Scouting report: Aggressive offseason has Eagles talking Super Bowl

Pride of Detroit

The Detroit Lions open up their schedule with one of the most hyped teams this offseason. The Philadelphia Eagles not only finished last year strong, but they had a super aggressive offseason that has suddenly skyrocketed expectations in just Year 2 under head coach Nick Sirianni.

But is that truly warranted for a team still under a relatively new coaching staff and with a quarterback that still has many questions to answer? Obviously, that’s a hard question to answer before the season has started. However, let’s do our best to investigate the Lions’ Week 1 opponent, by breaking down the Eagles’ offseason, looking at their relative strengths and weaknesses, and seeing how the Lions match up.

It’s our Lions Week 1 scouting report.

Philadelphia Eagles

Last season:

9-8 record (2nd in NFC East) — Lost in Wild Card round to Buccaneers
12th in points scored, 18th in points allowed
Overall DVOA: 15th (11th on offense, 25h on defense)

The Eagles 2021 season was all about growth. Early on, the team was a little lost, not knowing what its identity was nor their quarterback of the future. They started the year 2-5, and fans were already calling for the general manager’s head—though it was probably too early for first-year head coach Nick Sirianni to get the axe.

But then—I want to say it was right around their Week 8 contest with the Detroit Lions—it all changed. The Eagles became a run-heavy team and leaned into Jalen Hurts’ athleticism. The offense was on fire, and Philadelphia finished the season going 7-3 in their final 10 games.

They may have had an early exit in the playoffs, but they went into the 2022 offseason with plenty of optimism about the team’s future.

2021 offseason

Key free agent additions: WR Zach Paschal, EDGE Haason Reddick, LB Kyzir White, CB James Bradberry
Key losses: DT Ryan Kerrigan (retired), WR Jalen Reagor (trade), G Brandon Brooks (retired)
Trade additions: WR A.J. Brown, DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

2020 NFL draft picks:

Round 1: DT Jordan Davis
Round 2: C Cam Jurgens
Round 3: LB Nakobe Dean
Round 6: EDGE Kyron Johnson
Round 6: TE Grant Calcaterra

Despite having limited cap space, the Eagles were quite aggressive this offseason, finding creative ways to add weapons—like trading a first and third-round pick for Titans receiver A.J. Brown or picking up Gardner-Johnson and a 2025 seventh-round pick for just a fifth and a six-round pick.

Brown caught most of the offseason headlines for the Eagles. Pairing him with the young, promising former first-rounder in DeVonta Smith gives Philly a new dimension beyond just being a heavy running team.

That said, the focus of Philly’s offseason was clearly on the defense—and for good reason. They upgraded the defensive line—which produced the second-fewest sacks last year—by adding Reddick and Davis. They found two contributors at the linebacker level by signing Kyzir White and drafting Nakobe Dean in the third round. Their secondary got two new starters with the signing of Bradberry and trade for Gardner-Johnson.

In short, they added starters at almost every level of this team, especially on defense.

Key injuries: C Jason Kelce (elbow), RB Miles Sanders (hamstring)

The Eagles don’t have any starters on any reserve list. Andre Dillard, the team’s backup left tackle, is on IR, though, after breaking his arm during practice last week.

But the Eagles are pretty darn healthy overall. Center Jason Kelce returned to practice last week after having elbow surgery in early August.

Sanders, too, has missed an extensive part of training camp, but his return to practice last week also suggests he should play in the opener.

Biggest strength: Running game

As much as the Eagles tried to improve their passing game this offseason, their rushing attack remains their true identity. Last year, the Eagles finished first in rushing yards per game (159.7), fourth in yards per carry (4.9), first in rushing touchdowns (25), and third in rush DVOA.

I probably don’t have to remind you of any of this, because the Eagles ran up 236 rushing yards and four touchdowns against the Lions last year.

Nothing has really changed from the Eagles’ personnel standpoint, with only right guard being a new position on the offensive line. Philly’s stable of running backs remains impressive with Miles Sanders and second-year Kenneth Gainwell leading the way. Mercifully, Jordan Howard is gone.

Biggest weakness: Pass rush

It’s hard to pinpoint a weakness on the Eagles’ defense given the amount of changes in personnel, but I remain skeptical about their pass rush.

One big reason they struggled last year was that Brandon Graham suffered a torn Achilles in Week 2. Graham is back this year, but Lions fans are more than familiar with the intensive rehab needed to get back on your feet after an injury like that. At 34 years old, who knows what Graham is going to look like in his first action since the injury?

Of course, there’s no denying the talent that is Haason Reddick. He’s put up back-to-back 11+ sack seasons—and for two different teams. He’ll also benefit from having two strong interior presences in All-Pro Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.

So… yeah, doesn’t really sound like much of a weakness when you put it like that.

I guess you could make the argument that quarterback Jalen Hurts is the most significant weakness on the Eagles roster, as the jury is still very much out on him—especially as a passer. Hurts completed just 61.3 percent of his passes last year, but he more than made up for it with his legs.

Vegas line for Sunday: Eagles by 4

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