DO you see? Just like that, the Eagles are already getting better.
NOTE: I wanted to get this one in before we play the Browns today.
I wrote last week in EASILY FIXING THE EAGLES that the team’s issues stemmed from a culture without enough competition built into it. I also wrote a week prior to that, in HOW TO HELP CARSON WENTZ that he is at his best, with a hard-nosed running game, not a finesse one.
So what moves did the Eagles make?
Move The First: We signed RB Jordan Howardto the Practice Squad. For casual Eagles fans there’s a lot in that move that’s easy to miss. For someone like me, it’s all the subtle things that jump out at me. It’s all the “down the line” implications that I’m excited by. It likely won’t impact THIS game, but that’s beside the point.
Howard should have never been cut in the first place. Despite RB Miles Sanders’sobvious talent, he still could benefit from the presence of a veteran RB, to bounce things off of. RB Corey Clementfits the bill, but the Eagles spotty commitment to him, gives his voice less weight when talking to younger players.
With their treatment of Clement and cutting of Howard, the Eagles created a situation where there was no player to mentor Sanders. Thus, he’s still making small mental mistakes, that have huge impacts. Like on his blitz pick-ups, and pass route landmarks. Signing Howard, and letting Sanders see a vet do it, will help with that.
Move El Dos: Elevating RB Elijah Holyfieldfrom the Practice Squad to the Active Roster. The advertisement on Holyfield is that he will be a tough, between the Tackles runner. The film on him says different. It says that once he gets past the line of scrimmage, there’s been too much East-West running in his very short football history. At least for my taste.
That being said, he was young and playing in Carolina. The Panthers had a playbook developed for a WR small RB trying to prove a point. So coming here, may help fix some bad habits that Holyfield may have picked up there.
Those two moves by themselves are solid personnel moves. Add a veteran mentor, who has a skill that you clearly lack. Then elevate a guy from the Practice Squad, so you can get enough tape to evaluate him at season’s end, to determine pressing Draft needs. Solid GM-ing.
Now for the parts that are easy to miss.
Last week the giants made forcing-feeding us the run, look like Bluto force-feeding spinach to Popeye.
But how was the Eagles Defense supposed to practice stopping that kind of downhill run game, without selling out to stop it? Practicing against which RB? Sanders? Clement? RB Boston Scott? Holyfield was on the PS, but he isn’t the downhill runner that Howard has proven to be.
There is a role for a short yardage/back-up RB on this team. The elevation of Holyfield and signing of Howard (who mostly still knows the playbook), is a competitive situation. Two players making Practice Squad money, who want real contracts. Real careers. Suddenly the Eagles are going to be practicing better.Do you see?
For a RB to impress in practice, he has to embarrass defensive players. If a defensive player is embarrassed too often, he may lose starts. That means our LB’s and Safeties are officially on notice. If they don’t get it now, they will the first time one of them gets run over by a teammate. Do you see?
I wrote just four days ago that THIS was the way to fix the team, and it is already underway! I doubted that the Eagles could/would do it during the season. Yet here are two subtle moves, that will spur culture change in the team’s practice habits. On both sides of the ball! Practice habits are work habits. They become game habits.
GENERALLY when I talk football, it’s about my Eagles. I tend to keep mum about our rivals, unless we have a game coming up against one of them. Otherwise, I’ve reserved most talk about them for my Pre-Draft Preview,which drops each April. (Look for it).
In 2017 however, I decided to try something new, and give our fan base a running commentary of what the division is doing around us. This ensures that Eagles fans actually are the NFL’s best informed, and most knowledgeable fans. (Provided you visit this site often.) These updates will come out three times during the season: After Weeks 6, 11, and 17.
This is where things are today:
Football Team: 1 – 5, 4th place in the NFC East
Their opening week victory looks like the only one they’ll get this year. Since that game they’ve allowed 29.0 points per game on defense. On offense they decided to not only bench their starting QB Dwayne Haskins, but to demote him to their Practice Squad. The new starter, QB Kyle Allen, has so far done a pretty good impersonation of Haskins during games.
Part of their offensive woes stem from insisting that they can turn college WR Antonio Gibson, into a RB. He’s a big slot WR who was born to catch middle Screens, and hot reads off of blitzes. Any other coaching staff would have seen that. The Redsk- Oops! The Football Team, wastes possessions trying to force a square peg, into a cement covered sphincter.
