WHEN injuries happen, it’s important to have proper back-ups. Proper as in, fits the scheme, so they can step right in and allow a continuation of the program. If a back-up requires the coaches to re-vamp the system, or implement a drastic scale-back on how much of the playbook can be used, then someone (the GM) didn’t do their job building the roster.
This isn’t me suggesting roster moves here. I NEVER do that in The 12. It would be antithetical to why I started this series in the first place. What I will do however, is discuss the idea of adopting and adapting the vision to build proper back-ups. That way we can take a true, next man up approach. Like the 2017 Eagles did.
Quality depth isn’t just about talent. Quality depth actually is more often about a back-up being prepared to play, and understanding their role if they have to start for an extended length of time. This is about being prepared if certain players were to become unavailable.
Players such as:
WR DeSean Jackson – Brought here to take the lid off of defenses, we saw what happens to the Offense in a year where we had a deep threat for 16 games (Torrey Smith). We also saw what happened when we lost our deep threat (Mike Wallace) in the second game. In the event that Jackson goes down, the next most logical player to step up would be WR Mack Hollins.
Hollins missed all of 2018 with a sports hernia, followed by a groin injury. While he doesn’t have Djax’s speed (who does?), he has legit wheels and hands. Plus with that 6’4” frame, he’d be a nightmare for any secondary. Especially one already trying to cope with WR Alshon Jeffery and TE Zach Ertz.
DT Fletcher Cox – While there are a few guys at DT, there is of course no one who can fill Cox’s shoes. However, splitting his duties could lessen the blow if we have to do with out him. DT Trayvon Hester vs the run on 1st down, or 2nd and short, and DE Vinny Curry playing inside on 2nd and long and 3rd downs.
Again, this isn’t about replacing talent, it’s about players understanding their roles and doing what they’re good at. In that way they can focus on delivering, when called upon.
SS Malcolm Jenkins – I’ve had my eye on S Tre Sullivan for a couple of years now.
He didn’t make the cut in 2017, but he got to play a little in 2018. He was big in the playoff game vs Chicago, mostly in a FS role. Sullivan can be prone to the stupid penalty, but he’s got a hitter’s mentality, and plays with confidence and passion. He’s an emotional leader waiting to happen.
QB Carson Wentz – QB Nate Sudfeld is the back-up now.
He’s played here for two years, knows the system, the playbook, and has played well when he’s stepped on the field. The key to Sudfeld is in making sure that he doesn’t think it’s his job to “win” games. Have him just focus on his job, and let the outcome take care of itself.
RB Jordan Howard – RB Corey Clement battled a leg injury early last year that kept him from being his best.
The Eagles allowed he, and Wendell Smallwood to duke it out for the nod when RB Jay Ajayi was lost for the year. Clement was eventually lost for the year, and Smallwood got the nod until the staff couldn’t take it anymore, and started RB Josh Adams. Based on what we have now, Clement should be the #2 here. It’s time.
For pretty much everything else, the Eagles have either proven depth , or they have burning needs. Positions like DE, G, CB, TE, WR are pretty well stocked, and the Eagles can mix and match to exploit match-ups. Positions like MLB, reserve LT, reserve OLB, are already dumpster fires, and no amount of spin, or putting lipstick on a pig, will cover that up.
For some positions, the Draft can’t get here fast enough, but for others… A little planning now would keep us rolling smoothly over obstacles, and into the playoffs.