May 22, 2023
It's a relatively quiet stretch in the NFL calendar and the Philly sports calendar as a whole, but that doesn't mean the Eagles aren't without a few bits of news and notes on the radar.
Their Autism Challenge 5K on Saturday withstood the rain and earned more than $6.2 million – and A.J. Brown rode away from it still in one piece. Nolan Smith signed his rookie contract Monday morning, OTAs are on the horizon, and the offensive line is back in the recording studio (ready for another Christmas album?).
There's been some more talk here and there on the Eagles' offseason and how the roster is shaping up too, so, without further ado, here's a bit of what they're saying...
Is it too early for power rankings? Of course.
Is that stopping anyone from making them? Absolutely not. Definitely not us.
Peter King over at NBC's Football Morning in America put his own together too, though what's interesting about his is that not only are the Eagles at the top, they're in a tier of their own entirely.
As the one and only team slotted under "Can't find a weakness," King wrote:
The Eagles averaged 34.7 points per game in the playoffs, have adequately compensated for losses of both coordinators, are not worse at any position (amazing on the defensive line, considering they had a 69-sack year last year and lost Javon Hargrave), have an offensive line that should keep upright a rising superstar QB-of-the-future at the top of his game, and will field two top-15 NFL wideouts entering their age-25 (DeVonta Smith) and age-26 (A.J. Brown) seasons. [NBC Sports]
And for reference: Kansas City at 2, Cincinnati at 3, San Francisco at 4, and Buffalo at 5 were listed right behind the Birds in the tier of "They've got Super Bowl vibes."
Howie Roseman's offseason – through free agency and then the draft – impressed from nearly anywhere you looked.
Pro Football Focus was no different, awarding the Eagles an A for an offseason grade as some of their key moves set them up for well into the future, not just this coming season.
The veteran portion of Philadelphia’s offseason was about retaining talent and minimizing the losses following their Super Bowl appearance. After looking like they were going to lose one and then the other of James Bradberry and Darius Slay, they somehow retained both — as well as Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham along the defensive line. There were losses, but by and large they are at spots the Eagles had already future-proofed a season ago.
In the draft, the Eagles worked magic and emerged from the first round with both Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith, elite defensive linemen on Georgia’s formidable defense. Their next three picks — offensive lineman Tyler Steen, safety Sydney Brown and cornerback Kelee Ringo — could all contribute early and future-proof positions for 2024 and beyond, at worst. The Eagles had another outstanding offseason. [PFF]
You have to take ESPN's analytics with a massive grain of salt right now, but with that said, their NFL Power Index does like the Eagles' Super Bowl odds.
In terms of overall team makeup, the Chiefs are still the top dog at No. 1, followed by the Bills in second, and then the Eagles in third. However, with the NFC being a relatively weaker conference compared to the AFC, ESPN projects the Eagles with the best chance of making it all the way back to the end at 14 percent.
The median AFC playoff team in our simulations is roughly 2.4 points per game better than the median NFC playoff team. That's a big reason Philadelphia leads Kansas City in Super Bowl chances, 14% to 13%. The Chiefs also face quite the gauntlet of a schedule in the regular season -- second toughest in the league, according to FPI -- which dampens their projections despite being the best team in football by almost a full point. The 49ers, Bills and Bengals round out the top five, while the Dallas Cowboys are the only other team above 5% (7%).
That the Eagles are the favorites at just 14% is an indication that this season is a little more wide open than most. FPI has made preseason predictions going back to 2015, and 14% is the second lowest for a favorite we've had in that time period. The 2016 Packers were just 12% favorites (lowest), while the 2017 Patriots were at 32%, the strongest by a massive margin. (We've altered the model a few times in that period, so it's not a direct apples-to-apples comparison.) [ESPN]
The Eagles made risky but highly calculated trades and signings, then carried that approach into the draft to the point where they walked away as arguably a better team than they were in the Super Bowl.
Of course, at this time of the year, that's just all projection and carries no guarantee that things will actually turn out that way in a few months.
But the pieces are absolutely there, the talent is absolutely there, and if everything actually does work out? Oh boy, look out.
The Eagles will have at least seven new starters in 2023, and while they have some very promising options, it’s important to remember 1) [Nakobe Dean] played 34 snaps as a rookie, 2) [Nick Morrow] ranked 38th on Pro Football Focus last year among 42 off-ball linebackers who played 750 snaps, 3) [Terrell Edmunds] had the 55th-highest defensive passer rating among 68 safeties targeted at least 20 times, 4) [Sydney Brown] is still an unknown rookie, 5) [Reed Blankenship] looked solid but his resume is still only 4 ½ games long, 6) [Jalen Carter] has much to prove as the 9th pick, 7) [Cam Jurgens] played one snap last year at right guard and 8) [Rashaad Penny] and [D'Andre Swift] are both gifted but have both been plagued by injuries, and as impressive as Kenny Gainwell has been, he’s still had only a handful of big games. Now, this is all natural for a Super Bowl team and a team that just locked up its superstar quarterback to a long-term deal. Things are going to change and you have to rely on some younger, cheaper players. But all the new starters are loaded with potential, and Howie Roseman has done a terrific job replacing everyone the Eagles lost. Still, there’s no guarantee they’ll all play at the same level as the guys who left. It’s a lot of change. A lot of projection. A lot of question marks. And you can make the case that it’s not a lock the Eagles have gotten better at any particular position. But if they all work out? If the new guys all turn out to be what the Eagles think they are? Look out. [NBCSP]
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