TRADING TE Zach Ertz is stupid. Let me get that on the record right now. I don’t want anybody saying later this season, that I was ever unclear in my language about the move. Trading him, cutting him, doesn’t matter. Ertz being removed from this roster, this year is unwise. Some will argue that 12M$ is too much to spend on an aging player, with diminishing skills.
Okay. Let’s look at that.
His 12M$ cap hit is a large one. That said, the Front Office has already found a way to fit it under our 2021 salary cap. In fact, according to Over The Cap the Eagles are currently 6.4M$ under the cap. So affording Ertz has already been done. That means we can stop trying to make this about money. How about age?
Ertz turns 31 in November. While that is an advanced age for this position, it’s not ancient or even the most advanced age. Current TE’s Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, and Kyle Rudolph are all older than Ertz, (and most Eagles fans would be happy to add any of those).
People bring up age, because they want to either infer, or say outright, that older players will be less durable, miss more games, and thus be less reliable. Last season at age 30, Ertz missed 5 games, due to injury. It was the first time he ever played in fewer than 14 games in a season.
Before suggesting that the misses are tied to Ertz’s age, consider the following: Back-up TE Dallas Goedert, whom the Front Office (and fans) expect to replace Ertz, also missed 5 games with injury. Goedert is 26 years old. Injuries, not age, determines injuries. So quit letting yourself be told, that one means the other.
Well what about Ertz’s diminishing skills? What diminishing skills? Based off of what, the 2020 season?? You go and point out even one, just one, Eagles starter who didn’t take a step backwards in 2020.
Don’t say RB Miles Sanders. He ran for more yards, but his receiving production took a nose dive, and his yards from scrimmage were dramatically down in 2020. Yes, WR Travis Fulgham emerged, but A) He wasn’t a 2019 Eagles starter, and B) He faded badly, down 2020’s stretch. A pandemic of bad offense infected the whole roster. Including Goedert. Including Ertz.
Finally, what on Earth would we be replacing him with? Aside from Ertz and Goedert, the Eagles have five TE’s on the roster. Only one has ever caught a ball in an actual NFL game. One is converting from WR. Another one is converting from QB.
TE Caleb Wilson shows a little promise, and Jason Croom would be a decent #3, but the step down at TE would be huge, if Ertz goes in 2021.
Then again, Head Coach Nick Sirianni isn’t Doug Pederson. He may not like using 12 Personnel (1RB, 2TE), as much as the guy who won a Super Bowl with it, while playing 32 year old TE Brent Celekfor a third of the offensive snaps. (Hey! Isn’t 32 older than 31?)
If Sirianni is looking to feature a Slot WR more, then he won’t be using two TE’s very much, and won’t need to have two good ones. That doesn’t help us with talented depth for red zone situations, or insurance vs injury, but you can’t have it all right?
Except right now, we still have Ertz, and his presence is a luxury. Moving him now would be stupid. Just stupid.
WHICH Eagles players are poised to have a breakout season? Before we can say that a player had one, first we need to define exactly what a breakout season looks like. Better still, we fans need to declare what our standard is, well ahead of time. Let’s start by setting the bar, high.
First, let’s rule out rookies. While rookie WR Devonta Smithcould have a huge year, it would be unfair before Training Camp, to expect the Moon and stars from him. Especially with this team’s history of developing WR’s.
So now let’s start with QB Jalen Hurts. In 2020, during his four starts (just those four), he put up 148 attempts, 77 completions (52%), for 1061 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. He also posted 46 rushes, 272 yards, 5.9 yards per carry, and 3 scores. These numbers led to his 1 – 3 record, and for good reason.
In Hurts four starts, his completion percentage fell each week (56.6, 54.5, 53.8, and 35.0%, respectively.) Teams quickly caught onto him bootlegging right, as if he were in an Option offense, and they made it harder and harder for him to use that, to set up passes. In 2021 he’s going to have to demonstrate an ability to take advantage of containment based strategies against him.
A breakout season from Hurts would look something like 493 attempts, 316 completions (64%), for 4,300 yards, 29 touchdowns and fewer than 15 interceptions. Adding 102 rushes for 595 yards (5.8) and say… 5 scores, would put him in the conversation for greatest season ever by an Eagles QB.
Again. Set that bar, high.
