The Philadelphia Eagles couldn’t take down Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round. Here are several moves they need to make in order to return to the playoffs and progress further in 2020.
After their triumph in Super Bowl LII with that memorable 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles haven’t lived up to that recent success in the past two seasons.
They needed a late charge for the playoffs last season before being knocked out against a stronger New Orleans Saints side, and after beating the Dallas Cowboys to the NFC East division this year, they were no match for Wilson’s Seahawks due to their own franchise quarterback’s injury.
If the Eagles make these moves this offseason, they could return to being one of the most feared teams in the NFC next season. Surely they can’t get this unlucky with injuries again.
Let Ronald Darby walk
Ronald Darby entered the NFL as an immediate shutdown corner for the Buffalo Bills, but he looked anything but a top cornerback in his third season with the team. Darby ended up hitting the IR list after just 11 games, despite leading the team with 11 passes defended, he was frequently burned for long touchdowns.
Darby allowed six touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 116.8 into his coverage. For a leading cornerback, those are embarrassing numbers. Darby regularly missed tackles and made too few big plays (two interceptions) to make up for his errors.
Past data implies Darby could bounce back in 2020, but it’s best for him and the team to move on. Darby needs a change of scenery, and the Eagles need to sign cornerbacks who can actually defend and do what they are paid for, despite Darby being a low priced financial package for the Eagles.
Re-sign or replace Vinny Curry
After a slow start to the season, Vinny Curry showed why he is one of the best sub-package edge rushers in the NFL with a strong finish to the 2019 campaign. Curry even blocked a kick in Philadelphia’s postseason loss to the Seahawks, reminding fans how good he is in the most important games of a season.
The defensive end is heading into free agency this offseason as a 32-year-old, and his play over the last few weeks of the 2019 season showed he has got plenty left in the tank. Stats wise, Curry’s five sacks and 12 quarterback hits look underwhelming, but he’s long been a consistent source of pressure for the Eagles defence, and we all know that stats don’t show the whole picture in football.
Philly may potentially opt for a younger replacement at the position, but they already have rising star Derek Barnett who could feature in Doug Pederson‘s plans for the future. Unless he insists on a huge payday, which is unlikely, keeping him is in the Eagles’ best interests. They need good edge rushers, especially since they have massive question marks in the secondary.
Acquire two starting cornerbacks
The Philadelphia Eagles need to upgrade the cornerback position at all costs. It is by far the greatest weakness on their roster, and they consistently failed to address it. As poor as Darby was last season, he was their best addition over the years, since the team whiffed on Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones.
Mills will be a free agent, and while they could bring him back cheap as depth, he cannot be trusted as a regular starter. Last season, the Eagles’ best cornerback was Avonte Maddox, and while he’s a useful asset, he’s no star. The Eagles need to also go for a cornerback who can make plays on the ball. Scouting and drafting cornerbacks who fit the profile would be wise since the Eagles could find some mid-round value with a sure-fire star who has some experience.
A better, younger backup quarterback
Nick Foles‘ magic aided a famous Super Bowl win back in 2018 for the Eagles and an against the odds postseason appearance one year later, but his performances in midnight green earned him a payday with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Meanwhile, the Eagles persuaded Josh McCown away from the broadcasting booth to be Carson Wentz‘s backup. Wentz managed to avoid injury until the postseason , as he went into concussion protocol nine minutes into the Seattle match, forcing 40-year-old McCown to play most of the game.
McCown was unsurprisingly poor, as he failed to move the ball on offence with so many Eagles players injured.
The rest of the skill positions are full of talent for the Eagles, so they don’t need to prioritise running backs or wide receivers. Miles Sanders and JJ Arcega-Whiteside are future stars, and Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are more than enough alongside tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Philly’s injury luck won’t be this awful in 2020, surely.
However, the Eagles desperately do need an emergency option for Wentz, since he’s suffered injuries in three straight years that cost him postseason time and McCown simply won’t cut it. The Eagles need to go with someone who is younger and who can win playoff games, which means spending premium resources for a backup. As the Eagles know, its all worth it if the benefit is a Super Bowl ring.