On defense they made a big splash getting 8 sacks, against an injury decimated Eagles Offensive Line in Week 1. Since then, they have all of 8 sacks in 5 games. They do have 7 interceptions, half of which (4) belong to CB Kendall Fuller.
giants: 1 – 5 , 3rd place in the NFC East
The giants spent 4 weeks getting worse, then had an offensive explosion vs the Cowboys last Sunday. They continued to ride that wave of confidence to their first win of the season over the Football Team. That win officially enters them into the “Win The NFC East” raffle.
To add injury to insult, the team lost RB Saquon Barkley for the year, with a torn ACL in his right knee. That placed all the weight for carrying the offense on QB Daniel Jones. Jones has so far responded by leading the team in rushing, with 204 yards through 6 games (34.0 ypg). Throwing the ball he has 3 TD’s and 6 picks. So there’s that.
On defense they’re allowing a 70% completion rate, and 8 TD’s to 3 picks. They’re also good for 110 yards on the ground per game. On the up-side, Green Bay refugee LB’s Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell are leading the team with 2 and 3 sacks, as well as 5 and 6 tackles for losses, respectively. Martinez leads the team in tackles.
Dallas Cowboys: 2 – 4, 1st place in the NFC East
This team was 1 – 3 before losing QB Dak Prescott for the year, during a Week 5 win over the giants. The road ahead doesn’t appear any easier. Six games in and RB Ezekiel Elliott has yet to see 100 yards rushing in game. What’s more, he has 5 fumbles already this year. The offensive line is an injury ravaged mess.
Defensively they give up 36.3 points per game. Allowing at least 34 points in each of their last 5 games. They’ve surrendered 14 passing TD’s and have just 1 interception this season, with just 2 total takeaways. Their best defensive player (DE Aldon Smith) is a guy who spent the last 4 years out of football.
Worse than all of the statistical woes, this team doesn’t appear to be weathering the adversity well. The sideline body language, and lack of eye contact between players, is indicative of a powder keg.
Oh yeah, and there’s also the little matter of players throwing the coaching staff under the bus, after just 6 weeks. This is where Dallas needs their men of high character to step up and lead.
So that’s the state of our division rivals as our Eagles head into Week 7.
OVER the last two games, most Eagles fans have fallen heels-over-head for WR Travis Fulgham. Some love that he’s scored in each of the last two games. Some love that he makes big splash catches.
I love that he’s nothing special.
Seriously, there is nothing about his game that is remotely remarkable. He’s not super-fast. He doesn’t jump super-high. He doesn’t kill defenders with his first step off the line. So if he doesn’t have any amazing traits, why is he so much better than all the other young receivers we’ve drafted since Jeremy Maclin?
The thing that separates Fulgham from Eagles draft picks, is that he has a solid set of fundamentals. He comes back to the ball. He boxes out. He high-points and catches with his hands. Again, nothing special. Just the fundamentals that any receiver should have. I said should.
During Week One, QB Carson Wentz threw two interceptions. One was while trying to connect with rookie WR Jalen Reagor, and the other was an attempt to rookie WR John Hightower. Both were jumping and fading away from the ball, allowing the defender to uncut them. Remember the one to WR J.J. Arcega-Whitesidevs the Rams? Look up those three picks. I’ll wait…
(Whistling. Filing nails. Painting a still-life.)
Oh, you’re back! Did you notice what I was talking about? It jumps right out at you, doesn’t it? From now on, you will NEVER fail to notice it, and wonder how others miss it.
Although WR Alshon Jeffery has crazy leaping skills, his speed isn’t lethal, he’s not the biggest receiver, and he doesn’t have legendary hands. In fact, how would you describe Alshon’s game? Comes back to the ball. Boxes out. High-points. Makes yards after the catch. None of those things are talent based. Those are all skills. They are fundamentals which only come from teaching.
The obvious thing that fans keep missing, is that young Eagles receivers aren’t taught those basics. Fulgham learned it before he got here. Alshon, same thing. Terrell Owens? Kevin Curtis? These guys looked great next to receivers drafted, but untaught by our coaching staffs.
Speaking of which, how DOES former Eagles WR Nelson Agholor, look in Las Vegas this year? He’s only caught 10 balls, but he’s only been thrown 11 passes. That’s a 90% catch rate. Through 5 years with the Eagles, Agholor NEVER had a 90% catch rate through 5 weeks. Not in 2015 (47%), not 2016 (66%), not 2017 (69%), not 2018 (70%), nor 2019 (59%). NEVER.
