Where does your squad stand in 2023? Adam Rank sets the table by providing a State of the Franchise look at all 32 teams, zeroing in on the key figures to watch and setting the stakes for the season to come.
Members of the Eagles organization, Eagles fans around the world and those who believe you should just let the teams play in the final moments of the Super Bowl ...
The Eagles were mere minutes from capturing the second Super Bowl title in club history, only to fall just short. Kind of a common theme when it comes to Philadelphia sports these days, if you're picking up what I'm putting down -- but let's not lose focus on the fact that this team looks as good as it has in, well, forever. The Eagles have a fine young coach, a budding superstar at quarterback, a general manager who's out there making brilliant moves seemingly every other day. There is a lot to be excited about.
One high from last season: Basically the whole year. The Eagles won the NFC and returned to the Super Bowl for the first time since claiming the Lombardi Trophy five years prior. And Jalen Hurts was named league MVP. He was, right? No, wait -- that was Patrick Mahomes, the quarterback Philly was beating by 10 points through the first two quarters of Super Bowl LVII.
One low from last season: Basically everything that followed the Super Bowl halftime show. The Chiefs scored on the opening drive of the second half, and the unpleasantness never really let up after that. The final blow was James Bradberry's defensive penalty on third-and-8 with less than two minutes to play, which enabled Kansas City to run down the clock before booting a game-winning field goal. Even though Bradberry himself admitted his culpability, the penalty would go on to be the most hotly contested topic in Philadelphia until Doc Rivers somehow managed to squander a 3-2 series lead for the 76ers in the NBA playoffs. Don't worry, though, Philly fans: Things are looking good on the gridiron once again in 2023.
Quarterback: Jalen Hurts. You don't have to pretend that you've been on the Jalen Hype Train since Day 1, like I have. But I understand the impulse, the way Hurts put his doubters in their place. (They've all moved on to questioning Justin Fields.) He just inked a massive extension. Nobody questions Jalen anymore, save for a few haters. And kickers for the 49ers.
Interestingly, there's still room for the 24-year-old fourth-year pro to grow into his role as a quarterback. He's not a finished product. And he's coming off a season in which he won Offensive Player of the Year! Oh, damn, that was actually Justin Jefferson. Come on, people. (Seriously, if Hurts hadn't missed a few games toward the end of the regular season, I feel like he would have been a lock for OPOY. I really do.)
Projected 2023 MVP: Hurts. When the Eagles traded for Gardner Minshew in August of 2021, it was possible to view Minshew as an insurance policy in case Hurts didn't make the leap. Spoiler alert: He made the leap. Now, Minshew is gone, replaced by Marcus Mariota, who knows exactly where he stands on the depth chart. This team will go as far as Hurts can take it.
New face to know: Jalen Carter, defensive tackle. One of the biggest stories in the 2023 NFL Draft was the Eagles' selection of Carter at No. 9. Carter was considered one of the top talents in the class, but he faced off-the-field issues in the run-up to the draft, pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing related to a fatal car crash.
To me, the Eagles' decision to trade up one slot for the No. 9 overall pick -- making the move with the Bears so they could take Carter -- made plenty of sense. They are loaded with veteran leadership. Compared to a rebuilding team like Chicago, Philadelphia has a foundation that should help Carter flourish, especially with Fletcher Cox back in the fold.
2023 breakout star: Jordan Davis, defensive tackle. The Eagles drafted Davis 13th overall last year knowing they only had one more season left with Javon Hargrave under contract. Davis played alongside Hargrave and established himself as one of the best run-stuffers on a pretty good defensive line before landing on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain in early November. After his return, he logged four tackles in six regular-season games and four more in three playoff contests. Like Carter, his former Georgia teammate, Davis has a lot to prove this season.
|Special teams coordinator
- I understood the skepticism that met Sirianni's introductory press conference after he was hired in January of 2021. Hell, I was skeptical. It was brutal, like somebody-doing-an-open-mic-for-the-first-time bad. But the dude seems to have proven himself a pretty good coach over the past two seasons. (OK, this is Philadelphia we're talking about; I'm sure there is some portion of the fan base that thinks he's not good. Most rational people probably think Sirianni is rock solid.) We're now approaching one of the most important moments of his tenure. He's shown he can get the team to the Super Bowl; now it's time to finish the job. Sean McVay took the Rams to the Super Bowl in Year 2, got schooled by Bill Belichick, was the better for it, then eventually won the whole thing. Sirianni knows what he has to do.
- If you're an NFL general manager and you see Roseman calling you, you might not want to answer the phone. Here's how it works: The Eagles make a move, and suddenly, the word "fleeced" starts trending on Twitter. Howie's on quite a hot streak of late. From the selection of Hurts in Round 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft to the trade for A.J. Brown last year to what he's already accomplished this year, he's clearly one of the top GMs in sports right now.
