And that’s a wrap on the 2023 Regular Season!

Me (left) and some dumb idiot (my friend)

After attending the Week 18 embarrassment bowl against the Giants, my hands have thawed enough to type again. While my body was reheating, I took some time to review the team’s performance this year before the playoffs kick off. Brian Johnson will have to get his report card signed by his mom, Shonna, before returning it to me given his lackluster showing. So without further adieu, class is in session:

QB: C+

Jalen Hurts is NOT the problem. That said, he wasn’t the solution much this season either. For whatever fun we had last year picking on Dak Prescott’s 23 TD, 15 INT stat line, Hurts finished with those EXACT numbers.

For all the play-calling woes, Hurts made some terrible decisions this year. From hero ball hiccups that lost us the Seahawks game to a bone-headed call to NOT go out of bounds at the end of the half vs. the Giants, the QB certainly did a fantastic 2019 Carson Wentz impression.

Hurts finished 14th in total passing yards – and before you justify that with his rushing stats, his net yards produced was over 400 shy of Josh Allen. He tied Desmond Ridder with 6 fumbles (3rd worst in the NFL) and threw 3 more interceptions than the Falcons gunslinger. Hurts reportedly played through injuries in multiple games, but the regression from last season’s near-MVP campaign is clear.

Skill Positions: B

It is difficult to grasp how this team fell from grace so abruptly while still rostering such talent. Two WRs with 1,000+ yards (including A.J. Brown’s record-setting season), a RB who eclipsed 1,000 yards, and one of the league’s best TEs.

While Brown and DeVonta Smith carried this group to a B grade, D’Andre Swift left much to be desired. Shoutout Computer Cowboy (worth a follow) for this awesome thread that exposes Swift as one of the league’s worst running backs in efficiency relative to his team’s run blocking grade. Given the elite nature of offensive line production and last season’s rushing dominance, the regression of this unit is seriously disappointing. A lack of leaning on the run and a stale, predictable playbook did not help, but Shonna Johnson herself ought to be able to rush for 1,000 yards behind this O-Line.

O-Line: A

The five in front remained one of the league’s top offensive line units, boasting 3 Pro Bowlers (Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Landon Dickerson). Returning to Computer Cowboy’s awesome thread, we can see the numbers behind the O-Line’s stellar report card. Philadelphia led the league in pass protection win rate (ESPN), run block win rate (ESPN), and the composite of both categories (PFF, SIS, and ESPN). In effectively every category this group was the pride of the NFL.

Image

Defense: D+

As Jeff McLane astutely pointed out, the Eagles cannot blame injuries for this season. In fact, the Eagles barely missed time from any defenders not named Darius Slay. How bad was the defense? Let’s take a look:

  • 7th most total yards allowed
  • 2nd most passing yards allowed
  • 3rd most points allowed
  • 4th most penalties
  • 9th most yards after the catch
  • 43 sacks (39% drop from 2022)

While CB1’s presence was certainly missed, his being sidelined does not justify these numbers (but it can save them from an F). The Eagles gave up more points than the CAROLINA PANTHERS. The same Panthers who went 2-15. A few games of clutch defense saved wins vs. Kansas City, Dallas, and Buffalo, but this unit showed an alarming lack of speed or burst this year.

Coordinators: F

You had to know this was coming.

Fire Nick Sirianni and all his coaches after this Eagles humiliation against the Giants? OK
Nick Sirianni and Matt Patricia via The Philadelphia Inquirer

Not one, not two, but THREE coordinators disappointed this year. Matt Patricia couldn’t stop Drew Lock’s Seahawks OR the 4-13 Cardinals in the final two minutes. Sean Desai had no answer for first half offenses. Third-down play-calling on the defensive side was abysmal: both Desai and Patricia routinely dropped safeties in scenarios where short-yardage conversions killed the team. In fact, the Eagles allowed a first down on 46.35% of third downs (2nd worst in the NFL). Atrocious.

Brian Johnson… what is there to even say? The Eagles constantly played from behind after dismal first-half showings. The run game was abandoned before it could get anything going. Johnson’s play-calling provided Hurts ZERO outlets when facing the blitz. The Buccaneers blitz 3rd most in the NFL, so Johnson will have his hands full this week. How many times will Jeffrey Lurie watch a bubble screen to Julio Jones before he fires Johnson? Hopefully just one more week

Head Coach: D

Nick Sirianni is exonerated due to his lack of play-calling duties… but isn’t that a bad thing? Seeing him take a step back in 2021 when the offense was stalling showed a humility few coaches are capable of – but when things go south, the head coach needs to get it together.

The 2018 season felt the loss of Frank Reich, and Coach-of-the-Year-candidate Shane Steichen is showing himself to have had a similar impact in last year’s Super Bowl appearance. While Sirianni can’t be blamed for shoddy play-calling, the buck stops at his desk. While a lesser roster this season would justify the final standings, nearly every locker is haunted by memories of the Super Bowl loss. The Eagles are too good to be this bad.

Overall: C-

After last year’s NFC Championship Game the city of San Francisco (post-diaper change) called out Philadelphia for being undeserving of the crown. The Eagles’ nail-biter vs. the Chiefs seemingly proved the 49ers wrong. This season, however, Philly is doing its best to prove the haters correct. For example: try and name a single player who improved in 2023. I’ll wait.

Let’s be clear: 11 wins and a playoff berth are not easy to come by in the NFL. Frankly, Philadelphians should appreciate getting to watch postseason football at all. But for a squad that was 10-1 and brought in Kevin Byard and Shaq Leonard mid-season, a 5-seed and road playoff matchup is hardly the standard.

At the end of the day, the team is 0-0 with every opportunity to shock the league. That said, it’s been months since this team looked like a playoff contender – let alone Super Bowl favorite – and the playoffs are here. Go birds, but don’t hold your breath.

And no, I’m not writing a paragraph on special teams. Jake Elliott rocks.


Photo via Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer

One Comment

  1. Jason Libhart

    January 11, 2024 at 11:15 AM

    For example: try and name a single player who improved in 2023. I’ll wait.

    Britain Covey

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