Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs for a Super Bowl-winning season, a great game, a helluva post-game celebration. We know how it feels. We know how much we want to get that feeling back. Two years removed from Super Bowl LII, it feels much longer than that.
Now, the entire NFL is 0-0. New year. New you. Every team is taking the first step toward 2020 …
For the Eagles, that includes assessing the NFC East, a fascinating division through the course of league history. Back in the day, it was a rough-and-tumble grouping that somehow included the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, an outlier of a team that always seemed to give the Eagles problems. In those seasons – the 1970s through the 1990s (the Cardinals moved to the NFC West in 2002) – the NFC East was dominated by Dallas, Washington, and the New York Giants.
That's all changed.
As has the division.
The NFC East is no longer rough and tumble. Truth is, the division is in its most significant transition in decades with Dallas (Mike McCarthy), Washington (Ron Rivera), and New York (Joe Judge) welcoming new head coaches. Washington (Dwayne Haskins) and New York (Daniel Jones) have quarterbacks in their second seasons, while Dallas has to make a decision regarding free-agent-to-be Dak Prescott.
The 2019 NFC East was, from a wins-and-losses standpoint, one of the worst in NFL history with a combined record of 24-40. The Eagles took care of business within the division, winning five of six games – including four straight, to finish the regular season and advance to the playoffs.
But if you think you can predict what's going to happen in 2020, best of luck to you. The NFC East hasn't had a repeat winner since 2001-2004 when the Eagles reigned.
"Every game is unique. Every season is unique," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said late in the 2019 regular season, talking about the NFC East. "I don't think you can ever really predict how it's going to play out in the NFC East because so much happens during the course of the year. The road we've taken to get to this point, nobody saw it playing out this way. You just have to roll with everything and reset and find a way to win that week.
"But, no doubt about it, you have to take care of the NFC East first and foremost. That's the most direct path to the playoffs."
It begins in the East for the Eagles, who face a grind of a schedule – on paper – as it looks for 2020. The home schedule has games against Baltimore, Seattle, and New Orleans, all playoff teams in 2019, plus the Rams and Cincinnati, which has the No. 1 draft pick in April. On the road, games at Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland promise to be daunting, with an NFC West swing at Arizona and the NFC Champion 49ers difficult.
We're going to have a lot of fun looking at all of that in the coming months. The Eagles, of course, have been in full swing since the 2019 campaign ended. They've got a coaching staff to address. Free agency begins in six-plus weeks (March 18). The NFL Draft happens five weeks after that.
There isn't anything new to report here, just an acknowledgement that the slate is clean. The taste from the Super Bowl LII victory is so fresh, yet so distant. The hunger to return has never been greater, and that's where we are. On the bottom rung of the ladder for 2020.
And as much as the vision is broad and the goals are grand, a reminder is that the Eagles have to take things one step at a time. Winning the NFC East is the operative order of business and for 2020, it's just so hard to get a feel for what to expect from the division. Dallas should have a strong roster with the new coaching staff. Washington has a chance to gain an impact player with the No. 2 selection in the NFL Draft. New York has some explosive pieces in the offense around which to build.
Philadelphia is the defending champion, looking to buck the one-and-done history in existence since 2004. Welcome to the long journey, with all 32 teams – the four in the NFC East especially – on equal 0-0 ground.