After the draft, the Eagles think they have as potent and diverse an offense as they’ve ever had.
By Dave Spadaro
It was a plan put in place in 2016, once the Eagles made the move to draft Carson Wentz: With a franchise quarterback in place, the next order of business, over the course of two to three years, was to surround Wentz with weapons. Now that the 2018 NFL draft is in the rear-view mirror, the plan is very much in order.
By taking tight end Dallas Goedert in the second round of the draft last week, and with the selections of some young prospects for the offensive line, and then by re-signing running back Darren Sproles, the Eagles think they have as potent and diverse an offense as they’ve ever had.
“It’s the most versatile that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “There are a lot of things we can do in terms of creating favorable matchups, and that’s what this league is all about.”
OK, OK, let’s back up here: The Eagles led the NFL in scoring when Wentz was healthy in the 2017 season and, yes, they won the Super Bowl. The offense was pretty darn outstanding, including lighting up the New England Patriots for 41 points in Super Bowl LII. But what the Eagles have put together now, well, on paper it looks a notch better than even last year’s attack.
With Goedert, a standout at South Dakota State who has size (6 feet 5), speed and good route-running skills to go along with great hands and natural pass-catching skills, teamed with Zach Ertz, the Eagles should have two tight ends who will be very tough to cover. Put a safety on either of them and the tight ends will outsize the defense in coverage. Use a linebacker in coverage and both Ertz and Goedert will run faster than the defender to get open. The Eagles had success last year with Ertz and Trey Burton, but Goedert is at a totally different level than Burton. He’s far more advanced coming into the league.
Combine two versatile tight ends with Sproles, who is almost impossible to cover in a short area, moving around the formation, and Wentz is going to have his choice of options in the passing game.
“Week to week, game to game, we can give defenses a lot of different looks,” Pederson said. “It’s something we’re really going to work on and hone as we get closer to September.”
A strong offensive line, bolstered by the anticipated return of left tackle Jason Peters, leads the way. The Eagles dominated at the line of scrimmage last season. They have a chance to do the same this year. The wide receiver group replaced Torrey Smith with Mike Wallace, who is basically a faster, maybe more explosive version of Smith. Now the Eagles have Alshon Jeffery and Wallace on the outside, with an on-the-come Mack Hollins pushing for playing time. Nelson Agholor is no longer a “bust” candidate after his breakout 2017 season and he should be a dynamic player in the offense.
Running the football will be Jay Ajayi, who is now fully integrated into the system. Ajayi is primed for a big season, and he’s backed up by Corey Clement, coming off a great Super Bowl and expected to take a big leap in his second season. Sproles adds to the mix as well. The Eagles don’t have the classic “big back,” but there will opportunities to add one should they see a need.
Add it up and the offense is lined up for sensational results in 2018. The draft added key pieces. The Eagles added immediate impact and exciting possibilities. ••