When the season kicks off Sunday in Washington for the Eagles, the eyes of locals and of NFL fans will be on three important Eagles players.
Here is what the best and worst case scenaros are for the three most important guys in the Eagles' roster.
Best case: Wentz takes a big leap in year 2 after 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions as a rookie, throwing for more than 30 touchdowns while keeping his interception rate in the teens. He is able to use his legs to create plays while also gaining more trust in the pocket behind a healthy offensive line. Wentz and Alshon Jeffery connect for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as the Eagles win 10 games and make an unexpected playoff appearance. Wentz jumps into the second tier of NFL quarterbacks alongside Cam Newton and Derek Carr (behind Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers).
Worst case: The absolute worst case is that Wentz gets hurt and misses significant time, Nick Foles' shoulder isn't fully healed and there is a full-fledged quarterback controversy in Philly that leads the team to reach out to someone like Colin Kaepernick to help resuce a highly-anticipated season. The next worse is that Wentz shows very little improvement from 2016 and puts up average numbers despite his improved offensive weapons.
Best case: The Birds added some serious pass running compliments in Timmy Jernigan and Derek Barnett — as Brandon graham and Vinny Curry return healthy. Cox will either face fewer double teams and post double digit sacks, or he'll open the way for his teammates to get in quarterbacks' faces. Either way, a top 5 team sack total is possible thanks to Cox' presence on the field.
Worst case: The Eagles find out they wasted $63 million on a pass-rusher who cant turn raw potential into hurries or sacks. If the defensive line isn't able to win their matchups up front, the trickle down effect will really hurt the Eagles lacking secondary and lead to an underwhelming defensive performance in 2016.
Best case: A player who few Eagles fans had even heard of a few weeks ago is now more or less the key to the Eagles' pass defense in 2017. If he is a solid, lockdown cornerback he can easily get four or five interceptions and help to firm up the rest of the cornerback group — including Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson.
Worst case: Maybe there's a reason Darby took a big step back last year in his sophomore NFL season, and why the Bills were willing to trade such a young player with high upside. If he is a pass-interference machine and unable to match up against the NFC East's tough No. 1 receivers, the Eagles are in big trouble. And he'll be just like Byron Maxwell, Namdi Asomugha — a false hope.