OFFSEASON REVIEW: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
By Paul Mainwaring
As one season ends and another one begins, 32 NFL franchises put 2020 firmly in the rear view mirror and gear up for another tilt at the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The hard work starts here, and for many has already begun; general managers and head coaches are finalising their staff and looking ahead to turning their rosters into potential challengers.
In this series we identify the key components that go into building a winning team, and what each franchise needs to do to be in the mix come the playoffs next January. We continue our team by team offseason review with a look at the Philadelphia Eagles:
So given how bad the Eagles season was I thought I would take you back to the start of the season to give you what people, and by people I mean our Head of CFB & NFL Draft content Si Carroll was thinking about the Eagles. Here is a little excerpt:
The Eagles are a lock to make the playoffs, but tiebreakers see them second in the East.
To be fair to Simon the Eagles still had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 16 but that was due to the dire nature of the division and nothing to do with their play. The usual 5 year moratorium a team gets after winning a Super Bowl did not happen in Philly, a 4-11-1 record, a benched Franchise QB and a host of injuries led to mass change and jettisoning their QB while still having $38 million of his Salary on their Cap.
For the Eagles what could go wrong did go wrong and the only surprise for me is that GM Howie Roseman not only got to keep his job but got to be involved in his 4th coaching hire, that is unheard of and does suggest he has some serious power and influence over ownership.
Give the record and the disharmony in the Franchise I guess it was inevitable that there would be mass changes in the coaching ranks, however I am not sure the names hired would have rolled off anyone’s lips prior to the hiring.
Nick Sirianni – the former Indianapolis Colts OC – was hired to be the Eagles new Head Coach. Given the link to Frank Reich, who it seems now to be recognised as the reason the Eagles won the Super Bowl, it is no real surprise that the Eagles went here even if the name wasn’t easily recognisable. Given the state of the roster and the cap situation you would expect the new coach to have time but given the fans in Philly he will have to hit the ground running and convince them he is the man for the job or he could be in serious trouble.
A man with almost as important a job as Nick Sirianni is Shane Steichen, who has joined from the Chargers to be the Eagles Offensive Co-Ordinator. Shane’s role will at present be to make Jalen Hurts a viable starting QB, and given the Mock Drafts I have seen so far (especially our man Alex Chinery’s) he will get the whole year to do that. The Eagles offense was abysmal last season so the only way is up, and Philly fans will hope Steichen will be the man to improve this.
On Defense the Eagles have gone for former Colts assistant Jonathan Gannon. Gannon does have some links to Philadelphia; he worked for Emmitt Thomas, who was a former Eagles DC under Ray Rhodes. Gannon will need to improve the Eagles poor pass defense if the team is to have any improvements on that side of the ball this year.
State Of The Roster
Given the disaster of 2020 and the state of the Salary Cap the Eagles seem to be in full rebuild mode. Given how high some cough Si cough were on the Eagles it would be inconceivable for me to write that this roster was in tatters. Their Franchise QB who they signed to a 4-year extension (an extension that technically hasn’t even started) yet was seen as so toxic and unmanageable that they traded him for 10 cents on the dollar.
You would think that with a high salary the Eagles team would be flush with talent. Instead it was flush with old and injured players on bloated contracts. I am close friends with many Eagles fans and they were quick to point out that when it got bad there was no turning back, and boy were they were right.
The Offense lacks talent and is now dependant on a QB who I am not convinced is a proficient enough passer to make it in the league, and even if he is right now he has no playmakers to get the ball to. The defense was at best mediocre but in big moments it has struggled to stop teams passing on them and in today’s NFL, this is a major issue.
Salary Cap & Cut Candidates
Not many teams have a worse Salary Cap situation than the Philadelphia Eagles. As I write this the Eagles have announced they will be releasing Alshon Jeffery and Desean Jackson, but even with these moves the Eagles are still over $35 million over the cap and much more work is to be done.
Another person who will most likely be cut is Malik Jackson. His deal was restructured last year will makes this move easier. The $3.5 million will help but still leaves the Eagles a long way short of where they need to be. Given this I expect a couple of unexpected players who have been franchise cornerstones to leave the Eagles by June.
Another way to save money would be to trade Zach Ertz. Trading Ertz could save the Eagles around $5m however I am not sure the market will be that strong so they may only get a conditional pick for a player of descending talent.
Given all the Salary Cap issues I would not expect many if any of the Eagles free agents to be back on the roster. The one player who may get short term deal is Safety Jalen Mills. He is steady if not spectacular, but given all the needs in other areas it would not be a surprise to see him back.
As with all teams, the needs are defined by what you think of your QB. At present, it seems that the Eagles are going to give Jalen Hurts a chance so given this the need is for a veteran QB to help Hurts as a starter. The man for the role is Ryan Fitzpatrick but I assume he will be too pricey.
The Eagles are crying out for playmakers especially at Wide Receiver, it is not that they haven’t had chances to take WRE’s recently but to say they have whiffed is an understatement (Reagor over Jefferson). At 6 they have a chance, dependant on how the QB picks go to take either Devonta Smith or JaMarr Chase, if this happens they should run to the podium as both would be a massive upgrade and give Hurts a number 1 weapon to grow with.
As mentioned earlier the Eagles pass defense is weak and the signing of Darius Slay last year didn’t pan out as everyone wanted. Philly needs at least 1 if not 2 outside corners to cope with the barrage of passing occurring in the NFL.
A former UKEndzone writer, Paul has been dragged out of an enforced retirement to give his thoughts on the NFL and anything else he can slide past the editorial team.
Paul is most famous (infamous?) as Mainz one half of Waxing Lyrical. alongside his Partner in Crime Neil Dutts Dutton.
Find him @Mainzey7 where all manner of sports are on the menu.