This was the second offseason for coach Doug Pederson and big boss Howie Roseman remaking the roster after moving on from Chip Kelly. The only position on the field where the Eagles seem to have legitimate questions is cornerback. If Carson Wentz (above) takes a big step forward in year two, which is possible thanks to better talent at wide receiver and a second year in the west coast offense, the Eagles will challenge for a playoff spot in the NFC.

By Lewis Gould

Summer begins tomorrow and Eagles training camp is right around the corner on July 24.

So, let’s assess where the Birds are.

Home: 6-2
Road: 1-7
Division: 2-4
Point Differential: +36
Key Additions: WR Alshon Jeffery, WR Torrey Smith, OG Chance Warmack, DE Chris Long, CB Patrick Robinson, RB LaGarrette Blount, QB Nick Foles, DT Tim Jernigan
Key Losses: DT Bennie Logan, DE Connor Barwin, CB Nolan Carroll, CB Leodis McKelvin
Draft Class: DE Derek Barnett, CB Sidney Jones, CB Rasul Douglas, WR Mack Hollins, RB Donnel Pumphrey, WR Shelton Gibson, S Nate Gerry, and DT Elijah Qualls.

Overview: Despite having the 9th best point differential in the league last year and the 7th best turnover differential , the Eagles only went 7-9. A suspension to right tackle Lance Johnson on October 11th, just two days after a 1 point loss to the Lions, sent their season into a tailspin. 3-1 prior to the suspension, the Eagles would go 2-8 in the games Johnson missed. Of the Eagles 9 losses, two were by one point, and four others were by one score or less.

2016 Offense:
22nd in yards per game
16th in points per game
24th in passing yards per game
11th in rushing yards per game
1st in Time of Possession
T7th in Turnover Differential (+6)

Carson Wentz had a quarterback rating of 85 or higher in each of his first four games, including three games of higher than 100. In his final twelve he topped 90 only twice and had five games with quarterback ratings under 70. In those twelve games he threw for two touchdowns or more in a game just twice (2 vs. Dallas and Philly) and had just 9 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Whether Wentz can improve in his second season will go a long way towards determining how good Philadelphia is going to be in 2017.

Wentz certainly has better weapons with Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith replacing underachieving incumbent starters Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek return along with slot receiver Jordan Matthews. Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles get some help in the backfield from veteran Lagarrette Blount and dynamic rookie speedster and Sproles clone Donnel Pumphrey. A good offensive line returns with Lance Johnson back from suspension and Jason Peters extended another year.
2016 Defense:
13th in yards per game
12th in points per game
13th in pass yards per game
15th in rush yards per game
14th in sack rate
3rd in red zone defense

Defensively, the Eagles were strong up front but suffered two losses with Connor Barwin and Bennie Logan in free agency. Veteran Chris Long and first round pick Derek Barnett should limit the impact of Barwin’s departure. Timmy Jernigan was acquired in a trade with the Ravens (the teams swapped 3rd round picks) and will replace Bennie Logan next to Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox. Jernigan is a quicker player that can get up the field, a characteristic favored by Jim Schwartz, who prefers to pressure with his front four.

The linebackers (Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham) remain the same, as does an excellent safety duo in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McCleod. The Eagles revamped their cornerback corps by choosing not to bring back Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll while returning only Jalen Mills and Dwayne Gratz from last season. Patrick Robinson is the leader to start next to Mills with rookie third rounder Rasul Douglas challenging for playing time. Second rounder Sidney Jones might have been the best corner in the draft before tearing his achilles in predraft workouts and he won’t likely provide a large impact until 2018.

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