Extra Points: Eagles Headed for Another Rough Year
Most Atlantic City sportsbooks have listed the Eagles' over/under for wins this season at 6.5 games.
Give me the under.
Sunday's opener at Atlanta - I'll take the Falcons to win 28-21 - marks the beginning of a potentially tough season for rookie head coach Nick Sirianni.
On paper, the Eagles have strong offensive and defensive lines, but other teams have scissors. And as we all know from Sirianni's offseason competitions of "Rock, Paper, Scissors," scissors cut paper.
The Eagles will likely be underdogs in at least their first seven games before traveling to Detroit to face the Lions on Oct. 31.
Trick or treat?
With their luck, the Eagles will get candy corn instead of Reese Cups in their bags.
My dire outlook for the Birds has nothing to do with quarterback Jalen Hurts. While his arm may not be the strongest, he's athletic, smart and oozes leadership. He will also be helped by the Eagles' smart decision to retain tight end Zach Ertz, who will be the team's leading receiver this season. Tight end Dallas Goedert should also be a big factor.
However, there are question marks with the rest of the offense. The wide receiver corps is unproven. Quez Watkins had a great preseason, but that doesn't always translate into regular-season success. Jalen Reagor had a disappointing rookie year. First-round pick DeVonta Smith has star potential, but place-kicker Jake Elliott is bigger than him. Running back Miles Sanders continues to have trouble holding onto the football.
And that offensive line hasn't been healthy in years. Injuries forced the Eagles to use 14 different O-line starting combinations last year. Right tackle Lane Johnson has missed 13 total games in the last two seasons. Right guard Brandon Brooks sat out 2020 with a torn Achilles. Left guard Isaac Seumalo played in nine games last season. Center Jason Kelce is durable - he has started 105 consecutive games - but the 34-year-old is in the fourth quarter of his career.
The defense also has some issues. The front four is expected to be dominant behind tackles Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave, and ends Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat - Hargrave and Sweat were among the standouts in training camp. Yet, Cox is coming off a disappointing season in 2020. Barnett has done little since recovering a fumble in Super Bowl LII. Graham's been in the league so long, I think Dick Vermeil was his first coach.
They upgraded the back seven with linebacker Eric Wilson, cornerback Steven Nelson and safety Anthony Harris, but cornerback Darius Slay came up small in several big showdowns last year. Safety Rodney McLeod, the leader of the defense, is out while still recovering from a torn ACL suffered last December.
My main concern is the coach.
If owner Jeffrey Lurie hadn't made the ridiculous decision to fire Doug Pederson, the Eagles would win 10 or 11 games this year. Sirianni may turn out to be great, but I'm not sure he's ready for this kind of challenge.
Being an offensive coordinator in Indianapolis and a wide receivers coach in San Diego doesn't compare. He might be excited and enthusiastic now, but let's see how he handles hearing Eagles fans boo him off the field at halftime of the home opener against San Francisco next week.
At best, the Eagles will go 6-11 this season. A 4-13 record is more likely.
Of course, I've been wrong before.
I still catch flak over picking the Vikings to beat the Eagles in the 2017 NFC Championship Game.