MANY Eagles fans were hoping that we would add S Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu. I said in February that we should re-sign FSRodney McLeod, and I’ve long been pounding the table that S Marcus Epps should take over for McLeod. Well, we seem to be doing the thing I wanted, without the stop-gap move of re-signing McLeod. Which has me thrilled. Let’s play our youth!
I know many fans wanted “a name”. I however, want to see the Eagles produce young, impact players that we either drafted, or claimed off of waivers in their first year or so. Like Marcus Epps. In 2019 he was drafted by the Vikings in the 6th round, and they cut him in September of that same year. He’s been an Eagle ever since. I want to show that we can grow those guys.
The giants are cutting CB James Bradberry. No surprise there. I told you that, in early April. Though he had 4 picks, his yardage allowed is way up. Teams seem to have found something on tape about him that they can exploit. Yet I’m seeing and hearing Eagles fans say that we should bring him in here. Why?! Why do we need to drag in everyone’s fading star?
Why not start CB Zech MacPhearson opposite CB Darius Slay? MacPhearson was low-key amazing last year. (Seriously, click the link.) Facts:1) Without signing someone else, the Eagles let CBSteven Nelson go; 2) They followed that by not signing, trading for, or drafting a CB.
We traded for picks, a player, signed people, but didn’t add a CB, even in the 6th round. Draft and Free Agent, we completely de-prioritized the Secondary this year. Ignored it! Shunned it! You probably didn’t notice that at all, until just now. The Eagles weren’t at all concerned with finding Nelson’s replacement. Which strongly suggests that they already have one.
When Training Camp starts, if we have any sense, our starting Secondary should look like:
CB Darius Slay
CB Zech MacPhearson
SS Anthony Harris
FS Marcus Epps
NCB Avonte Maddox
Guys like S K’Von Wallace are going to be in the mix, because the Eagles spent a 4th round pick on him. Honestly, I think I prefer him more as a box Safety than back deep. Even better would be if we saw more of the Two-Deep look, that we were promised last year. Single-high is going to bumpy for almost any young player, so it’s no wonder Wallace is progressing slowly.
Not exactly a shadow in coverage, CB Andre Chachereis more of a NCB. In fact, his play suggests that he too should get a look at the FS spot. His passion and physicality may limit how often QB’s throw into his area, for fear of losing a favorite target to a concussion. He’s also one hell of a gunner on Special Teams, which may work against him getting Defensive snaps.
My point is, we have guys that we should be and could be developing. That said, it’s hard for a young guy to learn from mistakes and show what he’s got, if like Wallace, he only sees 184 snaps in a 17 game season. (It’s 10.8.) Even worse, it becomes almost impossible to develop our young guys, if we keep stacking “names” and fading stars ahead of them.
Look, an NFL roster is a highly fluid thing. So the make up of what we have here, may change as you read this. People get elevated, signed, cut, and moved for all kinds of reasons. Usually for talent, but sometimes as financial easement, or to attract another player. (Example: WR A.J. Brown wanted 80M$ guaranteed to stay in Tennessee. If QBCarson Wentz were still our starter, would Brown have accepted just 57M$ guaranteed to move to Philly? Nope. Brown’s best friend, QB Jalen Hurts made Brown 23M$ more affordable. So we got him at like 30% discount.)
Hey we get it. If an All-Pro CB suddenly becomes available, sure the Front Office is going to chase it. As fans we understand that. We may not always like it, but we get it. That said, while we are still constructed this way, while the roster looks like this, let’s give this version of the Secondary a fair chance. Let’s play our youth.
NOTE: Every day of the Draft I will add to this article, tracking the hits (H), questionables (Q), and misses (M).
EAGLES fans, get excited about 2022! Two days ago, I said“Properly armed, the Eagles can win the NFC East.” I then went on to explain what and who I meant by, “properly armed”. I said on Tuesday that we should trade up from #15 to #13 to draft DT [Jordan Davis], and then we should add big, physical WR [Treylon Burks] at #18. That in itself would have been great.
And then on Thursday night, General ManagerHowie Roseman, pulled off not one, but two master strokes, mere minutes apart. Let’s get at it!
Round 1 (13th overall): DT Jordan Davis(H)
Davis is not a pass rusher. What he is, is a pocket collapser, and a run stuffer. He’s a guy who demands a double-team, and he’s virtually unblockable one-on-one when he finds his way into an ‘A’ gap. By the way, we will be pairing/rotating this kid with DT’s Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.
With the three man triangle of Davis, Cox, and MLB T.J. Edwards, seeing the Eagles finish once again in the NFL’s Top 10 vs the run (9th in 2021), almost seems like a given. Surely it’s the basis that the Eagles pass rush will be built upon, now that the DE’s will see a ton of one-on-one match-ups. And this was all done by adding ONE GUY. If you don’t love this pick, you don’t understand football.
I said on Tuesday, that to avoid Baltimore grabbing Davis at #14, we should package our #15 and #101 picks to Houston for the 13th pick. What happened instead, was Howie packaged our #15 with two 4th rounders and 5th, to move up to 13. Dumping late rounders in a shallow Draft, when we have a ton of guys on futures contracts already? Absolute master stroke, Howie.
Round 1 (18th overall): TRADE for WR A.J. Brown. (H)
I wanted WR Treylon Burks with this pick, but Brown is so much better. Everything I said about why I wanted Burks, is true about Brown, and then some. With Brown it’s all been proven at the NFL level, and he’s more physical. In addition to which, he keeps his nose clean off the field. So we already know that we’re getting a real professional.
The knock on him is that in three seasons, he’s already had seven missed games due to injury. The worry is that now that the Eagles have given him a 4 year, 100M$ (57M$ guaranteed) contract, he might not ball out anymore. Really? Did I mention that he spent the offseason working out with QB Jalen Hurts? Before he was traded here. Does that sound like someone who doesn’t want to get at it? Or does it sound like a guy with a point he wants to make?
Aren’t you excited to see just what Hurts and Brown worked on this Spring? Shiiiiid, I know I am! With this ONE MOVE, the Eagles Offense is suddenly stacked! This guy was totally worth the 18th and 101st pick. Hell, if I was the GM, we’d have already blown it on Davis. So score one more for Howie!
Round 2 (51st overall): C Cam “Beef” Jurgens(Q)
The Front Office sees traits of C Jason Kelce in him, but I’m still not really all that excited. Jurgens moves well enough for all the second level stuff in the run game. He’s also smart enough to recognize fronts, and make the blocking scheme calls. Which is great. That’s all good news.
What he doesn’t do, is generate a new line of scrimmage with his blocks. Watching the videos (one and two), he doesn’t drive defensive linemen backwards, without a combo block. He turns them out of the hole, or ushers them down the line when they chase the ball carrier. Get them going backwards though? No.
He’s lean and has a lack of lower body mass, which betrays a high center of gravity. Not possessing a natural anchor, it opens the door to him being ridden back into his QB, at the NFL level. If he’s Kelce 2.0, then great. If he’s not, this was a wasted pick.
Round 3 (83rd overall): LB Nakobe Dean (H)
He has first round talent, but his medical history saw him slide two rounds. No one is saying what his injury is specifiaclly, but my guess is that he tore his pectoral muscle off the shoulder bone. A quick glance at him shirtless would confirm that, but even after scouring the Internet for a couple hours, there doesn’t seem to be even one. (Which is side-eye inducing.)
Here’s why he’s a hit, and not questionable or a miss. So far he has opted not to have surgery to repair the tear. Doesn’t matter why. Don’t focus on that. Get him in here for mini-camp and OTA’s. Let him see the pros and realize that to stay one, he’ll need to be at his best to win a roster spot. He’ll decide on the surgery, which will basically sideline him for his rookie year.
We don’t need him this year. We have MLB T.J. Edwards, who is coming off a good year. We have OLB Kyzir White on a one year deal. Get Dean the surgery, let him take his time to heal, and then get him out here, better than he’s been in years. We got a steal. To watch it pay off, all it will cost us, is some patience.
Round 6 (181st overall): OLB Kyron Johnson (M)
He’s a 3-4 OLB used mostly as a pass rusher in college. His draft dimensions are listed at 6’0” 235, which would be undersized for that role in the NFL. However, he has college listing that put him at 223 pounds as a senior. Which would make him a liability in the NFL, in the role to which he is accustomed. In coverage, he has 5 passes defensed in a 51 game career.
The have been some rumblings about the Eagles wanting to use a 3-4 front, from time to time, so Johnson may have been selected with an eye towards that. Or, he may have been selected to light a larger fire under 2021 draft pick, OLB/DE Patrick Johnson in competition for that role. If he’s motivation, this is a good pick. If the Eagles are looking to rely on him on Sundays… Meh.
