SHOULD the Eagles bench QB Carson Wentz? If you answered “Yes” to that question, you may be suffering from a severe case of Stupidity. Wait, no. That’s never how it actually works. Everyone else around you,may be suffering from your severe case of Stupidity.
Remember hating WR Nelson Agholor for years? Remember calling him a bum? Remember who didn’t? That would be me. Remember hating MLB Jordan “Cowboy Killer” Hicks for being injured all the time? Remember who didn’t? That would also be me. Remember hating CB Sidney Jones and CB Rasul Douglas? And again, guess who didn’t?
How are those players looking these days? Hey, to all of you who wanted us to keep QB Nick Folesover Wentz, how is Foles working out as a starter? What is he now, 2 – 8? 2 – 9? Just to rub salt in a wound, this February, I also said in THE 12 that we should have paid SS Malcolm Jenkins? Here’s the link.
Clearly, I don’t suffer from Stupidity. Instead, I have a condition known as “Guru”. It causes me to look “down the line”, and assess before I speak. Which means, you should listen to me.
Now some of you are saying that Wentz should ride pine, because he’s having a shitty season. And it’s true, on most levels, it truly is a spectacular shit-storm of a season. It is however, only one bad season. Feel free to take a minute and look back at his career to confirm that.
Now for some math. Because I know you LOVES the Maths!
In June of 2019, Wentz signed a 4 year extension worth 128M$, with 107M$ guaranteed, and 66M$ being fully guaranteed through 2021. The Eagles can get out of the deal after 2021, if they’re willing to eat 24M$ in dead money, in 2022. That’s because Wentz has no guaranteed salary after 2021. His remaining guaranteed money is all bonus money. He has another 63M$ in pre-arranged base salaries through 2024, but not a dime of those salaries are guaranteed.
My point is, Eagles team owner Jeff Lurie is on the hook to Wentz for another 60M$ even after this 2020 season ends. Lost revenue from the COVID affected 2020 season, is threatening to shrink the NFL salary cap from 198M in 2020, to (an estimated) 186M in 2021. So for at least the next two years, Wentz will represent 12 – 18% of the Eagles salary cap. Whether he’s on the roster or not.
To relate this to you: If you had a $1,000 budget, what service would you agree to spend $120 – $180 on, if you were no longer getting that service? Oh, and keep in mind, you’d also have to pay for a replacement service at the same time. This is what fans think Lurie should do.
So here’s the 60M$ question: Would Lurie pay Wentz 34M to sit and watch football in 2021, and then 24M while on someone else’s roster in 2022? No. Not on your life. So Wentz is your 2020 AND your 2021 starter. As well as your likely starter in 2022.
Take notice of how nervous Head Coach Doug Pederson appears. Also take notice of how agitated, but otherwise calm, Wentz appears. In this business, franchise QB’s are far harder to find than a decent head coach. Especially with a guy like Assistant Head Coach Duce Staleywaiting in the wings. (Oh, you hadn’t considered that, had you?)
QB Jalen Hurts was brought here to keep asses in the seats, if Wentz gets seriously injured. That’s it. If Wentz gives the Eagles a medical reason to opt out, there’s a very talented insurance policy already on the roster.
Aside from that, Wentz is your starter. Definitely through 2021, but possibly until his deal runs out in 2024, when he’ll only be 32, and still carry a very friendly cap-hit of 32M$.
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.
WE’RE not a good team right now. To not even be .500 this deep into the season, is a solid indicator that we probably aren’t getting home-field throughout. Understand, the Eagles are a bad team in 2020, but they are not a bad organization. So fixing this will be a lot easier than you might think. In fact, I wrote about that, this February in THE 12.
Before I launch into it, let me hit the qualifiers, just to get them out of the way:
YES, we are still at the head of the division.
YES, it’s likely that with an infusion of talented veterans, this team will improve at least a little.
YES, if this team hits the postseason, it’s possible that we could get hot.
So, by no means am I throwing in the towel. I plan to be here, loud and obnoxious, every damned week with a smile. Truth is, I’ll take a bad Eagles season over no season at all. It sure beats having to endure yet another loss of something we all enjoy. Even in a bad season, I’m glad I get to root for my Eagles.
So how can I say that this will be easy to fix? First let’s identify the problem. Remember going into this season, we saw a silver lining to our constant injury situation. That silver lining was how much experience our deep bench, and Practice Squad were getting. Lots of experience up and own the roster. In small doses, that IS a great thing.
