Taking a look back at the Eagles’ offense last year, there was some good, some not so good.
The Eagles were 1st in the NFL running the ball, 4th-best on third down, 2nd in scoring after halftime, 5th-best in fewest turnovers, 6th-best protecting the quarterback.
Not bad at all.
But they were 25th passing the ball, 17th in first-half scoring, 14th in first downs per game and 14th in scoring.
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Not bad. But not great.
There’s reason to believe that’s about to change. You never know who’s going to pan out, who's going to be disappointing, who’s going to get hurt.
But looking at this offense objectively, there’s no reason to think the Eagles won’t be more productive, more efficient and more successful in 2022 than in 2021.
Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Nick Sirianni’s second year: Last year was Sirianni’s first as a head coach, as a game plan designer, as a scheme planner and as a play caller. That’s a lot, and you could tell as the year went on he gradually developed a better feel for all those things. The last Eagles head coach whose team won fewer games in Year 2 than Year 1 was Ed Khayat in 1971 and 1972. It’s hard to imagine a year of experience won’t help Sirianni in every key area as an offensive coach.
2. Jalen Hurts: I can’t think of a reason Hurts won’t improve in his second year as a starter. He certainly made huge strides from his four starts under Doug Pederson in 2020 to last year. He’s a diligent worker and is well aware of the flaws in his game. Can you think of the last young Eagles QB who didn’t improve from his first year as a full-time starter to his second? No. Because there’s never been one. Maybe Hurts will be the first. He’s got a lot of work to do. But everything points to a more effective QB in 2022.
3. A.J. Brown: Finally a legit Pro Bowl-caliber wide receiver. Brown gives the Eagles a potentially elite WR1A and WR1B for the first time since DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin were both here – and that was a decade ago. If Brown just hits his career averages, that’s 62-for-998 with 8 touchdowns. Only four Eagles WRs have reached those numbers even once in the last 36 years – Irving Fryar, Terrell Owens and Maclin once and Jackson twice. And that’s Brown’s career average.
4. DeVonta Smith: I wrote back in March why Smith should improve dramatically in Year 2, and that was before he had a guy playing across from him who will draw a lot of the coverage that Smith was seeing last year. Expect big things in Year 2 from Smith.
5. Jalen Reagor: Don’t want to pile on here, but the reality is that dramatically reducing – or possibly eliminating – Reagor from the offense will help immeasurably. He played 750 snaps last year! That’s 750 snaps where the offense had one guy who was just not going to make a play. Reagor last year became the 9th NFL wideout in the last 37 years to start at least 13 games and fail to record 300 yards and the 8th WR in the last 50 years with at least 43 touches and 331 or fewer scrimmage yards. Just having him NOT playing is an upgrade.
6. Zach Pascal: Don’t underestimate the value of a decent WR4. When the Eagles went four wides last year it had to be with Smith, Quez Watkins, Reagor and either Greg Ward or J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Now you’re looking at Smith, Brown, Watkins and Pascal. He may not be a star, but Pascal averaged 38 catches for 472 yards and four TDs in four years in Indy and is an outstanding blocker. In other words, the Eagles’ WR4 this year is better than their WR3 last year.
7. Balance: Sirianni knows the Eagles have to be more efficient in the passing game. The Eagles had the fewest passing attempts last year and the 2nd-most rushing attempts (one less than the Titans), and those figures have to be more balanced for the Eagles to keep defenses guessing. You’re not going to beat good teams if they know you only have one way to attack. With the WR additions and the hoped-for improvement from Hurts, the passing game should be more effective, and the offense more balanced and unpredictable.
8. No significant losses: With Jason Kelce’s decision to return for a 12th season, the Eagles have everybody back on offense with the exception of Brandon Brooks, who only played one full game last year; Nate Herbig, a backup guard; and Zach Ertz, who the Eagles traded in October. Literally everybody who contributed on offense for the full season is back in 2022, and that’s rare. That gives this offense a real chance to grow because there’s already a starting point well beyond last year’s.
9. Full year of Dallas Goedert: After the Ertz trade, Goedert’s 614 yards in 10 games were the 4th-most yards of any tight end – nine fewer than Travis Kelce (on 19 fewer targets). If you include the playoffs, Goedert averaged 64.2 yards per game after the Ertz trade – nearly 1,100-yard pace for an entire season. A full season of Goedert as TE1 is going to be huge.
10. Landon Dickerson from the start: As good as the Eagles’ offensive line was last year, don’t forget, Landon Dickerson missed most of training camp, didn’t become a starter until Week 3, didn’t make his way to left guard until Week 4 and struggled his first few games before really coming into his own around mid-season. By the end of the year, Dickerson was playing at a Pro Bowl level, and having Dickerson begin the season presumably at that level will make a big difference.
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