This article is part of our Team Previews series.
The jury is out whether Philly adequately addressed its needs this offseason. Adding CB Darius Slay was nice, but questions loom on defense. The team also acquired several receivers, but Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson need to stay healthy. Still, the Eagles can compete for another division title.
- WR Marquise Goodwin (from 49ers)
Acquired for a fifth-round pick, he fills the team's need for speed.
- CB Darius Slay (from Lions)
The Eagles got one of the league's premier corners in "Big Play" Slay.
- WR Jalen Reagor (Rd. 1, No. 23 – TCU)
Top pick could start Week 1, acting as another deep threat.
- S K'Von Wallace (Rd. 4, No. 127 – Clemson)
May be in the mix for a consistent role in the secondary right away.
- RB Jordan Howard (to Dolphins)
His departure after one season in Philly makes it Miles Sanders' turn.
- WR Nelson Agholor (to Raiders)
The 2015 first-rounder never quite delivered; gets a fresh start in Vegas.
- S Malcolm Jenkins (to Saints)
The 12th-year vet never missed a game in six years with the organization.
- RB Darren Sproles (retired)
The do-it-all back cedes the change-of-pace role to Boston Scott.
A Look Under the Hood
Head Coach: Doug Pederson (Year 5)
Offensive Coordinator: None - West Coast Offense
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Schwartz (Year 5) - 4-3 scheme
2020 Vegas Projected Wins: 9.5 (T-5th)
2019 Record: 9-7
2019 Points Scored: 385 (12th)
2019 Points Allowed: 354 (15th)
2019 Point Differential: +31 (11th)
2019 Run-Play Rate: 41.2 percent (13th)
2019 Situation-Neutral Pace: 30.81 seconds per play (17th)
2019 Offensive Snaps: 1,104 (1st)
2019 PFF O-Line Ranking: No. 1
Projected 2020 Depth Chart
TE1: Zach Ertz
Kicker: Jake Elliott
Health on Offense Crucial to Divisional Repeat
The Eagles won the NFC East in 2019, and the key to a repeat will be the health of their skill-position players. Carson Wentz has been instrumental in winning two division crowns over the past three years, but he's been unable to finish any of those campaigns thanks to injuries. Perhaps this fact motivated GM Howie Roseman to use a 2020 second-round choice on Oklahoma signal-caller Jalen Hurts instead of going with another offensive weapon or upgrading the secondary.
Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson's health also will be highly important as the duo only played one full game together last season – and that was Week 1. Both wide receivers are on the wrong side of 30. Fortunately, the Eagles did add receivers this offseason, taking Jalen Reagor with a first-round pick and trading for Marquise Goodwin, among other moves.
With Jordan Howard gone, Miles Sanders will be expected to carry the load in the backfield without much on the depth chart behind him. On top of that, the team has two studs at tight end in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert – the pair have missed just two combined games since 2018, a trend that will need to continue.
The good news for Philadelphia is two of their NFC East opponents (the Giants and Redskins) are in full rebuild mode, leaving the Cowboys as the only major obstacle to another division title.
It's Sanders' Backfield Now
This should be Miles Sanders' year. In his rookie season, Saquon Barkley's understudy at Penn State rushed for 818 yards and added 509 more yards on 50 catches while suiting up for all 16 regular-season games.
With Jordan Howard missing all but one snap over the team's last eight contests (including postseason), Sanders stepped in and saw at least 49 snaps and 15 touches in all but two of those clashes, proving he could be the go-to guy. The team let Howard walk and didn't add any notable backs in the offseason, so coach Doug Pederson clearly is banking on Sanders to do most of the heavy lifting out of the backfield in 2020.
Darren Sproles retired and left the complementary role to Boston Scott, who was the only other RB on the team to see significant playing time after Howard went down. In each of the final five games, the 2018 sixth-round pick earned at least nine touches while topping 125 yards from scrimmage twice and scoring four touchdowns. Even more important for the versatile back, Scott came down with 26 of his 28 targets in that span.
At the bottom of the depth chart, Super Bowl LII hero Corey Clement didn't register a carry last year but was re-signed to give the group a player with knowledge of the system. After Clement, only one of Elijah Holyfield, Adrian Killins and Michael Warren will make the 53-man roster, at best.
A multi-faceted back, Miles Sanders has the ability to play all three downs. Whether he'll do so in 2020 is the question.
Questions Still Abound on Defense
Philadelphia made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason when they traded for cornerback Darius Slay and signed him to a three-year extension. The 29-year-old is an instant upgrade in the secondary.
On the other hand, the departure of strong safety Malcolm Jenkins leaves a big hole both on the field and in the locker room, and the Eagles' plan there and at the other CB spot seems to be throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.
Jalen Mills is the leading candidate to replace Jenkins but hasn't played safety in the past. Will Parks signed with his hometown team and will vie for the role, as will fourth-round pick K'Von Wallace, assuming he can pick up the scheme quickly enough. Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas disappointed as starting corners in 2019, so Trevor Williams and Nickell Robey-Coleman have joined the mix.
The line, which was already the deepest part of the defense, added Javon Hargrave at tackle. At the second level, though, there's a lack of experience at linebacker with Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill out the door. Enter the "sticky wall" strategy again with the arrival of Jatavis Brown, who will attempt to rebound from a lost 2019 and lead a crew of career reserves like Nate Gerry, Alex Singleton and Duke Riley. The team also drafted two at the position, most notably third-rounder Davion Taylor.
⬆️ Rising: RB Miles Sanders
In this space in consecutive campaigns, the 23-year-old is the lead dog in the Eagles' rushing attack after Jordan Howard left as a free agent. Sanders totaled more than 1,300 yards from scrimmage as a rookie in 2019.
⬇️ Falling: WR Alshon Jeffery
The ninth-year pro has played 16 games just once in the last five seasons and is coming off surgery for a Lisfranc tear that could land him on the PUP list to start the season. Trade rumors surround him as well.
😴 Sleeper: TE Dallas Goedert
Goedert finished behind only Zach Ertz on the team in receiving yards while the club led the NFL in usage of two tight-end sets last year. Philly's first pick from 2018 saw at least six targets in each of his final seven games.
🌟 Pivotal Player: Carson Wentz
Wentz is coming off a career-high 4,039 passing yards last season, playing in all 16 games for the first time since he was a rookie in 2016. The 27-year-old also broke 200 rushing yards (243, to be exact) for the second time. With a deeper receiving corps, Wentz will look to show the MVP caliber form he showed in 2017 prior to tearing his ACL.
Carson Wentz will aim to take the next step as a franchise QB with a beefed-up receiving corps.