The issue is how often those players get extended snaps, and even starts. That’s what been necessary for the Eagles. On no other team would CB Avonte Maddox be a starter. Or LB’s Alex Singleton or Duke Riley. Or G’s Sua Opetaand Nate Herbig. Or T’s Jack Driscoll and Matt Pryor. That’s not to say that all of those players are trash, but none of them was penciled in start here, prior to an injury.
You wouldn’t permanently hold a metal bolt with a plastic nut. You wouldn’t long-term drive your car on a doughnut.
Yet this is what the Eagles have had to do for years now. While mixing high quality with lesser quality may buy you a little time, done over a long period, things break down much faster than if you’d mixed good with good.
People don’t compare this 2020 Eagles team against 2019’s or 2018’s. People keep comparing this Eagles team against the 2017 edition. Especially QB Carson Wentz. Given the amount of erosion that has occurred all over this team, the O-Line, RB’s, coaching staff, that’s hardly fair. It also explains what you’re seeing out there.
Now let’s start talking how to fix this. You’ve heard that iron sharpens iron. Imagine if you’re WR Jalen Reagor trying to nail down a starting spot in Training Camp, and your competition is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Remember how Ron Jaworski said that Reagor isn’t a disciplined route runner? Didn’t TE Dallas Clark seem to play better, when he was trying to get snaps from TEZach Ertz?
The solution is simple. Establish a primary back-up, and play favorites. Don’t split snaps evenly behind the starters. Nix heavy rotation at CB, LB, WR. Starve them for snaps.Make the back-ups fight for snaps.
Again, I said all this back in February, in the article ‘STARVE THE KIDS’ . Understand, there is little chance that this can be successfully implemented during the 2020 season. And that’s fine. A bad year fits the Eagles salary cap plans better, anyway.
For example, if WR’s DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery utterly ball-out during the playoffs; or LT Jason Peters makes a few blocks that get him on Sports Center, fans will revolt when they get cut. Especially if we get hot and win the Super Bowl. So this year being a train-wreck is right on schedule.
If Head Coach Doug Pederson wants to see more passion from this team. If he wants to see more of a sense of urgency. If he wants a greater sense of focus. Then he needs to breed a sense of competition, and foster an atmosphere of hunger that drives his roster. That said, Starving The Kids is an easy fix to improve the quality of the 2021 roster. Not just that, but it can be done for free.
JUST THROW IT AWAY! Why does he keep holding the ball so long?! He’s trying to do too much!
These are the things we keep hearing this season, about QB Carson Wentz. Many people are saying that he’s regressing. If that’s the case then the entire Offense has regressed as well. And not because of Wentz.
When Wentz doesn’t throw the ball away after 4 seconds, that’s a decision. It is a decision when he sees a receiver not uncover, and then continue to hold the ball, and wait for a window. He is making decisions that lead to sacks and turnovers. Let’s acknowledge that right at the top. So we don’t need to debate about it later.
Let me ask a couple questions here. Who repeatedly draws up a bunch of long-ass routes with no check-downs? Was that Wentz? How about those plays where our receiver routes end up in bunches, which attracts defenders, creating no windows? Does Wentz design those? When you see him hold the ball forever, notice how you never yell, “There’s a guy right there!” Why is that?
Carson Wentz, ladies and gents, is largely being fucked over by play design. That’s coaching. Head Coach Doug Pederson is falling victim to the same trap thatAndy Reid and TIK, fell victim to. The need to prove how clever they are. Thus, all these offensive coaches that Doug keeps adding to the staff, for “new ideas” and “new perspectives”.
Look, the Eagles won a Super Bowl behind a bruising run game, which opened up a mind-numbingly efficient intermediate passing game, lightly accented by a multifaceted deep game, which involved raw speed on one side, and receiver who’s open even when well covered, on the other. There was nothing “clever” about it.
Not at all.
We just took you to the woodshed.
Since then, we’ve lost Offensive CoordinatorFrank Reich, with whom Doug had an almost psychic bond. Then we got away from simple and brutal. Seriously. Three years ago 220 pound RB Corey Clementwas our small RB (after RB Darren Sproleswas injured.) This year Clement is our big back. Over the last couple of seasons we’ve devolved into a finesse running team, with underachieving TE’s, and a spotty deep passing game.
Literally everything around Wentz has taken a step back. The Offensive Line isn’t as good. The TE position is in serious transition. The run game is soft. At WR we have Travis Fulgham and our fingers crossed. Even the coaching has slid. Yet people have somehow expected Wentz to return to the MVP form of 2017. That only makes sense if you’re incapable of discerning context.
During that 2017 season, he had a high functioning team around him. This year (in case you hadn’t noticed), he’s carrying this team on his back.