Crazy what a little coaching can fix.
Some readers may say that I’ve failed to mention Fulgham’s ability to create separation with stems, speed variations in his routes, head fakes, stacking the defender, etc. Those are all skills. Those are all taught things. Every blessed one of them. Just basic fundamentals.
I love that Fulgham’s game is based on fundamentals. It means that if the Eagles decide to sign him long-term, his ability to play won’t disappear with injury, or suddenly with age. When Alshon gets back I look forward to seeing packages that feature them both on the field.
Now if only we can utilize some of that speed we added this year…
SEASON Reviews are usually done at the end of the season. A few are also done at the halfway mark. Starting in 2017, Eaglemaniacal.combegan treating the season like a game, and breaking it into four quarters. Since football is a hard sport, we’ll take a hard look at where our team currently stands, in relation to where it started. Then we can discuss where it needs to go next.
STATUS: 1 – 2 – 1 / 1st place in the NFC East / 21.0 points per game vs. 29.2 points allowed
(L) Washington 1 – 3
(L) Los Angeles Rams 3 – 1
(T) Cincinnati 1 – 2 – 1
( W) San Francisco 2 – 2
IT’S been a shit-show. Injuries (more than anything else), have derailed any sense of rhythm this team was supposed to have coming out of the gate. On Offense it’s led to inconsistencies, which have led to turnovers, which have left points on the field. On Defense it’s led to communications errors, magnified by gaps in talent, which have translated into points for the opponent.
QB (D): Why not an F for Carson Wentz? Because of context. Context means you look at the WHOLE picture, not just the stat-line. Washington was going well, until the sacks started piling up. He was bad in the Rams game. In the last two games however, Carson has put this team on his shoulders. Despite protection issues, and a lack of weapons, he’s figuring out how to keep us in games. Still, he has to get the turnovers under control. Jalen Hurtshas played 10 snaps and still has two fumbles (Neither was lost.)
RB (C ): Miles Sanders has been effective running the ball, but far from dangerous. He hasn’t established himself as a tier of the Offense, merely as an option in it. The short passing game won’t pop until that happens. Boston Scott is not a true runner and it shows, in how easy it is to stop his forward progress. Corey Clement is scarcely being utilized.
TE (C ): Seems like a high grade until you realize that the production is off, because shorter routes are being emphasized for this position. The team is scheming away fromZach Ertzin order as they audition replacements. That was going fine until Dallas Goedertended up on IR. Now the Eagles are standing in the rain, on the doorstep of the girl they just dumped, horny and somewhat humbled. “Looking for a little romance. Given half a chance.”
WR (D): The inability to stay healthy is bad enough, but the “next man up” needs to do a better job of trying to crack the starting line-up. As a group, so far they’ve caught 43 of 70 targets for 478 yards (11.1 ypc) and just 2 touchdowns. Greg Ward is the leader at this position, but he doesn’t even average 9 yards per catch. Taking what the defense gives you is one thing. Letting them dictate to you all game long, is quite another. These guys have to do a better job of getting open on intermediate and deep routes
T (D): Neither Jason Peters nor Lane Johnson has looked quite like themselves this season. With JP it’s a toe injury that put him on IR for a few games. With Johnson it’s offseason ankle surgery, that isn’t back to 100% yet. Rookie Jack Driscoll has played quite a bit of football this year, but he looks like a rookie. Three year project Jordan Mailata got his first start in the Eagles lone win. He wasn’t amazing, but there was definite promise there. Still this position has been too inconsistent to grade it highly.
G (C ): Matt Pryor and Nate Herbig won’t be mistaken for Pro Bowlers, but we haven’t lost a game since they became our starting tandem, two games ago. They aren’t the best pass blockers, but that has the upside of “encouraging” bootlegs and getting the ball out earlier.
C (D): Jason Kelcestill understands leverage and landmarks, but his ability to win at the point of attack seems greatly diminished. Also he could do a better job of shielding the scramble lane. The good news is we’ve already seen the first of his annual two wild snaps. Kelce still is a wily vet, and he can get by on that. The question is: “Can the Eagles?”
