The Philadelphia Eagles are 5-7, and the prevalent feeling is that they shouldn’t be. Surprisingly, this may come down to the absence of several key figures in the wake of Philly’s huge 2017 Super Bowl upset.
Quarterback Nick Foles led the Eagles’ offense to a 41-33 shocker over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. This was an undeniable underdog masterpiece from a backup quarterback. But Foles’ struggles as the mainline QB in Jacksonville are apparent.
It’s the loss of two coaches, rather than players, that may explain the missing gusto in the 2019 Eagles’ performance so far.
Why two crucial coaches left after a huge Super Bowl win
The 2017 Super Bowl was a shocker to the football world, Eagles fans included. Backup QBs shouldn’t beat Brady. A second-year head coach in Doug Pederson shouldn’t beat an experienced mastermind like Bill Belichick in the most important game of the year. But it happened.
Unfortunately, when the natural order is upset in such a notable way, the winning underdogs get picked over for parts by the rest of the league. The 2017 Eagles were no exception. Among the most crucial pieces of that delicate machine were offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.
The offense had the greatest impact on the Eagles’ championship win. Many observers assumed Reich would find a promotion by joining another team for a bigger job. DeFilippo was expected to stick around and take the in-house promotion to Reich’s job. Instead, both found lucrative offers elsewhere.
Reich and DeFilippo after the Eagles
Frank Reich got an offer he couldn’t possibly refuse: the head coach spot with the Indianapolis Colts. His 16-13 overall record there isn’t explosive. It is still a major improvement over his predecessor Chuck Pagano, who had a dismal 4-12 record before moving on.
That dismal year was easy to blame on the unavailability of starting QB Andrew Luck. Reich famously lost Luck to early retirement at the beginning of this season, and he turned in better results anyway. A losing record is still a losing record. But Reich’s impact on a team reeling from the loss of a great QB can’t be undervalued.
There’s also something to be said for keeping the band together. DeFilippo’s post-Eagles career is much less successful. He declined to take Reich’s vacant position, moving to the Minnesota Vikings. Then, in Week 14, DeFilippo lost his job after the offense failed to show much life in a 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
DeFilippo recovered by taking the offensive coordinator job with the Jacksonville Jaguars. His reunion with Nick Foles hasn’t recaptured the magic of their winning Eagles run. The 4-9 team bounces back and forth between Foles and Gardner Minshew, with limited success.
The Eagles’ struggles after losing Reich and DeFilippo
The minds most responsible for the offense that beat the Patriots got poached. Their absence for the 5-7 Eagles is clearly felt today.
Pederson openly laments his squad’s inconsistent play week-to-week. Rumblings over changes in the offensive coaching staff were constant in 2018, but winning five of six games changed the conversation. But the 2019 Eagles look like they needed those moves back then.
The Eagles benefit from the weak NFC East. When the top team is the Dallas Cowboys, who also have a losing record and are licking their wounds from a three-game slide, clearly there is an opportunity. Pederson, however, looks ahead of the regular season. These deeply inconsistent performances are not the makings of a playoff run.
Reich, DeFilippo, and Pederson added up to their players outperforming expectations. The Eagles are unlikely to make staffing changes this year. Looking ahead to 2020, it’s this proven formula that they’ll need to recapture.