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June 30, 2023

10 reasons the Eagles will be a dumpster fire this season

It's finally time for Jimmy Kempski to rip apart the 2023 Eagles.

Eagles NFL
063023NickSirianni Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Nick Sirianni was voted "Most Punchable Face Ever" by Giants fans.

This week, all week long, we're taking a negative look at each of the teams in the NFC East, in detail. Today we'll finish out the series with the Philadelphia Eagles. 


Cowboys | Giants | Commanders

1) They lost a bunch of starters

On defense, the Eagles will have new starters at both linebacker spots, both safety spots, and at defensive tackle, after losing (in order of importance) DT Javon Hargrave, S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, LB T.J. Edwards, S Marcus Epps, and LB Kyzir White.

• Hargrave was a star in 2022, racking up 60 tackles and 11 sacks. When you watch those 11 sacks, you'll see that there are no cheapies, as in, like, the quarterback had the pocket collapsing around him and he just kinda walked into the defensive tackle or something. Hargrave wrecked opposing linemen with speed and power, and got to the quarterback quickly.

I don't think it's been appreciated by Philadelphians how good that guy was last season, and he's going to be missed. The Eagles still have young, talented interior defensive linemen, but the production they got from Hargrave's snaps last season likely won't be equally replaced by whatever combination of players (like Jalen Carter, Milton Williams, etc.) fill in.

• Gardner-Johnson led the NFL in INTs, with six, despite missing five games with a lacerated kidney, while Epps was a serviceable starter. Filling in for that duo will be some combination of Terrell Edmunds, Reed Blankenship, and rookie Sydney Brown.

• Edwards had 159 tackles on the season (10 for loss), including nine games in which he had double-digit tackles. He also chipped in two sacks and seven pass breakups. Those 159 tackles were good for seventh in the NFL, and the next-closest Eagles tackler (White) had 49 fewer tackles. Like Epps above, I'd put White in the "serviceable starter" category. Replacing those guys — pending further roster moves — will be Nakobe Dean (34 total snaps in the regular defense as a rookie) and either Nicholas Morrow or Christian Elliss (29 career snaps in the regular defense).

The Eagles may have reloaded in the draft long-term with the selections of guys like Carter, Nolan Smith, Brown, and Kelee Ringo, but it's still pretty difficult to argue that the defensive personnel didn't get worse this season.

I should also note that the Eagles can probably expect some regression from James Bradberry, who allowed a passer rating of 54.2 (via PFF) when opposing quarterbacks targeted him last season. That doesn't seem sustainable.

Offensively, the perpetually underrated Isaac Seumalo will be replaced at RG by either Cam Jurgens (who has only ever played center) or rookie Tyler Steen (a four year tackle in college).

2) A lot of their best players are getting pretty old

Jason Kelce and Brandon Graham are now 35. Lane Johnson is 33. Fletcher Cox (already in decline) and Darius Slay (maybe showed some signs of decline later in the season in 2022?) are 32. 


Four of those guys are starters. The only one who technically isn't is Graham, who is a key player who had 11 sacks in 2022. Still, even if we omit Graham as a starter, the Eagles have more 32+ starters than any other team in the NFL (using Ourlads' depth charts for each team):

Starters 32 years of age or older Teams 
Cowboys, Saints, 49ers, Bills 
Rams, Vikings, Seahawks, Ravens, Broncos, Jets, Steelers, Titans 
Panthers, Falcons, Cardinals, Lions, Texans, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Patriots 
Bears, Packers, Giants, Commanders, Bengals, Browns, Colts, Jaguars, Dolphins 

Again, the Eagles have a succession plan in place for some of those guys long-term, but they have more "old guy decline risk" than perhaps any other team in the league.

3) They lost some coaches, too

Former defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon left to become the Cardinals' head coach. He's a fraud, and the Cardinals are in for some rough seasons ahead. No loss there.


But, on the offensive side of the ball, former offensive coordinator Shane Steichen left to become the Colts' head coach. That's a loss. Steichen took over for Nick Sirianni as the Eagles' play caller about halfway through the 2021 season, and he cooked. Unlike Gannon, he will be missed. Taking over for Steichen will be new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, who will call plays in 2023. To be determined if there's dropoff in play calling rhythm.

Of course, Johnson was more than deserving of his promotion to offensive coordinator, and could very well be a hot head coaching name next offseason because of his work as the Eagles' quarterbacks coach, and his tutelage of Jalen Hurts. Johnson's focus will now be on the entire offense, and not just the quarterbacks. The new quarterbacks coach will be Alex Tanney.

