Marin Independent Journal

Eagles weren't afraid to make difficult decisions

- By Rob Maaddi

The Philadelph­ia Eagles are playing for another Super Bowl title because they weren't afraid to make difficult decisions following a disastrous 2020 season.

Just three years after hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in franchise history, the organizati­on was at a crossroads following a 4-11-1 finish in the pandemic-altered season. Philadelph­ia had gone from winning it all to winning one playoff game to losing in the wildcard round to last place.

Coach Doug Pederson and the front office didn't see eye-to-eye. Franchise quarterbac­k Carson Wentz was debating his future after being benched for a terrible performanc­e in the first season of a lucrative contract extension he'd received two years earlier.

Pederson was fired and Wentz was traded three years after finishing third in NFL MVP voting and

helping put the Eagles in position to win that Super Bowl by going 11-2 before he was injured.

Those moves laid the foundation for a rebuild that only ended up being a quick retool.

Nick Sirianni came to Philadelph­ia with no fanfare after three seasons as an offensive coordinato­r in Indianapol­is. The perception in Philly was that owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman wanted a young coach they could mold and compel to follow their plans.

If that was the case, it's hard to argue with their success.

After a rough start in 2021, Sirianni led the Eagles to a playoff berth in his first season with Jalen Hurts as the starting quarterbac­k.

Hurts and the rest of the team took a giant leap this season and here they are at 16-3, one win away from another parade on Broad Street.

“This is not a time for reflection,” Hurts said after the Eagles dominated the 49ers in the NFC championsh­ip. “It's really hard for me to do that. I try to enjoy the moment, but my joy comes in winning. I know the job isn't done. I never knew how far we would come, I never knew how far we'd go, but I never said it couldn't be done.”

The first step for management was deciding to make tough decisions. Trading Wentz meant absorbing a $33.8 million cap hit. Their next moves had to pay off for it to work out.

Hurts came to Philly as a surprise second-round pick to provide insurance for the oft-injured Wentz and play a utility role somewhat similar to New Orleans' Taysom Hill. Now, he's a finalist for AP MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.

“I can't understate it takes everybody,” Lurie said. “Talk about the owner, talk about the head coach, talk about the quarterbac­k, talk about the GM. We're only as good as the staff that we have and in a way that is the secret sauce — the culture, and the staff.”

During Lurie's 29 years as owner, the Eagles have reached the playoffs 17 times, advanced to the NFC title game seven times and are 1-1 in the Super Bowl going into next Sunday's game against former coach Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Lurie once proclaimed he wanted the Eagles to be the “gold standard” for NFL teams. His hometown New England Patriots filled that role for two decades with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

Silver isn't bad, though, especially in the form of a Lombardi.

 ?? MATT SLOCUM — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie hoists the George Halas Trophy after Sunday's NFC championsh­ip against the 49ers.
MATT SLOCUM — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie hoists the George Halas Trophy after Sunday's NFC championsh­ip against the 49ers.

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