Now onto last year’s first round flop, WR Jalen Reagor. No, I won’t compare him to Vikings WR “Justin Jefferson”. This isn’t about comparing players. This is about individual accomplishment. This is about Reagor, how he spent the downs he played, and no one else. The focus, is on Reagor.
In 2020, our first round pick played in 9 games. He was targeted 54 times, made 31 catches for a catch rate of 57.4%, 396 yards (at 12.7 per), and caught one touchdown. (For those who want to know: His catch rate was 57.5% for QB Carson Wentz, and 57.1 % for Hurts. Wentz threw him his lone TD catch, in our win over Dallas.)
In the 9 games Reagor played, he averaged 3 catches for 44 yards per game. That hardly cuts it for a first rounder. With him playing in the Slot now, 15 yards per quarter shouldn’t be too much to ask. He’d average 60 yards per game, for 960 yards on the year. So let’s call it 960, and a score in at least half the games for breakout consideration. So 960 and 8. That’s the bar. Anything below that, isn’t even a conversation. That’s the kind of energy we need to keep.
I don’t think RB Miles Sanders counts here. He’s twice rushed for 800+ yards, so even 1,000 – 1,200 rushing yards will just seem like a great year, not a breakout. If TE Dallas Goedert sees 900 yards, or 12 scores, sure that would be breakout. But I don’t see him doing that.
On Defense, we’re hardly starting anyone who isn’t already an established veteran. Nobody can say that DE Brandon Graham, DT Fletcher Cox or CB Darius Slay are just now making their mark on the league, and LB Alex Singleton had his, last year.
Barring a situation where a starter’s hurt and a back-up comes from nowhere, no one on D is having a breakout year.
Summing up! On Offense, Hurts and Reagor are poised to have breakout seasons. On Defense, without a major injury, no one is on deck to do so. Sorry, but that’s the bottom line.
GOING 4 – 11 – 1 means STFU. Whether it’s players hyping the leadership of a 1 – 3 QB, or a second year WR, calling out my fellow fans. All the talk needs to stop. Last year the Eagles fell halfway short of even going .500. That means there’s a ton of stuff to fix, and nobody who was on the roster when we posted that record, has time to run their mouth.
I’m a devoted fan, but I’m not delusional. We still haven’t addressed our weakness at CB. We still don’t know if our top FS will be ready by Week One. What will our TE depth look like when TE Zach Ertz is moved? Who is our starting LT? If you project 1 – 3 over 17 weeks, it comes out to roughly 5 – 12. Is QB Jalen Hurts better than that finish? What system will he even be running?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad for the enthusiasm that players have had for mini-camp. Unfortunately, I don’t sense a “hardhat mentality” when these guys speak to the media. I’m seeing big smiles, lots of teeth, and eyes crinkled at the corners. I’m seeing comfortable guys, mostly confident in their roles. Calm as Hindu cows.
And it makes me sick.
With all the upheaval this offseason, no one should feel like a sacred cow. But there it is. Right on the player’s faces. The fact that you see that, says that the players aren’t really buying into the ideas that “Everyone has to compete” and that “Nothing is will be handed to you”. And why should they?
Show of hands if you think that RT Lane Johnson has to earn his spot. How about RG Brandon Brooks? C Jason Kelce? LGIssac Seumalo? Seems to me that 80% of the Offensive Line from 2017 will still be starting in 2021. And that’s with a new coaching staff in place!
Let me add RB Miles Sanders and TEDallas Goedert, to Hurts and the O-Line. Rookie WRDevonta Smith will start on the outside, and WR Jalen Reagor will start in the Slot. That’s 9 of 11, right there. The spots up for competition: LT and WR#2.
How about DE Brandon Graham, DTFletcher Cox, DT Javon Hargrave, and DEDerek Barnett? How many of those guys ride pine without an injury? What about CB Darius Slay, OLBEric Wilson, LB Alex Singleton, or S Anthony Harris?
That’s 8 of 11 guys that we know are Week One starters already. If SRodney McLeod’s leg lets him, that’s 9 of 11. This drops the real competition for availability of spots to just MLB and CB. Feel free to point out where I’m wrong. Go ahead. I’ll wait…
So yeah. That’s it. We have LT, WR #2, MLB, and CB. That’s all the real competition on this team for starting spots. There will be fierce competition for back-up roles. But the starters?! When 18 of 22 spots are a virtual lock, the sacred cows on this roster have no reason to do anything but smile and talk right now. No reason except 4 – 11 – 1.
