’21 Training Camp Pre: Most Valuable Weapon Title Up For Grabs
[Editor’s Note: This is the 11th in a series of stories from Andrew DiCecco and Geoff Mosher previewing the Philadelphia Eagles as they head into training camp July 27. This story answers the question: Who will be the Eagles’ Offensive MVP this year?]
The Eagles are hoping this year’s offense can reemerge from the dumps after an unexpectedly terrible 2020 season that resulted in the firing of head coach Doug Pederson and trading of quarterback Carson Wentz.
The team has some young talent at the skill positions who’ll have a better chance to showcase their potential this season.
Mosher and DiCecco gave their selections for the Eagles player who will be the team’s Offensive MVP.
Andrew DiCecco’s pick: DeVonta Smith
If the Eagles plan on contending for NFC East supremacy, they will have to rely on what they hope to be a high-octane offense under Nick Sirianni.
Even with the addition of free-agent cornerback Steven Nelson on Sunday, the team still lacks sufficient depth in key areas. The team could often find itself in shoot-outs if the offense plays to potential.
One might look at Dallas Goedert and peg the tight end as the team’s breakout star of 2021, which is totally understandable. However, Goedert’s physical style of play, coupled with an uptick in snaps, could result in continuing durability concerns. As of now, also, Zach Ertz remains in the fold.
When the Eagles selected DeVonta Smith with the 10th overall selection in April, the plan became evident. Presuming Travis Fulgham assumes the big-bodied, possession receiver role and Jalen Reagor serves as the explosive, do-it-all weapon, Smith should thrive on short-to-intermediate routes.
The Alabama product might be slightly built, but boasts the requisite toughness, versatility, and route-running prowess to make an early impact. It’s arguable that Smith is already the team’s most polished wide receiver, and his continuity with Jalen Hurts should only help matters.
Of all the pass-catchers, I view Smith as the resident target monster. The rookie receiver can align at any spot, run every route with precision, and act as a security blanket for his second-year quarterback.
If Jalen Hurts is to enjoy a second-year surge, Smith will be a big reason why. If he stays healthy, a 70-catch rookie campaign seems feasible.
Geoff Mosher’s pick: Miles Sanders
Like, Andrew I was tempted to peg DeVonta Smith as this year’s likeliest choice for Offensive MVP.
As Andrew noted, Smith probably walked into the NovaCare Complex on Day 1 as the team’s most polished, most route-precise and most pro-ready receiver. Given his pedigree, work ethic and natural talent, Smith really should be a target monster from the very start.
But I can’t help but think the biggest beneficiary of what’s expected to be a healthier offensive line (because it couldn’t really be any less healthy than last year) and an improved passing game (which also can’t be any worse than last year) is third-year running back Miles Sanders.
Even with all the O-line struggles and pass-offense dysfunction, Sanders went over 1,000 combined yards and matched his impressive rookie total by scoring six touchdowns. His yards-per-run jumped from 4.6 to 5.3 and his rushing yards per game went up by more than 20 yards as a rookie.
The former Penn State star ran hard between the tackles last year, an improvement overshadowed by his drops and by the offense’s overall implosion, and nobody in the NFL had more runs of at least 70 yards than Sanders, who ripped off three.
Even if the Eagles have just decent health up front and a top-20 passing game, Sanders should be poised to have at least 1,500 total yards this season, emerging as one of the league’s more versatile primary halfbacks.
The talent and tools are there. The environment around him just needs to be right.
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com and Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherNFL) is is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and Senior staff writer/editor for InsideTheBirds.com.
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