The John DeBella Show

Weekdays 5:30am–9:00am

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Once again summer is flying by, the Phillies haven’t been great and the NFL season has crept up on us. As training camp for the 2022 NFL season begins, there is plenty to be excited about for this Eagles season. Another year of experience for the young coaching staff and QB, plus new additions on both sides of the ball. Let’s look at 10 Philadelphia Eagles that I’m excited about as the 2022 season begins.

  • QB Jalen Hurts

    Jalen Hurts

    (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    I’m not sure this first one isn’t equal parts worry and excitement. Let’s call it nervous excitement, because Hurts could either be the guy for the next decade leading a very potent Eagles offense or they could be in the market for a new quarterback in 2023. Will Hurts’ sees the field better, anticipate throws/open receivers quicker? Has his deep ball ability has improved at all? I’m fearful that he’s just not going to see or anticipate the open guy and take off running. A glaring example of this happened in the playoff game against Tampa Bay. Hurts who had wide receiver Quez Watkins breaking wide open, pulled the ball down to escape what was a clean pocket at the time and missed an opportunity at a big play or more likely a touchdown. His legs and mobility will help him continue to move the offense down the field when things break down, but there is a limit to the team’s success if he isn’t a threat to connect with his talented receiving corp. This nervous excitement could quickly become despair if this is what continues for Hurts in 2023. Fingers crossed.

  • The Corners: Darius Slay and James Bradberry

    Darius Slay

    (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    James Bradberry

    (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

     

     

     

     

     

     

    For the first 20 years of my life the Eagles cornerbacks were Eric Allen, Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Lito Shephard, Sheldon Brown and Asante Samuel. Just a ridiculous list of names. I was too young to remember Eric Allen, but I grew up watching 2 pairs of Eagles cornerbacks lock down wide receivers for a solid 15 years. Troy Vincent & Bobby Taylor transitioning into Lito Shephard & Sheldon Brown. The last Eagles corner of that era was Asante Samuel. Sure he had his issues with tackling, biting on a double move every once in a while, but you forgave all of that when he anticipated a throw, stepped in front of the receiver and took a pick to the house for a touchdown.

    Now the Eagles are looking to repeat the stud pairings they had from 1996-2008, by bringing in free agent James Bradberry to pair with Darius Slay.  Slay, one of the top corners in the league, opposite James Bradberry will make it very difficult for opposing quarterbacks to move the ball through the air.  These two should lead to many an interception and return attempt in 2023.  There is always something exciting about watching a defensive back zig-zagging through players who aren’t used to blocking for a runner or tackling a returner.  Add Big Play Slay’s 23 career interceptions (and 3 touchdowns last year) to Bradberry’s 19 career picks and I think we’re in for a fun defense this season.

  • TE Dallas Goedert

    Dallas Goedert

    (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

    Things really opened up for Goedert once Zach Ertz was traded in week 6. In the 10 games he played after the trade he was targeted 57 times, catching 41 balls for 614 yards and 2 TDs. I expect the TD numbers to go up this year because I think he’s going to have a lot of open space thanks to the talent at the wide receiver position. At times last season Hurts peppered Goedert with targets, but once the offense got into the redzone it would be Hurts who would find his way into the endzone. If the Eagles are successful this season, part of it will be due to a big year from Dallas Goedert.

  • Pair of Defensive Rookies - DL Jordan Davis & LB Nakobe Dean

    Jordan Davis

    (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    Nakobe Dean

    (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

    It’s about time the Eagles started drafting as many players from the SEC as possible. Picking players from the University of Alabama or University of Georgia always seems like a good bet. Two of their first three picks this year come from the top defense in college football last year. The same defense that led Georgia to their first National Championship win since 1980. Let’s start with rookie defensive lineman Jordan Davis. Remember when the Eagles D had those big hole fillers in the middle of the Defensive line? Jerome Brown, Hollis Thomas, Corey Simon, 1 year of the Fridge, etc. That is what I’m hoping Jordan Davis can be like. Just another enormous human at 6’6” 340, like Jordan Mailata (more on him soon), that can wreak havoc on opposing centers and guards, getting in QB’s faces and giving the Eagles linebackers easier run stopping opportunities.

    Speaking of Eagles linebackers, I can’t wait for Nakobe Dean to take the field. This city deserves to have a top LB in the middle again. It’s been too long since we got to see a Jeremiah Trotter axe chop. Maybe Trot will let Dean use that if he ends up being as good a pro as he was in college.