Round 6 (198th overall): TE Grant Calcaterra (M)
In 2019, after waking up from a hit suffered in practice, at the age 20, Calcaterra made the decision to retire from college football. It wasn’t because of one hit that he retired. It was because after multiple concussions, he realized that they were coming closer and closer together.
He took a year off and made a comeback in 2021, posting decent numbers as a receiver, but offering little in the way of physicality as a blocker. Knowing what we know, it’s hard to blame him for being less physical. Unfortunately, his position demands it. If retirement was his reality at 20, then someone was trying to tell him something. He just wasn’t wise enough to listen.
You want to root for this kid? Root for him to live. Root for him not to make the final cuts, or the Practice Squad. Root for him to be 50, and still recognize his wife and his kids. Having suffered multiple concussions means that CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) is already part of his future’s landscape. Root for it not to be made worse by wearing midnight green.
I said on Tuesday that because it’s a shallow draft, we should load up in the first three rounds, and treat the remaining picks like lottery scratch-offs. Apparently Howie reads my articles, because that’s exactly what we did. He was aggressive in the first round, took what fell to him in the next two, and then practically bailed on the rest of it. Which was genius actually.
The top of this Draft was excellent. As a fan, I can only put it behind the 2002 Draft (Lito Sheppard, Mike Lewis, Sheldon Brown, and Brian Westbrook, in that order), in regards to how excited it got the fan base. Jordan Davis and A.J. Brown will make an impact in 2022.
The middle was saw us do some important pantry stocking. Nothing we have a pressing need for, but good to have in the house already. Neither Beef Jurgens (I do love the nickname), nor Nakobe Dean has to start in 2022. The game can be shown to them at a pace that allows them to be great when we do need them.
The bottom of this Draft is a head scratcher. Neither guy even seems like a Special Teams contributor. Maybe they’re here to push players already on the roster? Hell, I’m just disappointed that WR(?) Jalen Reagor is still on the roster.
PROPERLY armed, the Eagles can win the NFC East. We’ll need to do some remodeling, but not full-on rebuilding. With the current combination of the Eagles being really good at some things, and our rivals being bad at some things, the door is open. More than just a little. We just need to add the right pieces to shore up our own weaknesses, before we attempt to stroll/walk/dip through it.
We have what seems like 700 picks in this Draft, but today I’m just going to focus on these five:
Round 1: No. 15 (from MIA)
Round 1: No. 18 (from NO)
Round 2: No. 51
Round 3: No. 83
Round 3: No. 101 (from NO)
Here are the players I want to see become Eagles this week:
Round 1: No. 15 – DT Jordan Davis: Some might consider this a few picks early, others will say it’s an outright reach. There’s a good chance that he won’t even be there at 15, so I wouldn’t gamble on that. Just to be sure, I’d offer this pick (#15) and #101 to Houston, for the #13 pick, to avoid losing Davis to Baltimore at #14.
What I see is five years (rookie contract) of a space eating, run-stuffer who absorbs double-teams, and helps to keep our LB’s clean, in a division that still runs the ball. Adding this guy would upgrade the entire defense on that alone. When DT Fletcher Cox is gone next year, Davis gives us someone to build around. He’d also help keep DT Javon Hargrave effective, and let DT Milton Williams play more DE.
Round 1: No. 18 – WR Treylon Burks: The Eagles made overture after overture to free agent WR’s this offseason, all of whom turned us down. Eventually the Eagles settled for WR Zach Pascal. Yes, settled. If you think our Front Office is done trying to upgrade our WR position, then you my friend have lost the plot.
The Eagles have fast guys at WR (Watkins, Hightower). We got guys you never heard of (Allen, Cain). Guys who can’t catch (Reagor). We have clever guys (Ward), TE guys (Arcega-Whiteside), shrug-worthy guys (Pascal). What we don’t have, is a big, fast, and physical guy. And that’s where Burks comes in.
Burks is so different from WR Devonta Smith, but WOW, what a potential combo! Smith is a precise route runner who creates separation and gives the QB, friendly places to put the ball. Burks can win contested catches and shed tackle attempts. So for each of them, Safety help is needed to prevent a routine catch from turning into six points. Which would make it very hard for a defensive coordinator to write a coverage concept, that wouldn’t get shredded on a weekly basis.
Round 2: No. 51 – S Daxton Hill: Though he plays a lot of Nickel CB, he can play anywhere in the secondary. Let me reiterate: Anywhere in the secondary. He’s a DB with 4.3 speed, and it shows up on film. Many athletes leave their impressive 40 times at the Combine. This kid had his on display before he got there. Better still, he attacks the football and causes interceptions for other players off of deflections.
The F.O. chased CB Stephon Gilmore in free agency, but they didn’t chase a bunch of CB’s. Pretty much just Gilmore, because… Well because he’s him. Otherwise we have Slay, Maddox, and 7 young CB’s to evaluate. Spending a high pick on another one, only makes that evaluation more complicated.
What we need, is a FS with Jaws-like closing speed, who is nearly impossible to outrun. This could be that guy.
Round 3: No. 83 – DE Joshua Paschal: He didn’t rack up a ton of sacks in college, and he’s not a pass rush demon. What he is, is a big, assignment solid DE. He sets the edge vs the run, and gains consistent penetration, proving disruptive both as a DE, and DT. He even flashes the ability to play as a 3-4 DE.
The best thing about him, is that he doesn’t just make plays when he isn’t blocked, or when he’s poorly blocked. This guy makes plays even after beating squared up offensive linemen. He plays a man’s game already. The idea of sitting him next to Jordan Davis for the next three of four years (or longer) is a happy thought.
This is how I’d like to see the first three rounds go.
Some NFL Drafts have good fourth rounds. When we look back in 5 years, I doubt this will be one of them. This is a shallow draft, in terms of finding many difference makers at RB, TE, QB, G, and DT. That being the case, we should grab what we need, and everything from the fourth round and on, view as a lottery scratch-off.
LAST year the Eagles went 9 – 8 and made the playoffs. The year started off with the team going 2 – 5. Then Head Coach Nick Sirianni started babbling about flowers, and how the team was flowers, and how flowers need to be watered daily, and we just knew that he was about to be fired. Instead, the players embraced their inner daffodils, and went on a 7 – 3 tear. What followed was a playoff exit so quick, that the Eagles should have just played the game in street clothes, with their luggage on the sideline. Should fans be excited about the Eagles immediate future, or was 2021 just fool’s gold?
With the NFL Draft just 13 days away, let’s get a look at the Eagles roster, as it stands today:
QB: Jalen Hurts (8 – 7, 61.3, 16/9) for all of his athleticism as a runner (784/5.6/10), he struggles with reading defenses and his timing. In fact, I called him a one read passer, months before anyone else began to talk about it. He can keep drives alive with his legs, but without being a better passer, he’s not maximizing his weapons, which by definition, is holding them back.
Gardner Minshew (1 – 0, 68.3%, 4/1) isn’t a back-up, he’s a second starter. His arm isn’t a rifle and isn’t laser accurate, but those same critiques have been made about the starter. Minshew is hyper-competitive and brings truckloads of swagger. Though he lacks Hurt’s mobility, Minshew can scoot and find the sticks when he needs to.
Though the two players at this position are different in their approaches, the overall effect (and we saw this in 2021 when Hurts was out), is that there isn’t a massive fall-off in efficiency, when either steps in. While this position isn’t remotely top ten, it gets the ball into the end zone reliably, and it’s super-stable. (+)
RB: Miles Sanders(754/5.5./0) didn’t score at all in 2022, but he was the second leading rusher on the team behind the QB, who had two more carries on the year than Sanders. Part of that was Sanders missing five games. The other part of that was that the QB wasn’t of much use if he wasn’t running.
The 5’6” 203 pound Boston Scott (373/4.3/7) was re-signed for some reason. His presence doesn’t make much sense, given that 5’9” 200 pound Kenneth Gainwell(291/4.3/5) is a younger, cheaper version of Scott, and he runs better routes. Also on the roster is 5’9” 193 poundJason Huntley(70/3.9/0), whose game is also very Scott-like.
Last year when the Eagles run game terrorized the league, they had a powerback in Jordan Howard (406/4.7/3) to wear down defensive interiors. Howard is no longer on the roster, and the Eagles no longer have a physical runner on the roster. Without a physical runner, they will not see the run game dominate that way it did in 2021. (-)
WR:Devonta Smith(64/916/14.3/5) set the all-time Eagles mark for receiving yards by a rookie. His numbers however, are misleading. In nine games (HALF) he caught 3 or fewer balls. In eight games (HALF) he had 50 or fewer receiving yards. In seven games his catch percentage was 50% or lower. These are not the marks of a number one receiver. If you want to argue that Smith isn’t the problem, then be prepared to point out exactly who is.
