The Philadelphia Eagles made a statement in the 2016 season that they are a team on the rise, despite missing out on the playoffs.
In Doug Pederson’s first season as coach the club finished 7-9 in the campaign, with rookie Carson Wentz enjoying a solid term.
The Eagles traded a significant amount of draft picks to acquire the selection to take the quarterback, and he did not disappoint with a strong showing.
Wentz’s performances suggest that NFC East outfit will be a contender for post-season action for the long term should he continue to improve and the club surround him with talent.
Despite the hope for the future, the Eagles still endured a losing season and do have plenty of work ahead of them to end their three-year playoff drought.
We’ll now take a look back at the last campaign to see what went wrong for the Eagles and what they will need to do to compete for a place in the post-season.
The Cleveland Browns dropped out of the selection to pick Wentz, trading with the Eagles to allow Pederson’s men to select the quarterback.
Hue Jackson’s side got to see the talent of the 24-year-old up close and personal in the 2016 opener as Wentz threw for two touchdowns in a fine debut performance to guide his team to a comfortable victory.
The 24-year-old then put in another polished display to guide his team to their second win of the term, although the defense held the Chicago Bears to only 14 points at Soldier Field.
The two then worked in perfect tandem to destroy their state rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wentz threw for two touchdown strikes, while Ben Roethlisberger and company were held to just three points.
Heading into the bye week the Eagles were a perfect 3-0, although that record would soon change following their return to action.
Wentz remained a model of consistency before he made his first mistake of the season against the Detroit Lions, throwing his first pick of the campaign when trying to drive his side into field-goal range.
The interception from Darius Slay won the game for the Lions, which started a host of problems for the Eagles and their receiving corps.
The 24-year-old endured a torrid time against the Washington Redskins as he was sacked five times due to the absence of the suspended Lane Johnson.
Philadelphia struggled throughout and were put to the sword by a strong offensive display from their NFC East rivals.
Before the start of the term the Eagles traded Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings after making the decision to press forward with Wentz.
The Vikings had begun the term a perfect 5-0, but that run ended at the hands of Pederson’s despite an ineffective display from their rookie signal-caller, claiming a 21-10 win over Mike Zimmer’s side.
Back-to-back defeats stifled their momentum as the Dallas Cowboys’ displayed their quality to stage a fourth-quarterback with their impressive rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.
His strike to Jason Witten inflicted a painful defeat on the Eagles at AT&T Stadium.
The Giants poured on more misery the following week as their stout defense gave Wentz troubles throughout the contest, with the rookie throwing two interceptions.
The defeat to New York left the Eagles with a huge deficit in the NFC East, and a mountain to climb to reach the playoffs.
However, the produced one of the best defensive performances of the term to limit Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons to just 15 points to get back on track with Wentz delivering an efficient display in the win, leaving Pederson’s men at 5-4.
Unfortunately for the Eagles their momentum was stymied by the prospect of facing two excellent teams in the form of the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers.
Both sides were able to overwhelm Pederson’s men with their quality on offense and defense, knocking them off course for a post-season berth once again.
Philadelphia needed a response against the Cincinnati Bengals, but Wentz chose precisely the wrong moment to produce his worst performance of the season, throwing three interceptions in a horrific team display, losing the contest 32-14 on the road.
The Eagles were then unable to match the Redskins in their next divisional clash before a late comeback attempt by Wentz against the Baltimore Ravens was foiled.
Pederson opted to go for a two-point conversion late in the game, only for the quarterback’s pass to broken up, resulting in a one-point defeat for his outfit – their fifth loss on the spin.
Wentz found some semblance of form to end the campaign as his side defeated the Giants on home soil along with an under-strength Cowboys side to end on a high note and a 7-9 record.
One of the major problems for the Eagles was the lack of support Wentz received from his wideouts.
Nelson Agolhor has been a major disappointment after being selected in the first round of the 2015 draft, failing to live up to his potential. Jordan Matthews was solid, but is not a number one option.
Therefore the Eagles need to strengthen their receiving corps and have been linked with a move for former player DeSean Jackson.
He would add a veteran presence, although his best days are behind him, while Pederson may want to test the draft to add a cheaper option than the 30-year-old.
Running back and offensive line help should also be considered as Ryan Mathews is too injury prone to be the feature man in the backfield. Leonard Fournette could appeal to the Eagles at the number 14 position – if he is still available. Funds are limited to sign a star offensive lineman, although there are some solid veterans still around on the market.
The Eagles traded away one of their best prospects at cornerback as Eric Rowe was shifted to the New England Patriots, where he won the Super Bowl covering Julio Jones.
There is a great deal of depth at the position in the draft and the club should look to the selection process to add a starter, although a low-price veteran could be called for during free agency as well.
The Eagles could be right in line to take the first wide receiver in the draft at the number 14 spot. Should other sides pass on Mike Williams out of Clemson – Pederson’s men should pounce to take him as he has rare ability to beat cornerbacks with his strength, size and speed.
Backing him to be the first receiver selected at – with BetOnline sportsbook would be a sensible option.
Fournette could also be an option for the Eagles and given the needs of the teams around them in the selection process he could be on the board. As a result, backing the 22-year-old to be the first running back taken at -500 may be a solid earner.
The Eagles have a young roster and seeing them compete in the NFC title game would be a surprise next season, although the Falcons proved that anything is possible in the NFL. Therefore backing them at +2500 to reach the Super Bowl could be a dark horse option worth taking.
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