THERE are no more big plans for the 2016 season. Since most sports pundits and Eagles fans didn’t have many to begin with, no one should be disappointed at where the team is right now. The time has come for us to shift focus. Instead of trying to win 3 more meaningless games in 2016, or we should the table for 2017, 2018, 2019 and so forth and so on. Our 2017 season should start this Sunday.
Since this game is meaningless, this game shouldn’t be about this game. This game should be about the 2017 offseason. It should be an evaluation tool that includes a high number of young players starting and playing in critical situations. We should get a deep look at our youth during “live fire”. Not just during “garbage time”, but while the game is on the line, to see how they handle the pressure and if they can respond well to it.
The smart play here is to get a long look at the back end of our roster, to be sure that we A) don’t release any youth that has real potential, and B) that we don’t waste a Draft pick on something that we already have, but don’t realize that we do. This way we get to focus laser-like on what we truly need, and can build on strengths.
This game shouldn’t be about beating the Ravens, but if we can do that with a bunch of young players and deep bench guys, it portends greatness and is a hell of confidence builder for the young guys.
So let’s talk about the Four Things Players we need to look for, Week 15 versus Baltimore :
1) WR Bryce Treggs: I’ve been screaming for more of him for weeks now. Rumors of possibly signing Free Agent DeSean Jackson next season, only make getting a DEEP look at Treggs so much more important. Why pay more for DJax’s balky, old hammies, when Treggs can already stretch a defense? If he can effectively snag deep balls against a team fighting for a playoff spot, then there’s no need to overpay for a FA, or spend a high Draft pick at the WR position.
2) WR Paul Turner: He should start over WR Nelson Agholor for two reasons. 1) it keeps the fire lit under Agholor’s ass, and 2) we get to see Turner vs starting NFL CB’s, and not just second and third string units. Everyone is screaming that we need to grab a WR early, and maybe we do. However, we should first take a long look to make sure.
3) G Dillon Gordon: G Stefen Wisniewski is a FA after this year, but he played well enough to be brought back. However, given the contract of G Brandon Brooks, and the commitment to developing rookie G Isaac Seumalo, giving Wisniewski an inflated contract to be a back-up, seems unlikely. That makes it imperative to determine if Gordon can be relied upon at all. If he can’t play, at least we know where we stand. If Gordon can play, then we can either improve our leverage with Wisniewski, or move on from him altogether with less doubt.
4) DT Destiny Vaeao: With DT Bennie Logan becoming a FA after the season, it would help to know how Vaeao looks when paired with DT Fletcher Cox. DC Jim Schwartz likes to sub his Defensive Line, 4 guys at a time, so we haven’t gotten to see much of a Cox/Vaeao interior. Even when Logan missed games with a calf injury, DT Beau Allen simply sucked up more playing time. Vaeao isn’t the run-stuffer that Logan is, but he’s a more dynamic pass rusher. Given the fall-off we’ve had in that area, seeing a Cox/Vaeao interior might be the shot in the arm this team has been needing.
At this point, looking ahead to the future isn’t tanking. Tanking is quitting early while there is still something on the table worth winning. We’re past that at this point. To paint you a realistic picture: We’d have to win out and go 8-8, while Tampa Bay and Atlanta (8-5), Washington (7-5-1) and Green Bay (7-6) would ALL have to drop their remaining games. Actually given Tampa and Atlanta’s 6-3 conference records with 3 conference games remaining, I don’t see how we (5-7 conference, 2 conference games remaining) overtake them. When you add in our inability to win road games and that we’d be exclusively on the road, it only makes sense to give real consideration to our Draft position (round Two and on), and determine the depth of our needs pertaining to free agency. It’s just smart football and good business.