Expectations aren’t terribly high for the Eagles' 2021 season, both locally and in the national landscape. Some pundits predict they’ll finish dead-last in the NFC East, as they did last season.
But one big name is zagging while the football world zigs on the Birds.
In a recent interview with CBS Sports, CBS NFL analyst Tony Romo said he believes Jalen Hurts and the Eagles will open some eyes in head coach Nick Sirianni’s debut season.
“I think the Eagles are going to be a surprise team," Romo said. “If you go in and think they're really not ready, they could shock a lot of people and go 10-6 or 11-5 very quickly. That's an uphill battle right now, but I still think they have a lot of talented players and the coaching staff is good. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Eagles have a great season this year."
A very bold statement, indeed. Virtually no one is predicting double-digit wins for the Eagles, even in a 17-game season. (Romo, like many of us, needs to be reminded of the extra game.) So how does a team that won just four games last season make such a dramatic improvement?
“The biggest reason — and I've said this before — they have great ownership and it starts from the top. They hired a really good coach in Nick Sirianni, I think he's really smart.
"I just think they have a lot of good players. People don't realize their offensive line is far healthier this year than last year. Just that by itself makes them way better.”
While it’s true the Eagles' offensive line is healthy at the moment, things can change awfully quickly. Guard Brandon Brooks just turned 32, missed the 2020 season with an Achilles tear, and has been a limited participant in practice with a knee issue. Tackle Lane Johnson is 31 and has missed 13 of 32 games over the past two seasons due to injury. Center Jason Kelce has been remarkably durable (105 consecutive starts), but he will be 34 in November, and time is undefeated.
Romo also praised the Eagles’ defensive line, led by six-time Pro Bowl tackle Fletcher Cox, sharing that if both front lines have a strong season, “You are not that far away from being a really good football team. ... I know they were talking about this is going to take some time and everything, but I think they're underselling the possibilities of how they can control the line of scrimmage. That's why I was saying they could win that many games."
Romo is already one of the best NFL analysts on the planet, and if he’s right about this Eagles team, maybe it isn’t a rebuilding year after all.