How to fix the Eagles: A 10 step plan to expedite the rebuild

PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 01: Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman chat during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles on November 1, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles sit at 2-4. The team has looked pretty bad for the last few weeks and it’s now starting it’s fourth straight season of really bad football to start the year.

It’s been two seasons now and the Eagles franchise has hit its biggest wall since the late 90’s before Andy Reid was brought in. Poor drafting, anonymous leaks every other month, and QB battles every offseason spell for a dysfunctional organization drunk off of a win five years ago.

Many fans have been expecting a complete rebuild to happen for quite some time. But as is par for the Eagles course, their bad drafting record and poor free agent list has kept them with one foot in a rebuild, and another foot in trying to win. The end result has been mediocrity.

There is a way for the Eagles to get back on track though, and it’s a 10 step program for Jeffrey Lurie, the fans and the rest of the organization.

Step 1: Jeffrey Lurie Takes Ownership of the Dysfunction

One thing that has been apparent over the last couple of years is that the Eagles organization is always looking for someone to blame for poor results. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to find a firm answer as the goalposts continue to move.

It’s an endless cycle that begins and ends with Jeffrey Lurie. He is an owner that doesn’t operate in the open like a Jerry Jones, but it’s been reported he has a very overwhelming presence in football decisions.

This must stop if the Eagles have any hope of reaching the promised land again.

Lurie’s love of analytics has caused him to invest heavily in his GM more so than the people who actually have to play. Very rarely do you see a front office stay intact after four Head Coaching changes within a decade, and yet Lurie has allowed Howie and the rest of the football operations team to remain in tact.

If Lurie is serious about building another winner in Philly, he must recognize the dysfunction of the last four years and beyond, begins and ends with him.

Step 2: Clean House in the Front Office

I’m not just talking about Howie Roseman and a couple guys. I’m talking Dom Smolenski, Howie Roseman, Alex Halaby, and everyone in the Football Operations department.

It’s a rather simple reason. You cannot have a 4-11-1 season, fire the Head Coach, trade the QB you just gave $100 million to, and then keep your job and blame the next set of coaches.

It doesn’t work that way. The Eagles want to be this innovative giant that uses “Moneyball” to win football games.

The problem with this is that “Moneyball” does not culminate in wins in the National Football League. Drafting players based on an analytical grid is not a way to draft players.

The Eagles have a very large issue within their FO because the decision on pretty much everything is a large mesh of ideas instead of one coherent plan of attack. When a FO doesn’t have a plan and blueprint for how it wants to build a winner, then it comes out with the type of season, you are seeing this year.

Step 3: Lurie allows the GM to decide on the HC & the Coach hire his guys

Whether Lurie replaces Howie with Mike Borgonzi of the Chiefs, or Ed Dodds of the Colts, the Eagles need fresh new ideas everywhere. Not just in the coaching staff.

That also means that the new GM should be allowed to hire the Head Coach as well. That very well might mean Sirianni gets another year to develop with the new GM, or the new guy decides to clean house. That’s ok. Lurie needs to stay out. Most of the best Owners in the NFL stay away from day-to-day football operations. The Rooney’s, Kraft, Hunt etc.

Let the GM do his job and hire the guy he wants. Not everything needs to be a conference call.

The same goes for the Head Coach and his assistants. They let Sirianni hire most of the new coming assistants, but forced Doug Pederson into a corner in which they wouldn’t allow him to hire his own assistants.

It feeds into the idea that there’s dysfunction everywhere within the organization. An Owner doesn’t trust the Head Coach to do his job but trusts the GM to make all the roster decisions on who makes the final roster? What?

The new GM must decide on the HC, and he must be trusted to determine who his staff is.

Step 4: Purge the Old Players from the roster

Look, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Brandon Graham, Fletch, McLeod, they are all great Eagles who will most likely be in the ring of honor when they retire.

But enough with keeping old players too long. I’d argue all of them need to be gone next year.

Brooks and Johnson have had injury problems for the last couple years. The fact they are being paid as two of the top guys at their position isn’t good for the financial stability of this roster. The others can all still impact the game, but high cap hits and the need to get younger across the board will play a big role.

Enough of the half-hearted rebuild. Enough of the “we’re always trying to win” thought process with no evidence to back it up. Now people will question me “Nick, how in the world are we expected to be good if we don’t have good vets like Kelce and Graham? That doesn’t make any sense, they still play really well”

That leads me to Step 5.

Step 5. Draft the Best Available talents. Not the highest graded Ones

We can argue about the Reagor pick over Justin Jefferson.

We can argue JJAW over Metcalf. Barnett over Watt.

The Eagles have made boneheaded, head scratching draft picks that have questioned everyone over the last five years. They don’t have a player on the roster they’ve drafted since 2013 that has made the Pro-Bowl.

