The Eagles have given Jalen Hurts almost everything he needs to succeed this season. The acquisition of A.J. Brown gives him the best receiving crew in the NFC East.
It certainly appears that the divisional title race will consist of two teams, the Eagles and the Cowboys.
After whiffing in recent years on pass-catchers such as Jalen Reagor and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Eagles fans can now look forward to a trio of Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert, along with quality depth behind them in Quez Watkins, Greg Ward, and Zach Pascal.
Now, maybe some team followers can stop grousing about Reagor being drafted ahead of Justin Jefferson and Arcega-Whiteside being picked before DK Metcalf. Again, all this is only noise when it comes to the big picture – and that is the Philadelphia Eagles’ odds at winning the division title are exceptional.
Eagles’ Upgraded Receiving Crew Boosts The QB Outlook
A.J. Brown Anchors a Deep Group of Receivers
Hurts now has an established standout in Brown, a rising star in Smith who should be more comfortable operating as a No. 2 wide receiver this season, and one of the best tight ends in the NFC to work with. This is obviously a very pivotal year in the early-career arc of Hurts. Providing him with a strong supporting cast eases some pressure on Hurts to carry the passing game. He can now rely more on his playmakers to elevate his levels of passing performance.
Brown is a terrific yardage after the catch threat who will also position himself ideally to make key catches on important downs. He has always done a good job of shielding himself from defenders to make the important grab. Brown is a fine all-around wide receiver who helped Ryan Tannehill play better in Tennessee than he did during his Miami days.
It was a lot to ask of Smith to function as a No. 1 wide receiver as a rookie, but he did an admirable job. Now he should be more of a consistent downfield threat, with Brown commanding a heavy amount of attention from opposing secondaries.
Goedert must continue to simply be Goedert. Watkins is capable of the occasional big play, and Pascal has a penchant for making tough catches. Ward remains a good depth option to fill out the receiving crew.
So now the onus is on Hurts to improve his decision-making and accuracy because he will not have any excuses if he does not succeed in 2022. He is obviously a great running quarterback, which helps in fantasy football. But the Eagles need to find out now if he is their answer in real life. If not, they may need to move on at the position after this year, and we have heard that stance mentioned many times since the team made a quick playoff exit last season.
Running Back Is Still An Area of Concern
The Eagles did make a big jump from their previous win total last year, and that should be an encouraging sign that more strides forward can be made this season. What would help Hurts would be for him not to finish as the Eagles’ leading rusher, as he did in 2021. That means someone has to step forward as a larger presence at running back this year.
Miles Sanders has never quite lived up to the billing he came with as a rookie in 2019, and he made headlines in late June when he told people not to draft him in fantasy football anymore. He’s not wrong because Sanders has battled durability issues and has never been a dependable inside runner or much of a threat near the goal line.
Sanders is in a contract year, and he is also under a spotlight to start delivering more this season, or the Eagles could elect to move on from him too. If he doesn’t ratchet up his frequency and quality of contributions, the door may open for Kenneth Gainwell to play a more important role in the offense. He is versatile and also has a nose for the goal line when asked to score from a shorter range.
Boston Scott is a “glue guy” who should always be revered for being the best 5-6 power runner in the game. But the truth is, the Eagles still lack an ideal No. 1 running back, so Hurts will have to continue to be one of the team’s top rushing threats. Running back and the secondary may be the two biggest areas of concern for the Eagles this year.
Hurts does have a deep and impressive receiving group and one of the best offensive lines in the league to support him in 2022. On the defensive side, there have also been significant moves made to upgrade a weak pass rush, and the linebacking crew is also looking better. Expecting a run to the NFC Championship may be a bit much this season, but if Hurts can show real signs of improvement this season in an environment assembled to foster his success, a division title and a playoff win could stir a lot of optimism overall.
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