At 3-7-1, in third place in the worst division in NFL history, the Eagles could be on the brink of a complete organizational overhaul.
In the three years since the team brought home the Lombardi Trophy, they’ve been mediocre at best, posting a 21-21-1 record since 2017. They did make two straight playoff appearances after 2017, but both playoff berths required late season rallies after starting 5-6.
There were reasons to be optimistic heading into this season, but all of the underlying issues with the team — inconsistent play calling, up and down quarterback play, and poor roster management — have come to a head. Those issues stem from the three most prominent positions within the organization outside of the owner: general manager Howie Roseman, head coach Doug Pederson, and quarterback Carson Wentz.
So, the question on everyone’s mind is, who’s going to bite the bullet for this team’s shortcomings? There’s no simple answer to this, and there may not even be a ‘correct’ answer. All three have played their part in this team’s regression from Super Bowl winner to a bottom feeder in 2020.
Let’s look at each and go through what they’ve done to contribute to where this team is at currently.
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Roseman made a name for himself during the 2017 season. He won NFL Executive of the Year after putting together a Super Bowl winning roster in essentially one offseason.
Every one his signings worked out. Patrick Robinson, Chris Long, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Ronald Darby, Timmy Jernigan, LeGarrette Blount, and mid-season acquisition Jay Ajayi all played a role in winning the Super Bowl that season. Howie was on top of the football world. It truly felt like he could do no wrong.
Since that magical season, Howie has seemingly lost his way. He hasn’t been the cap wizard everyone labeled him as, putting the team in a $50+ million cap hole for next offseason. He’s been over dependent on aging, oft-injured players (Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Jason Peters, among others). He’s let young players walk, only to see them be big time contributors elsewhere (L.J. Fort, Nelson Agholor, Rasul Douglas, and Sidney Jones). And what’s hurt the team the most is his inability to evaluate draft talent and make proper selections.
There’s a laundry list of players he’s missed on.
- Drafting J.J. Arcega-Whiteside over D.K. Metcalf
- Taking Jalen Reagor over the more pro-ready Justin Jefferson (the jury is still out on this one)
- Drafting Jalen Hurts in the second round when there were multiple players on the board who could’ve contributed immediately
- Drafting Halapoulivaati Vaitai one pick before Tyreek Hill was selected by Kansas City
This list goes on.
Since reassuming GM duties after Chip Kelly was fired, Howie has only drafted one Pro Bowl player, Carson Wentz.
Speaking of Wentz, Howie has done little to surround his franchise quarterback with legitimate talent. The offensive line is old and many of the starters are often injured, and they haven’t had a legitimate No. 1 receiver in years. When the opportunity presented itself to pay a free agent like Robbie Anderson, or make a splash trade for either DeAndre Hopkins or Steffon Diggs, Howie passed. If a GM is going to pass on talent like this, he has to make up for it through the draft. And as we just laid out, he did not.
We can bash Doug and Carson for not pulling their weight — their scrutiny has been justified this season — but they’ve both been strapped with what they can do because of the lack luster roster around them. It’s not absolving Pederson or Wentz by pointing out how terrible the team is around them, it’s just the reality of the situation.
In terms of long-term damage to this organization, Howie has been the main contributor and it’s not even close.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie has always been somewhat patient with his head coaches. Aside from Chip Kelly, who was obviously disliked throughout the organization, he’s given his coaches plenty of time before showing them the door. Rich Kotite, Ray Rhodes, and Andy Reid all had consecutive losing seasons before being fired.
He’s shown that he’ll give his coaches a chance to turn things around, which is why I don’t envision Pederson getting fired after this season. Even after Pederson said he hasn’t been given assurance that his job is safe after this season.
Pederson has still been terrible this season, don’t get me wrong. Both in play calling and putting together his depth chart for each Sunday. He’s an offensive guy, and his offense has largely been mediocre since 2017. Now, it’s among the worst offensive units in football. Pederson’s offense ranks 28th in yards per game and 25th in points per game.
This stat from Reuben Frank perfectly illustrates Doug’s play calling this season:
The strength of the offense is in the running game. Yet, Doug refuses to stick with it. In Monday’s loss to the Seahawks, Pederson called 53 passes and just 12 runs. It’s insane that Pederson can’t comprehend what his team is actually good at. If Wentz was playing better it would be a different story. But continually asking your struggling QB to throw it all the time is not the answer.
Maybe another overhaul of his offensive coaching staff can get him back on track — a real offensive coordinator would surely help.
The one thing that Pederson has going for him is that his team hasn’t shown any signs of quitting on him, which usually signals a firing is on the horizon. They still go out there every Sunday and fight.
He’ll likely be given another season to fix his offense, but if he can’t figure it out in 2021, his tenure will more than likely be over.
Carson Wentz has received the bulk of the blame for this season from national and local media alike. The scrutiny is justified, but it’s lazy to pin all the problems on Wentz in this context.
Like I said earlier, Howie has done a terrible job at putting a competent roster around Wentz, and his head coach just doesn’t seem to know how to build an offense around his strengths.
Wentz certainly has his issues. He’s been bad at reading the field this season and finding open receivers, he holds on to the ball too long, he tries to play hero ball way too much, his mechanics are all out of whack. Essentially all of the stuff a good QB does, Wentz has been bad at this season.
But, I do believe he’s salvageable. He’s having a bad season, it happens. Some will argue he’s been trending down since 2017, but I just don’t agree. Sure, he hasn’t reached the MVP level again, but he’s been a top-15, borderline top-10 signal caller the past two seasons. He has all the talent in the world, and I can guarantee there are several coaches around the league who would love the opportunity to work with him and get him back on track.
Wentz is broken right now, but that doesn’t mean a full offseason of work with the right coaches can’t fix his issues.
Above all else, his contract ties him to the Eagles for at least two more seasons. The franchise needs to do anything in their power to get him back to the Carson Wentz we know and love. He’s a hard worker, he has leadership qualities, he has the intangibles you want in a franchise quarterback.
Wentz won’t look any better this year, there’s just not enough time and some of the stuff he’s struggling with can’t really be tweaked until the offseason, like his mechanics.
I’m biased with Wentz, I get it. I want him to succeed. But I won’t judge him as a quarterback based on his worst professional season, just like we shouldn’t have jumped the gun and judged him based on his best season in 2017.
The Verdict: Howie has to go
I don’t have any faith in this team turning it around if Howie Roseman is still making all the personnel decisions moving forward. How can you?
He’s had one good offseason during his tenure as GM. One. He can’t draft, he’s been brutal with his contract extensions, and he just doesn’t assess talent well.
If Lurie decides to bring in a new personnel guy and pushes Howie aside to focus on other things around the organization, I can live with that. But please, for the love of everything that’s holy, don’t let Howie make anymore decisions on draft night or hand out anymore stupid contracts.
This organization can recover from a bad quarterback, they can recover from a bad head coach. But recovering from year’s of poor drafting and poor cap management take years to fix. Lurie cannot let Howie sink this franchise any lower.