Quez Watkins (43/647/15.0/1) saw 3 targets or fewer, in ten of the seventeen games he played. He had 50 or fewer receiving yards, fourteen times. The under-use of Watkins is nearly a crime. Speaking of crime, Jalen Reagor(33/299/9.6/2) continues to steal the Eagles money, and murder fan hopes.
Free agent addition Zach Pascalwas added due to his familiarity with the Eagles coach, and system. Pascal isn’t a burner, and doesn’t have the best hands. While he may have been signed to add a veteran voice to the position, he doesn’t add an accomplished veteran voice. This position is a sloppy patchwork, and it needs some order put to it. (-)
TE: Dallas Goedert(56/830/14.8/4) Is the total package at TE. Not only is he a good in-line blocker, but he can also be a downfield threat.Jack Stoll(4/22/5.5/0) is a blocker who saw just 5 targets last year. If he can’t be developed into more of a receiving threat, his presence will make covering the other receivers easier.
Tyree Jackson (3/22/7.3/1) was making progress switching from QB to TE, then tore his ACL in the season finale. The Eagles love him, but he’ll likely be on I.R. into the season. Richard Rogers (2/11/5.5.0) was brought back (once again), to provide reliable depth as a receiver. (-)
OT: LT Jordan “IHOP” Mialatais just 24 years old. Massive, mobile, intelligent, and highly aggressive, Mialata is a people mover in the run game, and a brick wall in pass protection. RT Lane Johnsonhad another All-Pro season and even caught a 5 yard touchdown. The first of his career.
Andre Dillardwas once thought of as a bust, now he’s seen as sort of a luxury. Dillard doesn’t supply Mailata’s physical dominance in the run game, but when asked to fill in, he was more than up to the task. Le’Raven Clark is sort of a reclamation project. He was allowed some bad habits in Indy, but the Eagles think they can be cleaned up and net the team a steal. (+)
G: LG Landon Dickerson spent his rookie season putting on a show. He was a huge part of why the Eagles led the NFL in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Jack Driscollis a super-versatile, work-pail guy. He stepped in for the injuredIsaac Seumalo, and had nine starts before his year ended on a high ankle sprain.
Nate Herbig isn’t the most athletic fellow, but he’s also not about to walked back into the QB. Sua Opeta is also serviceable. (+)
C: Jason Kelceis widely regarded as the best in the sport. Does that say enough? Depth? Jack Anderson is the back-up and he also plays G. (+)
In A Nutshell: The Offensive Line is the true engine of this unit. Ridiculously deep and versatile, it makes it possible for the team to platoon RB’s, trade TE’s mid-season, start a back-up QB, and still score without benefit of a well-conceived passing attack. There is no skill position that was upgraded during the offseason. (-)
DE:Josh Sweattied for the team lead with 7.5 sack last year. In past years he’d been a productive blindside rusher. However, when Brandon Grahamwas injured, Sweat stepped into playing as the strongside rusher, and he seemed over-matched. The responsibilities switch and physicality seemed too much for him initially, but as the year wore on, he picked it up.
Derek Barnett is actually a solid football player. The problem with that, is that he wasn’t drafted merely to be “solid”. As a result, he’s not judged by what he produces, but instead by what he doesn’t produce. That said, while it makes total sense for the Eagles to draft an upgrade over him, it also made sense to bring him back for 2022.
Graham has never been a 10 sack player. So it’s only natural to wonder what he has left at 34, and coming off the torn Achilles tendon, that cost him 2021. He’s been very good at getting pressure, and even better at setting the edge vs the run game. Tarron Jacksonwould surprise me if he makes the active roster this year.
This position is the epitome of what plagues the Eagles. At this (and other) positions, they Eagles have tons of “good solid” players, and “good solid” locker room guys. What the Eagles need is a player who gets actual sacks, not just pressures. A player who destroys plays, not just disrupts them. This position needs an impact player. (-)
DT: He doesn’t get to the QB like he used to, butFletcher Cox was brought back for one more year. Him being frequently double-teamed, at least opens things up for others. One of those others, isJavon Hargrave. Hargrave tied for team lead with 7.5 sacks, and had 18 QB hits (more than doubling his previous career high of 8). He also posted a career best 63 tackles, with 9 (career high) being for a loss.
Milton Williamsstarted two games in 2021. Both were against Dallas. Now let us never speak of that again. I’m kidding. Actually if you look at his stat line in both games, you’ll see that his numbers reflected the growth in his game. For example, in the first game he was tentative and waited for help. In the second game…
Marlon Tuipulotu played like trash, with a side order of ass last year, but then again I said he would. He’s too slow off the line. Slow motion in college, means you will be a still picture in the NFL. The Eagles added Renell Wren to the roster. Wren is a reclamation project with an injury history. Cincinnati junked him, but the Eagles think they can restore him.
We’ll see. (+)
OLB: Free agents Haason Reddickand Kyzir White were given nice contracts to come back to the region. Reddick is from New Jersey, but he played football in Philadelphia, in the Eagles stadium, for the Temple Owls. White is from a suburb of Allentown PA, which (depending on traffic on 76), is about an hour and half from Philly. Both grew up being Eagles fans.
Reddick has 23.5 sacks over the last two seasons, and was signed to bolster the pass rush. While the Eagles have had ‘backers who could pass rush, they’ve never employed a designated one in a 4 – 3 system. So this is historic. White reads like a smaller (just 216 pounds), faster version of cast-off Alex Singleton. Sort of a run and chase player.
Davion Taylor was drafted as a third round project two years ago, and aside from durability issues (both seasons ended on I.R.), his play is coming along nicely. This position gives the Eagles a scary Nickel, and a rock-solid base rotation. Patrick Johnson is listed at this position, but really, at 248 he needs to add 7 to 12 pounds, and put his hand on the ground. (+)
MLB: T.J. Edwards is so underrated that it’s nearly a criminal offense. His 130 stops were just seven behind the Eagles all-time mark of 137, (set last year by Alex Singleton). Edwards had six games with double digit tackles, and is now the Eagles signal-caller. He had to fight for his role and he won it, no question.
Old rumor on Edwards, was that he’s more Tackle to Tackle, than sideline to sideline. Initially the Eagles seemed to be listening to that, and took him out during passing situations. Despite starting 6 of 8 games, he played about 34% of the defensive snaps, and the Eagles were 3 – 5 for their troubles. Once the Eagles (suddenly!) started leaving him on the field for 95% of the snaps, they went 6 – 2. Then they sat him (and the other starters) for the 21 – 56 loss to Dallas.
Shaun Bradley has become a core Special Teamer, but he doesn’t add much value as depth, due to the fact that he’s only played 131 defensive snaps in 2 years. Incidentally, he and Haason Reddick were college teammates. Davion Tayloralso has some experience and value here. (+)
S: Culture change! With longtime mainstay, Rodney McLeod finding a new home in Indy, the Eagles are left with a number of question marks and short-term answers at this position. Expect to see the Eagles spend one of their first five Draft picks here. That said, let’s talk about who’s currently under contract.
Anthony Harris is returning after a less than stellar 2021. While he posted 72 tackles, he had just 1 interception and 3 passes defensed. Marcus Epps is the next most experienced player here, but he’s only started eight games in three seasons. Behind Epps, is K’Von Wallacewith six career starts in two seasons. Jared Mayden has no starts in his one year career.
While Epps has shown flashes in limited opportunity, Wallace has seemed slow to pick-up on NFL football. Epps could be very good with more seasoning, but he likely won’t see that opportunity. (-)
CB: The Eagles have seventy of these guys on the roster, but let’s focus on just the top four. Darius Slay posted five takeaways, and three scores, while allowing just 33 receiving yards per game. The guy simply went berserk in 2021.
Zech MacPhearsonplayed 179 defensive snaps as a rookie in 2021. He was targeted all of 17 times, only allowing 9 completions, for 96 yards. That’s 96 yards on 179 snaps. Opposing QB’s saw him out there and opted not to take their chances. He may be why the Eagles elected to let Steven Nelsonstroll off into the wilderness.
Avonte Maddoxhad five starts in the Nickel, and contributed 1 pick and 2 forced fumbles across his 2021 campaign. Andre Chachere is a bigger, more physical Nickel. He allows catches, but he looks to deliver the big hit. Which is why his missed tackle percentage was so high (21.1). A position switch would suit his level of aggression.
