The final score was 31-15 but it wasn't that close. The Eagles were dismantled in every phase of the game and were embarrassed in Tampa Bay in the first round of the playoffs.
In fact, if you look at my article listing the five ways the Eagles could win the game, they really didn't do any of them. The pass rush was awful, Gannon didn't change anything, Gronk balled and the Eagles got no turnovers.
But this article is not supposed to be about the loss. I think everyone knows what happened on Sunday. Instead, I think it's better to look back at the Eagles season as a success, regardless of how it ended.
Try to think about how the Eagles entered the 2021 season. They had traded their franchise QB, fired their Super Bowl winning head coach, inherited a 4-11-1 roster and was relying on many young players to step up on both sides of the ball. Most analysts had the Eagles anywhere between 4-6 wins, with some even having them lower.
They started the season well with a win against Atlanta, but after that the slump started. The Eagles left Las Vegas after a blowout loss with a 2-5 record and all changes of a successful season seeming to be out the window. Nick Sirianni talked about flowers and many were wondering if he would even last past this season.
It would've been predictable for the Eagles to lay down and give up on the season, but they didn't. Sirianni kept the guys engaged and the Eagles never backed down. They responded to that Vegas loss by winning 7 of their last 9 and clinching a playoff spot before the last week of the season. I'm sure Eagles fans have a sour taste in their mouth about Nick after his poor performance against Tampa, but he deserves immense credit for turning this season around and sneaking the Eagles into the playoffs.
Ditto that for Jalen Hurts, who showed improvement all season even if he came up short in his final game. This whole season was to find out if he is the guy going forward. I'm not sure if he'll be the guy for the next 15 years, but I at least can discern that he should be the starter next season without competition(besides from Gardner Minshew if he is here). I know those discussions are going to be had in the offseason, but that's just my opinion. I still have my doubts about some portions of his game, but I believe it is in the Eagles best interest to have him as the starting QB next season. Regardless on what you think of the QB in 2022 you can't deny he did a great job down the stretch playing through the ankle injury.
Another success from this season was the Eagles rookie class. DeVonta Smith is a star, Landon Dickerson started the majority of the season and Milton Williams played incredible down the stretch. Guys like Kenneth Gainwell and Tarron Jackson both made plays when they weren't expected to get much time this season. The fact that they got this much production from these young guys this early in their careers was pretty impressive to me.
The Eagles will have 3 first round picks next year: 15, 16 and 19. Although those picks decreased throughout the season, this upcoming draft is very deep and if the Eagles keep them they should get a really good player. If they decide to trade up in the draft, they could be getting an NFL ready player that could transform their defense. Obviously Howie Roseman hasn't had the best track record for drafting but after last year's success, we'll see how it fleshes out this year.
Lastly, the Eagles had a lot of players that came out of almost nowhere to big contributors. I'm thinking of guys like Jack Stoll, Jordan Howard, Tyree Jackson, Cameron Malveaux, Steven Nelson and Marcus Epps. These guys were either not expected to be on the roster or were on the bubble and they turned into valuable players in their own ways. Just shows how good the Eagles are at being able to bring in players that will be game ready on short notice.
Honestly, I don't know what next season has in store. The Eagles are positioned to have a better roster next season but a lot of factors will go into how successful they will be. All I do know is that based off this season's success, the Eagles will have at least a chance to be a winning team once again in 2022.