Those were the famous last words of Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson at the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade in February 2018. Few batted an eye at it or thought twice. “This is our new norm” seemed like a completely logical statement following the franchise’s first Super Bowl. The team had a bunch of players in their prime and their young MVP quarterback set to return for the next season and for years to come.
21 months after that statement, the Eagles are 15-15 since. Yikes. Despite a nice rally to a Wild Card berth last season, the “new norm” has become a lot of things Pederson probably didn’t envision when he spoke those words.
It’s an over-dependence on aging veteran players. It’s two straight years of endless injuries, vague communications/descriptions of them, with longer-than-expected recoveries. It’s embarrassing blown leads against “inferior” opponents
- 17-3 in Tennessee last year, 17-0 vs. Carolina last year, 28-14 vs. Miami yesterday. It’s anonymous complaining to the media. It’s an annual disastrous blowout loss (New Orleans last year, Dallas this year). It’s free agency whiffs. It’s poor drafting. It’s a lack of development from young players. That lack of development stems directly from a poor coaching staff under Pederson.
The Eagles need a new “new norm.”
They need a coaching staff who gets the most out of their players, not one that oversees underachievement across the board at every position. The Eagles have a 26-year-old supremely talented QB who, while not playing poorly, is not playing nearly to his potential, potential that the world saw 2 years ago under much better coaching when he spear-headed the best team in football. His talent didn’t just disappear. It’s up to the front office to replace coordinators and position coaches with ones that will get the best out of Wentz and all the other underachieving position groups, most notably wide receiver. Wentz remains this franchise’s most valuable asset - it’s time to invest in making sure he gets the best of the best coaching and support like he did with Frank Reich and John DeFillippo on board.
They need a better draft and scouting approach. While some of the early returns from the 2019 draft are promising (Andre Dillard, Miles Sanders) there’s been way too many misses over the years to build a year-in year-out contender. The core of championship teams is built through the draft, and clearly the Eagles haven’t drafted enough impact players, especially defensively.
They need better culture. It’s both a blessing and a curse that we saw a Super Bowl championship team. We saw what it takes, and now we know when a team lacks what it takes. It takes sacrifice, brotherhood, swagger, hunger, a never-say-die attitude and bond among the locker room that translates directly to the product on the field. This team doesn’t have it. Without it, there’s simply no hope. None.
How quickly can this be fixed? Who knows. We saw the Eagles win a Super Bowl two years after the Chip Kelly/Sam Bradford disaster of 2015. The San Francisco 49ers are among the two or three best teams in the game two years after being a laughingstock. The NFL changes fast. Very fast. But this “new norm” in Philadelphia is dead. It didn’t work. The Eagles ownership and front office needs to end this experiment of trying to patch around the core of 2017 and hope it works. The Eagles will only return to glory with a major overhaul of coaches, a young influx of talent, and a totally different approach to team-building and culture.
We’ll see how fast they want to make it happen.
By Chris Fioti