The Eagles are still trying to add top-shelf FA talent here. That said, this team could go into Week One with these guys, and it would be a solid group already. (+)
In A Nutshell: Linebacker and pass rush were seen as trouble spots for this defense, and so both deficiencies were addressed. While talent at Safety is a question mark, the players have played in the system , so they’ll know where they need to be, and will know how to communicate. (+)
K: Jake Elliott went 30/33 (90.9%) kicking field goals. All of which were career highs. He was a perfect 3/3 from 50 yards and out. He also hit all 44 extra points. Clutch. (+)
P: Arryn Siposs was having a great 2021, then things got shaky for him down the stretch. In four of the last five games, he averaged under 40 yards per punt. On the season he averaged 43.9, which isn’t bad, but it should have been better. (+)
In A Nutshell: The Eagles can depend on their legs to help bring victories.
Offensively this team doesn’t scare anyone passing the ball, and they won’t be as dominant running it this year. Given that the Eagles did nothing talent-wise to improve the Offense so far, it’s going to be hard to supply any sense of urgency to players on that side of the ball.
Defensively, there were a couple of low key changes, with one being a clear upgrade. Also the return of Brandon Graham’s on-field leadership, should pay very high dividends. This side of the ball stands a real chance of being much improved in 2022.
Last year the Eagles got to face a number of weak teams at the end of the year. They made it to 9 – 8, and snuck into the playoffs. Good news everyone! The Eagles get to play the rest of NFC East again this year. Most of which has weakened. So 9 – 8 is not only possible for the Eagles, but likely. Honestly, they are a couple of lucky bounces away from 11 – 6.
LAST year Dallas went 12 – 5 and won the NFC East. They earned a home playoff game. Then they proceeded to shit the bed 17 – 23, against a 6th seed 49ers team. People will want to critique how the last play of that game went down, but the fact is, the game shouldn’t have even been a contest. This has long been the story of the Cowboys. The larger, deeper issues are frequently ignored, in favor of shiny distractions. That said, is this the year they change the story?
With the NFL Draft being 13 days away, this is what the Cowboys roster currently looks like:
QB: Dak Prescott (11 – 5, 68.8%, 37/10) won his division, and posted career highs in completion percentage and touchdown passes. This included 13 TD’s and 0 interceptions over the final four games. He also had five games with 300+ yards passing, and five games with a completion percentage over 75.
Those stats point to him being back from the ankle injury that stole his 2020 season. Well, mostly back. One of the things that has helped Prescott in the past, has been being big and mobile, not just a big target. In an average year with 16 starts, Prescott averaged 60 rushes, 305 yards, 5.0 pyc, and 5 scores. Last season his numbers were (48 – 146 – 3.2 – 1). Keep an eye out.
Preseason Hall of Famer Cooper Rush (1 – 0, 63.8% – 3/1) added to his legend when he went undefeated in 2021. Filling in for Prescott during Week Eight, Rush put 325 yards on the Vikings, in a 20 – 16 Cowboys win. Seems that this position is worth every penny being spent on it. Ben “Bring It On” DiNucci is also still cashing his paychecks. (+)
RB: For the fifth year in a row, Ezekiel Elliott (1002/4.2/10) saw his rushing yards per game decline. He was held to fewer than 50 rushing yards in eight games last year. He only cracked the century mark twice. He did manage to rush for 1,000 yards though. That has to count for something. I guess.
Tony Pollard (719/5.5/2) is an average player. Fortunately for him, he seems to know it, so he hits holes as quickly as he can. He’s not a threat to break a 60 yard run, so he makes up for it by producing smaller chunk runs, more consistently. As long as his 205 pound frame is playing the “RB 1B” role, fans will wonder why he doesn’t get more than 8 carries per game.
Dallas also has three FB’s on the roster, most recently signing free agent Ryan Nall. They won’t keep three, so this is clearly an “iron sharpens iron” type of move. In any case, look for the team to flashback to the 1990’s, to re-emphasize lead blocking. Just the fact that they’ll be the only team doing it, will make them very hard to prepare for. Especially for a generation of defenders who wouldn’t be familiar with FB as a routine weapon. (+)
WR: I said last year that three was a crowd here, and I was right. However instead of ditching Michael Gallup (35/445/12.7/2), they traded Amari Cooper(68/865/12.7/8) to Cleveland. This means that CeeDee Lamb (79/1102/13.9/6) has graduated from Robin to Batman.
Over his first couple of years, even in a lesser role, Lamb has been plagued by drops and lapses in focus. Now that he’s going to have more intense attention focused on him, there have to be serious questions about if he’s mentally ready for the role.
Gallup lost nearly half of last year being on I.R with a calf injury. He then played in eight games before tearing his ACL, and going on I.R. again. His return goal is Week One. Which would mean no training camp. Steelers free agent James Washington (24/285/11.9/2), was signed to a one year deal. Essentially swapping out Cooper for Washington. That is clearly a step down.
There can be no arguing that this group is several steps back from what they were a year ago. That said, if Gallup can stay healthy in 2022, this trio could still be dangerous. (+)
TE: Boom! Dallas hit Dalton Schultz (78/808/10.4/8) with the franchise tag, before anyone else could take a shot at luring him away with a long-term deal. Schultz proved to be a sure-handed security blanket in 2021. While not an explosive athlete, his presence in the red zone will help provide the run game with more room to operate.
After cutting Blake Jarwin, there are bodies, but there really is no reserve talent here. Given the amount of traffic that will come Schultz’s way, this position will produce. However, if Schultz can’t stay healthy this season, this position is screwed. They are literally one player deep here. Just one. Uno. Single-ito! (-)
OT: At the moment LT Tyron Smith and swingman Terence Steele are the only real game in town. Smith hasn’t played a full season since 2015. Last year he played just 11 o f 17, and this year he’ll be 32. Not a good look! Steele has been more of a fill-in than a regular starter. Some weeks he played on the right, and when Smith was out, Steele played left.
While the talent is decent here, there is absolutely no consistency or reliability here. Making matters worse, there is no real depth. They have Isaac Alarcon, Josh Ball, and Aviante Collins. None of whom played a single down of football in 2021. (-)
G: All-Pro Zack Martin gives this line a rally point at RG, but he’s likely going to spend a good portion of 2022, helping the guy who will be working on his right-hand side. Babysitting doesn’t allow a player to operate at maximum ferocity. So expect the right-side of the line to suffer. At least early in the year.
Connor McGovern is still on the roster and started six games in 2021. However, it’s hard to pin down just how the Cowboys organization views him. At the moment he’s the clear LG, but a single flap of butterfly wings in China, might change that. Matt Farniok played a total of 23 offensive snaps, late in three games in 2021. The average score of those games: 50 – 14.
Right now it seems like there’s a weakened right, and the left is largely a question mark. Maybe the Draft is where an answer will come from, but as of this moment. This position is weak. (-)
C: Tyler Biadasz was the only lineman to start every game, so hooray for durability. He also had 9 penalties in 2021, which was second only to a guy who’s no longer a Cowboy. At this point no one seems entirely sold on Biadasz. That’s largely because he’s still being unfairly compared to Travis Frederick. A guy named Braylon Jones is the back-up. Iffy starter and no depth? (-)
In A Nutshell: The Cowboys have weapons, but right now, they lack reliable players on the offensive line. Employing a throwback wrinkle like routine lead blocking, might help the run game, but it’s going to hurt the passing game. There is no way to put a FB on the field, without taking some speed off the field. Should be interesting to watch. (-)
DE: DeMarcus Lawrence is no longer a premier pass rusher, but he can still get pressures. He also sets a pretty good edge vs the run, making things easier for those playing behind him. Free agent Donte Fowler looks to inherit the starting role vacated by Randy Gregory (DEN). Fowler had a couple of good years in 2017and 2019. The Cowboys are hoping to re-ignite that.
Dorance Armstrong will give a good effort, but is by no means a special player. Which is why Fowler was added. Tarell Basham is just a back-up. He plays from a two point stance, and at 6’4” that leaves his chest exposed at the snap. He also spends far too much time watching football, while he’s on the field. They also have some guy named Chauncey Golston. (-)
DT: Osa Odighizuwa got the fan base excited with how disruptive he can be, but his 280 pound frame seemed to wear down over just 14 weeks. No shame in that for a rookie, but this year he won’t be a rookie. Keep an eye on him. Carlos Watkins won’t cost any coaching staff a single wink of sleep. Yet Dallas re-signed him.
Neville Gallimore missed most of 2021, but once healthy, he took over for Odighizuwa, and was sort of “Meh”. Quinton Bohanna is a 360 pound gap plugger, who changes direction as well as an Applebee’s. This position is a cry for help. (-)
OLB: Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons is the total package. He pass rushes. He covers. He slices, he dices, is non-stick, and stain resistant! Parsons has been hyped as the next Lawrence Taylor, likely stemming from Parson’s 13 sacks as a rookie. That said, despite playing 904 snaps on defense, he only produced 84 tackles, and just two games with 10 or more tackles.
