Four Eagles’ players (and one coordinator) with the most to prove in 2022
Following an exceptional offseason, the Eagles’ expectations have increased considerably for 2022.
They won seven of their final ten games last year, resulting in a Wild Card berth under rookie head coach Nick Sirianni. GM Howie Roseman has since added talent on both sides of the ball, most notably star receiver AJ Brown and stout pass-rusher Haason Reddick.
However, some players will have a bigger chip than others come opening day. Here’s a look at five members of the Eagles who have the most to prove heading into next season.
Miles Sanders, RB
The Eagles’ lead-back is entering a contract year with extra motivation. Durability has been a concern for Sanders, who suffered ankle and hand injuries last season and dealt with hamstring and knee issues in 2020. He was also the only back in the NFL with at least ten carries from inside the 10 and not score once.
When healthy, however, Sanders is a dangerous home-run threat and is consistently among the league leaders in yards per carry. The Eagles will look to open up the passing attack this season, but they should remain dominant on the ground behind the best offensive line in football.
If Sanders wants to get paid in Philadelphia or elsewhere, he’ll have to stay on the field.
“I’ve still got a lot to prove,” Sanders said, via Pro Football Network. “A lot of people don’t respect all the work I’ve done, and I’ve still got a lot to prove. I’m taking it real personal this year.”
Yards per carry leaders last season:— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) June 4, 2022
• Rashaad Penny: 6.3
• Jonathan Taylor: 5.5
• Nick Chubb: 5.5
• Miles Sanders: 5.5
• Tony Pollard: 5.5
Side note: Jason Kelce = 🐐 pic.twitter.com/mWDLNhLPVZ
Marcus Epps, S
The Eagles recently brought in veteran safety Jaquiski Tartt on a one-year deal, providing much-needed experience and depth at the position. Tartt will compete for a roster spot in camp, but the signing shouldn’t alter Epps’ role all that much.
Epps showed promise last year — he was PFF’s 18th highest-graded safety — but has played less than 1,000 snaps thus far in his NFL career. He comes into the summer with a tremendous opportunity to prove he’s a capable starter and play for a new contract.
“The coaches, they’ve expressed confidence in me,” Epps said last month. “Obviously, I have a lot of confidence in myself. But just like any other year, man, I still have to come in and prove it. I still have a lot to prove.”
#MarcusEppsSZN 🦅 pic.twitter.com/wLtxRf0UTy— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) June 11, 2022
Jalen Reagor, WR
Despite their best efforts to move Reagor this offseason, it appears Philadelphia will give their former first-round pick another chance. Reagor has struggled to find his footing since entering the league in 2020 and has looked flat-out uninterested at times.
We’ve seen glimpses of what the TCU standout can do with the ball in his hands; he just has to tie it all together. The kid has been through a lot recently, losing a childhood friend last spring and mourning the death of college teammate Jeff Gladney just a few weeks ago.
At just 23 years of age, Reagor still has time to unlock his potential in the NFL if he can get right mentally.
“Jalen Reagor’s a Philadelphia Eagle.” Howie Roseman said in April. “He’s going to be here. We want to have good players in that room, we want to have good players on this team.”
Watch Jalen Reagor’s acceleration. #FlyEaglesFly— NFL (@NFL) September 12, 2021
📺: #PHIvsATL on FOX
📱: NFL app pic.twitter.com/SAilgczyBa
Jonathan Gannon, Defensive Coordinator
With the injection of talent into Philadelphia’s new-look defense, Gannon now has the appropriate personnel for his zone-heavy scheme. The additions of James Bradberry, Haason Reddick, and Kyzir White will allow Gannon to be more creative in his looks, especially with Jordan Davis commanding attention up front.
The Eagles’ defense improved as last year went on, but they finished second to last in sacks and allowed several QBs to post absurdly high completion percentages. It’s a well-known fact around the league that Gannon will be a head coach one day as he’s already gotten interviews.
If he turns in a good showing in 2022, that opportunity will come sooner than later.
Jordan Davis is a dream pick for the Eagles. He singlehandedly makes the entire Gannon defensive structure work. He is a math-changer, a scale-tipper, a force multiplier in the worlds of two deep safeties and light boxes. Home run.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) April 29, 2022
Jalen Hurts, QB
After a turbulent 2021 campaign, all eyes will be on Hurts in what may be his final audition to win over the franchise. Howie Roseman went all-in on his young quarterback by trading for (and paying) AJ Brown, who will now join DeVonta Smith to form one of the NFL’s top WR duos.
Hurts, 23, has spent much of the offseason in California with QB-guru Tom House and his improvements have already turned some heads in OTA’s. If those refinements translate to the regular season, a division title should be well within reach.
If Hurts’ inaccuracies from last year plague the team in 2022, expect the Eagles to use their multiple first-round selections to find a new signal-caller.
“I’m noticing a big difference,” Nick Sirianni told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio. “What I see is a crisper ball. The accuracy I’ve been very pleased with. You can just see him taking strides every single day with his accuracy because of the fundamentals he has with his feet and his upper body.”
Look at the placement on this TD from @JalenHurts. So good. #FlyEaglesFly— NFL (@NFL) December 22, 2021
📺: #WASvsPHI on FOX
📱: NFL App pic.twitter.com/pZVcAaK2xx
Mandatory Credit: NFL.com