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Paolantonio: Pass Rush Key To '17 Success
June 23, 2017 03:10 PM | Chris McPherson
ESPN's Sal Paolantonio conjured visions a former Eagles great who wore No. 17 while seeing wide receiver Alshon Jeffery during the Organized Team Activities and minicamp in the spring.

"I thought it was Harold Carmichael," Paolantonio said on Dave Spadaro's Eagles Live podcast.

Paolantonio is bullish on the improvements made at the wide receiver position to aid second-year quarterback Carson Wentz in 2017.

"I don't want to gush too much, but what I saw from Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith was really, really impressive," he said. "From what I've seen from those two receivers that alone is a major, major improvement. Not to take away from Jordan Matthews and what they accomplished in year one, but to bring in two accomplished, big, tough, experienced guys who are hungry to help out this young quarterback is huge."

As much as the additions on offense should help an Eagles team that ranked 16th in points a year ago, Paolantonio sees the team's playoff chances resting on the defensive side of the ball.

"I just like the additions that they made on the defensive line. I think they will bring more blitzing to their defense, a complex rush scheme that will make their secondary better," he said. "Pass rush is the key. The number one thing is rushing the passer."

If Wentz makes strides and the defense can get after the quarterback on a more consistent basis, Paolantonio reasons the Eagles could win their first division title since 2013.

"This division is wide open. This team could steal a division title with 10 wins," Paolantonio said. "This is a very intriguing team because of No. 11."



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