The new GM needs to be able to trust his scouts. If a scout is telling him something about a player, the analytics department should not be there to chime in. The Eagles value the trenches more than any other roster.

It’s something I agree with! But Derek Barnett over TJ Watt was stupid when it happened. Andre Dillard over Montex Sweat was horrendous.

It needs to stop.

The Eagles are sitting pretty in the 2022 draft with 3 potential picks in the top 10. If that ends up becoming reality, the new GM MUST go with the three best available talents and bolster the youth, and skill of this roster.

A Thibideaux, Stingley, Hamilton first round could change an entire franchise (just saying).

Step 6: Offensive Philosophy Must Change

It’s been well documented that after an upset victory over the Packers in Lambeau in 2019, Lurie was upset they ran the ball more than passed….even though they pulled off a massive upset that saved the season.

This idea that passing the ball is the only way the Eagles should win is a horrendous thought process, and you are seeing the remnants of why this season. Nick Sirianni and his coaching staff feel almost compelled to throw it non stop because it’ll upset the Owner and FO if he runs it. It makes absolutely no sense.

The Eagles should be an offense that is one of the most creative in football. Think about it – two RB’s that are extremely shifty, a TE that has potential to be a top 3 player at his position, speed at the WR position and a scrambler at QB.

This “shotgun throw” every single down doesn’t help anyone on this offense. Whether it’s because the coaching staff is bad, or they are being told to do things that makes no sense in a gameplan, the offensive philosophy must change.

The Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017 because they had a very good defense and was the 3rd best rushing team in football. Forget the QB play. The team was 3rd in rushing! That isn’t some coincidence! Run the damn ball, build a balanced attack offensively and the wins will pile up!

Step 7: Burn the QB Factory to the Ground

It was a stupid comment then. It’s a stupid comment now.

Pop quiz – how many QB’s single handedly won a Super Bowl by themselves?

Answer: 0.

In fact, you look at the Super Bowl winners over the last decade and you see a QB surrounded by some of the best talent of that year. Foles in Philly, Brady in Tampa, Wilson with the Legion of Boom.

This isn’t some coincidence. The idea that you need a backup that is just as good as your starter is dumb and opens itself to controversy. The idea you need to pay your backup QB a good sum of money is just ridiculous.

Joe Flacco this season is potentially making $7 million this year including incentives. Seven million! That’s absurd.

Howie spoke on the reason for the Eagles overpaying for backups because over the last decade “the QB who started the year for us was not the starter in the postseason”

Very true. And crazy to think about. But don’t you think that tells you more about your own medical staff than the actual players themselves?

What the Eagles actually need to do is invest in the QB position, the same way they did in 2017: by surrounding the young QB with All-Pro talent all around him. It’s not just about giving the QB money – it’s about setting up the QB to succeed, something Howie and the FO have failed to do for four years now.

Step 8: Please, for the love of God and all things that are holy, sign a friggin LB

Anyone else tired of watching Linebackers getting run over by professional RB’s?

Want to know why the 2017 defense was actually really good? Because Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, and Jordan Hicks were actually really good together. Three LB’s that could be physical and help at the LOS.

Want to know why Jim Johnson’s defense was so good in the 2000’s? Because whether it was Dhani Jones, Jeremiah Trotter, Ike Reese, Takeo Spikes or whoever, the LB’s were fast and physical. Seriously. The FO just does not care for the LB position and yet is stunned when Alex Singleton makes a tackle after a nine yard pickup.

Singleton, Wilson, and even Taylor have gotten significant snaps this season. Singleton is second in the league in tackles! And yet, every game you watch them, all three are extremely slow to diagnose plays. All three are late on their reads, and all three get absolutely blasted in the run game.

Invest in the LB position and watch this defense become much better than they are right now.

Step 9: End the Anonymous Sources

This really comes back to Howie Roseman and Co. but there have been way too many reporters knowing what’s going on inside the locker room and it’s a big reason why the franchise has looked so dysfunctional lately.

You have reports coming out saying the QB and HC don’t talk to each other, or that the players are upset with the QB or any other stupid thing.

I get some GM’s use “anonymous sources” as a way to boost trade values and what not, but the ramifications of having so many reporters knowing what is going on in the locker room when it should be a private affair is just another example of why this team has been as bad as it has recently.

Step 10: Remove Analytics as the “Be-All” in-game

I know that most coaches have taken the Doug Pederson approach when it comes to in-game analytics.

But there needs to be a balance. Going for it every time instead of taking a FG, using RPO’s as an excuse to not run the ball, using analytical QB pressures instead of actual sacks. There comes a time when you live by the analytics and die by the analytics.

I’m not saying analytics doesn’t have it’s place in game decisions. But going for it every time there is a fourth down, or running the RPO because it can be designed as a run doesn’t set up well for long term success.

The way you win in football is still the same as it was 50 years ago.

Dominate the LOS on offense, and make it impossible for opposing offenses to move.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire