The Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Philadelphia Protestant Home last week teamed to host Merrill Reese on a Zoom call to discuss the upcoming Eagles season.
The longtime radio broadcaster — he’s entering his 45th year — is optimistic about the Eagles, as usual.
“I feel pretty good,” he said.
One reason Reese thinks the Eagles can do well is they play in what the broadcaster calls the “NFC Least.” The NFC East also includes Washington, Dallas and the New York Giants. He also noted the Eagles are largely healthy.
Reese is part-owner of WBCB (1490 AM), a radio station that has had a longtime relationship with the Protestant Home. The retirement community is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, headed by Pam Henshall, who coordinated the question-and-answer session with Reese.
Reese, a member of the Eagles Hall of Fame, was optimistic about the 2020 Birds, who were coming off a playoff appearance and had Carson Wentz at quarterback and Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson.
The Eagles, though, were terrible last year, finishing 4-11-1. Pederson was fired, and Wentz traded to Indianapolis.
As for this season, Reese noted that quarterback Jalen Hurts and running back Miles Sanders barely played in the preseason. He thinks Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell will form a good backfield combination.
Reese called wide receiver DeVonta Smith, the 10th overall pick in the draft, an “instant star.” Fellow receiver Jalen Reagor will come back from a disappointing rookie season, Reese predicted, adding that Quez Watkins and Greg Ward should also catch a good number of passes. One reason Reese believes Reagor will improve is that his broadcast partner, Mike Quick, struggled as a rookie before becoming a star receiver for the Eagles.
The broadcaster said the biggest factor in the team’s success will be the offensive line, which he believes is one of the best in the NFL.
“Boy, they’re strong,” he said.
Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz are back at tight end after an off-season that saw Ertz the subject of trade talk.
“This is a good offense,” Reese said.
Reese also likes the defense.
And he likes the energy of new coach Nick Sirianni, 40, comparing him to Dick Vermeil, who was the same age during his first season with the Eagles in 1976.
Reese does have one concern.
“I’m not happy about the punter,” he said, referring to Arryn Sippos.
Reese is worried about the new punter’s hang time and the fact he did not have any competition in training camp.
As for his career, Reese — who vows to never retire — said he likes painting a picture of the field while calling games on the radio. He’s been honored for his skill by, among others, the local Federation of the Blind.
Reese said the Super Bowl victory was the highlight of his career.
He also recalls the Dec. 19, 2010 game against the New York Giants. The Eagles trailed by 21 points with less than eight minutes to go, but scored four touchdowns, including a game-ending punt return by DeSean Jackson, to pull out the miracle victory at the Meadowlands.
“That was the most amazing game I’ve ever seen,” Reese said.
The best Eagle, Reese believes, was Reggie White, followed by Brian Dawkins.
The top quarterback, in his opinion, was Donovan McNabb.
As for the most exciting player, Reese points to Randall Cunningham.
Reese believes that Vermeil is not only the best coach in Eagles history, but tops among all Philadelphia coaches in the other major pro sports.
The Zoom call ended with, what else, an “E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles” chant. ••