I keep waiting for Doug to help him out schematically. The Eagles (and everyone else) use WR motion to get teams to declare man or zone before the snap. But what about getting to dictate where a defender goes, even after the snap? Imagine if every time the opposing defense read it right, you could make them wrong anyway?
It wouldn’t require a new playbook, or totally new philosophy. Just the incorporation of basic concepts like this:
That’s not even a whole play. However, what it does, is show a simple way to manipulate the Safety (X), while quickly getting the ball out of Wentz’s hand. No turnovers plus easy yardage. And again, that’s just a fragment of a play which could be worked in, in numerous places. There are many similar concepts out there.
It’d be nice to see Wentz get a look at a few of them.
AS the November 3rd trade deadline fast approaches, word around the campfire has it that GM Howie Roseman will be aggressivein acquiring talent, not shedding it.
Understanding that this will likely be one or two small moves, instead of an NBA-style mega deal, here are two trades I’d like to see.
If only one move gets made, it should be bringing back RBJordan Howard.
The Eagles could use a veteran RB as an insurance policy behind RB Miles Sanders. The team could also use a between the Tackles thumper. Howard is both. Even better, he’s familiar with the scheme. He would be a triple-fold improvement over RB Boston Scott.
Currently Miami has made Howard a healthy scratch for three straight weeks, after giving him all of 18 carries in 4 games. (FYI: He had two games with 18+ carries for us, just last year.) My point is, Miami hasn’t exactly driven up his market price. He should be pretty cheap to pull, should the Eagles go a-courtin’.
Many fans would like to see a CB to pair with CB Darius Slay. Anybody like that, who’s worth having, likely won’t be on the trading block at this stage of the year.
What the Eagles could really use is an OLB who can cover. Not a DB/LB tweener, but an honest to god OLB. That means LB size, strength, and leg length. I like OLB Logan Wilson from Cincinnati.
Wilson is a rookie that they took with a third round pick, who looks like he has a nice future ahead of him. So why would the rebuilding Bengals want to part with talented youth? Because DE Derek Barnettis also young, talented and will immediately help them improve their pass rush.
Understand, we have cap hell coming up, and Barnett will be hard to sign. Makes more sense to get something for him, instead of just letting him walk out the door. DE Josh Sweatis ready for more playing time anyway.
This would be two immediate contributors, who won’t cost much to add. Hard to scoff at that.
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.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for the Four Things articles. It’s to point out what we need to address BEFORE the game. Then AFTER the game, there’s a no-bullshit assessment of whether or not the Eagles did any of what they needed to do, to ensure the win.
So how much of what I mentioned inFour Things: Ravens did the Eagles get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) Run the ball: Wentz ran 2 called runs in this game. The touchdown and the 4th down conversion he didn’t get. His other 3 runs were from drop backs. That makes the playcalling ratio, 43 passes to 15 called runs. On 58 plays run, we were passing 74% of the time. Not winning football strategy. It’s not a wonder the game got so out of hand. (NOT DONE)
2) Stay disciplined: Outside of their QB, the Ravens ran for 74 yards on 28 carries (2.6 ypc). The Eagles Defensive line did great job of setting the edges, and pursuing runners. While the Ravens did make a few plays (on 37 total carries) our defensive discipline was clearly there today. (DONE)
3) Challenge them vertically, early: That early drop by WR John Hightower did a lot to stem Wentz’s enthusiasm to throw to deep targets. Hightower let the ball hit his pads instead of plucking it with his hands. Thus, making it clear to everyone (including his mother), what the difference between 1st round and 5th round talent, looks like. (NOT DONE)
4) Set up the Mark: We covered their starting TE too well to bait their QB into attempting to get him the ball much. This would have been a great week to turn one of our weaknesses into a trap, but… They instead made use of the back-up TE. Well isn’t that special? Bless their little hearts. (NOT DONE)
That makes this weeks Four Things score a dismal 1 of 4, bringing the season total to 7 of 24. Hey gang! In addition to being banged up, starting a 3rd string RG, and not currently knowing the injury status of Miles Sanders knee, we get just 4 days to prepare for a divisional game against the giants on THURSDAY! Oh goodie! Oh joy! I’m so happy I could shit Legos.
On The Whole:
Yay. Something something, moral victory, silver lining, next man up, yadda blah. Whatever. We lost. Again.
Valiant comeback my ass! What was that, 4 passes that hit guys in the hands that they dropped?! Miles Sanders, dropping passes, fumbling and getting hurt? I will give a dollar to the first DB who jams a receiver and helps the D-Line get a sack.
