In a recent ESPN article, Bill Barnwell ranked the Eagles’ 30th out of the 32 teams in terms of offensive triplets (Quarterback plus 2 skills position players RB/WR/TE), noting that “the offense’s relative strength is depth as opposed to top-level talent”. Only the Browns and the 49ranked worse; but will the Eagles offense take flight, or be grounded in the 2016 season.
There’s only one place to start and that’s with the Quarterback position, and a depth chart that could flip flop all season long. After signing a 2 year contract in the off-season it appeared that Sam Bradford would get another shot to prove he can be a Franchise QB this season, but with the off-season acquisitions of Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz, his place is by no means secure; despite what the Philadelphia coaches say. Despite his improvement in the second half of the season, there is concern as to whether this is the real Bradford when in previous seasons he has failed to show his durability and, to some extent, talent that was displayed in College. It says a lot that the last 8 games of the 2015 season are some of the best football Bradford has ever played, but I severely doubt his ability to stay healthy and think the Eagles will be getting a QB who will be playing for his NFL future, but expect some sub-standard play for the majority of the season, if he doesn’t get injured along the way.
At Running Back it all looks a bit grim in the short term with injury-prone Ryan Mathews atop the depth chart who admittedly did show some flashes last season and can be serviceable back when not on the treatment table. Darren Sproles once again proved useful in a 3rd down pass-catching role, but Father-Time is not on his side at 33 years old now. There are certainly worse running games in the NFL right now, looking at you Cleveland, but I wouldn’t expect anything game-breaking from these two. Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner appear to be nice projects who could pay off if Mathews gets injured, but still very unproven they’re far from sure things to be successful.
In terms of receivers, once again it’s a case of mediocrity again, with Jordan Matthews a very good receiver, but whether he would be a Number 1 on most teams is up for debate. And at Tight End Zach Ertz is definitely above average now his blocking has improved. But after those two there’s a steep drop-off with the Reuben Randle, Nelson Agholor and Brent Celek representing fairly below average options further down the depth chart. Randle was ok as a number 2 in New York, but it can be easier when the receiver opposite you is arguably the best in the league with Odell Beckham Jr; he’ll be under a bit more scrutiny in Philadelphia. Agholor’s situation is different, he was targeted as a player to watch last season, but ultimately disappointed with just 283 yards and 1 TD last season, and appears to face an uphill struggle to turn it around in 2016.
The prospects for the Eagles offense do look fairly bleak in the short term, with Bradford a lame duck at QB who may not live up to the performances he put in last season, and injury prone Running Back and a sub-standard receiving corps. The Eagles won’t win too many shootouts this year, however with Wentz learning the tricks of the trade, some promising young Running Backs in the organisation and a new Head Coach, there’s definitely reason for optimism in the not too distant future.
Blake is a Washington Redskins fan after getting into NFL in 2012 to further his American Sports obsession. When he’s not shouting “You Like That!” in the winter, he plays/manages the Birmingham Outlaws and watches the Washington Nationals; and mixes in watching Bath City. Follow him on twitter @FinneyBlake.
(Photo of Darren Sproles copyright NFL.com)