The Philadelphia Eagles sported the NFL’s top-rushing offense last season. The franchise set a team record for most rushing yards in a season with 2,715. They were able to ride the best offensive line in football and running game all the way to the playoffs, where they were overmatched by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And make no mistake about it, much like the earlier half of the regular season, they struggled tremendously through the air in the playoff loss.
However, this offseason, General Manager Howie Roseman set out to bolster the passing attack.
On draft night, Roseman did just that. The Eagles acquired one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the NFL from the Tennessee Titans, in A.J. Brown.
Over the course of his three-year career, Brown has hauled in 185 passes for 2,995 yards and 24 touchdowns. His combination of strength and speed raises the ceiling for what the Eagles’ offense can be in 2022.
As mentioned above, the Philadelphia Eagles led the league in rushing yards last season. But while they keyed in heavily on the running game in 2021, the acquisition of Brown spells something different for the 2022 iteration of the offense.
According to The Football Database, the Eagles ran the ball on 51.2% of their total snaps (1,075) compared to passing on 48.8% of their total snaps.
Adding a receiver of the caliber of Brown and handing him a four-year $100 million contract with $39.9 million guaranteed at signing, indicates that the Eagles brass wants a more ariel-centered offensive attack.
Enter the man who, perhaps, has the most pressure on him across all NFL starting quarterbacks.
As a first-time starter in 2021, Jalen Hurts threw for 3,144 yards, 16 touchdowns, and nine interceptions while running for 784 yards and 10 touchdowns.
It was a modest effort from Hurts in 2021, but he knows much more is expected from him in 2022.
"A word for me has been consistency. That's my whole entire approach coming into year three. I look back on last year, knowing that there were games where I played at a very high level and then there were games where it wasn't the same. I think consistency in this league is everything. Ultimately the work is being put in now, and that's what we're chasing and that's what I'm chasing and I think consistency can make it (passing game) become elite." Jalen Hurts
The organization is banking on the presence of Brown improving the play of everyone around him.
From Hurts to second-year wideout DeVonta Smith, who led the team in receiving yards in 2021, to tight end Dallas Goedert, to third-year wideout Quez Watkins, everyone is expected to benefit from the attention Brown garners on offense.
When Brown attracts opposing team’s number one corners, Smith, Watkins, and Goedert will have the opportunity to feast against lesser defenders. Brown is a physical and fearless weapon and his presence creates a mutualistic relationship where everyone will benefit.
The Eagles also added former Colts wide receiver (and Nick Sirianni favorite) Zach Pascal. Over his four-year career, Pascal has caught 150 of 258 targets (58.1%) for 1,888 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Pascal and Sirianni established a great relationship during Sirianni’s time in Indianapolis as offensive coordinator and it was one of the (if not THE) integral parts of Pascal signing with Philadelphia.
“Just knowing the relationship that we had in Indy and being able to talk throughout the season last year, connecting and growing all the time. Even talking to him throughout this whole free agency process, it was cool. That played a big part in this whole thing." Zach Pascal
Pascal will likely compete with Watkins for slot reps.
On the ground, the Eagles rushing attack will have the same force and wherewithal. Headed up by offensive line coach and run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland, the versatility and adaptability that was seen in 2021 will seemingly remain the same in the 2022-23 season.
Miles Sanders is heading into the final year of his rookie contract after a disappointing 2021 season that saw him miss five games and rush for 754 yards and no touchdowns. If there was ever a time for Sanders to kick it into high gear, that time has come and every piece is in place for him to do so.
Along the offensive line, the Eagles still sport one of the top units in the NFL. Jason Kelce is back leading the way at center, while Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson remain as the stalwart offensive tackles.
Mailata has earned his standing as the franchise left tackle after signing a four-year, $64 million contract the day before the 2021 opener. He started 14 games at left tackle and gave up just three sacks and 25 total pressures during the 2021 season.
On the inside, Landon Dickerson heads into year two entrenched as the starter at left guard. Initially drafted to take over for Jason Kelce, Dickerson proved to be far too talented to move. In 535 snaps in pass protection in 2021, Dickerson gave up just two sacks and eight QB hits At right guard, the competition is heating up. Isaac Seumalo will battle Jack Driscoll.
Philadelphia’s offensive line is one of the top units in the entire NFL, and their ability to keep Jalen Hurts upright, and once again create holes for Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Kenny Gainwell will be paramount to the team’s success in 2022.
Simply put, the Philadelphia Eagles got better on offense during the offseason. They returned all key personnel, as well as the entire offensive coaching staff, and added a legit blue chip talent in A.J. Brown. As well as a very nice depth piece in Zach Pascal.
It will ultimately come down to what happens on the field. Success will be measured by how many W’s the team can rack up. But, at least on paper, this offense should be one of the most productive in the entire league. Already possessing the league’s top rushing offense, the window for growth as a unit has expanded exponentially.
Cover Image Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke