Are the 2023 Eagles even good enough to be labeled as Super Bowl contenders?

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Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts looks on from the bench during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

With Christmas right around the corner and the holiday season in full swing, it certainly can bring a lot of cheer, or recently if you root for the Eagles, some jeers. After their stunning 20-17 loss to Seattle Monday night, allowing journeyman quarterback Drew Lock march 92 yards down the field to score the go-ahead touchdown with less than 30 seconds left in the game, the Super Bowl train that fans and quite frankly, the players are aboard, isn’t on the one-stop track to Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII as it looked destined to be prior to the season.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) makes a touchdown catch in front of Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry (24) during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-17. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Before this team took the field in 2023, the Eagles were a clear-cut favorite to run the table in the NFC despite history not being in their favor. Only eight teams in league history lost in the Super Bowl and appeared in the big game the following year with the Patriots being the last team to do so back in 2018.

It simply has not been as easy as it was last year. Clinging on to wins against inferior teams, losing to the woeful Jets, holding on to wins against Washington while pulling off miraculous wins against Dallas and Buffalo at home. The schedule gauntlet was legitimate and perhaps the Eagles just ran out of gas. Three games in 13 days is practically unheard of and not to mention, the opponents faced during that stretch have a combined 48-22 record.

Digging Beneath the Surface of the Eagles

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Dallas Cowboys cornerback Stephon Gilmore (21) reacts after making a tackle on Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) on a fourth-down play during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

If you peel back that layer and dive deeper, there clearly is some concern to be had with this year’s Eagles.

Jalen Hurts questioned the commitment from the team, including himself in his postgame press conference.

If the commitment comment is regarding the Eagles’ offense, he certainly is spot on. The offense has been head scratching for quite some time. The Eagles first drive in the game against Seattle looked similar to what we saw consistently in 2022. A good mix of run and pass, Hurts making the right reads in the RPO, the ball being distributed all over the field. However, they only had one more drive of the same ilk. The rest of the game featured stalled drives and questionable decisions by Hurts and play calls from Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson.

The 17 points scored in the setback marked the third straight game that they failed to score 20 points, all resulting in losses. All four of their defeats have come when the offense failed to score 20+ points in the game.

The Eagles’ offense ranks 9th in total offense but has averaged 17 points per game over their last three contests which is 11th fewest in the NFL during that stretch.

In his press conference today, Nick Sirianni had this to say regarding the offense:

“We haven’t played or coached to our standard over the last three games”

“The criticism on this offense should come to me.” – Sirianni believes Brian Johnson is being criticized unfairly.
Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni reacts to a play during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Sirianni, Johnson and Hurts have three weeks to get this offense back on track and they couldn’t have asked for better opponents in the below average Giants and Cardinals.

However, let’s not turn our back on the fact that Hurts has regressed from last season. There’s no way to sugar coat it. He struggled to make some reads once again on Monday night and made some questionable throws, most notably near the end of the game with the deep shot to A.J. Brown which was intercepted instead of looking for a shorter route to get 10-12 yards to give Jake Elliott a chance to kick a potential game-tying field goal.

Sirianni explained the thought process behind going deep in that spot.

Playing for a pass interference call is quite the gamble to take.

Sirianni also made an in-season change at defensive coordinator, announcing Matt Patrica would take over the play-calling despite Sean Desai still holding the title of defensive coordinator. Now it was only one game, but it did seem like Patrica made some changes that could be beneficial moving forward, most notably moving Eli Ricks to the outside cornerback position instead of playing in the slot, where he’s played for the majority of the season. Now the fact that Darius Slay opted to get arthroscopic knee surgery, and at a bit of a strange time in the season, may have forced Patrica’s hand, but it is clear Ricks needs to play on the outside.

The defense was able to get some key third down stops, but when it mattered most, they couldn’t get the job done. Allowing two 3rd and 10 conversions on that 92-yard touchdown drive, with the second being the game-winning touchdown is back-breaking and simply can’t happen to a team who has such high aspirations.

Will blowing out the Giants twice and the Cardinals to close out the season really make that much of a difference? It’ll definitely get the sour taste out of the mouths of the fans and players, but the bottom line is this train that was a high-speed, one stop locomotive heading to Sin City in February, is looking more like the Broad-Street Line. Each game from here on out representing a stop to measure where they stand and if the issues that have become apparent over the last three weeks have been corrected.

AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson