The casual fan’s guide to the Philadelphia Eagles this season

From who to watch on the field to the most exciting games on the schedule.

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Daniella Heminghaus for Billy Penn
raydunne

Across the Philadelphia region, it’s time to break out the green sweatshirts, buffalo wing dip, and fantasy football roster.

The Birds are back, baby. The team starts the season Sunday in Detroit facing off against the Lions before christening the Linc at the home opener Sept. 19 vs. Minnesota Vikings.

Maybe you’ve been busy since January and haven’t paid close attention to off-season developments. Or you’ve just gotten into Eagles football for the first time (Welcome! We won a Super Bowl once! 41-33 forever). Or maybe you just need conversation starters for the Sunday afternoon watch party your friend/roommate/significant other pulls you along to.

We’ve got you covered. Scroll through for the casual fan’s guide to the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles.

Is the team supposed to be good this year?

Yes.

Simply put, if the Eagles don’t win their division or a postseason game, there’s going to be a lot of disappointed fans.

But this year, it’s not just the tried and true faithful pulling for the team.

Select a sample of sports talk radio callers and you’ll hear plenty about a 12 or 13-win season. The team is also a trendy pick amongst professional analysts, like prominent NFL Network host Rich Eisen, who placed the Eagles second on his list back in July. An even bigger shock: Cowboys’ legend Michael Irvin crossed rivalry lines to rank the Eagles as his sleeper Super Bowl team.

However, how well the Birds perform will come down to quarterback play.

Will our quarterback make us proud?

Even in a midterm election year, Jalen Hurts somehow manages to remain a polarizing figure.

Hurts is as cool as the day is long. He’s known for doing good work in the community, being a great leader, and rocking pretty much any outfit.

On the field, Hurts is a very talented playmaker who keeps things exciting. At his best, he can push the team down the field with an electrifying combination of his arm and legs. Getting a second full season as a starter and with the same offense — something he hasn’t done since high school — should elevate the Birds’ game.

Questions still remain about his ability to make every throw. Does he have enough arm strength? Will he trust himself enough to make tight passes and split second decisions?

Start asking those questions and you’ll draw a crowd.

Jason Kelce during his Super Bowl victory parade speech

Jason Kelce during his Super Bowl victory parade speech

YouTube screenshot

Who are the veteran players I should know?

Jason Kelce, center: In other football towns, offensive linemen tend to fly under the radar. In Philly, however, you could make the case that Kelce is the most popular player on the team. Formerly doubted at every level of football, he now stands to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. On top of being an all-time great, he guest bartends down the Shore for good causes and gives one heck of a Super Bowl parade speech.

Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox, defensive linemen: A pair of Super Bowl 52 holdovers, this duo is embarking on a redemptive season. Graham is fresh off a torn achilles that robbed him of nearly the entire season last year. He’s also the best trash talker in the league and one of the city’s favorite underdogs.

Cox used to be one of the most disruptive players in his position, but age is starting to catch up with him. Still, he’s a team captain and definitively one of the best Eagles ever.

DeVonta Smith, wide receiver: A second-year wide receiver who earned the Heisman Trophy in his final year at Alabama, Smith has the makings of a potential star. He already broke the Eagles’ single-season rookie record for receiving yards, and could be primed to have an even sophomore season.

Which newcomers could become breakout stars?

AJ Brown, wide receiver: Acquired on a draft night trade with the Tennessee Titans, Brown wanted to join the team because of his close relationship with QB Hurts. Brown is a top flight receiver who should receive a heavy share of the targets, so there’s a chance his jersey may be the next one you buy for yourself or a friend.

Haason Reddick, outside linebacker: This one’s a hometown hero. Reddick grew up in Camden, walked on to Temple University’s football team, and now has found his way back to Philadelphia. He’s a game-changing pass rusher who will help jumpstart a defense that didn’t put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks in the past.

Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, rookies on defense: A pair of rookies straight from Georgia’s national championship team, there’s a lot to like here. Davis, a defensive tackle, is an absolute mammoth of a human who has shown promise in just absolutely demolishing opposing offensive lineman. As for Dean, a linebacker, he slipped to the third round of the draft and has a lot of people thinking the Eagles may have gotten a steal.

James Bradberry and CJ Gardner-Johnson, defensive backs: Neither of these players were expected to be here. Bradberry was set to begin his third season with the New York Giants, but due to his hefty salary, the team cut the cornerback in a money-saving move. Gardner-Johnson, meanwhile, was trying to negotiate an extension with the New Orleans Saints when talks went sour and the team shipped him to the Eagles on the second to last day of August.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith

Jack Dempsey / AP Photo

What’s the story with the head coach?

Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni seems to have solid footing as he goes into his second season — both with his job security and with fans.

For the unfamiliar: Sirianni is a young guy who had a pretty meteoric rise to head coaching status. Prior to being the Eagles’ lead man, he was the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive coordinator under head coach and former Birds offensive coordinator Frank Reich.

By most accounts, players love Sirianni and he has tried just about every way possible to endear himself to this fanbase. The surprise run to the postseason last year (plus some fun press conference moments) have done enough so far.

But it always comes down to winning. If this year’s offense doesn’t do more passing or the Birds don’t live up to preseason billing, the positivity around Sirianni could change.

Wait, who owns and runs the team, again?

The Eagles are owned by Jeffrey Lurie, who bought the team in 1994 for $195 million. His tenure is easily the most successful in Eagles history, with the team winning its first Super Bowl and accruing the sixth most playoff wins in the league since he bought the team.

Howie Roseman is the team’s general manager. He’s credited with building the Birds’ Super Bowl-winning roster, but had been the subject of intense criticism in the years since due to lackluster drafting and a seemingly toxic work environment.

Roseman has tried to reinvent himself over the last two years, though some fans won’t forgive his past mistakes. Regardless of Roseman’s prior misgivings, he’s revered around the NFL for his ability to acquire assets during trades and manage the salary cap.

What are the most exciting games on the schedule?

Week 2, vs. Minnesota Vikings: This is the home opener on Monday Night Football, so the anticipation will be sky high and the amount of work done in the tri-state area the next day will be at an all-time low.

Week 4, vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: The only Super Bowl winning head coach in Eagles history returns to the Linc when Doug Pederson’s Jacksonville Jaguars come to town.

Week 6, vs. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys come to Philadelphia, need we say more?

Week 10, vs. Washington Commanders: Former Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz returns to Philadelphia as a division rival. Assuming he hasn’t been replaced by a backup at that point, there’s going to be a lot of booing every time he touches the field.

Week 16, at Dallas: The rivals play each other on Christmas Eve. Nothing brings the family together like rooting against the Cowboys, and this game will be a difference maker for who wins the NFC East.

Week 17, vs. New Orleans Saints: These aren’t your father’s or even your older brother’s Saints. The Hall of Fame duo of quarterback Drew Brees and Sean Payton are no longer there, but this team figures to be in the playoff picture in the season’s penultimate week. Circle this date as one that the Eagles could clinch a playoff berth.

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