DE (C): The sack production is there, with 10 in the first 4 games. Brandon Graham is on pace for a 12 sack season. So is Josh Sweat. Derek Barnettis on pace for 10. However, the backside run stopping is dangerously lax. Regardless of who lines up there (usually Barnett or Sweat), our RDE often doesn’t set the edge. Instead, they flatten to run down it. Without second level containment on that side, the Eagles fall frequent victim to reverses or stretch runs. FYI: It happens enough for opponents to be able to scheme for and target.
DT (A): This position is the engine that drives the Defense. It is the source of our power. They are the primary reason why we are giving up just 3.8 yards per rush. They also provide the pressure that has us leading the NFL in sacks. Fletcher Coxis Fletcher Cox of course, but Malik Jackson? Him?? As a group, all four players have 14 QB hits through 4 games. Jackson owns 9 of them. As an interior lineman!
OLB (D): Opponents now know that Nate Gerry has neither the speed to cover anyone, nor the strength to take on blockers. As a Nicklebacker (ugh!) playing ZONE, he provides a level of shift-on-the-fly flexibility that’s hard to match. However, as an every down ‘backer, he’s more like shit-under-flies. On the other hand, we haven’t lost since Duke Riley became a starter. Riley has also been lackluster, to put it kindly. The only splash play made by this group was Alex Singleton’s 30 yard game sealing pic-six vs the 49ers.
MLB (C ): T.J. Edwards wasn’t setting the world on fire, but we were getting some decent football out of him inside the Tackle box. But he’s on IR now, so…(nodding) ya know… In the meantime, getting a good look at rookie Shaun Bradley can only help his development. No one said they would, but at this point, they should.
S (C): FS Rodney McLeod has been targeted 13 times for 6 completions, just 68 yards, 0 TD’s, and a red zone interception. He’s been a low-key brightspot in the Secondary this season. Jalen Mills has been a bit of a disaster at SS. Targeted 7 times for 7 completions and a TD. Plus the soft tackling. His move back outside for WK4, was a godsend. During WK4, rookie Kavon Wallace got the start, while veteran Marcus Epps got most of the snaps. They weren’t All Pro, but they showed actual promise. The grade for next quarter should be higher. Provided that Mills stays outside.
CB (C): Darius Slay is the story here. He has no picks, and is allowing completions at a rate of 66%. However, he’s also only allowed 180 yards through 4 games, and his deflection in our lone victory, stopped George Kittle from stealing it from us, in the closing seconds of the game. Jalen Mills in that game was targeted 7 times, allowing just 2 completions for all of 6 yards. Never move him to Safety again. (Love him at N/CB though.) When we stopped playing Nickell Robey-Coleman 60% of the time, we started winning, and allowing 32 points per game. That, coincided with playing Cre’Von LeBlanc a lot more. So it feels like the Eagles are finding a rhythm at the position. A per game grade would look like D, F, C, B.
LS (A): The fact that you can’t recall mentioning Rick Lovato, is always a good thing.
P (A): Cameron Johnston is out there MURDERING IT so far. He’s averaging 51.6 yards per punt, 12 of which have been returned for an average of just 5.6 yards.
K (A): Jake Elliott is 7 of 7 on extra points and 6 of 7 from the field, with his only miss being from 50+ yards.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
We ended 2019 on a 4 – 0 tear, vs admittedly garbage ((cough) division), lever competition. We tweaked the Offense by moving around some coaches, and added a ton of speed. Injuries however, have reared their ugly heads, yet again. The difference is, now we’re so used to it, that we know how to take it in stride.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Getting the Offensive Line and the Secondary to gel, should be the focus of these next few games. We need to be able to solidly separate ourselves from the bottom of the division. While 4 – 0 would be great and should always be the goal, coming out of these next 4 (Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New York giants, Dallas) at 2 – 2 seems more realistic.
EAGLES vs “Football Team”. My god. How does Washington not see how stupid that looks?
The 2020 season sees last year’s Division Champs, your Philadelphia Eagles, return with a bigger, beefier QB Carson Wentz. Back comes DT Malik Jackson. Added was NT Javon Hargrave. Now DTFletcher Cox will see more one-on-one blocking. The same Fletcher Cox who beats double-teams! We added the power to control offenses.
Then we realized that we needed speed. Speed was our need. Greasy, fast speed!
