The Philadelphia Eagles are hoping that a full offseason of development for Jalen Hurts plus the addition of A.J. Brown will give their offense, particularly their passing offense, more consistency and firepower compared to the 2021 season, which was often inconsistent and one-dimensional. On paper, in terms of individual statistical production, there was not really a ton to write home about for the Eagles’ skill position players. Their passing offense was either inept or rarely used, depending on what portion of last season you are watching, while the rushing yards were spread out amongst a handful of running backs (plus Hurts), leading to great team rushing stats, but nothing special statistically for any individual rusher. This year, with an improved receiving corps, will the offensive statistical outputs be more conventional? Let’s make some predictions as to what the statlines for the Eagles’ top skill position players might look like this season (assuming no injuries).
2021 Season: 61.3% Completion, 3,144 Passing Yards, 16 Pass TD, 9 INT, 784 Rushing Yards, 10 Rush TD (15 Games).
2022 Prediction: 62% Completion, 4,450 Passing Yards, 31 Pass TD, 15 INT, 640 Rushing Yards, 8 Rush TD.
These numbers may seem a little lofty, but I have a hunch the Eagles will be passing more than they did last year. The Eagles want to be a passing team. We saw it at the beginning of last season. They rightfully transitioned to an offense that caters to Hurts’ strengths more during the second half of the year, but with A.J. Brown being added to the team I have to imagine they will want to add more of a passing element to their offense once again. Brown will make Hurts better, both as a physical target who can make contested catches and as someone who will take attention away from the other receivers. It will be on Hurts to be patient and read the field for said receivers as opposed to leaving the pocket after his first read, which was arguably his biggest flaw as a passer last year. There will be some ugly moments, as Hurts is far from perfect as a passer, but I think the improved receiving corps and increased pass attempts does wonders for Hurts’ statline this year.
2021 Season: 137 Carries, 754 Rushing Yards (5.5 Yards Per Carry), 0 Rush TD, 26 Catches, 158 Receiving Yards (6.1 Yards Per Catch), 0 Receiving TD (12 Games).
2022 Prediction: 215 Carries, 1060 Rushing Yards (4.9 Yards Per Carry), 5 Rush TD, 30 Catches, 220 Receiving Yards (7.3 yards Per Catch), 2 Receiving TD.
Sanders has had a strange career in Philadelphia. His usage has deceased every year, but his efficiency has increased each season as well. Injuries have certainly played a part in that, but Sanders is still a guy with a lot of talent who just has not really been able to put it all together. However, he is in a contract year, and if he stays healthy I think he is going to be motivated to earn his second deal. I also do not think the Eagles’ rushing committee will be quite as deep this year, as Jordan Howard is gone and was not replaced during the offseason, so Sanders should have more opportunities. I have a feeling this will be the best season of Sanders’ career.
2021 Season: 68 Carries, 291 Rushing Yards (4.3 Yards Per Carry), 5 Rushing TD, 33 Catches, 253 Receiving Yards (7.7 Yards Per Catch), 1 Receiving TD (16 Games).
2022 Prediction: 140 Carries, 670 Rushing Yards (4.8 Yards Per Carry), 4 Rushing TD, 50 Catches, 400 Receiving Yards (8 Yards Per Catch), 3 Receiving TD.
Gainwell had a very encouraging rookie season as a pass-catching back who also proved more than capable between the tackles as well. There is no reason the Eagles should not be looking to get Gainwell even more involved this season as a third-down back and a quality reserve. Gainwell’s usage and efficiency both increase as he continues to develop into a key component of the offense.
2021 Season: 63 Catches, 869 Yards, 5 TD (13 Games).
2022 Prediction: 77 Catches, 1125 Yards, 6 TD.
I am quite bullish on A.J. Brown’s potential on the Eagles, and honestly think I might be underselling his production a bit here. Brown is a contested catch and YAC machine who helps Hurts with everything he was struggling with last year. He legitimately may be the most talented receiver the Eagles have rostered since Terrell Owens. Brown will do wonders for this offense and Hurts will be looking to throw to him on almost every passing down. I think he leads the Eagles receivers in production by a considerable margin.
2021 Season: 64 Catches, 916 Yards, 5 TD.
2022 Prediction: 61 Catches, 765 Yards, 6 TD
This will probably be my most unpopular prediction, but I think DeVonta Smith’s production takes a hit in Year 2, though to no fault of his own. You can certainly point out that Brown’s presence will likely make Smith more open on a regular basis, but I am still expecting Brown and Dallas Goedert (more on him later) to receive the bulk of the passing production this season. As mentioned earlier, Hurts tends to either throw to his primary target or scramble more often than not, and he is going to have a lot of trust in Brown to make tough catches, which I think will lead to a surplus of targets for him. Meanwhile, Goedert has essentially no competition behind him at tight end, so he is likely going to hog the tight end route tree once again. I just do not think there will be enough passes to go around for DeVonta to improve on his rookie statline, and I think his yards per catch drops with Brown and Quez Watkins being the more likely players to be utilized as deep threats.
2021 Season: 43 Catches, 647 Yards, 1 TD
2022 Prediction: 47 Catches, 660 Yards, 4 TD
Watkins is an intriguing player as a sixth-round pick who very quickly developed into a good deep threat and a more-than-serviceable WR3. Despite Brown and Smith’s presences, he is going to get playing time and make some splash plays. I think he ends up with a fairly similar season to last year, but with some more touchdown production.
2021 Season: 56 Catches, 830 Yards, 4 TD (15 Games)
2022 Prediction: 82 Catches, 1020 Yards, 7 TD
The player who will benefit most from A.J. Brown’s arrival outside of Hurts, in my opinion, is Dallas Goedert. Goedert is already arguably a top-five tight end as is, and teams are now going to have to focus their attention on the Eagles’ receivers, since they, you know, actually have multiple good ones now. Goedert is going to get more single coverage from linebackers than ever, and he is going to feast off of it. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, Goedert’s competition at tight end right now is… who, exactly? Tyree Jackson (three catches last season and recovering from a torn ACL), Grant Calcaterra (sixth-round rookie), and Jack Stoll (four catches last season). Goedert is going to get all of the tight end routes without getting the attention of defensive coordinators. This is his breakout year.
Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images