Eagles

Roob's never-too-early 2020 Eagles predictions

Roob's never-too-early 2020 Eagles predictions

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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NFL rumors: LeSean McCoy says Eagles had interest before he signed with Bucs 

NFL rumors: LeSean McCoy says Eagles had interest before he signed with Bucs 

For months — well, years really — LeSean McCoy seemed excited about the possibility of returning to Philadelphia, where his No. 25 has remained available. But that didn’t happen. 

Shady signed with the Buccaneers and will join Tom Brady in Tampa (Tompa) Bay. 

But on a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday, Shady said the Eagles were showing him interest even just before he signed with the Bucs. 

Earlier this offseason, the Eagles had expressed some interest in veteran running backs and the three they were linked with most were Carlos Hyde, Devonta Freeman and McCoy. The only one of the three that remains available is Freeman. 

The Eagles feel pretty comfortable with the running back group they have right now and are ready to roll with some younger players. Their top two running backs are Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. After that, they have Corey Clement, Elijah Holyfield, Mike Warren and Adrian Killins. 

Coming into training camp, the Eagles wanted to get an extended look at some of those younger players. For instance, they had a draft able grade on Holyfield last year and had a draftable grade on Warren this year. 

McCoy is 32 now and it seems like his best days are behind him. Even though he was with the Chiefs last year, he didn’t play in the Super Bowl. 

But he’ll always be remembered as an Eagle. The Birds drafted him at No. 53 in 2009 and he played six seasons in Philly before Chip Kelly traded him to Buffalo. McCoy is a six-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro and the Eagles’ all-time leading rusher. 

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4 new roster rule changes that could affect Eagles in 2020

4 new roster rule changes that could affect Eagles in 2020

As a part of the agreement between the NFL and NFLPA for the upcoming 2020 season during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a few important roster rule changes that could affect the Eagles. 

With the pandemic, the league has found ways to create new roster rules aimed to help teams as players might either test positive or come into contact with those who have. 

In either case, the league wants to be better prepared. 

Here are four changes for the 2020 season: 

1. Practice squad expanded to 16 players 

In the original collective bargaining agreement, the practice squad was limited to 12 players in 2020 and 2021 and would expand to 14 in 2022. But with the pandemic, the league and the players union agreed to expand the practice squad immediately to 16 players for the upcoming season. And if there are still COVID-19 protocols in effect for 2021, the practice squad will remain at 16 players. 

Six of those 16 players on the practice squads have no limit of accrued seasons, meaning the team can keep six veterans on the practice squad. 

Think about how the Eagles have used their practice squad in recent seasons. Heck, last year, the Eagles called up multiple players from their practice squad, including Greg Ward Jr. and Boston Scott, who played a ton down the stretch. 

2. Practice squad protected list 

Each Tuesday after 4 p.m. before a Sunday game — so not during the bye week — the Eagles will be allowed to protect up to four members of their practice squad. Typically, practice squad players are allowed to sign to any team’s 53-man roster at any time. 

In the past, the only way to protect a player on your practice squad was to sign them to the active roster. The Eagles have done that in recent seasons with QB Nate Sudfeld and OL Sua Opeta. 

3. IR designated for return 

Beginning on Sept. 6 at 4 p.m., teams are allowed to bring back an unlimited amount of players from Injured Reserve as long as those players have missed three regular season games. 

Once a player has been designated to return to practice, teams have 21 days to activate that player. 

Previously, the NFL capped the number of players allowed to return from IR and players were forced to miss a minimum of eight games. 

4. COVID-19 corresponding exemptions 

There’s an addition roster designation of Reserve/COVID-19, which we’ve already seen get used. The Eagles placed three players — Lane Johnson, Jordan Mailata and Nathan Gerry — on the list earlier this training camp. 

There’s no definite amount of time players spend on the Reserve/COVID-19 list but they have to clear protocols before return. 

- If a player gets put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list before 4 p.m. on Saturday before a Sunday game, the team can replace that player with any free agent or practice squad player. 

- If a player gets put on the list after 4 p.m. on Saturday, they have until up to 90 minutes before kickoff to promote a player from their practice squad. 

That last part is a big change from the previous rule. In other years, teams had to call up practice squad players by 4 p.m. the day before a game. There are added protections because of COVID-19 this year. 

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