We’re now three weeks into a season that could’ve been and should’ve been the most exciting since 2017. The Eagles were primed to take the league by storm in 2020 but what we’ve seen so far is an embarrassment from top to bottom. The more worrying part here is that the winds of change might not be blowing anytime soon. Are the Eagles forcing themselves into a rebuild and one they really don’t need?
The bigger picture
The Eagles are projected to be $84M over the cap next season. If there was ever a season not to be forcing a rebuild, this is it. 2020 was supposed to be a year of licking the stamp and fully sending it at 100mph. Throw the kitchen sink. The roster was built to win now and have enough raw speed and potential to develop under-the-radar.
At 0-2-1, that isn’t happening. Carson Wentz looks like a shadow of his former self, Doug Pederson needs switching off-and-on again, and there are several discrepancies that point towards a fire that’s burning inside the NovaCare Complex, invisible to the naked eye.
An Eagles imposter among us
“Yes, both those guys will be back.” Doug Pederson said confidently when asked whether his offensive coordinator and WR Coach would return in 2020. Less than 24 hours later, they were fired. Regardless of whether Pederson was refusing to throw his staff under the bus, or if he was undermined, the fact that the trigger was pulled so soon after this assurance should’ve raised red flags there and then.
It was the first visible sign that there could well be a disconnect between the coaching staff and the front office, at least this season. If you roll back the clock even further, you see a particular mold of player drafted (someone like Rasul Douglas) who just doesn’t fit what the coaches wanted schematically, and no matter how well he did, was always on the outside looking in. Subsequently, he’s now flourishing in Carolina.
There was a report in the heart of last season that the front office wanted to bring in star linebacker Jamie Collins, but Jim Schwartz lobbied for Zach Brown. Schwartz got his wish, but Brown barely made it a month into the season before being cut.
Welcome to the Eagles QB factory
If we fast forward to the NFL Draft, one quote stands out from Jeffrey Lurie. It was spoken during last year’s offseason.
“I would expect us if not every year, every other year, to try to find a quarterback,”
The drafting of Clayton Thorson went down like a Lead Balloon, but Lurie stuck to his word. Is it possible that he lobbied for Hurts to be taken in the second round? Absolutely.
There were clear primary needs that remained unaddressed to that point. Those same needs are stinging the Eagles right now. Linebacker, cornerback, safety, even defensive end depth could have been addressed with the Jalen Hurts pick. Instead, the Eagles drafted a Heisman Trophy runner up who took his first snaps at QB on Sunday.
The knock-on effects of this were evident. Very few people will ever truly know how Carson Wentz took the decision, but it would be very easy to understand a level of frustration and a range of emotions. A report came out much later citing his teammates felt the same way.
Wentz had battled through so much adversity on and off the field. From an ACL tear and watching Nick Foles win it all while he sat powerless on the sideline, to getting injured one year later and seeing shrines to the backup made inside the same building where a statue of Foles stands just meters away, it hasn’t been easy. This isn’t even including injuries to every skill position player ever and the iconic ‘anonymous source’ scandals.
Drafting a QB so highly, blatantly ignoring other team needs so soon after paying Carson Wentz $154M made little sense…unless it was all a part of the plan.
The need for speed
The rest of the draft was based on one word – ‘speed’. Howie Roseman had seen enough in the playoff loss to Seattle, promising that they will not let history repeat itself. The same two words were repeated all offseason long by the GM – “speed” and “youth”. They were clear focuses in the draft process too, but this is where things begin to get murky.
Take third-round pick Davion Taylor, for example. The Linebacker’s college tape was puzzling at best. An athletic freak of nature, no doubt. An NFL ready player? Severe doubt. Taylor was unable to play football in High School due to being a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. His play in college was mired by mental lapses, more positioning, and a reliance on his athletic ability to bail him out of trouble – something that won’t wash in the NFL.
With that same selection, the team could’ve taken someone like Akeem Davis-Gaither, who has more NFL tackles than Taylor has NFL snaps at this point.
What many fans will find puzzling, is that surely Taylor cannot be worse than Nate Gerry, who has been about as useful as a cloth in flash flood this season, giving up 2 touchdowns and running around the field like a headless chicken. Still, Schwartz insists on playing his guys. Marcus Epps is another while 4th-round selection K-Von Wallace sits twiddling his thumbs.
Let’s not forget Genard Avery – a third-year DE who was traded for at the deadline last year in exchange for a fourth-round pick. He’s played 31 snaps in 3 games.
These are just a couple of examples that highlight a clear disconnect. It’s as if the front office want to build a certain style of roster, but the coaches want to play a certain style of Football that contrasts this.
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