The Super Bowl title defense officially commences on Thursday for the Philadelphia Eagles.
After winning their first championship in 57 years, the Eagles begin their quest for a second straight title. As they head to the NovaCare Complex for the start of training camp, let’s examine five key storylines to watch over the next five weeks.
1. The progress – and unrelenting coverage – of quarterback Carson Wentz
Make no mistake, every snap, step, and throw involving Wentz will be exhaustedly scrutinized to the point of sheer nausea. Expect daily, and hourly on social media, analysis from reporters and TV pundits to espouse their opinion on his progress.
Since he will not play in any preseason games, the key is to ignore all the noise and monitor how many snaps Wentz gets each day and week. Whether he receives the majority of them throughout camp, and especially over the final weeks, will be a clearer sign as to whether Wentz remains on track to start the team’s regular-season opener on Sept. 6 against the Atlanta Falcons than scrutinizing the angle he plants his surgically repaired foot.
2. Monitoring starters coming off an injury
Wentz isn’t the only Eagle trying to bounce back after undergoing surgery. They lost starters such as left tackle Jason Peters, linebacker Jordan Hicks, running back Darren Sproles, and special teams MVP Chris Maragos during the season. Then had several others go under the knife in the offseason like wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and defensive linemen Brandon Graham and Tim Jernigan, who had surgery on a herniated disc and is the only one from the group not expected to be ready for the season opener.
3. Is Sidney Jones an inside or outside cornerback?
The 2017 second-round pick missed all, but one game last year after rupturing his Achilles prior to the draft and appears to be 100 percent to start camp. As long as he remains status quo, Jones will start – however the question remains at what spot.
With the departure of last year’s slot corner Patrick Robinson to New Orleans, there is a big hole to fill. Ideally, the Eagles would prefer Jones on the outside and either returning outside starters Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, or Rasul Douglas and rookie Avonte Maddox, to battle for the other outside position and slot role. However, how Jones looks in camp will dictate his address on the field.
4. Can Dallas Goedert quickly assimilate into the backup TE role?
As the Eagles released 11-year veteran Brent Celek and Trey Burton signed with the Chicago Bears in free agency, the tight end position took the biggest hit in terms of depth in the offseason. Since head coach Doug Pederson likes to employ a two-tight end scheme, Goedert, the team’s second-round pick in April, will need to learn the playbook to help complement starting tight end Zach Ertz.
5. Will the Eagles suffer a Super Bowl hangover?
Following a winter of parades and ring parties, it would be hard to fault them if they did, right? To gauge whether they are or not, pay attention to their focus during camp. Are they goofing around too much and not focused, or are the players crisp and hungry for another title?
Owner Jeffrey Lurie, Executive Vice President Howie Roseman, and Pederson are hoping for the latter.