THE Eagles coaching staff (with straight faces), keeps telling us fans that there will be a REAL competition between QB Jalen Hurts and QB Joe Flaaco, for the starting job. We’re being told that nobody is being handed anything. I have yet to meet the Eagles fan dumb enough to buy what this coaching staff is selling.
Can we be honest here? Flacco was brought in, so that when Hurts “wins” the job, dipshits can say things like “Hurts beat a former Super Bowl MVP to win the job. So of course Hurts has to be legit, right?” Prepare to hear that repeatedly, from the sort of fan who unironically, still wears aKevin Kolb jersey.
Understand, while head coach Nick Sirianni has designed plays before, it was never his responsibility to define the philosophy of a system. As a HC, he now gets to decide that. He’s no longer designing plays within the framework of what his boss wants. Now he gets to decide what that framework looks like.
So who’s skillset do you think the Eagles offensive system will be built around? Flacco’s overall fading skills, and limited athleticism? Or will it be Hurts’ upside and dynamic mobility? When passing plays are drawn up, will they include a heavy percentage of RPO’s, Options, and Bootlegs? Or will they almost entirely consist of 3 and 5 step drops?
In four starts last year, Hurts ran for 272 yards. (BTW: That projects to 1,156 rushing yards, over 17 games.) Flacco? He ran for 292 yards. He didn’t do that in 2020. He did that over the last 7 seasons. Combined. Keeping in mind that Flacco can’t be dangerous running RPO’s, Options or boots, do you really think the new coach will handcuff himself to an anchor? Neither do I.
When Training Camp opens, both the system and the playbook, will be built to suit Hurts, not Flacco. So in what universe is this a real competition? Being that Flacco can’t excel in this system, Hurts will win the starting job in a walk.
Besides, if Hurts finds himself involved in real a competition with what’s left of Flacco, then basically the Eagles 2021 season would already be a yellow mustard and jizz sandwich. Seriously. It’s embarrassing that the Eagles are even trying to sell this “competition”.
WHAT THE HELL IS THIS!??? What the fuck is a Week 14 Bye?! We play FIVE, count ‘em FIVE, games in October, three of which are road games.
Here’s our October:
We start with a home game vs the Chiefs, probably getting kicked in the nuts before we head down to Carolina, in what should be a coin flip. Then on a short week, we get Tampa Bay. We follow that with a plane to Vegas, then back home to practice, then a plane to Detroit. All in a span of 28 days.
Unless we can make some hay in November, we might be already circling the drain by the time our Bye Week gets here.
What the fuck is a Week 14 Bye?! Will someone tell me that!?! Who the fuck does that to someone? “Easiest schedule” my wide, hairy ass! I hope the NFL schedule makers get uncontrollable diarrhea in a traffic jam.
The worst part is, that not knowing this coaching staff, it’s impossible to look at the schedule and forecast any W’s. At least with real confidence. It was already an uncertain year, but this schedule feels like someone handed a drowning man an anchor.
CAN you remember when you were less excited for a Draft? Unless you served in Vietnam, the answer is probably ‘No’. If I wasn’t as obsessive about this event as I am about Christmas, I might not even know that it was happening this week. Things are low-key in Philly for a reason. What exactly are you looking forward to? Most fans expect disaster.
Most Eagles fans expect General Manager Howie Roseman to blow the whole thing to shit in the first place. Mostly because there’s no voice of reason to say “Hey Stupid, don’t be stupid”, because the guy we have coaching the team, is off somewhere playing paper/rock/scissors, or Uno, or trying to guess the number of jelly beans in jar, with Draft prospects. Meanwhile the owner is thinking that France is looking pretty good right now.
All this, so we can draft another QB at 12th overall, and immediately name him as the starter. Eagles fans smirked at that, but it wasn’t a fun smirk. It was that smirk you do when you’re on the expressway, during a traffic jam, and your stomach makes a (gurgle) noise that tells you that “Until further notice, NO fart is to be trusted!”
If you could buy stock in anxiety, Eagles fans would make you fortune this week.
