2020, the year that felt like a decade, is finally over. No one will miss it. Everything about it sucked, and the Eagles were no exception. From start to finish, this was a miserable calendar year.
The awfulness of 2020 started with the end of the 2019 season in January. The playoff game against the Seahawks was winnable, the defense held the Seahawks to just 17 points. But a cheapshot hit by Jadevon Clowney knocked Carson Wentz out with a concussion; and Josh McCown, who was a high school coach when training camp started, unsurprisingly wasn’t enough. The year never got better.
The Eagles couldn’t even fire people correctly. The decision to move on from offensive coordinator Mike Groh, who was in over his head, and WR coach Carson Walch, who did nothing to improve his players, was justifiable, but it was handled horribly. In his end of the season press conference Doug Pederson was asked directly about the status of Groh and Walch and said both would be back. The next day, they were fired. Pederson’s lack of say over running the team is a theme that would recur as the season progressed.
It got even messier when it came time to fill the coaching voids. Aaron Morehead was hired as the WR coach, but to fill Groh’s position the team went with a college of coaches. Spoiler alert, the offense sucked. Quarterbacks coach Press Taylor was given the additional title of passing game coordinator. Former Broncos offensive coordinator and 49ers QB coach Rich Scangarello was hired as a “senior offensive assistant”. Marty Mornhinweg was brought in as a “senior offensive consultant”. Mississippi State QB coach Andrew Brenier was named “passing game analyst”. No one was hired as the offensive coordinator. That’s a lot of voices on a team where the head coach’s own voice has gotten drowned out from above.
From above, the team did itself no favors with its offseason player acquisitions.
The team released Malcolm Jenkins, which on its own would be fitting for 2020, and decided the best way to replace their stellar player and team leader was with a guy who hasn’t played the position before in Jalen Mills. Mills hasn’t been bad, one of the few things about 2020 that didn’t go sour, but the team had no real plan B if that didn’t work, a recurring theme under Howie Roseman. The team brought in Denver backup Will Parks, who was cut during the season; drafted K’Von Wallace, who barely saw the field until Parks was cut; and inconsistently played Marcus Epps. Sounds a lot like when the Eagles released Brian Dawkins and went through multiple players to replace him the next season, to say nothing of the years that followed. The only significant free agent signing was Javon Hargrave, who spent most of the season being terrible.
On offense what the Eagles really needed was a dependable receiver both in terms of on the field play and being able to be on the field to play. They did nothing to address this. Sure, they could have traded for DeAndre Hopkins or Stefon Diggs, but Howie Roseman apparently knows better. The only veteran receiver the Eagles acquired was Marquise Goodwin, a role player who in seven seasons has played 16 games just once. He opted out of the season. In the draft they added three receivers, but none of them have been reliably on the field or reliable on the field.
The rest of the draft wasn’t much better.
Overreacting to previous drafts that favored college production over athleticism, the Eagles drafted a bunch of high ceiling athletes with low floors. Davion Taylor didn’t play football in high school and Prince Tega Wanogho only played for one year. John Hightower played two seasons at a community college. There’s nothing wrong with a project player, but the Eagles 2020 draft theme seemed to be “best project player available.”
It certainly wasn’t best player available. With Justin Jefferson on the board, who both Eagles fans and Eagles scouts wanted, Howie Roseman drafted Jalen Reagor.
And then there’s Jalen Hurts. The jury is still out on if Hurts is a quality QB, and with it a good pick. What isn’t in question is that it started a downward spiral in the confidence in and with Carson Wentz, the ramifications of which we haven’t even begun to see.
We haven’t even gotten to the season. Before the Eagles got to it, there was the adventure of Jason Peters coming back as a guard, then not agreeing to move back to tackle unless he got paid more, which the Eagles agreed to, and then he wound up back at guard anyway. Before getting hurt again.
So yeah, the season.
It started with blowing a 17 point lead against The Football Team Formerly Known As The Washington Redskins. There was a tie with the Bengals. Again. An eight game winning streak vs the Giants ended. The defense got three turnovers and the offense gave up none to the Cardinals, and lost. In seven games the Eagles gave up at least 5 sacks.
Carson Wentz led the league in just about everything you don’t want a QB to lead in. The lead up to him being benched felt dragged out and almost like Doug Pederson didn’t get final say, much like the coaching change fiasco.
Travis Fulgham was the hottest receiver in the league for a few weeks, then the coaches put him into witness protection. Howie Roseman got into an argument with Zach Ertz, who has played like crap. Jake Elliott has missed two of his three kicks from inside 30 yards. Through injuries the offensive line has had a different configuration in nearly every game. No offense to Nate Herbig but Nate Herbig is 2nd on the offense in snaps played. Greg Ward leads the team in receptions, he is 125th in the league in yards per reception. The guy drafted with the 3rd round pick the Eagles gave up for Darius Slay has more interceptions than Darius Slay.
And if they lose to the Football Team, they’ll finish last in the worst division the NFL has ever seen. I’m certain I have forgotten other gems from The Year From Hell, but do we really need to be reminded of it?
So good riddance to 2020, and welcome 2021. Until someone you don’t want to get fired gets fired and someone you want to get fired doesn’t get fired. And a player you want to stay gets cut, and a player you want to go gets a contract extension.