On the other side is Leighton Vander Neck. Sorry. Vander Esch. Injuries have rendered him half the player that he was as a rookie, which is why the Cowboys signed him to a one year “prove it” deal. Vander Esch hasn’t recorded 50 solo tackles since 2018, and playing outside in this system, will almost ensure that he doesn’t again in 2022. There is no depth here. (+)
MLB: I said last year, moving 211 pound FS Keanu Neal, to LB was stupid, and it turns out that I was right. AGAIN! Neal is now in Tampa, and now it seems that the middle will be manned by (drum roll) Luke Gifford?
Gifford played 32 defensive snaps in 2021. He only played 1 defensive snap in 2020. Maybe he won the coaching staff’s trust with those additional 31 snaps? It would not surprise me to see Vander Esch take over this spot. However until the subject comes up, I can only “speculate.” (-)
S: Jayron Kearse came into 2021 having played 73 games with just 12 starts. In 2021 he was given 15 starts, and had a pretty “meh” year. Just 2 interceptions, but he did lead the team in tackles (101). It was enough to convert last year’s prove it contract, into a two year pact.
Malik Hooker and Donovan Wilson are former starters who are under 27 years old. Both will likely compete for the other starting spot. Unless a player is drafted high here. (-)
CB: Trevon Diggs led the NFL with 11 interceptions. Cowboys fans would like for that to be the whole story, but it isn’t. He had 11 interceptions, because teams didn’t shy away from targeting him 103 times. Why not target a guy giving up 907 passing yards and 16.8 yards per catch? (For contrast the Eagles Darius Slay was targeted just 85 times, gave up 10.7 yards per catch, and just 535 yards.)
Anthony Brown’s first year under the new defensive system yielded 16 starts, 71 tackles, 3 picks and 17 passes defensed. All were career highs. Surely he’s looking forward to 2022. Jourdan Lewis started 13 games as the Nickle and also saw career highs in interceptions (3), tackles (61), and passes defensed (11). Kelvin Joseph rounds out the top four. How trash do you have to be to have played in 80 games with just 1 start, in your rookie year? Ask C.J. Goodwin. He knows. (+)
In A Nutshell: It’s the Cowboys. So whether they over or underachieve, you always expect to see a ton of talent on this team. So when looking at this unit, it’s amazing to see how hollow it is, right down the middle. Three positions: DT, MLB, and S, seem to be waiting to find salvation in the draft. Not wise. (-)
K: Chris Naggar is what people in sportscasting call, “a landmine”. Just one slip of the tongue… Dear Cowboys fans: You’ll be comforted to know that Naggar is experienced, and has never missed an NFL field goal attempt. He hit the 37 yarder that he kicked last year. He however, was just 1/2 (50%) on extra points. I have Brett Maher’s phone number if you want it… Hell, right now Bill Maher might be a better option than what you have. (-)
P: Bryan Anger was re-signed after averaging a career best 48.4 yards per punt, with 0 blocked, and opponents averaging just 6.5 yard per return (+)
In A Nutshell: I spent 4 years as a comedy writer, and even my twisted imagination couldn’t come up with something like the Cowboys Kicker situation. It’s pure comedy. For rival fans, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. (-)
The Cowboys are in trouble. They have spent so much money (QB, RB) and draft capital (WR’s, CB’s, LB’s) on peripheral players, that they haven’t made sure that they can win in the trenches. On either side of the ball. Unless something huge happens, Dallas is going to spend 2022 getting out-physicalled, and never really get a chance to find their footing in many games. The lack of quality depth (OT, TE, G, DE, DT LB, and S) means that when injuries start to hit, the drop-offs will be dramatic. This team feels 8 – 9, but we’ll call it 9 – 8 because New York is still in the division.
LAST year the Washington (insert name here), went 7 – 10 and finished third in the NFC East. The only thing more disgusting than the sewage that the stadium spewed on it’s fans, was the football that the team played on the field. Turns out that owner Dan Snyder was apparently not only cheating the fans, but the NFL shared revenue pool as well. Surely the Redsk- sorry, the newly named Commanders, have a lot to shake off.
In any case, this is what their roster looks like just 14 days before the Draft:
QB: The same Colts front office that thought they could do better than Peyton Manning (HOF), and then ran Andrew Luck out of football, has traded Carson Wentz (9 – 8, 62.4%, 27/7) to this team, after just one year with their team. Pundits are siding with the Colts (for now), but we’ll see how long that holds up.
Many question Wentz’s decision making (akaplaying “hero ball”) at times, but no one questions his talent. Posting the numbers that he did last year, given his weapons in Indy, (see above link) speaks to that. Oh, remember Wentz’s “injury prone” label? He hasn’t missed a game due to injury in 3 years now. For those keeping score, that’s 85 games played, with 8 missed to injury. Now he gets a shot to shake his “broken QB” label. Stay tuned.
Taylor Heinicke (7 – 9, 64.9%, 20/15) is an average athlete, with above average moxie. Despite having an average arm, he’s more of a gunslinger than a game manager. Translation: He’ll gamble with the football. That, more than any other reason, is why Washington felt the need to trade for Wentz. Still, there’s a ton of fight at this position. Both players have a “never say die” attitude, which could become contagious. That’s impossible to overlook. (+)
RB: Antonio Gibson (1037/4.0/7) led all NFC East RB’s in rushing yards. Unlike is rookie year, he didn’t miss a single game, and even saw incremental improvement as a receiver. He also led all NFC East RB’s in fumbles (6).
His hands and explosiveness are nowhere close to what you’d expect from a guy who played WR in college. In 16 games, he’s produced no runs longer than 27 yards. His game also seems to lack much physicality. Which might be why he continues to struggle with pass protection, and ball security.
Jaret Patterson (266/3.9/5) and J.D. MiKissic (212/4.4/2) give Washington two more backs who can catch. However, physicality, explosiveness, and creativity as runners, seem to be lacking thoughout this position. (-)
WR: Terry McLaurin (77/1053/13.7/5) is alone out there. Even with all the attention that he attracts from defenses, the next most productive players at this position, were Adam Humphries (41/383/9.3/0) gone.DeAndre Carter (24/296/12.3/3) gone. And thenCam Sims (15/211/14.1/2). You are looking at this team’s 2021 TOP four players at this position. (This is very similar to what Wentz just had in Indy.)
The Curtis Samuel (6/27/4.5/0) experiment from last season, was derailed by a groin injury. Washington has to hope that Samuel will bounce back, and 2022’s 3rd round pick Dyami Brown (12/165/13.8/0), can become a difference maker in 2022. Oh they also brought back Kelvin Harmon who spent 2019 with them, then was out of football until now. Ugh. (-)
TE: Logan Thomas (18/196/10.9/3) and John Bates (20/249/12.5/1) aren’t glamorous, but they’re stable building blocks. Thomas had his 2021 shortened by an ACL tear, but is expected back by the start of training camp. He’s not a scary receiver, but he’s reliable. He’s also a vicious blocker.
Bates saw a lot of action later in his rookie year, partly due to injuries to other players. Still, it’s valuable experience, and it gives Washington a solid knowledge base to improve the position from. Sammis Reyes is the team’s two year, lackluster experiment at TE. (+)
OT: In 2021 Washington added free agent LT Charles Leno, and he started all 17 games. On the one hand, their 2021 offensive production improved both in the run game (1,611 yards, 4.0ypc to 2,061, 4.3) and in pass protection (50 sacks to 43), from the prior season. On the other hand, letting stuff like this keep happening
shows that LT may still need some work.
Rookie Samuel Cosmi, outright won the RT job, during training camp. He however, was in and out of the line-up, due to hip and ankle injuries. Rookie Saahdiq Charles filled in during Week 8, and is all of their depth here. (-)
G: RG Brandon Scherff escaped via free agency. LG Ereck Flowers had the best year of his career, and he was still released. Jacksonville’s Andrew Norwell will fill his place, which is a laugh riot. Washington has fucked up here.
Wes Schweitzer filled in for Brandon Scherff during Weeks 3, 4, and 5. Saahdiq Charles got two starts in Scherff’s place during weeks 15 and 16. There are also a handful of young guys, but no one that the team is pushing to play. (-)
C: With Chase Roullier in the line-up, Washington averaged 230.5 passing yards per game. When he went down for the season, they averaged 177.4 passing yards per game, never once throwing for 230 during his absence.
