Eagles mailbag: How much will RB Trey Sermon help?

·6 min read

Eagles mailbag: How much will RB Trey Sermon help? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles open up their season in one week in Detroit and today is the last Sunday without an NFL football game for months.

It’s a beautiful time of year.

We answered a bunch of questions yesterday and still have plenty more in the mailbag:

The Eagles claimed Trey Sermon off waivers from the 49ers last week, making him the fourth running back on the roster. The 6-foot, 215-pound back was a third-round pick out of Ohio State (he also played at Oklahoma) but didn’t play much as a rookie and didn’t really stand out too much when he did. He had 41 carries for 167 yards and 1 touchdown.

I like the idea of the Eagles bringing in a talented young running back to see what he could be, but I don’t expect Sermon to have a big role early. And he’s not really a power back like Jordan Howard. Sermon averaged 1.9 yards after contact per rushing attempt in 2021, a lower average than Sanders’ 2.1.

Here’s what TheAthletic’s Dane Brugler wrote about Sermon last year during the pre-draft process:

“Overall, Sermon is inconsistent as an inside power runner, but his combination of vision, balance and cutting skills are intriguing traits for an outside zone scheme.”

I watched his carries from the 2021 season and came away underwhelmed but did see some flashes. But then I did a little reading about how Sermon worked on his explosiveness going into Year 2. That was a wise decision. Sermon worked out with Dalvin Cook this offseason.

“Being explosive,” Sermon said in August, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “I feel like that is one thing that I kind of lost last year, just being explosive out of that first cut. That’s been a really big emphasis for me this offseason and even still now in training camp. I’m still working on it and I’m very conscious of it.”

So the Eagles might have something in Sermon but it’s hard to see him having a big role from the jump, especially if Sanders is healthy.

First, let’s take a look at all the candidates for a contract extension — key players entering the final year of their contracts. The Eagles have quite a few: Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, James Bradberry, Isaac Seumalo, Kyzir White, T.J. Edwards, Miles Sanders, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps.

We’ve been waiting for that Hargrave extension all summer and it hasn’t come yet. It makes sense because not only is he a Pro Bowl player but he has the highest cap hit on the team in 2022. A little surprising it hasn’t happened yet. He’s still the most obvious one.

Gardner-Johnson is a good candidate because he’s already a really talented player and he’s still just 24. The Eagles might want to make sure his transition to safety and his acclimation into this defense goes smoothly first, but I wouldn’t wait too long. He’s likely going to get paid after this year.

But I’ll also give you a wild card pick: Kyzir White. Based on what I’ve seen during training camp, White is going to be a really solid addition. He thought he was going to get a long-term deal this past offseason and it didn’t happen. But late in camp, I chatted with White about coming here and he seems to love Philly already. He said he would love to stay here long-term and I believe him. Also, he plays the WILL spot and if Nakobe Dean ever really pushes for a starting gig, Dean seems better suited at the MIKE. I could see a White extension getting done during the season if the Eagles want to go that route.

“With all these weapons on defense, if our defense cant preform this season is it time to get rid of Gannon?”

There’s no question there’s pressure on Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon this season. Outside of Jalen Hurts, Gannon probably has more pressure on him than every other person in the NovaCare Complex. There aren’t any excuses this year.

Just think about all the talent Howie Roseman added to the defense this offseason: Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, White, Jordan Davis, Dean and now Gardner-Johnson. Not only has there been an influx of talent, the Eagles have added talent to give Gannon the scheme flexibility he wants.

This has the makings of a great defense but it’ll be up to Gannon to get everything out of them.

In a couple ways, it really feels like this could be Gannon’s last year in Philly. If the defense succeeds, there’s a good chance he’ll land a head coaching gig somewhere. And if the defense fails, there aren’t any excuses.

Based on the evidence, they believe in him to a certain extent. They certainly believe in Hurts as a worker, leader and person. They believe that he’ll maximize his potential and will reach his ceiling, whatever that is. And they obviously liked Hurts enough to use a second-round pick on him in 2020 and make him the starting quarterback for back-to-back seasons. They clearly believe in him enough to go for it this season; we’ve seen that from their roster moves.

But they also see the areas where Hurts needs to improve. We all see them. Even Hurts sees them. The Eagles aren’t tied to Hurts long-term right now, but that decision would probably have to come after this season. Hurts’ play will determine his future.

I took a closer look at all the Eagles’ options at the return spots last week. So you can read all that here.

But my best guess is that the Eagles bring up Britain Covey to handle those responsibilities.

Well, they were a playoff team in 2021. So even if Hurts doesn’t take a huge step forward, this is a much better roster than last year. So they could perhaps get into the playoffs and sneak by to win a game. But for them to make a real run, which I think they’re capable of, Hurts will need to be significantly better. Having A.J. Brown and a second year in the offense ought to help.

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