Bold Predictions for Eagles' 2021 NFL Season

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 23, 2021

Bold Predictions for Eagles' 2021 NFL Season

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles entered the 2020 season expecting to be a playoff team. Instead, they went 4-11-1 and finished last in the NFC East. It was a disappointing showing that led to changes throughout the organization, including at the top of its coaching staff.

    With Nick Sirianni taking over as head coach, the Eagles are looking to build their way back to being a Super Bowl contender. That likely won't happen in 2021, but Philadelphia should show improvement from a year ago and give its fans a reason to be optimistic for the future.

    Regardless of how many wins the Eagles accumulate this season, it should be an interesting year that shows how much progress they have made over the offseason and how much still needs to happen. And maybe they will even have some surprises along the way.

    Here are three bold predictions for Philadelphia for the upcoming season.

Reagor Ends Up as Eagles' Leading Receiver

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Right now, all eyes are on DeVonta Smith in the Eagles receiving corps. The former Alabama standout won the Heisman Trophy last year and was Philadelphia's top pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

    But opposing defenses may also have plenty of eyes on Smith, knowing the speed and talent he possesses. And it can be tough to jump from college to the NFL and have success. Just ask Jalen Reagor, who was the Eagles' first-round pick in 2020 and then struggled during his rookie season.

    All of these things are reasons why Reagor is poised to have a breakout sophomore season and end up as Philadelphia's receiving leader during the 2021 season. It's a bold prediction, for sure, considering the 22-year-old had only 31 receptions for 396 yards and one touchdown last year. But he's impressing in training camp and seems to have greatly improved since his debut season.

    "He was great off the line of scrimmage of how he was moving a guy. He was good at the top of the route. He finished with the catch," Sirianni said recently, per the Eagles' official site. "He just had a good feel how to attack guys...and so I really see him growing."

    Reagor should put up much better numbers as he develops a connection with quarterback Jalen Hurts, one that will end up with him leading Philadelphia's receiving corps.

Eagles Lead the NFL in Sacks

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    There are some areas on the Eagles defense that could use improvement. Their pass rush does not appear to be one of them. It was a solid unit before, and it's gotten even better this offseason.

    Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett have all returned. Josh Sweat is back and could be on the cusp of a breakout season, as he's been impressing at training camp. Philadelphia also brought in Ryan Kerrigan, with whom it's already familiar considering he racked up 95.5 sacks over the past 10 seasons with the NFC East rival Washington Football Team.

    Last year, the Eagles ranked third in the NFL with 49 sacks. Now that their pass rush should be even stronger, there's no reason they can't end up with the most sacks out of any team in 2021.

    Sweat could be a big reason for the further improvement. The 24-year-old hasn't contributed a ton over his first three NFL seasons, totaling 10 sacks in 39 games. But he's been one of the Eagles' most surprising players in camp, with left tackle Andre Dillard recently saying that Sweat is "an animal" and a "freak athlete," per's Mike Kaye.

    Expect Philadelphia to make things tough on opposing quarterbacks again this season and to put up even better numbers while doing so.

Goedert and Ertz Both End Year Still on Team

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    One of the biggest storylines of Philadelphia's offseason was whether it would trade Zach Ertz. For the longest time, it seemed like a sure thing that was going to happen, which would allow Dallas Goedert to take over as the clear No. 1 tight end on Philadelphia's depth chart.

    Yet Ertz remains on the team and has been participating in training camp with the Eagles. In fact, the 30-year-old has been "one of the offense's top performers this summer," according to The Athletic's Zach Berman. Trade rumors have continued, but nothing has materialized.

    The prediction here is that nothing will. It can't hurt Hurts' development to have two solid tight ends to throw to, and there should be enough targets available for both Goedert and Ertz to contribute. Ertz is set to hit free agency next offseason, and it's highly unlikely he will return to Philadelphia at that point.

    But for now, Ertz remains with the Eagles and could put up better numbers than he did last season (36 catches for 335 yards and one touchdown in 11 games) before trying to get paid on the free-agent market in 2022.