2016 Record: 7-9, Fourth Place in the NFC East
The Philadelphia Eagles have the unfortunate task of competing with both the Cowboys and Giants twice a year.
That hurts their playoff chances, but at least the Eagles made strides to get second-year quarterback Carson Wentz some more weapons on offense.
Added to the mix are wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. This could help quite a bit. And yet the bigger concern is on defense, particularly in the secondary.
Philadelphia lacked cornerbacks in 2016. It hurt in a big way, and the Eagles lacked any sort of playmaking production from this crucial position.
The Eagles hope to address this by adding former Tennessee EDGE Derek Barnett — who may be the best pure pass-rusher coming out of college — as well as corners Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas in Rounds 2 and 3, respectively.
Jones (Achilles) may not start this season. So that’s a risk right there. But Douglas should be able to contribute right away.
Barnett is an immediate upgrade for the pass rush. So look for that group to be vastly improved from a year ago.
This should help alleviate pressure within the defensive backfield as well. And the Eagles still boast a dynamic ground attack, led by tailbacks Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles.
Sproles remains a key weapon and a unique commodity to have.
Jeffery and Smith help in the passing game. But the former has been a bit of a disappointment since his 2014 campaign, and the latter all but disappeared during his days in San Francisco. Are these two cases mere anomalies or signs of what’s to come?
And while the Eagles made some upgrades to the secondary via the NFL Draft, only Douglas will have an immediate impact. That’s a cause for concern.
We’ll have to see how Wentz handles his new receiving options. This could provide the next step in his maturation process, which is a must-have thing for the Eagles to gain any sort of headway within a tough division.
If the defense can overachieve this year, especially on the back end, Philadelphia might be in position to at least climb over the Washington Redskins in divisional standings.
But the Eagles aren’t on par with either New York or Dallas.