It’s been a rollercoaster season for the Philadelphia Eagles so far..and a rollercoaster that still has a long way to go. Doug Pederson’s first year as Head Coach has been a steep learning curve, but also one of development. The Eagles are beginning to find themselves Offensively and the glaring needs are only becoming more prominent as time goes on. It’s only fitting, that this season’s upcoming draft that’s being hosted in the City of Brotherly Love, may be the most important in franchise history.
The Eagles not only made a bold statement in trading up for Carson Wentz, but looked to re-enforce the pick with a series of picks and acquisitions focused on the Offensive Line and ensuring that the right pieces are being put in place to build upon.
But twelve weeks into the NFL season..and the wheels of the Wagon are beginning to wobble. Against the Packers, the Eagles Offensive Line was made up of an aging veteran, a rookie debutant, a struggling center, a free agent backup and a plug-in replacement..for an injured backup. It’s a messy situation and one that doesn’t exactly scream security for a rookie quarterback looking to salvage a playoff charge.
Then of course, there were his perimeter weapons. Free agent acquisitions Reuben Randle and Chris Givens didn’t make it to the regular season and the Eagles later cut Josh Huff following an arrest. The troubles of Nelson Agholor plagued the team deep into the season and have ended in Paul Turner being called up to the active roster, with the USC product watching from the sidelines.
Similar to the Offensive Line, Carson Wentz was left with little help against Green Bay, especially once leading receiver Jordan Matthews was sidelined with an injury. In fact, the receiving corps was comprised of Dorial Green-Beckham and two undrafted rookies. The receiving corps simply couldn’t establish any separation and forced Wentz into finding the narrowest of windows.
Surprisingly, there are still concerns of the Defensive side of the ball. The Eagles cornerbacks have been inconsistent at best..but the lack of depth has been harrowing. Seventh round pick Jalen Mills has been forced into playing frequently on the outside this season. The trading of Eric Rowe has continued to burden the birds who have lacked playmakers on the outside, often giving up huge plays in big situations.
Regardless of where the holes on the Offense are now and where they may emerge in the coming weeks, the upcoming offseason is absolutely crucial. In terms of salary cap space, the Eagles don’t have much to work with..something that may have even played a factor in the recent special teams contracts.
With the likes of Bennie Logan still awaiting a very deserved payday and existing contracts only increasing in value from here on out, the Eagles could well be forced into making some big moves once again.
Even with free agency and trades out of the equation, the Eagles reliance on the draft will be heavier than ever. After striking gold in reacquiring the first round pick given up for Carson Wentz, the Eagles currently have eight picks in the upcoming draft..and they simply cannot afford to miss on any more players.
The Eagles have been given a pass for 2016..as it was never a season of great expectation. From the moment that Sam Bradford was traded to the Vikings, the tone of development and growing was set..but now we know just how high the ceiling could be.
Like the Colts, the Eagles have struggled in drafting wide receivers in recent years..and their Offensive Line while on the surface in week one is sturdy, has the potential to collapse once depth begins to thin. Without a reliable Defense, Andrew Luck has been left to carry the franchise on his shoulders..but it’s imperative that the Eagles don’t follow in the steps of a Defensive Head Coach in Chuck Pagano or owner Jim Irsay.
With a franchise quarterback secure and the makings of a reliable Offensive Line, the Eagles simply have to continue to build from the ball out. Their committee backfield could see some refinement in the coming weeks, but the layout is certainly a capable one. With two tight ends secured for the foreseeable future, the focus naturally shifts to the wide receivers and holes on the other side of the ball.
Regardless of what priorities you rank the Eagles needs..the point remains that they simply have to be filled. With a years Head Coaching experience under his belt and a quarterback who has flashed sheer brilliance in his rookie season, many expect the second season of the Doug Pederson era to be a seriously competitive one.
The Eagles have narrowly avoided going into a rebuilding phase..but the shadow of one has continued to present itself around the franchise through all the controversies and rollercoaster moments this season. But with all the ground work complete, the cornerstones signed and a year to build chemistry and experience..the Eagles simply HAVE to deliver during the offseason.
The pieces are in place for the Eagles..and Howie Roseman has to complete the puzzle he’s started to piece together. An inability to do so would not just shave a year off of the ceiling from a very young team, but potentially force a change in direction. The Eagles are all in Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz..and their success relies heavily on how the offseason transpires.
If the Eagles can attack free agency as they did last year and draft well, then there is no reason why this team cannot learn from rookie mistakes and mount a serious playoff charge. On the other hand, questionable moves and a lack of accountability could have disastrous consequences for the Eagles.
The future of Doug Pederson’s tenure as Eagles Head Coach will very much be dictated by the upcoming offseason..as will the future of the franchise. The Eagles are standing on a Knife edge. They’re one big move away from potentially shocking the NFL and moving one step closer to bringing a Super Bowl to Philadelphia..and one bad move away from seeing all of the hard work over the last twelve months go to waste, forcing the team to second guess its decisions, direction and shape.
Every offseason is important..but never has an offseason had this much consequence without even arriving yet. The needs are clear, the cogs are in motion and the Eagles are the closest to becoming a perennial contender since the Donovan McNabb era. The question is..will the team ignite an explosion of success, or a ticking time-bomb?