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Uram: Eagles' season was a failure

Dave Uram
January 22, 2019 - 7:28 am

It's understandable if you felt a sense of pride for how the Eagles finished their 2018-19 season. They were basically written off at the end of November, as well as the beginning of December, but rallied to make the playoffs and be one of the last eight teams in the tournament. 

But, don't kid yourself, expectations were bigger and with the Patriots advancing to their ninth Super Bowl in 18 seasons, you shouldn't deem the Eagles season a success. In fact, it wouldn't be wildly unfair to categorize it a failure. 

"I want to be playing our best ball in the months of November and December into January, and I think that's what we were doing," head coach Doug Pederson said when asked at his end of season press conference if the season in totality was one where the Eagles overachieved or underachieved. "You really don't know a whole lot about your football team in the month of September, especially coming out of training camp when you're trying to evaluate a bunch of guys. So as the season progressed, we began to sort of overachieve just a little bit." 

This is coming from the same guy who preached "the new norm" after winning Super Bowl LII. Pederson deserves a lot of credit for making back-to-back postseasons after sporting a 4-6 record, but it shouldn't have been that difficult. The Eagles lost winnable games to the 5-11 Buccaneers, 7-9 Panthers, 8-7-1 Vikings and 9-7 Titans, two of which were blown fourth quarter leads, one of them at The Linc. They dropped both games to the Cowboys, a team that, when all was said and done, isn't light years better than them. In fact, I'd argue when the Eagles played to their potential, they were far and away the best team in the NFC East. 

Pederson and the organization can point to the abundance of injuries to key guys after a shortened off-season, as well as the dropping of flies during the regular season. But, why did it get to that point? How come the injury bug grossly bit the Eagles for the second season in a row, 2018 much worse than 2017? 

Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman was asked about them turning over the medical staff after winning Super Bowl LII. His answer didn't help to solve the mystery as to why that occurred. 

"We had three changes on our medical staff," Roseman said the Tuesday after losing to the Saints. "All of those reasons were different. All three were personal in nature. Those were guys who had been here for as long as I have been here. Certainly, when you're coming off a Super Bowl victory, it's not something that you're anticipating making a lot of changes in that area. You have a shortened off-season.

"By the same token, we put people in place that we have a lot of confidence in. We have to allow them to grow in their jobs and continue to show faith in them, because we do have faith in them." 

It's ok if you, the fan, doesn't have faith in them. Carson Wentz missed the postseason for the second consecutive year because of what ended up being a season ending back injury, once which Roseman provided no further insight to after Wentz and Pederson gave their assessment of what happened. Facts are facts, and the fact is Jared Goff is about to play in a Super Bowl before Wentz does. Wentz might've set Nick Foles up to go on the magic carpet ride of 2017-18, but he didn't finish the job. Goff and Patrick Mahomes each have more playoff experience than the injury prone Wentz heading into his fourth season, and that's a problem. 

All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson caused a lot of commotion prior to the 2018 season when he called the Patriots "a fear-based organization." He, in fact, took shots at the New England franchise on multiple occasions through many different platforms. I wonder if Johnson realized that the Patriots didn't seem so unhappy when celebrating inside their Arrowhead Stadium locker room after winning yet another AFC Championship. ​The shortened off-season didn't seem to affect them as much as it did the Eagles. It never seems to affect them. They were able to overcome the adversity of a 3-5 regular season record on the road, went 5-1 in an awful division and managed to get a first round bye and home playoff game. True, the AFC isn't as strong as the NFC, but they took care of business, and like the Eagles, are playing their best football in December and January, which allows them the chance to play in February again. 

The theme to the 2018-19 Eagles season should be "missed opportunity." They didn't need to finish 9-7, get help to make the playoffs and get lucky in their wild card win at the Bears. They didn't need to simplify their approach for the last six games of the regular season. It should've been addressed much earlier. This team was better than the way they played for more than half of their games. It shouldn't have warranted more Nick Foles heroics to get them back into the contender conversation. 

Furthermore, there are too many questions about the future of the franchise exiting this season to deem it a success. Wentz is talented, but it’s not clear if he can stay healthy. The running game needs to improve as they took a step back without LeGarrette Blount and with the injury to Jay Ajayi. Up to three members of their offensive line are questionable for the beginning of next season. Depth may be an issue on defense, especially at the linebacker, defensive end, cornerback and safety positions. That’s basically the entire defense. 

This season was anything but successful and should leave a sour taste in the mouths of everyone inside the Novacare Complex. They should be sick to their stomachs that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are playing for another Super Bowl. That's the "norm" as far as I'm concerned.