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June 28, 2024

10 reasons the Eagles will be a dumpster fire this season

What could go wrong for the Eagles this season? Jimmy Kempski has some thoughts...

Eagles NFL
062824NickSirianniJalenHurts Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts do a perfect imitation of Eagles fans watching their late season collapse.

This week, all week long, we've been 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

Bonus: Oh, The Leads That You'll Blow: A Children's Book Sequel About the San Francisco Forty-Whiners

1) It's going to be hard to rebound from the 2023 team's epic collapse

The 2023 Eagles started 10-1, with a two-game lead in the standings over every other team in the NFL. That 10-1 start was probably a mirage, as several Eagles wins could have gone the other way if not for some serious luck. For example:

• Week 1, Patriots: Kayshon Boutte should have made a catch for a first down conversion on 4th and 11 that would've given the Patriots a 1st and Goal with a chance to win the game, but he did not drag his foot for some reason and the game was over.

• Week 2, Vikings: There were five fumbles in this game, and the Vikings recovered none of them. There was also this unfortunate fumble through the back of the end zone by Justin Jefferson:

• Week 4, Commanders: The Commanders scored with no time left in regulation, and down 1 opted to kick the PAT instead of going for 2, which was just an insanely idiotic decision. The Eagles won in OT.

• Week 9, Cowboys: It looked for sure like the Cowboys were going to score a winning TD on the final drive, but Dak Prescott took a devastating sack and the Eagles won.

• Week 11, Chiefs: Even if you're not an Eagles or Chiefs fan, you all remember this, right?

• Week 12, Bills: Credit Jake Elliott for being awesome and the Eagles for employing him, but they needed a 59-yard FG in the wind and rain just to get to OT against the Bills.

The Eagles were winning with smoke and mirrors for most of the season. Maybe they were just never that good?

After the win over the Bills, they lost five of their last six games, and did so in embarrassing fashion. They took two beatdowns from the 49ers and Cowboys, and they pissed away a game in Seattle against Drew Lock. 

They closed the season with a win over a Giants team that started Tommy DeVito (they might've lost if it had been Tyrod Taylor, who did some damage in the second half), followed by three atrocious losses to the Cardinals, Giants, and Buccaneers.

If you were to take just the Eagles' final three games of 2023 against the Cards, Giants, and Bucs, who finished 29th, 30th, and 18th in DVOA, here's a snapshot of how they fared in those games: 

StatPHI AZ/NYG/TB +/- 
Points 50 94 -44 
First downs 49 77 -28 
Total plays 165 207 -42 
Yards per play 5.2 6.2 -1.0 
Total yards 850 1290 -440 
Rushing yards 266 449 -183 
Passing yards 584 841 -257 
Turnovers -3 
Time of possession 73:21 106:39 -33:18 

They didn't just lose to three bad teams. They got their asses handed to them. 

By the time the 2023 season was over the Eagles were arguably the worst team in the NFL. The offense sucked, the defense was trash, and the coaching staff was incompetent. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a worse single-season collapse in NFL history that did not include some sort of major injury to a quarterback or other major player. 

Coming back from that will not be easy, and there's a strong argument to be made that the Eagles' roster arguably got worse this offseason.

2) Who is Jalen Hurts? 

After the first three months of the 2023 season, Hurts was the MVP favorite. However, his individual performances from December on were not acceptable for a player on a $255 million contract, and he was the leader of a team that could not find its way out of a downward spiral. 

The Eagles stopped playing for each other at some point last season, and there were examples galore in the playoff game against the Bucs. After Lavonte David laid a helmet-to-helmet shot on Hurts (as shown below), none of Hurts' teammates did anything about it. 

Similarly, against the Giants the previous week, linebacker Bobby Okereke jumped over the line of scrimmage on a play that was whistled dead and made egregious contact with Hurts that should have drawn the ire of his teammates, and, again, nothing.

It went both ways. Late in the third quarter against the Bucs, Kenny Gainwell ran to the right, and made an ill-advised decision to try to backtrack, before running all the way back across the to the left. Hurts could have tried to block David, but he turned it down.

Gainwell wasn't going anywhere even if Hurts gave any kind of real effort to make a block there, but you can bet that teammates saw that play on film and shook their heads. If this were a regular season game, maybe it's OK if you olé the defender if you're a $255 million quarterback. But when you're down 7 and your season has 18 minutes left, hit him!

And, like they did throughout the Eagles' late season collapse, cameras caught Eagles players squabbling on the sidelines. In the playoff game it was Hurts and Dallas Goedert.

Eagles players on the 2017 Super Bowl team often talked about how the team gelled off the field as much as they did on it, and felt that the cohesiveness they achieved was crucial to their success. The 2023 Eagles just didn't have that, to put it mildly. 