So we added it. WR DeSean Jackson returns! Instead of making him our only source of speed, the Eagles also added WR Marquis Goodwin. Then WR John Hightower. Then WR Quez Watkins. Goodwin opted out of 2020, due to Covid-19 concerns. That leaves us with “only” three players who can blow the lid off of the defense, this Sunday.
A badly wounded Eagles team won the division in 2019. Then we lost in the first round of the playoffs. That made the team angry. And hungry. So they spent the offseason, sharpening, honing, their edge so fine, that you can hear a breeze splitting against it. If the Eagles could defend in 2019, they can hunt in 2020.
Win the division and we’re in the playoffs. No nonsense about being the 7th team, or getting help to qualify. Win and we’re in. Beating 2020 means winning the division. So that’s the mission: Beat 2020.
The first Adam’s Apple that even now, trickles blood at the point of our sword? Washington.
Settle your affairs Washington! The Eagles are coming.
The point of Four Things isn’t to predict a winner, it’s to discuss which tactics will practically guarantee our Eagles this win. CAUTION: I don’t have the faintest clue as to what a point spread is, and I know even less about how it works. I know football and that’s IT. If you use FT as a gambling tool, you are trying to lose your money.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the (ahem) “Football Team” :
1) Run the football:That means at least 24 handoffs this week. Washington’s defense is sporting a new scheme. That’s true. Still, their interior is the same guys that our Offensive Line has physically been pushing around for years now. This year however, they’re smaller at DE and OLB. That won’t fare well vs our 2-TE sets. Especially if we don’t give them a strong-side to read easily. I guess they could always walk the SS into the box. Right, DeSean?
2) Blitz off our right:The loss of LT Trent Williams was massive. So Washington is attempting to plug the hole with OT Geron Christian Sr. Yes, Senior. He’s just 24 years old, and he’s already listing himself as “Senior”. I suppose it’s so he isn’t mistaken for his 3 year old son. In any case, he’s basically Halapoulivaati Vaitai, in a Redsk- Football Tea- (Lord, give me strength), Washington jersey. Overload his side. Confuse him. Force their RB to give blitz help on the edge, and take away one more receiving option. Let’s get their QB holding that ball a little bit longer.
3) Throw aggressively:SS Landon Collins is one hell of an ILB. Too bad that’s not what they signed him to play. That has led to one the most flammable secondaries you’ve ever seen.The funniest part was this offseason, when they gave CB Ronald Darby a boatload of money to pretend he’s hurt after blowing some more coverage assignments. This couldn’t be happening to a better team, and I mean that sincerely. A better team wouldn’t pay him. Get that ball down the field, Carson!
4) Make tackles: Seems like a silly thing to say, but winning has a great deal to do with confidence. Start out by doing things right, and the confidence will bloom. Not just that, but missed tackles might make Washington’s suck-ass players feel like they have a chance. Take a chainsaw to that shit while it’s still in the cradle. Make those tackles.
If we do all these things we should win, with a score looking like…
THERE were a few names among the cuts that I was not happy with: DT Anthony Rush, CB Rasul Douglas, and DE Shareef Miller specifically. That said, I wouldn’t rule out seeing one or two of those guys added to the Practice Squad in the next couple of days.
The key to this roster is not to over-react to it. With no preseason there may be a guy or two who made the team, simply because the coaching staff felt that they needed a look at him during live fire, before shipping him out. Cutting “just a guy” in order to make sure that you don’t pass on a diamond in the rough, is a hard thing to argue against.
