Mon, 08 Mar 2021

Offense seeks a bounce-back season in 2021

Philadelphia Eagles
18 Jan 2021, 00:12 GMT+10

Dave Spadaro

Everything is on hold until the Eagles hire a new head coach - except it's not really that way. The Eagles have a roster to upgrade, starting with an offense that underperformed in a points-scoring record season in the NFL. And make no mistake, fixing the offense and raising it back to a top, top level - which we haven't seen since 2017 - could go a long way toward determining just fast this team gets back into the deep-into-the-playoffs picture.

"I put a heavy emphasis on wanting to have an elite offense, and I feel like defense has variables, variations throughout the year," Chairman & CEO Jeffrey Lurie said last Monday at the press conference announcing the decision to move on from Head Coach Doug Pederson. "But if you want to be a dominant team, you need to be a top offensive unit."

With that in mind, and understanding that a lot of the offense's bounce back will be determined by the next head coach and the staff he puts in place, how much of what the Eagles have on the roster suggests that they can take a significant step forward in 2021? Quite a lot, actually.

At quarterback, the Eagles have two players with great talent. Carson Wentz regressed in 2020, we all know. The Eagles clearly think he can be fixed, and Lurie emphasized that point on Monday.

"Carson, to us, to me, and to I think virtually everybody in our organization, is a quarterback that his first four years was in many ways elite and comparable to some of the great quarterbacks' first four years in the league," Lurie said. "Fifth year, obviously not satisfactory, for whatever reasons. There are probably multiple reasons for that. The way I look at it is we have an asset and we have a talent.

"He's a great guy and he wants nothing but to win big and win Lombardi Trophies for Philadelphia. This guy is tireless. He has his heart in the right place and he's really dedicated offseason, on-season - he's just what you want. It behooves us as a team with a new coach, a new coaching staff, to be able to really get him back to that elite progression where he was capable of, and at the same time, understand that there have been many quarterbacks in their fourth and fifth year ... if you trace this, you can come up with many, many quarterbacks that have a single year where it's just, whoa, the touchdown-to-interception ratio is not what you want. And we're talking some great ones, like Peyton (Manning) and Ben (Roethlisberger) and guys like that.

"So I take sort of a more, probably a longer view of this was not the best season for our offense, it was a poor season, and we also had a poor season from Carson in terms of what he's been able to show in the past. Very fixable and I fully expect him to realize his potential."

Jalen Hurts started the final four games of 2020 and showed that he, too, has high-level talents. He has work to do to smooth out some of the wrinkles, but the Eagles know that there is a lot to work with here. To be determined is how the Eagles play it at quarterback, and so much of that goes back to the head coach. There are other positions, though, that are much more clear-cut and that provide more reason to believe the Eagles can be a potent offense next season.

The offensive line should get its right side - guard Brandon Brooks and tackle Lane Johnson - and there is going to be some talented competition at left tackle with young linemen Andre Dillard and Jordan Mailata pushing each other. We haven't heard from Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce, but let's take the optimistic approach here and pencil Kelce into the lineup to button up what could be one of the best offensive lines in the league.

There are playmakers in this offense at tight end with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, at running back with Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, and there is a young and talented wide receiver corps. Certainly, not everything is etched in stone. The Eagles are going to challenge the roster. With the sixth pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft and throughout the early stages of the draft, the Eagles are going to have chances to add impact to the offense.

It won't be a snap of the fingers to lift the Eagles' offense to among the league's best. There is a bunch of work to be done. But the point here is that there are pieces in place that the Eagles can build around, add to, and support. They need to nail the draft, no question. They need to solve the quarterback situation. They need to have a great scheme. Some luck in the health department would be great, too. It isn't going to be easy.

Make no mistake, though: For Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles' contingent currently conducting interviews and searching for the right candidate to take over the head coaching duties, reconstructing the offense is a large part of the conversation. The good news is that, while there are hard decisions to make (read: quarterback) and some roster battles to be had (left tackle, for example), there is talent here to work with.

Seeing the offense rise in 2021 is a significant goal for the Eagles, something they are keeping front of mind as they sort through the many interviews conducted and continue their search for the next head coach of this franchise.

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