Ed. Note: "Hi, friends! My name is Alexis Chassen (@LovelyBuckeye). I've spent years covering Ohio State football and the NFL, and have spent a good amount of time at Pro Day workouts and the NFL Combine. I'm a lifelong Eagles fan despite living in Ohio, and can't wait to officially help cover the team this season."
"We don't rebuild, we reload." ... Well, except in Philadelphia, and in 2016.
It's pretty close to official at this point that with a new head coach and new front office responsibilities for Howie Roseman, the Eagles are heading into a full-on rebuilding season.
This wasn't always the assumption heading into the preseason. Fans expected a mediocre season led by Sam Bradford, en route to a trained and prepped Carson Wentz takeover in 2017. It wasn't going to be pretty, but it was going to be predictable and fine. Just a few days ahead of the regular season kickoff, this is no longer the case.
The Vikings lost their quarterback to a knee problem that made Bradford's look insignificant and almost on cue reached out to the Eagles to explore their options. Said to be stubborn and direct, Howie Roseman wanted a first round pick -- the team didn't need to get rid of Bradford, they already accepted the sting of his $11 million deal, and were perfectly fine keeping the former Ram on roster in 2016. The surprising part of the story is that the Vikings accepted the deal. With a first round pick in 2017 and a possible fourth rounder in 2018, the Eagles' starting quarterback was on his way to a new team less than a week before the start of the season.
As football fans across the country were settling in for the start of the 2016 college football season, Eagles fans were wondering what the new depth chart would look like and whether Wentz would jump Daniel or if the token "backup" would finally get a chance as a starter. It wasn't long before the rookie, the overall No. 2 pick, the quarterback from North Dakota who cost the Eagles roughly five draft picks, was handed the reins to the offense and listed as the official starter -- the first Eagles rookie quarterback to start Week 1 in the modern era.
Eagles fans had only two days to digest that the 2016 season will be in the hands of a guy who only played in one preseason game due to injury, because Roseman kept making moves. They were, once again, moves that clearly supported the rebuild.
Wednesday, it was made official that former second round pick CB Eric Rowe was headed to the Patriots for a conditional 2018 draft pick. Roseman got yet another draft pick for a player who wasn't garnering much love from the coaching staff in an effort to build toward the future.
In the past week, the team has gone from coasting through the 2016 season with at least a tolerable record and a young quarterback ready to take over, to handing it over right now and hoping he can manage to drink from a fire-hose. Wentz will no doubt hit the books hard ahead of his Sunday debut against the Browns, but there is no replacing game experience, which he lacks by the truck load.
Roseman seemingly mortgaged the future of the Eagles when he made the landmark trade with the Browns ahead of the 2016 NFL Draft. There was no doubt he wanted a quarterback, and was willing to give up the farm to get it -- which included three draft picks in 2016 and one in both 2017 and 2018. With the never-ending list of trades the GM has made since then, Roseman has collected eight picks in 2017 and eight in 2018 -- enough to load the offense with skill players for the next decade (if done right).
Before the Sam Bradford trade, I would've contended that the season was more of a reload than rebuild. Most of the team's key players were still in the lineup, and despite releasing Chip Kelly personnel at an impressive rate, the team retained most, if not all, of the "core" players with new contracts in the offseason.
Fast forward less than a week, and the team's narrative has shifted.
The roster and coaching staff is now younger, newer and far more inexperienced than it was a week ago, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Eagles fans just might need to accept whatever comes in 2016, warts and all, and hope it all builds to a greater 2017 and beyond.