Several times this offseason, I have said the Eagles would benefit by finally adding a feature running back since they’ve had five different leading rushers in five seasons. And every time, I’ve seen a bunch of the same replies:
"The Eagles won a Super Bowl with a running back committee!”
That’s absolutely true.
My problem with that statement is about a broader philosophy. The Eagles did win a Super Bowl to cap the 2017 season and that team was special. But that team’s makeup isn’t the only template for success in an ever-evolving NFL.
The Eagles need to be worried about building the next Super Bowl team; not about recreating the roster that won the last one.
When asked about the running back position, even Howie Roseman was guilty of mentioning how the 2017 team was constructed with LeGarrette Blount and then adding Jay Ajayi midseason. But Roseman also said, “There are different ways to skin a cat.” He’s right about that.
After his podium session from the combine, Roseman met with Philadelphia-based reporters in a side session and I got to ask him about this philosophical premise. Do the Eagles try to recreate the team that won the Super Bowl or is that dangerous?
That moment in time, it feels almost surreal. It was just a year that we had some success. But we don’t look at it like we have to find the exact same fits that we had on our roster in 2017.
There are some incredibly valuable lessons about that year. Character and chemistry of the football team was unbelievable. And sometimes, that’s a big reason for your success. I think that was a big reason for our success last year when we had adversity.
But I think everything is different. The league evolves and you have to evolve with the league and what’s going on with the league and hopefully be at the forefront of that revolution in terms of roster building. We take valuable lessons from that, but by the same token, we want to be on the forefront of the next thing that’s going on and try to be out in front.
That’s the type of answer that should instill confidence in any fans who read it. Absolutely, the Eagles should take lessons from that season. They would be foolish not to. They would be foolish to not take lessons from every season, good or bad. So the part about chemistry holds true and that won’t change. Chemistry will always be important.
But the idea that the NFL is always changing and evolving is also true. Just look at offensive numbers in the league. In 2017, the Eagles averaged 28.6 points per game, good for second in the league behind just the Rams at 29.9. But last season, three teams averaged over 30 points per game. The league average in 2018 was 23.3, the third highest in NFL history. It’s not necessarily a trend yet, but it certainly seems like it could become one.
And aside from the data on points scored, there are always rule changes and the NFL landscape evolves in terms of players and coaches who come and go. There’s extreme change every season. So trying to reconstruct a team that was successful for a season in time just doesn’t make sense.
Sure, take lessons from the Super Bowl team. Just know that it’s not the only way to win. The Eagles seem to get that.
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