So…the Eagles just put up 41 points on the Patriots and won the Super Bowl with their backup quarterback.
Carson Wentz wasn’t the only key player missing from the active roster either. He had company on IR that includes Jason Peters (starter at LT), Darren Sproles (do-everything RB), Jordan Hicks (a key LB), Caleb Sturgis (their kicker coming into the season) and Chris Maragos (special teams ace). That’s four key starters – including the MVP candidate QB – and their best special teams player…and they still won the Super Bowl.
So is this the start of something big? Could they be the in the early stages of a dynasty?
Let’s take a look…
If he hadn’t gone down to an ACL injury late in the season he could have easily been the MVP of the league. He’s a young, ascending player and is much more gifted than Nick Foles (who played great in the playoffs, btw). If his career is headed where it seems to be then the Eagles are in great shape, especially the next two years while he’s still on his rookie contract. This is a critical time for the Eagles to maximize what they can do before they have to pay him franchise QB money.
He’s one of the best in the league at this point and the only question about 2018 is how healthy he’ll be coming of the ACL. They have Nick Foles under contract as well so unless someone makes them a trade offer they can’t refuse it would be wise to keep Foles around for insurance, especially considering the run he just went on.
Key Offensive Players
Their entire starting offensive line is under contract for 2018 and Peters will be back so the line should be a major strength. They might have to re-do a contract or two here, or release someone, because they’ll be up against the cap but there is a lot to work with here.
Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Wendel Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey are all under contract at RB so they’re loaded there too. LeGarrette Blount is a free agent and I could see them finding a way to bring him back but they definitely don’t need to. They’ve got their #1 in Ajayi and they’ve been good at finding guys in the draft too.
Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor are all back as well, so the receiver core is solid. They may need to make some depth moves but they do have some young developmental guys they like.
So…they have two QB’s, two key contributors at RB, their top three receivers (one a TE) and their entire offensive line back. The offense, led by one of the best offensive minds in the business in Doug Pederson, should be one of the very best in the league.
Key Defensive Players
The Eagles have their top six defensive linemen under contract for 2018 as well, so that group should be formidable. Now, they could move on from a guy or two on the older side to create some cap space but the bottom line is that they’re loaded up front.
LB Nigel Bradham is set to be a free agent but Jordan Hicks should be back and they have Mychal Kendricks under contract as well. This is an area they may need to address – and the cap is an issue – but their depth should allow them to move pieces around.
All of their starters in the secondary return, though salary cap issues might push them in the direction of moving on from Rodney McLeod, and they have a couple of rookie CB in Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones who could develop as well.
So…they have most of their key guys under control here too.
Pederson is turning into one of the league’s top coaches and the front office, led by GM Howie Roseman, has made some very smart moves over the last couple of years. Pederson has shown that he and his staff can develop players and since the Eagles still have a fair number of young guys on the roster that’s a great sign.
Let’s be honest, Pederson appears to be a coach that makes his players better with his play calling abilities. He’s developed Wentz into one of the game’s elite QB’s and he managed to help Foles come away with the Super Bowl MVP after years of being viewed as a bad QB.
That’s a critical factor in building a dynasty…a coach that makes players better, that develops young guys.
We don’t know for sure if Pederson can do this for 15-20 years like Bill Belichick has, but the early signs are good.
So, are they a dynasty in the making?
I think so. I also know a lot of things can change in football…that ACL might be a lingering problem for Wentz, more players could get hurt in the coming seasons, they could whiff on some picks or FA signings…but they’re set up as well as anyone in the NFL right now and that includes the Patriots. I know New England is going to be elite so long as Belichick and Brady are together but that won’t be all that much longer.
If the Eagles play things right they should be contenders in the NFC for the foreseeable future. They’re balanced, they have a rockstar QB and they now have a Super Bowl winning head coach leading the way.
My money is on the Eagles in the NFC for 2018…and beyond.