It is very well-known that 2020 was an absolute disaster for the Philadelphia Eagles and probably what few expected. There are likely not many reasons to be optimistic about the 2021 season, but progressive changes have occurred. Although he’s relatively unknown, the head coaching hire of Nick Sirianni will bring a fresh feel and outlook to the team. Additionally, the Carson Wentz trade has paved the way for Jalen Hurts to become the outright starter after an intriguing 2020 performance.
With Jalen Hurts taking over the offense, there will be plenty more change to observe as Hurts and Wentz had very different playing styles. Perhaps more importantly, Philadelphia’s coaching staff overall is just about completely new. This new coaching staff will bring fresh ideas and regimes for players to follow and understand. For some players, new coaches may be just what they need to take the next step. That next step could end up being a huge improvement in their careers and some players just might surprise everyone next season, as a result.
It should be interesting to watch events play out, but it never hurts to speculate with bold predictions for 2021:
Miles Sanders has an MVP Season
Philadelphia’s starting running back has proven that he has what it takes to be a difference-maker in the NFL. In his first two seasons, Sanders has compiled a little over 1,600 rushing yards which is solid in a system that rotates running backs. He finished the 2020 season with a 5.3 yards per carry average which ranked among the top-10 in the league. Sanders is a prominent running back who can use his agility to make defenders look silly, as well as putting his head down as a power back. Sanders is an overall running back who gives Philadelphia a strong and reliable option on every down. The issue is that he has not received the necessary opportunities to display just how impactful he can be. In Doug Pederson’s offense and Duce Staley’s supervision, Sanders has not been utilized as much as he should be.
The former Penn State star has been promising so far and Philadelphia’s new coaching staff will work in Sanders’ favor. Sanders has all but solidified the fact that he is the no.1 running back on the team that needs a reliable rushing option. Now, with the new coaching staff, Sanders is bound to have an official breakout season and 2021 is the year to do it. The Eagles’ running back rotation limited Sanders’ overall production, but that should change with Sirianni. Siriani had a strong running back in Indianapolis with Jonathan Taylor who he utilized very well, so there is no reason he won’t do the same with Sanders. Philadelphia has not had a 1,000+ yard rusher since LeSean McCoy in 2014, but Sanders is capable of changing that and more. 2021 will be Sanders’ breakout year and potentially make a case for offensive MVP.
There Will be a 1,000 Yard Receiver
The struggles at the wide receiver position for Philadelphia have been no mystery to anyone and that needs to change. With Jalen Hurts likely taking over the quarterback spot, he needs a strong and trustworthy supporting cast. Wide receiver has not been an impressive group for Philadelphia by any means for quite some time. Aside from Zach Ertz’s historical 2018 season, Philadelphia has not had a true receiver break 1,000 receiving yards for a while. Similar to the rushing struggles, Jeremy Maclin was the last Philadelphia receiver to hit 1,000 receiving yards, which occurred in 2014. Philadelphia has not a clear no.1 wide receiver over the past couple of years, but they are in no position to sign a top receiver. So, they are going to work with who they have now and or potentially draft a top wide receiver at no. 6 in the NFL Draft.
Since Philadelphia does not have any guys that really stand out, someone will have to finally step up to be the go-to guy. Travis Fulgham led the team in receiving yards in 2020, but he seemed to disappear in the offense after week 8. A more sensible option for 1,000 receiving yards is Jalen Reagor. After a difficult rookie season filled with injury and underwhelming quarterback play, Reagor should bounce back. He should go into the 2021 season thinking that he needs to prove that he was worth the first-round selection. His speed and skill-set make it possible for him to just that, so he’s certainly the guy to watch for. Then again, if Philadelphia picks a receiver at no. 6, Ja’Marr Chase or Devonta Smith, he is just as capable. If Philadelphia wants a 1,000 receiving yard receiver, Reagor or a rookie are the likely suspects.
Brandon Graham Gets 10+ Sacks
After Graham’s strong 2020 season, he finally made his first Pro Bowl of his career, which was long overdue. Whether people choose to admit it or not, Graham is one of the most underrated players in the NFL and has been for a while. When it comes to impacting a defense, he does so in all parts of the game. His ability to shed blocks and play the run game consistently without seeming to tire out is impressive. Additionally, Graham is excellent when rushing the passer and just putting pressure on the quarterback overall. Graham has never put up an absurd number of sacks in a season, but that has not affected the impact that he brings. In 2017 he came close to finally hitting 10 sacks, but he only finished with 9.5, but 2021 could be the year.
After Graham’s strong 2020 season, a big follow-up season may be on the horizon. Graham has yet to accumulate 10 sacks in a season, but he has come close numerous times. Since he has agreed on a new contract extension, Graham will be out to prove that he is worth the new deal and more. Although he is getting older, he continues to compete at a high-level, and 2021 will be the year to prove the doubters wrong again. Following a very disappointing season for the Eagles, they need the leaders to take charge. Graham is one of the top leaders on the team and if he plays at his best it will make the rest of the team follow. Although it will certainly be no simple task, Graham should be able to improve upon his Pro Bowl year finally reach 10+ sacks.
2021 Season Outcome
The Eagles have found themselves in a very difficult situation after finishing last in the NFC East, among other struggles. Despite the issues and overall lack of confidence from fans and reporters, Philadelphia could surprise people. Bringing in the Sirianni and the new coaching staff will bring new offensive and defensive schemes for opposing teams to figure out. With the new coaches, they have the element of unknown knowledge on their side. Opposing teams knew what to expect with Pederson’s offense and Jim Schwartz’s defense. Therefore, a complete change in personnel should provide overall organizational change. If Philadelphia takes advantage of this and develops Hurts and the rest of the roster they may do better than most expect, especially in the dysfunctional NFC East.
Final record: 9-7
Featured image courtesy of DraftKings Nation
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