Thompson’s In-Depth Power Rankings: #29 Philadelphia Eagles

Thompson’s In-Depth Power Rankings: #29 Philadelphia Eagles

by June 17, 2021 7 comments

On Monday, the Detroit Lions were announced as the 30th-ranked team in these power rankings. Today, we take a look at the Philadelphia Eagles, who rank 29th and are the last team in tier seven in the rankings. The Eagles won the Super Bowl just three and a half years ago. Yes, it feels longer than that, I know. Since that magical Super Bowl run with Nick Foles and Doug Pederson, Philadelphia has endured a bumpy ride these last few years.

Unfortunately, things came to a screeching halt as the front office, coaching staff, and players all seemed to be on different pages. Ultimately, the last thing we saw from the 2020 Eagles was Jalen Hurts being benched in favor of Nate Sudfeld so that the coaching staff could see him in a live game, which wasn’t received well, specifically by the New York Giants. With Pederson now out the door, not to mention the former franchise quarterback, the Eagles are in a weird position entering the 2021 season.

Be sure to check out all of my in-depth power rankings.

Offseason Recap

To replace Pederson, the Eagles brought over Nick Sirianni, the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. Sirianni then hired Shane Steichen to conduct an offensive unit transitioning to Hurts as the full-time starter. For the defensive side of the ball, Sirianni brought over another fellow former Colt in Jonathan Gannon. The new coaching staff will try to manage a team with plenty of older veterans but are seemingly past their win-now stage.

The NFL world saw the turmoil going on in Philadelphia once Carson Wentz was benched. Yes, Wentz didn’t look great, but the offensive scheme around him and the lack of support from Pederson and seemingly Howie Roseman was difficult to watch. It started last April when the Eagles spent a second-round choice on Hurts, which started a watch on Wentz’s time in Philadelphia. Thankfully, Wentz was traded to the Colts for a third-round choice this year and a conditional second-round pick that can turn into a first-round pick.

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The Eagles had a cap mess, meaning they couldn’t do much in free agency. Instead, they signed two former Vikings by bringing in Anthony Harris and Eric Wilson. Bringing these two in makes two of the positions on Philadelphia’s roster a bit less bad but still needing a lot of work. Along with those two, the Eagles got a culture-changer by bringing in the recently released Ryan Kerrigan. He adds another piece to the Philadelphia front defensive line that has a load of depth already to it.

  • Overall – 75.69 (29th) 
  • Offense – 75.08 (26th) 
  • Defense – 75.34 (25th) 
  • Coach and Culture – 73 (27th) 
Quarterbacks – 70, 30th (26 percent Overall, 39 percent Offense)

While there are multiple moving pieces for the Eagles, the biggest is the switch to Hurts as the starting quarterback following the Wentz trade. While he had some high moments last year, there were many concerns with Hurts, and it is a bit confusing why Roseman was comfortable enough to move on from Wentz and put a lot of faith into last year’s second-round choice. As the starter, Hurts went 1-3 with only a 52 percent completion rate, six touchdowns, and four interceptions.

Putting it simply, he is a first-read quarterback that needs the offense perfectly schemed up for him to succeed. The offense was set up on a first-read basis, and after that, Hurts had to make a play out of structure, whether it be him carrying the ball by himself or throwing on the run to one of Philadelphia’s receivers.

Hurts is also a dynamic runner, and that is mainly why the Eagles wanted to get him outside of the pocket where he felt more comfortable last year. If anyone can get the most of Hurts, it could be Sirianni. The Eagles will likely deploy many heavy play-action sets to make things easier for the second-year quarterback.

Is Hurts the Answer?

Philadelphia brought in veteran Joe Flacco as the backup quarterback. The former Super Bowl MVP is a ways off the player he once was, but the veteran will be a great help to Hurts as he continues his development. A lot around the league think that Hurts isn’t ready to start and that the Eagles are making a horrific decision that will ultimately lead to them ending up drafting another quarterback in the 2021 draft. If Hurts struggles, Flacco will likely get some game action.

Philadelphia added Jamie Newman in free agency but released him earlier this week, causing fan outrage from the Newman hive. To replace Newman, the front office brought in Nick Mullens on Monday. During the 2018 season, Mullens looked like he had some hidden development that could be unleashed on the 49ers. Last year, he had some struggles, specifically against the Eagles, but the Eagles have another quarterback on the roster that has valuable game-time experience.

It is a bit confusing why the Eagles are putting a lot of faith into Hurts after the showing he had last year. Bringing in another young quarterback like Mullens, who still could develop and might be better than Hurts, is another concern. This year will be centered around the quarterback spot for Philadelphia.