While Johnson seems more than capable of running the offense and Tanney seems to have the credentials for his promotion to quarterbacks coach, it's worth noting that the Eagles' offense sputtered in 2018 after former OC Frank Reich left for the Colts' head coaching job and John DeFilippo left his position as the Eagles' quarterbacks coach to become the Vikings' offensive coordinator. Mike Groh became the offensive coordinator and Press Taylor became the quarterbacks coach, and the Eagles suffered from the "Peter Principle."

The Eagles had a great thing going with Steichen as the OC and Johnson as the quarterbacks coach. We know that that was a dynamic that worked. We don't yet know if the new dynamic will be as good.

4) Injury luck is going to run out

The Eagles had every starter available for the Super Bowl. That is insane, and irreplicable. 

5) They still haven't beaten any good quarterbacks

Here are the starting quarterbacks the Eagles have beaten the last two seasons

  1. Washed Matt Ryan
  2. Sam Darnold
  3. Pre-resurgence Jared Goff
  4. Teddy Bridgewater
  5. Trevor Siemian
  6. Zach Wilson
  7. Garrett Gilbert
  8. Mike Glennon / Jake Fromm
  9. Taylor Heinicke
  10. Jared Goff
  11. Kirk Cousins in primetime
  12. Carson Wentz
  13. Trevor Lawrence before he became good last season
  14. Kyler Murray
  15. Cooper Rush
  16. Kenny Pickett
  17. Davis Mills
  18. Even more washed Matt Ryan
  19. Aaron Rodgers with a broken thumb
  20. Ryan Tannehill
  21. Daniel Jones
  22. Justin Fields
  23. Davis Webb
  24. Daniel Jones
  25. Brock Purdy / Josh Johnson

Of course, there's a valid argument that the Eagles could only play who was on their schedule, and they went 16-2 in games that Hurts started last season. There's also a valid argument that the defense looked helpless in the second half of the Super Bowl against the only great quarterback they faced.

6) Their special teams stunk last season

The Eagles finished 13th in special teams DVOA last season, but only because they have a good kicker. Otherwise, they had more than their share of special teams gaffes.

Week 2: The Vikings blocked a Jake Elliott field goal: Patrick Peterson was able to get around the edge for a blocked field goal, and the Eagles were lucky that Arryn Siposs was able to chase down CB Kris Boyd on the return.

The Vikings couldn't capitalize, as Avonte Maddox picked off Kirk Cousins on the ensuing possession.

Week 3: Britain Covey muffed a punt: The Eagles were fortunate to get this back.


Week 5: Cardinals convert on a fake punt: Facing a 4th and 4 from their own 28 yard line, the Cardinals successfully ran a fake punt.

That would end up being a 16-play, 91-yard drive that ended with a field goal to close out the first half and narrow the Eagles' lead from 14-7 to 14-10. That robbed the offense of a chance for one last first half possession, and perhaps made this game closer than it should have been.

Week 6: KaVontae Turpin returns a kickoff 63 yards: The Eagles had completely dominated the Cowboys for the first 28 minutes of their Week 6 matchup, when KaVontae Turpin sparked Dallas with a 63-yard kick return.

That led to a field goal just before the end of the first half, and gave the Cowboys at least something to feel OK about heading into the third quarter in what would eventually become a contested game.

Week 8: Steelers convert on a fake punt: The Steelers were down 18 on their first possession the second half, facing a 4th and 2 from their own 33, and they easily converted this fake punt, in what was probably a fairly obvious fake punt-potential situation: 


They would put together a 15-play, 64-yard FG drive.

Week 10: Reed Blankenship roughs the punter: Blankenship — and LB Kyron Johnson, for that matter as well — smashed Tress Way, giving the Commanders a new set of downs.


The Eagles ended up forcing a turnover on the next play.

Week 10: The Eagles leave a Commanders player unblocked on a punt: Here it is from the end zone view:


Siposs did a nice job getting the punt off, at all, but as always on these types of plays the Eagles were flagged for an illegal man downfield and had to re-punt.

As you can see, neither Nakobe Dean (17) nor K'Von Wallace (42) picked up Khaleke Hudson (47). Hudson didn't even look like he was in punt block mode, but when nobody blocked him he was like, "Oh... word? You're not blocking me? I guess I'll try to block the punt then."

Week 12: Packers return man goes off: And finally, last Sunday night, Packers kick returner Keisean Nixon had kick returns of 38, 52, and 53 yards. Note that these kicks are five yards deep into the end zone, but the Packers clearly felt that they could exploit the Eagles' kick coverage units, so they took them out.

The Packers scored 10 points after those returns.

At that point in the season, it felt a whole lot like the Eagles were going to eventually lose a game because of special teams. They were fine for a couple months, and then...

