Taking a look at the Eagles offense, position by position. Next week, the defense.
I met with offensive coordinator Frank Reich on Wednesday and he spoke highly of the spring performance of the quarterbacks. Bradford, who has been given up-and-down reviews from reporters in the two practices they've seen, was particularly praised.
"Sam hasn't only been good in OTAs," Reich said, "he's been great. His production, everything about the way he has performed in OTAs has been, and it's not an overstatement to say this, off the charts. He's really been good."
So there's that. Spring is a time for the installation of the schemes - the entire offense is in, by the way - and it's really just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Maybe more, in a lot of ways. The Eagles know that Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz have a good grasp on the X's and O's. Bradford and Daniel are ahead of Wentz in that department, naturally. They've been in similar schemes, they're more familiar with the verbiage, and they've been on the field since April.
Bradford has been a full go at practice since Day 1 and that puts him far ahead of where he was a year ago. He's thrown very well, according to the coaching staff. Daniel knows the offense inside and out and does a lot of good things, particularly in the short- and mid-range passing game. Wentz is developing, but it is clear that he is highly skilled, that he has the work ethic and all the tools to be really, really good.
We'll know much more when the pads go on and then, of course, in preseason. Then again, the offense looked great in preseason last year and then stunk in the first half of the regular season.
There are questions about the running backs and they're legitimate. A franchise that has a long lineage of premier players at this position has to come up with some answers here. Ryan Mathews has top-level talent, but he's got a history of injuries that have sent him to the sidelines. Darren Sproles is a fantastic football player, but he's not carrying the ball 15 times a week, every week. Kenjon Barner is one of my favorite "next-step" players, but he's never done it in the NFL, and while the Eagles are really high on rookie Wendell Smallwood, it's hard to see him emerging as a go-to running back at the onset of his career.
So we're looking at a running back-by-committee approach, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Remember head coach Doug Pederson's perspective: He was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City and the struggling Chiefs lost Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles and, boom, went on an 11-game winning streak that ended in the AFC Divisional Playoff round.
But, yeah, there is some uncertainty here. Health is really, really important in the offensive backfield.
This should be a super-productive group given the skills of Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Trey Burton. Ertz is expected to be a central figure in the passing game and Celek is a big body with good hands who is going to be a target in the red zone. Burton just does everything right, and he's going to have a chance to get some reps.
The coaching staff has a history of using the tight ends and the glimpses at practices during OTAs has shown the Eagles using the tight ends liberally.
A note: Keep an eye on Chris Pantale, who was with the Jets for two seasons and who is getting a lot of reps in the spring. He's the one, not Burton, who appears to be taking the reps when the Eagles use a fullback in the formation. Could the Eagles keep four tight ends?
Prediction: Greg Lewis will become one of the team's best offseason acquisitions. He is working his receiving group hard and we'll see what kind of results that produces. Jordan Matthews is a quality receiver who, it seems will be the primary slot receiver. When Matthews moves outside, Chris Givens can play from the slot.
The Eagles need second-year man Nelson Agholor and third-year man Josh Huff to emerge. Both have improved in the spring with their consistency. Huff is going to have a lot of chances on crossing routes and screens. He's explosive with the ball in his hands.
Rueben Randle is maybe the most talented player in the group with his size and his ability to run. He's here on a one-year deal, so he certainly has a lot of incentive to be great.
Jeff Stoutland's challenge in the last few seasons was that he had trouble finding the right pieces to plug in when the starters were injuries. When the Eagles had their starting five on the field, they played OK up front. Not great at the guard spots last year after allowing Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans to go, but they were OK. If a player went down, it was trouble.
This offensive line has a ton more promise. Brandon Brooks is a huge upgrade at right guard. Allen Barbre is the incumbent at left guard and this offensive scheme is a better fit for what he does. He's going to be challenged by the end of the summer for his job, you can bet on that. Jason Peters is revitalized in the new scheme. He looks very good this spring and has not missed a day of work.
The Eagles have a lot more depth and way more competition. The line should be much improved. Head coach Doug Pederson said right from the start of his tenure that improving the line was a top priority and the Eagles went out and signed Brooks and Stefen Wisniewski in free agency and used two draft picks and some top money after the draft to add more linemen.
It all has to come together before September and it's premature to discuss the progress up front, but the coaching staff knows how important the line of scrimmage is to the success of the offense.
By DAVE SPADARO
Subscribe to the Eagles Live Podcast
iTunes - [Click here] | Stitcher - [Click here]