Losses in the NFL always lead to a round of the blame game. Who deserves the most credit for the loss? What mistake cost the losing team the game? The 2020 Eagles are certainly no stranger to this. They currently sit at 3-5-1 and somehow still in first place thanks to the dismal NFC East.
Every week fans and media alike try to figure out which one person or group is the most to blame. Usual targets in any city are the quarterback, the head coach, the general manager, or the coordinators.
The simple answer for Philadelphia is it isn’t one of these that is the problem. In the immortal words of Jason Kelce, “IT’S THE WHOLE DAMN TEAM!”
The Philadelphia Eagles organization is completely broken from the top-down.
Howie Roseman hit the lottery in 2017. Everything he touched turned to gold. Every decision he made was the right one. He had a one in a million season.
Now, we’re seeing what happens in the other 999,999 seasons. Roseman is not a good general manager. He has built a roster that is projected to be $60M over the salary cap next season that is nowhere remotely close to contending. His annual draft misfires have become an all too familiar punchline. It’s hard to even point to his supposed strength, managing contracts and the cap, as a positive anymore as the Eagles are in the aforementioned cap hell and have multiple albatrosses on the team.
Lack of young talent
It felt as if Roseman could do no wrong in 2017. Now it feels like he can do no right. His best draft picks since that season are Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert. Sanders is criminally underused on the offense and Goedert, albeit a very good player and the future at tight end, was a luxury pick that now looks questionable in hindsight. Roseman has burned so much draft capital on players that don’t stick with the team after their rookie contracts, especially at receiver. In fact, the last Eagles drafted WR to receive a second contract was Riley Cooper.
Roseman handed out a premature extension to Alshon Jeffery that is now a 500 pound weight dragging down the team. Javon Hargrave was given a big contract to be effectively the third defensive tackle while the team runs out CFL talent at linebacker. The team continues to fool themselves into thinking Jalen Mills is a starting defensive back. Jason Peters should’ve been handed his gold watch two years ago, but Roseman ran back to him when his prized pick Andre Dillard faltered. Roseman even capitulated into giving Peters more money despite Peters having virtually no leverage.
One of Roseman’s biggest faults besides drafting is his inability to fix his own mistakes. The Eagles wide receivers in 2019 would’ve had to sweat out a race against a tortoise. So Roseman sought out to inject speed into the offense. The result has been an offense that still can’t complete deep passes and now looks like more talented players were passed over for fit. Whenever Roseman realizes a deficiency, he only digs the hole deeper by missing on draft picks and neglecting other areas of need.
The winning roster with world class depth in 2017 has now regressed to the bottom half of the league. The Eagles roster is bad, old, and expensive, the trifecta of exactly what should get a general manager fired.
The Head Coach
Doug Pederson looked like the offensive innovator Philadelphia was promised with Chip Kelly. He was on the cutting edge of analytics and seemed to lap the league on aggressive decision making.
It now seems that Pederson and Kelly have more in common than anyone in Philadelphia wants to admit. Both were innovators who stopped innovating after one successful season.
Pederson of course deserves credit for the good he has done. He won a championship with his backup QB. He has made the playoffs in 3 out of 4 years since he was hired. His team may even make that 4 out of 5 years, albeit with perhaps 6 wins. Pederson was able to coach up some very injury depleted teams to wins in big games.
What have you done lately?
But the magic seems to have worn out. Pederson’s offense is stale and predictable. The offense simply has not looked the same since assistants Frank Reich and John DeFillipo were poached by other teams. When they left, the Eagles were content to promote from within. Then when that didn’t work, they just decided not to hire an offensive coordinator at all. It’s become clear that Pederson needs a strong offensive coordinator to collaborate with. He on his own has not shown enough to oversee anything more than a bottom half of the league offense.
Pederson’s in-game decision making, once praised as one of the best in the league, is now downright puzzling. He has taken going for two to an extreme, seemingly trying to prove a point. Pederson is still trying to coach the team as if it was still the 2017 roster. He still has the ear of the locker room by all outside accounts, but it’s clear whatever he is saying is not working.
Turn up the heat
The Eagles loss to the Giants on Sunday cemented the fact that Pederson is now on the hot seat. Philadelphia was completely outplayed and out-coached by a 2-7 team, despite having two weeks to prepare. It was their first loss to the Giants since Pederson’s first year as coach in 2016.
