PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Eagles enter their Week 10 bye at 5-4 and on a two-game winning streak. But it’s hard to view the first half of the season as anything other than a failure.
Let’s get this out of the way: Carson Wentz is not the problem. Wentz has been the Eagles’ best player this season, so let’s leave Nick Foles out of this.
In fact, Wentz is about the only part of the team living up to those sky-high Super Bowl aspirations the Birds set before this preseason.
The Eagles quarterback has 15 touchdowns (tied for seventh-most in NFL) to four interceptions (tied for sixth-best interception percentage) this season. Wentz is protecting the ball and putting points on the board with almost no help from his receivers.
Before the season, head coach Doug Pederson said this 2019 roster was the deepest he has ever coached — yes, deeper than the 2017 team that won Super Bowl 52.
Man, was he wrong — we all were.
You know the Eagles’ problems by now: the receivers are awful, the injury-ravaged secondary hasn’t been much better and the Birds routinely sleepwalk through the first quarter of games.
But back to that Pederson proclamation. At this point of the season, it’s clear this is not the deepest Birds’ roster.
When the Eagles won it all, general manager Howie Roseman could do no wrong. And that is the difference between the two teams.
Before the 2017 season, nearly every player Roseman signed or traded for — specifically veterans — played a key role in the team’s success.
Those additions included: Foles, Alshon Jeffery, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Torrey Smith, Ronald Darby, Stefen Wisniewski, Patrick Robinson and Timmy Jernigan. That doesn’t even include the trade deadline acquisition of running back Jay Ajayi.
That’s a Super Bowl MVP, the team’s top receiver and two leading rushers. Every player on that list made meaningful contributions to that run.
And that brings us to the free agents and trades the Birds made in the 2019 offseason.
This past offseason, the Eagles brought back Darby, DeSean Jackson and Vinny Curry, and added Malik Jackson, L.J. Fort, Andrew Sendejo, Richard Rodgers, Jordan Howard and Zach Brown, among others.
Of those additions, Brown, Fort and Sendejo have already been released.
Malik Jackson played in one game. DeSean technically played in three but that includes games of 11 and four snaps. Darby has been slowed with a hamstring injury. And you probably forgot Rodgers was on the team before reading this.
Only Howard has made an impact this season. His seven total touchdowns lead the team. Howard has been well worth the sixth-round pick Roseman gave up in a trade with the Bears.
Roseman and the Eagles have gotten next to nothing from this free-agent class, and that problem is amplified by the team’s poor drafting and failure to identify and develop young talent.
Just how low have things gotten?
Mack Hollins hasn’t had a catch in over a month despite playing over 30 offensive snaps in each of the last five games; second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has been a ghost; Nelson Agholor’s most notable contribution has been turning a Philadelphia man into an internet sensation; Jeffery is on pace for his worst season since his rookie year; and Jackson has played one full game.
The receiving corps has been so massively disappointing that Jordan Matthews is back for a third stint, and there is no question that he is an upgrade.
With all of that said, somehow the Eagles are right in the playoff hunt. The Birds are a half-game back of the Cowboys in the NFC East, and in a stacked conference, winning the division may be the Birds’ only shot at a playoff berth.
The Eagles start back up with arguably their toughest stretch of the schedule — at home against the 8-1 Patriots, and then the 7-2 Seahawks with MVP candidate Russell Wilson.
If the Eagles can win one of those games, they will be set up nicely for a shot at the NFC East crown as the schedule significantly lightens up.
The Birds round out the season with a game in Miami against the Dolphins before playing their final four games in the division — vs. Giants, at Washington, vs. Cowboys and at Giants.