Last season, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz helped the Philadelphia Eagles storm out of the gates. The team started off with a 3-0 record that included a 34-3 rout of their in-state rival Pittsburgh Steelers on September 25th. In that game, Wentz gave fans a glimpse of his potential as the Eagles quarterback of the future, throwing for 301 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
But suffice it to say that things came back down to earth after that high watermark win in week three. The Eagles went 4-9 the rest of the way, including a five-game losing streak late in the year. Even though they won their final two, their 7-9 finish was good enough for dead last in a suddenly competitive NFC East.
Heading into year two with Wentz under center and Doug Pederson as head coach, there is reason to be optimistic. The Eagles added some key pieces to bolster the Eagles passing game, most notably Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. In the 2017 draft, they made some picks in the middle rounds aimed at adding depth to the receiving corps, selecting Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson in the fourth and fifth rounds respectively.
The offensive line in front of Wentz is also expected to impress. Last year, they finished in the top half of the league, allowing 33 sacks. And Pro Football Focus gave the team’s starters the sixth highest average player grade among all five positions. Lane Johnson, who missed ten games last year due to a PED suspension, also returns. If he can stay healthy, then the sky’s the limit for this unit.
All of it has Wentz excited about what the upcoming season brings with respect to Philly reaching their goals.
“We have high expectations around here,” Wentz told SportsRadio 94WIP via Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly. “We hope and expect to be playing in January and then to see what happens. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
It’s a monumental challenge when the Eagles three divisional rivals all have capable signal callers. The Giants boast an accomplished veteran in Eli Manning. Washington has a player in Kirk Cousins who’s been franchise tagged by the team two years running. And Wentz’s fellow rookie from last year, Dak Prescott, helped the Cowboys surge to the top of both the division and the NFC as a whole.
Nevertheless, the soon-to-be second-year man out of North Dakota State is supremely confident that Philly can emerge as top dogs out of the NFC East this year.
“Our goal is to win the NFC East and we believe we have the guys to do it,” Wentz emphasized. “We just have to now go put the work in and go make things happen.”
With the NFL’s off-season program in the books, the next step in that preparation begins with training camp. Eagles players begin reporting on July 24th when rookies arrive. Veterans join them two days later with the first practice at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia taking place July 27th.