Each week during the season Dave and Patrick discuss the week that was. It's Two Guys Internetting Football!
Dave: Patrick, finally the season kind of sort of begins as players start reporting to training camp next week. Football is around the corner that comes after the next corner! Intrigue, mystery... none of these things really apply to 2016 Eagles training camp. We could make a 53-man roster prediction and barring injury we'd probably get less than six wrong.
After all the action of the offseason, camp seems like a formality for a team that is supposedly rebuilding. I'm looking forward to the season itself, but I'm not finding much for camp that catches my eye. What are you looking for?
Patrick: It's interesting that a team in the midst of a rebuild with so many moving parts has so little intrigue. That isn't to say there's nothing to watch - there are tons of new faces, both on and off the field itself. Doug Pederson has promised a more intense, old school kind of camp, which should make things more interesting right off the bat. I'm expecting something more reminiscent of the old days at Lehigh University. And since I don't have to do two-a-days, I don't mind saying it should be fun to see.
Other than that, I think we have the same things to look forward to as any rebuilding squad. How will the young guys look? How will the new players fit in? This will be especially true on defense, where I'm curious to see what the 4-3 defense looks like with guys like Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin and Fletcher Cox in new (or, in some cases, old-is-new-again) positions. How's Jordan Hicks coming along? How will Jim Schwartz guys like Nigel Bradham and Leodis McKelvin fare? And that's all without mentioning that rookie quarterback... what's his name again? Carson something?
Seriously though - all eyes will be on Carson Wentz, the likes of which we haven't seen since 1999. Reports out of OTAs were that he looked raw. How will a few more weeks in the playbook help? And how will he look in preseason? My money's on him looking great in camp and shaky (if not terrible) in games this summer. You?
Dave: I want to see one of the wide receivers (preferably more but let's not kid ourselves) step up. Somebody seize a starting job. I don't care who it is, somebody make this not one of the worst group of WRs in the league.
And of course Wentz. At some point this season he's going to play, but for now we will have to live with them treating him with kid's gloves. Fine. But give me some hope Carson. Show everyone that the coaches are being too conservative with you. Not being there every day for practice, it's going to be tough to really judge, but there are things that he can do. Air the ball out in preseason games, use the legs here and there.
I look at it like Ben Simmons in Summer League... there were things he needs to do better, but you could see the vision was there, and that's good enough. It seems to me that every time there's a some Na Brown Award type surprise, it's because they're actually benefiting from their teammates. I want some UDFA WR to get hyped and people think he's got a chance at the roster but the real reason is because Carson Wentz is making him look good. It would be an encouraging sign.
Speaking of Na Brown, we have to keep our eye on that. Two guys "stood out" in the spring: Chris Pantale and Jalen Mills. We need a fullback if only for the jokes.
Patrick: To bring your points full circle, I could very much envision a world where Trey Burton is the beneficiary of some nice play by Wentz, though he's too experienced to win the coveted Na Brown Award. I would imagine that duo will get plenty of work together as part of the third unit, and Burton's probably better than a third tight end, so it wouldn't surprise me to see them have chemistry a la Mark Sanchez and Jordan Matthews.
Another point of interest for me will be to see how the skinny guys shape out. Will any wide receivers emerge from the pack? How does the defensive back rotation work out? Will Eric Rowe be able to show up in a meaningful way, or does he take a backseat to some of Schwartz' guys? I'm less worried about the DBs, as the defense's floor is much higher than the offense's, and someone on O is going to need to step up... right?
The Chip Kelly era has left the Eagles offense without much in the playmaking department, and it's do-or-die time for guys like Josh Huff. Can Kenjon Barner--a guy I'm higher on than most, I think--earn meaningful regular season snaps this summer? Will Zach Ertz stop making me feel weird about buying his jersey two years ago? As you said, this receiver group is lacking at best and potentially awful at worst, so I'm going to be watching the offense with great interest, though I might be covering my eyes most of the time.
Okay, I've changed my mind. I'm back in full intrigue mode.