Remember when we as Eagles fans all collectively hated Heath Evans because he thought Chip was a fraud…
Well, err, sorry Heath, looks like you were spot on in your analysis. I sort of like Heath now that he’s not publicly crushing my head coach and he actually makes some valid points on why he’s bullish on the Eagles in 2017.
Wentz in Year 2.
Big name WRs added in free agency.
Can the Eagles make the playoffs in 2017?
— NFL (@NFL) June 1, 2017
The point I always forget about, in regards to last year, is the fact that the Eagles were a completely different football team with Lane Johnson in the lineup last season. Evans correctly points out that the team was 5-1 with him starting last year, and sure you could throw away the Dallas game, but then do you throw away the Lions game too? The Eagles are a pointless Ryan Mathews fumble away from winning that football game and being undefeated in games with Johnson at RT.
Lane is also on the record saying that this Eagles offensive line could be the best in football. While that’s a little much, he’s not wrong on them being a really strong unit heading into the season. What makes them so good on paper is that, unlike two years ago, they have solid depth everywhere along the line where they can plug guys in if they go down.
It really seems like all the analysts are expecting a huge leap forward from Carson Wentz with a whole offseason to get ready to start and with the additions the Eagles made in the offseason. I hope he takes that leap, but I’m sort of reserved in this for right now. The OTA reports haven’t been glowing for Carson and the same problems that haunted him last year are reportedly still there. Again, this is OTA’s, but there can still be some things that you take away from them.
As Evans stated, this all comes down to the defense and really the corners. What I feel like no one is really talking about on a national scale is the defensive line improvements. This season they won’t be trying to force Connor Barwin into a 4-3 end and they brought in guys specifically designed for this kind of defense. Hopefully Brandon Graham can continue his strong play off of last season, which is less of a given then people think it is. Maybe Fletcher Cox can recover from the three days of OTA’s he skipped. Timmy Jernigan is going to be better at getting to the QB than Bennie Logan was, which should take less pressure off of Cox, thus making him more dangerous. And finally, Derek Barnett, Chris Long and a reduced role Vinny Curry should take care of the rest. Barnett is going to make an impact immediately. That’s my gut feeling. He’s going to make an impact and we’re all going to collectively saying to ourselves, “Ohhhh SHIT.”
The reinforcements along the line SHOULD make the job of the corners a lot easier and as long as they aren’t historically bad they shouldn’t affect the game too much. A Schwartz defense is predicated on the line and this will be about as good of a line, from a pass rushing standpoint, as you could ask for.