Once Roullier was lost for the season, Tyler Larsen took over for a couple of games before being injured for two weeks during Week 11. At this point Wes Schweitzer took over. Aaand was hurt and put on I.R. in Week 12. Keith Ismael took over in Week 13. Then BEHOLD! Larsen is back to start Week 14, before being injured during that game, and lost for the year. Ismael would go on to finish the last four games as a starter. At least there’s depth. (+)
In a Nutshell: There is a ‘no quit’ vibe coming from the entire QB position. Washington had that last year, but they seriously upgraded their talent there. The interior of their line has been utterly decimated, and the edges aren’t very good. Making matters worse, most of their weapons don’t scare anyone. (-)
DE: Chase Young played just nine games before going on I.R. with a torn ACL. Up to that point however, he really wasn’t all that effective. With just 1.5 sacks, and 4 QB hits, he was on pace to achieve half of his rookie numbers. Worse still, with him in the line-up, Washington allowed 29 or more points, five times. With him on I.R. that only happened just once. Washington went 3 – 6 with him, 4 – 4 without him. Montez Sweat started off on a tear, but he ended up missing seven games, during which the team went 5 – 2. With him in the line up they were 2 – 8.
Behind Young and Sweat, Washington has Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams. Laugh if you want, but when they both started in 2021, Washington was 4 – 0 and never allowed more than 21 points in a game. Might have something to do with Toohill and Smith-Williams playing the End position fully, and not just “pass rusher”.
In any case, Young and Sweat will be the starters for 2022. So the pass rushers will replace the Ends, and this defense will be less than it should be, leaving their fans scratching their heads over why it’s happening. Again. (-)
DT: While Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne “only” accumulated 13.5 sacks as interior linemen, they are responsible for 45 QB hits in 2021. Forty-five. As interior linemen! This is a two man wrecking crew. Provided they don’t wreck each other first.
That said, with the losses of Tim Settle and Matt Iaonnidis, Washington has gone from having top shelf starters and rock solid depth, to great starters and no depth. Seriously, the jersey numbers for the other two players are 64R and 68R. Camp bodies. The starters are All-Pro, but with no depth, they’ll wear down early in the year. (-)
OLB: Cole Holcomb played 1,021 snaps and had 142 tackles, with 2 picks last year. He’s not spectacular, but he’s a very solid player, who never comes off the field. Due to playing Landon Collins in a hybrid role, no other player saw much many snaps at this position. With Collins now gone, there is zero depth here. They are one Holcomb injury away from a complete disaster. (-)
ILB: Due to injury in 2021, Jamin Davis started 8 games, eventually fell out of favor and ended up behind David Mayo, who contributed 28 tackles. This position is doesn’t have players, it has staff members. (-)
S: Landon Collins was released because he wouldn’t take a pay cut, so that the team could afford Carson Wentz. In 2021,Kamren Curl saw 14 starts at SS, and allowed 59% of passes thrown his way to be completed, vs 73% in his rookie year.
The FS spot was manned by free agent addition Bobby McCain. McCain picked off 4 passes, defensing 9, and notched 63 tackles. All of which were career-highs. If Washington liked him enough to sign him in 2021, they will likely re-sign him for 2022. The starters (Curl and McCain) are decent and may even get better with time. (+)
CB: Kendall Fuller is the top player at this position, and he was essentially a scratching post for the first half of last season. He surrendered 60 yards or more in four of the first eight games, and allowed over 100 yards, in two of them. Things got better down the stretch, as he only allowed 60+ yards in two of the last nine.
On the other side, William Jackson gave up a touchdown pass in five straight games. He only played in 12 games. In reserve, Washington has a guy named Corn Elder, which is an absolutely terrifying name. It sounds like rape in an outhouse. (-)
In A Nutshell: Last year (during the preseason), everyone expected the defense to carry this team to the top of the NFC East. What happened instead, was that it completely collapsed. Like this.
The line has talent, but everywhere else is just loaded with depth issues, or starters who shouldn’t be. This however, is what Washington has to work with. At least for now. (-)
K: This should be Joey Slye’s job. He went 12/12 on field goals with a long of 55, and was 9/10 on extra points. Brian Johnson is also on the roster, but c’mon. Even Washington can’t cock this up. (+)
P: Tress Way averaged 48.5 yards, with no blocks in 60 boots, surrendering 9.0 yards per punt return. Not stellar, but far from bad. (+)
In A Nutshell: It’s not glamorous, but it should do. Slye gives them what looks like accuracy and range. The only question is can he do it over a longer sample period. (+)
As things stand right now, this offense is in trouble. As their QB gets to know his team, six times a year they get to go against teams that already know him. Two of those times, he goes against the team that built him. So there’s rough sledding ahead.
Defensively the coaching staff is basically the same, and we’ve already seen every trick that Washington knows. We saw it in 2020 to the tune of a 7 – 9 record. We saw it again it in 2021, to the tune of 7 – 10. In 2022, expect opposing receivers to be 7 – 11, and Washington to be 8 – 9.
LAST year the giants finished an ugly 4 – 13, and dead last in the NFC East. As a result, EVERYBODY was fired. The General Manager, the Head Coach, Gus the shoe shine guy… Everybody. The giants owner needed to find the right men to lead his organization. So he journeyed from New York, alllll the way to Buffalo and signed, it doesn’t matter. If the players are trash, the team won’t win. But are they still trash, or has there been improvement?
In any case, this is where the giants roster stands just 16 days before the 2022 NFL Draft:
QB: Let’s start with Daniel “Danny Dimes” Jones (4 – 7, 64.3%, 10/7). First the good news. Last season he threw just 7 interceptions, and his interceptions have gone from 11, to 10, to just 7 during his three year career. His fumbles have also gone down. From 19, to 10, to 7. He was third on the team in rushing yards (298), and tied for the lead in rushing touchdowns (2).
Now the bad news. His passing touchdowns have gone from 24, to 12, to 10. The team was 4 – 7 with him as the starter, marking a third straight year of being nowhere near .500 with him. He’s 12 – 25 as a starter. You know. On account of him being trash.
So the giants had to bring in somebody. Enter Tyrod Taylor (2 – 4, 60.7%, 5/5). Great move! Right away he’s the giants best player at this position. Yet he’s going to be their back-up, because starting him Week One, would be too much like making sense. If this team had a starter, they’d have excellent depth. (-)
RB: Coming back from his ACL injury, Saquon Barkley (593/3.7/2) led the team in rushing. Well he tired for the lead. Sorry, did I say tired instead of tied? I must have been thinking about the way Barkley looked in that game. Which game? Pick one. While I wouldn’t say that he’s washed up, he clearly doesn’t care about being a giant anymore.
Devontae Booker (593/4.1/2) had just as many rushing yards, and they released him. Which is hilarious. Both Booker and Barkley ran for 593 and 2 scores, but only only one them kept a job. They did add Matt Breida (125/4.8/1), who has demonstrated explosive speed in the past, but not really in the last two years. Their next most experienced player here is Gary Brightwell. He has 1 rush for 4 yards, and 8 career tackles. (-)
WR: Kenny Golladay (37/521/14.1/0) escaped Detroit, only to sign with a worse team.
He started 14 games, had a team-high 521 yards, and for the first time in his career, scored 0 touchdowns. Rookie Kadarius Toney (39/420/10.8/0) also scored zee-ro touchdowns. He also was in and out of the line-up, being inactive or just not playing for seven games.
Sterling Shepard (36/366/10.2/1) played just 7 games, intermittently throughout last season. He also took a pay cut in March to stay with the giants. Darius Slayton (26/339/13.0/2) spent two years looking like a solid #2, then absolutely cratered in 2021. Part of it can be attributed to the giants new look at the position, but part of it was Slayton just not converting opportunities (44.8% catch rate).
Robert Foster had a great 2018 season. Since then he’s been on five practice squads, including Washington (cut), and Dallas (cut). Now he’s in New York, and Philadelphia is waiting for it’s turn to cut him. Is there talent here? Yes. Is there enough talent to offset the deeper issues with this offense? No. Not remotely. (-)
TE: Ricky Seals-Jones totaled 90 catches, 1044 yards, and 10 scores. That wasn’t his 2021 season. That was his entire six year career. He’s on his fifth team in five years. He has all of fifteen career starts, and he’s a guy that the giants prioritized early in free agency? Either their front office is high, or I am. They have back-ups, but I’m not even wasting the keystrokes. (-)
OT: Andrew Thomas has been up and down during his two years in the league, but he’s more recently been up. Unfortunately, for a second consecutive year he’s needed surgery on his left ankle. Matt Peart is returning from an ACL tear that put him on I.R. He will be the starting RT, despite having never been a regular starter before.
