Another season and another disappointing end. Of course, anything except the Super Bowl is at least somewhat disappointing, but this time they failed to even make the postseason. They matched their 2013 record of 10-6, but the Cowboys had a breakout season and finished 12-4, winning the division, including the second of their head-to-head matchups. It was a tough way to see the season go, losing three of the final four games, including one against the lowly Redskins on Saturday afternoon. But in fact, even if they’d won that game, they still would’ve missed the playoffs due to the very strong NFC. The Cardinals and Lions both finished 11-5 as the wild card teams and had the tiebreaker over the Eagles due to either head-to-head or conference record.
I guess the first quarter of Week 1 was indicative of the seemingly unnecessary struggles they’d have to overcome throughout the season. They went down 14-0 early after two quick Nick Foles fumbles. He had only thrown two interceptions in all of 2013 and here he was turning the ball over three times in the first game of the year, and to the Jaguars. Not a good start. Then came along the Texans, who broke his collarbone and forced Mark Sanchez to start for the rest of the year. To be fair, he wasn’t terrible, but he was unable to get the wins when it mattered most.
Defensively, it was a huge struggle in the secondary once again, but this time with an emphasis on the cornerbacks. Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams were easily the worst cornerback tandem in the entire league, allowing teams to pass all over them on a regular basis. This made it very difficult for the Eagles to put up enough points to counteract their shortcomings on defense.
In terms of special teams, they were probably the best team in the entire league, which is something I never thought would happen. Their special teams were so poor for many of the years under Andy Reid that it was almost accepted that they’d struggle in that aspect of the game. Instead, Chip Kelly went out and grabbed Chris Maragos, Bryan Braman and Darren Sproles in the offseason to improve the return game and return coverage, and it worked out brilliantly. Even rookie Trey Burton had a great year on special teams after he wasn’t even projected to make the roster. It was great to see that side of the ball succeed.
But in the end, the season was seen as a failure do to them missing the playoffs. It even got to the point where there were rumors that Kelly could be on his way out due to disagreements with the GM Howie Roseman. The Eagles fired VP of Player Personnel Tom Gamble, a guy who was hand-picked by Kelly for that position. Things were spiraling out of control fast. Fortunately, it ended with Roseman being “promoted” to a different position and Kelly getting the reigns in all things dealing with player personnel as they await a new general manager.
With a fanbase as tough as theirs though, the season was an even bigger failure due to their stubbornness to change things on defense, their poor draft class and dealing with Mark Sanchez for half the season. Injuries hurt them bad, as they could have for any other team, and they paid. So as a result, their season ended in December instead of January or February. Maybe next year guys, maybe next year.
(Part 2, which will focus on the offense, will be released tomorrow)