Having finished with a 14-3 record in the regular season, the Philadelphia Eagles headed into last year’s playoffs with confidence.
Winning the NFC Conference Championship with a staggering 31-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, they met their match in the Super Bowl.
Falling to a 38-35 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Eagles came ever so close and will look at this upcoming season as one to prove a point and for some of their star players to take the next step.
The NFL Week 1 odds have them as one of the top candidates going into the season once again, just behind the inspiring Chiefs once again who are looking to keep their run going under the leadership of star quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
What they can improve on?
Defending the run is where the Eagles need to most improve going into the new season. Nick Sirianni heads into this third season as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles looking to keep the dominance his offense had but improve the defensive weaknesses they sometimes showed.
The Eagles ranked 23rd in the league in preventing runs of 10 or more yards during the regular season in 2022.
Sirianni tried to address this during the season by adding Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph, but they still couldn’t turn things around.
What helped was that the Eagles offense was so strong that teams were often coming from behind when facing the Eagles and forced to throw and chase yards. This saw their secondary pick up huge numbers, and teams will have to figure out a way to really test if this run defense has been improved, as going through the air isn’t an easy task, even if Eagles will be without C.J. Gardner-Johnson who caught six interceptions last season.
In free agency the Philadelphia Eagles lost several starters like C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps but recruited well and added depth in positions of need.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota provides a strong backup presence to leader Jalen Hurts. While Hurst may be the clear starter in this field, adding Mariota provides a like for like backup in some ways. Both can throw and use their feet and this will ensure the style of play and offense does not need to shift so much if Hurst misses time again this season.
Terrell Edmunds was brought in from Pittsburgh Steelers and played 15 games last season, registering 70 tackles, five passes defended, two sacks and three tackles for loss. His durability and quality will see him no doubt starting a strong safety alongside Reed Blankenship at free safety on the defense.
Running back Rashad Penny offers great value on a one-year deal to support D’Andre Sift who will be the week 1 starter.
Another on defense was Nicholas Morrow who arrived from Chicago Bears. He played every game last season and as on the field for every one of the Bear’s defensive snaps (1,086).
Being durable and versatile in the linebacker role, Morrow adds to the depth and intensity this group can bring in 2023.
In the NFL Draft, the Eagles picked up Jalen Carter, a Defensive Tackle from Georgia, and was one of the top recruits in the country. A former basketball player, he is quick on his feet for someone who can bench press 395-points, he will be a valuable addition to the defensive unit in Philadelphia and a plug and play starter.
What will go for them this year?
The continuity. Most of their offensive stars are back and ready to go. They have an enviable receiver group with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith ready to compete with most groups around the league.
When you have a quarterback like Hurts who can throw so well but also be a weapon on the ground, this only makes it tougher for opposing defenses to read and set up. The speed at which they can hit an opponent makes them tough to cover and this will no doubt continue into the 2023 season.
What could go against them?
The focus on stopping the run and changes in the defense again will have to be a wait and see for Sirianni. Will his new additions be able to pick up the roles quickly and can Jalen Carter adapt right away to the competition in the NFL?
D’Andre Swift has stood out in camp as the starter at running back, but he has not hit double digits in touchdowns in his three years as an NFL player. He started just four games in both of his last two seasons with the Detroit Lions before arriving in Philadelphia so it will be interesting to see where he is at with his new side come week one.
All in all though, this is a tough and exciting team who will be looking to overturn the disappointments of last season’s Super Bowl and go out and win it this year.