The 2020 Philadelphia Eagles are a train wreck. With 4 games left in the season, they sit at a record of 3-8-1, only a half-game out of last place in the worst division in the history of the NFL. There is plenty of blame to go around for this lost season. But today, I want to focus on the steps the team should take this offseason to begin the process of righting the ship.
Fire Howie Roseman
There is no scenario where Howie Roseman should escape this season with his job. There are 3 components of a general manager’s job: drafting, trading, and managing the salary cap. Roseman has never been good at drafting. He added even more blunders to his resume this offseason when he selected Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson in the 1st round, selected a QB in the 2nd round, and selected a project linebacker in the 3rd round.
Roseman was a good trader at one time, but he has lost his touch in this area as well. His 2018 trade of a 3rd round pick for Golden Tate was a disaster and his 2019 trade of a 4th round pick for Genard Avery wasn’t much better (Avery remains a healthy scratch in his 2nd season with the team).
Strengths are now a Weakness
Howie was considered one of the best cap managers in the NFL for a long time, but the wheels finally fell off of that wagon as well. As it turns out, his approach to cap management was to sign players to contracts with heavy contract guarantees long before their previous contract was up and kick what was becoming a bigger and bigger snowball of dead cap down the road to be a problem for tomorrow. That snowball of debt is so large now that there is almost no chance for the Eagles to recover from it in the next 2 years.
The general manager of a football team is supposed to build a team with an eye to the future. Their job is to build the long-term success of a team. Yet Roseman has been in win-now mode for the last 3 years and his win-now strategy isn’t even working. It will take a multi-year commitment to turn this team around and Howie knows he is on the hot seat now. He doesn’t deserve a 3-year window to turn the team around and he knows it. Now that he is on the hot seat, he will continue to search for short term fixes to long term problems and continue to dig a deeper hole for the next general manager to try and climb out of.
Retain Doug Pederson and Hire an Offensive Coordinator
There is a lot of steam behind the idea of firing Doug Pederson and completely cleaning house. I believe that would be a mistake that the Eagles will regret. Though Doug has been widely discredited for his role in the 2017 Super Bowl victory, he played a large role in the success of that team and the playoff pushes of 2018 and 2019. Frank Reich played a large role in the success of that team, but Doug still called the plays. In 2018 Reich was gone, and Doug still led the team to the playoffs with a backup quarterback. In 2019 the team won the final 4 games of the season to make it into the playoffs under the leadership of Doug.
This team has faced more adversity in the terms of injuries than any other team in the NFL under Pederson and they have never given up. Players respect Doug and want to play for him. There is no doubt in my mind that Pederson is the person that you want speaking to that locker room.
That said, it is time for Pederson to hire an offensive coordinator. He has lost his knack for calling plays and feel for the flow of the game. He would be better off handing those duties to someone else for 2021. If Pederson is unwilling to do so, then the Eagles should move on from him as the head coach. I would rather have a new head coach than retain Doug as the head coach AND play-caller.
What About Jim Schwartz?
Early this season I would have said the Eagles should fire Jim Schwartz, but I have changed my mind. I believe that Schwartz is an above-average defensive coordinator in the NFL who has been given too much personnel control. Bringing a new general manager into the building breaks Schwartz’s control over Howie Roseman. If Schwartz is willing to take a step back from personnel management and simply coach the defense, then I would let him stay. If he insists on picking his players, then I would fire him without a second thought.
Fire Press Taylor
Press Taylor became the quarterbacks coach and Carson Wentz’s mechanics went downhill. As pressure continued to mount, Wentz developed worse and worse habits. Is it all Press Taylor’s fault? Likely not. But the reality is that he was the quarterbacks coach when it happened. Maybe he is doing a good job of coaching Wentz and Wentz simply isn’t listening. If that is true, it is still a major problem. There has to be a coach over Wentz who Wentz respects enough to listen to and who is knowledgeable enough to fix his issues. The issue with Taylor may be respect or it may be knowledge. I honestly have no idea, but it takes both pieces to be an effective coach and Taylor is obviously lacking at least one.
Fire Ken Flajole
Nate Gerry played safety at the University of Nebraska. He has been on the Eagles under the tutelage of Ken Flajole for 4 seasons now. What progress has he made? As a college safety, Gerry had more experience in coverage than many linebacker prospects and yet he is totally lost in any scenario where he is asked to cover someone. Nigel Bradham got worse the longer he played under Flajole. T.J. Edwards looked more promising as a rookie than he does now. The Eagles have neglected the linebacker position for far too long and it is time for an entirely new approach to the position by both the front office and the coaching staff.
Fire Dave Fipp
The Eagles’ special teams are horrendous this season. Jake Elliott is a bottom 5 kicker in the league. Opposing kickers are intentionally not placing kickoffs in the endzone because the Eagles are no threat to set up kick returns. There was finally a spark from the punt return game when Jalen Reagor returned one for a touchdown against the Packers, but it isn’t enough. The Eagles have prioritized special teams players in the draft (Mack Hollins, Jalen Reagor, etc.) too much to have such poor results.
The Eagles have a big hill to climb out of to become a Super Bowl contender again. However, turnarounds in the NFL can come much quicker than expected when the right front office and coaching staff is in place. It is time for Jeffrey Lurie to take a long look at the staff from top to bottom and set a new course for 2021 and beyond.
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