Will the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles Compete for the Playoffs? | Eagles Addict
Carson Wentz

This guy is the reason why we will have a chance. Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As far as the Eagles’ starters go, we’ve seen about all we’re going to prior to Week 1 of the regular season.  After three preseason games in which the starters played cumulatively maybe four quarters worth of non-game-planned football, what’s your confidence level that this team will be legitimate contenders for the playoffs this season?

If you’re a follower of training camp practice reports by various beat writers, you may have been led to a sense of optimism.  Or if you’re a bettin’ man (or woman), maybe you check what the sportsbook odds of a team are.

For the most part, Carson Wentz and crew along with most of the starting defense have drawn good practice reviews.However, looking good in practice is nowhere near the same as playing in an actual game.

Preseason games are also mostly meaningless as far as getting a read on how a team will perform once things start counting.  But, they’re the closest indicator at this point and the only thing we can really go on.

Based on what I’ve seen from the starters so far, I think it’s a very mixed bag.

Carson Wentz has mostly looked sharp and has the appearance of being ready to take a step forward in his progression from his rookie season.  Unfortunately, he has been routinely under duress thanks to an offensive line that has been shaky, at best.

The OL and the run game haven’t looked good.  Wendall Smallwood finally played against Miami and his presence seemed to give the run game a boost.  Blount has looked like just a guy, Pumphrey is showing that he needs time and Clement will likely end up on the practice squad.

Perhaps Sproles will inject some juice come Week 1, but he’s not an in-between-the-tackles guy.

I’m not worried about the passing game outside of pass protection.  Jeffery, Smith, Mack Hollins (whom I really, really like) and Ertz will be fine.

Watching the starting defense, mainly against Miami, gave me flashbacks to last year where they could look really good on one play, then really bad the next.  They can pressure the QB, get sacks and create turnovers, but are still susceptible to “chunk plays.”

Again, this is all just preseason and there hasn’t been any game planning on either side of the ball.  Once the starters begin playing full games, they can start getting themselves into a groove and fix lingering issues (such as the erratic play of the OL).

I do think the OL will improve upon what we’ve seen.  There’s just too much talent there not to. Peters, Seumalo, Kelce, Brooks and Johnson are solid players and should iron out the kinks and prove to be, at least, an above average group.

The biggest question is still the defensive secondary.  Will Darby pan out?  Will they be able to limit the deep balls?  Can they be consistent?  We may again find ourselves completely relying on the DL to consistently disrupt passing plays to help the secondary.

Let’s not forget being able to stop the run as well.  Jay Ajayi gashed us a little and LeSean McCoy did the same the previous week.  With so much focus on pressuring the QB, the defense needs to be stout against the run as well.

The biggest thing for me is Carson Wentz.  He is the easiest thing to see and assess.  He looks improved over last year and is primed to take the next step…as long as his OL doesn’t get him killed.

Wentz is the main reason why I think this team will, in fact, legitimately compete for the playoffs. A good QB can make up for deficiencies elsewhere.

Furthermore, our biggest deficiency is in the defensive secondary and at this point, I’m going to go with the optimistic view that Darby will prove he was worth the trade, Mills will improve upon last season and that the added firepower of Derek Barnett and Timmy Jernigan to the DL will push the defense towards being a top 10-12 unit.

 


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