The Philadelphia Eagles are getting quite a bit of attention during the offseason. Different pundits have already picked Philly to win the NFC East in 2022 and possibly even make a little noise in the playoffs. Pro Football Focus ranked the Eagles seventh among all 32 NFL rosters. But is this Philly hype deserved?
As someone who’s been called a Philly hater, I’ve got to admit I’m buying into the Eagles upsetting the order of balance in the NFC this season. And that’s based on the progression of Jalen Hurts. I think we’re going to see a significant leap forward by Hurts in Year 2 as the full-time starter and second year under head coach Nick Siriani. A leap that should win Philly an NFC East title.
Will the weight hurt Jalen’s shoulders?
Hurts passed for less than 210 yards per game last season for a total of 3,144 yards in 15 games. Those stats will undoubtedly need to increase if Hurts plans to take the next step in his maturation as QB1.
I’m not saying Hurts is at the point where the Eagles can live off his arm like the Chiefs do with Patrick Mahomes or even the Cowboys do with Dak Prescott. Philly needs to trust Hurts in passing more often. He averaged about 28 pass attempts per game last season. They need to get him into the 32-34 attempts per game range.
Prescott and Mahomes averaged 37 and 38 attempts for their teams in 2021, respectively. I don’t think Hurts should be throwing to that degree, but Siriani’s offense needs to have him approaching those numbers. It’s great that he can make plays with his legs, but in a passing league, more games will come down to what he can do with his arm rather than his feet.
Adding a legit WR1 in A.J. Brown in an offseason trade with the Tennessee Titans can only help, as will the maturation of second-year receiver Devonta Smith.
Defense can still win championships
The defense is another important aspect for these Eagles. Their defense ranked 10th in total yards allowed last year. Where the defense will need to improve is in the takeaway department. Philly finished in the bottom third of teams with 16 forced turnovers in 17 games.
In a league where nearly half the teams are averaging more than 25 ppg, your defense needs to create more than one turnover a game to have a real chance of winning consistently, especially if you don’t have an elite QB.
The Eagles didn’t do much in free agency, but they managed to sign outside linebacker Haason Reddick away from the Carolina Panthers. Reddick recorded 23.5 sacks over the past two seasons in Carolina and Arizona. Philly can use help in that department, recording just 29 sacks in 2021, ranking 31st. So, this team can use all the pass-rush help it can find.
While the Eagles were pretty good defensively in terms of yardage, there’s obviously room for improvement. Philly went defense in the first round of the draft, taking interior defensive lineman Jordan Davis from Georgia. Jordan is already impressing in Eagles offseason workouts and could be a major contributor to the defense in his rookie year. Bulldogs teammate Nakobe Dean fell to the Birds in round three.
An easy schedule should help
Another big plus on the side of the Eagles is their strength of schedule. The Eagles have nearly the easiest schedule in multiple rankings. The Athletic has the NFC East ranked 29-32 in strength of schedule for the ’22-23 season.
So, there isn’t any good reason why the Eagles can’t win this horrid division. The Dallas Cowboys should be the only team to worry about, and they haven’t won back-to-back division titles since the ’90s. The division is there for the taking. I think the Eagles will win the NFC East this year with a 10-7 record.
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