PHILADELPHIA EAGLES YEARBOOK 103
end Brandon Graham (ankle), who had offseason surgeries? Are
they going to be ready to fly on September 6? Wide receiver
Alshon Jeffery played all of last year with an injured shoulder.
Jeffery was outstanding and then had surgery after winning the
Super Bowl. He’s another player to watch on the medical front.
Great team chemistry played a huge part in the team’s success
last year. The Eagles hope to replicate that magic, albeit with a
roster that has some new faces. An aggressive approach in the
offseason from Howie Roseman, the NFL’s Executive of the Year
in 2017, and his personnel team brought to Philadelphia veteran
defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata, giving the
Eagles a defensive depth chart that is as deep and talented as
the team has ever had. The idea is to rotate the pass rushers –
Graham, Bennett, Chris Long, and Derek Barnett, primarily, and
use Ngata to complement Jernigan and Fletcher Cox inside.
Free agency netted help for the offense, too. Veteran speedster
Mike Wallace joins the big-play offense at wide receiver. Wallace
adds to a group that has Jeffery as the big-bodied playmaker
on the outside, the catch-him-if-you-can Nelson Agholor in the
slot, and second-year emerging talent Mack Hollins giving the
Eagles a hard-to-cover quartet. The passing game doesn’t stop
there, though. The team also added tight end Dallas Goedert
in the second round of the NFL Draft, hoping the South Dakota
State product can fit right into the offense and tag-team with
Ertz to give the offense another dynamic look at the position.
While the Eagles traded away their 2018 first-round draft pick,
they feel like they had one already on the roster. Sidney Jones, a
second-round pick in 2017 only because he tore his Achilles tendon
six weeks before the draft, played in one game as a rookie and is
now fully healthy and expected to compete for playing time in a
vastly improved cornerback room. Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills
are the returning starters, but there are serious roster battles
ahead. Jones should be a factor, along with second-year man
Rasul Douglas, and fourth-round draft pick Avonte Maddox.
Depth was a major reason for the team’s success last season,
and the Eagles feel like they are deep across the board. Jay
Ajayi, Corey Clement, and Sproles are the top three at running
back. The quarterback room is loaded. All five starters plus all
key reserves return for the league’s best offensive line. Goedert
helps replace the losses of Trey Burton and Brent Celek. The wide
receiver corps is all grown up. The defensive line is ferocious.
The cornerbacks are young, talented, and promising.
If there are questions, they come at linebacker, where Hicks
is returning from injury and there is no clear-cut starter on the
weak side in the summer, and at safety, where depth is needed
behind starters Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.
No doubt, though, that the pieces are in places for
another season of “the new normal.” Now it’s just about
going out and doing it week after week after week.
“Everyone is hungry in this locker room,” Jenkins said. “You
get a taste of what it’s like to win it all, and you want more of
it. It’s challenging, but that’s the fun part. We’re going to go
out there and compete and play our brand of football. We’re
going to play Eagles football, so beat us if you can.”