Depth looks like well-traveled, career bench-warmer Korey Cunningham, as well as Matt Gono who warmed a bench for two years, then was out of football since 2020. This is the depth here and that’s it. No, I’m serious. This is all there is. This is everything they have here. (-)
G: New addition Mark Glowinski helped pave the way for the Colts run game for the last three years. Indy’s loss is the giants… gain? Shane Lemieux was the 2021 starter at LG, but he was lost for the year in Week One. He’ll likely reprise that role. Jamil Douglas and Ben Bredeson will keep the bench nice and toasty. (-)
C: Nick Gates was lost for year in Week Two. Gates himself said earlier this year, that he has no idea when he’ll be back. That, is likely why free agent John Feliciano was added. Though he’s been a G for seven seasons, there is talk of him moving to the pivot for New Yawk. It’s a plan that already reeks of desperation, and we haven’t even hit OTA’s yet. (-)
In A Nutshell: The new GM entered the building hitting walls with a sledghammer. Folks, this is what a rebuild looks like! Better yet, this is what a total teardown looks like. All of it. Just ripping it out. Quarterback, receivers, line, the hotdog vendor. Just all of it. So yeah, giants gon’ suck for a while. (-)
DE: Leonard Williams had 11.5 sacks in 2020, but came back down to Earth with 6.5 in 2021. In fairness he also plays the run pretty damned well. Sacks aren’t everything, but for an “Edge” player, it’s almost everything. It’s the reason Oshane Ximines was a third round pick in 2019. He had 4.5 sacks that year and not one since. He’s spent most of the last two years either on I.R. or being inactive.
Trent Harris has played fewer downs for the giants with every passing year. Enter Raymond Johnson, stage left. Maybe he steps into the vacated by free agent Lorenzo Carter. Playing a false 3 – 4 front, with nebulous designations is hurting the giants on the field, and likely keeping away defensive line free agents who could help them. (-)
(CORRECTION: The Washington QB is not named Bud Weiser. It’s Taylor Heiniken. Heinicke! Taylor Heinicke. Taylor?? Who names a boy “Taylor”?)
DT: Losing Austin Johnson was seismic. However, adding Justin Ellis was literally massive. Dexter Lawrence has been 3 sacks, 50 tackles, and 10 QB hits per year. Paired with a space eater like Ellis, that interior is going to make like hard on average run games. David Moa rounds out the depth at this position. (+)
OLB: Azeez Ojulari had 13 starts and led the team with 8 sacks, but produced just 49 tackles. Quincy Roche offers a pass rush option, to give Ojulari a breather here and there. Oshane Ximines (Edge) I suppose also fits here.
The problem here is, that the pass rushers are pass rushers only. They also have a handful of tweener players who really don’t excel in space. So they’re less like linebacker depth, and more like extra ends who can’t shed blocks. (-)
ILB: Blake Martinez is the genuine article. That said, he’s coming off of an ACL tear that cost him practically all of last year. Rookie Tae Crowder started every game, and racked up 130 stops, but he doesn’t seem like much of play-maker. Especially given that he played every defensive snap from Week Four until he cleaned out his locker. There is no depth. (-)
S: Xavier McKinney had 5 picks in his first year as a full-time starter. Julian Love is a part-timer here. This is it. The giants roster list only two players at this position and no one with a “DB” designation. That means any help/depth will be either rookie(s) or free agents found after the Draft. This team will probably lead the NFL in big plays surrendered. (-)
CB: James Bradberry gave up almost 300 more passing yards than in 2020. He was also targeted more, indicating that teams have found something on tape that they can exploit. Adoree Jackson recorded just the third interception of his 5 year career last year. To his credit, he only allowed 52% of passes thrown his way to be completed, and surrendered 50+ yards just once in his twelve starts.
While the giants would like Darnay Holmes to be a factor, he’s ended both of his seasons being injured. Which led to Aaron Robinson and Jarren Williams each getting two starts in the absence of Jackson. Both players ended up back on the bench, without being a serious part of a rotation. The starters are shaky, and the depth is a problem. (-)
In A Nutshell: Last year saw pass rushers hampered by the scheme, and a soft secondary victimized because of it. So they hired a new defensive coordinator in Don Martindale, formerly of Baltimore. Great. Problem is, he doesn’t have any tools to build with. Even worse, the new GM seems to be building with the old one’s blueprint. (-)
K: Graham Gano saw his field goal accuracy dip (29/33/87.9%), but this year he didn’t miss any extra points. Of course he only attempted 17 in 17 games. From 50+ he was 7/10, which is nothing to sneeze at. (+)
P: Ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure! Coming to the Big Apple by way of Cleveland, Ohio. Put your hands together for Jamie “The Scottish Hammer” Gillan! He enters this phase of his career with a 44.9 yard average per boot. That said, his average has dropped for two straight years (46.2, to 44.0, to 43.9). (-)
In A Nutshell: Given the slapdash approach this front office is so far showing the defense, it’s not a wonder that special teams also seems to be getting a shrug. (-)
BOTTOM LINE: The giants cleaned house at GM and head coach. They brought in Joe Schoen (from Buffalo) to be the GM, and he turned around and hired Brian Daboll (form Buffalo), who has been failing upward for almost two decades in the NFL.
Then they brought in a few former Buffalo players, but none of the good ones. And who cares?! None of this matters if Danny “March of Dimes” is still going to start eight or more games. Call it 6 – 11, with Tyrod Taylor winning four of those.
WITH ten draft picks this year, the smart move is to use them to further the Eagles youth movement. There is no sense in signing bunch of, or trading early picks for, older and more expensive players this year. Judiciously signing a few however, can add immediate bounce throughout a roster. Here are the three that we should add.
DE:Emmanuel Ogbah from Miami would be the centerpiece of my free agency mission. Getting a bigger, and more physical LDE, will allow Josh Sweat to go back to using his speed at RDE, making our Defensive Line a lot more effective. Understand though, Miami comes into free agency with more cap space than anyone, and they’ll want to keep their proven pass rusher.
Of course, while Miami has tons of cash, they’re going to have a new head coach in 2022. Also, the NFL may be trying to take the team away from owner Stephen Ross, due to allegations that he attempted to pay his last head coach, to throw games.
Vegas (and I don’t mean the Raiders), won’t look too kindly on that, with legalized gambling being a cash cow. So if Ross “dies” in 2022, don’t be shocked. I mean the guy is 81, but if saaaay, he blows his own head off (wink), and afterwards cleans his fingerprints off the shotgun, we’ll all know what’s what.
The upcoming circus that’s about to surround a 9 – 8 Dolphins team which missed the playoffs, should be enough to encourage Ogbah to move to greener pastures. While many teams can offer him a boatload of cash, no other team can offer him a chance to play with two DT’s that demand as much double-team attention. That means a ton of one-on-one opportunities for Ogbah.
Imagine it: DE Emmanuel Ogbah , DT Fletcher Cox, DT Javon Hargrave, and DE Josh Sweat. A physically stronger left side, with Sweat bringing the explosiveness that Derek Barnett always lacked from the blindside. Improved play on the back-end would make this Defense monstrous.
TE: While Jack Stoll is a good blocker, he’s no threat as a receiver. That makes Richard Rogersour go-to, behind Dallas Goedert. Rodgers is credible, but we have to do better here. (Ironically, Zach Ertz is a free agent, but I’m pretty sure we won’t be seeing him back here.)
As of today, the Cowboys, (according to Over The Cap) find themselves (-21M$) in salary cap hell, for 2022. That means 25 year old Dalton Schultz could be an easy steal, which would help us, while at the same time, harming a rival. If we can’t get him to come here, at least we should be able to bid, and drive up the price that Dallas re-signs him to.
WR: HEAR ME OUT! I know this is gonna sound crazy at first, but it makes all the sense in the world. We should bring back DeSean Jackson. (I’ll give you a minute to shake your head, and call me nuts.)
Are you done? Alright, Fine. Take another minute.
Now the explanation. Devonta Smith thinks that he would benefit from having a veteran in the locker room. That being the case, if we add a seasoned veteran, we don’t want them to hinder the Eagles youth development, by playing too many downs.Quez Watkins won’t get better from not playing. (Same with the rookie WR we should draft.)
DJax has a ton of wisdom to impart to a WR room. Especially to Smith. DJax has been a #1 threat. He’s seen double coverage, bracket coverage, shaded coverage meant to contain him, and he’s produced anyway. He’s seen ups and downs off the field. He’s taken care of his body, well enough to still be a deep threat at 87 years old. This is even more important when you realize how slender DJax is. A trait that Smith shares.
Though DJax still has an ability to be dangerous (2021: 20rec, 454yards, 22.7*ypc, 2TD), his hamstrings won’t let him play a ton of downs. Which is GREAT! He shouldn’t be a starter. He should be a role player. Which also means he shouldn’t be too expensive.
Wise, cheap, still lethal, and he won’t try to overshadow the young men we’re trying to develop. Go ahead. Find someone else who ticks all of those boxes, in this year’s free agency. I’ll wait… In fact, I’ll spot you the list so you don’t have to look for it.
Emmanuel Sanders?! Last year he was a starter in Buffalo. No way he gives up chasing a ring with QB Josh Allen, to play for a QB who can’t read defenses. NEXT! AJ. Green? He’s going back to Arizona. Next! Mohamed Sanu? He was never Batman. He wasn’t even Robin! He was Batgirl for most of his career. I don’t want Devonta learning how to be Batman, from Batgirl. Do you?
