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The Eagles Fall Just Short: Three Super Bowl Takeaways That Prepare Philly For 2023.

The Philadelphia Eagles had such a terrific season.

On 3rd and 8, with less than two minutes remaining, the Eagles had a chance for a pivotal stop to get the ball back. On the 15-yard line, the Chiefs could end the game with a first down. The play began, and Juju Smith-Schuster was potentially separating from James Bradberry when the Eagles’ cornerback tugged on his jersey. The referee threw the flag, and the game was effectively over.

It was an unfortunate, anticlimactic end to an all-time championship contest. In this article, we will reflect on the Super Bowl and three takeaways the Eagles can bring into the 2023 NFL Season.

Jalen Hurts Is The Franchise Quarterback.

This year was “make or break” for Jalen Hurts.

The Philadelphia Eagles entered the 2022 NFL Season with two first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, and the desire to see what they had in their second-year starting signal caller. Essentially, if Hurts could not prove to be the long-term answer at quarterback, they could package their premium selections for the opportunity to draft a replacement.

Hurts emphatically put those concerns to bed. He finished second in NFL MVP Voting, as well as being the highest-rated PFF-graded player in the Super Bowl, despite losing a fumble.

On the biggest stage, Hurts came up enormous. He had 304 passing yards and added 70 on the ground. The third-year superstar had four total touchdowns and overcame adversity after turning the ball over on a costly fumble. His tenacity led to the Eagles converting 11 of 18 3rd down attempts, and both of their 4th down tries. He even willed them to a desperate two-point conversion.

In the playoffs, Hurts put his doubters to bed. He passed for 579 yards, ran for 143, and had eight total touchdowns. He had no interceptions and consistently did whatever it took to lead his team to victory. Additionally, he was fighting through a shoulder injury on his throwing arm.

Hurts has been a consistent, fierce, loyal, and courageous leader. He addressed the locker room on Sunday following the tough loss, apologizing for the fumble that cost the Eagles seven points. He has cultivated a culture of unselfish, accountable team players. That is hard to do, especially with just three years of NFL experience.

The Eagles have their franchise quarterback, for years to come.

Decimated Defense: The Birds’ Free Agency.

Philadelphia’s defense is deep.

Unfortunately, the Eagles will not be able to retain all of their superstars on the less glamorous side of the ball. They have upcoming free agents at each level of the defense, which will make it difficult to replicate the dominant run that this group produced this year.

The Eagles had 70 sacks during this regular season. This was good for the third-highest total in NFL history. They also set a record with four defenders with more than ten sacks. Two of those contributors are free agents. The Eagles will struggle to retain both Javon Hargrave and Brandon Graham, and also need to try and reconcile with the potential departure of Fletcher Cox, an emotional leader who also added seven of his sacks.

At the second level, both of the Eagles’ starting linebackers are due for a new deal. Breakout star T.J. Edwards could have a huge market, as he had an outstanding 2022 NFL Season. The fourth-year linebacker had 159 tackles, 10 for loss, seven passes defended, and two sacks. He earned a stellar 84.8 PFF overall grade, with notable proficiency in every measured category.

Moreover, Kyzir White is also a free agent. He managed 110 tackles, seven passes defended, and 1.5 sacks. White only had three tackles for loss, but 46 PFF credited stops. He was solid, earning an overall grade of 64.3 by PFF. He must be more reliable wrapping up ball carriers if the Eagles retain his services. White had 15 missed tackles in 2022 and topped double digits in the statistic for the third consecutive season.

The secondary could be decimated too. Philadelphia faces the reality of three starters potentially leaving. Safeties Marcus Epps and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson are both out of contract, as is cornerback James Bradberry. As a result, the Eagles must prioritize who to keep and who to let walk.

Bradberry seems like an obvious player to retain, after a season where he allowed just a 54.2 passer rating. He ended the season with an 80.2 PFF pass coverage grade, snagging three interceptions and 17 passes defended. Furthermore, he contributed 44 tackles and one touchdown, one route to an All-Pro Second Team nod. The Eagles would love to bring their outside tandem of Bradberry and Slay back for another run.

Epps and Gardner-Johnson are unlikely to both be starters next year. With the emergence of rookie undrafted free agent Reed Blankenship, one may be expendable in 2023. Gardner-Johnson was tied for the league leader in interceptions, despite missing five games due to injury. He also had five tackles for loss, eight passes defended, and a sack. Entering his fifth season, he seems like the leading candidate to be resigned on the back end.

Marcus Epps showed sensational development in his fourth season in the NFL. He started all 17 games and ended the season with 94 tackles, four for loss, and a PFF rush defense grade of 84.4. His run support was emphatic, not being scared to fly downhill and punishing opposing ball carriers for choosing his lane. He had a forced fumble and six passes defended, but overall struggled in coverage. Epps allowed a dismal 141.2 passer rating when targeted, en route to an abominable 44.7 PFF pass defense grade. He seems more expendable, but if he cannot be retained the Eagles will suffer in the run game.

Philadelphia’s front office has some difficult defensive decisions ahead. They will inevitably lose multiple players, but they have the draft capital to be able to fill those holes. Roseman may work some magic, but it is safe to say that this group won’t be back untouched.

Was This Jason Kelce’s Last Game?

The Kelce Bowl was historic.

For the first time in NFL history, two brothers faced off against each other on the biggest stage. Between the hype generated by their podcast, New Heights, and the outfit of their mother, Donna Kelce, there was plenty of allure within their matchup.

What got lost in this, is that this might have been Jason Kelce’s final game.

The veteran center will be a first ballot Hall Of Fame. Facing off against one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL, Kelce did not allow a single pressure in pass coverage. Furthermore, the 35-year-old did not surrender one in the entire postseason.

During the regular season and the playoffs, Kelce never showed a glimmer of regression, still able to perform like a center ten years younger. His savvy, athleticism, and flexibility were instrumental in the Eagles’ ability to create exotic run looks that used him as a puller and out in space. He ended the season with a phenomenal 89.4 PFF run-blocking grade, in addition to his 82.0 mark in pass protection. In 1,149 total snaps in the middle during the regular season, Kelce allowed just 11 total pressures, and not a single hit or sack.

His remarkable consistency, aggressive physicality, and unbelievable athleticism is the reason that Kelce is so revered. He is a legendary leader, and the Eagles hope that he can come back for one more year. 

Check out Stadium Rant for plenty of fan-driven sporting coverage!

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