Philadelphia Eagles training camp is underway. For the first time since 2016, the team is under the tutelage of a new coach. A different starting quarterback is under center. Their 2021 record? Probably underwhelming.
Their 2021 record doesn’t matter.
This season is all about the organization’s overall plan. Fans will get an idea if this is a rebuild or re-tooling after a few key factors are determined in the sticky South Philadelphia heat.
Offensive line is the strength of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021. The return of Brandon Brooks is a story to keep tabs on, but the only real position battle is at left tackle. This is the first true test of Nick Sirianni’s “competition” mantra.
It will also show what Andre Dillard is made of. Projected as a franchise cornerstone, his rookie year showed an underwhelming desire to battle and adjust. Dillard’s pre-season injury doomed his sophomore season.
In the meantime, Jordan Mailata may have gone from rugby star to starting tackle. Is one of the all-time draft projects for real or will Dillard finally step up?
Will Derek Barnett Stay Healthy?
Derek Barnett is one of the team’s trickiest free agent decisions. While not having the consistency to have earn a massive extension, his talent and the necessity of a quality pass rush brought back the Super Bowl hero for at least one more season.
Health certainly factors into the equation here, but Barnett has the chance to grab a lucrative extension if he dominates in 2021. Brandon Graham’s age brings a need to pass the torch at defensive end. It’s important for Barnett to get off to a good start this season at training camp.
Who Is The Quarterback In 2022?
Make no mistake. This is Jalen Hurts’ team. For now. Unless he doesn’t look too far over his shoulder.
The feux drama of Hurts not being named the starter is an overhyped media controversy. I don’t care.
As long as Hurts acquits himself well in training camp, he’ll be the starter on opening day. One major problem with Carson Wentz is that he felt entitled to start regardless of performance. The Eagles aren’t making the same mistake twice and Hurts will have to earn his job.
… And don’t even think about the Eagles trading for DeShaun Watson. An unresolved legal situation makes the trade an unwise move. The troubling nature of the allegations should be giving Eagles fans trepidation about trading for the quarterback.
Is Jalen Reagor A Bust?
The Eagles have a lot of question marks at wide receiver. DeVonta Smith isn’t one of them. Despite never having taken a snap in the NFL, the rookie is already the surest target for Jalen Hurts.
Everyone else? Well, that’s a different matter. Greg Ward is a fine option, but how far he ranks on the depth chart says a lot about the other receivers.
Jalen Reagor turned in an underwhelming rookie campaign in 2020. He has a chance to cement himself as the number two wideout and help fans breathe easier about the team’s future… but he already failed a conditioning test at training camp.
Is Jalen Reagor a bust? If so, the Eagles at least have DeVonta Smith to build around. If Reagor shows that he is a viable WR2 in the league, the Eagles will be able to concentrate on building other areas of their roster in 2022 and beyond.
Not unlike Doug Pederson’s rookie campaign, it doesn’t matter what Nick Sirianni’s record is in 2021. All we have to know is if he is the coach of the future. With the roster in transition, it’s about how the team competes on the field to know if Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman made the right choice.
Dick Vermeil and Andy Reid established their memorable legacies in training camp. Chip Kelly introduced smoothies. Doug Pederson proved that he wasn’t Chip Kelly.
Each began selling their message at camp. Even if there are bumps along the way, it’ll be interesting watch how veterans react to the replacement of a popular coach. If Nick Sirianni sells his message and refocuses the team, the Eagles just may surprise fans with a faster rebuild.