2017 was a miracle season for the Philadelphia Eagles. 2018 seemed to be somewhat of a Super Bowl hangover. What really went wrong though?
Around this time last year, everybody could hardly wait for the defending Super Bowl champions to take the field for training camp. This year though, nobody can wait for the team that is trying to climb back into the top of the NFC. Although the Philadelphia Eagles still managed to make the playoffs in 2018, they didn’t quite live up to the expectations heading into the year.
Obviously, going for a Super Bowl repeat is a tough task. But the Eagles had the tools to do so in 2018. Unfortunately, they just didn’t seem to use everything correctly. And not only that but the Eagles also lost a ton of prominent players to injuries once again. Except this time around, they didn’t rally as hard and ended up getting defeated on the road during the divisional round.
For a while, Philly fans couldn’t get over the fact that if Alshon Jeffery catches that ball against the Saints, then it was likely the Eagles were going to the NFC Championship and potentially beating the Rams. The “what if” scenario could be true, but at the same time, the Eagles were lucky enough to be where they were in the first place.
The team that everybody saw in 2018 was far from the same team in 2017. Some say they were missing key pieces such as LeGarrette Blount, Trey Burton, and Torrey Smith. Others believe that the loss of Frank Reich was a major deal. But what does Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson think?
Pederson offers his two cents on last season:
On Friday, Doug Pederson met with the media to discuss this past spring and the upcoming training camp sessions. However, he ended up talking last season as well. As Pederson acknowledged the Eagles slow start to the 2018 season, he went into further detail explaining what he believes went wrong for them last year, according to Zack Rosenblatt.
"“Obviously each season is a little bit different and as you know we were blessed to play all the way to the Super Bowl in February of ’18 and that takes a little toll out of your football team and we didn’t have … we weren’t 100 percent full strength going into the regular season. We started with some of our role players, some of our backup guys and you know, it’s just hard to really get off on the right foot …As the season went along, we kind of caught our stride with it. Then we started losing more and more [players] especially on the defensive side … offensively we started slow. We would drive, start the game and we’d have a turnover or penalty. Something negative would happen and that cost us points to start games. We didn’t start games quite as fast as 2017.”"
Last year, the Eagles were one of the most injured teams in the NFL. There were times where a backup’s backup had to play just because the injuries were nonstop. The next man up mentality was there, but it got to a point where it didn’t even matter. Any team who suffers that amount of losses would typically roll over and call it quits. Pederson and the Eagles, however, turned their year into a late-season rally to make the playoffs.
By no means was it perfect. The Eagles clearly had some major upgrades to make for 2019 in order to improve their team, and they ended up doing so thanks to Howie Roseman and the rest of the front office. On paper, the Eagles may be the most talented team Pederson has ever coached during his years as a head coach. Now, he just needs to ensure they perform to the best of their ability by eliminating the slow starts from last season.