the best player among the group, departed along with Kyzir White and safeties Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps. [PFF, $]
PFF went on to list Reed Blankenship, now one of the Eagles' starting safeties, and rookie pass rusher Jalen Carter as a couple of the key names to watch heading in, and overall, they see the Eagles easily exceeding an over/under win total of 11.5.
Super Bowl hangovers can be real, but the Eagles have the best quarterback in the NFC. They have dynamic weapons on offense. Nobody in the league is better in the trenches. There are sore spots in the middle of their defense, but they have as good a chance as anybody to get back to the Super Bowl. [PFF]
Longtime football columnist Peter King also has a strong belief in the Eagles, predicting that they'll end up winning Super Bowl LVIII by the end of it all over the Buffalo Bills out of the AFC.
Wrote King in his latest edition of Football Morning in America:
I’m buying Philly stock. I don’t think there’s a clear weakness on the Eagles. Corner depth, maybe. Backup quarterback. But the offensive line is top-three in the league, defensive-front-seven depth is unrivaled and the quarterback is about to take his place with Mahomes and Joe Burrow at the very top of the QB pantheon. There’s no reason why Jalen Hurts doesn’t pick up where he left off in the postseason: 34.7 points per game in three starts, eight TDs produced, one turnover, going shot-for-shot with Mahomes in the Super Bowl. I have a Philly-Dallas NFC title game, which could be epic. [NBC Sports]
I don't know about Dallas actually making it out of the divisional round though.
We'll wrap up with an in-depth look into the Eagles' decision to draft Jalen Carter, their research into his character concerns and off-the-field issues leading up to April, and in the end, what led them to the belief that their building – with the core veteran leaders in Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, and Lane Johnson –would be the place to help him realize all of his promise as a potential generational pass rusher.
Other veterans, meanwhile, have also been assisting Carter. Graham was one of the first people to approach Carter when he came into the building and was quick to show him the ropes. And Cox has been a constant in his ear.
"Fletch is a very good guy," Carter said. "He talks to me every day, calls me. Even when we were [on break] he was calling me every day, checking on my weight. He's been doing that ever since."
Cox and Graham are in the twilight of their careers. One of the reasons the Eagles brought them back for their 12th and 14th seasons, respectively, is to show the up-and-coming players how to attack their crafts. They have both legacy and another Super Bowl run on the line, double the reason to pour their energy into bringing the best out of Carter.
"I told him, I'm trying to get him paid for his family," Graham said, "so just make sure you come in and follow me, follow the guys because we've got a good group, and get to work." [ESPN]
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