The Philadelphia Eagles got a fresh new coat of paint this season – fresh enough to mask the pain and disappointment of last year’s results.
Heading into 2021, the Eagles will have a new starting quarterback and head coach, among other internal changes, that marks the beginning of a much-needed transition.
Their first preseason loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers saw some Eagles rise and others fall, but it’s always difficult to predict a team’s performance based on preseason, much less a single preseason game.
Still, Fox Sports writer Peter Schrager was emboldened to admit he had his eye on a few Eagles players who could end up being stars by the end of the season.
On Wednesday’s episode of Good Morning Football, Schrager fielded some tough questions about whether the Eagles would still be relevant late in the 2021 season. Schrager declined to comment on exactly how successful the Eagles might be but did have some tantalizing things to say about particular Eagles players.
Specifically, about Quez Watkins, Javon Hargrave, and Jordan Maliata, all of whom Schrager thinks will be “household” names this season.
Quez Watkins, who could likely win the Eagles’ No. 3 wide receiver spot, is simply not a secret anymore. In the Steelers game, Watkins was the game’s leading receiver with 79 yards despite recording only one of two catches.
After a deflated rookie season when Watkins caught seven passes for 106 yards and one touchdown, Watkins has stepped it up during training camp. Without jinxing it, he could have a breakout second year for this new-look Eagles team and really shine in the spotlight.
Philadelphia Eagles players Watkins, Hargrave, and Maliata could gain massive recognition this season
The more he plays, the stronger Watkins makes his case for starting alongside Devonta Smith and Jalen Reagor at the start of the season.
Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave has also enjoyed an incredible training camp as he enters his second season with Philly and his sixth overall in the pro league. Last year, he accumulated 4.5 sacks and 38 combined tackles in 15 games to cap off an overall quiet season.
But Hargrave made his presence felt in the Steelers game when he forced an early pressure on Pittsburgh’s quarterback to force an incompletion, and later when he recorded a tough quarterback hit.
You can’t hide the excitement: Schrager giddily talks about Hargrave as one of the brightest spots of Philly’s training camp. The other: Jordan Maliata. Maliata was pulled after just ten snaps in the Steelers game, which meant Nick Sirianni was treating him as a starter. That’s a big deal.
It took quite the journey from his days as an Australian rugby player, but Maliata just might win the starting tackle job in 2021. The “monster blind-side tackle” has grown to become the player the Eagles need on their offensive line, and Maliata is (literally) a huge reason Philadelphia has a shot at winning the punchline of the NFL that is the NFC East.
Watkins, Hargrave, and Maliata all showed flashes of elite form in this year’s training camp and the Eagles’ first preseason game.
If the Eagles do manage to bounce back from last year and stay competitive well into the 2021 season, it’ll probably be because of these three players’ performances.
Becoming a “household” name might be difficult when your house is Lincoln Financial Field, but NFL analysts are supposed to have bold opinions, anyway. And besides, with this Philadelphia Eagles team, they just might be onto something.