Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson wrapped up the 2018 campaign and offered a preview of what's in store for this critical offseason.
1. Roseman On Roster: 'We Have A Lot Of Work To Do'
"Our goal is to win a world championship," Howie Roseman said. "We put a lot of time and effort into trying to repeat, so at the end of the day there is only one team that stands up with that trophy and has that parade, and we wanted to bring that back to Philly."
While the Eagles did not fulfill their ultimate goal of another Lombardi Trophy, Roseman reflected on the adversity that the team overcame in 2018.
"Just last night sitting back and thinking about our season and our team and our organization, our owner Jeffrey Lurie deserves a lot of credit for the organization that he has built here, the character and resiliency you see in the people here in this building, on this football team, our coaching staff, led by Coach Pederson," Roseman said. "We were 4-6. We were 6-7. Coming off of a Super Bowl Championship, it would have been very easy for us to say this was not our year, but our players rallied around each other. They rallied around our coaching staff."
But again, for the Eagles to realize The New Norm, as Pederson declared after winning the Super Bowl last season, getting into the tournament as a No. 6 seed with a low probability of reaching the championship game isn't enough. The Eagles need to win the NFC East and put themselves in position for a potential first-round bye. The inconsistent play on offense early in the season combined with the inability to close out games put the Eagles' backs against the wall much earlier than anticipated.
"We know we have a lot of work to do this offseason. We know we have to improve the roster," Roseman said. "We're looking forward to that challenge and we're going to get to work on it right away."
2. No Surprise, But Carson Wentz Is The Franchise QB
Head coach Doug Pederson offically declared that Carson Wentz is the team's franchise quarterback.
The big question is what will the Eagles do with Nick Foles. The team has an option to extend Foles for another season, but the Super Bowl LII MVP can buy back his way into free agency.
"We'd love to have everybody back throughout the roster, but as I've said many, many times, it's not about one guy," Pederson said. "It's about the team and we're going to do what's best for the team."
If the Eagles pick up Foles' option, Roseman could move him in a trade. Roseman said that the Eagles respect what Foles has done for this team, but have to "do what's best for our football team to help us win games going forward."
As for Wentz, the former No. 2 overall pick in 2016 is eligible for a contract extension this offseason. Roseman wouldn't discuss the status of any negotiations only saying that "it's our job to keep as many good players here for as long as we can in their prime and guys we drafted are going to be a focus for us."
For the second straight season, Wentz's season was cut short due to injury. That's not a concern for the Eagles in the long term.
"We have a lot of confidence in Carson and his ability to be our quarterback and to hopefully be a 19-game starter when we look at the season and what we're trying to do," Roseman said. "That being said, Coach from the day he came here said quarterback is always going to be a priority position for us. We're always going to try and have talent at that position. We've got great quarterback teachers in this building. We're always going to be looking at that spot and trying to improve like any other spot that's important to our football team."
Pederson noted that he expects Wentz to make significant strides in his development with a full offseason of on-field work. Last year at this time, he was rehabbing his knee injury. He'll also be able to take advantage of what he observed of Foles from the sideline.
"He's still a young quarterback and he's still learning this game and learning the position and just watching guys throughout the league. It's valuable experience, obviously, being able to watch guys like Nick play," Pederson said.
3. Tough Roster Decisions On The Horizon
Roseman said that the team's strong finish will not disillusion the personnel staff.
"We have to do whatever we can to make sure we improve the team and not just sit here and say, 'Hey, we were one drive away from being in the championship game,'" he said.
In a typical offseason, there will be about 15-20 percent turnover of the roster. That's 10 new players. Some decisions have to be made about veteran players who were instrumental in helping the Eagles win the Super Bowl.
"It's hard," Roseman said. "These are guys who have done a lot for this football team, for this organization, for this city. Also, good people, people who you like being around on an everyday basis. We're here a lot. We're in the building a lot. We're with each other a lot, so when you have people like that it's hard to separate the emotion. That's why we try to put some distance between the season, when we do our evaluations, and try to be objective about what we want to do going forward to improve the team."
But 2018 did highlight how a veteran-laden locker room can help the team stay strong in times of adversity.
"It's very important also that we keep our core together and that we maintain the culture that Coach Pederson and his staff have built and continue to keep leaders here to show our young players the right way to do things," Roseman said. "We're going to try to make sure we do everything possible to field the best possible team. This isn't a situation where we're looking to have just a youth movement. We're looking to compete at a very high level next year and really hopefully be doing that for as long as we're here."
4. A Quick 2019 NFL Draft Preview
The Eagles own the No. 25 overall pick in the first round. On the second day of the draft, they have two second-round selections thanks to last year's draft-day trade with Baltimore. Roseman said the draft is historically deep at a particular position.
"It's clearly a very good defensive line group, really probably a historical defensive line group and that's both at end and tackle," Roseman said.
The Eagles do not have a third-round pick, which was sent to Detroit to acquire wide receiver Golden Tate. Roseman would do the move again.
"We were looking for a spark. We were looking for more firepower on offense," Roseman said. "When you talk about Golden, here's a guy who's got incredible character, incredible production, can really fit any scheme. Everyone in this building was incredibly excited about adding him to our football team. We knew the price to pay. We wanted to make a playoff run. We wanted to make sure that we were putting our team in a position to do that. And we're always going to put our foot on the gas. It doesn't mean we're always going to be right, but we don't look back with regret. We look back at our process, and I feel very good about our process."