Eagles have a lot to build on, but improvement needed

There really is no need to rehash the hit that concussed Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, ended his season and, in effect, ended the 2019 run of a team that made a late-season run to win the NFC East and reach the postseason. It was a football play, a penalty or a late hit or a dirty hit, depending on your perspective, and it sent Wentz to the blue tent on the sidelines and took the one player the Eagles could not afford to lose out of the game.

So, it’s over. What lessons did we learn from the 2019 Eagles? We learned that a bunch of young players promoted from the practice squad played their butts off and won our hearts in the month of December. We learned that Wentz, putting the offense on his shoulders down the stretch, is a no-doubt-about-it Franchise Quarterback. We learned that a team that added a lot of aging players in free agency and via trades paid the price with a whole lot of injuries for another season.

We were reminded, once again, that Doug Pederson is an elite NFL coach who knows the right buttons to push to have a locker room follow his lead, and that his in-season and in-game adjustments work and that the Eagles are in good hands with Pederson running the show.

We found out about Miles Sanders, a rookie running back who led all NFL rookies in yards from scrimmage and total yards. He’s got a bright future ahead of him as the team’s next great running back.

We learned that Zach Ertz is not only the greatest tight end in the history of the franchise, but also one of the toughest. He suited up and played two weeks (two weeks!) after suffering extensive rib and kidney damage. What a warrior. Ertz and Dallas Goedert teamed to become the NFL’s most potent tight end duo, a cornerstone upon which to build for the future.

We learned that if you can’t rush the quarterback consistently, you’re going to pay for it in the passing game. The Eagles didn’t rush the quarterback consistently in 2019 and they allowed the most plus-20-yard passing plays in the NFL and were torched in the playoff game by rookie D.K. Metcalf, who caught seven passes, including a 53-yard touchdown that knocked back second-half comeback plans.

We learned that, along with the pass rush, the Eagles just weren’t good enough at cornerback to compete down the field. That position figures to be one of heavy interest for the team moving forward.

We learned that Wentz, the great talent and leader at quarterback, has absolutely no good luck when it comes to injuries. He waited four seasons to play his first playoff game in the NFL. He lasted two possessions, four passes thrown and one completed, before leaving the game with a concussion. Somehow, Wentz has to find a way to stay on the field for entire seasons, or it’s going to be very difficult for the Eagles to win Super Bowls.

We learned that only one team in the NFL is happy at the end of the day and the other 31 teams head into the offseason intent to improve. The Eagles have a lot of work to do to put the pieces in place for 2020, and a fascinating offseason is ahead for a team with a lot to build on, but also with a lot of positions to make better. ••