The Rebuilding Philadelphia Eagles Begin Training Camp Looking To Win Now

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 18: Quarterback Carson Wentz
BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 18: Quarterback Carson Wentz /

The offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles is over.

Training camp officially begins this week for the Philadelphia Eagles with quarterbacks, rookies and select veterans arriving Monday. The differences between this year and last year are going to be on full display from the onset of training camp. For starters, Carson Wentz enters training camp the unquestioned starter at quarterback.  Veterans, including Fletcher Cox and Jordan Hicks, are now well-versed in the nuances of Jim Schwartz’s defense. The Eagles will also have joint practices with the Miami Dolphins, something that was not done last season.

There are also some similarities to last season however. Head coach Doug Pederson fully plans on allowing the same level of contact in his practices. The Eagles will once again hold practices inside the NovaCare Complex (boo).

The next four months will ultimately dictate where the Eagles fall in the NFL hierarchy. The next six weeks however will determine which 53 players take part in that journey. After an offseason that saw uncharacteristic move after move, the Eagles are caught in limbo. Are they contenders or rebuilding?

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On offense, the answer is clearly a contender. The defense however might be rebuilding. Training camp will serve as trial by fire for the oft-criticized secondary of the Eagles. If they can compete against Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz, they can contend with any arsenal in the division. How much inexperience is too much though?

Unfortunately Super Bowl aspirations often require having an elite defense. The Eagles lost Connor Barwin this offseason, didn’t pick up the option on Marcus Smith, and have Vinny Curry burning money through Jeff Lurie’s back pocket. Barwin played a total of 709 snaps last season, the eighth most on defense and just 55 snaps less than Brandon Graham. If the pass rush is going to help the secondary, a couple familiar names are going to have to perform.

A lot of pressure is on Derek Barnett and Graham to create their own pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Let’s hope that training camp is better for Barnett than it was for Graham as a rookie. As for Graham, he’s coming off two seasons where his production as a starter has begun to warrant his place on the team. The addition of defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan should help both pass rushers face more single team match-ups.

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The Eagles might have been last in the division in sacks last season, but they held opposing quarterbacks (and teams) in check most of the year. The little things ultimately ended up costing the team more often than not in 2016. The repeated personal fouls on third down by Cox. The fumble by Ryan Mathews against Detroit. Not to mention, the suspension of Lane Johnson.

Rebuilding in the NFL can take time and Lurie appears to be impatient. It’s a new season though and the road to Super Bowl LII begins tomorrow in Philadelphia. If the team can limit it’s mental mistakes, the physical talent can take this team far. If the players can emerge from camp unscathed and injury free, this young rebuilding Eagles team will be contenders. The first step is training camp.