The NFL has officially begun training camp as of Tuesday, July 26. The Philadelphia Eagles are a team that have a few unknowns heading into camp. The most prominent “unknown” being Jalen Hurts. With that being said, let’s take a look at three story lines to focus on as camp gets under way.
Jalen Hurts: Has he Shown Significant Signs of Improvement?
The biggest focal point of the offseason for the Eagles has been their quarterback situation. From the jump, it was believed that Jalen Hurts would be given another year at their starting QB position. After building a great team around Hurts, the Eagles appear to be fully committed to him for this season. That being said this is, without a doubt, a make or break year Hurts.
Fortunately for Eagles fans, there have been numerous of positive reports on Hurts’s development over the offseason. During the public OTA’s, Hurts seemed to ball out. However, per usual, there was a negative report to counter the previous reports. The report by Derrick Gunn stated that he was told that Hurts struggled greatly in practice and, in simple terms, he is not safe by any means.
With the two conflicting reports, it’ll be a relief to at least gain some closure on the situation in training camp. There should be a lot of talk about Hurts in the coming weeks, for better or for worse. This will be the closest thing to an in-game scenario that fans will get to see until the preseason. If Hurts shows considerable signs of improvement in areas that needed it, the level of hype going into this season could rise to over 12-win expectations.
DeVonta Smith / AJ Brown
The Eagles’ biggest addition this offseason was former Titans’ wide receiver, A.J. Brown. Brown is widely viewed as a top receiver in the NFL, some fans even have him in the top 10. This addition gives the Eagles a true WR1 and drastically changes the look of the receiving core. The starting day roster will look like Brown at WR1, Devonta Smith at WR2, and either Quez Watkins or Zach Pascal at the WR3. This is extremely improved compared to Smith, Reagor, and Watkins last year.
On the topic of Smith being the WR2, this could be a huge year for the former heisman winner. Last year, Smith recorded nearly 1,000 yards in his rookie season, lining up against opposing CB1’s. This year, Smith will be able to line up against CB2’s as the main focus will be on Brown. As Smith only continues to get better, he’s in for a monster year. His stats could very well be better than Brown’s by the end of the season.
During training camp, it’ll be interesting to see Smith’s improvement from last offseason. Even if he has a few highlights, it won’t mean anything certain. A lot of Eagles fans were hyping up Reagor after a couple nice catches in camp last year. That being said, the difference between highlights and being great every play is very noticeable. Eagles fans should be looking for consistency from Smith as that is what he brings to the table more than anything.
It’ll also be interesting to see how Brown and Smith play together as a duo. This will give us a little sample of what we could be getting throughout the season, and we sure hope to be wanting more. It goes without saying that it isn’t the same at all, but it is some form of indication of how things will go.
On paper, the Eagles’ defense is quite simply, stacked. The offseason additions of Hasaan Reddick, James Bradberry, Kyzir White, Nakobe Dean, and Jordan Davis drastically change the look of this defense.
Last season, the Eagles defense wasn’t terrible, but they were nowhere near a level of contending for a championship. Now, just about every position outside of safety, and maybe linebacker, is complete. The Eagles now have a top CB duo in the league, a solid LB core with White and Dean, and a defensive line filled with insane depth. This new-look defense is absolutely a defense capable of contending for a title.
Much like the duo of Brown and Smith, this will be the first look we’ll get at this defense in action. With the young guys, there will be a lot of room for improvement. However, there aren’t many young guys on this defense. The defensive side of the ball for this team is looking extremely solid as we head into next season. Hopefully training camp confirms all of what we thought about this defense.