As we all know, quarterback is the most important position in the NFL. So of course, the play of Jalen Hurts is a huge x-factor this season. But like I said, we already know that.
This list will be dedicated the other major x-factors for the Eagles entering the 2022 season. If these players step up, the Eagles will be in good shape.
Let’s get right into it.
RB Miles Sanders
Pro Football Focus recently wrote about the Eagles and their biggest x-factor for the team in 2022 was in fact Miles Sanders. Here was their reasoning:
Sanders finished inside the top 20 for 10-plus yard runs (21) during 2021 and fumbled just once. The downside was that he missed three games with an ankle sprain before fracturing his hand toward the end of the year, which kept him out of two more matchups. Sanders will be a big part of this Eagles offense functioning at its best in 2022 under Jalen Hurts.”5 overlooked teams entering the 2022 NFL season
Sanders has shown glimpses of being a franchise back throughout his three years with the Eagles, but injuries and inconsistent play in the passing game have held him back. His fall off as a receiver has been a head scratcher. After posting a PFF receiving grade of 74.7 as a rookie while tallying 50 receptions for 509 yards and 3 touchdowns, his receiving production has taken a nosedive. Over the past two years combined, Sanders has recorded 54 receptions for 355 yards with zero touchdowns.
Sanders managed to clean up the drops last season, cutting it down from 8 in 2020 to just 1 last season. Nevertheless, the production didn’t match his efforts as a rookie.
Getting Sanders more involved in the passing game is a must. Especially if Sanders wants to get nice hefty contract extension next offseason. Running backs have been devalued drastically over the past decade. The ones who can catch the ball out of the backfield at a high rate are the ones that typically get paid.
A true breakout season from Miles Sanders would go a long way for this Eagles offense. Their rushing attack could be even more lethal if Sanders remains healthy and plays a consistent level in all facets of the game.
WR Jalen Reagor
I know I sound like a broken record with this take… but I don’t care. Jalen Reagor still has potential to be a contributor on this Eagles offense. Now that he won’t be a focal point of the team’s passing attack, Nick Sirianni should be able to manufacture touches for him in order to maximize his talent. That means wide receiver screens, jet sweeps, and just sending Reagor deep.
While I’m one of the few remaining supporters of Jalen Reagor, I will say that this will be the final year I put some faith into him. If he fails to produce anything in 2022, it’ll be time to move on.
I’m treating him like I did with Nelson Agholor. Agholor finally proved his worth in his third season, en route to helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl title. Entering year three, I expect similar production from Reagor. It may not result in another Super Bowl championship, but it will lead to an exciting season from the Eagles offense.
EDGE Derek Barnett
Derek Barnett has had his ups and downs during his NFL career with the Eagles and he’s never truly reached the expectations of being a first-round pass rusher. Last season, he was thrusted into a starting role once Brandon Graham went down with an injury. On the year, he tallied 2 sacks, 22 total pressures, and 46 combined tackles.
Entering 2022, Barnett should be able to thrive in his minimized role. It’ll be similar to how he was utilized during his rookie year; playing primarily in passing situations as a rotational pass rusher. Although Barnett has struggled whenever he has a heavy workload, he’s proven to be an effective pass rusher when coming off the bench.
With BG back in the fold, along with the addition of Haason Reddick, Barnett won’t have nearly as much pressure on him as he’s had in years past. If he capitalizes in passing situations and keeps the bone headed penalties to a minimum, he could really boost the overall pass rush of Jonathan Gannon’s defense this season.
LB Davion Taylor
In 2021, Davion Taylor showed some real promise, but inconsistency and injuries plagued most of his season. In six starts, Taylor racked up 41 combined tackles and 2 forced fumbles. He was an effective pass rusher as well, posting a PFF pass rush grade of 71.2 for the year, the highest mark in any PFF category.
The rest of his game…. leaves a little bit to be desired. Which is probably one of the main reasons why Howie Roseman attacked the linebacker position so aggressively this offseason. Adding Kyzir White and Nakobe Dean throws a wrench into things with Taylor’s development, but he still has an opportunity to contribute in year three.
Taylor showed a real nose for the football in 2021 and his closing speed on ball carriers was impressive. Just take this rep against the Chargers as an example:
We already knew Taylor had this type of athletic ability in him. It’s the play recognition that really took a step forward last season. Based on his athletic profile, there’s no doubt Taylor has what it takes to be a starting linebacker in this league. If he continues to develop on the mental side of the game, the sky’s the limit.
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