Hurts was also flat-out bad in that playoff game. Like, how do you take an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone for a safety when the line of scrimmage is at the 14?

The Eagles were kinda/sorta still in the game at that point, but after that play it was pretty clear that their season was over.

In the aftermath, Hurts' leadership skills — always thought to be the biggest checkmark in his favor — came into question, and have continued into the summer after Hurts reportedly rubbed some the wrong way with his answers during a spring practice media session.

Hurts is entering his fifth NFL season. He will have his fourth offensive coordinator in those five years:

  1. 2020: Press Taylor (passing game coordinator)
  2. 2021: Shane Steichen
  3. 2022: Shane Steichen
  4. 2023: Brian Johnson
  5. 2024: Kellen Moore

The one season that he had the benefit of the same offensive coordinator returning was 2022, when he was the MVP runner-up and took the team to the Super Bowl. But in 2024, Hurts said that "95 percent" of the offense is new. If that's true, then it'll be another season of Hurts learning a new offense. If it's not true, it's alarming that he would say that.

He will be under intense pressure to perform in 2024.

3) Jason Kelce is gone

Kelce was undersized, but he was uniquely gifted with speed, athleticism, and technique. There was nobody in the NFL at center who was better at racing down the field in front of screens, getting to the second level on run plays, or pulling to the outside. Early in his career he struggled with mammoth defensive tackles, but over time he learned how to out-leverage them and become a complete center with nearly no flaws. 

He was also extremely durable, starting a team record 157 consecutive games, he made pre-snap line calls, and he was probably the biggest reason for the Eagles' success on "Brotherly Shoves." The Eagles were just as effective running good old fashioned QB sneaks during the Carson Wentz era, and Kelce was the common denominator.

Cam Jurgens has the impossible task of replacing Kelce, even if he had the advantage of apprenticing under Kelce during his rookie season in 2022, and then playing next to him at RG in 2023. No slight to Jurgens here, but there is going to be a dropoff in play at center. It's just a matter of how much, and in what ways. It's silly to expect anything else.

4) The success of the defensive line hinges on two players who were out of shape in 2023

From 2013 to 2023, the years during which he was a full-time starter, Fletcher Cox averaged 840 defensive snaps per season. He retired this offseason. As such, some of the Eagles' younger interior defensive linemen are going to have to play way more snaps than they ever have.

That could be a problem, since the Eagles' two best interior defensive linemen — Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter — both had conditioning issues in 2023.

Davis was a great college player, and he has shown some occasional flashes in the NFL of the kind of dominant player he can be, but his first two NFL seasons were slowed by injury, inconsistency, and poor conditioning.

Davis said during OTAs that he is in better shape than he was last year, crediting his diet, “cutting out the juice and s***.” He said that he currently weighs around 350 pounds, and added that he weighed more last year but didn’t specify how much. If he was substantially heavier than 350 pounds last year, then he was out of shape. On the one hand, it's fine and good that he's in better shape. On the other hand, he should've just been in better shape last year, and surely the Eagles don't even want him up around 350 now.

The Eagles spent a first-, a fourth- and two fifth-round selections (15th, 124th, 162nd and 166th overall) to get Davis in the 2022 NFL Draft, and so far they don't have much to show for it. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, and Davis himself have all said this offseason that Davis' conditioning must improve. 

Davis in the second quarter of games last year:

Here are Davis' snap counts the last six years, via PFF:

• 2018 (UGA): 254
• 2019 (UGA): 265
• 2020 (UGA): 230
• 2021 (UGA): 378
• 2022 (Eagles): 224
• 2023 (Eagles): 519

That would be an average of 312 snaps per season, or roughly a third of the snaps Cox was used to playing each season in the NFL. Georgia had a heavy defensive line rotation because (a) they had so many good players, and (b) they would often play their freshmen to keep them happy and out of the transfer portal. So that's part of the reason he played so few snaps at Georgia, but the fact remains that he has never played a high number of snaps, and it showed last season, even while only playing 45 percent of the defensive snaps.

Carter didn't pay a lot of snaps at Georgia either:

• 2020 (UGA): 287
• 2021 (UGA): 396
• 2022 (UGA): 392
• 2023 (Eagles): 563

After the first three months of the season, he was the heavy favorite to be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, but his play fell off during the final stretch of the season.

I imagine opposing offenses are going to seek to wear out Davis and Carter, and try to get the Eagles' D-line backups onto the field.

5) Pressure from the edge plummeted in 2023, and might get worse in 2024

In 2022, the Eagles had three edge rushers — Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham — who were all coming off of double-digit sack seasons, combining for 38 sacks. They were a major reason the Eagles made a run to the Super Bowl that season. In 2023, that trio of edge rushers combined for 20.5 sacks. Each of those three guys made news this offseason:

• Reddick got traded to the Jets after the Eagles signed Bryce Huff away from the Jets in free agency.

