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June 13, 2024

Eytan Shander: The 2024 Eagles deserve the benefit of the doubt

The Eagles fell apart last season — but they look like they've learned. Perhaps we should be confident this year.

Eagles Opinion
Eagles-minicamp-team Colleen Claggett/for PhillyVoice

Devin White #45 of the Philadelphia Eagles warms up during practice at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia, Pa. on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.

We have what feels like a brand new Philadelphia Eagles team despite returning plenty of players who were in the Super Bowl just two seasons ago. Instead of focusing on what can be this year, we hear the chatter of idle hands, minds, and mouths — sputtering out nonsensical concerns about riffs that may not even exist.

Rooting for the Eagles is a grind unlike anything else, but this year should provide a fair and honest glimpse into just who this team truly is. Anchored leaders like Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox are gone, brutal coordinators who couldn’t differentiate their rear from their elbow have been replaced by competent coaches – at least with a resume.

The team suffered a brutal meltdown that should have cost the head coach his job, yet instead rendered him as more of a Jason Garrett hand clapper. Still, Jalen Hurts and a mass number of skilled players return. As frustrated and disgusted as we were watching that team quit on the field, they return with too much talent to dismiss or already jump ahead to concerns.

Let me take a pause here because I know full well with 20+ years of working in this great city what I’m truly asking for – the magnitude of it. The Eagles deserve the benefit of the doubt. 

Yes, I’m asking you to keep that in mind when doing your own season previews. When going through the schedule or breaking down the Brazil game – as dumb as that will be.

We owe the Eagles a shred of benefit after what they’ve put together over the past two seasons, with just one half of that being a sh**show.

Can you do that? Can you go this off-season giving this team the benefit of the doubt that they are just two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, and just one year from a hell of a start? I’m not explaining away, nor excusing the Eagles collapse. I called for Nick Sirianni to be fired just like everyone else. We needed more than replacing already incompetent coordinators, we needed tangible action from the team. 

Despite not getting that, I recognize this team is still full of way more accomplishment over the past two years than failure.

How does that juxtapose with me calling for a firing? The person removed wouldn’t be integral in turning it around, the proof being in how much Sirianni has effectively been neutered on both sides of the ball.

I don’t care about mannerisms, back and forths, feuds, or if any of these guys like each other. There’s a massive void to be filled with whoever wants to step in the shoes of Jason Kelce. I don’t mean playing the center position, rather being the center position of the Eagles. This is another reason why I hold a ton of optimism for this Eagles team, part of the definition of what benefit they are getting from me.

There’s an internal competition brewing, not a position battle, rather for that next great Eagles player. Someone is either going to take the spot or be thrust into it by default. I prefer to look at the former as means of this competition to see who can truly stand out as the team’s best leader, and face. If it’s not Hurts, then we may see the likes of Lane Johnson, AJ Brown, Darius Slay, or maybe a young player finds his voice in De’Vonta Smith.

This is a good football team that returns great skilled players. They have innovative and successful coordinators on each side of the ball. Howie Roseman performed another NFL Draft miracle this offseason as the team bolstered another position of need. Things are going great, and they’re only getting better.

To hang on the collapse and let it carry over is a disservice to two things in this league. The first is how little things truly do carry over from year to year, outside of talent and overall coaching.

Bad players tend to stay in that realm, as do great players on the other side. Maybe a change of scenery can help, but we have a decent grasp on who can do what rather early in a career. Last year wasn’t a collapse of epic proportions due to a lack of talent, it came with hubris and pride from a team that didn’t win anything at that point.

The other part of it is how easy things truly do turn around in this league. The Eagles aren’t trying to go from worst to first, but that happens far more often in the NFL than other professional sports leagues. There’s a pathway for a team that struggled, collapsed, fell apart, quit, dealt with injuries or any other reason, to turn it around and make the playoffs.

Does it really matter if Hurts and Sirianni don’t get along? Or if Brown and Smith don’t hang out after practice? (I have no idea but it sounds like something ridiculous from social media or the radio) The answers are no, of course, and maybe it’s just how people kill time.

There is a clear cut pathway to success for this Eagles team which holds as the foundation for this proposed benefit of the doubt. Unlike the Sixers or Flyers, each for a different reason, the Eagles did make it deep into the post season, losing in the final game on the schedule. 

We applied that same benefit to the Phillies ahead of this year and look how that’s going. Losing in the World Series then seeing an epic collapse against the Dbacks prepared the Phillies for an amazing start – with some serious jumps in talent.

There is way too much to be excited about with this year’s Philadelphia Eagles team to start any insanity.

Eytan Shander is a long time radio and TV personality in Philadelphia. In addition to his weekly column, you can currently listen and watch him on Fox29’s Good Day and other sports shows. He’s giving betting advice on OddsShopper. A lifetime Eagles fan, Eytan lives just outside the city with his wife.

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow