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Giants 2017 Schedule Preview: Philadelphia Eagles Have More Weapons

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Much like Giants, Philly needs to be better on offense in 2017

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Minicamp
Carson Wentz during the Eagles’ mandatory min-camp.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue our team-by-team look at the New York Giants’ 2017 opponents, we turn today to the NFC team Giants fans love to ridicule, and whose fan bases loves to give it right back. That would be the Philadelphia Eagles, of course.

Let’s learn more about the 2017 version of the Eagles.

When They Play

  • Sept. 24 (Week 3) — @ Philly, 1 p.m. ET
  • Dec. 17 (Week 15) — 1 p.m.

2016 Eagles

Record: 7-9
NFC East: 4th
vs. Giants: 28-23 loss Week 9 at MetLife Stadium, 2-19 win Week 16 at home
Offense: No. 16 in points scored, No. 22 in yardage
Defense: No. 12 in points allowed, No. 13 in yardage allowed

Roster Moves

Key Additions

WR Alshon Jeffery, WR Torrey Smith, RB LeGarrette Blount, DE Chris Long, CB Patrick Robinson, G Chance Warmack, QB Nick Foles, DT Timmy Jernigan (trade)

Key Losses

DT Bennie Logan, CB Nolan Carroll, LB Connor Barwin (released), CB Leodis McKelvin (released), QB Chase Daniel (released)

2017 NFL Draft

  • Round 1 (No. 14) — DE Derek Barnett
  • Round 2 (No. 43) — CB Sidney Jones
  • Round 3 (No. 99) — CB Rasul Douglas
  • Round 4 (No. 118) — WR Mack Hollins
  • Roud 4 (No. 132) — RB Donnel Pumphrey
  • Round 5 (No. 166) — WR Shelton Gibson
  • Round 5 (No. 184) — S Nate Gerry
  • Round 6 (No. 214) — DT Elijah Qualls

Summary: First round pick Derek Barnett will be a key part of the Eagles’ pass rush rotation. Sidney Jones will potentially miss his entire rookie season as he recovers from an Achilles injury. Rasul Douglas could challenge for a starting role at cornerback. Donnel Pumphrey is expected to be a significant role player on offense. — Bleeding Green Nation

Three Questions About The Eagles

Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation answers our questions:

Ed: What is your favorite thing about what the Eagles accomplished this offseason?

Brandon: This is an easy answer. The best thing the Eagles did was surround Carson Wentz with some actual NFL skill players. Wentz's supporting cast in 2016 was just atrocious. The wide receivers were the worst group in the NFL. The Eagles didn't have a running back they could consistently rely on because Ryan Mathews was in and out of the lineup. Signing Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and LeGarrette Blount showed the Eagles' commitment to giving weapons some legitimate pieces to work with. These moves figure to help his development as he enters Year 2 of his career.

Ed: What is the one things the Eagles did not do this offseason that might haunt them?

Brandon: The Eagles didn't really do much to address their biggest weakness -- the cornerback position -- for the 2017 season. Philadelphia drafted Sidney Jones in the second and Rasul Douglas in the third this year, but Jones might not play at all after tearing his Achilles earlier this year. Douglas could see some playing time but I'm not sure he's ready to be a full-time starter. And so the Eagles will likely march forward with Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson as their starters on the outside. Mills graded out as the league's worst corner in the NFL last year, per Pro Football Focus. He might improve in Year 2 but the 2016 seventh-round pick clearly has flaws. Robinson has bounced around the league and failed to stay healthy so he's likely not much more than a veteran stop-gap for Philadelphia.

Ed: Are you optimistic that the franchise is headed in the right direction, or pessimistic and feeling like the team's struggles will continue?

Brandon: I feel like the Eagles are bound to improve in 2017. The team may have finished 7-9 in 2016 but they tied for the league's ninth-best point differential and seventh-best turnover differential. Historically speaking, teams who under-perform their point differential tend to bounce back the next year. Philadelphia was in a bunch of close games last year. They're not a juggernaut by any means but I think they're closer to being a good team than they are to being a bad one.

As far as the big picture goes, it really all hinges on the development of Wentz. If he becomes what the franchise believes he can be, the Eagles should be in relatively good shape for the considerable future. If he turns out to be a bust, the Eagles will likely have to clean house and start all over at some point.

Biggest Storyline

Will Carson Wentz step up in Year 2? The No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft showed promise as a rookie but he also went through some struggles. Now that he has a year under his belt and an improved supporting cast, the hope is Wentz can lead the Eagles back to the playoffs. — Bleeding Green Nation

Under-The-Radar Storyline

Is Doug Pederson the right head coach for this team? Not unlike Wentz, Pederson was up and down in his first year on job. He seemed to do an overall decent job given the lack of talent he had to work with. Now the excuses are gone and the team needs to improve in his second year. — Bleeding Green Nation

Notable Injuries

Second round pick Sidney Jones is recovering from an Achilles injury and could potentially miss the entire 2017 season. Starting slot receiver Jordan Matthews missed most of spring practices due to lingering knee tendinitis. Backup defensive tackle Beau Allen suffered a pectoral injury in February. It’s unclear if he’ll be ready by Week 1. — Bleeding Green Nation

Final Thoughts

Gowton is right that the success or failure of the 2017 Eagles is likely to be judged by the development of Wentz and the Philly offense.

Wentz is a youngster in his second year trying to show he can be a franchise quarterback. Eli Manning of the Giants is a two-time Super Bowl champ in his 14th year trying to show he is still good enough to win big games. Thing is, even though the quarterbacks are at vastly different stages, the Eagles and Giants are mirror images in this way. Their seasons are likely to come down to whether or not rebuilt offenses that were pretty much awful in 2016 can be better this time around.

Wentz completed 62.4 percent of his passes as a rookie with a 79.3 passer rating. He had 16 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. With Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Legarrette Blount there is no doubt he will have better play-makers around him in 2017.

Giants-Eagles match-ups are always some of the most emotional, and often memorable, games on the schedule. Let’s see what happens this season.