July 25, 2016
The basketball team is young, and for the first time in a long time, has some real, tangible promise.
The hockey team is also young, being run by a former player in a way different from almost all of his predecessors, and already half decent with plenty of talent in the pipeline.
The baseball team has a few intriguing young bats, even more intriguing young arms, and the combination of a prospect pool and balance sheet that strongly hints at a return to contention.
The soccer team is in the thick of a playoff race, too. Their shared problem is, in this rabid sports town, that none of them are the Eagles. Take it from the Inquirer’s Bob Ford:
For most of the Philadelphia sports scene, however, the sun is about to be blotted about, and there's absolutely nothing that can be done about it. The giant approaches. The ground shakes. Trees split and fall. Dogs howl in the night. The Eagles begin training camp Monday.
Yes, the oxygen is about to become thin for the others, consumed in great gulps by the football team. There are big questions that must be answered. Will Doug Pederson's jaw line turn out to be the sharpest thing about him? Will Carson Wentz throw a football through the eye of a needle while square dancing? Are Rodney McLeod and Leodis McKelvin actually the same person?
The Eagles aren’t expected to make a ton of noise this season, but that doesn’t matter every time August rolls around in what has and will likely always be a pro football city. The NFL is here and we’re all about to be consumed by it.
1. Training Camp Preview: Missed all of Jimmy’s preview series? Well, shame on you for not giving us those pageviews. But for your convenience, all of the analysis has been dumped into one post.
2. MBT, Part Deux: The Eagles made three depth signings right before training camp.
The Eagles can make the playoffs if...: Les Bowen, Philadelphia Daily News
One of Bowen’s “ifs” has to do with the health of second-year linebacker Jordan Hicks (who made the cut on #PhillyRank). The linebacking corps has serious boom or bust potential:
Hicks is one of the most impressive Eagles rookies I've covered. A leader and a playmaker, now a 4-3 middle linebacker, playing behind a Wide 9 front. If he's for real, the defense probably works. But just for good measure, make 2(a) If Jim Schwartz really is a defensive genius, and 2(b) If the biggest reason the 2015 defense collapsed really was the inability of Chip Kelly's offense to stay on the field.
Eagles Wake-Up Call: Stoutland On State of the Offensive Line: Tim McManus, Birds 24/7
Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is confident that Jason Peters can regain some of the old form he lost in 2015:
While the unit appears to be in much better shape overall, so much hinges on whether the 34-year-old Jason Peters can stay on the field and play at a high level. Stoutland was asked if Peters is still an elite left tackle in the NFL.
“Yes he is. I say that with a lot of confidence,” Stoutland responded. “Jason was a little banged up last year but fought through it all but really wasn’t himself. He’s back to being extremely healthy and in great shape and had a really good spring.”
Reuben Frank's way-too-early 2016 Eagles predictions: Reuben Frank, CSN Philly
Frank sees the Birds going 7-9:
That said, I like Bradford more than most people. I think he’s an adequate NFL starter. But I don’t like his TD-INT ratio and don’t think he can generate enough points against good teams to get the Eagles beyond mediocre. I think the Eagles are missing the elite offensive weapons and defensive playmakers to be a playoff team. In this division, who knows? If the Eagles can go 4-2 in the division and scratch out five wins in their 10 games out of the gate, it could be enough to win the NFC East. But ultimately, I think they’ll fall short. Too many question marks. Too many areas that just aren’t good enough. Too many unknowns with Doug Pederson.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann