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Nothing went right for the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles. It began in Week 1, when the Eagles suffered a surprise loss to the Washington Football Team, 27-17. Soon, injuries and inefficiencies piled up and the Eagles faded from playoff contention, even in the woeful NFC East. With that fade came the end of Carson Wentz’s time as the starting quarterback. He was eventually benched for Second Round pick Jalen Hurts, and the Eagles finished 4-11-1, in last place in the NFC East.
After a poor 2020 season and some big off-season changes, the question is whether the Eagles can get back on track in 2021.
Wentz’s time with the Eagles ended quickly in the off-season as the former franchise quarterback was dealt to the Indianapolis Colts and his former Offensive Coordinator, Frank Reich. Head Coach Doug Pederson quickly followed Wentz out the door, leaving new Coach Nick Sirianni, the Colts’ Offensive Coordinator in 2020, to begin the Hurts era in Philadelphia. The Eagles also bid farewell to other veterans.
DeSean Jackson moved on to the Rams, while defensive end Vinny Curry went to the Jets and cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman signed with the Lions. Safety Jalen Mills went to the Patriots, while Malik Jackson signed with Cleveland and left tackle Jason Peters signed with the Bears. The team also grabbed a few veterans, signing Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens to round out the quarterback room while grabbing Washington defensive standout Ryan Kerrigan to bolster the defense.
In the draft, the Eagles spent a First Round Pick on National Championship Game MVP and Heisman Trophy Winner DeVonta Smith. At Alabama in 2020, Smith caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 TDs. He figures to lineup opposite second-year player Jalen Reagor to give the Eagles a good set of young targets. The team also grabbed Alabama center Landon Dickerson to bolster the offensive line and added Memphis back Kenneth Gainwell in the Fourth Round to add to its stable of RBs.
The biggest question is Hurts. In four starts in 2020 he threw for 1,061 yards, 6 TDs and 4 INTs. He also added 354 yards rushing and 3 TDs. Despite persistent rumors of looking at QBs in the draft or trading for Deshaun Watson, Hurts appears to be the guy. The 2021 season will likely determine a lot about his future and the future for the Eagles at quarterback. In fantasy terms, he could be gold. Some have him as a lock in the Top 12, but I’m less bullish. His rushing upside is appealing but I’m not sold on him as a passer, or the Eagles in general. I have him as a mid-tier QB2.
In the backfield, Miles Sanders leads a committee that includes Boston Scott and Gainwell, among others. Sanders figures to be the leader but in his two years with the Eagles he hasn’t appeared in more than 11 games. Sanders was RB23 in 2020, and that feels about right. I have him as RB21 currently and like him as a low-end RB2. Scott is a deep league flex and little more unless Sanders is out. Gainwell is one to watch. It’s unclear how he will factor into the committee, which also brought back Jordan Howard. I like Gainwell as a dynasty stash but I’m not expecting much in 2021.
Health is also a factor for the Eagles’ pass catchers, Smith and Reagor at receiver, Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz at tight end. I feel like Goedert is poised to take a leap in 2021, but it would be easier to buy if Ertz is moved. Despite persistent rumors, it hasn’t happened. If Ertz remains, he’ll be a factor. I like Smith and Reagor more in dynasty than in 2021. I think Smith finishes the best, likely in WR4 range. I have Reagor in WR5 range. Outside of them, Greg War had good chemistry with Hurts to end 2020 and young receiver Quez Watkins has also impressed in camp and could be a good dynasty stash.
I’m not sold on Hurts or the Eagles. I like some of the pieces in future years, but a lot of it depends on the quarterback. We’ll learn this season if Hurts is the answer, but I suspect he’s not. Either way, I think it will be another down year for the Eagles, who have salary cap issues to work through as they turn over this roster. I think they finish in the cellar in the NFC East yet again.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.
I think the remarkable thing about Hurts is that he can be a dynamic fantasy QB but his job will still be jeopardized if those fantasy points don’t translate to Philadelphia victories. Seems like someone to pair with Fields/Lance in a 1QB league.