• Sweat got shopped in the trade market before taking a pay cut. 

• Graham announced that he will be playing his final season in 2024.

Huff is a situational pass rusher — and a clear downgrade from Reddick — who has struggled against the run. He's probably the Eagles' top pass rusher now. He's certainly paid that way. Sweat is coming off a down season, got shopped, and then skipped OTAs. Graham is 36.

The Eagles also have 2023 first-round pick Nolan Smith, who couldn't get on the field last season even with Reddick and Sweat gassed down the stretch, and developmental rookie Jalyx Hunt, who might be something of a redshirt guy in 2024.

It's just not that compelling of a group, at least compared with previous seasons.

6) The linebackers, as always

In recent years, Eagles fans have had to suffer through linebackers like Duke Riley, Eric Wilson, Zach Brown, Nate Gerry, and plenty of others. 


In 2023, their overmatched linebacker was Nicholas Morrow, shown here:.

In the Eagles' final five games, PFF had Morrow down for 24 receptions allowed on 33 targets for 352 yards and 4 TDs. They also had him down for 4 missed tackles. There were plenty of games that the Eagles got absolutely wrecked in the middle of the field, notably against the Cowboys and 49ers.

And you know what? They deserved it. 🤷‍♂️

The Eagles roster-building philosophy has always been to prioritize the trenches, which is smart, but the level with which they have refused to put resources into the linebacker position has been stubborn and ill-advised, and it burns them year after year.

This year, the linebackers running with the first-team defense in spring practices were Devin White and Zack Baun, a pair of inexpensive vets the team signed in free agency, as they usually do. White was benched by the Buccaneers last season, and Baun mainly played on the edge for the Saints. There's also Nakobe Dean, a 2022 third-round pick who has been unable to stay healthy, and was mostly working with the second-team defense in the spring.

Maybe the Eagles will eventually get lucky and this approach will finally work out, but the linebackers will remain an issue until they aren't.

So to recap, the Eagles have serious concerns on the interior of the line, on the edge, and at off-ball linebacker.

7) The Eagles were soft last season

At the 2023 NFL owners meetings, Howie Roseman was asked if the additions of guys like Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Devin White were part of a theme to add swagger and toughness to the roster. Roseman acknowledged that the team was missing that last season.

"Obviously, we want talent with these guys, but I think that's accurate to say," he said. "We were looking to regain our swagger mentality back and obviously what happened at the end of the year didn't feel good and wasn't really acceptable for any of us. And so so we wanted to get players who can kind of bring that and have that motivation and mentality."

The moment that stands out to me is when the 49ers walked right through the Eagles' pregame defensive backs drills, and the Eagles didn't do a damn thing about it.

If you'll notice, there are 49ers players assembled near the Eagles' DB drills, waiting for their teammates to come jog through and disrupt the Eagles' warm-ups. It was clearly premeditated. I saw it coming a mile away, which, you know, is why I started taking video of it. The Niners were looking for a pregame fight, and the Eagles didn't have one in them. If you look closely, Nick Sirianni is really the only one who had anything to say to Niners personnel during that incident.

The theme that Sirianni wants his team to live by is "dawg mentality." I get that Trent Williams is scary and all, but shit man, have some pride.

8) If A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith go down, WR is a major problem 

Brown and Smith form one of the best 1-2 wide receiver duos in the NFL. Thereafter, the Eagles have a collection of Day 3 rookies (Ainias Smith and Johnny Wilson), disappointing veterans trying to find success later in their careers (Parris Campbell and John Ross), a punt returner who hasn't gotten on the field much in the regular offense (Britain Covey), and a some other miscellaneous UDFAs and guys signed to futures contracts.

In spring practices, Campbell seemed to be at the top of the WR3 totem pole above the others. He blazed a 4.31 40 at the 2019 NFL Combine, but for such a fast player he has had an oddly low 9.3 yards per catch average over his career. In 2023 with the Giants, a team with trash at receiver, he finished eighth (!) in receiving yards, and he had an almost impossibly low 5.2 yards per catch.

The third receiver in the Eagles' offense won't be that important, when they have Brown, Smith, Dallas Goedert, and Saquon Barkley healthy. Whoever fills that role isn't going to get many targets, even if they're good. But if Brown or Smith go down and Campbell (or whoever) has to start... yikes.

9) It's not just wide receiver — Overall depth is bad

The Eagles have good depth at cornerback and quarterback. Everywhere else? Not so much, to varying degrees.

