We’ll continue a series of opponent preview posts for the New Orleans Saints opponents in 2020. Next, we’ll look at our NFC showdown against the 2017 NFL champs. Our friends over at Bleeding Green Nation took some time to give us Saints fans the scoop on the Philadelphia
Week 14: vs the Philadelphia Eagles
Notable free agent additions:
Darius Slay, Javon Hargrave, Will Parks, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Jatavis Brown, Marquise Goodwin.
The Eagles essentially spent all of their free agency resources on defense. Slay was the biggest add; the former first-team All Pro figures to be the best cornerback the Eagles have had since … Asante Samuel? Hargrave was a surprising signing since the Eagles were already paying top defensive tackle money to Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson. They’re clearly counting on elite production from their interior defensive line. Parks has a chance to earn a starting role but might more likely be utilized as a third safety in certain packages.
The Eagles reportedly believe NRC is a top five nickel corner in the league so he’s the favorite to start in the slot. Brown signed a minimum contract and therefore isn’t a lock to make the team but he’ll push for playing time at linebacker, where the Eagles are very thin. The Eagles traded for Goodwin during the 2020 NFL Draft but I’m lumping the veteran into this category. The former San Francisco 49ers speedster figures to provide insurance if DeSean Jackson gets hurt and/or first-round pick Jalen Reagor isn’t ready to contribute right away.
10 wins — Under. I’m stuck choosing between nine or 10 wins for the 2020 Eagles, so I’ll take the under. This team has a ceiling for championship success when you consider Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz combined to form one of the best head coach-quarterback duos in the NFL. But the Eagles also still have a lot of question marks that lead me to believe they’re more “good” than truly “great.” The wide receiver picture is still unsettled, the offensive line could take a step back after losing Brandon Brooks and shifting Jason Peters out of left tackle, Malcolm Jenkins is gone … there are some significant concerns here.
Most exciting rookie:
Chalk pick but I have to go with Jalen Reagor. The Eagles entered the 2020 offseason with wide receiver as their most obvious need and using the No. 21 overall pick on Reagor was their only significant investment at the position. The team clearly has high hopes for the TCU product. Reagor’s drop issues are unsettling coming off a 2019 season where Philly’s pass catchers were so incredibly unreliable. But there’s thought that Reagor could be something of an undervalued talent given the poor quarterback play he had to deal with in college. Reagor could suddenly be a lot more productive playing with a top quarterback like Wentz. The rookie speedster could provide the Eagles offense with the field-stretching juice that it sorely lacked last year.
Position battle to keep an eye on:
Many believe Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones will be battling it out for the No. 2 cornerback spot across from Slay but the feeling here is that’s less of a competition than people realize. Maddox is going to be the guy there. The bigger point of interest is … what happens at receiver? DeSean Jackson will be starting if he’s healthy and avoids further off-field trouble. It’s unclear who’ll be lining up with him. Doug Pederson publicly tempered expectations for Reagor by saying he’ll be learning Jackson’s role to start out. Alshon Jeffery seems bound to begin the season on PUP.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside looked like a bust as a rookie; is he really ready to step up? Are the Eagles going to count on 2019 practice squad call up Greg Ward in the slot? How does Goodwin factor in? Can one of the Eagles’ Day 3 draft picks — John Hightower or Quez Watkins — emerge early on? There are more questions than answers at this position.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
Can Carson Wentz pick up where he left off? Wentz did a great job of stepping up down the stretch in 2019. He came up big when the Eagles needed him in four straight must-win games to win the NFC East. And he did it while working with a relatively bare bones supporting cast comprised of practice squad promotions. Now the Eagles are hoping Wentz can take advantage of the added talent around him. They need No. 11 to elevate them from a good team to a great one.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
The Eagles’ offensive line has a reputation for being one of the best units in the NFL. That might change this year, though. Going from Jason Peters to Andre Dillard at left could be a significant drop off. Dillard is talented and athletic but there are questions about his strength and mental makeup. There’s also potential for a big hole at right guard with Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks going down for the season. The Eagles re-signed Peters, who turns 39 in January, to play a position he’s never previously lined up at before. Even with these concerns, the Eagles should still have a good offensive line with Jason Kelce at center and Lane Johnson at tackle. They’re two of the best — if not THE best — players at their positions. But the line might not be quite as good as people normally expect it to be.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
Starting wide receiver Alshon Jeffery suffered a Lisfranc injury in mid-December and there’s no time table for his return. He seems likely to begin the season on PUP, thus requiring him to miss at least six games … if not more. Backup defensive end Daeshon Hall is coming off an ACL tear that’ll likely land him on PUP.
So what says you, you unbiased Saints fans? Can the Saints beat the Eagles? Vote in the poll. Explain in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisDunnells.
How will the Saints fare against the Eagles?
This poll is closed