We pick 12th overall, after moving down 6 spots to pick up an extra first rounder next year. Some fans gave Howie crap for that. I thought the move was rather shrewd. The sort of move you want from a GM. Especially if who we want, is expected to be there at 12 or a little later. This should be idiot-proof.
Then came news that the Eagles now wanted to move back, up. (Wait what?) This is a move that will likely cost us a first rounder. Yes! From next year. So then why did… Has anyone ever done something so stupid, that it made you tick off the progression of events on your fingers? Almost as if you were counting? Howie does this to me. He perplexes me. He vexes me.
Again, this should ALL be idiot-proof!
The Eagles however, employ an advanced species of idiot. One that is capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Of complicating the process of falling down. Howie Roseman is no ordinary, run-of-the-mill idiot. He is their Alpha. Their Omega! He is why we’re going to draft a Long Snapper in the first round.
Nah. I’m over-reacting. First round picks are simple, right? Two words:
We pick 12th. If we don’t want a QB, and can’t get TE Kyle Pitts, we should still be in pretty good shape to get a year one, impact player. Maybe a CB who locks down half of our Secondary. Or a WR that changes the dynamic of the entire Offense. All we have to do is NOT, suddenly decide to trade out of the first round. Right??
LAST year the Philadelphia Eagles basically drowned in a toilet. We went 4 – 11 – 1 overall, and 2 – 4 in the division. The toilet I speak of, was the NFC East. We won just 4 games and it still took all of 14 games to eliminate us from playoff contention. Which of course was followed by a form of Front Office seppuku, because hey… why not, right?
Head Coach Doug Pederson was fired and Nick Sirianni was hired to replace him. Right now it has all the ear marks of a horrible, just horrible mistake, but… Either he’ll win us over, or we’ll just keep drinking until paper beats scissors.
So here is what the Eagles look like now, exactly a week prior to the start of the 2021 NFL Draft.
QB: Ignore all this nonsense about “guys competing for the starting job”. Jalen Hurtsis the guy. Whether or not he’s “The Man”, remains to be seen. However, unless we draft his replacement in 7 days, Hurts is the guy. He will not come into this season being a year wiser in the system. The new coach is bringing a new system, and no one has even seen it yet. So in a very real sense, Hurts will still be a rookie that everyone already has NFL tape on. While that tape shows a dynamic player, it also shows an arm that is questionable at times. Local productJoe Flacco,was signed to be just bad enough, to legitimize Hurts even to his detractors. REAL TALK: In a very real sense, Hurts has to start and play well,to save General Manager Howie Roseman’s job. If Hurts turns out to be a dud, then having traded away Carson Wentz, pretty much guarantees that Roseman will be escorted out of the building by security, before the New Year. In the meantime, while the Eagles have the most dynamic player at this position in the division, the coaching staff refuses to even name a starter. And I don’t give away free pluses. (-)
Miles Sanders has electrifying ability, but his durability and reliability have both been inconsistent. He went from a player who could be split out wide as rookie, to a player who couldn’t break a Swing pass in 2021. (Regardless of which QB played.) He missed 4 games in 2020, all of which were against division rivals. The Eagles were 2 – 2 without him vs the division, and went 0 – 2 with him vs the division. Boston Scott is at his best when catching passes (the game winner he caught from QB Carson Wentz to beat the giants, was a thing of beauty)
The Eagles however, seem to think he’s rotational back, despite him wearing down noticeably with increased use. The recent re-signing of Jordan Howardwas a stroke of pure genius! Provided the Eagles actually let the man play. He gives the team a legit lead back if Sanders were to get hurt, and also gives the team a tough between the tackles runner, who can make an opponent pay if he gets daylight. This is already very well-rounded group. Whomever they add as their fourth, will be a luxury. (+)
Travis Fulgham has good/not great speed, and good/not great size. He’s most dangerous on intermediate routes, and knows how to use his body to box-out defenders. He can however get downfield, and make huge plays when he sees favorable coverage. He’s a solid #2 that the Eagles tried to pass off as #1, unsuccessfully. Greg Ward in the Slot gets open quickly, so he led the team in catches in 2020. Unfortunately, many of his catches were for meager gains, so in 2021 he will likely take a back seat to a much more athletic Jalen Reagor. Reagor is said to be the team’s new Slot, presumably to take advantage of his ability to elude and break tackles. John Hightowerhas real speed to stretch a defense, and showed the ability to uncover quickly, but his 34.5% catch rate is a problem that may provide an opening forQuez Watkinsor J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. There’s a number two playing as a one, and a couple guys fighting over the Slot, but there’s no one in this group that scares anyone. With a legit #1, these five would be an interesting tool-kit. But without a hammer, you can’t say that you have legit toolbox. (-)
