And so it ends- the Eagles run as Super Bowl Champions is over. They played a reasonably good game in a 20-14 loss at New Orleans- especially the defense- but they came up a little short. The Eagles mistakes hurt a little more, their injuries exposed their lack of depth a little more, the bye and home field ultimately played up just a little more. Could the Eagles have won? Possibly. Would they have won in Philadelphia? Probably. This is why you play the season though. The Saints earned the advantages they had. The Eagles didn’t.
This team went 10-8, 9-7 in the regular season in the year after a Super Bowl win. They came up just short very often. There was the horrible collapses against Tennessee and Carolina, the bad start in Tampa, the letdown against Minnesota, the two near misses against Dallas, and of course both New Orleans losses. One can very easily revisit this season and see the Eagles being 13-3 in the regular season, and last year they would have been. Sure, they won some tight ones too- Indianapolis, the comeback against the Giants, and tough wins against the Rams and Texans late. They also easily could have lost in the Wild Card round and felt further away.
There’s a lot of reasons to be positive and hopeful about the Eagles. They should have been better than 9-7. They had really solid wins over the Rams, Colts, Texans, and Bears this year- all playoff teams. Carson Wentz will be 21 months removed from his major knee injury, and get a full off-season of practice time- two things he lacked in 2018. Ertz, Jeffery, Johnson, Cox, and Jernigan are just some of the key players who will almost certainly be back in 2019, and still be very good. Doug Pederson is still an elite coach. This team is a good draft and a few free agents from being back in the Super Bowl. No one in the NFC is that far ahead of them.
Of course, don’t get over confident. The Eagles offensive line is in shambles- Peters is probably done here, Brooks could miss next season now, and Kelce may retire. They need a real #2 wide receiver and a horse of a starting quarterback. The secondary was ravaged by injury, and has question marks moving forward. The linebackers need upgrades. Brandon Graham leaving and Chris Long maybe retiring would leave the defensive front light on depth. There are real questions for this off-season.
It’s been a lot of fun to watch though. The defending champs never quit, even at 4-6, even when the division was gone. They fought to the end.
Fly Eagles, fly.