Shortly after the Eagles had trimmed their roster from 90 players to 53 over the weekend, Eagles executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman was asked on Saturday evening what he thought of the roster heading into 2019.
“I think we have a lot of talent,” said Roseman. “The question is how we come together as a football team. We started here and we had an opportunity to talk to the team first day of training camp and we talked about that there was talent in this room, but we need to come together as a team and that comes through experiences through the course of the season.
“That comes from dealing with adversity through the course of the season. We think that we have the right character and right leadership on this team, on the coaching staff, and on the field to do that. But now we have to go show that.”
It all starts on offense with quarterback Carson Wentz. The hope is that the 26-year-old has no adversity. That’s probably not going to happen, but, if it does, the hope is it is minimal and the team can fight through it.
Here is the first of two parts examining the Eagles’ roster as it prepares to open the season at home against NFC East opponent Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Up first, the offense:
Carson Wentz, Josh McCown, Nate Sudfeld
Analysis: No more Nick Foles, but McCown doesn’t look like a bad consolation prize should Wentz have to miss any significant time. Sudfeld, meanwhile, looks like he will continue in his role as the third quarterback, his chance at being the primary backup struck down by a wrist injury that will likely keep sidelined for the month of September.
What Roseman says: “Sometimes we forget Carson is 26 years old and Nate is a young player – and having that veteran in there with those guys. You see the chemistry developing already and [we are] really excited about that quarterback room.”
Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement
Analysis: A vast upgrade over last season when the Eagles top two backs entering 2018 were Jay Ajayi and, take your pick, Corey Clement or Wendell Smallwood. Smallwood is gone, having been claimed by the Washington Reskins on Sunday. Clement is still here, and he will have a role, but the workhorses should be Howard and Sanders.
Something to keep an eye on is Howard will be a free agent after the season, Clement will be a restricted free agent, and Sproles will likely retire. That leaves only Sanders locked in for 2020.
What Roseman says: “Jordan has had a tremendous offseason, and you see his vision, his instincts, his power, and then Miles really has come on. Getting Darren back and just what he can do, obviously in the passing game as a returner, his veteran leadership, and we talk about complementary roles and each room having complimentary roles.
“And Corey, really, he can play all four downs and he's a heck of a special teams player and he looks 100 percent. We like how all those guys play off each other.”
Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins
Analysis: One of the strengths of the team is right here. Hollins is returning after missing a full season, so we’ll see how quickly he is able to get his game back up to the level he played at during his rookie season when he averaged 14.1 yards per catch on 16 catches. It is probably a make-or-break year for the fourt-round pick in 2017.
Agholor could be playing his final season in Philly, as he will be a free agent after the season.
What Roseman says: “I think for J.J. to go out and have that third preseason game and you see kind of the skill-set that we looked at, tremendous hands, NFL body, knows how to play big, and again, what a great opportunity for him to learn from one of the best, big-body receivers in the National Football League in Alshon.”
Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert
Analysis: As good a 1-2 tight end punch as there is in the NFL. Ertz is coming off an NFL-record setting 116-catch season with a career-high 1,163 yards and a second straight season with eight touchdowns. Goedert’s snap count from his rookie season (525, 48 percent) figures to go up this season, as should his numbers: 33 catches, 334 yards, four touchdowns.
Without a third tight end, it is possible the Eagles use rookie Andre Dillard in that role in blocking situations. It wuold give Dillard some playing time as he waits his turn to start. The team did this with Isaac Seumalo during his rookie season in 2016.
What Roseman says: “Just because we have two (tight ends) on the 53 (man roster), doesn't mean that we'll end up having two to practice or we'll end up having two when we go play.”
Offensive line (pictured above)
Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Andre Dillard, Jordan Mailata, Matt Pryor, Nate Herbig
Anaylsis: Right guard Brooks may not be ready to start the season (I think he will, though), but this is a veteran group with plenty of depth. Vaitai has filled in nicely when needed at tackle and now he is doing so again at guard in Brooks’ spot.
This may be the best line in the league, as it was in 2017 and probably would’ve been last year had Peters been able to stay healthy. The concern is health, especially at center, where the team could be caught short should something happen to Kelce.
In that event, the team would either have to move Seumalo to center and find somebody to step in for him or go with 21-yard-old Herbig.
What Roseman says: “You look at our starting group and we're really excited about our starting group. Then you talk about someone like Big V (Vaitai), who shows tremendous ability not only at tackle, where he started at left tackle in the Super Bowl, but now comes in and plays guard and shows his value there and does a tremendous job for us there.
“Our first-round pick (Dillard) is not starting for us. He's a guy that we have a lot of confidence in. Then you look at the backups that we have after that, and they all have versatility. You really kind of can go one by one. What we are excited about is we have a good mix of veteran players on the offensive line and also youth that we think can develop and develop into good players.”
Up next: The defense