Last year at this time, the Eagles were just a blip on the NFL radar screen when all 32 teams went back to work to prepare for the upcoming season. Doug Pederson was in place as the team’s new head coach in light of the failed “Chip Kelly Experiment” and Sam Bradford was in place as the incumbent starting quarterback while the Birds’ top draft pick Carson Wentz was relegated to No. 3 on the depth chart.
I distinctly remember having to search long and hard for any type of news on the team when it came to national sites such as NFL.com and ESPN.com. The Eagles were picked to finish last in their division and their projected win total stood at seven games. Both of those projections held true with a 7-9 record and last-place finish in Pederson’s first season as a NFL head coach, but the winds of change were in the air.
Flash forward to the present and the expectation level for the Eagles this season has moved in the right direction with a projected third-place finish in the NFC East behind Dallas and New York to go along with their projected eight-game win total. That may be the national view, but the bar has been raised much higher than that from the Philly faithful with summer camp in full swing.
Wentz showed flashes of greatness in his first 16 games as the Eagles new franchise quarterback, the defense took a big step forward last season under the guidance of Jim Schwartz as the team’s new defensive coordinator and you have to be impressed with the front office’s aggressive offseason moves to address some of its biggest needs. With the addition of offensive weapons such as wide receivers’ Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith and running back LeGarrette Blount as free agents along with Derek Barnett and Rasul Douglas on the defensive side of the ball through the draft, there has been a major upgrade in personnel over the past few months.
The Eagles still have more questions than answers since everything looks good on paper and it still comes down to winning games on the field, but I do think it is safe to say that expectations are running high for bigger and better things from the Birds in 2017.