Every fan base wants their team to have a successful season, but “success” is all relative. Kansas City, Green Bay and Tampa Bay would only consider 2021 to be a success if it ended with them lifting the Lombardi Trophy. Conversely, a team like Denver might consider this season a success if they make the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. It’s different for each franchise.
There’s one huge (and fairly obvious) way this Eagles season can be considered a complete success. It’s what I most want to see happen, but there’s more to the 2021 Eagles than just that. Here are a handful of things I really want to see happen this year:
5. Beat Dallas on Monday Night Football
If the Eagles can come away from the first three weeks of the season 2-1, including a Week 3 win on the road against Dallas, they’re going to be in a great position in the NFC East race. Nationally, the Cowboys are the favorite to win the division. Jalen Hurts going down to Texas and getting the first statement win of his career under the bright lights of Monday Night Football would really add some juice to the Eagles this month.
4. Kenny Gainwell records 40 catches
I’ve said multiple times that Kenny Gainwell is going to establish himself as an integral part of this Eagles offense as the season goes on. I would expect him to start getting the majority of the third down snaps at some point. Miles Sanders has gotten better as a runner, but regressed mightily as a pass-catcher in 2020. A training camp filled with drops for Sanders only makes matters worse. Sanders caught 50 balls as a rookie while sharing a backfield with Jordan Howard. Gainwell getting to 40 would unlock the screen game for the Eagles for the first time in what seems like decades.
3. Derek Barnett or Josh Sweat to get double-digit sacks
Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat are both entering the final years of their rookie contracts. It doesn’t seem feasible for the Eagles to hand both players new deals once 2021 ends, so one player truly breaking out and establishing himself as one of the better pass-rushers in the league would be huge for the Eagles’ future. It would make the team’s decision on which player to sign for the long haul that much easier too. My money is on Sweat being the one to do that, but Barnett has a pretty good training camp in his own right too.
2. DeVonta Smith: Offensive Rookie of the Year
Justin Herbert took home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2020, but Justin Jefferson was just as deserving with a historic rookie campaign of his own. I believe that DeVonta Smith can get in that 82-1115-7 range. Smith putting the NFL on notice to that degree would give the Eagles the type of young skill position star they haven’t had since the early days of DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy.
If Smith completely balls out, it’ll make my greatest hope more likely too...
1. Jalen Hurts becomes the Eagles’ franchise quarterback
Nothing is more important for the Eagles than solidifying the quarterback position. The franchise was involved with Deshaun Watson talks all offseason despite the 22 civil lawsuits for sexual misconduct pending against him. They will have the draft ammo in 2022 to make a move for a veteran quarterback on the outs with his current team or to trade up for a rookie in the draft.
Watson remains in Houston and the Eagles passed on the opportunity to add someone like Justin Fields or Mac Jones back in April. It’s time for Hurts to grab the reins of the Eagles franchise.
Hurts becoming QB1 now and going forward isn’t going to be some statistical benchmark. It will be a vibe, a feeling, an understanding both inside and outside the organization that Hurts is the person to steer the ship for the next era of Eagles football.
Whether that type of performance has the Eagles going 10-7 and making the postseason or has them missing it completely, nothing could define a more successful 2021 than Hurts being The Guy.