After two consecutive down years, the Eagles find themselves in a place they never expected to be in. The word rebuilding is too strong to describe the current situation for the birds. Retool? Maybe. One thing is for sure, the organization can’t afford to “run it back” with the same team or a lesser team next season. Even if the Eagles make the playoffs this year, there’s no ignoring how bad this team really is. The roots just aren’t as deep as they were in 2017.
2017 brought in a different fire. Carson was a stud entering his sophomore year, Alshon was in his prime and hungry, the defense was healthier than it ever had been. Everything just clicked from the front office all the way down to the personnel. Even Howie had a little swagger to his walk, but times have changed.
The Eagles have been trying to replicate the same offense from 2017 minus the RPO’s and screens. Opposing teams have enough tape to already know what’s coming next. Seahawks veteran linebacker, K.J. Wright stated after their defeat of the Eagles that the defense knew what plays were coming from the Eagles. He even went as far as to say that the defense was calling out some of the offense’s plays before Wentz snapped the ball. Which is a wild indication of how this team has not changed since that fateful year.
Winning teams grow, they evolve, they make adjustments. Only unprepared teams stay the same. It’s just a fact, but this what Pederson needed to experience. Wentz needed to fall off the throne in Philadelphia to build himself up. Ironically, both are franchise cornerstones and both will be stuck together for years to come. There’s no second coming of Nick Foles, There’s no second coming of Jim Johnson or Buddy Ryan. This is the foundation of the team and that should bring a sense of reassurance.
This season will inspire a great change in South Philly and a necessary one. The Eagles need a bright mind in the OC position as well as a not so stubborn mind at DC. They need a QB whisperer that’s experienced, so he can push Wentz beyond his limits. All of this will trickle into personnel moves that need to be made.
Howie Roseman has already started the transition. Giving new contracts to Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks insured that Carson Wentz will have the best right-side of an offensive line possible for the remainder of a contract he also signed recently.
Wentz has been shaky at times his season, but he’s been let down massively by a total lack of production from his receivers. He’s still putting up relatively impressive numbers, throwing 20 touchdowns, only 7 interceptions, and completing 62% of his passes.
Let’s not forget Andre Dillard on the left-hand side, and a young running back in Miles Sanders behind him. Jake Elliott and Rick Lovato also signed new deals, ticking the box on Fipp’s special-teams unit.
But outside of the trenches, where stability has long been the aim, the Eagles have the flexibility to shake things up thanks to shorter contracts and older players.
They need to get younger at safety and wide receiver. They need a deep threat that’s the heir to DeSean Jackson’s throne. Sprinkle in a slot receiver whose hands will be steady, reliable, and mentally tough, and the layers begin to present themselves.
The comparison to Seattle’s situation following their narrow Super Bowl loss is an accurate one. The Eagles neded to fall before they could fly, to understand who’s bought-in for the long-run, and who faces an early exit. This offseason will be more important than ever for Howie Roseman, but also for Doug Pederson, whose emotional intelligence and ability to currate a unique culture, will be more valuable than ever in wiping away 2019’s mistakes.
Wentz is 26-years old and Pederson is only in his 4th season as a head coach. Things couldn’t always stay in the honeymoon stage, that’s not how successful relationships work. They needed to be dragged through the mud in order to really shine. So don’t be so down on yourself, this team may be sinking right now but the rise is going to be a sight for sore eyes for years to come.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports