Philadelphia Eagles fans might be in for one hell of an NFL season…
Football teams’ fortunes constantly wax and wane – it’s just the nature of the sport. However, even by NFL standards, the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2020 season was a real surprise. Tipped as Playoff certainties at the start of the year, they ended up getting nowhere near the postseason.
The first game set the tone for a dire campaign, with the Eagles crashing to a 17-27 defeat to Washington. The following week things got even worse when they were battered 37-19 by the LA Rams. There was some brief hope when Philly rallied to win three of their next six, as well as tying with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Eagles came crashing back down to Earth in Week 10, though, losing to the New York Giants. This started a rut that continued for the rest of the season with Philadelphia winning just one of their remaining eight games.
This meant they finished with a dire 4-11-1 record. Unsurprisingly this condemned them to the last place in the NFC East.
Now the dust has settled on this torrid year, the Eagles front and back-office have started preparations for the 2021 season. Can the team return to their best and become favorites of NFL betting fans again? Or, are they destined to struggle? Here is what we think Eagles fans can expect this year.
Philadelphia Eagles 2021 roster changes
The Eagles have wasted little time gutting their underperforming roster. It has not just been fringe players that have been moved on, several franchise favorites have also gone.
End of the Carson Wentz era
By far and away the most significant change to the Eagles’ 2021 roster is the departure of star quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz has been the lynchpin of the franchise ever since he was taken as the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
During his maiden season in Philadelphia, he set a string of records. Wentz attempted and completed the most passes of any rookie in NFL history and scooped a string of Eagles’ records as well.
One year later he got even better. In fact, he was one of the contenders to win the 2017 MVP before injury ruled him out. Tragically, this also meant he missed the Eagles’ run to the Super Bowl, with backup Nick Foles deputising and helping his team to victory over the New England Patriots.
He came back from injury strong and had his best-ever season in 2019, throwing a franchise-record 4,039 yards during the 2019 season. Since then, things have gone downhill and towards the end of the last season, he was even benched for rookie Jalen Hurts.
In March 2021 Wentz was traded to the Indianapolis Colts, marking a definitive changing of the guard in Philadelphia. The pressure is on Hurts now to come up with the goods. Of course, he is still developing, but he does not appear to be anywhere near Wentz’s level yet.
During his rookie season, he recorded a pass completion rate of just 52% – one of the worst in the league. It is likely that Hurts will improve if the offense is built around him and he does at least have more experienced QBs to learn from.
Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens have both been signed on one-year deals, with the latter even a contender to take the starting spot if Hurts proves himself not up for the task.
Other key deals
Although the departure of Wentz has stolen most of the headlines it is not the only piece of business Philly has conducted. Backup defensive lineman, Malik Jackson has joined the Cleveland Browns, while experienced wide receiver DeSean Jackson has also gone, signing for the LA Rams.
These departees have, for the most part, already been replaced either via free agency or the Draft. Two safeties – Adrian Kallis and Andrew Adams – have arrived, as well as a spate of linebackers.
Philadelphia appears to have picked up a few promising prospects in the Draft as well. Their first selection was a wide receiver, DeVonta Smith. During his final year at Alabama, he recorded more than 1,800 yards and also registered 23 touchdowns.
For his incredible exploits, he won the 2020 Heisman Trophy, awarded to the outstanding college player in the country every year. The Eagles were not expected to get Smith and his addition is a significant boost.
Later picks Landon Dickerson and Milton Williams, a center and defensive tackle respectively, could also turn out to be inspired pickups.
What can Philadelphia Eagles fans expect?
Put it this way, Philadelphia Eagles fans should not expect to end the 2021 season as NFL champions. Saying that their talented young squad should have enough to at least match if not better their poor record from last season.
The impact that Wentz’s departure could have on the group cannot be overstated, but there are plenty of prospects to get excited about.
What is likely to give Eagles fans a boost is their return to their home stadium in significant numbers. Spectators were restricted at the Lincoln Financial Field last year, leading to a sterile atmosphere.
For 2021, though, the stands will be full once again with Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney removing capacity restrictions in May.
Therefore, although the on-field action will not be perfect, spectators will at least be allowed inside the stadium this year.