The Philadelphia Eagles finish the season 7-9 following a 27-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday. They head into the offseason with plenty of holes to fill. Here is a look at the season and what’s next:
Season summary: Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz provided hope and a few highlights, but some fatal flaws ultimately did the Eagles in. Concerns about receivers and cornerbacks heading into the season proved warranted, and the loss of right tackle Lane Johnson to a 10-game suspension was as damaging as most predicted it would be -- maybe more so. First-year head coach Doug Pederson kept the group together but proved to be plenty green, and he hurt the team in a couple critical spots with some questionable decision-making. Mix all those things together, and it’s not hard to see why the Eagles stumbled after starting the season 3-0.
Biggest draft need: Cornerback. It’s been years (you have to go back to 2002, when they took Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown) since the Eagles pulled high-end corners out of the draft. It’s cost them big time. The free-agent route has proved to be largely fruitless despite the countless millions spent. The Eagles need to invest and invest wisely in cornerbacks this April to get themselves out of the cycle.
Key offseason questions:
Are any major changes in store? Executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman is one of the most aggressive personnel men in football, so a splash move or two (or three) should be expected. The Eagles have plenty of needs, including at corner, receiver, defensive end and running back. After a wild spending spree to lock up core players last year, the Eagles have just two starters from the 2016 group (defensive tackle Bennie Logan and cornerback Nolan Carroll) who aren’t under contract. They would like to get back to a blueprint of building through the draft and limiting free-agency activity. Whether they can stay true to that is another story, especially with so many holes to fill. As for the coaching staff, Pederson should be given another year, and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is expected back unless he lands a head-coaching gig.
Is DeSean Jackson heading back to Philly? ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Eagles are likely to pursue a reunion with Jackson -- a notion that we hear the receiver would be intrigued by. A move to reacquire the 30-year-old would not be met with universal approval inside the NovaCare facility, but there are only a few who get a vote. Considering Jackson would solve their deep-threat problem -- at least in the short term -- it wouldn’t be surprising if the Eagles jumped into the mix.
What’s the plan for Wentz? This is a big offseason for Wentz. The coaching staff has identified some mechanical flaws. One of them, as ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski pointed out, is a tendency to “drop the ball” toward his lower body post-snap, which lengthens his delivery. They’ll likely try to quicken his stroke before next September. Both parties are limited in what they can do during the season. Adjustments will be hammered out over the next handful of months. The physical ability and football IQ are there. Now comes the process of refining his skills.