Running Backs – 81.5, 17th (4 percent Overall, 5 percent Offense)

Thankfully, the Eagles have one of the deepest running back rooms in the league. Miles Sanders is one of the best young running backs in the league and has a career average of almost five yards per carry. He has over 800 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons and had 50 receptions in his rookie year. Unfortunately, last year his receiving production took a dip due to some drop issues. Along with the drops, Sanders also fumbled four times and his receptions were about cut in half.

Boston Scott returns once again this year and provided a spark when it was needed as a change-of-pace scatback towards the end of the season while Hurts was under center. Scott has had 190 touches over the last two seasons, including 105 last season. He averaged almost five yards per carry last year and seemingly made the offense more explosive paired with Hurts.

Is Scott’s Job in Jeopardy?

Unfortunately for Scott, his job may be his to lose following Philadelphia’s selection of Kenneth Gainwell in the fifth round. Gainwell will factor in immediately in the receiving game. In this scheme, Gainwell is Nyheim Hines, who Sirianni involved heavily in the passing attack in Indianapolis. In 2020, Gainwell had over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, including 610 receiving yards on 51 catches, and had 16 total touchdowns during the season. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Scott is cut in favor of the newly-drafted back from Memphis.

After being cut from Detroit, Kerryon Johnson was signed by the Eagles. Johnson’s career has been derailed due to injuries, and he was overtaken by D’Andre Swift last year in Detroit. With the Lions adding Jamaal Williams during the offseason, it signaled the end of Johnson’s time with the Lions. As a second or third option, Johnson should be able to stay healthy and provide a spark in the running and receiving game.

The depth continues past those four. Jordan Howard remains on the team, but with the additions of Johnson and Gainwell, he likely gets cut. A trio of youngsters with Jason Huntley, Adrian Killins, and Elijah Holyfield round out the depth chart. One of those three will make the roster, and it may be Huntley. Killins has a lot of work as both Gainwell and Scott have similar skillsets.

Pass Catchers – 69, 30th (10 percent Overall, 16 percent Offense) 
Receivers

Philadelphia’s top receiver finished with only 569 yards last year. If that doesn’t tell you enough about the receivers for the Eagles, then I don’t know what does. Philadelphia traded up to the tenth spot in the draft to leap-frog the Giants to select DeVonta Smith in the first round, just a year after selecting Jalen Reagor in the first round in 2020. Smith projects to be the number one receiver on the boundary, with Reagor getting more looks in the number two role with not as much attention directed towards him. Smith won the Heisman Trophy last year but came with concerns due to his small frame. If Philadelphia can get his Heisman-like production, they are getting a steal.

In the 11 games he played last year, Reagor finished with 31 catches for 396 yards and a touchdown. A smaller role with less attention from the defense is a welcomed sight for the second-year pro, who took a while to seemingly get accustomed to the pro level. Greg Ward will most likely remain in the slot this season and had the most targets and receptions on the squad last year. Since converting to receiver after playing quarterback, Ward has shown some spark in the best of times and is a reliable weapon for Hurts.

The Forgotten Man?

There was a time last year where Travis Fulgham was playing like one of the best receivers in the league. The former Lion and Packer made his way to the Eagles and made an impact on the national spotlight. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the team phased him out of the starting lineup once Alshon Jeffery returned to the lineup. Fulgham ultimately ended up with 38 catches for 539 yards and four touchdowns. He will provide a spark when needed, but the Eagles didn’t seem too confident in him despite his performances.

Which Young Receiver Sticks Out?

Following those four, there is a drop-off. Quez Watkins and John Hightower enter their second years in the league and need to continue their development to see any added playing time. The duo only combined for 17 catches and 273 yards last season. Thankfully, the two aren’t challenged much. JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who, since entering the league as a second-round choice in 2019, has only caught 14 passes. Jhamon Ausbon could create some intrigue, but the six or seven on the roster seems set, and it’s up to the new coaching staff to see if they can get anything out of Arcega-Whiteside.

Tight Ends

These rankings do not include the Eagles having Zach Ertz on the roster. Ertz has asked for a trade, and every once in a while, it seems as though something may happen, but it never does. He isn’t the same player he once was, and it looks like time for both parties to go their separate ways.

Thankfully, Philadelphia is set up well at the tight end spot. Dallas Goedert is one of the best young tight ends in the league, but injuries have factored into him not breaking out enough in the last few years. Playing as the 1B to Ertz in the tight end duo, Goedert has posted over 500 yards in each of the last two years and finally has the starting job locked up.

Richard Rodgers had a bit of a career resurgence when Goedert and Ertz were hurt last season. The former Packer finished with 24 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns. Rodgers now enters 2021 with a bigger role with the Ertz situation ongoing. Behind Rodgers, the Eagles have two position-switchers, with Tyree Jackson and Hakeem Butler trying to transform to tight ends after being a quarterback and receiver. Jason Croom returns as the blocking tight end, and finally, the Eagles have Caleb Wilson and Jack Stoll. Stoll is an intriguing prospect as an undrafted free agent that could surprise some and make the roster.

