Matt Lombardo
NJ Advance Media for

After finishing 7-9 in Carson Wentz's rookie season, the Eagles spent the offseason adding a veteran presence at key positions on offense and fortifying the defense in an effort to make the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Here's a look at everything that has to go right for the Eagles to end the postseason drought in 2017:

1) Carson Wentz needs to take a big step forward

It is difficult to appropriately underscore how critical this season is for Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, following a strong start but disappointing finish to his rookie campaign in 2016.
Last season, Wentz finished with a passer rating of just 79.3 despite completing 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,782 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
At least a portion of Wentz's struggles down the stretch was due to the lack of a reliable supporting cast at the wide receiver position which seemed to stunt his development and while almost continuously playing from behind led to him breaking the franchise's rookie record for passing attempts.
After an offseason of improving his mechanics, finishing the spring on a high point when it comes to his deep-ball accuracy and simply embracing the role of the team's leader, Wentz seems poised to take a big step forward and becoming the franchise quarterback the Eagles expect him to become.
If Wentz improves on his rookie season, the supporting cast around him should be strong enough to facilitate this team being right in the thick of a playoff race in the NFC.

2) Bolstered talent at WR must ignite the Eagles' offense

Bolstering the talent pool at wide receiver was a top priority this offseason for Howie Roseman and the Eagles after Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner, Bryce Treggs and Josh Huff combined for 1,839 yards and eight touchdowns while catching only 55.9 percent of their targets.
Enter Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and rookie Mack Hollins.
Wentz is obviously a quarterback who likes to push the ball downfield and this year should have the requisite and reliable talent to do exactly that, in addition to Jeffery's prowess as a red-zone target which should lead to a dramatic improvement in the overall offensive production.

3) LeGarrette Blount must make a big difference in goal-line and short-yardage situations

More than Jeffery, more than Smith, more than first-round rookie Derek Barnett, running back LeGarrette Blount might be the most important and impactful addition that the Eagles made this offseason.
In 2016, the Eagles short-yardage offense was downright dreadful; the Eagles ranked 27th in first-round conversions, 21st in yards per carry, 26th in first-down running percentage and 32nd in rushes for negative yardage.
Last season with the New England Patriots, 11 of Blount's 18 touchdowns came from inside the one yard-line, which should bode well both for the Eagles' woeful red-zone touchdown percentage as well as converting on third-down and short situations.

4) The Eagles' offensive line needs to be among the best in the NFL

There are few things more important to a playoff team or the development of a young quarterback than a dominant and reliable offensive line.
Assuming that Lane Johnson remains healthy and clean for the entire season, the Eagles offensive line has the potential to be among the best in the NFL.
Keeping Wentz upright and paving the way for Blount, Darren Sproles and rookie Donnel Pumphrey will be critical, particularly in the ultra-competitive NFC East games for this team to have a chance to make the postseason.

5) The Eagles' defensive line must be better, improving the defense at large

Generating front-four pressure on the quarterback is the chief tenet of Jim Schwartz's defense, which was largely subpar in 2016.
Last season, the Eagles only produced 34 sacks with 24.5 coming from the defensive line.
After adding Tim Jernigan who should be an upgrade over departed defensive tackle Bennie Logan and first-round pick Derek Barnett to replace miscast Connor Barwin, the defensive line should be more dominant in Year 2 under Schwartz.
If the defensive line provides consistently heavier pressure than a year ago, it will only help the young defensive backs and the defense at large.