Now that the draft is over, there are some interesting stories that have come up about the team and its projections for the upcoming season. So I thought I would post them here and then share my thoughts about them.
The first was this about Jalen Hurts getting some action as a potential MVP candidate.
In a nutshell, Hurts has been drawing a lot of interest as an MVP candidate at odds of anywhere between +4000 and +1,800. He ranks around 10th behind more obvious candidates like Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen.
Can he win it?
The best comparison is Lamar Jackson, who won the award in 2019 with a stat line of 3,127 passing yards, 1,206 rushing yards, 43 total TDs and 8 turnovers in 15 games.
Hurts last year (in the same number of games) had 3,144 passing yards, 784 rushing yards, 26 total TDs and 11 turnovers.
So the biggest obstacle seems to be a big jump in TDs. Adding more than a touchdown per game seems like a big ask, but I don't think it is impossible. Adding AJ Brown and Zach Pascal gives him two targets that have had better success in the red zone than what we had last year. They are also really good run blockers, making it harder to defend both the run and pass near the goal line.
More importantly, our play calling should be better. Last year we ran so many bad plays in the red zone that it was like the defense was calling them. This year our standard red zone offense should be Pascal, Goedert, Brown and Smith, with a little Calcaterra or Tyree Jackson sprinkled in. That is a much better look than having Watkins, Ward and Reagor on the field.
So it may still be a longshot, but I may jump on the bandwagon for this bet. Crazier things have happened.
Also from the same publication, beat writer Jimmy Kempski unveiled his pre-season NFC East all offense team, and he had 10 of the same players that I did on my team.
In a recent twitter post, Dallas Cowboys writer Marcus Mosher ranked the NFC East running backs, and had Gibson first and Tony Pollard second, with Sanders coming in fifth place.
So let's look at the position in detail.
Antonio Gibson last year had 1,037 yards in 16 games, with seven rushing TDs, four fumbles lost and a 4.0 yards per carry average. The total yards and total TDs are okay numbers, but the yards per attempt number is bottom of the league and the fumble number is terrible as well.
Elliott had just over 1,000 yards in 17 games with 10 rushing TDs, one last fumble and a 4.2 yards per attempt average.
Sanders had 754 yards in 12 games, zero TDs, a fumble and a 5.5 yards per attempt average.
It's okay if you want to knock Sanders down a few pegs since he didn't score any TDs and missed four games. But this isn't an all NFC East team from 2021, it's a projection for what will happen next year. And the bottom line, to me, is that Sanders gets an extra yard every time he touches the ball as compared to Elliott and Gibson, and if we are picking the best running back, that should matter the most.
Plus, if Hurts gets a rushing TD on a read option because a defender is keying on Sanders, that isn't an indication that Sanders isn't very good, but rather the opposite.
So I may be wrong here in my assessment, but time will tell.
Finally, here is am article ranking the top offenses in the NFL.
The Eagles were ranked 11th, and fifth in the NFC.
The Bucs were second, followed by the Rams at 8, the Packers at 9 and the Cowboys at 10.
Interestingly, we were ahead of the Cardinals, 49ers and Vikings, the three teams that I see as competing for us in the second tier of the NFC.
I think we can all agree the Bucs offense is really good. And the Rams deserve the second spot. Aaron Rodgers alone can carry an offense, so he is fine in the top 10 even without an offense around him. And the Cowboys had the league's best offense last year, so seeing them drop 10 spots is actually really good news.
And if you had me pick the top four teams in the division, those would be my choices to win their respective divisions.
But the lowest bar I am setting for the Eagles this year is to be no worse than the fifth best team in the NFC, and I will legitimately be disappointed if we aren't competitive for the division title and in the playoffs.
Going into the season, that's my expectation for the team, and it was nice to see a national publication rank the offense the same way that I see things, as I sometimes can get blinded by optimism, especially when I don't actually have to watch the team on the field.