Written by: Peter Furman
Training camps have opened up, and the pro football season is right around the corner. It is my take that the Eagles are an up and coming team, and they have to see if their young quarterback, Carson Wentz, can get better in his second season behind center.
The sophomore jinx has been one of the more consistent curses in the NFL. Wentz surprised most with his first trip through a full season as did Dak Prescott, RGIII and others over the years. Few have followed a premium entrance into the “Big Boys” game with a second season better than the first. The “sophomore slump,” and in many cases the future, for a quarterback is not known until at least two years in. Oftentimes, the first year is the pinnacle, and the subsequent years are a downward spiral.
We see it every season for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s injuries, other times it’s an inability to adjust to the mental aspect of the game. It can also be the quality of the team, its coaches and opposing coaches. Whatever the reason, it can be a burden for years.
Wentz has to show improvement, be mature, lead and to make the plays to become the reason the Eagles paid a big price to get him. One season is just going to either be an appetizer for the rest of the meal or the entree for a sumptuous feast. How many times has the Messiah turned out to be that man? The answer is RGIII and others before him. I think it is just a bit premature. I am perhaps too negative as I think Wentz has a real shot! He is big, fast and has a great arm that he seems to keep under control. The Eagles team last year was not a great one on the OL, most importantly at wide receiver with a mediocre running game to boot. They had new coaches and a new organization after three to four years of being mired in chaos. They loaded up on wide receivers in the draft, which is important with the Giants running Spag’s “keep it short” defense. It was dominant as Prescott and the Cowboys discovered along with many other teams the Giants played.
A year later, Spag’s defense is no longer a surprise. The Giants made their $200 million free agency buying spree work. While the team won on defense in 2016, the offense averaged fewer than 20 points per game. They were victimized by the long ball, which is rare these days. Green Bay threw deep successfully in the playoff game, and the Giants were very weak to defend. This defense is not much different from the ones he built years ago with the emphasis on “pressure.” Those were an aggressive, all-out attack with Strahan, Osi and Tuck leading the charge, and linebackers playing close with enough talent to get to the offense and shut it down. The Giants had little Spags first year back and the results were putrid. He finally got the men he needed to be effective, and JPP will probably make or break this team.
The Giants signed WR Brandon Marshall, who, if his head is right, still has the game to make the offense very explosive. The rookie TE Engram is another weapon but cannot block, so it comes down to an OL that is still thin and not very good. It remains to be seen whether Eli will have even the short time he needs with their “hurry up” offense or will be harassed, sacked and pressured into interceptions, bad plays and possible injury, which would just make the Giants a joke.
As a blogger and a student of the game with some expertise, I bleed blue and hope for the best. Eli is now at the end of his career, and hopefully he’ll hold up, help the Giants score points and play tough without The big Hankins, whom the team let go of in lieu of giving an outrageous contract to JPP.
So is this the year in which the Giants with an aging Eli can get back to the playoffs and win another Super Bowl? Or will a young quarterback in Wentz catapult the Eagles and make them contenders?