The Philadelphia Eagles entered the 2023 season with sky-high expectations after reaching the Super Bowl the year before. However, a disastrous late-season collapse has left more questions than answers about the team’s future.
Season of High Hopes Quickly Unravels
The Eagles raced out to an impressive 8-0 start and appeared poised to dominate the NFC East division once again. Star quarterback Jalen Hurts was putting up MVP-caliber numbers, while the defense seemed impenetrable under coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
However, the season took a sharp turn in late November. The Eagles lost 4 out of their final 6 games, including an embarrassing home loss to the rebuilding New York Giants in Week 18 that cost them the NFC East title.
Several key stats showcase the team’s shocking regression over the second half of the year:
|First 8 Games
|Last 6 Games
|Points Per Game
|Opp Points Per Game
This late swoon ultimately paved the way for a 31-14 blowout loss to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card round. The game marked yet another playoff disappointment for a franchise desperate to recapture the glory of their Super Bowl LII triumph.
Disconnect Between Sirianni and Hurts Comes to Forefront
In the aftermath of the season, much of the attention has centered around the relationship between head coach Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts.
Reports indicate growing frustration from Sirianni about Hurts’ performance and difficulty grasping the intricacies of the offense. Hurts also drew public criticism from Sirianni about checking out of called pass plays at the line of scrimmage.
For his part, Hurts has not appeared to take kindly to his coach’s comments. He has offered short, vague responses when asked about his connection with Sirianni.
This perceived frostiness between the coach and quarterback is an alarming development for an organization that must decide whether to commit to Hurts long-term. With Hurts heading into the final year of his rookie deal in 2024, the Eagles must determine if he is truly a franchise QB worthy of a lucrative extension.
Roster Shakeup Seems Imminent
The late season stumbles have put just about every aspect of the Eagles’ operation under the microscope. As a result, major changes to the coaching staff and roster appear inevitable.
Several assistant coaches seem likely to get the ax, particularly on the defensive side. The unit declined rapidly from its early season heights, hemorrhaging points and yards down the stretch.
A total regime change is also possible if owner Jeffrey Lurie loses faith in Sirianni’s leadership. Lurie has never hesitated to make bold moves, having fired Chip Kelly just a year after giving him full control of personnel decisions.
On the player front, veterans such as Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Darius Slay could all be cap casualties. And former Pro Bowlers like Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson may opt for retirement after long careers.
Hurts and Sirianni Have Chance at Redemption
While the next few months figure to be tumultuous, there remains a path for both Hurts and Sirianni to reassert themselves as long-term building blocks.
Hurts must demonstrate growth as a passer, particularly when it comes to processing information quickly and moving smoothly through progressions. Refining his mechanics to improve accuracy is also imperative.
For Sirianni’s part, he has to show the ability to tailor his scheme to the strengths of his personnel, rather than forcing square pegs into round holes. Finding a balanced attack that plays to the skills of both Hurts and elite wideout A.J Brown is paramount.
The 2024 season shapes up as a pivotal proving ground for this coach and quarterback tandem. Jeffrey Lurie’s patience will likely run thin quickly if the Eagles get off to another sluggish start. For the greener pastures of championship contention to remain in sight, Hurts and Sirianni must figure out how to coexist harmoniously.
So while the future holds plenty of uncertainty, all is not yet lost for these reeling Eagles. But the clock is ticking loudly for Sirianni, Hurts and company to recapture the magic of 2021’s charmed run.
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