- Johnson and Desai are both new to their respective titles, replacing Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon, who received head-coaching gigs this offseason. Steichen helped Hurts get over the hump while orchestrating an offense that ranked third in both points and yards. Johnson has big shoes to fill after being promoted from the position of quarterbacks coach. But while Johnson might not be a household name, he and Hurts go back -- like, way back. He had plenty to do with Hurts' development, too, and it's definitely not a bad thing for your quarterback to see his new coordinator as someone who's "going to be a star one day."
- I don't think Desai was given enough of a shot in the one year he spent as Chicago's defensive coordinator (2021), though it made sense for the Bears to start fresh after the Matt Nagy era. Desai's unit has some questions, which I'll get into more below, but he said he wants "to make sure people feel this Philadelphia Eagles defense" -- and I feel that.
Below is a rundown of the Eagles' most notable roster developments for the 2023 season, including this year's draft class, as well as key acquisitions and departures via free agency and trade.
|Draft class (round-pick)
|Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia (1-9)
|Marcus Mariota, QB
|Miles Sanders, RB
|Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia (1-30)
|Rashaad Penny, RB
|Isaac Seumalo, OG
|Tyler Steen, OL, Alabama (3-65)
|D'Andre Swift, RB
|Javon Hargrave, DL
|Sydney Brown, S, Illinois (3-66)
|Olamide Zaccheaus, WR
|T.J. Edwards, LB
|Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (4-105)
|Nicholas Morrow, LB
|Kyzir White, LB
|Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford (6-188)
|Greedy Williams, CB
|Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S
|Moro Ojomo, DT, Texas (7-249)
|Terrell Edmunds, S
|Marcus Epps, S
Three key dates:
- Week 11 at Kansas City Chiefs (Monday night). The Super Bowl LVII rematch in Kansas City is going to be featured on Monday Night Football. Both teams are expected to be at the top of their respective conferences once again. Let's go.
- Week 13 vs. San Francisco 49ers. You know, the 49ers have talked a lot of trash about the Eagles, with Deebo Samuel asserting the Niners only lost to them in the NFC title game because all of San Francisco's quarterbacks were injured. I'm not sure I buy that. The Eagles didn't have to exert much effort. Cry harder, 49ers.
- Week 16 vs. New York Giants (Monday). The Eagles have a pretty brutal schedule after their Week 10 bye, including games against some of the best teams in the league, plus a showdown with the Cowboys in Dallas. This Christmas Day matchup against the Giants should be a doozy.
Will the Eagles be able to ...
... keep the ball rolling on offense? I mean, it's a fair question, with Steichen gone. There's also the matter of replacing Miles Sanders at running back and Isaac Seumalo at right guard. But we already know Hurts believes in Johnson. And the Eagles are still loaded with talent, including Hurts, Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. The biggest boon was when center Jason Kelce announced he was returning to the Birds. I ran into Jason during his Broadcast Bootcamp here at NFL Network. Dude was pretty impressive. The Eagles are lucky he's coming back.
... avoid the Super Bowl losers' hangover? I don't think it's really a thing. Of the 10 Super Bowl losers between the 2012 and 2021 seasons, eight posted a winning record in the ensuing campaign, with seven notching double-digit wins. Only three missed the playoffs. Hell, the Patriots won it all one year after losing to the Eagles. This talking point is kind of now just reserved for people on fantasy football radio shows, or maybe someone who put a few too many back at the bar. Let it go.
One storyline ...
... people shouldn't overlook: There are a ton of new faces on this defense. We've already talked about Desai stepping in for Gannon. The Eagles will also be without Hargrave, linebackers T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White and safeties C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps. Those guys logged a whole bunch of snaps last season. But Philly did retain cornerbacks Bradberry and Darius Slay. Cox and Brandon Graham's re-signings help maintain stability on the defensive line, while also providing valuable leadership for the youngsters like Carter. And the Eagles signed former Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds. Philly's D should still be very good.
... people shouldn't overthink: The whole loading-up-on-Georgia-Bulldogs thing. Last year, they drafted Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean. In the first round this year, the Eagles landed Carter and Nolan Smith, a crazy athlete who garnered a lot of buzz at the NFL Scouting Combine. Some thought Philadelphia could have taken Smith at No. 10 overall, so snagging him at No. 30 was a coup. Then the Eagles drafted cornerback Kelee Ringo in Round 4 and traded for veteran running back D'Andre Swift, bringing the total number of Georgia products on the roster to six. This concentration of Bulldogs makes for some great quotes, but to me, it's more about the quality of prospects that come out of that program than anything else.
For 2023 to be a success, the Eagles MUST:
- Win the Super Bowl. Is that too much? Am I putting too much pressure on the Eagles? I did mention earlier that there is no such thing as the Super Bowl hangover for the losing team anymore. I'm thinking a Super Bowl win is the most reasonable goal for this team this season.