    It’s taking a lot for me to write these next two sentences, I don’t want to but I have to. Howie Roseman 2.0 is a good GM. He’s been able to sniff out someone’s stock dropping and can find where he will be available later because he knows the draft really, really well. After years of criticizing him in conversations (all warranted) I just have to say the truth. A lot like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar… “The pen is blue! The goddamn pen is blue!” Howie knows draft value. He knew Dean would be there after the first two rounds and snatched him in the third. It’s extremely impressive. This was supposed to be about the rookies, and I’ve grossed myself out with all of this Roseman love. Moving on.

  • Jordan Mailata

    Jordan Mailata

    (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    A giant (6’8″ 365lbs) with the voice of an angel – check out his Masked Singer performance. Many of us have played more organized football games in our lives than Mailata, but that means nothing when you can toss other enormous humans around like ragdolls. Besides his natural skill he’s benefitted from four seasons under the tutelage of the best offensive line coach in the NFL, Jeff Stoutland. There was a play last year against the Saints that showed Mailata’s awareness and really his strength. As the QB began to leave the pocket, Mailata pushed one defender inside before completely pancaking New Orleans’ Cameron Jordan with one arm trying to get to Hurts. I look forward to seeing defenders trying every trick in the book to get passed this mountain protecting Jalen Hurts’ blind side. My one request is that they start using him as a running back around the goal line. Someone get the tape of Mailata the rugby player over to the NovaCare Complex. If you’ve never seen these videos it’s like children trying to tackle their dad. It’s quite funny.

  • C Jason Kelce

    Jason Kelce

    (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

    This one is more about ENJOYING the finale than being excited about it.  This guy just gets this city and nothing shows that more than his Super Bowl parade speech. Savor every play you see him out there because this could be his last season as the leader of the offensive line. If it weren’t for 2 kegs of undisclosed beer, gifted from head coach Nick Sirianni, we may have already seen the last of Kelce on the field (I specify ‘on the field’ because in terms of residency he’s here to stay, as a new Sea Isle City home owner.) Kelce is at the point in his career where after each season his retirement odds are 60/40. If the ’22-’23 season is the last time we see this future Hall of Famer in midnight green don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened… then go drink a bunch of beers with him at the Ocean Drive from May-September.

  • WR DeVonta Smith

    DeVonta Smith

    (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

    I go back to the drafting SEC players thinking here.  More hits than misses.  I think we are going to see a big year two jump from the Slim Reaper (as long a Hurts is able to get him the ball.)  Year 1 was a good start for Smith. He was able to get his feet wet in the NFL and regain a rapport with his former college QB. Now with the addition of a true #1 wide receiver opposite him (amazing 1st night of the draft for Howie), the chances of that 2nd year jump are even greater. Having A.J. Brown as the other receiver will lead to far less pressure on Smith to be the top dog in the WR room, and the lesser of the opposing team’s secondary covering him. All of these factors should allow him ample space to catch and run. I’m not trying to make predictions, but I could absolutely see a double digit TD year from Smith.

  • WR A.J. Brown

    A.J. Brown

    (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

    A.J. Brown – On Thursday morning, April 28th 2022, Eagles GM Howie Roseman pulled into the NovaCare complex and said, (probably a direct quote) Ima get me a stud wide receiver tonight.  At 9:57pm my phone lit up with tweet notification from NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport that the Eagles were trading for Titans WR A.J. Brown.   Completely gobsmacked, I yelled “Holy Sh*t! He did it!”  That actually is a direct quote as my brain computed what I just read.  I couldn’t begin texting fast enough between different group messages of family and friend Birds fans.

    Remember that great list of cornerbacks I listed for the first 20 years of my life? Compare those same years of Eagles wide receivers and it’s the Upside Down (H/T Stranger Things). Na Brown, Reggie Brown, James Thrash, Todd Pinkston, FredEx, Billy McMullin. Yikes. Finally in 2004 the Eagles went and got Terrell Owens, a true stud wide receiver who made everything and everyone on that offense better. A.J. Brown does that for this offense. I mentioned earlier he’s going to take coverage away from DeVonta Smith. He’ll open up the middle of the field for Dallas Goedert, maybe opposing defenses stack the box a bit less allowing Miles Sanders and the RBs a little more room to work. At only 24 years old, I hope for many years of stud A.J. Brown and stud DeVonta Smith making Eagles fans very happy… as long as my biggest fear isn’t realized, and the Eagles need to start over with another new QB.