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If you read my preview for the 2017 NFL season then you know I’m high on the Philadelphia Eagles.  I picked them to make the post season and contend with Dallas for the NFC East.  This is a 10 – 11 win team.  Carson Wentz has already proven to be worth the five draft picks it cost the Eagles to grab him 2nd overall in 2016.  He had a solid rookie season throwing over 3,700 yards with 16 TDs and 14 INT.  I believe the touchdowns will increase significantly and the interceptions will go down to single digits.

He threw two TDs and one pick that was tipped at the line while passing for over 300 yards in a Week 1 victory over division rival Washington Redskins.  Wentz is smart, athletic and has a great arm.  He’s also a tough kid who’s not afraid to take a lick in the pocket.  If the interceptions decrease, the wins will increase.

To help the signal caller keep the ball out of the defenders’ hands are 2 new toys for Carson to throw to who can both take it to the house on any given play.  Veterans Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith figure to help the running game and give Wentz open looks over the middle for slot receiver Nelson Agholor who racked up 86 yards and a TD in the season opener.  They also have an elite tight end in Zach Ertz who has really come into his own.  He grabbed eight passes for 93 yards against Washington this past Sunday.

The Eagles weapons are helped out big time by a big time offensive line.  Guys like All-Pro Jason Peters at LT, Jason Kelce at C and RT Lane Johnson anchor an excellent O-Line that allows plays to develop and gives the 2nd year stud QB time to get rid of the ball to all those weapons.

A few weapons I haven’t mentioned are the newcomer at running back LeGarrette Blount, who at the very least puts fear into opposing defenses and is a goal line monster.  He actually led the league in rushing TDs with 18 playing for the Patriots last year.  He didn’t get off to a great start in his debut but he’ll be a player that defenses will worry about.  A change up to the monster back is the mighty mouse of the NFL a.k.a. Darren Sproles.  This guy continues to make plays and when the game is on the line he’s in the lineup.  He’s a total force catching passes out of the backfield.  He’s so reliable, so smart and is still a speedster.  I expect Philly to be near the top on offense this season.

I spoke a lot about the offense because that is the focal point of the team.  Also, former quarterback and current head coach of the Eagles, Doug Pederson is prone to focus on the offense given his background.  Luckily he has Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator who himself didn’t pan out well as a head coach but fits the DC position very well.  After Schwartz was fired as HC of the Detroit Lions, he was hired almost immediately by the Buffalo Bills to be their defensive coordinator.  That season in 2014 the Bills led the NFL in sacks and had one of the best defenses statistically in the league.  Now in his 2nd season with Philly and more familiar with his players and scheme, we should see the Eagles near the top of the league in defense as well.  Hmmm, this sounds like a playoff team.

Schwartz has some solid defenders to work with like the big man in the middle at DT Fletcher Cox and safety Malcolm Jenkins who are perennial pro bowlers at very important positions.  Some names you may not know but will by midseason are a guy like Timmy Jernigan who helps Cox man the inside of the D-Line.  Brandon Graham is a nice pass rusher who notched a couple of sacks on Kirk Cousins and forced a fumble during Sunday’s win.  He will get plenty 1 on 1 looks to get to the quarterback.  Jordan Hicks is a linebacker capable of making big plays as he snatched 5 interceptions in 2016.  He’s a young player who goes after the ball carrier without fear and is clearly on the rise in the NFL.

The secondary is young for the most part but talented.  We all know Malcolm Jenkins is an excellent player and he’ll be assisted by 2nd-year cornerback Jalen Mills who claimed his first interception as a pro football player against Washington in week 1.  The Eagles are also expecting 3rd year CB Ronald Darby to bring his game to another level.

So overall things are looking really good for the immediate future of the Philadelphia Eagles organization.  I don’t think they’re a Super Bowl contender at the moment but in a couple of years and a couple more playmakers, I believe the birds will take flight to a championship game near you!

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