Here’s my take on the Eagles roster as it stands now. We’ll keep it simple: GREEN (Ready to roll) / YELLOW (Serviceable, but needs bolstering) / RED (This can’t be the best we can do)
QB: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Jalen Hurts – I have no worries here. Wentz is a top ten starter, Sudfeld has never been “WOW!”, but he’s never sucked either. Hurts is a rookie with a lot of talent, but he’s 100% untested at this level. GREEN
RB: Miles Sanders,Corey Clement, Boston Scott – This is a good group. Good. Not great. Everyone here can catch the ball and is dangerous as hell in the Screen game. What’s missing is a 3rd and 2 banger. A back to wear down the defense, eat clock, and quiet the crowd for road games like Week 10 (giants), Week 11 (Browns), and Week 13 (Packers). (YES! We drew away games at Lambeau TWO years in a row! Total bullshit.) GREEN
WR: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson,Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, Quez Watkins – Seven. I thought the team might keep six, but I guess with Jeffery not being back from injury yet, Watkins is getting an opportunity. Numbers aside, I’ve been an Eagles fan since 1989, and I have never seen our team assemble a receiver corps this dangerous. Jackson, Hightower and Watkins can all fly. Jeffery is open even when he’s covered. (And here’s a link for those who forgot that.) Greg Ward has a knack for uncovering early in his route, which gives the QB an almost instant place to go with the ball. Reagor and Whiteside have reportedly looked very promising in camp. This group is very fast, and diverse, so they can be schemed to exploit a new weakness every week. GREEN
TE: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert – This is likely the best TE 1-2 punch in football. The problem is that there is no depth here. While on most teams, a second TE would be depth, our team plays them both so much, that an injury to one totally disrupts our base offensive concept. This is one of the positions that either requires and add, or for a lineman to switch position. (Now who might be athletic enough to handle such a switch…?) However, as long as these two are healthy, opposing defensive coordinators can kiss a week of sleep, goodbye. GREEN
C: Jason Kelce – Good solid player. GREEN
G: Isaac Seumalo, Jason Peters, Nate Herbig – This is a solid bunch, though I still think that if Peters is playing the position, he should be on the Left, not the Right. YELLOW
T: Lane Johnson, Matt Pryor, Jordan Mailata, Jack Driscoll – Johnson is a perennial Pro-Bowl type of player at RT. Everyone else is a a crapshoot. With the season ending injury to Andre Dillard, Jason Peters should be at LT. Instead, we’re out here holding tryouts a week before the season starts. RED
DE: Brandon Graham,Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Genard Avery,Casey Toohill – Both Graham and Curry play the run well and get plenty of heat on the QB. (Though neither is a sack machine.) Barnett has yet to put it all together, and has been average at best to this point in his career. Sweat showed flashes last year, and may be nipping at Barnett’s heels for his starting spot in 2021. Avery is an OLB/DE tweener who relies on explosive brute force to get to the passer. We saw a tiny sample of that in 2019, but there’s a lot of buzz about him from coaches this year. Toohill is still here because a 250 pound DE, who runs a 4.62 forty, is a nice thing to have on Special Teams. This isn’t a flashy position, but there are at least 4 players here who are NFL caliber starters. GREEN
DT: Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Hasaan Ridgeway, Javon Hargrave– Three of these four demand frequent double-teams. That alone will to open up many, many one-on-one opportunities for edge rushers this season. And what’s scarier: All the players at this position are all finishers. GREEN
OLB: Nate Gerry, Duke Riley, Alex Singleton, Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley – Gerry is going to start. Beyond that, everything is a question or just speculation. As if to further fuel that very thing, the Eagles have taken down the depth chart section of their website. There’s a lot of speed here, but Gerry is the only one with significant experience playing NFL defense. Bradley and Taylor are both rookies. Singleton and Riley are career Special Teamers. Communication breakdowns are going to be a regular occurrence here. RED
MLB: T.J. Edwards– The Eagles don’t make a distinction between OLB and MLB. At least on paper they don’t. Fact is, with Edwards’s limited speed and range, he has to play the MIKE if he wants to play in this league. YELLOW
S: Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, Rudy Ford, Marcus Epps, Will Parks, K’Von Wallace – While I’m still peeved over letting Malcolm Jenkins walk, Mills will provide a little more speed. That means it won’t require McLeod to over-extend himself in deep coverage. Ford and Epps were here in 2019 and they combined for 17 games and 11 tackles. No passes defensed or nothing. Parks was brought in and moved into third on the depth chart, but he’s injured, and it remains to be seen how he bounces back. Wallace is a rookie. YELLOW
CB: Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Craig James, Darius Slay, Nickell Robey-Coleman – Slay isn’t quite “shutdown” level, but he’s the next best thing. Or at least he has been so far in his career. Maddox seems to be the second starter. He’s feisty and will gamble for the ball, but his stature (5’9”, 183) could become an issue. With Robey-Coleman being brought in to play the Nickle, it raises some serious questions about the role (and future) of LeBlanc. James just got a one year contract extension. YELLOW
K: Jake Elliott– Has been on a two year slide since 2017, and no one was brought in to challenge him. YELLOW
P: Cam Johnston – Needs to give his coverage time to get to the returner. YELLOW
LS: Rick Lovato – Must be awesome. You never hear his name. GREEN
Again, this is just the first edition of the roster. So there’s no need to freak out, and no reason to reserve Super Bowl tick- oh right. Covid.