Super Bowl: Kadarius Toney's punt return: In the second half of the Super Bowl, Siposs was supposed to punt the ball to the left side of the field, but he shanked a line drive to the right side. As you can see in the video below, the Eagles' gunners are running down the field as if they expect the ball to have been punted to the left. When the Eagles' punt coverage over-pursued to the right, Toney made a guy miss and then found wide open spaces with a convoy out in front of him. 

The Eagles not only kept special teams coordinator Michael Clay, but they gave him a raise. Also, there's no way in hell Siposs should be back in 2023 after devastating playoff performances in two straight seasons, but he probably will be. 

7) They have the toughest schedule in the NFL based on 2022 results

The Eagles' 2023 opponents had a combined record of 161-123-4 (0.566) in 2022, which is the hardest schedule in the NFL based on 2022 wins and losses. Here are the Eagles' opponents, and their 2022 records. I also added in point differentials.

Week Opponent 2022 record 2022 point differential 
At Patriots 8-9 +17 
Vikings 13-4 -3 
At Buccaneers 8-9 -45 
Commanders 8-8-1 -22 
At Rams 5-12 -77 
At Jets 7-10 -20 
Dolphins 9-8 -2 
At Commanders 8-8-1 -22 
Cowboys 12-5 +125 
10 BYE   
11 At Chiefs 14-3 +127 
12 Bills 13-3 +169 
13 49ers 13-4 +173 
14 At Cowboys 12-5 +125 
15 At Seahawks 9-8 +6 
16 Giants 9-7-1 -6 
17 Cardinals 4-13 -109 
18 At Giants 9-7-1 -6 
TOTAL  161-123-4 (0.566) +430 

I've seen it stated that the Eagles' schedule is sort of middle of the road when looked at in terms of their opponents' projected win-loss totals. That simply doesn't feel right to me, given that their opponents had a combined point differential of +430 last season.

And that stretch from Week 9 to Week 14... Good Lord! Those teams had a combined record of 64-20 (0.762) in 2022, with a combined point differential of +719! And then after that stretch they play a Seahawks team that they haven't beaten in their last seven tries.

The NFC East teams all play each other twice, as you're aware. They also play the entirety of the AFC East (great division) and the NFC West (meh). The NFC East teams each have three games on their schedules that their divisional rivals don't. The Eagles have a first-place schedule, and as such, they play first-place teams in the NFC North, the NFC South, and the AFC West. Those teams are the Vikings, Buccaneers, and Chiefs. The NFC East teams drew the following floating opponents this year:

Finish NFC East team NFCN / NFCS / AFCW opponents 
1st Eagles Vikings, Buccaneers, Chiefs 
2nd Cowboys Lions, Panthers, Chargers 
3rd Giants Packers, Saints, Raiders 
4th Commanders Bears, Falcons, Broncos 

The Cowboys arguably have harder NFCN and NFCS opponents than the Eagles, but obviously the Eagles' road game against the Chiefs is as hard as it gets.

• The Eagles have their bye the week before the Chiefs game. The Chiefs also have their bye before that game. In other words, they're getting Andy Reid after a bye, which is never ideal, and if they lose, their extra rest will be wasted. 

• The back-to-back road games against the Cowboys and Seahawks are tough. I wonder if the Eagles will consider staying in or near Seattle for the week leading up to that game. (My guess is no.)

• The trip to Los Angeles followed by another road game against the Jets — even if only a short trip up the NJ Turnpike — is not ideal.

• It'll probably be hot AF in Tampa Week 3. Bucs players will be used to that Florida heat. Eagles players will not. Eagles and Bucs fans might recall that the Eagles lost a blazing hot game in Tampa Week 2 during the 2018 season despite being heavy favorites.

At a minimum, the Eagles' schedule is significantly harder than it was a year ago, when they played the garbage AFC South and the weak NFC North.

8) They're going to get everyone's best

In addition to whining for six months after their loss to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers had very little in the way of typical postgame-sportsmanlike talk, like, "Hey give them credit, they're a great team and deserved to win." Why? Because they pretty clearly hate this team, which is just kind of a vibe that I get from around the league that I didn't have after the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017. And I kinda think it starts with the head coach. 

Hatred specifically for Sirianni really seemed to accelerate last season was when he nodded approvingly in the direction of a television camera during the Eagles' 38-7 stomping of the New York Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs. The FOX television crew showed the moment in slow motion, lol.

Giants players bristled at Sirianni's hamming for the camera, and he even got the attention of popular comedian Bill Burr.