The temperature of the hot seat is up for debate. Winning a Super Bowl, especially the first in your team’s history, affords you some undetermined amount of leeway. The Eagles are now 22-21-1 since the Super Bowl. They are 1-2 in the playoffs over that span. One thing that cannot be up for debate anymore is if Pederson is on the hot seat or not. His job should firmly be in question.
Carson Wentz has caught the most heat for the way this season is going. It is an undisputed fact that this is the worst season of his career. But, it isn’t fair to say he has been this bad since 2017. Sure he hasn’t played at that MVP level since, but he wasn’t bad. He was one of the main reasons the Eagles made the postseason in 2019.
However, none of that matters right now. Wentz is completely broken. He has devolved into an inaccurate turnover machine. He has always had fumbling problems (55 fumbles in 64 career games) but he has never thrown interceptions at the rate he currently is. His previous career high was 14 in 16 games played his rookie year. Wentz is currently at 12 through only 8 games in 2020. It is the only other season since his rookie year he has crossed double digits in picks.
Wentz’s decision making and accuracy have reverted back to his rookie year. In fact, his completion percentage is worse than his rookie year, at 58.5% to 62.4%. He continues to look erratic and lost in the pocket.
The Eagles thought they were getting one of the best quarterbacks in the league on a bargain contract when they gave Wentz a four year, $128M pact in June of 2019. He has not remotely lived up to that confidence.
It is fair to debate whether the Eagles put Wentz in a position to succeed in recent years. He has been saddled with a poor supporting cast in each of the last three years. Wentz was able to overcome it in the past. He is not doing so now, even as the cast slowly improves. Wentz’s play is one of the biggest reasons for the Eagles offensive struggles, but not the only reason. He deserves a good deal of blame. Replacing him is not the magical cure-all for this team.
The Defensive Coordinator
Jim Schwartz has been under fire for a few years in Philadelphia. It was debatable whether all of it was deserved. There is no more debate. His defense routinely underperforms and suffers from the same back breaking mistakes week after week.
Fix it if it’s broke
Schwartz has failed to make any sort of meaningful adjustments this season. The team gets burned on misdirection plates at least once a week. The defensive line, the most expensive unit on the team, vanishes far too often. Schwartz’s penchant for playing soft coverage has been a glaring problem since he arrived and it continues to persist five seasons later. His scheme simply isn’t good enough.
Schwartz doesn’t get the excuse of roster construction either. He has an unprecedented say in personnel for a coordinator. Schwartz is perhaps the main reason that Jalen Mills is still on this team despite showing he isn’t good enough. The Eagles corners are extremely undersized because it is what Schwartz prefers. Their corners continue to get picked on while what appeared to be busts like Sidney Jones and even Rasul Douglas look competent elsewhere.
Bending and breaking
Far too often the Eagles defense gives up an early lead, then holds long enough for the offense to come alive, only for the defense to once again give up the lead. It has become almost as predictable as the sun rising.
Schwartz has shown zero ability to adjust his scheme to the personnel he had a heavy hand in choosing. He seems uninterested in trying to find ways to clean up some of the glaring holes in his defense.
President Harry S. Truman famously had a sign on his desk that read “The Buck Stops Here!”. What that meant was that whatever happened to the United States, Truman was the one ultimately responsible for it. He was the one who oversaw everything in the country and everything the country did. There was no one else who had the final word. Truman could not pass his responsibility anywhere else.
The last word
Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie is in a similar situation. There has been a great deal of blame being passed around as to who is responsible for the Eagles fall from grace. As this article hopefully illustrated, there is no one person at fault. All parties involved share some of the burden. Nevertheless, it still all stops at Lurie.
Lurie needs to realize that something needs to be done. He cannot allow this increasingly toxic situation to continue to grow. Change needs to come to this organization and it needs to come fast. Frankly, it was needed last year but Lurie essentially passed the buck, perhaps seeing the weak playoff berth as a reason to avoid major decisions on the staff.
Stop it here
The buck needs to stop. Lurie is not a very hands on owner like Jerry Jones. He mostly trusts those he has placed in charge for the day to day activities of his football team. However, he needs to step in here because those people are the problem. This isn’t a call for a complete clean sweep. But, something needs to be done. Lurie cannot continue to sit by and be silent and do nothing. Action is needed if the Eagles are to return to any form of real winning football.
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