July is the month of the training camp for the NFL teams and it’s just a few hours away. Until the training camps begins, however, there is not much going on, so I’ll take this chance to revisit the biggest question marks of the Philadelphia Eagles.
1) Will Nick Foles solidify his status as one of the best quarterbacks in the league?
This is by far the biggest question for the Philadelphia Eagles. Nick Foles came out of nowhere in 2013 and played unexpectedly well. He even set one of the best ever quarterback ratings for a season with an astonishing 119.2, after 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in 13 regular season games.
Keeping the level of performances this high in the 2014 NFL season will not be easy for Foles. Firstly because it is statistically improbable to record such high numbers in two consecutive seasons and also because teams will be better prepared after an offseason of studying the Eagles game.
While a drop in Foles’ performance is expected, there is also the anticipation to see Foles play at a high level, with more maturity and be again the leader that he was last season.
2) Is Jordan Matthews the new DeSean Jackson?
Jordan Matthews was an impressive player during the organised team activites (OTAs) of May and June and helped reinstate the confidence of many fans in the Eagles receivers.
When the front office decided to cut DeSean Jackson during free agency, many pointed out that the Birds lost their only “number one” wide out. Despite the presence of Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles’ receiving corps was suddenly softer and more shallow, with no legit backup options behind the two starters.
When the Eagles drafted Matthews, the prevailing idea was that they got a nice backup and someone who could contribute as a slot receiver for time to time.
During the OTAs, Matthews not only showed that he is more than just a backup, but he made a case for being the most talented wide receiver currently on the roster. There is already the impression that Matthews will be the new number one receiver of the Eagles sooner rather than later.
3) Can Malcolm Jenkins make a difference at the back end of the defense?
The Eagles secondary in 2013 was not very good, not very bad. With two new starter at cornerback (Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher) and rookie Earl Wolff starting at safety, the secondary performed better than expected. Still, there was plenty of room for improvement.
Philadelphia used the draft and free agency to bring in new faces and try to find strength in numbers, instead of going after one highly-rated and expensive player. Malcolm Jenkins is probably the one who can have the greater impact in 2014.
Jenkins is known for his versatility, having the ability to play both safety and nickel corner. He is very experienced too, being five years in the NFL.
Unfortunately, his career statistics have not justified his first-round status and that led to his release by the New Orleans Saints. The Philadelphia Eagles saw a great opportunity in signing Jenkins as a free agent. Not only they got a seasoned veteran, but also someone who can play multiple roles in defense.
Jenkins will have to prove he can be a leader of the secondary. Despite winning the Super Bowl as a rookie, he still has to prove he is more than just an average safety. He has a chip on his shoulder and the Eagles have placed their bet on that.