The Eagles have a loyalty problem.
In the real world, being loyal is admirable. To a certain extent, it’s admirable in the football world too. Players want to play for coaches who are loyal.
But the NFL is a results driven business. At least it should be.
The Eagles are being loyal to the wrong guys.
And they’re paying for that in the 2020 season with a 3-6-1 record. Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz have shown too much loyalty to “their guys” and it has stripped the organization of its ability to hold players accountable for subpar play.
Pederson won’t even consider benching Carson Wentz. Of course, Jason Peters goes back to left tackle. Gotta get Alshon Jeffery his snaps. Can’t take Jalen Mills or Nate Gerry off the field. Better hand Avonte Maddox the CB2 job and keep him there no matter what.
At every turn this season, Pederson and Schwartz continue to give their favorite players chance after chance. This is the same organization headed by Howie Roseman, who not that long ago warned against sentimentality.
This organizational flaw is most apparent in the way the Eagles have handled Peters and Jeffery this season. Neither will be here next year, yet the Eagles continue to favor them during this miserable season.
Peters played so poorly on Sunday that it looked like perhaps Pederson had finally benched him. But after the game, Pederson said the ancient left tackle came out of the game because of an injury. So you can expect the 38-year-old to be back out there next Monday night as 23-year-old Jordan Mailata watches from the bench, missing valuable snaps that could help him improve.
With Jeffery, everyone knows he’s gone next season. But since Roseman foolishly guaranteed his contract for this season, the Eagles are hellbent on getting something out of him. In his two games back, Jeffery has been targeted three times. He doesn’t have a catch and so terribly mistimed a jump on Sunday night that he was nowhere near a position to prevent an interception. It’s not like the Eagles have a ton of great options at receiver but why even play Jeffery at this point?
With Wentz, Pederson looked shocked that there were questions about possibly benching the franchise quarterback. But Wentz’s play has directly led to those very fair questions. No one is saying a benching has to be permanent, but it would certainly be warranted. And maybe it’d even help.
See, it’s not a crazy thought.
It’s not just the offense either. Schwartz loves his guys too.
It’s why until Gerry suffered an injury and went on IR, the Eagles kept trotting him out there game after game and defending him the following week. Remember, the Eagles did draft two linebackers this year and those guys are still having trouble finding the field without four-linebacker sets. And before Gerry got hurt, Alex Singleton couldn’t get in a game. Since the injury to Gerry, he’s been their best linebacker.
It’s also why Jalen Mills doesn’t leave the field, whether he’s playing as a below average safety or a below average corner. He’s versatile … but is he good? Mills is on a one-year deal so the Eagles aren’t even invested in him as a long-term solution at safety. I don’t know if Will Parks or K’Von Wallace would be any better, but maybe it’s time to try some other options. Parks is on a one-year deal too, but I’d want to find out if he’d be worth keeping around. And, sure, Wallace was a fourth-rounder, but he has shown some promise. Let’s see if he can play.
Then there’s Maddox, who is so clearly playing out of position. He just doesn’t look like an outside cornerback and the Eagles never even really gave anyone else a chance to win that job during training camp. Eventually, they even cut Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones, who have gone on to have decent levels of success elsewhere.
Pederson always says he doesn’t want to make knee-jerk reactions, he doesn’t want to make changes for the sake of making changes. But haven’t we reached a point with this team where they can’t keep doing the same things anymore? Haven’t we reached a point where the Eagles realize their loyalty to certain players is negatively affecting them on the field?
Because I’ve reached that point. And they need to soon.
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