Philadelphia and New England enjoyed their postseason runs to Jacksonville, but it also put both teams behind in preparing for what promises to be a critical offseason for each.
The biggest losses for the Patriots are already clear. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is off to coach Notre Dame, and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will be hired as the Cleveland Browns' head coach this week.
"We've been together a long time," Belichick said of Crennel. "In my opinion he deserves to be a head coach."
Defensive backs coach Eric Mangini is a likely candidate to replace Crennel if Belichick decides to promote from within his current staff, while tight ends coach Jeff Davison is considered an option to take over Weis. But with two critical holes to fill, Belichick is certain to weigh outside candidates as well.
While Philadelphia coach Andy Reid figures to retain most of his staff, the Eagles have several key free agents they will have to make important decisions on in the next month.
None is bigger than middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who will play in his third Pro Bowl after taking over the starting job in the middle of the season. The Eagles picked him off the scrap heap last offseason, but he is expected to be one of the most sought-after free agents this spring.
The Eagles would like to find a way to re-sign defensive end Derrick Burgess, but defensive tackle Corey Simon could be on his way out of town. At the beginning of the season, there was speculation the Eagles might slap Simon with the franchise tag, but that seems unlikely following a somewhat disappointing season.
The ride to Super Bowl XXXIX was fun, but if the Patriots and Eagles have visions of returning any time soon, next season starts now.