By Mark Ramos
In 2021, the Eagles impressively made a playoff appearance despite a one-dimensional offense. Sure, Philadelphia led the NFL in rushing, but its 25th-ranked passing offense and dead-last finish in passing attempts certainly proved to be an area in which the team could improve. So, general manager Howie Roseman geared his marquee off-season moves toward helping the Eagles achieve better balance on both sides of the football. As opening day rapidly approaches, it’s safe to say Roseman has accomplished all of that and then some.
Philadelphia made arguably the biggest splash move of Round 1 at the NFL Draft when Roseman dealt one of his first-round picks to Tennessee for star wide receiver A.J. Brown. The trade provides a legitimate threat on the outside and opposite of the speedy Devonta Smith. The blockbuster trade would come shortly after the Eagles agreed to terms on a three-year, $45 million contract with big-name edge rusher Haason Reddick.
Since the beginning of the off-season, the Eagles general manager has managed to keep up the brisk pace. Last week, Philadelphia welcomed new safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and a seventh-round draft pick in 2025 from the Saints in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2023 and the later of the Eagles’ two sixth-round picks in 2024. The next day another roster move came, this time with the Birds sending receiver Jalen Reagor to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a 2023 seventh-round pick and a 2024 conditional fourth-round pick that would deescalate to a fifth-round pick if certain statistical marks are not met, according to ESPN.
Of course, then there’s the move made last Thursday: Roseman’s decision to pluck bruising running back Trey Sermon off waivers from San Francisco.
More likely than not, this completes Roseman’s extensive (and smart) wheeling and dealing that has the Eagles poised to be in contention for a playoff spot again in 2022.
Three noteworthy games in 2022:
• Nov. 14 vs. Washington: The Eagles welcome their once-touted franchise QB Carson Wentz back to Philadelphia for a divisional game surely to have media and fans buzzing.
• Nov. 20 at Indianapolis: Philadelphia looks to slow down arguably the best running back in football in Jonathan Taylor and Penn Charter High School graduate Matt Ryan.
• Dec. 24 at Dallas: What could be better than watching the Eagles and Cowboys duke it out for NFC East supremacy on Christmas Eve?
Defense: Javon Hargrave, DT: Hargrave ended up with 7.5 sacks in 2021, trailing only Aaron Donald and Jonathan Allen, according to Stathead.com. With Brandon Graham returning, Haason Reddick signing and the potential for gifted rookies to grow in Georgia star Jordan Davis and 2021 Day 2 pick Milton Williams, the defense may be more impactful. In turn, Hargrave could be presented an opportunity to create even more havoc in the backfield in 2022.
Offense: Jalen Hurts, QB: For third-year quarterback Hurts, it’s put-up or shut-up time when it comes to improving his passing numbers. A.J. Brown’s addition ratchets up some of that pressure on the young QB, too, as for some, questions about his arm strength remain. We know Hurts can make plays happen with his feet, but after just 494 passing attempts in 2021, can he make them happen with his arm? Time will tell, but if the 24-year-old can improve in that area, the Eagles offense will have an arsenal of weapons at Nick Sirianni’s disposal, with a dual-threat Hurts leading the charge. ••