SAFETYEarl Thomas was thrown out of Baltimore today, after punching a teammate Friday. Conduct detrimental to the team they call it. He’s expressed on a few occasions his desire to play in Dallas, and I for one, hope like hell that they sign him.
Once upon a time while playing in Seattle’s Legion Of Boom secondary, Thomas was seen as possibly the premier FS in football. Heck, I wanted my Eagles to find a way to bring him here. He hit like a S, and covered as well as a CB. He even had a nose for the football with 21 interceptions, 45 passes defensed, and 10 forced fumbles in just his first 6 seasons.
But Earl Thomas hasn’t been “Earl Thomas” for a while now.
During his first 6 seasons he never missed a single game. However, in the last 4, he’s missed 27 in total (5 in 2016, 2 in 2017, 12 in 2018). So with him now being 30, his durability is clearly in question. He didn’t play Week 17 in 2019, but he was being rested for the playoffs. That can’t be held against him.
While all those missed games of course meant lower stats, it also became clear that he’d lost a step, as he was moved from FS to SS, once he signed with the Ravens last year. The added fact that Baltimore was willing to part ways with him so fast, also indicates that they feel he’s readily replaceable. All of which is telling.
The biggest thing however, is the lack of maturity. Seattle fostered a competitive, combative environment, which works very well for up-and-coming, young players. It however, ages poorly on stars who are supposed to transition into leaders and leaders of men. Instead they basically acted like teen bullies.
Thomas, CB Richard Sherman, CB Byron Maxwell, S Kam Chancellor… They never gave off the impression of being able to be The Man. There is nothing about them, that suggested being capable of being the grown-up in a room. Seattle’s low expectations (head coach, front office, fans) failed them in this regard.
To that end, Thomas has grown into a very old, very cranky child, who is essentially locker room cancer now, and does not know how to handle his business in public, apparently in private (OH BROTHER!), and from the looks of it, maybe even now on the field.
That all being said, I would be THRILLED if he showed up on the roster of a division rival! Especially with a brand new head coach trying to establish a winning culture built on talent, intelligent choices, and individual accountability. That shit would make my day!
Gun to my head, if I had to pick where he goes, I’m hoping it happens to the only team in the division who could challenge the Eagles in 2020. Please, please, PLEASE Cowboys, go out and buy your locker room some gangrene. Here’s hoping that the Dallas Cowboys front office will be the Philadelphia Eagles 2020 MVP.
REALLY? So this is what we’re rolling with? I gave it a few days to see what move the Eagles would make, and the result is bupkis. Look, LB Jatavis Brown’s retirement shouldn’t come as a shock. Though he’s only 26, reports were that he’d fallen out of love with football. Given the handwriting on the wall, it’s not hard to see why.
Brown was a marginal player (at best) for the bulk of his four year career. The entirety of his playing days were for the Los Angeles (nee San Diego) Chargers. At one point in 2018, injuries forced the Chargers to start him for the majority of the season. He didn’t impress them.
Once the Chargers let him walk, Brown signed with Philadelphia. Keep in mind, this was before the 2020 NFL Draft. (Where we picked up rookie LB’s Davion Taylor in the 3rd round, andShaun Bradley in the 6th.) So when Brown signed, he probably did so with hopes of being a starter, for a contender.
Recent talk of LB’s Nate Gerry,T.J. Edwards, and Duke Riley, being the team’s primary three LB’s likely dimmed Brown’s hopes. Especially in light of the fact that the Eagles play a lot of Nickel, and therefore usually only have two LB’s on the field most of the time. Looking at being buried deep on a bench, beside two rookies who were drafted (i.e. invested in), may have gone a long way to souring Brown.
So now we’re down an experienced, albeit marginal player. Our LB corps now consists of rookies and back-ups, spearheaded by Gerry. There is talk of possibly kicking the tires on OLB Clay Matthews III, but he’s far more of a pass rusher than a “chase and cover” LB. For that matter we may as well stick with LB/DE Genard Avery.
While Brown’s presence didn’t add much, his absence makes a large hole even larger. The Front Office created a hole in the floor when they allowed LB Nigel Bradham (Saints) to walk. They then attempted to patch it with a sheet of aluminum foil (Brown). However, before the foil could fail, it simply blew away. Now we’re left with the hole again.
