Wow guys! What a whirlwind the last few weeks have been! The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl Champions for the first time! But as February marches on, we get deeper and deeper into the 2018 Offseason. There are a lot things to look forward to: free agency, the NFL draft, OTAs, etc. I am going to pump the brakes just a little bit. Here are a few of my thoughts before we really get into the offseason and head towards the 2018 season.
The Eagles are in really, REALLY good hands going forward. Jeffrey Lurie proved once again that he is emotionally invested (as well as financially) in the success of this team. That is not the case for all owners…as a matter of fact that isn’t the case for MOST owners.
The duo of Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas (who hasn’t received nearly enough credit) seem to be the real deal. We have always known that Howie can wheel and deal with the best of them (Bradford deal, Ajayi trade, etc.), but the number of draft picks from this year’s class that contributed to the Eagle’s success has Joe Douglas’s name all over it. Think about it: before this year would anyone have said Howie is an elite talent evaluator? Let me answer that for you. No. Derek Barnett, Rasul Douglas, Mack Hollins and Corey Clement all contributed to the success of the Eagles this year. Not to mention the free agents that all made winning the Super Bowl this year possible (Blount, Robinson, Long). Lurie should try to keep those two together for a long time.
And last, but not least, we have to talk about Douggie P aka Big Balls Doug. Man, were a lot of people wrong about that guy. How he didn’t win coach of the year when he beat 3 of the 4 other coaches that received votes (McVay, Zimmer and Belichick) and only received ONE VOTE, I will never understand. I could go on and on about why Doug is awesome, but I’ll just leave it at this. He is the real deal and as Eagle’s fans we should be PUMPED for what the future holds with this guy at the helm.
The Eagles have a lot of decisions to make before they get to their final 53-man roster for next year. They have a lot of their returning starters under contract for the next few seasons, which is great, but because of that they don’t have a ton of money to sign their pending free agents. Now, like I mentioned above Howie is great at figuring out problems just like this, but for fans who get emotional when their favorite players get let go, this is going to be tough. Celek, Peters, Sproles and others could be in another team’s uniform next year or not in the NFL at all. This is the business of the NFL. Some of these players aren’t worth more than the cap relief that cutting them would provide.
And it’s not just the money. The Birds are deep at pretty much every position (although you could argue some are deeper than others.) There will be logjams at several positions once free agency and the draft comes and goes. That means that players who greatly contributed this year may not be at the top of their position group and due to that become expendable. For example, take Vinny Curry’s situation. The Eagle’s future is clearly Graham and Barnett at the defensive end position, so do the Eagles keep Curry and his hefty contract when they really want to start Barnett? Or do they trade him after his great season to get value in return? The offseason brings a lot of change and that is no different for the Eagles. We will be saying goodbye to some fan favorites this spring and that’s okay.
Drafting Well Is Key
The sustained success of any NFL team is only made possible by drafting well. We saw it in Philadelphia this year. The players the Birds drafted made timely contributions that can’t be understated. It is nice to have your good players under contract, but those players get old very fast in the NFL, so you have to have young players ready to step in at a moments notice. The Eagles need to be able to identify talent in every round of the draft.
Think about how the Legion of Boom came about in Seattle. They drafted very good, young talent on the defensive side of the ball (and Russell Wilson) and because of that they could afford to keep that group together and field the best defense in the NFL for the last few years. The Eagle’s front office needs to stick with the philosophy of drafting and developing their talent as opposed to finding “band-aids” in free agency (let’s not forget about the Dream Team 😐 )
Be Cautious With Contracts
This last one might be a little less talked about, but I foresee this becoming a problem in this organization. The thing that makes people say that this team has a big window of success is also something that could be the downfall: contracts. I am all about being loyal to players and making sure you have your good players locked up to contribute to long-term success, however, that is not the answer every time, with every good player. A front office has to be able to make the tough decisions. This year, yes the Eagles won. And next year they have a good shot at winning again. And the next year. I would just say that sometimes giving players contracts can backfire and that shouldn’t be the default move for having a talented roster (see drafting section above). That leads to getting stuck in bad deals. It is a fine balance, but I think this organization has a good feel for that kind of thing. I just don’t want to see them fall in love with signing every player they like long term and then getting shafted in the end.
I really feel like this team can have a lot of success going forward. With the leadership in place as well as the philosophies that they believe in, we should get used to winning in Philadelphia. As Doug said, “this is the new norm.” As always, leave a comment and let me know how you feel about the direction of the Eagles. Make sure to follow @BirdsOffBroad on Twitter and hit the Subscribe button on the right side of the Home Page. Go Birds!