Questions About the Eagles Heading into Training Camp

Questions About the Eagles Heading into Training Camp
With the Eagles beginning training camp this week, there is a lot of optimism and justifiably so.
 
After last year’s second round playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Eagles have undergone significant change, something commonplace in the NFL.
 
There is a lot of time between now and the Eagles opener on Sept. 8 at Lincoln Financial Field against the Washington Redskins.
 
Here are some questions facing the Eagles heading into camp.
 
1. Are the Eagles viable Super Bowl contenders?
Of course they are. One can make the argument that this is a deeper team that won it following the 2017 regular season. Offensively, this team has never had more weapons. The defense has more questions, but there are still several big-play performers on that side of the ball including tackle Fletcher Cox and safety Malcolm Jenkins. For the Eagles to be true contenders, the key will be question No. 2.
 
2. Can Carson Wentz stay healthy?
Wentz’s recent injury history is well documented. He missed the final three regular season games and the postseason with an ACL injury in 2017, the year the Eagles won the Super Bowl.
 
Last season he missed the first two games while still recovering from the knee injury and then the final three games and the postseason with a back injury.
 
After seeing Wentz during the OTAs, this reporter, just like many other observers, came away impressed with how good he looked.
 
Then again, OTA’s and actual action are two different things. It is likely that Wentz won’t see much action in the preseason.
 
The Eagles coaching staff has been preaching to Wentz to take fewer chances, throw the ball away more instead of taking hits and run out of bounds instead of taking on tacklers. The Eagles don’t want to cut his aggressive attitude, but also don’t want him taking so much punishment. It will be something that will be watched all year, but the bottom line is that if he remains healthy, Wentz will be an MVP candidate and the Eagles a Super Bowl candidate.
 
3. What is the biggest worry on defense?
Generating a pass rush. Chris Long retired and the Eagles traded Michael Bennett. The two combined for 15.5 sacks last season. Cox, who is coming off a foot injury, had a team-high 10.5 sacks. He is one of the best players in football, but how well he rebounds from his injury will be a major storyline. Brandon Graham had just four sacks, but even though he played all 16 games, Graham was playing on an ankle that didn’t appear to be 100 percent. Defensive end Derek Barnett, who was limited to six games to a shoulder injury. Newcomer Malik Jackson should be a formidable tandem at tackle with Cox, but getting a pass rush from the outside will be the key.
 
4. What about the secondary?
There are concerns there also. Jenkins is a fixture. Safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback Ronald Darby are coming off injuries and corner Sidney Jones only appeared in nine regular season games. If all are healthy, that is a solid secondary. Plus with youngsters like Avonte Maddox and Rasul Douglas, there could be some depth, but it all hinges on health.

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Then again the is the story of the Eagles season and quite frankly, it’s the same for all NFL teams.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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