There is no way to sugarcoat one’s way around the Super Bowl 57 fallout. The Philadelphia Eagles fumbled the bag. But unlike Jalen Hurts’ fumble, which curiously was not the result of a massive hit, the Eagles’ were hit by a flurry of blows by a professional puncher.
Although Rocky Balboa hails from the City of Brotherly Love, it is the Kansas City Chiefs that best represent the Southpaw. While the Chiefs certainly aren’t some plucky underdogs, Patrick Mahomes and the gang almost prefer to take punches early on before delivering enough shots to the body late in games to win the fight in the end.
It was the Eagles who represented Ivan Drago. They were a unit so powerful and talented that they brutalized their previous playoff opponents. But the Eagles were not at fault. They did not collapse. They were the second-best team in the NFL, and they played a competitive game against the league’s best.
This wasn’t 28-3. The Chiefs simply beat them. But if the city of Philadelphia can take solace in anything, it is that Hurts is a franchise QB. Hurts is someone the Eagles can build around. He is every bit the leader he’s always represented, dating back to his days at Alabama. And he’s only getting better.
But while the future is bright for the Eagles, there is no guarantee that they’ll reach the pinnacle of professional football again during Hurts’ career in Philadelphia. And once they pay him, it will likely be impossible, even for mad genius Howie Roseman to surround him with the level of talent the 2022-2023 Eagles possessed.
And that’s only the start of their troubles.
Super Bowl 57 Fallout
The Eagles felt like a team of destiny. With every move Roseman made, he seemingly struck gold. NFL heel Nick Sirianni put together an all-star staff with the likes of Shane Steichen, Jonathan Gannon, and a slew of impressive position coaches. They faced an easy schedule in the regular season and followed that up with the easiest path we’ve ever seen paved on their way to a Super Bowl appearance.
And when they arrived, the moment didn’t look too big for them.
Philadelphia’s veteran offensive line had been here before. Fletcher Cox anchored the Eagles’ defense in their 2017 run, a season in which they lost their starting QB and still found themselves holding the Lombardi Trophy. The Eagles’ dream team did their job, but they ran into the buzzsaw that is the Chiefs quarterback.
Losing Precious Pieces
Steichen is rumored to be the Colts’ next head coach. Gannon is one of the favorites for the Arizona Cardinals’ head coaching job. The defense that Roseman constructed is full of unrestricted free agents, and Hurts is entering Year 4 — and likely won’t take another snap for Philadelphia before acquiring a quarter-million-dollar deal.
The cap consequences of that won’t be felt in full for a few more seasons, but the organization needs to figure out how they want to proceed.
It won’t be easy to replace Steichen, who’s partially responsible for Justin Herbert’s incredible rookie season and now a revolutionary offensive attack that forces opponents to defend more gaps than is physically possible. If Gannon leaves, the Eagles will lose a coordinator that coached one of the more responsible match-zone teams in the league.
Furthermore, if those two leave, they’ll likely take with them a few more coaches to form their new coaching staffs away from Philadelphia.
Sirianni must replace those pieces. Roseman must replace talented veterans on the defensive side of the football. And Jason Kelce might fully transition from professional blocker to professional podcaster.
Roseman will continue to throw haymakers to try and retool the roster for another big playoff push next season, but can he possibly find the same success rate this offseason?
It may seem like Roseman just throws money and assets at problems in hope that they disappear, but he’s far more cunning than that. Losing Kelce, an Eagles legend, will be a significant loss. However, Roseman has drafted Landon Dickerson and Cam Jurgens in consecutive seasons, and their presence helps soften the blow.
Building the trenches has always been Roseman’s goal, but things have seemingly progressed beyond that. Defensive production from season to season is far less sticky than offense. The same look on defense over multiple seasons can provide very different results.
But good offenses can sustain production. And Roseman has A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert locked up on offense to help supplement Hurts’ progress as a passer, and to complement a talented offensive line.
Building the offense from the foundation and throwing plaster over the walls of the defense to pass inspection might be the team-building code. Roseman will use late-round picks to trade for proven veterans on expiring contracts. He’ll continue to find value in free agency in well-seasoned vets whose value has declined as their age has increased.
And the offense doesn’t budge, at least until they have to contemplate paying Smith.
Everything Roseman does seems aggressive. The ferocity and frequency in which he tinkers with the roster gives people the impression that he’s going “all in.” The reality is he’s simply a better general manager than most. He’s willing to take chances but is never too far out over his skis.
Adding Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh late in the season to patch up a reeling run defense felt aggressive because of the names, but neither player took much coin to acquire.
Seizing the Moment
Philadelphia won’t win the NFC East next season. There’s no telling how it began, but nobody has repeated in the East since 2004. Yet, if they remain relatively healthy a year from now, it’s hard to imagine the Eagles aren’t once again an NFC contender.
Philadelphia has a real opportunity for sustained success over the next few years. The NFL is more lopsided than ever. The AFC holds nearly all the QB power. There is no Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, or Herbert in the NFC. The Eagles might already have the best quarterback in the conference, and they certainly will if the second-year starter continues to sharpen his processing power and consistency against pressure.
The Eagles will face Super Bowl hangover accusations during the offseason, but the numbers suggest the hangover is a myth. Over half the time, both teams make the playoffs the next season. The Eagles and Chiefs, if healthy, will undoubtedly be back in the dance next year.
But Philadelphia likely won’t build the monster they did this season. They won’t face one of the league’s easiest schedules. They won’t be able to glide their way to another Super Bowl. The Eagles just had their best chance, but their best chance ran into Mahomes, the best football player on the planet at the most important position in professional sports.
And he’s not going anywhere, either.