The 2021 NFL season is still a ways away. But now that the Eagles have finished putting together their coaching staff, we can start to look ahead at which players will thrive under the new leadership.
Here are three players who have breakout potential in 2021.
WR — Travis Fulgham
Travis Fulgham was a bit of an enigma last season. He was tremendous when he first arrived on the scene, but his play quickly tailored off once other receiving targets returned from injury.
From Week 4 to 8, Fulgham led the league in receiving yards with 435. He also found the end zone four times and averaged 16.8 yards per reception. The latter half of the season was not nearly as fruitful for Fulgham, only tallying nine receptions in the remaining eight games.
When discussing Fulgham’s luck laster second half, some fans will point to Doug Pederson’s insistence on starting Alshon Jeffery over him. While that obviously played a role, it’s hard to know exactly why Alshon started over Fulgham right in the midst of his break out campaign. Was it favoritism, or was Fulgham just not developing during practice? Your guess is as good as mine.
But with a new coaching staff in place and a head coach who’s worked closely with wideouts before, Fulgham’s potential could be realized in 2021. If the work ethic is there, there’s no reason Fulgham can’t become a very solid receiver for the Eagles.
RB — Miles Sanders
Some may say Sanders is already a solidified star here in Philly, but I still think the best is yet to come.
With an impressive 5.3 yards per carry average — good for fifth best among running backs with at least 130 attempts — he still didn’t manage to top 1,000 rushing yards on the season. Pederson routinely opted to pass the ball in clear running situations last season. With a strong running game and a weak passing game, obviously this line of decision making hurt the team throughout the year.
With Nick Sirianni now calling the shots, the Eagles offensive attack should be much more balanced in 2021. The Colts ran the ball about 45% of the time last season. Whereas the Eagles ran it just about 40% of the time. Sanders also averaged just 11.2 rushing attempts per game.
Expect Sirianni to also get Sanders mush more involved in the passing game as well. During his rookie campaign, Sanders proved to be an effective receiver out of the backfield, hauling in 50 catches for 509 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers went down significantly last year, with Sanders bringing in just 28 receptions for 197 yards and no touchdowns.
With the limited amount of talent to work with on the offensive side of the ball, Sanders should be the clear focal point of Sirianni’s attack.
CB — Avonte Maddox
After a promising rookie season, Avonte Maddox‘s play has steadily declined. He hasn’t recorded an interception since his 2018 rookie campaign and he’s often been overmatched on the outside.
With new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon — a former defensive backs coach who’s had a ton of success — expect Maddox to get put into much more favorable situations moving forward. In 2018, Maddox was used all over the field. He saw time at safety, nickel corner, and finished the year as the starter on the outside. The outside is where Maddox struggled the most in 2018, but oddly enough, Jim Schwartz decided to keep him as the starter there over the next two seasons.
Standing at just 5-foot-9 with average speed, Maddox doesn’t have the physical traits to be a good outside corner. His mold fits much more in line with that of a nickel corner.
During his time as the Colts secondary coach, Gannon did a great job at developing young corners. One of those corners was the Colts nickel back, Kenny Moore II. Moore is one of the better slot corners in the entire league, and he stands at 5-foot-9, just like Maddox.
At just 25 years old and entering the prime years of his career, expect Maddox to take a big leap playing under Gannon’s tutelage next season.