By Ben Bramhall
To call the 2020 season for the Philadelphia Eagles a disappointment would be one of the bigger understatements of the century. They were an absolute dumpster fire this year. What could go wrong, did go wrong. Whether we are talking about the slew of injuries that plagued the team, the offense that was more offensive towards my hopes and dreams than they were on any field, the defense that consistently imitated a turnstile, quarterback Carson Wentz regressing from his 2017 MVP form into a shell of his former self, a head coach who I could probably outcoach by calling plays from Madden, or a general manager who has made mind-numbingly bad draft picks year after year and has undermined the efforts of building around a once MVP-caliber QB and has led the team into a cap hell, the Eagles were quite simply a disaster. As an Eagles fan, the thing that really grinds my gears the most is the yearly regression of this team and franchise. I mean hell, in 2017, we were the Super Bowl champions. We beat Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots empire in a shootout with a legendary performance by a backup quarterback in Nick Foles. Now? The Super Bowl window has been slammed shut and the Eagles are the worst team in a division that’s winner had a losing record and doesn’t even have a damn name. Here’s the thing that truly bothers me though. After a yearly regression and a recent 4-11-1 season, you would think that this franchise would move on from the coaching staff and front office. Instead, the owner is dead set on running it back with Howie Roseman leading the front office (However, they finally fired Pederson…). Nothing to do about that now but keep moving forward. So how do the Eagles get back to championship contender status? And how do I sum up this process in four steps? Oh boy…strap yourselves in, kids.
Do you know what you do when you find your franchise quarterback? Build around him. Do you know how you don’t do that? By drafting Jalen Hurts, another quarterback, in the 2nd round instead of more talent at needed positions, resulting in Carson Wentz constantly having to look over his shoulder and playing terribly, Jalen Hurts coming in and playing decently but not good enough to show that he is the absolute future, leading into a quarterback quandary for the Eagles. Wentz now wants out of Philly, and Howie Roseman is so desperate and mind-numbingly idiotic, that he has reportedly asked tight end Zach Ertz on how he can restore his relationship with Wentz and convince him to stay. Really? That’s your job as GM dude, are you that much of a robot that you don’t understand basic human feelings and emotions? Anyways, Howie Roseman should’ve been fired, but he hasn’t. So, he needs to solve the QB problem. Honestly, the relationship between the Eagles and Carson Wentz seems unsalvageable, and he’s expected to demand a trade. It’s going to be costly for the next season, as his dead cap hit could potentially be as high as $60 million. However, the hit will drop significantly after next year. If that happens, Jalen Hurts will be the guy moving forward. He showed flashes at times, but still needs seasoning as an NFL passer. Or do the Eagles use their high first round pick to draft a new franchise QB like Zach Wilson or trade up to get a guy like Justin Fields? Whatever the move is, they have to figure it out. This “quarterback factory” system is not working.
In a shocking twist and turn of events, the Eagles find themselves in a position where they have to hire a whole new coaching staff after the Eagles finally decided to axe Doug Pederson. When it comes to coaches and how to build a team, I’ve always been one who stresses that offense is the most important part of a team to build upon first, and the Eagles need an identity on offense (something not seen since Frank Reich left), and they need to tailor the offense around the strengths of their QB. They also need a coach who would build an offense that won’t shy away from the run game when it doesn’t take off right away. Balance is key for any offense, and with running backs like Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, there’s so much that you can do with the run game. Finally, this coach needs to be able to scheme easy plays for the wide receivers. One of Pederson’s biggest flaws has been designing plays that will scheme easy openings for the receivers, resulting in the QB constantly having to throw in tight windows and thread the needle. I can think of no better name for the job than Brian Daboll, the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. This man has overseen the development of Josh Allen, a QB who now has the looks of a perennial all-pro. Daboll had the opportunity to build offenses for athletic QBs like Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, and now showcases his best work in Josh Allen. Besides that, the Bills’ offense has shown great balance, and I’m sure Daboll will bring some of the philosophies used by the Bills to aid the struggling Eagles offense. Depending on which QB the Eagles decide to go forward with, I think that Daboll could be successful with either one. Carson Wentz and Josh Allen share similar strengths as QBs, and he has already coached and is familiar to the strengths and weaknesses of Jalen Hurts. Do the right thing, Howie and Lurie. Get Brian Daboll to Philly.
Obvious, I know, but this has been the biggest weakness of the Eagles. The Eagles haven’t had a really good draft since 2013, where they picked up stalwarts like Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz. Since then, the only players that the Eagles have hit on in drafts have been Carson Wentz, Isaac Seumalo, Derek Barnett, Dallas Goedert, Jordan Mailata (crazy story), Miles Sanders, and maybe Jalen Reagor and Jalen Hurts. In seven years of drafts, the Eagles have only acquired eight players who have or may be big contributors? That is terrible. Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Nelson Agholor were also drafted and played big roles in the Eagles Super Bowl run but are no longer on the team. This has resulted in Howie having to constantly pay big in free agency or pay for guys either way past their prime or so hurt, that they barely see the field. The Eagles are currently in cap hell because of this. Howie can’t afford to miss in drafts anymore. The Eagles need to start finding more talent in the drafts so that they can get younger and build around their franchise QB. Please start this off by drafting Devonta Smith or Ja’Marr Chase. Both are elite WR talents, can pair well with Jalen Reagor, and would instantly give Hurts (or Wentz) their go to guy for years to come.
It is hopeless optimism to believe that the Eagles will be back to contender status by next season, even with the perfect head coaching hire. The Eagles have so many holes to fill that there really isn’t any way to do so in one offseason (two even). The Eagles need to figure out their QB problem, draft a true #1 receiver, get younger on the offensive line, continue developing linebackers, find a CB to play opposite of Darius Slay, and find one (maybe two) safety. This is no easy task, but I’m also not saying that all of these things need to be done in order to build a championship team. Every Super Bowl winning team has flaws, but the strengths of the team are enough to mask the flaws to the point where they can consistently win games. If the Eagles can focus this next draft on getting Devonta Smith or Ja’Marr Chase and young depth on the offensive line, the offense could already be set for the future. Weapons like Smith/Chase, Reagor, Ward, Goedert, Sanders, Scott, and a decent offensive line would make any offensive guru salivate over the possibilities. The defense already has a foundation in place with a strong defensive line. In the 2022 draft, they should focus on linebackers and secondary help. Again, patience is the key, but I do think that this is a game plan that could actually have the Eagles winning games sooner rather than later.
Things don’t look great right now with the sudden firing of a head coach and the roster looking as porous as it does. However, one thing I’ve learned in my years as an Eagles fan is that we are never down for too long. We struggle from time to time, but we somehow always find ways to get back into the mix later on, which is why I don’t feel that this franchise will be in a bad position for too long. So, until next time, Fly Eagles Fly…but PLEASE HOWIE, GIVE ME DEVONTA SMITH!!!!!