The Philadelphia Eagles gave rookie quarterback Carson Wentz the keys to the kingdom immediately in 2016.
Starting all 16 games, the former North Dakota State standout completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,782 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 79.3.
Stuck in an offense that didn’t feature many explosive players, Wentz topped the 300-yard passing threshold just four times all season, despite attempting 607 passes (37.9 per game).
However, that might change in 2017 based on two major signings that Philadelphia made on Thursday.
Adding to capable incumbent starters like wide receiver Jordan Matthews and tight end Zach Ertz, the Eagles signed both Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery to bolster their passing game.
Smith’s deal is for three years and $15 million while Jeffery, a legitimate No. 1 wideout, signed a one-year, $14 million deal.
It will be his second-straight year playing on a one-year deal, as he played on a franchise tag with the Chicago Bears last season.
The addition of Jeffery in particular should allow Wentz to throw the ball up the field rather than conservatively east to west, which is where a number of his passes were thrown last season.
Jonathan Jones of Sports Illustrated explained the profound impact that Jeffery can have in 2017.
“While Wentz was being crowned by everyone from Philadelphia to the Vice President’s office early last season, he was throwing the ball east and west and barely across the line of scrimmage. His 3.3 air yards per attempt were 31st in the league. And when the field got shorter, Wentz wasn’t that great either: He finished 23rd in the league in red zone completion percentage at 49.5%,” he wrote.
Wentz took to Twitter after each signing, welcoming each player to the team.
“Big things ahead” are exactly what Eagles fans hope is the result of adding two viable threats to the passing game.
Jeffery battled injuries for each of the last two seasons in Chicago. In 2016, he played in 12 games and managed to haul in 52 passes for 821 yards with a career-low two touchdowns.
Much of that had to do with Chicago’s inferior quarterback play for most of the year.
In 2013, Jeffery caught 89 passes for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns and followed that up with 85 catches for 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns the following season in 2014.
The Eagles are hoping he channels the past and is able to turn elite-level numbers in what is now one of the best offenses in the NFC (on paper).
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