Around the NFL  

 

Training camp preview: Eagles beginning new era

Print

Training camp is quickly approaching, which means it's time to preview the most exciting part of the summer. Over the next month, Around The NFL's Conor Orr will break down all 32 teams and give us something to look for in late July.

Today, we take a look at the Philadelphia Eagles. Click on the tabs above to see other NFC East camp previews. For the rest of the NFL, click here.

Training camp report date: Rookies July 24, veterans July 27.

Training camp location: NovaCare Complex, Philadelphia.

Offseason in a nutshell: Howie Roseman's return to the center of Philadelphia's front office following Chip Kelly's firing signifies a return to the Andy Reid era. Reid, who coached in Philly from 1999 to 2012, might still be in Kansas City, but the Eagles hired Reid's top disciple, Doug Pederson, as head coach after what some might call an underwhelming coaching search. They traded away Kelly acquisitions DeMarco Murray, Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell and got rid of Riley Cooper. They brought in Chase Daniel, Rodney McLeod, Leodis McKelvin and Rueben Randle and signed Fletcher Cox to one of the largest contracts in NFL history. The core of this team has been secured through roughly 2020 -- now we just have to figure out how good that core is.

Person to watch: Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. This space typically spotlights players, but there are few people in the building who will have a more profound effect on the Eagles' 2016 season than Schwartz. Schwartz brings a straightforward, hard-hitting 4-3, as well as the Wide 9 look many Eagles fans are familiar with. People can say what they want about Schwartz's tenure as a head coach in Detroit (29-51 in five seasons), but his track record as a defensive coordinator has been strong. After the Eagles' defense finished the 2015 season tired, disinterested and beat up -- supposedly as a result of the rapid style of Kelly's offense -- an element of professional sheen was necessary in hiring the next coordinator.

THREE BURNING QUESTIONS:

1. What to do with Carson Wentz?

While the reaction to the notion of Wentz being inactive for most of this season was wildly overblown (why wouldn't he be?), there is a potential developmental roadblock the Eagles need to keep their eye on. The psychology of their current quarterback carousel needs to be flawless, from reassuring Sam Bradford to placating an aggressive Chase Daniel to ensuring that Wentz is interested and learning, even if he is in street clothes on Sundays. The theory behind drafting Wentz second overall -- a more intentional version of what the Packers did when they selected Aaron Rodgers 24th overall in 2005 -- is solid, but the practice behind the scenes needs to be executed properly, as well.

2. What can we reasonably expect from Nelson Agholor?

Agholor made some spectacular plays as a rookie during last year's preseason, leading us to believe that Kelly finally had found the embodiment of his offense in the USC wide receiver. In the regular season, that led to 23 catches for 283 yards and a touchdown. There is no denying Agholor's talent, but there is a question as to how he'll fit in with a more practical NFL-style offense under his second head coach. As a subplot, it will be important to watch how often and where the Eagles float Rueben Randle with the starting offense. Randle was taken as a low-cost flier in free agency despite some heavy production with the NFC East-rival Giants over the course of his rookie contract. A shifting playbook and a demanding quarterback stunted Randle's growth with the Giants, but he is a strong, NFL-conditioned body who could compete for snaps early.

3. Does Kenjon Barner make the team?

Rarely do you see a player touted as a potential starter at the beginning of the spring and a "roster bubble" casualty at the beginning of the summer. Barner, though, survived the Kelly-themed roster purge, even with a stint at Oregon on his résumé -- but how deeply do we look into him getting significant snaps during the offseason? The Eagles will have Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles back at some point and will hope to mix in rookie Wendell Smallwood, if he develops on pace. Is Barner the odd man out or the type of back who survives a system change thanks to his versatility?

Way-too-early season prediction: The NFC East is going to be ho-hum again this year, but out of any team that could take charge, Philadelphia seems like the least likely. With Bradford at the helm, the Eagles might be able to win eight games -- so is keeping Bradford in a starting role worthwhile?

Print

Fan Discussion