Running Backs

It will be interesting to see what the Eagles do if both Gainwell and Scott make the roster. Scott is the veteran and has been in Philadelphia the last few years and has become a fan favorite, but Gainwell is a perfect compliment to Sanders and impacts the receiving game, as well. Both Sanders and Johnson should factor in here as well.

Offensive Line – 88.5, 8th (13 percent Overall, 19 percent Offense) 

The offensive line is what will keep the Philadelphia offense afloat. Even without Jason Peters, the Eagles should be able to get starting-level play from the duo of Andre Dillard and Jordan Mailata, who will likely have a battle to see who starts at left tackle in Week 1. There may be a battle for the left guard spot between Isaac Seumalo and Landon Dickerson, but Dickerson should snag that job sooner than later. The second-round pick is a perfect fit in Philadelphia and will play at left guard before moving to center whenever Jason Kelce decides to retire. Speaking of Kelce, he is still one of the best centers in the league and returns once again to try and help Philadelphia on another playoff run.

Brandon Brooks returns from torn Achilles tendons in both legs in 18 months. Brooks made the pro bowl three straight years before going down before last season. He has said the recovery process is going well. Finally, for the starters, there is Lane Johnson, who missed a lot of action last season due to multiple injuries. The starting five is a mix of top veterans and a blend of young, intriguing talent waiting to be unleashed.

Is There Such Thing as Too Much Depth?

With the battles at left tackle and potentially left guard, there is already a lot of starting-caliber talent in the depth of the offensive line. Jack Driscoll is another name that has to be mentioned, as he played very well during his playing time as a rookie. The former fourth-round pick made the most of his opportunities when Johnson went down with injuries and started multiple games and could have a significant role this year if injuries continue to occur. Continuing the depth, the Eagles also have Matt Pryor and Nate Herbig, one of whom may not even make the team thanks to the abundance of depth along the offensive line.

While most teams struggle when one of their starters goes down, the Eagles are in a great position along the offensive line. If one of Dillard or Mailata can finally show that they are the left tackle of the future, the offensive line will be even better than this ranking.

Run Defense – 84, 12th (2 percent Overall, 5 percent Defense) 
Defensive Line

Gannon’s defense will likely deploy a 4-3 scheme with a few multiple looks as well. The defensive line and front seven as a whole were one of the best units of the Super Bowl-winning team, and there is still a lot to work with today. Of course, it starts with Fletcher Cox, who has improved as a pass-rusher more but is no slouch in the run game as well. Javon Hargrave was a high-priced free agent signing last season, who took some time to get accustomed to Philadelphia but was a force by the end of the season. The two of them in the middle of the defensive line is a scary combo both in the run game, as well as the pass-rush unit. 

The Eagles added youth to the unit by adding Milton Williams and Marlon Tuipulotu in the draft. Williams is an uber-athletic pass-rush specimen who will likely take some time to develop behind the two starters. Tuipulotu, meanwhile, could be the early-down run-stuffer to keep Hargrave fresh on passing downs. The two additions could make for some intriguing pieces in the next few years. Hassan Ridgeway will likely also factor in here and there. 

Edge Defenders

Brandon Graham is one of the better run-defending edge-rushers in the league. Opposite him, the Eagles will likely use a mix of Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, and Genard Avery on early-downs to keep Barnett and Sweat fresh on pass-rush snaps. Kerrigan is primarily a pass-rush specialist and likely won’t be used much on early downs to keep the pass-rush unit one of the deepest and freshest in the league. 

Off-Ball Linebackers

Philadelphia has always been a team to not invest in their linebacker room. They once again didn’t this offseason, which puts a lot of trust into T.J. Edwards to maintain his role in the middle of the defense. Edwards is a stout run defender and has been more than a pleasant surprise since making his way to the Eagles as an undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin. Alex Singleton also gets a lot of hype as well next to Edwards as a run defender. Wilson was added from the Vikings but is more as a coverage linebacker than a run-stuffer. 

Pass Rush – 86, 8th (12 percent Overall, 25 percent Defense)

The pass-rush unit is one of the deepest in the league. Cox continues to produce from the middle of the defensive line and will once again be the anchor of the defensive unit. Hargrave will likely have another four-six sack season next to him in the middle of the defensive line. It will be interesting to see how they deploy Williams after spending a day-two selection on him. 

The edge-rusher unit is outstanding. It starts with Graham, who is coming off of an eight-sack season in 2020. Next to Graham will be the tandem of Barnett and Sweat, who combined for 11.5 sacks last season. Kerrigan comes over from Washington after having two down seasons per his usual stat-line, coming off back-to-back 5.5-sack seasons. Like in Washington, he will likely be relegated to a backup, pass-rush specialist role to keep the defense fresh and coming at all times. 