So there it is. Those are the primary three players I would target in this year’sfirst round of free agency. We’ll take a look at the post-Draft cuts, with an eye towards KR’s, and big RB’s. Then we’ll look for veteran defenders after the June 1st cuts.
IMPROVE the roster. That’s the mission of this, and every offseason. The first step (as always), is not to do anything stupid, which either leaves a hole, or depletes depth. Teams sometimes do that when they have plans to add X-free agent, and/or Y-draft pick. Problem is, when they land neither player X nor Y, they get left with a hole. Often gaping. So let’s not do something stupid.
If we’re smart, here are six holes we’ll avoid creating, just by re-signing guys:
G – Nate Herbig: He’s been solid everywhere we’ve put him (LG – C – RG). He has inside versatility, is more reliable than Sua Opeta, and may be a better starter thanIsaac Seumalo.
RB – Jordan Howard: His neck is a bit of a concern, but the Eagles need a bruiser, and unless the Front Office plans to trade for one, free agency is loaded with guys who either won’t come here (John Conner, Melvin Gordon, Leonard Fournette); guys who don’t run as big as their size (Peyton Barber, Kalen Ballage, Damien Williams); and the 30+ club (Latavius Murray, Brandon Bolden).
CB – Steven Nelson: Though he didn’t have the monster season that Darius Slay had, Nelson only surrendered an average of 33.9 yards per game. (Slay averaged 31.) Whether the plan is to develop Zech MacPhearsonor draft another kid, keeping Nelson around is the smart play. If we let him walk, who starts in his place?….Exactly.
OLB – Alex Singleton: The Eagles need to upgrade our pool of LB talent. No argument there. However, if the Eagles don’t re-sign Singleton, that would leave us with promising, but still raw Davion Taylor and our fingers crossed. Singleton isn’t flashy, but he hustles, and doesn’t quit on plays. His attitude is exactly what incoming rookies needs to see.
FS – Rod McLeod: We aren’t even close to having an answer at this position if we let him walk. Eagles fans want FA Tyrann Mathieu, but he’s going to have plenty of suitors. So Mathieu coming here, is far from a slam dunk. McLeod is already here and wants to come back. Why be difficult? Just take ‘Yes’ for an answer.
WR – Greg Ward: He is the most veteran player at his position, in a room full of pups. He’s also one of just TWO decent Punt Returners under contract with this team. And that’s counting Active roster, Practice Squad, and even guys on Injured Reserve.
Keep in mind, any of the players that we re-sign, we can still cut later. Re-signing these guys just means that moves made subsequently, can be done with far less risk. As for the remaining eight, I like some of them, but many of them don’t fit the Eagles big picture.
DE Derek Barnett will never produce more than 7 sacks, in a system which plays it’s CB’s off so much.
DT Hassan Ridgeway is a solid rotation guy, and I’ve been big on him for years. Unfortunately for him, he’s in Milton Williams’s way. Williams was a third round pick and unlike Ridgeway, he can be flexed out to DE.
RB Boston Scott is a gamer, but A) Someone is going to throw him more than 3 million a year, B) It shouldn’t be us, since we’ll soon have to pay RB Miles Sanders; C) Three small RB’s in Scott, Kenneth Gainwelland Jason Huntley is two too many.
CB Andre Chachere makes you notice him, but the numbers game at his position might run him out of town. Even more so, I think his style of play would be better suited to FS, but the Eagles FO is still hoping that K’Von Wallace pans out there, since they spent a draft pick on him.
The Eagles have already re-signed TE Richard Rodgers. As much as the Front Office raves about TE Tyree Jackson, his ACL tear in Week 18 means that he’ll miss OTA’s, mini-camp, and some, or all of Training Camp. Rodgers represents depth and starter insurance.
And now for some bad news. We can’t claim to be rebuilding. We did that last year, and we made the playoffs. Making the playoffs is now expected for this team. Playoffs is the floor, not the ceiling in 2022. We will not sneak up on anyone this year. Everything that this team does now, is not to build a winner, but to go further this year. This year.
We want to open Training Camp with the Eagles being more talented, and more dangerous, than when our season ended. That process begins with the start of Free Agency on March 16th. We’ll take care of our in-house business, then chase the outside. Remember, the first step (as always), is not to do anything stupid.
The timing of this article couldn’t have been better. I told some friends (Andrea and Arlette), last week that I would write about this subject. Thanksgiving got in the way, and so I had to delay it. Turns out, that was for the best. Events during this last game have sharpened the points I’m about to make.
Over the last four weeks as the Eagles were piling up rushing yardage, most fans were satisfied. So long as Hurts was running for touchdowns, and leading the team in rushing, no one but me seemed to care that his game as a passer, kept being extremely pedestrian.
Detroit: 9/14 – 64.2% – 103 – 0 – 0. Los Angeles: 11/17 – 64.7% – 162 – 1 – 0. Denver: 16/23 – 69.5% – 178 – 2 – 1.(I won’t pick on the day Hurts had vs the giants. We know how that went.)
But let’s look at the Saints game, which we won in a blowout. Specifically, the stat line put up by Saints QB Trevor Siemian (22/40 – 55.0% – 214 – 3 – 2), vs the stat line by Hurts (13/24 – 54.1% – 147 – 0 – 0).
Siemian was slightly more accurate, got his supporting cast involved, and so, he nearly led a rally. This is despite being a third stringer, without his team’s starting RB, #1 WR, and BOTH Offensive Tackles. Hurts had none of these disadvantages, yet it can be argued that Siemian had a better day as a QB. Especially in regards to getting his teammates involved.
Teammates is another bone I have to pick with Hurts. I keep hearing about how he’s a field general. I keep hearing how he’s focused and competitive. However, during games, especially when we’re down, when I see him on the sideline…he’s just sitting there.
He’s not looking at the tablet. He’s not rallying the crowd. He’s not on one knee, talking to the O-line about protection slides. He’s not in the Offensive Coordinator’s ear, or standing next to his Head Coach. He’s not having an animated discussion about what he sees, to get on the same page with the receivers. He’s just sitting there, looking like he’s sucking on a lemon.
I say this as a man who’s worn pads and has played with multiple QB’s. Jalen’s body language sucks ass. Nothing about him says “Follow ME!” or “I got you.” His swagger is limited to him running for a touchdown. It doesn’t extend to his teammates.
For example, when LT Jordan Mailata pancaked Saints DE Marcus Davenport (because of his treatment of Hurts), was there an acknowledging fist bump or high-five from the QB? Nope. Hurts texted his thanks to Mailata, later that night. A text message! In exchange for sticking up for him! But when Hurts needed consoling after the giants game:
1,000 words, right?
BUT WAIT!!! THERE’S MORE!!!
Hurts may miss the Jets game with a sore ankle. I’ll say that one more time: Hurts may miss the Jets game with a sore ankle. Remember the three touchdowns QB Donovan McNabb threw against the Cardinals in November of 2002, on a broken ankle? Remember QB Carson Wentz tearing his ACL, and staying in one more play, to throw a touchdown vs the Rams, in our 2017 Super Bowl season?
Sore ankle. Those are the words of Head Coach Nick Sirianni.
I guess benching Hurts is the Eagles way of admitting that he’s a liability if he has to play from the pocket. Seriously. Would a sore ankle shelve Tom Brady? Ben Roethlisberger? Patrick Mahomes? Matt Stafford and Derek Carrhave both played through back injuries. How about Brett Favre? Dan Marino played with TWO knee braces. Hell, “sore” never stopped Wentz from suiting up. Is Hurts more delicate than Wentz?
I’m not going to get into Hurts being inaccurate. I won’t mention how he’s slow to read defenses. I won’t mention that he’s ineffective running anything other than a one read system. I won’t mention that when the going got tough in college, he got going to another college, instead of overcoming the challenger.
Did I mention that so far he’s 0 – 4 vs the NFC East? That includes two blowouts vs the Cowboys. They humiliate us every time he starts against them. And of course all he could manage vs the giants, was 7 points. And we tanked against the Redskins, in a game that we were already losing. Like I said, 0 – 4.
I’ll simply ask: Is THIS your leader? Is this the face that you want to represent YOU? My answer is on his shirt, and even Rosa agrees with me.
That’s not to say that Hurts has no place in the NFL. I told you in June that the NFL was moving towards QB being a platoon type position. I told you in September, a week before the season started, that QB Gardner Minshewwould play this year, somewhere around Week 8. He played in Week 8.
I’m going to say Hurts has a place in the NFL as a QB. Just not as a franchise. Not even as the Ace QB of a platoon. Think of him as a relief QB. Start thinking of him, as a back-up.