This article is part of a series previewing the 2018-2019 NFL season where we will cover quick notes on all 32 NFL teams, favorite potential storylines, win-loss predictions, the playoff picture, and my picks to compete in Super Bowl LIII.
Congratulations Eagles fans, the curse is over, Super Bowl Champions! I am an open Eagles hater, and although I cannot stand the fan base, I have got to give it to the franchise this year– what a story. Carson Wentz catches fire all season long, blows his knee out, and me, along with mostly everyone outside of the city of Philadelphia, thought that was the end of it. The team lost starters up and down the roster throughout the season, and Wentz was believed to be the nail in the coffin. But have no fear, Nick Foles to the rescue! Foles, along with former laughing stock of Philly, Meek Mill, rallied the city to victories against the reigning NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, turned dreams of playing a home Super Bowl into nightmares for the Minnesota Vikings, and then took down the best quarterback in NFL history by shutting down his trademark fourth quarter comeback through the efforts of a Brandon Graham strip sack. Truly remarkable.
Defending a Super Bowl title is not easy. The grind and physical toll of an NFL season can’t be understated, especially when you play an extra three games. The Eagles celebrated hard, and deservingly so. Usually after an emotional run like this, there is a lot of room for a potential step backward because the ultimate goal was accomplished, and it is easy to get complacent. I do not think that is the case with this team.
The amazing thing that the Eagles organization completely avoided this offseason, which usually causes letdowns for Super Bowl teams, is there was not any major controversies within the locker room, or any contract holdouts. That rarely happens. The Patriots had a lot of internal controversy with power struggles after Super Bowl LI, the Broncos had to deal with Peyton Manning’s retirement and Von Miller’s contract after Super Bowl L, and deflate gate surfaced after Super Bowl XLIX. The list goes on and on. The only thing that could have caused major controversy was declining their White House visit, but the outspoken players on that team have handled everything civilly and are making significant impacts in their communities. The Eagles look to have the potential to ignore the nonsense and carry over their 2017-2018 success right over to this season.
Carson Wentz tore his ACL in mid-December, and eight months later, it looks like the young franchise quarterback might actually be ready for week one. That is insane. ACL injuries have turned into just a bump in the road in 2018. Worst case scenario, the Eagles got a Super Bowl MVP on the bench to play the first few weeks to make sure Wentz is comfortable. No need to rush. The rest of the offense is almost identical to last season, with rookie TE Dallas Goedert replacing Philly Special sweetheart TE Trey Burton, and old ass WR Mike Wallace replacing old ass WR Torey Smith. The loss of RB LeGarrette Blount is not ideal, but RB Darren Sproles is coming back for his last NFL season, and RB Jay Ajayi should be more productive after an offseason of learning the playbook.
The defense took more hits this offseason than the offense, but due to the unprecedented depth throughout the defensive side of the ball, this should not derail their dominance. The defensive line lost DE Vinny Curry and DT Beau Allen to Tampa Bay, but traded a late round pick to scoop up DE Michael Bennett from Seattle. CB Patrick Robinson, who was a pleasant surprise at slot cornerback last season, signed a free agent deal in New Orleans, but the Eagles took CB Sidney Jones in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft when he was recovering from an ACL injury. Jones was considered by some scouts to be the top corner in his class and will have his chance to prove it this season fully healthy. The front seven, led by top DT Fletcher Cox, Graham, and rising star DE Derek Barnett, carried this team to a championship, and with the addition of Bennett, they do not have any plans of regressing.
The only ones beating the Eagles this year are themselves. History tells us that the Eagles will most likely not repeat as Super Bowl champions, but that does not mean that they are not going to dominate a shaky NFC East division for the second consecutive year.
Favorite Potential Storyline: The Eagles lose to the Buccaneers week two without Jameis Winston, and I get to unload on the Philly faithful for the next year even though the Buccaneers have all but a 0% chance of winning that game… but in all seriousness I guess it would be funny if Foles plays the first three games, dominates, and NFL experts discuss if the Eagles should stick with Foles, and move on from Wentz.
Prediction: 12-4 (1st in NFC East, 4th Seed in NFC Playoffs), I know. The NFC is going to be STACKED
Washington Redskins (shit, let one slip)
After years of flirting with Kirk Cousins, the Redskins officially move on from their accidental franchise quarterback (RIP RGIII) and decide instead of paying the 30-year-old, they would trade established CB Kendall Fuller, and a 2018 third round pick for QB Alex Smith (34 years old) and pay him $23.5 million a year over the next four seasons. They most likely could have had Cousins under contract for that much money, and maybe even less if they would have paid him during the first summer he was eligible for an extension. Now they are stuck with an older, but more mobile version of Cousins in Smith. Great job, Washington.
Smith has been underrated his whole career after being selected number one overall in the same draft that produced Aaron Rodgers. Smith has a career record of 88-62-1, while earning three Pro Bowl appearances, including each of the past two seasons. The problem Smith is going to encounter this season is he has the least amount of talent to work with since his first few years in San Francisco. Rookie RB Derrius Guice was supposed to provide Smith with the dependable back he has had throughout his career (Frank Gore in SF, Jamaal Charles and Kareem Hunt in KC), but Guice tore his ACL during their first preseason game of the season, leaving Smith with returning running backs Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson along with washed up legend Adrian Peterson. The tight end position is another position Smith has been reliant on during his career, and TE Jordan Reed has the potential to be one of the best ones yet if he can manage to stay on the field for more than three games. His backup, TE Vernon Davis, is a former teammate from the 49ers, and should provide stability if Reed falls apart. The receiving core is nothing to get excited about, but third year receiver Josh Doctson showed flashes throughout last season giving the team hope he could take a huge step forward. The unit that should be able to control games and allow the offense to produce numbers is the men up front. LT Trent Williams and RG Brandon Scherff are All-Pro caliber players, with second year center Chase Roullier and RT Morgan Moses giving this unit potential to be considered top five in the league come season’s end.
Championship teams are built up front on both offense and defense, and the Redskins have done a good job with both of those positional groups. Veteran OLB Ryan Kerrigan has been the anchor of this defense for years, and with the addition of the Alabama defensive linemen DE Jonathan Allen and DT Daron Payne in the first round of the draft the previous two seasons, this group should excel. This is important in a division that holds two of the top offensive lines in football– the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. The secondary has plenty of talent to succeed, led by CB Josh Norman, and with a strong front seven, there will be much less pressure than previous years on the cornerbacks.
The Redskins seem to be the team every year that shows how poorly run they are in the first few weeks of the season, and then manages to pull out a few wins that no one thought were possible going down the stretch. I see that being the case once again in 2018. Smith will win the team a few games with his talent alone, and if the defense gets hot, there is a chance the team could make a run at the playoffs. With the lack of weapons at Smith’s disposal, I believe the Skins will struggle to put up points, and if the team falls behind early, they will not have enough fire power to make comebacks. 2018 will not be a horrific year for the franchise but could go much better.
Favorite Potential Storyline: After going through this preview, this is another dreadfully boring team. The best storyline to come out of this one would be owner Dan Snyder continuing to do stupid shit that screws over his fans. Maybe we will be lucky enough to get more “should we change the name” talk. Fans love that…
Prediction: 6-10 (4th in NFC East)