A pair of rookies in Patrick Johnson and Tarron Jackson will try to make their presence felt in camp and try to make the roster in a loaded edge-rusher room. 

Linebackers – 66.5, 32nd (5 percent Overall, 13 percent Defense)

As said earlier, the Eagles love to completely disregard their linebacker room. Edwards is a good run defender but isn’t great in coverage. He is a solid starter in the middle of the defense. Singleton is a great run defender, but, like Edwards, is a bit of a liability in coverage. Thankfully, the Eagles brought in Wilson to help out the coverage in the middle of the defense. Edwards and Singleton will likely start in base packages with Wilson coming in on passing downs. Davion Taylor is a bit of a hybrid linebacker/safety that specializes in coverage. If the Eagles wanted to have Taylor and Wilson in dime packages to keep Edwards and Singleton fresh, that is certainly a possible idea, but the two aren’t good in run defense. There is something to work with here, but the Eagles seemingly don’t care who plays linebacker for them. 

Secondary – 73.5, 26th (13 percent Overall, 27 percent Defense)
Cornerbacks

After starting well in the run defense and pass-rush units, the linebacker room and secondary drastically bring the defensive grade down. The Eagles got Darius Slay from the Lions a few years ago, but he seemingly hasn’t been the same player for a few years now, and Philadelphia put a lot of pressure on Slay last year. There will likely be a lot of pressure on him once again this year, considering the front office didn’t put many resources in the cornerback room again. Avonte Maddox is the number two cornerback on the team, and he likely wouldn’t be a starter on most teams. 

The nickel position will likely come down to Zech McPhearson, a rookie fourth-round selection out of Texas Tech, and Josiah Scott, who the Eagles traded for from Jacksonville. Both are projects and shouldn’t be relied upon to start this year, but that’s the opposite of what the Eagles are doing. 

Behind those four, Philadelphia will have Kevon Seymour, Craig James, and Michael Jacquet play some meaningful snaps. Jacquet even spent time as a starter last year towards the end of the season. 

Safeties 

The safety room is a bit better, thankfully. Bringing over Harris from the Vikings on a cheap contract was a great move for the Eagles, and he will fit in nicely next to Rodney McLeod in two-high sets defensively. Marcus Epps had a good season last year but could face some competition from K’Von Wallace in three safety sets. JaCoby Stevens was a sixth-round choice that fits in the mold as a linebacker/safety hybrid. It will be interesting to see how Philadelphia uses the former LSU safety. 

The secondary as a whole is one of the biggest reasons why the Eagles rank so low both defensively and overall. 

Coach and Culture – 73, 27th (15 percent Overall, 21 percent Offense, 30 percent Defense)
Offense

Bringing over Sirianni and Steichen gives an interesting approach to what the Eagles plan to do with Hurts. The Colts had Philip Rivers last year, who is far from the same type of athlete Hurts is at the quarterback position. Thankfully, Philadelphia has a great offensive line and a deep running back room to take a lot of the pressure off of Hurts, but there will be times where he will have to try to take the offense above and beyond expectations. There seems to be a bit of turmoil in the front office. Roseman could be on the hot-seat now following a tumultuous year, which ended in the firing of Pederson and the trading of their once franchise signal-caller. The Eagles rank 25th in offensive coach and culture. 

Defense

The defense remains mostly the same this year. Most of the starters return besides the two newcomers from Minnesota. Many veterans still have some left in the tank, but it is becoming clear the Eagles aren’t the same team they once were. The secondary is going to be the downfall of the defense that has an elite pass-rush unit. The Eagles rank 28th in defensive coach and culture. 

Season Outlook

This isn’t the same Eagles team we’re used to. There are a lot of moving pieces in the coaching staff, and of course, at quarterback. The Eagles have a rough start to the season, with the first six weeks going against the Falcons, 49ers, Cowboys, Chiefs, Panthers, and Buccaneers. There are two easier games against the Raiders and Lions before the mid-way point, but the Eagles may only win two or three games in the first eight weeks. 

The stretch before their Week 14 bye is a difficult one. The Eagles have games against the Chargers, Broncos, Saints, Giants, and Jets. Rounding out the season, Philadelphia plays four consecutive divisional games against Washington and the Giants at home before traveling to Washington and rounding out the season at the Linc to finish the season against the Cowboys. 

According to Odds Shark, the Eagles have an over/under of 6.5 wins. That total is tied for the fourth-lowest in the league. There are multiple moving pieces for the Eagles this year, and the new coaching staff has a lot to work with, but a lot working against them. Bet the under. 

Season Prediction: 4-13

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