Welcome to the great unknown – the NFL offseason.
The Eagles are in that uncomfortable period of time when the reality of the end of one season mixes with the need to look ahead. And with that, executive vice president/general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson met the media on Wednesday to take a look back at 2019 and offer some early thoughts on 2020.
There wasn't a whole lot to digest, frankly, and there are many decisions to be made in the coming weeks. The organization has a lot to be proud of as one of only four teams in the NFL to make the playoffs in three successive seasons with one Super Bowl Championship and two NFC East titles to call its own.
At the same time, only one team is happy at the end of the NFL season and the Eagles aren't happy. Proud of many things, yes, but not happy to have had the season end on Sunday in the NFC Wild Card playoff game to Seattle.
"I stand up here with a range of emotions. The first emotion is disappointment," Roseman said, "disappointment that we're not practicing this week for the Green Bay Packers, that we didn't achieve our goals that we set out in Training Camp. And I think when you have a disappointing season, it's not just on the players and the coaches, it's also on the front office. That starts with me."
Roseman continued talking about the pride the team feels with what it's accomplished in the four years Pederson has been here and the resiliency it showed working through an injury-riddled 2019 season. Roseman said the intent during this four-year window was to keep the core of the roster as intact as possible and to push for contention at a high level early in Pederson's coaching tenure as franchise quarterback Carson Wentz was building his game.
The Eagles are one of only four teams in the NFL – along with New England, Kansas City, and New Orleans – to make the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. This is, as it's been under the ownership of Jeffrey Lurie, an elite NFL franchise.
Pederson and Roseman spoke for 35 minutes on Wednesday at their State of the Team address to mark the end of one season and the start of another. Some of the takeaways, then …
1. On building a team with veterans, Roseman said, "It's very difficult when you've had guys who have given their heart and soul to this organization, to this team, who you've developed personal relationships with to say goodbye. At the same time, you need veteran leadership on your football team. You need guys who have been through it. I think you saw that for us at the end of the year, guys who had been through the adversity and who were able to overcome it and be able to take our young players and lead them and tell them the expectations that they had. You try to balance all of those things."
2. Roseman was asked if he thinks there is a correlation between age and injury. "I think when you talk about the chance of getting hurt, the older you get, the higher chance you have of getting hurt," he said. "I definitely think that that's a factor in the injuries. ... The simple answer is yes."
3. Looking ahead, Roseman said that adding younger players was important for the roster. "Going forward, we need to infuse youth into this team. We think we're going to have 10 draft picks," Roseman said. "We're excited about that. When we look at what the young players did for this team, down the stretch, it's a great tribute to them. It's a great tribute to our coaching staff. It's a great tribute to our developmental program that we take a lot of pride in.
"It's a great lesson. You have to let young players play. It's natural for us to want to have a safety net at every position. We have to allow these young players to grow and get some experience. Just the energy that they injected into the team and the production that they had. We have to balance some of that."
4. Roseman did not get into specifics regarding potential contract talks or roster priorities moving forward. He did say he wants to "keep our homegrown players here," when asked about tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. And Pederson said he is interested in continuing to employ two-tight end personnel packages in the offense with two premier players at the position.
5. Pederson said of the Jadeveon Clowney hit on quarterback Carson Wentz that it was "possible" that it was potentially an illegal hit. "It's part of our game. It happens. It gets missed," he said. "It's unfortunate for Carson. I'm disappointed for Carson that obviously he couldn't finish that postseason game. Unfortunate for our team. But I'm not gonna focus on the past. I'm moving forward right now. I'm not going to dwell on one hit, one play." Pederson said that mobile quarterbacks become runners and in that instance, Wentz tried to make something out of a broken play. Pederson said that Wentz is "doing extremely well" after suffering a concussion and that he felt that Wentz would have been ready had the Eagles played on Sunday in Green Bay.
6. Roseman said that "one of my weaknesses is getting attached to our players," and that he welcomes varied opinions within a personnel department that will, in the coming days, announce some additions to the staff.
And, that's about it from a "news" standpoint. There aren't a lot of answers right now. It's on to 2020 for the Eagles as they dig in for what's expected to be a busy offseason.