For his part, Wentz (YET AGAIN), strapped this team to his back, and attempted to climb Mt. Everest. Wouldn’t it be neat to see a second offensive player show that much competitive fire? I don’t mean WR’s I mean a RB or a TE. I want to see toughness. Ruggedness. I want to see the opposing defense afraid of someone in an Eagles jersey.
RB Boston Scott tripping up Wentz on the 2-point conversion?! You know what? If GM Howie Roseman is going to be a buyer at the trade deadline, one the things I want him to buy, is RB Jordan Howard back from Miami. If they don’t think RB Corey Clement can back-up Sanders, then get me a guy who can. Because Scott ain’t it!
On Defense, everything behind our Front Four feels suspect. There was a play where no fewer than 3 Eagles had a shot at popped up pass, and nobody came down with it! It feels like the scheme is rubbing off on CB Darius Slay, and not the other way around.
NOTE: It was nice to see Travis Fulgham get his first start, but we need to start seeing some combo routes run with TE Zach Ertz. Both to loosen the box and to get more roaming room for whomever is our deep receiver, on the other side.
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.
PERENNIAL laughingstock. That’s the best way to describe the team formerly known as the Redskins. Every year for the last quarter century, you fans get geeked up in September, only to end up moaning “We’ll get ‘em next year.” by mid-October.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, this year, owner Dan Snyder renamed your team “The Washington Football Team”. In one fell swoop, he literally turned your fan base into a fucking Abbott and Costello routine. It’s hilarious! I have to love it.
JOURNALIST: So sir, who is your favorite football team?
FAN: Football Team.
JOURNALIST: Yes. Who is your favorite?
FAN: The Football Team.
JOURNALIST: Yes, but which one?
FAN: That one!
JOURNALIST: Which one?!
FAN: The Football Team!
All across America, there are probably thousands of conversations just like that, going on every day. Fans who know your team is doing something stupid, yet trying desperately to defend it anyway. Which I suppose is habit by now for Washington fans.
JOURNALIST: Sir it’s a simple question. Which football team is your favorite?
FAN: I’m a fan of the Football Team!
JOURNALIST: From which city?
FAN: Technically they don’t represent a city.
JOURNALIST: Okay then. Which state?
FAN: It’s not really a state either.
That’s true by the way. The District of Columbia is a federal district. It technically neither a city, nor a state. Like the Redskins who technically do, but don’t have a name. They exist in a perpetual state of “Yeah, but not really. Absolutely, but not at all.”
I’m also enjoying how suddenly “woke” you all are, while still trying to justify what you’re now woke about. That irony is rich enough classify as a dessert.
JOURNALIST: Who owns your favorite team?
FAN: Dan Snyder.
JOURNALIST: Wait! You’re a Redskins fan?
FAN: Don’t call them the Redskins! That name is racist.
JOURNALIST: How long did you root for them?
FAN: All my life! Thirty-two years.
JOURNALIST: And the name just became racist?
FAN: Once they changed it, yeah. Fuck that name.
JOURNALIST: But it was okay before they changed it?
FAN: Oh yeah! Got it tattooed on my chest here. Over my heart.
JOURNALIST: And until then, you didn’t care how Native Americans felt?
JOURNALIST: Native Americans.
FAN: Which team is that? What city do they come from?
JOURNALIST: They’re indigenous people…
JOURNALIST: You used to call them Redskins!
FAN: HAIL! I mean, fuck them! I mean, fuck that name! I mean, go Football Team! Hey-yah, hey-yah!
This is what you’ve been reduced to. This is what you’ve become. Remember being proud? Yeah, that’s in the past now. You’re the Geoffrey Owens of football fans. And do you know the BEST part? Still, in all of this, you all actually think your team has a shot at winning the division. That is SO cute!
You guys should start small. Focus on developing a QB who finishes games before he starts taking pictures with the crowd. Focus on not running off a Pro Bowl caliber LT. Focus on hiring a head coach who you don’t fire every other year.
Your team is just awful. How awful? Ron Rivera signed with your team, and then was diagnosed with cancer. Actual fucking cancer! I’m not blaming your team but yes I totally am. And then to make his life easier, your team let go of a Hall of Fame caliber RB in Adrian Peterson, so that they can start J.D. Mickissic. If you didn’t know that Mickissic was your starter this Sunday, YOU’RE WELCOME!
These are all REAL things. I would make some up, but I could never match the idiocy with which your team is being run into the ground. Honestly, I think if Dan Snyder counted his balls ten times in a row, he’d never get the same number twice. That level of incompetence deserves some sort of prize. So the Eagles will give it to you.
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.