Yes, the Eagles Have a Chance Next Season – Sports Illustrated
One of the tortured exercises around the NFL after the Super Bowl is to compare the local team to what just took home the Lombardi Trophy. You’ll see pieces and hot takes in the coming days imploring the Eagles to go all-in just like the Super Bowl LVI champs, the Los Angeles Rams, who edged the frugal Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, on Sunday night. You'll see a few others championing the Bengals' ability to overcome Mike Brown's budget and pointing to the runner-ups as the standard. All of it is a fruitless exercise because, while Rams general manager Les Snead certainly has valued demonstrable performance over high-level picks in recent drafts, the majority of his team is actually homegrown, including the Rams’ two best players: Super Bowl MVP receiver Cooper Kupp, and future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The sizzle of Matthew Stafford, Jalen Ramsey, Odell Beckham Jr, and Von Miller obfuscates all the steak of Rob Havenstein, Brian Allen, David Edwards, Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Von Jefferson, Greg Gaines, Ernest Jones, Taylor Rapp, and Nick Scott not to mention Tyler Higbee, who wasn’t available due to injury. The losers, the frugal Bengals, “built through the draft” evidenced by Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, not to mention the other skill-position talent assembled like Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon. That narrative is just as stilted, however, and ignores a defense fortified in free agency with one high-level signing in pass-rusher Trey Hendrickson and a host of cost-effective signings over the past few seasons like Mike Hilton, Chidobe Awuzie, and D.J. Reader to supplement Jesse Bates, Logan Wilson, and Sam Hubbard. MORE: NFL: Ranking The Top 50 Quarterbacks For 2022 – Sports … The Bengals were on the crux of winning despite putting all of that together with the league’s smallest personnel department due to Brown’s shoestring spending habits. As a comparison, the Eagles’ scouting department was 21 deep last season before Chicago and the New York Giants pilfered Ian Cunningham and Brandon Brown respectively. The secret to NFL success isn’t a secret at all. The teams that stack the more good decisions over a calendar year, mixed in with a little luck when it comes to the attrition of the NFL, tend to be the last two standing in February. Think about 2017 when the Eagles brought in Alshon Jeffery, Chris Long, Patrick Robinson, and LeGarrette Blount. Those kinds of good decisions became less frequent in Philadelphia over the ensuing years with the loyalty of defaulting to a Super Bowl pedigree overcoming the objective nature of evaluating something in the moment. Yes, the Eagles have a chance to return to the Super Bowl next February. In many ways, that statement is what fuels the NFL’s popularity because 31 other fan bases can say the same thing with conviction. Everything else is just about increasing the margin of error for your team and there are many ways to do that from getting the superstar quarterback to the size of your personnel and coaching staffs, as well as the facility you practice in. It’s a weighted scale, though. The Eagles certainly do the off-the-field stuff better than most, but talent trumps everything else in this league by a wide margin. -John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonaldevery morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.