In the world of instant-gratification news cycles, this one is moving slowly.
The Eagles have a lot of balls in the air as they position for 2020 – coaching staff changes, digging deep in preparation for the NFL Draft, preparing for free agency in March, and continuing the evaluation of the current roster and X's and O's on gamedays.
So, we wait. With that, on Pro Bowl Weekend, some random thoughts …
1. The Eagles are conducting a thorough and well-constructed plan to address the coaching staff, specifically the openings at offensive coordinator, wide receiver, and defensive backs. There are plenty of names being reported, but the truth is that only a very small handful of people at the NovaCare Complex know the plan. What does the offensive coordinator do? That position, at least as it has been constructed under head coach Doug Pederson, helps with the weekly game plan as well as the passing game coordination. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland has the running game plan on a weekly basis. Pederson calls the plays each gameday. Duce Staley, the assistant head coach/running backs coach, has a big hand in the construction of the weekly offensive vision.
2. We're still six weeks or so from the start of free agency and that means we're not short of having the rumor mill cranking. It's certainly fair to wonder how the Eagles will approach free agency in a year in which they're going to have substantial salary cap room – and, by the way, that's worth a golf clap given the extensions the Eagles have paid out to keep the core of the roster intact, including quarterback Carson Wentz's deal. The Eagles put together a roster that looked as complete as could be when the season began in 2019, and then the injuries hit. And hit. And hit. Some of the older players the Eagles added – wide receiver DeSean Jackson and defensive tackle Malik Jackson – saw very little action because of the injuries. How will that impact the plans moving forward? We shall see. This much is certain: Both Jacksons are in the plans for 2020, very much so. The Eagles have, right now, a good roster slated to return for next season. With the cap room and as many as 10 draft picks in their pocket (depending on how the compensatory picks are named) this roster can get younger and deeper and more talented in a hurry.
3. Speaking of the roster, I'm going to say this: Even with all of these defensive ends on the roster and the presence of some good players, that's a position where an impact addition could turn the defense into something special. Look what Nick Bosa did for the 49ers. The Eagles have good players up front with Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, and Vinny Curry played well especially down the stretch in 2019, and they've got a slew of young ends they're developing, but an impact addition here would be a huge plus for the defense.
4. Then again, the defense is going to be addressed throughout. The linebackers can use some attention – is this the year we see a high-round draft pick used on the group? – the cornerbacks certainly will be scrutinized and the safeties, with Rodney McLeod scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, are worth watching. There is a lot of work to do on that side of the ball.
5. On offense, not quite as much given the strength of the offensive line, the depth at tight end, the standout picture at running back with Miles Sanders leading the way and Boston Scott a big piece of the puzzle, and with Jackson and Alshon Jeffery good pieces to start with at wide receiver. Nelson Agholor is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and we'll see what happens there. Greg Ward is "ideally" a slot receiver, Pederson told me after the season, and the other young receivers who were part of the late-season surge are back. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has an important offseason in front of him. The offense needs more speed, too. And the backup quarterback picture is murky. All in all, though, the offense looks pretty good on paper at this point.
6. Yo Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens … still beefing? Fifteen years later? Move on, guys.
7. Many folks ask me if I'm "rooting" for Andy Reid and the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. The answer is "no." I only root for the Eagles. Everyone else, I don't want to win. I'm happy for Andy and for my friends on the Chiefs who are preparing for Super Bowl LIV, just as I'm happy for my friends on the 49ers who are preparing for next Sunday's game. But I only root for the Eagles. Always and forever.
8. Thanks for your patience, Eagles fans. It won't be too much longer and we'll start to see the team's vision and plan come into place. This is going to be a very good team in 2020 and beyond. Right now, I know it, the waiting is excruciating.