In an NFC East Division Bombarded With Change, Eagles Find Themselves on Both Sides of Continuity
Back in January, many headlines highlighted the NFC East having just one head coach retaining his position, as Eagles coach Doug Pederson was the only HC from 2019 to carry his duties into the next NFL season. With a change in coaching often comes a change in personnel, as new coaches want to find and keep players who are good fits for their respective schemes, and many times get rid of the ones who don't.
The coaching carousel is traditionally the first snow of the season of change in the NFL, and for the Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys, this was a first-hand experience. Washington hired former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, Dallas took on the services of former Green Bay HC Mike McCarthy, and Joe Judge, the former Patriots special teams coach, will have his first top job as the New York Giants head coach.
The Eagles, on the other hand, had no questions on who their head coach would be for the 2020 season. Doug Pederson, along with Executive VP of Football Operations Howie Roseman, signed a four-year contract extension in the offseason after winning Super Bowl LII. This, along with the Eagles making the playoffs in three of Pederson's four seasons as the head coach, ensured that his job was safe heading into this offseason. The Eagles did, however, make other coaching staff adjustments, with the most notable being the firing of offensive coordinator Mike Groh. After Groh was relieved of his duties, many speculated on who would fill the role; many inside and outside names were thrown around but Pederson eventually settled on having no designated offensive coordinator.
The Eagles promoted quarterbacks coach Press Taylor to passing game coordinator who, alongside offensive line coach and run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland, would serve as an offensive advisor to Pederson. The move to go without an OC is understandable when we remember that Doug Pederson has always called his own plays. Another notable coaching change came when Aaron Moorehead was hired to replace Carson Walch as wide receivers coach, a move that follows a disappointing season from that position group. On the coaching front, the Eagles made relatively small moves in hopes for a large impact.
The next period of change comes with player personnel. Eagles fans are perennially clamoring for change on this front. This season is no different; fans all over entered this offseason wanting the Eagles to make moves at two positions in particular, wide receiver and defensive back.
So far the Eagles have answered the later with the splash of a trade for former Lions All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay. Slay is set to be the Eagles #1 corner, providing the fans with some sense of security in terms of coverage as the three-time Pro Bowler is the epitome of consistency, making said all-star selection in each of the last three seasons.
Philadelphia made further adjustments in the defensive backfield by signing slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman. The first big move Philly made was not involving a defensive back, but was one that further galvanized one of the most fearsome defensive fronts in the league.
The Eagles started off their big moves by signing defensive tackle Javon Hargrave to a three-year contract. From a defensive standpoint, Philly has shuffled around a lot of pieces, but on the offensive side, they've remained relatively stagnant up to this point. Future Hall of Fame tackle Jason Peters is exploring free agency, backup offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai signed with the Detroit Lions, and the Eagles extended backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld, highlighting the moves on offense.
These moves overall have left a lot of Eagles fans unsatisfied as many want to surround Carson Wentz with the weapons he needs. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor found a new home with the Las Vegas Raiders, leaving the Philadelphia wide receiver room with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward, a now-healthy DeSean Jackson, and Alshon Jeffery.
Jeffery's future with the team has been subject to speculation as he is due $15 Million this season and his release would leave the Eagles with around $26 million in dead money. Howie Roseman, when asked about Jeffery in a press conference this offseason, was cryptic in his answer, stating Jeffery wants to prove the kind of player he is. The new CBA allows for the Eagles to spread out the dead money so it isn't too big of a hit this season. The prospect of the team hoping Jeffery can return to his 2017 form is realistic since they weren't able to nail the DeAndre Hopkins trade and Robby Anderson signed with Carolina.
Philadelphia is in a position to get a quality receiver in this year's draft with a very deep class of wideouts. Even though names like CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs are widely expected to go before the Eagles pick at 21, there has been talk that Philly could possibly trade up into the teens to possibly draft a top wideout, but that doesn't seem likely. Draft talk aside, the Eagles don't have a lot of changes to make on offense outside of wide receiver, as they are bringing back both star tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, second-year running back Miles Sanders and late-season practice squad heroes, Boston Scott and Greg Ward.
Around the division, teams are changing more than in recent years. The Washington Redskins and new head coach Ron Rivera find themselves trying to establish their franchise quarterback. Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants have established their QB situations. Dallas, however, has placed their franchise tag on Dak Prescott as the two sides still have yet to agree on a long-term deal. With the current global situation, OTA's are expected to be canceled and training camps shortened leaving teams with the most continuity in the best situations. The Eagles, having retained their head coach, quarterback, and the majority of their core pieces, are in the best spot to benefit from that theory.