The Philadelphia Eagles haven't made the NFL playoffs since the 2013 season. There are a number of those who don't believe that drought will end this year. The Eagles have the worst odds to win the division. Some outlets rank the Eagles as low as the third worst team in the NFL because they have one of the league's worst offenses.
Optimism isn't high as the Birds come off a disappointing 7-9 campaign in 2015 that led to the dismissal of Chip Kelly and the reinstatement of Howie Roseman. Speaking of the team's vice president of executive football operations, even Roseman seems to be honest about the Eagles' 2016 outlook. Here's what Roseman had to say when 94WIP's Angelo Cataldi asked him if the Eagles have a playoff caliber roster.
"I don’t know," said Roseman after a heavy sigh. "I think that we’ve got to get into training camp, we’ve got to get into the season. Injuries play a huge role in what we’re doing. I think this is going to be an extremely competitive camp. I think we have some talented pieces, but I can’t tell you I’ve [sat] here and evaluated, gone through the schedule and gone ‘I think we’re going to win this game, we’re going to lose this game.’"
"When you’re in the offseason, you’re in building mode. And right now that’s what we’ve been in, is building and trying to get some building blocks in place so we can have a team going forward that’s competing every year."
It's no secret that the Eagles have had a long-term focus in mind this offseason. They've spent the most guaranteed money in the NFL this offseason by far ($280 million). Those dollars have been spent on building a core of mostly young players.
The biggest signal that the Eagles are in long-term building mode is the addition of Carson Wentz. The Eagles obviously feel like he's going to be their franchise quarterback for years to come. So far, Roseman has been really impressed by the rookie passer.
"Every day, he makes a play that makes you go ‘Wow,'" said Roseman. "He’s got that set of physical tools. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s athletic. I think that’s kind of the funny thing, you sit around and watch him in practice, and all of a sudden he takes off and runs and you go ‘Oh yeah, he can do that too.’ So it’s exciting. I think the plan [to bring him along slowly] is really good."
Building for the long-term isn't a bad idea. But given the level of high parity in the NFL, the short-term can't be so easily dismissed. The reality is that the weak NFC East is up for grabs. The 2015 champion Washington Redskins didn't beat a team with a winning record all year. The New York Giants are bad and the Eagles are 13-3 against them in their last 16 games. The Dallas Cowboys went 4-12 and didn't even look great when Tony Romo was actually healthy.
So while it's tempting to hand over the reigns to Wentz right away, the Birds want to be patient with his development and try to compete with Sam Bradford in the short-term. Roseman praised the performance of his veteran quarterbacks.
"I also felt like Sam [Bradford] had a tremendous minicamp," he said. "He had a really good offseason. And Chase [Daniel] looks really good. He has such good knowledge of this offense. So obviously we’re sitting here in June, but when you look at that position right now and kind of circle back to where we were in January, it’s exciting to think about where we could be at the most important position in maybe [all] of sports."
The Eagles didn't just invest a lot of resources into quarterbacks this offseason. The organization also put a big emphasis on hiring coaches to develop those quarterbacks. Doug Pederson was obviously the biggest hire, and it remains to be seen how he fares as a rookie head coach. Pederson is really one of the biggest question marks on the team heading into this season.
"He’s got a tremendous communication and leadership style," Roseman said. "He’s always coaching up guys, always talking to guys. He’s got great energy and enthusiasm. He surrounded himself with a great staff. A great staff of coaches that work really well together. It’s been really positive. It’s been a fun atmosphere. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot of work to do, but I think we’re heading in the right direction."
Philadelphia very well might be headed in the right direction. They also might even have a shot to win a weak division this year. With that said, it's hardly a certainty. They have a number of roster holes, especially on offense. The Birds could easily be a bad team. Roseman's tempered answer when talking about the Eagles' playoff chances is definitely justified.