The 2023 season mercifully ended on Monday night, January 15th in Tampa.
The Eagles were thoroughly thrashed 32-9 in the contest and it felt worse than that.
It was the least competitive game of Super Wildcard Weekend.
They were shut out in the second half and never felt like they were serious about threatening.
The defense gave up three more TD passes which brought their 18 game total to 38 on the season. They had no answer for the Bucs Blitzes, even though they knew they would come early and often.
Yet, 16 weeks earlier, in that very same Raymond James Stadium, the Eagles thrashed the Bucs 25-11.
That game didn't feel close. The Birds ran for over 200 yards while the defense held the Bucs to a grand total of 174 yards. The Birds climbed to 3-0 and looked every bit the team that was 30 minutes removed from winning Super Bowl 57 versus Andy Reid and the Chiefs.
Within 16 weeks the birds fell completely apart. No one knows exactly when it happened, or how it happened. It was a slow death. Major hemorrhaging was spotted on December 3rd when the 49ers came to the Linc and scored TD's on six straight drives for a demoralizing 42-19 butt whipping.
It seemed everyday some member of the Eagles was asked what's wrong, can it be fixed, and do you go about fixing it?
All I heard was blustering and hot air for six straight weeks all the way up to the final press conference when it was so wretched that the owner, Jeffrey Lurie, did not attend. The funeral was conducted by Nick Sirianni and Howie Roseman.
More bluster, more word salads, no answers.
It is too painful of a collapse to even think about the recap and how the downward spiral got so out of control that the greatest football minds around couldn't come up with the why and how?
Nick Sirianni survived, although members of the team shot me texts that said it wouldn't surprise them if everyone was fired. All three coordinators were shown the door. Johnson, Desai, and Patricia were all let go along with numerous assistant and position coaches.
That might change the game plans and perhaps some younger players will develop at a more rapid rate.
Perhaps the offense won't appear so simplified and perhaps they will have answers for when teams blitz. Perhaps there won't be as many breakdowns in the secondary that lead to TD after TD.
Perhaps they will tackle better and pursue harder and with more tenacity. Perhaps they will invest in linebackers who can run faster, cover better, and stay healthier..
All of this might result in a far more competitive team than how they played down the stretch.
But I believe that something far more important needs to happen over at Novacare.
Nick needs to work his players harder. Much harder. Like legendary former Eagle coach, Dick Vermeil, often stated " I don't know how you expect to get better by working less."
The Eagles need to work harder, play harder, and play with far more physicality and urgency.
Some players need to move on. Others need to come on board . I did not see great effort on defense and wonder why so few of the young players have arrested development.
If Nick emphasizes this it could turn things around.
The quarterback did not play well in the second half of the season. Maybe everyone missed Shane Steichen more than anyone realized. Perhaps the hiring of former Cowboys and Chargers OC, Kellen Moore, will help with new concepts and more creativity.
They are paying Jalen Hurts to be a superstar and he has to play at that level because there is now less money and capital to address other needs.
He needs to carry his weight and help to elevate all of those around him. He seemed to not to be able to do that when this team began to tailspin
The Super Bowl is now forever in the rear view mirror. It's a lofty goal to want to get there next year but a new way of operating needs to be installed swiftly.
More discipline across the board, and tougher practices and more demanding coaches need to drive this team back into winning ways.
Perhaps, like the hot bluster we heard in the final 6 weeks, will fill the off season sports platforms surrounding this team. But I study every team in the NFL every week and I can easily see if the suggestions I am making in this article kick into gear or not. The measuring stick is what winning teams do
The 49ers and Chiefs are meeting this year in Super Bowl LVIII. Both teams have difficult practices that begin in training camp and extend throughout the season.
I never advocated for the firing of Coach Sirianni. I thought a lot of coaches would lose their jobs and that happens when a team collapses.
But the spotlight on Nick is very bright and he will be scrutinized like never before. Let's see how he reacts. Doug Pedersen was fired 2 years after he brought the only championship the Birds have ever won. Yesterday's news is exactly that
One reason I thought Nick would survive is that he is fiery and wired to compete. Let's watch the 2024 team reflect the personality of the head coach. Time to toughen up and time to go to work. *