"At one point he was hamming it up so bad the NFL literally did a 360 shot around him, the same shot Tarantino used on Pam Grier in f***ing Jackie Brown when she was coming out of the g**d*** dressing room," Burr said. "They did that to an NFL coach who looked like some j***o** who's out there shoveling a driveway. I was just trying to picture Tom Landry nodding vigorously with his fedora, saying, 'I know what the f*** I'm doing.'

"I never saw Vince Lombardi do that. I never saw Chuck Noll. I never saw Don Shula. I didn't see Bill Parcells. I didn't see Joe Gibbs. I didn't see Bill Belichick. I've never seen any of them nod vigorously, even after they were destroying the other team and say, 'I know what the f*** I'm doing. And What I hate about that behavior is one of these days he's going to get his f****** ass kicked, because that's what happens, and he will not then shake his head 'no' vigorously into the camera and say 'Evidently, I don't know what the f*** I'm doing.' That's not how that games works."

Lol 😂. You can watch Burr's full Sirianni rant here

And, of course, rival fans hate him, too. After the Eagles' playoff win over the Giants in the divisional round, we scoured comment sections for the live game threads at other NFC East fan websites, and Sirianni was a common target of hate. A sampling (grammar and spelling left uncorrected):

• "Siirianni embodies all that Philly is about - compete douche bag."

• "Siriani has the most punchable face ever."

• "Sirianni has to be the biggest a****** in that stadium"

• "Ugh they earned it but holy s*** Sirianni has to be the most unlikeable coach ever."

• "Siriani looks really seems like a douche"

• "Sirianni does have the most punchable face ever, he acts like a frat boy"

• "Sirianni seems like such a tool. Perfect for Philadelphia."

• "Nick Sirianni is one of those mouthy punks that I used to end up punching out in a bar a million years ago when I was a young man."

• "I must punch Sirianni"

• "Jalen Hurts is an easy guy to root for... i hate he is on the eagles and i cant root for him. Philly doesnt deserve him. Nick Sirianni on the other hand entails the eagles fanbase: Toxic, stupid, stubborn, arrogant fool"

If you search "Sirianni punchable" on Twitter, you'll get an absurd number of hits.

The nodding incident certainly wasn't the first time that Sirianni angered a rival fan base, and (probably) opposing players. Near the end of the Eagles' Week 6 win over the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Kelce was tackled after the whistle by frustrated Cowboys DE Osa Odighizuwa. The ensuing unnecessary roughness call gave the Eagles a first down, and allowed Jalen Hurts to kneel down twice to seal the 26-17 win. After the late hit, Sirianni was caught on camera yelling, "That's f****** game! F*** you!" presumably at Odighizuwa and other Cowboys players.

And then there was the time he yelled to the crowd after a win in Indy after the Colts fired his boy Frank Reich.

And then there was the time that he was screaming at Robert Saleh after Jalen Hurts was hit late out of bounds by a Jets defender during a preseason game.

And honestly, that's just a sampling, lol. Those kinds of in-game outbursts are very funny and Philly fans love that stuff, but there's also little doubt that a lot of their opponents this season would absolutely love to beat him and the Eagles. Count on them having their matchups with Philly (metaphorically) circled on their calendars.

9) They faced pretty much no adversity in 2022

Jalen Hurts was sidelined with a shoulder injury for a couple of games late in the season, which they lost. That put their 1-seed in jeopardy for a hot second, but they ultimately wrapped that up. Otherwise, the following was basically what the Eagles' 2022 season was like, up until the second half of the Super Bowl:

The Eagles handled some adversity when they got out to a 2-5 start in 2021, but expectations were low that season. It's a lot different when the city of Philadelphia is thinking Super Bowl or bust. The Eagles have a veteran team, as noted above, but it will still be interesting to see how they handle adversity, which is coming.

10) There hasn't been a repeat NFC East champion since 2004

The last time a team repeated as NFC East division winners was when the Eagles did it in 2004. In each of the last 18 seasons, we've seen the previous year's division champion dethroned. 

 YearNFC East champion 

The Eagles are favorites to win the NFC East again in 2023, but so were most of the teams above that had a chance to repeat, but didn't.

I couldn't find preseason odds for division winners during this span of time, but pro-football-reference keeps a record of preseason Super Bowl odds for past seasons. The 2022 Cowboys, 2018 Eagles, 2017 Cowboys, 2014 Eagles, 2011 Eagles, 2010 Cowboys, 2009 Giants, 2008 Cowboys, 2007 Eagles, and 2005 Eagles were all favored to repeat — or they had the best Super Bowl odds among the NFC East teams or whatever — but couldn't close. If history is any indication, some team other than the Eagles will win the NFC East in 2023.

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