During his press conference on Monday, Doug Pederson made his best pitch to return as the Eagles’ head coach in 2021.
Aside from citing injuries as a major reason for a decline in play over the last three years, Pederson also said he felt like he knew how to turn it around.
I asked Pederson if he thought there would need to be sweeping changes to the Eagles’ 2020 roster to turn things around. He admitted there will be many changes but also indicated he thinks the roster has foundational pieces already.
“Yes, I would say that we have the pieces, the makings of a foundation of getting things back on track,” Pederson said.
“It's just a matter now of let's add some new pieces to it, right? The draft picks, free agents, and have an offseason and training camp and develop all this and then go play against next season.”
We’ll set aside the quarterback dilemma for now — it’s a big one, obviously — and we’ll assume that either one or both of Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts will return in 2021. That also assumes that the Eagles consider at least one of them to be one of those foundational pieces.
But Pederson’s comments got me thinking about the others. Is he right? Do they really have a foundation to get things back on track?
I went through the roster and tried to identify some foundational pieces. I don’t know if I’d necessarily consider all these guys building blocks, but they’re either good players or high-ceiling players who I expect to be on the team next year. The problem is that half of them are over 30.
Over 30: Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Darius Slay, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Rodney McLeod
Under 30: Dallas Goedert, Javon Hargrave, Jordan Mailata, Jalen Reagor, Miles Sanders, Isaac Seumalo, Josh Sweat, Alex Singleton
A bigger problem is that that group over 30 are the Eagles’ best players. This gets back to an ongoing theme of the Eagles’ failure in 2020: They haven’t been very good at drafting.
When you look at that group of under 30 players, there aren’t many blue-chippers. The best players of the bunch there are probably Sanders and Goedert, while the others have potential.
The problem for the Eagles is that with that group at the top, those players aren’t going to last forever and a few of them will be coming off significant injuries in 2021. And, heck, I put Kelce in that group but I don’t think it would shock anyone if he retired.
So it’s probably unreasonable to think the Eagles are close to being a contender if they bring back this group of players and try to add some talent in the draft and through free agency.
The good news for the Eagles is that rebuilding in the NFL is a lot easier than it is in some other leagues, namely the NBA. But the Eagles need to start hitting on their draft picks, especially their Day 1 and 2 picks. Because Pederson is right that there are some foundational pieces on the roster … but there just aren’t enough of them.
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast: