Season grade: Above average: The Eagles came into 2018 eyeing a repeat, and while they fell short of that, the late-season surge and opening-round playoff win over the Chicago Bears showed resolve and reinforced the fact that the Eagles remain a well-coached, talented team.
Season in review: Nick Foles led a late charge in in place of the injured Carson Wentz, helping the Eagles to three straight wins to close out the regular season and secure the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC. They were able to edge the Bears 16-15 in the wild-card round thanks to a partial block of Cody Parkey’s last-second field goal try by Treyvon Hester before falling to top-seeded New Orleans in the divisional round.
A key to Philly’s Super Bowl run a year ago was a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. A slow start cost them that luxury this season. The Eagles were sluggish out of the gate, starting 4-6. Injuries played a big part in that. They lost three-fourths of their starting secondary – only safety Malcolm Jenkins, was standing by the end of the year – and saw 13 players go on injured reserve. The long playoff run of a season ago took its toll.
He said it: “Last year, it just seemed like everybody was clicking. We had guys like Brent Celek who had been here a long time who was very accountable, Torrey Smith who had been in the league for a long time, very accountable. Mack Hollins was a guy that gave great effort. LeGarrette Blount and all of these running backs that, they had their limited amount of stuff that they had to know, but they knew what to do, and they knew how to do those things. That’s what we’re missing. We’re missing that accountability.” — Eagles center Jason Kelce said in November before the Eagles’ late run
Will Wentz return to full health? Wentz heads into the offseason with health concerns for the second straight year. The good news is there will be no rigorous rehab, as there was for the torn ACL/LCL last year. The key for the stress fracture is rest. Back injuries can be tricky, but there seems to be optimism from the parties involved that this won’t be a long-term issue for the franchise quarterback. With Foles likely to be elsewhere next season, they need Wentz to bounce back.
What will they do with DE Brandon Graham? Graham, a free agent, has been a fixture along the defensive front in Philadelphia for nine seasons. Despite some conversations earlier in the year, the two sides never came to an agreement on a new deal. It looks like the Eagles will let Graham explore the market, with hopes that he’ll eventually be open to a hometown discount. Whether it’s Graham returning or via some new blood, Philly needs a pass-rusher (or two).
What about Foles? Though Foles showed off that magic once again, the organization has been committed to Wentz being the long-term QB. Assuming that thinking doesn’t change, they’ll likely move on from Foles, who appears to be too costly to hold onto as a backup. There is $20 million option in Foles’ deal for next year, but the QB can buy his way out of it and into free agency. Perhaps the Eagles place the franchise tag on him in an attempt to trade him. However it plays out, it looks like Foles’ run in Philly is over.