It’s never too early to make predictions.
Hey, if we can do a 2021 mock draft the day after the 2020 draft, we can definitely do some 2020 Eagles predictions in mid-May, right?
All of these are contingent on the players staying healthy, which around these parts hasn’t been real common lately. But, hey, new training staff, new medical staff. Maybe things will really change.
So here are our never-too-early-to-make Eagles predictions for the coming season. If I’m close, I’ll remind everyone in December. If I’m way off, hopefully nobody will remember them!
1. The surprise leading WR: Greg Ward began last year on the practice squad and didn’t play on offense until Week 11. But he caught 31 passes the last seven games, which was only 12 off the team lead by a WR for the entire season. Despite him not playing until Week 11. Ward was really the Eagles’ only reliable WR the last month and a half of the season, and that won’t be the case this coming season. But he runs such good routes out of the slot and has such good hands and knows how to get open, and Carson Wentz clearly likes throwing to him.
Prediction: Ward leads all Eagles WRs with 62 catches.
2. Another record for Wentz: If Wentz could throw 27 TD passes with the lowly group of receivers he had last year, there’s no reason he can’t throw a dozen or so more with an upgraded cast. Wentz set the franchise record of 33 TD passes in just 13 games in 2017. That’s about 2 1/2 per game. Project that over 16 games and you’ve got 40. I really think that’s doable this year.
Prediction: Wentz extends his Eagles record and throws 40 TDs in 2020.
3. A full season of Sanders: Miles Sanders had such a promising rookie season it’s easy to forget that he didn’t really become a consistent weapon until Week 8 in Buffalo. If you just increase his rookie average of 83 yards per game by 20 percent, you’re looking at about 1,600 yards. Sanders is that good.
Prediction: Sanders becomes the fifth running back in franchise history with a 1,600-yard season. Let’s go with 1,055 rushing yards and 616 receiving yards for 1,671 scrimmage yards in his second season.
4. Will the rookie produce?: Only four Eagles WRs have had as many as 30 catches as a rookie in the last 25 years (Reggie Brown, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews). Jalen Reagor has to beat that. Has to.
Prediction: Let’s go 52 catches for 676 yards and five TDs for Reagor.
5. Holding it down at corner: The Eagles haven’t had a cornerback with five INTs in a season since Brandon Boykin in 2013, but Darius Slay ends that drought in his first season with the Eagles.
Prediction: Slay finishes with six interceptions.
6. What should we expect from Boston Scott?: Scott had only 23 touches until the last month of the season, when he averaged 80 scrimmage yards over the last five games. It’s not a huge body of work, but Scott showed that, used the right way, he can be a weapon as a receiver and situational runner. We’ll see if the Eagles bring in a veteran back and how the roles will be defined, but I’d be surprised if Scott doesn’t give the Eagles six or seven touches per game.
Prediction: I’m giving Scott 688 scrimmage yards. That’s 43 per game. That’s doable.
7. What about Jalen Hurts?: I’m not sure he’ll justify where he was drafted, but I do expect Hurts to make an impact, mainly as a short-yardage and goal-line runner.
Prediction: Hurts becomes the first Eagles rookie with five rushing TDs in a season since Don “Heartbeat” Johnson in 1953.
8. Who's getting the sacks?: Brandon Graham is 32 now, but he’s had his two best seasons in 2017 and 2019, with 9 ½ sacks during the Super Bowl season and 8 1/2 last year. Graham is one of only six active players with 50 or more career sacks that’s never made a Pro Bowl. He takes great care of himself, he’s consistent and he’s durable, having missed just one game since opening day 2012.
Prediction: In his 11th season, Graham records a career-high 11 1/2 sacks and makes his first Pro Bowl.
9. How about the tight ends?: Zach Ertz goes into the eighth season of his remarkable NFL career with 525 catches. He needs 23 to move into the all-time NFL top-10 for tight ends and 65 to pass Hall of Famer Harold Carmichael and become the all-time leading Eagles receiver.
Prediction: Ertz finishes with 81 catches, becomes the third TE In NFL history with six straight 70-catch seasons and passes Carmichael in Week 13 against the Seahawks.
10 more quickie predictions
Nelson Agholor doesn’t make it to opening day with the Raiders … Dallas Goedert leads the Eagles with nine TD catches … Derek Barnett has a career-high 7 ½ sacks … Fletcher Cox joins Reggie White and Pete Pihos as the third Eagle to make six straight Pro Bowls … Undrafted rookie Raequan Williams out of Michigan State makes the team as the fourth defensive tackle … Jason Peters signs with the Eagles … DeSean Jackson plays 11 games and catches 37 passes for 592 yards and four TDs … JJ Arcega-Whiteside is a little better but only catches 29-for-493 … Jalen Mills winds up back at corner and rookie K’Von Wallace starts the last seven games of the season … The Eagles sign and release Jordan Matthews at least twice.
The bottom line?
I like this roster. I like this team. I expect the Eagles to be better on both sides of the football, and I like Doug Pederson coaching in a division with three new head coaches. If the new medical and training staff can help the Eagles avoid another injury-plagued season, this will be another playoff season in Philly.
Prediction: The Eagles go 11-5 and become the first team since the 2003 and 2004 Eagles to win the NFC East in consecutive seasons.
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