Eagles

Most important Eagles for 2020: We finally get to No. 1 … Carson Wentz

Most important Eagles for 2020: We finally get to No. 1 … Carson Wentz

Over the last four weeks we have been counting down the 20 most important Eagles for the 2020 season. 

20. Nate Sudfeld 
19. Avonte Maddox
18. Nathan Gerry
17. Dallas Goedert  
16. Derek Barnett
15. Jalen Reagor 
14. Jalen Mills
13. Brandon Brooks
12. Rodney McLeod
11. Javon Hargrave
10. Miles Sanders  
9. Andre Dillard
8. Brandon Graham
7. Zach Ertz 
6. DeSean Jackson 
5. Lane Johnson
4. Darius Slay

3. Jason Kelce
2. Fletcher Cox
 
1. Carson Wentz

We have finally reached the end of our countdown and we finish off with the franchise quarterback. 

Carson Wentz is coming off the first 4,000-yard passing season in Eagles history and he put the team on his back to win the final four games of 2019 to get into the playoffs. But then in the playoff game, he lasted just a handful snaps in his first playoff game before getting knocked out. 

I understand why some people would look at this list and say Wentz shouldn’t be No. 1. After all, look what Nick Foles did in 2017 and 2018, winning a total of four playoff games in that span. But Foles isn’t here anymore and that 2017 squad was simply a team of destiny. 

The Eagles desperately need Wentz to stay healthy in 2020. 

No, Wentz hasn’t gotten back to his near-MVP performance level in 2017 but what he did last season was still pretty impressive. Check out his first four seasons in the NFL: 

2016: 16 games, 62.4%, 3,782 yards, 16 TDs, 14 INTs, 79.3 rating 
2017: 13 games, 60.2%, 3,296 yards, 33 TDs, 7 INTs, 101.9 rating
2018: 11 games, 69.6%, 3,074 yards, 21 TDs, 7 INTs, 102.2 rating 
2019: 16 games, 63.9%, 4,039 yards, 27 TDs, 7 INTs, 93.1 rating 

Wentz is very good. And with some new weapons around him in 2020, he should be even better. Remember, by the end of the 2019 season, he was throwing to a bunch of guys who began the season on the practice squad. According to ProFootballFocus, Wentz had 32 of his passes dropped last season, the third-highest total in the league. 

There are still plenty of questions about his receivers and he’ll have at least two new starters on the offensive line. But the overall offense around Wentz in 2020 should be better. 

And even if it isn’t, Wentz proved last season that he has the ability to put the team on his back and lead them to victory. He led the Eagles on four game-winning drives in 2019; he had four in his first three seasons. 

Earlier this offseason, I put together my ranking of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL and put Wentz at No. 7: 

1. Patrick Mahomes 
2. Russell Wilson 
3. Lamar Jackson 
4. Drew Brees
5. Aaron Rodgers
6. Deshaun Watson 
7. Carson Wentz

I put Wentz at seventh because he can do things on a football field few other men in the world can do. Put him in the category with Mahomes, Rodgers, Jackson and Watson in terms of his ability to use his legs and arm. No, Wentz isn’t like Jackson, who will pick up tons of yards on the ground. But Wentz is tough to bring down and is at his best when he’s able to move out of the pocket and throw on the move. 

With that in mind, the addition of Rich Scangarello to the Eagles’ coaching staff could end up doing wonders for Wentz’s career. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons the Eagles hired Scangarello after he was fired as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator. 

Wentz is entering Year 5 of his NFL career in 2020. He has already gotten his huge contract and has been a very good player. If he gets back to playing at an MVP level and is able to stay on the field, this Eagles team could go far. 

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Chad Johnson geeked up about these DeSean Jackson clips from training camp

Chad Johnson geeked up about these DeSean Jackson clips from training camp

DeSean Jackson is 33 years old now and he’s coming off a sports hernia surgery that basically wrecked his 2019 season. 

But he still has it. 

On Friday afternoon, former NFL receiver Chad Johnson shared some 1-on-1 practice video that Jackson sent his way from the Eagles’ ongoing training camp practices. Johnson was pretty excited to get these clips and posted a couple on his Twitter account. 

