The Comeback is previewing all 32 NFL teams from worst to first leading up to the start of the 2017 regular season on Sept. 7. Coming in at No. 18 on our rankings are the young-quarterback-dependent Philadelphia Eagles.
2016 in a nutshell: Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz was good (103.7 rating in the first four games of his career, with Philly going 3-1) and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz was bad (72.3 rating over the next 12 games, with Philly going 4-8). Quarterbacks matter.
What’s different: Wentz has better weapons now after the Eagles brought in former 1,000-yard receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. It also looks like third-year first-round wide receiver Nelson Agholor is finally putting it together this offseason, too.
Why they could be awesome: Wentz was one of the best quarterbacks in the league during the first month of the season, and he now has more support coming off his first full offseason.
Why they could suck: Wentz was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league for the majority of his rookie season, and Jeffery, Smith and Agholor are wild cards to various degrees. They also could have issues at running back and the secondary might still be a liability.
Major additions: Jeffery, Smith, reigning rushing touchdown leader and Super Bowl champ LeGarrette Blount, veteran defensive end Chris Long and former Buffalo Bills defensive backs Ronald Darby (whom they recently traded Jordan Matthews for) and Corey Graham. Also, rookie pass-rusher Derek Barnett has looked really good and fourth-round wideout Mack Hollins is off to a strong start.
Major losses: Matthews the receiver, as well as released veteran running back Ryan Mathews, plus veteran defensive linemen Bennie Logan and Connor Barwin and cornerbacks Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin.
— Thiago Scabbia (@TScabbia) August 18, 2017
Breakout watch: It’s all about Wentz, but he and Agholor are tied together. The 24-year-old caught just 52 percent of the passes thrown his way for 648 yards in his first two seasons, but he’s been getting rave reviews this offseason.
Position to watch: With Mathews gone, Blount looks like he’ll get the lion’s share of regular reps in the backfield, but he’s 30, he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last year and the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Jeff McLane pointed out recently that he “hasn’t exactly stood out” in camp.
Additionally, the Eagles have Darren Sproles, but he’s 34 and is more of a weapon in the receiving game. There’s also rookie fourth-rounder Donnel Pumphrey and second-year fifth-rounder Wendell Smallwood. Don’t be surprised if all of ’em get shots this season.
Prediction: The future looks bright for the majority of this roster, and they’re really stellar up front on defense. That said, I still don’t trust Wentz whatsoever. I mean, the guy was a train wreck for the majority of his rookie season and there are major concerns about his throwing mechanics and his footwork. In a tough division, that might be too much to overcome.
7-9, last place in the NFC East