Better, worse or the same? Eagles' offense pins hopes on Jalen Hurts

PHILADELPHIA -- Is the Philadelphia Eagles' offense better, worse or the same compared to the 2020 version?

There has been some seismic movement since the disastrous 4-11-1 season wrapped in January, that's for sure. The long-term plan at quarterback was scrapped when the Eagles agreed to trade Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts in February. The man who replaced the struggling Wentz in the lineup for the final quarter of the season, 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts, is now at the controls. He's surrounded by a talented but inexperienced group of skill players, headlined by reigning Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith.

The biggest free-agent move addressed the defensive side of the ball, as Philadelphia signed takeaway-generating safety Anthony Harris to a one-year, $4 million contract, then added veteran edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan to bolster the defensive front.

Have the offseason moves resulted in a net positive for the Eagles? Here's a position-by-position look at the offense for 2021:


Additions: Joe Flacco (one-year, $3.5 million deal), Nick Mullens (one-year, $970,000 deal)

Losses: Wentz (Colts), Nate Sudfeld (49ers)

Returners: Hurts

Better, worse or the same: Worse

Wentz was at the bottom of the league statistically last season. He led the NFL in interceptions (15) and sacks (50) despite playing in just 12 games. Hurts should have no issues bettering that performance, so in one sense, the Eagles are set for an upgrade at quarterback this season.

But we all know Wentz is better than what he showed in 2020. Even with the down campaign, he still ranks second all-time among Eagles quarterbacks in interception percentage (2.0) and passer rating (89.2) and is third in completion rate (62.7%). Though he might not return to his 2017 near-MVP form, it's hard to deny the 28-year-old Wentz has more upside than the 36-year-old Flacco at this stage in their careers, and there's less projection involved with Wentz than there is with Hurts.

That said, the reviews on Hurts' leadership have been strong since he stepped into the huddle, and the QB room should have a healthier atmosphere now that the quarterback controversy is behind them.

Running backs

Additions: Kenneth Gainwell (fifth-round pick), Kerryon Johnson (off waivers from Detroit Lions)

Losses: Corey Clement (New York Giants)

These guys are back: Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Elijah Holyfield, Jason Huntley, Adrian Killins Jr.

Better, worse or the same: Better

Sanders was limited to 12 games in 2020 because of injury and the Eagles struggled to find much consistency behind him.

Philadelphia is intrigued by Gainwell's versatility. He lined up all over the field at Memphis and caught 51 balls for 610 yards during his final college season to go with 1,459 rushing yards. Johnson is sound in pass protection and should provide an upgrade in that area if he makes the team.

The added talent will make for a spirited competition at training camp and improve the depth overall.


Additions: Smith (first-round pick), Jhamon Ausbon (UFA), Michael Walker (one-year, $780,000 deal)

Losses: DeSean Jackson (Los Angeles Rams), Alshon Jeffery (free agent), Marquise Goodwin (Chicago Bears)

These guys are back: Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Travis Fulgham, John Hightower, Quez Watkins

Better, worse or the same: Better

The Eagles got little from their receivers last season. Their top performer, Fulgham, ranked 82nd in the league with 539 receiving yards.

The optimism surrounding this group is largely about Smith, who tore up the NCAA last season to the tune of 117 catches, 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. A polished route-runner with sensational hands and body control, there shouldn't be too steep of a learning curve as he transitions from the SEC to the pros. He'll be teamed with Reagor, their 2020 first-round pick who was slowed by injuries as a rookie.

This is a very young room. No receiver on the roster is older than 25.

Tight ends

Additions: Tyree Jackson (UFA), Jack Stoll (UFA)

Losses: Josh Perkins (free agent)

These guys are back: Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers, Caleb Wilson, Jason Croom, Hakeem Butler, Zach Ertz (for now)

Better, worse or the same: Worse

It's an upset that Ertz is still on the roster. The Eagles granted him permission to seek a trade this offseason, and there has been interest but general manager Howie Roseman has stood firm, believing the proposed compensation does not match Ertz's value. However, it's still difficult to envision Ertz playing in Philadelphia this season. And while Goedert has some real upside, it's hard to replace a three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl hero.

Offensive line

Additions: Landon Dickerson (second-round pick), Le'Raven Clark (one-year, $1 million deal), Kayode Awosika (UFA), Harry Crider (UFA)

Losses: Jason Peters (free agent)

These guys are back: Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Jordan Mailata, Andre Dillard, Jack Driscoll, Sua Opeta, Luke Juriga, Ross Pierschbacher, Nate Herbig, Matt Pryor, Brett Toth, Casey Tucker

Better, worse or the same: Better

The rash of injuries last season was incredible, as the Eagles were forced to use a record 13 different offensive line configurations over the first 14 weeks. Better health, as well as the addition of Alabama's Dickerson, should make for a stronger product in 2021.

Age is the primary concern here and can't be ignored when discussing the injuries. With Johnson (31), Kelce (33) and Brooks (31) all north of 30, this unit has logged a lot of miles over unforgiving terrain.