The Eagles had a surprisingly successful 2021 campaign that saw a four-win 2020 squad improve dramatically, earning a winning record and a wildcard playoff berth. The franchise has continued this positive momentum through the 2022 NFL offseason, as GM Howie Roseman has managed to acquire a massive haul of new talent through the draft and free agency.
Wide receiver A.J. Brown, pass rusher Haason Reddick, cornerback James Bradberry, and first-round pick Jordan Davis headline this exciting influx of potential stars. Needless to say, expectations are much higher heading into 2022 for this franchise, as well as the individual players on the squad.
With improved talent spread across both sides of the football, several Eagles players should have the opportunity to generate some career-defining numbers this season. Let’s take a look at four specific Eagles players who could (and should) be displaying some serious statistical achievement in 2022, and what those numbers could look like:
1. Miles Sanders Achieves 1,000 Yards Rushing
Through his first three seasons in the league, running back Miles Sanders has proven himself to be a dynamic offensive threat. He was the lead back on a 2021 Eagles offense that led the NFL in rushing. However, Sanders shared the load with a stable of capable backs, and also missed five regular-season games, limiting his production to a career-low 754 yards and zero touchdowns on the ground.
That said, when he was healthy, he averaged an outstanding 5.5 yards per carry and reminded the league that he is a homerun threat at any given moment.
Despite his job security as the team’s starter, and his elite speed and athleticism, Sanders has yet to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in any of his first three NFL seasons. He was certainly on pace to do it in 2020 but only appeared in 12 of 16 possible games, capping him at a career-high 867 yards.
This is Miles Sanders’ year. The passing game should be much improved as quarterback Jalen Hurts has a full season of starting experience under his belt and has a new elite weapon in A.J. Brown. This should help keep defenses honest and open up even more opportunities for Sanders in the rushing game.
The Eagles’ have a potentially elite offensive line, led by center Jason Kelce and tackles Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson. Sanders should have plenty of holes to burst through.
The only question is, can Sanders stay healthy for a full season? If he can, there is no reason that he cannot have a career year and eclipse 1,000 yards on the ground for the first time.
2. The Eagles Have Two 1,000-Yard Receivers
This one is quite simple. Having added a second potentially elite wide receiver in A.J. Brown to play across from last year’s star rookie DeVonta Smith, Jalen Hurts will have to feed both of these dynamic weapons to keep both players as well as the front office happy. Fortunately, he has great chemistry with both of his lead weapons, having played with Smith in college as well as in the pros, and being a close personal friend of Brown’s.
With an elite offensive line, a top-ranked rushing game, existing chemistry with his pass-catchers, and his elite athleticism to keep defenses honest, there is no reason why Hurts can’t set a franchise record in 2022, making it the first season in franchise history that the Philadelphia Eagles have two 1,000+ yard receivers.
In fact, per NBC Sports, only three times in the last 2.5 decades have the Eagles even had two wide receivers exceed 850 yards in a single season, with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin achieving this in 2010 and 2011 and Maclin and Matthews pulling it off in 2014.
The only reason the Eagles can’t make history is if Hurts doesn’t show continued growth as a passer. At this point, it seems fair to give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s make history.
3. Jalen Hurts Throws For 4,000 Yards
Naturally, for the previous statistic to play out, Hurts will have to increase his productivity as a passer.
From his clear improvement from his rookie to sophomore seasons, to stories of his offseason training with Tom Brady and company, to his clear chemistry with his top receivers, there is no reason to believe he can’t prove himself to be a legitimate starting passer in the NFL and eclipse the 4,000-yard milestone in 2022.
As noted, with an elite rushing attack, top-tier offensive line, and talented pass catchers in Smith, Brown, Quez Watkins, and tight end Dallas Goedert, the ball is clearly in Hurts’ court to take the next step in his development.
4. The Eagles Finish In The Top 10 In Sacks
One of the team’s biggest weaknesses in 2021 was their pass rush. The team finished second to last in sacks in 2021, with just 29.0. They were ahead of only the abysmal Atlanta Falcons.
However, this defense should be much improved in 2022. As noted, the addition of James Bradberry will dramatically improve the team’s pass coverage, which should flummox opposing quarterbacks.
Even more importantly, the team added an elite pass rusher in Haason Reddick. As a member of the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers over the previous two seasons, Reddick has personally compiled 23.5 sacks. At just 27 years old, he is in his prime, and should certainly match, if not exceed, that 11.75 sack average of the previous two seasons. Adding Reddick’s 11.0 sacks from last season to the Eagles’ team total would have put them into the top-15 teams in terms of sacks in 2021.
Six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox started extremely slow in 2021, and despite improving as the season progressed, he finished well under his career average with just 3.5 sacks. The team’s 2020 sack leader, Brandon Graham, played in just two games in 2021 due to injury and should be back in action for the 2022 season.
Adding Reddick, an improved defensive backfield, a healthy Brandon Graham, a developing Derek Barnett, and a rejuvenated Fletcher Cox, there is no reason why the Eagles can’t produce a top-tier pass rush in 2022 and finish in the top ten in the league in sacks.