The Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the NFL’s biggest disappointments in 2020. Their regression over the last four seasons is laid out in black and white, going from Super Bowl Champions in 2017 to a second-round exit in ‘18, a Wild Card defeat last year, and a miserable regular season at present that would leave them out of the playoffs completely if the postseason started today.
The NFC East has produced the fewest wins of any division in the NFL, and despite every other team being forced to turn to a backup quarterback (Daniel Jones remains a question mark Sunday after injuring his hamstring in Week 12), the Eagles have failed to separate from the pack. Heading into Week 13, the Giants would represent the division in the playoffs while the Eagles sit in third place with a 3-7-1 record.
Philly fans have voiced their displeasure all year long, both online and on sports radio, calling for a triple-trimming this holiday season. The ire has been directed at general manager Howie Roseman, head coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz. Connected or not, the weaknesses of that holy trinity have been exposed, making that Super Bowl ecstasy a distant memory.
But until now, culpability has been hard to come by, replaced instead by a franchise-wide stubbornness that everything will get turned around.
Pederson Will Share Play-Calling
After the Super Bowl win, the Eagles lost two of their most influential minds on the offensive staff in Frank Reich and John DeFilippo. Pederson has had difficulty replacing them, or even admitting that he has struggled without them.
Reich is now the head coach of the Colts, DeFilippo the QB coach of the Bears (with Nick Foles, who got the Eagles over the finish line in 2017), and Pederson opted against hiring an offensive coordinator before this season. He has been adamant that in his offense, he calls the plays, results be damned. But after some self-reflection he has decided to create a more democratic approach to that process.
“Listen, I’m still the play-caller,” Pederson said on Friday. “If I’m going to be part of the solution to our offensive woes, then I’m going to be a part of the solution, whatever that takes, whatever that looks like. Whether it be elements of the game plan, calling plays, or whatever it might be in-game. But, ultimately, these are my decisions as we move forward. It is something that I have to dig deep and kind of soul-search a little bit because I love doing it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a lot of fun. It gives you a lot of joy and excitement when you do it, and you do it well. But again, I’m going to keep it internal and focus on the team.”
Wentz Admits Failures in Front of Team
This week, the Eagles’ signal-caller swallowed his pride and addressed his team to take responsibility for his poor play. It’s being reported that the speech came off as sincere and has resonated well among his teammates. In the past, Wentz has struggled with accountability and accessibility among the locker room, which appears to be a step in the right direction. Count veteran leader Brandon Graham as one who appreciated the effort.
"The first step is admitting where you're bad at, and that's what I love that Carson did," Graham said. "When we talked to the team, he knew he had to own some of the stuff that he's been doing, and he let us know that he's working his butt off to make sure that he starts doing a lot of stuff better. And that's all people want to hear is for you to take ownership of yours, and we can move on. That's how you build relationships: taking ownership of what you do."
Whether these mea culpas result in on-field improvements remains to be seen, but despite having just three wins in their first 11 games, the division crown is very much up for grabs.
And whether or not Howie Roseman joins in accepting blame could depend on if he still has the job at season’s end.