Super Bowl lessons on display for Eagles

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It’s hard to imagine that only a year ago, the Eagles found themselves playing in a Super Bowl.

For everyone who had recovered enough from this year’s late-season Eagles collapse to tune back into football, there was plenty to see as the Chiefs and 49ers faced off in Las Vegas. And not just commercials, Usher and the occasional glimpse of random pop music superstars.

More than anything, watching the league’s two top teams face off showed both how close and how far away the Eagles are from returning to another Super Bowl.

First and foremost, the two Super Bowl teams showed a resilience all season that the Eagles had early in the season only to see it progressively slip away.

The 49ers had a three-game midseason lull, due in part to an injury to star wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

The Chiefs struggled — by their standards — to find their offensive identity for most of the early portion of the season. That process, ironically enough, began to take shape immediately after losing to the Eagles.

The reason both teams recovered their mojo in time to make their Super Bowl runs started on their sidelines. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and Chiefs coach Andy Reid found ways to evolve as the season wore on, adjusting to the ever-changing schemes and strategies opposing teams came up with.

By comparison, the Eagles stubbornly clung to the tired and true script that saw them through September and October.  As teams made their adjustments, the Eagles became more and more predictable, while becoming less and less effective.

The Eagles’ two first-year coordinators, Brian Johnson and Sean Desai, were just not equipped to make the kind of adjustments that championship teams need to make through the course of a season. The hope for next year is that longtime defensive guru Vic Fangio and veteran offensive mind Kellen Moore will be better able to navigate the changing tides of an NFL season.

Coaching was only part of the Eagles collapse.

The front office deserves as much blame as any single person on the sidelines wearing a headset on gameday. The Super Bowl illustrates that fact just as well.

In consecutive years, the 49ers traded for running back Christian McCaffrey and edge rusher Chase Young to bolster their offense and defense. McCaffrey unlocked maybe the league’s most varied and dangerous offense. Young added depth to an already fearsome defensive unit.

This season’s big additions to the Eagles roster were safety Kevin Byard and linebacker Shaquille Leonard. In their prime, at Tennessee and Indianapolis, both players were among their best at their positions in the league.

This was not their prime.

On the AFC sideline, Kansas City upgraded its roster the old-fashioned way, through the draft. Vineland, New Jersey’s Isiah Pacheco, last year, and Rashee Rice gained increasingly larger roles in the Kansas City offense as the year progressed.

The Eagles had early success with rookie Jalen Carter and second-year player Jordan Davis but its other young players struggled to make an impact anywhere on the field.

The Eagles coaching and front office will have to be better. The most glaring area the Eagles will need to improve is in quarterback play.

The 49ers consistently put an above-average quarterback in Brock Purdy into positions where he could be successful. The Chiefs have the very best quarterback on the planet in Patrick Mahomes and found ways to maximize his skill set and surround him with options.

Jalen Hurts falls somewhere in between Mahomes and Purdy and the Eagles need him to play like it. The Eagles coaches, the front office and Hurts himself will all need to be better.

The biggest lesson of football’s final weekend is that Super Bowls are a lot more fun when the Eagles play in them.

Opinion

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