Carson Wentz's historic rookie season is a huge reason why Eagles fans should be optimistic about the team moving forward. But ESPN's Sal Paolantonio cites another first-year performance from 2016 that is cause for excitement.
"I'm a big believer in Doug Pederson. People have been critical of him. I won't be. I think he's done a terrific job. I think he had a very good rookie season considering all the things he had to do with that football team," Paolantonio said. "And it's like beating a dead horse, but I'll say it over, Lane Johnson misses 10 games. If the team's not missing Lane Johnson, they're going to the playoffs in my view, so I think they had a good season considering all that he was up against."
Paolantonio said he spent time with Pederson at the NFL Annual Meeting last month in Arizona and "just got a sense from him that things have calmed down." In fact, two of this year's new coaches - Los Angeles' Sean McVay and San Francisco's Kyle Shanahan - have consulted with Pederson about the transition from coordinator to the man in charge, per Paolantonio.
There have been a lot of comparisons between former Eagles head coach Andy Reid and Pederson. Reid got the Eagles to the playoffs in his second season, but there's a big reason why things could be different for Pederson 17 years later.
"The division wasn't as strong and competitive," Paolantonio said. "I do like their chances to be competitive. Do I think they'll make the playoffs? It's too early to tell."
But the Eagles are well-positioned for future success because of the strength at three key positions, according to Paolantonio.
"Where you don't have a question mark is at GM, head coach, and quarterback," Paolantonio said. "I think Carson is already good and can be great. There's reason to be optimistic. You've got a franchise quarterback."