The Philadelphia Eagles is the definition of too many people this season. First-year head coach at Nick Sirianni and who started his first year at Jalen Hurts Not exactly a summer playoff-heading combination, but that’s exactly where the Eagles ended up with some tweaks to the coach’s season and an improvement from midfield. .
Sirianni made the Eagles the No. 1 rush offensive team in the NFL, the catalyst that helped Philadelphia focus from a 2-5 start to a 7-3 finish and a spot in the NFC knockouts. Sirianni is not only the only first-year head coach to reach the knockout stages this year, but he’s also the first head coach to take a team 2-5 to the knockouts in his first year since Frank Reich in 2018.
Hurts completed 61.3% of his passes in 3,144 yards with 16 touchdowns to nine interceptions with a rating of 87.2 for the year and he is only the second quarterback in the history of the Throwing Eagles. 3,000 yards and 750 yards in one season (eighth to reach those numbers in NFL History). He also became the youngest full-back to start a playoff game for the Eagles.
Despite the promise the Eagles showed in year one of the Sirianni era, all of the team’s flaws were exposed in the knockout stages. Philadelphia leads 31-0 first Tampa Bay Buccaneers after three-quarters of a loss 31-15, the introduction of the Eagles is a far cry from becoming one of the NFL’s elite.
With three picks in the first round of this year, and enough limited space to improve the roster, the Eagles could be opponents in time for next season. Here’s how they move up in the hierarchy in NFC:
Improve pass catchers
The Eagles can’t fully appreciate Jalen Hurts until there are legal NFL weapons around him. Outside of DeVonta Smith (a rookie) and Dallas Goedert (first year starts on tight finish), Hurts don’t have many options to throw in. Jalen Reagor significantly regressed in his second season and JJ Arcega-Whiteside nothing more than a special team player. Those are the two players selected in the top two rounds of the draft who have nothing next to catch the ball for the Eagles in 2021.
Quez Watkins deserves a piece of the offense, but he’s not the 2nd choice on the outside. Greg Ward could find a spot on the list for 2022, but the Eagles need a significant upgrade at the wide receiver. Free agency is the most attractive option, especially with Allen Robinson, Mike Williams, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Davante Adams as the top extension. Adding a veteran or two to pair with Smith, Watkins and Goedert would be ideal.
Eagles can also use one of those first three picks on a wide receiver, but going with a veteran pass catcher is the best option. There are other holes in this list, and Philadelphia needs veteran picks to help Hurts thrive in what will be an important year for his future.
Passing in a hurry needs a restart
Lose Brandon Graham Week 2 of the season didn’t help the Eagles, but it did reveal a significant problem that has plagued Jonathan Gannon’s defense all season. The Eagles haven’t been able to consistently land quarterbacks, having only had 29 layoffs during the season – the second-least second in the NFL.
Josh Sweat was a bright spot in defence, finishing with 7.5 tackles and 13 tackles in midfield. He deserves a contract extension, especially since the Eagles don’t have much in the quick pass department other than him and Javon Hargrave (7.5 bags, 18 quarterback hits). Fletcher Cox (3.5 pitches, 12 quarterbacks) said he wants to return, even after missing his first Pro Bowl pick since 2014.
Derek Barnett made in Philadelphia, one of five players with two or more appearances for the Eagles this year. Ryan Kerrigan also won’t be back after only three games of the year. Milton Williams is a good building block after being a reliable piece in the rotation in the second half of this year, while Graham is also set to return from a ruptured Achilles tendon (he will be 34 next year).
The Eagles need more consistent pressure in midfield if Jonathan Gannon’s defense is to improve in 2022, especially as he relies on forwards creating pressure on the back four. the defense usually doesn’t rush with more than four people). Luckily, this is a draft filled with frontier pusher talent, so the Eagles would be wise to reserve one of the first-round picks for one. Graham is essentially a free agent signed to his return, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another veteran to the mix.
Linebacker in the first round?
Hope the Eagles reps see the impact Micah Parsons make of Dallas Cowboys defensively this year, as the Cowboys improved from one of the worst units in the league to a top ten unit in points allowed. Parsons was all over the field as passer and midfielder, the archetypal player the Eagles needed to protect Gannon.
This is a warning. The Eagles haven’t had a substitute in the first round since Jerry Robinson in 1979, but this is the year that should change. Philadelphia signed Eric Wilson to play in the middle, then cut him after six weeks. TJ Edwards and Alex Singleton played well, but the Eagles need a real difference-maker in position if the defense is to be an elite unit. David Taylor was the type of defender Gannon wanted in defence, but injuries hampered the former’s development in the third round.
Even if Philadelphia doesn’t use all of their first-round picks, it’s time for the Eagles to land a sub that makes the difference with one of them. Nakobe Dean is the ideal pick here if he falls to 14th (the Eagles’ first pick), but Devin Lloyd isn’t a bad consolation prize. The Eagles allowed the most catch and touch for tight finishes this year, and both players fixed a glaring flaw in Gannon’s scheme.
2022 should be the year the Eagles invest in their first defenders. This problem can no longer be ignored.