RELAX. Yes, S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson signed with the Lions. Yes, we could have used his services. While those two things are true, let me tell you two more truths. One, we may very well have the answer to his departure on the roster already. Two, his choice isn’t going to work out for him in the long run. And by the long run, I mean inside of the next 365 days. Gotta think long-term, folks!
(NOTE: If I’d written this without first writing GARDNER-JOHNSON’S DEAL, this article might be seen as sour grapes. But since I did write that first, there should be very little of that talk. There’ll be some (you’ve met morons before), but it’ll be minimal.)
First, when Gardner went down with a lacerated kidney and missed four games this year, rookie S Reed Blankenship stepped in for him. However, even after Gardner came back in the final game, the Eagles found a way to get Blankenship 45 snaps (71%) in that game. They got him 48 (92%) in the Divisional playoff game.
This demonstrates that the coaching staff either had a lot of trust in Blankenship, or they were trying to get a look at him. Both Gardner and FS Marcus Epps were going to be free agents, so it made sense to know if Blankenship gave the Front Office any leverage; or if they just had to grease up, bend over, and bite down on the blanket.
If we don’t start Blankenship, maybe the answer is 42. By which I mean, K’Von Wallace, who also got a start during Gardner’s injury (when Blankenship missed a game with an injury). Maybe Blankenship and Wallace could be 2023’s pairing. In any case the F.O. seems settled on the position. Aside from Gardner, they didn’t seem interested in other free agent Safeties.
Epps was allowed to walk quickly, and the Eagles weren’t willing to offer Gardner a guaranteed 8M for just one season. They wanted three years. The deal he signed with Detroit is one year, worth up to 8M$. Meaning he’ll need to play for incentives to reach that 8M. I have no idea what those incentives are, and because he’s now S.E.P. (Someone Else’s Problem), I won’t be looking into it.
Brings me to my second point of why this move won’t work out for him.
First, he got off to the start he did last year, because opposing QB’s threw at our Safeties, to avoid throwing at our Corners; each of whom had 3 picks last year. Also the pass rush we generated last year, racked up 70 sacks. Helping us finish #1 vs the pass last year.
Second, Detroit’s CB’s are mutts, who had just TWO total interceptions. Given that their Safeties snagged 5 picks in 2022, opposing QB’s target their CB’s. So Gardner won’t see many chances to make plays. Also Detroit doesn’t generate as many hurried throws, with just 39 sacks last year. He’s out there on a prove it deal, and won’t be given a chance to do so.
The year he had with us last year is a complete outlier in his career. Check it out:
We made him. Now he gets to be an average S, on a bad defense, wasting away in the Midwest. But hey, Life is an I.Q. Test. This is the sort of decision you make when you chase short-term gains, without considering the long-term picture.
Oh, did I mention that Detroit finished 30th vs the pass last year? Oh, I didn’t? Well! Detroit finished 30th vs the pass last year. He tantrumed his way out of New Orleans over money, and now he’s let his emotions land him in Detroit.
By the way: The contract he signs next year, will likely be for similar per year money (6 – 8M) as the one he just signed, but given inflation, will actually be a smaller deal. I say “likely” because Detroit isn’t a very smart organization, so they could surprise us.
But don’t panic. No matter what happens elsewhere, we’re still in an great situation right here. With even better things already in the works. Gotta think long-term, folks!