The Philadelphia Eagles ended the season on a high note, defeating two NFC East division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. These two tough wins have seemed to overshadow the rest of a daunting 7-9 season, which included a 2-9 stretch.
Philadelphia Eagles End of Season Takeaways
The obvious positive note when looking at the 2016 Philadelphia Eagles is that they opened the gates strong, and closed the gates strong. They started the season 3-0, which included a win against Pittsburgh, and they ended the season 2-0, defeating the number one seed Cowboys, and one of the wild card selections, the New York Giants. When you throw in the second seed in the NFC, Atlanta, the Eagles defeated four playoff teams in their seven wins all year.
There were only three losses out of the nine that were by more than one possession, Seattle, Green Bay, and Cincinnati, two of whom are in the playoffs. Though the losses on the field looked brutal, they were in the whole game most of the time.
The Eagles were competitive within the division. They took Dallas to overtime on Sunday Night Football, only to lose, and beat them the second time, two very respectable performances against the NFC’s top dog. Against New York, the Eagles went into MetLife Stadium and lost by only five points, but then defeated New York at home on Thursday Night Football. Though Washington got the best of the Eagles both times, the margin of defeat was seven points five points. The results of those games could have easily been switched by only a few plays in the one possession games.
Many could say the Eagles season was highlighted by negatives, and that argument could be proven true. The team offense finished in the bottom third of the league, highlighted by Carson Wentz and the passing game ranking in the bottom quarter of the NFL. The hype surrounding Wentz was understandably not lived up to, considering most of the media placed outrageous expectations on the rookie who was thrown into the starting position just a week prior to Week 1. Wentz proved that he was a rookie, not thinking his decisions through and extending plays unnecessarily.
Obviously the worst part of this season was the lack of wide receivers. The team finished with 23 dropped passes, and more drops that were not recorded as technical drops. Former first-rounder, Nelson Agholor, was booed off the field countless times, and Jordan Matthews and Dorial Green-Beckham were not greeted too nicely either after their drops. It is hard enough for a rookie quarterback to get a rhythm in an NFL game, but when his receivers are letting balls go through their hands, it is almost impossible to move the ball down the field.
Though the defense finished 13th in passing yards against, the defensive backs still need help. Seventh round rookie Jalen Mills was thrown into too many situations against top receivers, which did end badly. Bringing in Rodney McLeod and Leodis McKelvin was supposed to boost the lacking Eagles secondary, but it failed. Malcolm Jenkins was the only reliable pass defender on the defense, and he needs more help next year for the secondary to succeed.
Changing the result of a few plays here and there could have changed the outcome of many of the one possession losses over the course of the season, allowing the Eagles to maybe finish with a winning record. Improving the wide receiving crew and defensive backs will give a big boost to the 2017 Eagles team.