The Eagles 26-24 loss to the Saints was a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly on Saturday night. While the Eagles held the lead going into halftime and with less than three seconds remaining in the game, Philadelphia clearly is missing some talent in key areas of the team. All three phases of the team need alterations, but can be easily fixed in one summer, after the current group excelled this season.
Philadelphia struggled on special teams with the a lack of strong kickoffs and a missed goal by kicker Alex Henery, quarterback Nick Foles was forced to hold onto the ball too long at times due to his main options being covered and safety Patrick Chung (once again) allowed a few big plays in the secondary. These are all fixable problems with an upgrade in talent and coaching. Here is a look at the problems that were highlighted in Saturday's loss:
Clear lack of pass rush: The Eagles had two sacks in the game, but both came on Drew Brees attempted scrambles after holding onto the ball for several seconds. The defensive line failed to really finish, which has been all-too-familiar this season. Nose tackle Bennie Logan looked gassed the entire second half, Fletcher Cox failed to move his man (or men) and Cedric Thornton struggled. Along with the line, the linebackers failed to get much going in the pass rush.
The Eagles absolutely need to address this in the draft and in free agency. There is not a guy on this roster that clearly can be relied on get to 10-12 sacks a season. Whether it is looking at a veteran like Brian Orakpo or Shaun Phillips or even a rookie like Clemson's Vic Beasley or Missouri's Kony Ealy, Philadelphia has to upgrade the position.
Lack of a third wide receiver: Chip Kelly likes three-wide receiver sets, but really does not have the talent to make the juice worth the squeeze. While DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper have been extremely productive, Jason Avant (at this point in his career) is one of the slowest wide receivers in the league. Still, he receives starter snaps and has yet to provide consistent plays and get open. That slows down Foles' reads and creates issues when it comes to getting the ball out of his hands. Jeff Maehl and Damaris Johnson are not good enough either.
The Eagles need to make wide receiver a priority this offseason. Whether it's a draft pick in the first three rounds or a veteran free agent, Foles and Jackson need help. There is the decision of re-signing Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, as well upgrading the depth around them. Avant is likely gone, despite being a great locker room leader.
The safety position is not safe: Chung has constantly been beaten this season for big gains. The guy is so bad that fans and media clamored for inconsistent rookie Earl Wolff all season. Nate Allen has also slowed down in recent weeks.
Chung should be gone and there is still some mystery surrounding Allen's future. Neither safety spot was required to do much in coverage, so it is safe to say that could change with upgraded talent. Safety play across the league has been awful, so it is not like there are a ton of options. Obviously, Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward are free agents and there is also Alabama's HaHa Clinton-Dix and Washington State's Deone Bucannon in the draft. This position is a must in the offseason.
We want touchbacks and less-predictable field goal misses: Touchbacks and field goals have been rough on Henery this season. Unfortunately for him, those are his only two jobs. Henery secured just one touchback (weak kick, solid coverage) on Saturday night and missed a 48-yard field goal with literally no wind. He clearly lacks a big leg and has failed to consistently make kicks when it matters.
While he should not be cut out-right, there has be competition. Seattle's Steven Hauschka and New York's Nick Folk are both coming off solid seasons and will be free agents. The top kicker in the draft will likely be either Anthony Fera of Texas or Chris Boswell of Rice. Those four guys should be obtainable and one could/should be brought in to upgrade the position.