Good morning. The Eagles have two more organized team activities this week before next week’s mandatory minicamp. Then, school’s out for the summer and the Eagles will return at the end of July for training camp.
— Zach Berman
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The biggest story this spring has been Carson Wentz’s return to the field. He has impressed during the three practice sessions that reporters have attended, and even when the doors are closed, Wentz’s teammates have noticed, too. Center Jason Kelce said he’d be “very surprised” if Wentz didn’t return to MVP form. Running back Jordan Howard, playing with Wentz for the first time, said Wentz “has what it takes” and the Eagles are “going to go as far as he can carry us.”
What has stood out most to coach Doug Pederson?
“Gosh, he’s strong,” Pederson said. “His lower body is strong. His arm is strong. You are seeing the things that we saw a couple of years ago when he was healthy, obviously. He’s leading the offense, leading the team, and really doing a nice job out there. … Been real impressed with where Carson is.”
Pederson added the Eagles have not needed to hold Wentz back at all in practices. He conceded that the Eagles were “cautious early” and wanted to ensure there was no regression with Wentz’s health. But they’ve now increased the workload and Wentz has “handled it well.”
Pederson said the Eagles will remain guarded, but there does not appear to be reason for concern. There’s certainly no reason for concern when watching him throw in practice. Wentz hasn’t worn a knee brace since OTAs started, although he added a leg sleeve during the last session.
There’s a caveat to the spring workouts to not go overboard on evaluations, as Jim Schwartz said and as was mentioned in last week’s newsletter. The players are supposed to look good practicing in shorts. But they’re on the field, they’re being watched, and naturally there are some players who stand out more than others.
“On offense, I think Nelson [Agholor]'s had a really good offseason,” Pederson said. “Dallas Goedert has really improved on where he sort of left off at the end of last year on offense. We talked about Carson a little bit. Defensively, I mean, I think Avonte Maddox has picked up where he left off. He’s looking really good. Sidney Jones is playing with the absence of Jalen [Mills] and [Ronald] Darby right now, just playing with confidence and playing with great ability and skill: the player that we drafted. And even Rasul Douglas, I think, is another one that’s had a really good spring.”
I wrote about Goedert and Maddox in this space after the first practice. Both second-year players should be on the field more in 2019. They impressed as rookies and started taking the next step this spring. The Eagles need to be creative to find ways to get Goedert snaps with the presence of Zach Ertz, but he’s such a threat with his size and ability to make plays in the middle of the field. Maddox can play all over the field, and my guess is they’ll need him at multiple spots this season, with a focus on the slot.
Agholor was a good name, too. He’s an established starter at this point, but in watching him and talking with him, Agholor appears to be in a good place entering 2019. It’s a contract year, he has a clear role in the offense, and he’s in his fourth year in the system. Because the Eagles have so many weapons, I wouldn’t expect Agholor to far surpass the 63-catch, 752-yard average from the past two years, but I do think you’ll see big plays from Agholor and games when he’s their top target.
Joe Douglas was on the field at practice Monday, still in Eagles gear and working in the building. His status will be closely watched in the coming days while the New York Jets decide on their next general manager. Douglas interviewed for the job Sunday, and the Jets have completed four total interviews. Jets coach Adam Gase told reporters he hopes to have a GM in place by the end of next week.
Douglas has been considered the front-runner for the position, and his time to become a general manager somewhere seems only a question of when. Gase has said publicly that the general manager will have control of the roster, which Douglas does not have in Philadelphia.
Other dynamics must be considered when taking a job like this, such as the relationship with the coach and owner; the assessment of their roster and quarterback situation; and their salary-cap picture going forward. But there’s a real threat the Eagles could lose Douglas in the coming days. Whenever it happens, for this job or another, it won’t necessarily catch the Eagles by surprise.
"When you’re winning, you’re going to lose executives, and I think we’re in a great position to be able to deal with that,” owner Jeffrey Lurie said.
One person to watch in the Eagles front office taking on a prominent role is Andrew Berry, who was hired away from the Cleveland Browns this offseason. Berry is the vice president of football operations and already involved in multiple areas.
I’m going under on this one. There have been only three 50-touchdown seasons in NFL history. I think Carson Wentz will have a big season, but even in 2017 when he was in line for an MVP season before the injury, he wasn’t on pace for 50 touchdowns; he was on pace for 40.
If Wentz reaches 40 touchdowns, which has happened only 13 times in NFL history, that should be considered a major success.
It’s still early, but T.J. Edwards is the undrafted rookie who has stood out to me so far. He’s made plays at linebacker, whether it’s breaking up passes or finding his way into the backfield on runs. There’s an unsettled depth chart at linebacker, and he has a real chance to make the team.
Good question. Doug Pederson said the Eagles have made adjustments in this area. Here’s his full quote:
“We focus a little more on the core. We do it every year, but I think there's some things to be said. I think research, it's hard to track because with every team and the data that's out there, it's hard to track. I think we're getting more and more kind of caught up with the soft-tissue injuries. We've had extensive history with the ACLs and all that kind of stuff, but now the soft-tissue thing has kind of taken over. So we're collecting more data on it.
"We’re trying to be proactive with soft tissue, with stretching and core exercises. One of the things I did this spring was give our strength and conditioning [staff] a little more time to be a little more proactive in some of this so we could be ahead of the curve and really try to focus on eliminating as many as we can. Obviously, they’re going to come up, but we’re taking steps to be proactive in it.”