2018 NFL Season Preview: Philadelphia Eagles
Despite several injuries to key players, the Eagles stayed on path and claimed their first championship since 1960. Philadelphia improved their 7-9 record from last year, reaching a record of 13–3 and tying their 2004 season for the highest winning percentage in franchise history.
After defeating the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 in the Divisional Round and routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 in the NFC Championship, the Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33 in an offensive showdown to claim their first ever Super Bowl title.
Notes on Players
- Quarterback Carson Wentz was on his way to being league MVP before tearing his ACL in Week 14. Nick Foles came in and struggled at first, but he performed strong in the NFC Championship and was named Super Bowl LII MVP with 373 passing yards and four total touchdowns (three passing, one receiving.)
- Tight end Brent Celek only had 13 catches but is still one of the best blocking tight ends in the league.
- Trey Burton had only 23 receptions, but five went for touchdowns, and he threw a touchdown to Nick Foles in the Super Bowl.
- The offense used a committee of running backs by rotating Jay Ajayi and LaGarrette Blount. The team traded for Ajayi midseason, and he averaged 5.8 yards per carry.
- Wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey was a valuable target for both Wentz and Foles. He led the team with nine touchdown catches, including seven in the red zone.
- After being a disappointment in his first two seasons, Nelson Agholor blossomed after being moved to the slot and had eight touchdowns.
- Torrey Smith served as the team's deep threat with two scores.
- Left tackle Jason Peters tore his ACL in Week 7, and his replacement, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, did a respectable job in his place.
- The front four were the key to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's defense. The line produced 38 sacks and put constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Defensive end Brandon Graham had a career-high 9.5 sacks, and Chris Long had five sacks in his first hear with the team.
- The linebacker corps played well despite Jordan Hicks tearing his Achilles in October.
- Nigel Bradham had his best season while taking over the play calling duties.
- Mychal Kendricks saw his role increase and played more in nickel and dime packages. The secondary had 19 interceptions, including nine on third down.
- Cornerback Ronald Darby was acquired via trade and missed nine games with an ankle injury but was an outstanding press corner when he was healthy.
- The team signed kicker Jake Elliott after Caleb Sturgis was injured in the first game, and he played well.
- Darren Sproles tore his ACL early in the year, and Kenjon Barner wasn't a suitable replacement in the return game.
Pro Bowlers and All-Pros
The team produced seven Pro Bowlers and All-Pros:
- Quarterback Carson Wentz
- Tight end Zach Ertz
- Right tackle Lane Johnson
- Right guard Brandon Brooks
- Center Jason Kelce
- Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox
- Safety Malcolm Jenkins
Despite missing the final three games, Wentz finished second in the league in touchdown passes and was the top third down and red zone passer. Ertz finished with 74 catches and eight touchdowns with all scores coming in the red zone. Kelce and Johnson were both first team All-Pro, and Brooks made his first Pro Bowl.
Cox is a disruptive force inside and finished with 26 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Jenkins was used in a variety of roles, often dropping down to cover slot receivers, and he played a linebacker hybrid role when Jordan Hicks went down.
The Rookie Class
The rookie class got valuable experience as reserves.
- Defensive end Derek Barnett had five sacks as part of the defensive line rotation.
- Cornerback Sidney Jones spent most of the year recovering from a pre-draft Achilles injury.
- Cornerback Rasul Douglas saw a lot of playing time when Ronald Darby was injured.
- Wide receiver Mack Hollins caught 16 passes as the fourth receiver and stood out on special teams.
- Running back Donnell Pumphrey spent the year on injured reserve with a bum hamstring. Undrafted running back Corey Clement developed into a solid third down back.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
After the 13-3 season that ended in the team's first Super Bowl victory, many were praising head coach Doug Pederson as a genius for his play calling and taking a backup quarterback through the playoffs. The key for him as he enters his third season is to keep the winning going and prove it wasn't a fluke.
Coaching Staff Promotions
After offensive coordinator Frank Reich left to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, the team promoted wide receivers coach Mike Groh to be the new offensive coordinator. When quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo left to become the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, the team promoted offensive quality control coach Press Taylor to quarterbacks coach.
Notable Injuries: On May 22, recently acquired linebacker Paul Worrilow tore his ACL on the first day of OTAs, ending his season.
Notable Additions: QB Christian Hackenburg, RB Matt Jones, WR Kamar Aiken, WR Mike Wallace, WR Markus Wheaton, TE Richard Rodgers, DE Michael Bennett, DT Haloti Ngata, LB Paul Worrilow
Notable Departures: RB LaGarrette Blount, RB Kenjon Barner, WR Torrey Smith, TE Trey Burton, TE Brent Celek, OT Will Beatty, DE Vinnie Curry, LB Mychal Kendricks, CB Patrick Robinson, CB Daryl Worley, K Caleb Sturgis, P Donnie Jones
2018 NFL Draft
What the Eagles Needed
Holding the final pick in the first round of the draft, the Eagles have to replace positions if they expect to repeat as Super Bowl champs. Primarily at wide receiver, offensive tackle, and linebacker.
- Wide Receiver: Alshon Jeffrey signed an extension, but Torrey Smith is now in Carolina. Mack Hollings is promising, but you can't have too many weapons for Carson Wentz.
- Offensive Tackle: Jason Peters is coming off a torn ACL and is 36. Lane Johnson is perfect at right tackle, but it's unknown if Halapoulivaati Vaitai is the long term answer.
- Linebacker: Jordan Hicks is coming off a ruptured Achilles, Mychal Kendricks is now in Cleveland, and Paul Worrilow is out for the season. Youth at linebacker is needed.
What Happened During the Draft
On draft day, Philadelphia traded their first round pick to Baltimore so the Ravens could draft Lamar Jackson. When it came time to pick, the Eagles drafted South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert in the second round. Goedert has the best hands of any tight end in the draft, but he needs to improve his footwork to eliminate wasted motion on routes.
The Eagles also notably drafted Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat in the fourth round and offensive tackle Jordan Mailata in the seventh. Sweat was viewed as the strongest defensive end prospect this year, but was unable to beat blockers with speed. Mailata has a mammoth frame teams love in tackles, but he has limited football knowledge as he has only played professional rugby.
Dallas Goedert Highlights
What To Expect
With the additions the team made they should start right were they left off in theory. But there are certainly concerns.
Carson Wentz may not be ready for the start of the season and team's will be prepared to deal with Nick Foles. The running backs will continue to go by committee with many backs capable of performing at a high level. The team now has to high caliber pass catching tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert with Richard Rodgers being a possible blocker. Alshon Jeffrey should continue to be the number one receiver with Mike Wallace being a vertical threat and Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins used as slot and fourth receivers. It unknown what to expect from Jason Peters, but the there looks to be enough bodies in the group to keep the line strong.
The defensive line stills remains the deepest unit on the team and in the league with the additions they made. With the team using nickel and dime formations, it's likely Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks will be the only linebackers primarily used. The secondary will have to rely heavily on second year guys like Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas.
After the Super Bowl win, many of the Eagles feel that they can do no wrong. I see them winning the NFC East once again, but I do think their arrogance will be their ultimate undoing.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 12-4