Do you think you know what to expect from an Eagle team that has added firepower to the offense (wide receiver DeSean Jackson, running backs Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders) and experience to the defense (tackle Malik Jackson, linebacker Zach Brown) and returns a roster for 2019 that was already among the best in the NFL? It’s easy to think you know how it’s all going to play out, but the reality is that it largely comes down to one player – quarterback Carson Wentz, who hasn’t taken a game snap of any kind since last December.
As Wentz goes, the Eagles go. In his fourth season, Wentz has everything in place to be among the best quarterbacks in the league, a level at which he performed in 2017 when Wentz threw a franchise-record 33 touchdown passes before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
“I think we’re all excited about what we have in place here and what we’re capable of doing,” Wentz said. “Now it’s a matter of going out and doing it and being consistent and being productive. I can’t wait to get this thing rolling.”
It starts rolling on Sunday when the Washington Redskins visit Lincoln Financial Field and while the Redskins are in a bit of a transition stage, particularly at the quarterback position, they have a stout defensive front, a strong pass rush and an aggressive scheme. They can be stingy on defense. They are going to go after Wentz. They’re going to test his mobility and that knee. They’re going to do everything they can to lay licks on Wentz and the back that suffered a stress fracture in 2018 and ended his season early.
And Wentz knows the task is to respond. He knows the burden of the offense is on his shoulders.
“My job is to get the ball out of my hands and get it to the playmakers and let them make plays. Make good decisions, get the ball out fast and run our offense,” Wentz said. “I know what this offense is capable of doing. We have a lot of weapons here. We have to find the best matchups and exploit them.”
This season begins with enormous expectations, as high as any the fan base has had since the Andy Reid teams of the early 2000s, particularly the pre-2004 hysteria after the Eagles acquired wide receiver Terrell Owens and defensive end Jevon Kearse in the offseason. Philadelphia went to the Super Bowl that season, losing to New England.
Is this a Super Bowl-caliber team? The Eagles have depth throughout the roster, and they’ve got enough star power to legitimize their status as true contenders. It’s going to come down to, when all is said and done, the play at the quarterback position. If Wentz regains his superstar status – and he has all the tools – the Eagles will be as good as any team. No. 11 holds the key to the castle in 2019 and judging by his demeanor throughout the summer, he welcomes the challenge. ••