2016 Eagles Can Legitimately Compete For the Playoffs | Eagles Addict
Sam Bradford Doug Pederson

Can these two be “good enough” to lead the Eagles to the playoffs? Photo: Jeff Fusco

In general, expectations seem to be pretty low for the Eagles in 2016.  According to odds-makers, the Eagles are among the teams with the longest of odds to win the Super Bowl as well as the conference championship.

They’re also not the bettors’ favorites to even win the NFC East.  Most of the folks in the national media aren’t giving the Eagles much of a chance either.  Between the mundane hiring of Doug Pederson, the uninspiring Sam Bradford and overall perceived lack of top-shelf talent, people just aren’t expecting much from these Eagles.

Except me.

I’m not expecting the Eagles to win or even make the Super Bowl, but I am fully expecting them to compete for the playoffs.

From the moment they re-signed Bradford, it showed me that the team’s mentality was to be as competitive as possible.  And that’s important…what moves the team makes shows you their mentality.

Had they let Bradford test the free agent market while immediately pursuing Chase Daniel, that would have hinted at the mentality of “meh, we’ll see what happens but we’re probably not going to be competitive in 2016.”

Signing Bradford before free agency started indicated a mentality of: “He’s our best option to be competitive so let’s make sure we secure him.”  You don’t spend that kind of money on Bradford unless you are truly trying to be as competitive as you can be.

Much of the talk regarding the moves the Eagles made this offseason has centered around building a core for the future.  While that is true to an extent, they also made moves that will help them win this year.

One of the biggest reasons I expect to be more competitive this year is the defense.  I’ve previously written why I think they could be a top-10 unit this year.  Simply put, they aren’t as bad as they seemed.

On the flip side, most people think the Eagles’ offense will be what holds the team back due to the perpetually mediocre Sam Bradford and no prolific offensive weapon to point to.  To that I say: we’ll see.

I’m not as down on the Eagles’ offensive prowess as most are.  Maybe it’s because we’re at the precipice of another season when optimism abounds for all teams, but I believe this offense can be “good enough.”

For starters, if the offensive line can remain healthy, I think they’ll be much improved over last year with the additions of Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisniewski.  Brooks is a major upgrade at RG and I fully expect either Seumalo or Wisniewski to win the LG spot and provide a big upgrade there as well.

As I’ve noted before, Wisniewski had his best pro season at the LG position.  These upgrades along the line will make everyone better.

Jordan Matthews is entering his third season and should continue his ascension.  Will he ever be as dominant as the game’s best receivers?  Probably not, but he will at least be on the Jeremy Maclin level.

Nelson Agholor is entering his second season.  Some folks have already used the word “bust” and “Agholor” in the same sentence after his 23 catch, 283 yards and 1 TD rookie year.  To me, that is ridiculous and extremely premature.

Was Antonio Brown a bust after his rookie season when he posted 16 catches for 167 yards and 0 TDs?  Or how about Brandon Marshall when he had just 20 catches for 309 yards and 2 TDs in his rookie season?

Agholor showed flashes last year of having legit NFL talent.  For him, it’s going to depend on the mental part of the game.  If he can get that under control and improve his route running, he has the talent to make some big plays for this offense.

Zach Ertz is another player still coming into his own.  He signed a good deal this past offseason and is certainly viewed as a playmaker from the TE position.  Trey Burton is a sneaky-talented player who could see his role continue to grow as well.

The running back position is where even more questions abound with the oft-injured Ryan Mathews leading the way.  The thing is, Mathews was the Eagles’ best RB last year and is a good player…when he can play.

Yes, his injury history is concerning but when looking at what he can bring to the table talent-wise, he is more than adequate to be the lead dog in the backfield.  Sproles still adds a spark and the potential of Wendall Smallwood, Kenjon Barner and Byron Marshall is there.

As a whole, the RB stable doesn’t look the best on paper.  However, this is a position where players can step up and become stars over night regardless of their background or their draft status.

The biggest question on offense is obviously Sam Bradford.  Can he do enough to win games, keep defenses honest and stay healthy?  All are fair questions.

Bradford has been the definition of mediocre over his career.  His stats are seemingly always in the middle of the pack.  To the eye test last year, he started slow and seemed to play with a lot of hesitancy.

As the year progressed, it seemed his confidence improved along with his play on the field.  The big thing is that the offensive scheme employed by Chip Kelly left a little to be desired and somewhat skewed what we saw out of Bradford.

One major difference we will see this year is how Bradford can play when given more control over plays based on what he sees at the line of scrimmage.  Match that with a more conventional offense, having a full offseason of health and season preparation as well as rapport-building with his skill players, we should see an overall improved player.

It’s easy to spout off saying “Bradford sucks”, but he really doesn’t.  He’s been consistently mediocre even while dealing with significant injuries and several coaching/scheme changes over the course of his six year career.

Playing in the right system, Bradford has the skills to rise above mediocre and play at a level that can help lead his team to the playoffs.  We’ve seen other mediocre quarterbacks take their team to the playoffs, why can’t Bradford?

In any case, Bradford still has the potential to be good enough to lead this team to a winning season.  I expect the defense to be good.  Hopefully the special teams unit doesn’t take a step back without Kelly’s emphasis (the unit’s coach is still the same).

I’m happy that most people are down on the Eagles, it makes for less pressure.  Being the underdog is a good thing for this squad.

The NFC East is up for grabs, regardless of what the odds-makers say now.  I can see any one of the four teams winning it, actually.  The NFC in general should have plenty of teams on relatively the same level competing for playoff spots.

The Eagles are good enough right now to be in that mix.


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6 Responses to 2016 Eagles Can Legitimately Compete For the Playoffs

  1. Berdj Joseph Rassam says:

    The Eagles will be somewhere around a .500 team.

  2. Tom Jackson says:

    Great article, Dave!!! Touched all the bases!

  3. Buddyball46 says:

    What’s up Eagle Nation !!
    I agree with Dave. I do not think their is any reason we could not win the NFC East.
    **RIP Buddy, Buddy’s Eagles are what made me an NFL fan. The closest thing to the excitement I got from Buddy’s Eagles was when we had D-Jax and the ball would go up in the air for a bomb.
    -I am really looking forward to this year. The expectations are low and will be fun to run for the team and more exciting when we pull off the upsets. -Why have we not signed Dwight Freeney? He would be great in our wide 9 packages. He proved he can still ball in AZ. He is not another Babin although he may not be strong against the run. He is adequate to decent against the run. Lets just cut Marcus Smith upgrade to a borderline hall of fame vet. He would not cost much, would be effective and show the other players the Eagles expect to win.
    -I would like to see Celek line up as a FB in our I formations. Why not?
    -I am still not understanding why Jordan Mathews does not get a chance outside? He needs to play on 2 WR sets as well. I am not a fan of Huff, let Sproles return kickoffs too.
    -I would rather see Barwin get snaps at LB over all of our projected LB’s. I am not against him playing both LB and DE, he needs to get a lot of snaps and we already have a lot of talent at DE.
    FLY EAGLES FLY !!!

    • What’s up Buddy! It’s amazing Freeney was as productive as he was last year and he’s now 36. They’re probably holding out hope for Marcus Smith, this year is his last chance at proving himself. If he doesn’t, he’ll be done. For the record, I’m not ready to give up on him just yet either. I’ll wait and see how he does in this new defense, could be a pleasant surprise.

      Barwin at the SAM position was the popular thought before they signed Nigel Bradham, but they’ve said all along that Barwin is a DE. So that means they just want him rushing the passer. With that said, my bet is that they’ll concoct plays where he does drop in coverage here and there.


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