The Philadelphia Eagles, defending NFC champions, saw their hopes of repeating dashed in shocking fashion on Sunday with a 31-14 loss to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The defeat capped a late-season collapse for the Eagles, who struggled mightily down the stretch after starting the season 13-1.
Second-Half Struggles Doom Eagles
The Eagles got off to a solid start and led 14-10 at halftime. But the offense stalled in the second half, failing to score any points. Meanwhile, Brady engineered three straight touchdown drives that put the game out of reach.
“We just didn’t execute in the second half,” said Eagles coach Nick Sirianni. “We had chances, and we didn’t take advantage. This one hurts.”
Quarterback Jalen Hurts, playing with an injured throwing shoulder, struggled with accuracy all game. He finished 23 of 37 for 214 yards with no touchdowns. The running game was also limited, as Miles Sanders managed just 32 yards on 9 carries before leaving with an injury.
“I take responsibility for this loss,” Hurts said. “I have to play better, it’s that simple.”
Offseason of Questions Ahead for Eagles
After a dream season last year that ended with a Super Bowl berth, the Eagles appeared poised to contend again this season after a dominant start. But their collapse over the last month raises serious questions about whether this team is built to seriously challenge for a championship.
Several key players are set to become free agents, including cornerback James Bradberry, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, edge rusher Brandon Graham, and running back Boston Scott. The team must also make decisions on extensions for players like Sanders and defensive end Josh Sweat.
Hurts will enter the final year of his rookie contract in 2024. While the team has expressed confidence in him as the starter, his late-season struggles could prompt them to explore contingency options at quarterback as well.
Potential Offseason Priorities
- Evaluate Jalen Hurts’ future at QB
- Re-sign or replace key defensive free agents
- Add talent at linebacker
- Bolster run game and offensive line
“We’ll take some time to evaluate everything from this year,” said general manager Howie Roseman. “Then we’ll put together the best plan to contend moving forward. The goal remains the same – bringing another Lombardi trophy back to Philadelphia.”
NFC Playoff Picture Opens Up Without Eagles
The Eagles were considered one of the top Super Bowl contenders in the NFC this year after being the 1-seed last season. But with their early exit, the race for the conference crown is suddenly wide open.
The 49ers and Vikings earned first-round byes and will host playoff games in the divisional round. The Cowboys dismantled the Buccaneers on Monday night, and appear dangerous with quarterback Dak Prescott back healthy.
The Giants and Seahawks also pulled off upsets in the Wild Card round. None of the remaining NFC teams have won a Super Bowl in the last decade.
NFC Playoff Standings
- 49ers (14-4)
- Vikings (13-4)
- Cowboys (13-5)
- Buccaneers (9-8)
- Giants (10-7-1)
- Seahawks (10-8)
The Eagles’ quest for back-to-back Super Bowl runs has shockingly come to an end earlier than anyone expected. But now the road to the big game appears more wide open than ever through the NFC without the defending conference champions standing in the way.
|Clinched #1 Seed
|Clinched #2 Seed
|Defeated Bucs in Wild Card
|Defeated Vikings in Wild Card
|Defeated 49ers in Wild Card
What’s Next for the Eagles
The Eagles now enter an offseason filled with difficult decisions after a year that started with sky-high expectations but ended in bitter disappointment.
Hurts’ Future Uncertain
The team must decide whether Jalen Hurts is the long-term answer at quarterback. He showed great improvement in 2022, but his late-season struggles raised doubts. Philadelphia could look to draft a QB or add a veteran option to compete with Hurts.
Key Free Agents
Cornerback James Bradberry, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, edge rusher Brandon Graham and running back Boston Scott are all set to hit free agency. Re-signing or replacing them will be a priority.
NFC East Promises to be Competitive
The Cowboys and Giants both won playoff games this year and will be tough competition within the division next season. The Eagles can’t afford to rest on their laurels.
While the pain of this loss is still fresh, the front office and coaches will soon turn their focus to bouncing back stronger in 2024. After getting a small taste this year, the team’s championship ambitions remain very much unsatisfied.
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