By Dylan MacKinnon
The expectations for the Eagles as a team are not very high. The Eagles could win only 6 games, and many fans would say “yea, that is about right.” But there are many players that have a ton to prove in 2021, and could have their futures with the Eagles decided because of their play. Even if the team as a whole fails, fans will have certain expectations of these players. Here are the 8 players with the most to prove in 2021.
This is the obvious one. With rumors of the Eagles being interested in Deshaun Watson his future is already murky. But there isn’t likely to be movement on that front until the legal situation is settled. So Hurts will get a chance to prove himself. What we saw last year was not great. Contrary to popular belief, the offense was not much more productive under Hurts. Wentz averaged 23.45 pts per game in his starts (not counting the Packers game since he didn’t finish the game). Hurts averaged 22.33 pts per game (not counting the final game since he didn’t play full game). He looked good vs the Packers, but he struggled in the 2nd half of games. In fact the Eagles scored only 4.3 pts per games in the second half of his starts.
His leash will not stretch past this year. 2021 will be his only chance to prove he can be a starter, at least with the Eagles. Eagles got one of his college WRs for him, his O line should be much better this year. All eyes are on him to prove he can be an NFL QB. I sure hope he can do so, but he certainly has a ton to prove.
Sanders is very good at running the ball. It is the rest of his game that has a lot to prove. He has not been a good blocker at this level. And after a great 1st year catching the ball, he has not been good in the passing game. Already in camp we are hearing his drop issues are showing up again. No one can still blame Carson Wentz for that. If he comes back, and starts dropping the ball again, it is all on him.
No matter how good a runner he is, if that’s all he can do, he is not worth the big contract someone of his potential will get. The NFL is not built on running the ball anymore. There is an argument to be made for not paying RBs at all, but if you are going to, they need to be the complete package. Going into his 3rd year, he needs to prove he can at least be a pass catcher, if not a good blocker. He is working on fixing these issues, so hopefully that will pay off.
Miles Sanders has dropped some passes this camp but he’s been working on it daily. Getting some extra instruction from RBs coach Jemal Singleton. pic.twitter.com/iXRTbOtJ9z— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) August 7, 2021
A 3rd round pick who spends his first season as a special teams guy is not the best of starts. But this year he should get a chance to play more linebacker. But he has a ton to prove. He is another story similar to Mailata where he had very limited Football experience when joining the Eagles, but had a athletic profile that suggests huge potential. The difference is Mailata was a 7th round pick, so there was very little pressure. Taylor was taken in the 3rd.
I don’t know if he would be a cut risk if he has another year where he makes no impact, but he could be. He doesn’t need to be a star, but he at least needs to be able to be a rotational LB. It would be really ugly if he goes another year where he can’t get on the field.
The pressure was on Reagor from when the Eagles took him over Justin Jefferson. Then Jefferson had an amazing year, and Reagor had a relatively disappointing game. So now the pressure is cranked up even higher. Is it unfair to compare him to Jefferson? Probably, but it is the reality of what is going to happen. And he has reportedly had a uneven start to camp as well.
I do think he looked a bit better with Hurts at QB. And I also think that Pederson didn’t use him in the most imaginative way. Perhaps Sirianni will do more to scheme him open, and get him the ball and space, where he can then use his best attributes. Speed and quickness. Perhaps moving to the slot, and having more talent around him, will also help. But if he has another merely okay year, people will start throwing around the bust label. Nick Sirianni has been working to coach him up, we will see if it pays off.
Eagles practice observations, Day 8:— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) August 5, 2021
1) “Jalen, if nothing else, run fast.”
A good example of Nick Sirianni’s coaching style here, as he hones in on Jalen Reagor for most of this drill, challenging him to show his speed. pic.twitter.com/99ieIOdrj4
This is one guy who probably already lost his job, but I still had to mention him. Two years ago Dillard was the future LT. A mediocre rookie year as a backup, and a injured sophomore year later, he may already be done. Jordan Mailata has run away with the LT job early in camp, and Dillard is hurt again.
Does that mean he is done? Not necessarily. But he wont be the LT. He will have to somehow prove himself as a backup, and hope to get traded somewhere he can start. He could maybe convert to guard, but even then there isn’t a spot for him on this starting roster.
Goedert will be the primary TE this year. Zach Ertz is still here for now, but it feels unlikely he will be here come week 1. While Goedert has shown flashes, he has yet to truly show he can consistently be the go to guy Ertz has been. Many say it is because he has been the backup, and that could be fair. But that excuse will now be gone, so it’s on him to step up and put up those top 5 TE numbers he has been said to be capable of.
Maddox looked promising playing a mix of Safety and Nickelback his first two years. But as a starter on the outside last year, he was perhaps the worst corner in the league. But it’s a new year, and with the addition Steven Nelson, he won’t need to play on the outside as much which is where he struggled. That along with a new defensive scheme under Jonathan Gannon, could take a ton of pressure off Maddox.
But even with him having a potentially easier job this year, he still has a ton to prove. It is his 4th year. He will likely play a big role in the defense this year. But if he has another bad year, I can’t see them giving him a 3rd chance. They put faith in him by waiting until the 4th round to take a CB, but it is hard to see them doing that again next draft.
Elliott started his Eagles career with a bang, literally. He hit a 61 yard FG to win a game over the Giants. But more recently, he has simply not been a good kicker. He only hit 73% of his field goals last year, and missed 8% of his extra point attempts. Both those numbers are bottom half of the league, and the FG stat is 26th in the league.
They did not bring in a kicker to compete with him this year. But if he is at bad as he was last year, he won’t keep his job long. You can find a kicker capable of hitting 80% of his field goals.