Last month I wrote an articleattempting to give the Eagles the benefit of the doubt regarding the moves made at this position, but I have to step back from that now. While Brown’s presence didn’t add much, his absence changes the metrics. Without a trade for an impact LB, I feel like this position is going to be an absolute liability for us in 2020.
This is nearly half of a century of disrespect for a position, which has coalesced into a culture of neglect for how this team treats it. The result is a self-inflicted wound which will show up every Sunday for this team. Dear Football Fan, imagine a defense where LB’s are an afterthought.
Adding DE Vinny Currywas a stroke of genius. The rich certainly got richer there. But the LB position? The thin have gotten thinner, and indeed, the poor have just gotten poorer.
LOOKS like the Cowboys have done it again! Yet again, they’ve put on Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” and reached into the fog, and back through the ages. They grabbed onto DE Everson Griffen’s 2017 reputation, and pulled it into the present. They stood over it proudly. Then they gave it some money. Never considering that Griffen’s body comes with his past reputation.
Griffen is coming off of an 8 sack season in Minnesota. He started 15 games, playing 848 defensive snaps. Apparently the Vikings felt that his back-up, DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (7 sacks, 0 starts, 368 snaps) made Griffen expendable enough to just let walk. That is telling. It makes me wonder about what went on in the treatment room.
Cowboys mainstay DE Demarcus Lawrence hasn’t been the same guy since his 14.5 sack season three years ago. Funny, that was also a contract year. Since getting his money, Lawrence has provided diminishing returns, despite having reliable help along the line.
Having not played a snap since 2015, it seemed that DE Aldon Smith was more like All Done Smith. Even before his 4 year hiatus, Smith had spent his last three seasons being a shadow of the player he’d been in his first two seasons. Frankly, the addition of Griffen, this late in the game, doesn’t indicate much faith in Smith.
The team also added DT’s Dontari Poe and Gerald Warren. Both are solid pass rushers, but they both saw diminished snaps in 2019, and were allowed to just walk out the door after the season.
So the Cowboys went out and assembled, what would have been a really good defensive line in 2012. Except well…Demarcus Lawrence wasn’t in the NFL back then. He and Aldon Smith have never been good at the same time.
Past rush, or pass rust, Griffen’s signing seems to indicate that the Cowboys are already disappointed with the firepower they added months ago.
CURRIED QB is on the menu again in 2020! The Eagles have re-signed DE Vinny Curry, bringing him back on a one year deal for 2020. I’m a huge fan of the move. I love his experience in the scheme. I love his productivity. I love his schematic versatility. I love the depth he adds. Indeed, the rich have gotten richer.
It’s the timing on the move that raises my eyebrow.
When Curry was allowed to walk at the end of the season, the Eagles already knew what they had. So why wait until a week into camp to bring him back into the fold? My first instinct was, maybe they aren’t seeing as much from the young guys as they were hoping.
Then I had another thought. Maybe it’s Covid-19 proofing. Our Defense is predicated on getting pressure on opposing QB’s. DC Jim Schwartz tries to do that with his four down linemen. So keeping those linemen fresh, is as important to the scheme as the X’s and O’s are. That in mind, we might just be stockpiling pass rush talent.
That would also explain last month’s cutting and immediate re-signing, of DEDaeshon Hall. Hall “failed” his physical, cleared waivers, was quickly snatched up by the very team that cut him, and placed neatly on our PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) List, where he incidentally won’t count against the roster. So basically Hall was stashed away.
While Curry at 32 years of age is unlikely to be stashed, a younger player could be. I’m thinking of players like DE’s Shareef Miller, Joe Ostman, Matt Leo, and the aforementioned Hall. A couple of those guys may end up on the Practice Squad, or this year’s very flexible I.R. format.
If I had to bet on which DE’s make the Week One roster, I’d go with Curry, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, and Genard Avery playing a LB/DE swing role. Curry gives us a Nickle/Dime DT presence as well. (Graham and Barnett will start of course.)
This signing is a great move. Not only for what it added to our roster, but for removing Curry from garnering interest from a division rival at some point. Everything about this move was forward thinking. I have to love it.
MANIACAL FACT: When Vinny Curry starts 16 games, his team ALWAYS wins a Super Bowl.