If it all works out as planned – and we know that happens very rarely – the Eagles are going to have an offense that borders on unstoppable as quarterback Carson Wentz operates behind a standout line and disperses the football to an array of star-caliber playmakers who can devastate defenses in any number of ways.
“The sky is the limit with this offense,” Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz said, “but talking about it isn’t going to make it happen. We have to put in a lot of hard work, and we have to understand that it’s not about individual numbers. It’s about winning football games.”
Interesting, huh? In this generation of “Me First” athletes, the Eagles are going in the opposite direction. They’re not buying all the hype, and there is a scary amount of it one week into training camp, and instead they’re preaching the message that head coach Doug Pederson delivers every day: The Eagles won’t go anywhere unless they buy into the team-ahead-of-everything mentality.
“I would love to be the guy getting a lot of targets and catches, all of that,” second-year tight end Dallas Goedert said, “but that’s not what is important here. We’re all going to do our share if we win. That’s the only thing that matters here.”
In the very, very, very early stages of these summer practices, the explosiveness and diversity of the offense is obvious. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson still outruns every defender on the field. His position mates Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are catching every pass. Rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside looks like the real deal as a big-bodied, possession receiver. Ertz and Goedert are as dynamic a tight end duo as the NFL has this season.
And the running back picture, bolstered by offseason additions Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders, along with the re-signing of the remarkable Darren Sproles, looks stacked. Sanders, in his first days of practice, was as dazzling as advertised coming out of Penn State after his huge 2018 season.
So, what’s the downside of this offense? Look, there’s some age on the offensive line, notably left tackle Jason Peters (37). Right guard Brandon Brooks is in uniform but not fully cleared to practice after having surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon injury in January. Center Jason Kelce, one of the game’s best, admitted last year that he considered walking away from the NFL after suffering a series of nagging, painful injuries.
And then there’s Wentz, who has not played a full season since his rookie year in 2016. Can he stay healthy this season and thrive in a loaded offense?
Every team has questions and concerns. The Eagles have fewer than most, more than some, and at the end of the day they know they have to walk the walk and not worry about the talk. The preseason begins on Aug. 8, when Tennessee visits South Philadelphia, and we’ll get just a very small sample of the offense’s ability then.
The real tests start on Sept. 8, when the regular season begins against Washington.
“We’re going to take it slow and just work,” Jackson said. “That’s what this time of the year is all about. I came back here and I’m here to win games. We have guys who have had individual success and guys who have had team success. Winning games is a whole lot more fun than just catching a lot of passes. That’s our goal – start strong and play great football every week. If we do that, everybody will be happy.” ••