If you could, in your mind’s eye, draw up the perfect off-season, you would have to say Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles did just that.
There’s no question the Birds overachieved last year. Coming off a 12-loss disaster of a season, they somehow managed to win 9 games against a favorable schedule and reached the postseason. It was certainly more than anyone expected. But as they trudged off the field following their 31-15 loss to Tampa in the playoffs, they did so knowing there were a number of issues that needed to be addressed heading into the 2022 season.
They were, in no particular order:
- Potentially upgrade from Jalen Hurts at QB
- Acquire another game-changing wide receiver
- Get at least one premier pass rusher
- Bring in a legitimate CB2
- Improve their linebacking corps
- Upgrade at safety
That’s quite a lot to ask of one team in one off-season and yet, Howie Roseman emphatically did everything on his list but one.
- Traded for A.J. Brown and signed Zach Pascal
- Signed linebacker/edge rusher Haason Reddick to a 3-year, $45 million contract and drafted Jordan Davis to upgrade the defensive tackle position.
- Signed James Bradberry to a one-year contract.
- Signed Kyzir White and drafted Nakobe Dean.
- Traded for Chauncey Gardner-Johnson from New Orleans
Whereas the Eagles’ roster was once littered with holes, suddenly the 2022 Eagles look like one of the most complete teams in the NFL.
The addition of Gardner-Johnson to the safety group leaves head coach Nick Sirianni with no obvious weakness. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, if healthy, should provide plenty of production out of the backfield. Dallas Goedert is a premier pass-catching tight end. The offensive line is the best in the NFL. Brandon Graham returns to a front four that figures to be one of the strongest in the league. The linebacker room suddenly is filled with playmakers, and the cornerback trio of Darius Dlay, Bradberry and Avonte Maddox is one of the best around.
Suddenly, Jonathan Gannon’s defense has the ability to be dynamic, aggressive and confounding to opposing offenses. The O-line can pass block and run block with the best of them, and there are a ton of playmakers at the offensive skill positions.
The only real question mark remains Jalen Hurts under center. No one is sure if he’s going to be the long-term answer at quarterback, but one has to wonder if the 2022 Eagles are so good around him that they no longer need him to be a Pro Bowl caliber thrower in order to make a deep playoff run or, dare we speak it out loud, a Super Bowl team.
Even if Hurts is largely the same player he was last year, the improvement at wide receiver should be enough to make the passing game dangerous. He’s always going to be a threat to run the ball, so as long as he doesn’t succumb to turnovers, it’s likely the offense is going to be pretty good.
The defense is where the drastic improvement has taken place over the last couple months. On paper, it is radically different from last year’s passive group that allowed good quarterbacks to move the ball on them at will. This should be a unit that pressures opposing QBs, stuffs the run game, and creates turnovers, giving Hurts short fields and more possessions.
Howie Roseman was able to do all this because Hurts is on a rookie contract, allowing him to fill other spots on the roster with bigger-money, high-quality players. And while Hurts’ future is still up in the air, it sure looks like the Eagles once-maligned general manager has assembled a roster that rivals the 2017 squad that won it all.
A roster that doesn’t need Jalen Hurts to be a superstar.