10) Nick Sirianni's seat is toasty 

Nick Sirianni took over a 4-11-1 team and helped guide it to a five-win improvement in 2021. Of the seven head coaches hired that offseason, Sirianni was the only one who made the playoffs in his rookie season as a head coach. The low point of that season was a blowout loss to the Raiders, which dropped the Eagles to 2-5. It was around that time that Sirianni gave up playcalling duties to then offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and the team began to commit to a run-heavy approach. The Eagles quickly changed course from a finesse offense to one with a mean, nasty identity led by their star-studded offensive line, even becoming the first team since the 1985 Bears to run for at least 175 yards in seven straight games.

They saw that what they were doing wasn't working, they adjusted, and they found success, which is something they didn't do in 2023.

The Eagles were one-and-done in the playoffs that season, as they were blown out by the reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. Despite the disappointing result, the 2021 season was largely viewed as successful, relative to expectations. Sirianni and his staff weathered some early bumps in the road, and found a way to finish strongly.

In Year 2, the Eagles had heightened expectations, and Sirianni more than delivered on them, leading the team to a Super Bowl appearance alongside a vastly improved Jalen Hurts and an otherwise stacked roster. They mostly dominated their competition, winning nine games by at least two scores. Sirianni was not bashful about enjoying the team's success.

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, got some rest on their first-round bye, and smoked the Giants and 49ers on their way to the Super Bowl. Aside from that that two-game hiccup with Hurts out of the lineup, the 2022 Eagles faced no real adversity. It was basically just a five-month joy ride.

In Year 3, the town's expectation heading into the season was "Super Bowl or bust," and through the first three months of the season the Eagles delivered in the standings, racking up a 10-1 record, and even winning the first three games of the super difficult portion of their season against the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Bills. While those 10 wins were mostly not aesthetically pleasing — and a play here or there might've changed the outcome in some of them, as noted above — every other team in the league at the time had at least three losses. 

If you read "power rankings" during the season, they were the unanimous No. 1 team for like the entire month of November. Sirianni's bluster certainly didn't go anywhere, as he screamed at Chiefs fans while leaving the field after the team's win in Kansas City, and minutes later scolded a Philly reporter who had picked the Chiefs to win the game.

And then it all crashed and burned in December and January. During that miserable stretch, yes the offense and the defense were both bad, but it was also crystal clear that the team was getting outcoached every week.

Offensively, there was no mystery that opposing defenses were going to blitz the Eagles heavily, and yet the staff rarely had any basic, quick-hitting throws that could exploit opponents' over-aggressiveness. Unlike in 2021, the Sirianni and his staff either did not or could not adjust.

They also couldn't close teams out late in games. There was a three-play stretch in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals late in the season that exemplified the coaching staff's and players' failings.

  1. D'Andre Swift tried to bounce a run to the outside for no good reason, and Jordan Mailata was called for a hold.
  2. Confusion about who should be on the field on 2nd down.
  3. Designed QB run that went nowhere.
  4. RPO, QB run that lost four yards, followed by hearty boos, and a closeup of a female fan screaming, "What the hell are you doing?!?"
  5. Burned timeout.
  6. A kid yells "Run the ball" on 3rd and 20 because he probably heard his dad say that.
  7. Useless quick screen to Kenny Gainwell that goes nowhere.
Watch it in its entirety below. It's hilariously brutal.


It was Week 17 and they looked like a team playing their first preseason game. 

Defensively, the results were even worse, especially after the Sirianni made the asinine decision to demote defensive coordinator Sean Desai in favor of Matt Patricia, as players often didn't know how to line up or what their assignments were. Opposing offenses bulldozed them in the run game, and easily found ways to get receivers running wide open through the secondary. (Side note: Some aren't convinced that Sirianni made the decision to bench Desai for Patricia, but even if that's the case, that's even worse.)

In the aftermath of the season, a number of players, notably Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox, expressed strong support for Sirianni. However, when given the opportunity to have Sirianni's back during his postgame press conference following the loss to the Bucs, Hurts pretended like he didn't understand why Sirianni's job status was a question, saying, "I didn't know that he was going anywhere." When pressed for a real answer, Hurts said, "I have a ton of confidence in everyone in the building."

When given another chance to endorse his head coach during locker room cleanout day, Hurts said that he has confidence in Sirianni and that he expected Sirianni to be back, but he did not exactly give a ringing endorsement, like some of his other teammates did:

Hurts doesn't exactly have a warm personality, but maybe he could have mustered up a little more enthusiasm for his embattled coach if he truly wanted to continue working with him?

The Eagles have new coordinators in Kellen Moore and Vic Fangio. Are they better than Brian Johnson and Sean Desai / Matt Patricia? Sure, but it'll be interesting to see how Sirianni meshes ideas with Moore, and how Sirianni's relationship with his quarterback progresses. Even if he is now more of a "CEO" head coach, he has major challenges ahead, and is squarely on the hot seat.

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