The Sports Leader is not high on the Birds’ long-term outlook.
Outside of a few optimists roaming around the Philadelphia region, most Eagles fans are not overly cheery about the fate of their football franchise as training camp approaches.
That’s understandable. The Eagles are coming off a dreadful 4-11-1 season in which their Super Bowl-winning head coach was fired and their franchise QB cratered, was benched, demanded a trade, was dealt to the Colts and then had his five-story banner ripped down from the stadium he used to call home.
There’s been no word on the status of the Wentz Fathead in Howie Roseman’s office.
But even those like me who have been pessimistic about 2021 generally don’t feel as dour about the team’s chances in 2022 and beyond. Most of us see this season as a sort of “gap” year, a season where a new coaching staff will get their feet wet, learn the ropes, and hopefully get some questions answered with regard to the future of the QB position and other young skill position players.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all. It took at least a week, right?
The Birds have two first-round picks next year and possibly three if Wentz meets certain benchmarks in Indianapolis. There is not a plethora of top-flight young talent on the roster, but the cupboards aren’t bare, either, and once Wentz’ $33.8 million comes off the cap, general manager Howie Roseman will have more flexibility when it comes to adding more players.
However, ESPN’s yearly three-year power rankings of all 32 NFL teams is less-than-bullish on the franchise’s chances of emerging from the ashes within the next few seasons, ranking the Birds 30th out of 32 squads.
Why they’re here: The roster in Philly right now is a unique blend of veterans who can help you win (Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, Darius Slay, etc.) and a young core that could be the foundation for the future. With potentially three first-round picks next year, the Eagles can be aggressive if desired next offseason when a more palatable cap situation is upon them. New head coach Nick Sirianni has a chance to groom Jalen Hurts this year, but the roster has clear spots to upgrade on both sides of the ball. — Yates
OK, so the paragraph you just read lacks the doom and gloom I was expecting for the third-worst outlook in the NFL over the next three years.
Biggest worry: Lack of philosophical alignment and relationship management between the coaching staff and front office is what sunk this team in recent years, and correcting it will go a long way toward getting this organization back on the path to competing for a Super Bowl. But do the Eagles have the right pieces in place? — Riddick
Ah yes, here’s something to grab on to… the Howie Roseman effect. Roseman is on his fourth head coach, an unheard-of number in the NFL. He probably should have been ousted along with Doug Pederson this off-season, but he’s still here, and there is real and genuine concern that he will be able to coexist with any head coach.
Will Roseman and Jeff Lurie stay out of Nick Sirianni and Jonathan Gannon’s way? Will they meddle? If they cannot resist the urge to call Nick into the office every Tuesday and pepper him with questions about why he didn’t throw the ball 60 times in a 10-point victory, will anything really change?
Fair questions, all.
What could change for the better: Philly finally has young, promising skill players on offense. The Eagles aged quickly on the perimeter, but a nucleus of Dallas Goedert, DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor will be a threat. Goedert is a top-10 tight end right now, and Smith has low-bust threshold. The man knows how to get open. — Fowler
Reagor is still very much a question mark, although a move to the slot could do wonders for him. Goedert has flashed as a top-10 tight end, but he has yet to prove he’s a volume tight end for a full 16-game season. Miles Sanders, after a bit of a sophomore slump, has something to prove in his third year, and it would be nice to develop a third wide receiver somewhere along the line.
The potential is there for a solid offense, but without knowing for sure, it’s hard to bank on it producing.
Stat to know: The Eagles’ medium-term plan revolves around Hurts, but there is reason to be wary. Though Carson Wentz played poorly in 2020, Hurts actually posted a slightly worse QBR than him. It’s no reason to panic — we’re talking about fewer than 150 pass attempts as a rookie — but it’s no guarantee Hurts ends up better than Wentz. — Walder
Hurts is in an impossible situation. If Roseman is to be taken at his word, Hurts was never drafted to be their starting quarterback. He was drafted to be a career backup. That means he must prove he can be a starting quarterback and, more than that, be better than someone the Eagles would be able to get at the very top of the draft. With at least two first-rounders at his disposal (and possibly three), Roseman can move up as high as he wants to take next year’s best college QB prospect or trade for DeShaun Watson, Russell Wilson, or even Aaron Rodgers.
But the fact the Eagles have the ammunition to grab whatever kind of franchise QB they want this off-season, shouldn’t that rank them higher?
While I don’t see the Eagles as Super Bowl contenders in the next 2-3 years, it’s important to note that things can change quickly in the NFL.
ESPN has the Broncos 24th in their 3-year projection power rankings.
The team they had No. 1 when they did these rankings 3 years ago?
The Philadelphia Eagles.
Teams 30, 31 and 32 in those 2018 rankings were Buffalo, Cleveland & Miami.
“Life moves pretty fast.” — F. Bueller
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) July 20, 2021
Pity the poor Kansas City Chiefs, I guess.