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June 01, 2017

What they’re saying about the Eagles: Wentz will be NFL’s most improved QB in 2017

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It will be a pretty major disappointment for the Eagles if Carson Wentz isn’t able to take at least some step forward in 2017, but a group of national writers believes that Wentz should be up to the challenge.

Behind the paywall at ESPN Insider, NFL writers are answering questions as part of a season prediction series. On Wednesday, the specific question they tackled was, “Which QB will make the biggest leap forward in 2017?”

And wouldn’t you know, four of the six writers tabbed the venison-loving, education-hating, second-year Eagles quarterback as the league’s most improved signal caller in 2017:

Here was what Matt Bowen had to say about Wentz:

Eagles QB Carson Wentz is my pick after the flashes he showed as a rookie, along with the upgrades Philly made at wide receiver. Alshon Jeffery is a great fit for the Eagles' scheme, and Torrey Smith can still blow the top off the secondary with his vertical speed. Both players should facilitate more production from Wentz in his second season.

And this was Field Yates’ take:

Wentz must rectify his mechanics (which skidded downhill as a rookie), but there's plenty to like about his situation. The team beefed up the backfield by signing LeGarrette Blount, while also significantly improving its receiving corps.

I respect Aaron Schatz’s backhanded compliment, Jared Goff becoming the 31st-best starting quarterback would qualify as the biggest leap forward — Unlike Wentz, Goff didn’t really have any moments as a rookie where he looked the part of a top draft pick — but yeah, Wentz is a logical choice here. He made it through his rookie season, will have Lane Johnson back, saw the weapons upgraded around him, and had the whole offseason to study the film and see where his game broke down last season.

Eagles news and coverage at PhillyVoice

1.    Eagles chat: Buried in the middle of a bunch of Eagles OTA questions, the idea of Chip Kelly becoming the head football coach at Navy is amazing. You heard it here first!

2.    Practice notes: I’ll echo Jimmy’s sentiments and say that rookies Mack Hollins and Rasul Douglas looked decent in a practice without pads that doesn’t really mean anything.

3.    Schwartzy one and two: Jim Schwartz is a straight shooter, so it was encouraging to see him offer some praise for first-round pick Derek Barnett. But he certainly did some straight shootin’ when asked about the team’s defensive backs.

4.    Live by the...: Speaking of the defensive backs, that stats show that the 2016 Eagles went as far as their pass rush took them. In the second half of the season, it obviously wasn’t all that far.

5.    First of the month: If you’re still holding out for a Mychal Kendricks and Jason Kelce trade rumors, well, it’s probably easier for the Eagles to trade them now.

6.    One and done? You would be hard-pressed to find a negative review of the city of Philadelphia's role in hosting the 2017 NFL Draft back in April. And yet, the NFL appears to be packing it up and bringing it elsewhere in 2018. 

Other Eagles news, notes and analysis from around the web

Which players on each team have the most to prove in 2017? Tim McManus, ESPN

For McManus, the Eagles answer to this question was probably pretty simple:

Selected with the 20th overall pick in 2015, Agholor was considered one of the most pro-ready prospects in the draft, and few expected him to struggle the way he has. Agholor has compiled just 59 catches for 648 yards and three touchdowns over two seasons. Lacking production at the wide receiver spot, the Eagles signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency and spent a pair of picks on wideouts in the 2017 draft. Time is running out on the USC product. He needs to start producing.

Biggest remaining weak spot of each NFC team: Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com

Duh:

Is going cheap at cornerback the new moneyball? Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will have earned his money if this group performs adequately. The team essentially only returns Jalen Mills and Ron Brooks as key pieces and will need journeyman Patrick Robinson and rookie third-round pick Rasul Douglas to play quality snaps, or the whole secondary could fall apart.

Off-Season Report Cards: NFC East: Andy Benoit, The MMQB

Benoit only gave the Eagles a B-minus, but he felt that they had to get Wentz some help in the form of Alshon Jeffery:

Last season, to keep things manageable for their rookie QB, Pederson and his staff encouraged Wentz to get the ball out quickly. A guaranteed seven-yard completion was almost always preferable even to a very likely 20-yard completion. But make no mistake: Wentz has the arm, toughness and field vision to make those 20-yarders. He’s similar to Andrew Luck in his ability to extend plays. Jeffery makes it easier for Wentz to choose these spots.


Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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