The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t content with a Wild Card bid.
The Eagles pushed the clock forward on what seemed to be an arduous rebuild by making it to the postseason last fall. Philadelphia had absorbed a then-record $63.7 million in dead salary cap space simply to rid itself of Carson Wentz before the 2021 season. Then, led by a young roster and facing a weak schedule, the team took care of business. Nine wins and a playoff spot later, the Eagles declared themselves a possible problem for the remaining of the NFC.
But Philadelphia was a dismissible evil, as its not-especially-close one-and-done postseason loss to the Buccaneers proved. General manager Howie Roseman wasn’t going to let that stand through the 2022 offseason. He’s made splashy acquisitions to wrap up winter and welcome spring. In the method, he’s taken his franchise from a +450 early underdog to unseat the Dallas Cowboys within the NFC East to a worthy +175 contender to Dak Prescott’s throne, per Tipico.
Within the span of three months, here’s what he’s done so as to add firepower to his playoff armada:
- re-signed Jason Kelce so he can end his profession in Philadelphia while drafting his alternative, Cam Jurgens
- signed Haason Reddick and re-signed Derek Barnett to bring stability to an inconsistent pass rush
- replaced Alex Singleton (12.7 percent missed tackle rate, 111.4 passer rating allowed in coverage) with Kyzir White (5.3 percent missed tackle rate, 88.1 rating allowed) at linebacker
- traded considered one of his three 2022 first round picks to the Saints for a smattering of worthwhile selections that sets Philly up for one more draft with multiple Day 1 selections in 2023
- traded one other 2022 first round pick to the Tennessee Titans to amass AJ Brown, who then signed a 4 yr, $100 million extension to remain on the town
- traded up in the primary round to draft Jordan Davis, a 341-pound defensive lineman able to beefing up an aging group within the trenches and in addition the fastest big man in Mix history
- drafted Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean, an expected first round pick, within the third round after injury concerns caused Dean’s stock to plummet
- signed James Bradberry, a 2020 Pro Bowler, to beef up his aging secondary after the Giants released him earlier this offseason.
These are all superb things. The Eagles bring back everyone from a top five offensive line. A pass rush that ranked Thirty first within the league in sacks got reinforcements along the sting and the sort of pocket-crumpling, gap-shooting interior line help to make their lives easier.
Opposing quarterbacks crushed Philadelphia with short-range targets, completing nearly 70 percent of their passes due to the league’s lowest goal depth (6.4 yards downfield — Thirty first-ranked Buffalo clocked in at 7.0). Upgrading from Singleton to White helps that cause. So will Dean every time he’s available to step into the lineup.
Bringing Bradberry into the fold adds one other capable defender to the secondary. That group was a deterrent that kept opponents from taking shots downfield due to the outstanding play of Darius Slay and Anthony Harris. Each those guys will probably be 31 years old this season. Adding a younger choice to help carry the load must be a rising tide for the Eagles’ ships.
Finally there’s Brown, who football scholars will note is superb at this. The 24-year-old wideout combines all the person strengths of Philadelphia’s existing wideouts and rolls them right into a single player who commands double coverage.
He can chop up cornerbacks near the road of scrimmage and explode for giant gains after the catch like Jalen Reagor was expected to, as evidenced by his 972 yards-after-catch in 2019 and 2020. He may be the deep threat DeVonta Smith proved to be as a rookie — his 11.3 yards before catch in ’19 matches up nicely with Smith’s 10.9 last fall. He has the large body to interrupt tackles and scoot upfield like Dallas Goedert, as shown in his 13 broken tackles in 14 games in 2020.
That will probably be vital for the event of Jalen Hurts (or, if you should be difficult, Gardner Minshew, though Hurts is totally the Eagles’ top option). Hurts’ third season as a professional will likely determine his fate. He’s a viable mobile quarterback, but isn’t yet a franchise cornerstone due to a passing game that has yet to match the efficiency of his legs.
Hurts ranked sixteenth out of 31 qualified starting quarterbacks last season in expected points added per play. His Completion Percentage Over Expected (CPOE), which measures throw quality by measuring the throws a median NFL quarterback is fairly expected to make vs. his actual completions (using the league’s Next Gen Stats framework), paints him as 2021’s 18th-best quarterback. His CPOE of minus-0.2 significantly trailed league leader Joe Burrow’s 6.0.
Even when he’s just a median passer it’s a step up from the small sample size of his rookie 2020. Hurts’ CPOE that season was a rough minus-3.4 as he was outperformed by non-stars like Drew Lock, Joe Flacco, and Nick Foles. Between 2020 and 2021 he upped his completion rate from 52 percent to 61.3 percent while keeping his average pass distance roughly the identical. That’s a function of an upgraded receiving corps led by Smith and Goedert, nevertheless it’s also a testament to the young quarterback’s growth.
Roseman is counting on one other season of improvement and has gone out of his technique to ply him with the quarterback’s equivalent of protein powder. Adding Brown to the receiving mix means Hurts could have viable options for at every level on any given down. Most significantly, his rising wideout corps gives him the chance to hone the deep ball issues which have held him back early in his profession; per Sports Information Solutions, he ranked twenty fourth amongst qualified quarterbacks last season after completing only 22 of his 57 attempts (38.6 percent) of throws that traveled 20+ yards downfield.
The Eagles made it to the playoffs in 2021 but beat zero of the 13 other teams that joined them within the postseason. That they had one win over a franchise with a winning record and it was the Trevor Siemian-led Saints. It was easy to surmise last yr’s unexpected competence wasn’t the top of Philadelphia’s transient trek through a rebuilding desert but just an oasis.
But reasonably run that well dry, Roseman invested within the land, drilled down in hopes of finding more water, and turned it right into a resort. The Eagles understood their strengths and weaknesses and played to every within the sort of offseason that may inform the subsequent decade of wins and losses.
The very real query of whether or not they have the quarterback play to usurp the Cowboys within the NFC East stays. If Jalen Hurts can’t do it, it won’t be blamed on the manager team behind him.
1 obvious flaw each NFL team is now facing after the 2022 draft