That one is Jackson going against Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, in his first training camp with the Eagles. This will be a fun battle all camp long. Last year in training camp, DeSean dominated but he didn’t have a top tier cornerback to go against. 

It was fun to watch Jackson do this to the DBs in camp last year, but now he’s going against a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the best corners in the game. And Slay still stood no chance. 

That little hesitation step from Jackson and the explosion out of it is pretty wild. In a regular foot race no one is going to beat Jackson; if he gets the DB flat-footed, forget about it. And Jackson is going to beat corners as long as he’s healthy. That’s why so many defensive coordinators slide any help they can that way. 

And then there’s this hitch route that Johnson posted with some NSFW language.

On that one, you can see that Slay has to respect the deep ball and Jackson has that change of direction ability. One of the misconceptions about Jackson is that he’s just a go route deep threat; but that’s not the case. He can run short and intermediate routes well and it’s all set up from his ability to burn corners deep. 

The Eagles won’t be in pads until Monday, which is also when reporters are allowed to watch practice. I can’t wait to see this battle in person and report back. 

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Jon Gruden's curious comparison of Nelson Agholor and Randall Cunningham

Jon Gruden's curious comparison of Nelson Agholor and Randall Cunningham

Twenty-five years ago, Randall Cunningham retired after a dismal final season with the Eagles. 

Two years later he came out of retirement, signed with the Vikings and a year later had one of the greatest quarterback seasons ever, earned MVP honors and would have taken the Vikings to the Super Bowl if not for some terrible coaching by Dennis Green.

Cunningham’s offensive coordinator his last year in Philly? Jon Gruden.

Gruden today is head coach of the Raiders, and one of his pet projects is Nelson Agholor.

“A change of scenery worked for Randall Cunningham, maybe it will work for him,” Gruden told the Athletic.

Interestingly, Cunningham, who settled in Las Vegas after playing college football at UNLV, is now the Raiders’ team chaplain.

As for Agholor, he’s trying to rebuild a career that despite some great moments in 2017 and a brilliant Super Bowl never lived up to expectations.

"I trust him and I think he was picked high in the draft for a reason,” Gruden said of Agholor. "He’s a good player. You can pick up the Philadelphia Inquirer and they will probably say something different, but this guy has caught over 200 passes, he’s a young guy, he has played split end, flanker and in the slot. He caught eight or nine passes in a Super Bowl (9-for-84) and won a Super Bowl. So he's a world champion. He's a great person.”

Agholor caught 224 passes for 2,515 yards and 18 touchdowns in five seasons with the Eagles, who made him the 20th pick in Chip Kelly’s 2015 draft.

He never caught more than 768 yards in a season and he surpassed 64 yards in only nine of his 76 games here.

Agholor said he and Gruden actually have a family connection that goes back to when he was in high school at Berkeley Prep in Tampa and Gruden had just finished coaching the Buccaneers.

“He actually used to hang around after his days coaching in Tampa, he still lived in Tampa, and he would always go to a racetrack near his home, and my brother worked at that racetrack so him and my brother spent a lot of time talking every morning when Jon was getting his coffee about football and about my college career and things like that,” Agholor said in a Zoom call with Raiders writers. 

“So it’s a blessing to be in this opportunity having a previous relationship. But at the end of the day I chose this relationship because he knows the game and all I want to do is learn and be a better player.”

The Eagles, who paid Agholor nearly $19 million over the last five years, made no attempt to re-sign the 27-year-old after last season ended.

He signed a one-year minimum salary benefit deal with the Raiders worth barely above minimum wage - $1.0475 million.

In Vegas, he’ll likely compete for slot reps with Hunter Renfrow, who had 49-for-605 with 4 TDs as a rookie 5th-round pick last year.

“Honestly, this is a beautiful opportunity for me to get a chance to play with a guy like Jon Gruden, who has a background in coaching receivers,” Agholor said. “I chose this opportunity to make myself a better player. There’s no better opportunity to play for a head coach that knows receiver play and can articulate ways you can get better.

“My No. 1 goal is to progress as a player.  Lot of things that happened in the past, some really good things and some things I wanted to grow from. I told myself this opportunity is to be 2 percent better than the player I was in my previous five years.”
 

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