TE: The Eagles as an organization have decided that Dallas Goedert is the future at this position. In a 1-2 combination, Goedert is a great second option. As number one, he lacks elite traits, and may not be as necessary as many fans think. During the four games when he was on Injured Reserve in 2020, the Eagles scored 22 or more points in every game. In the eleven games when Goedert did play, the Eagles hit that mark just three times. It’s funny. Even from week one last year, everyone knew the Eagles Front Office was trying to sandbag Zach Ertz, and they did a great job of it. Now they want to trade him and SURPRISE! they aren’t finding any takers for a 30 year old, 12 million dollar player that they smeared, and essentially demoted. The irony is, he’s probably still better than 80 percent of NFL players at his position. Including Goedert. For the moment, it’s still a great 1-2 combo. (+)
OT: RT Lane Johnson had an awful 2020. He only saw seven games, and in those seven he was never himself, due to an ankle surgery that he didn’t let heal properly before coming back. When he’s healthy he’s one of the best in the game. Word is, he’s plenty healthy right now. LT Jordan Mailata made a bit of a name for himself last year, when he went from long-term project, to possible diamond in the rough.
Andre Dillard was drafted to inherit that LT spot, but he was lost for 2020 with a torn bicep. So expect ACTUAL competition on that left side in camp. Jack Driscollnotched four starts throughout his rookie year, before going on IR with an MCL injury. A perennial Pro Bowler on one side. Competition between experienced young players on the other side. Then a second year man, with a few starts under his belt already. It may not be what it used to be in 2017, but this group is the most solid group in the division. (+)
G: RGBrandon Brooks returns after missing 2020 with a torn Achilles tendon. When healthy, Brooks is a premier player at this position. Isaac Seumalo is the LG. He’s got above average movement skills, but lacks the aggression, power, or size that is generally coveted at this position. He also doesn’t always anchor well, and so he can be driven back into the QB more often than any coach should be comfortable with. Nate “Real Big” Herbig started twelve games and was serviceable. He could stand to turn some of his fluff into muscle, and to fire-out on his run blocks with more of a mean streak, but for a second year man, he’s great depth to have. Matt Pryormay make the 2021 roster due to his experience also playing OT, but he took a huge step backward in 2020. He had ten starts all over the line, but he seemed to struggle everywhere he lined up. Iosua Opeta notched two starts as a rookie. Without Brooks, this group is just slightly subpar. However, with him in the lineup, the Eagles interior has to be taken very seriously again. (+)
C: Not wanting to go out on a 4 – 11 – 1 record, Jason Kelce has decided to put retirement off for at least one more year. His presence will add solidity to a right side that could be dominant in 2021, and give the new coaching staff a platform to build on.Luke Juriga saw 14 snaps during the Cleveland game when Kelce had to go off with an injury. Kelce raised hell on the sideline and Juriga soon had his seat back. Nate Herbig can also play this position, as can G Ross Pierschbacher. While Pierschbacher is listed as a G, the Eagles depth there and his history of playing the pivot as a college senior, likely means he’s here to provide depth and versatility inside. While the Eagles won’t carry four during the season, they currently have an array of solid options to pick from for their back-up. (+)
IN A NUTSHELL: Kelce, Brooks and Johnson, will likely give the Eagles a dominant right side on the Offensive Line. It will be unlike anything Hurts had to work with, when he took over for final four games of the 2020 season. Better still, Jeff Stoutland is still the Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator. Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard and a running QB. If the Eagles can find a #1 WR, and if the new offensive system is any good, this team is going to turn heads hard enough to break necks. That said, while there is plenty of talent on this roster, the Eagles don’t have that #1 WR, and the new system hasn’t even seen a single practice yet. So again, passing grades aren’t free around here. (-)
DE:Brandon Graham started off hot last year. He notched 7 of his 8 sacks, 11 of his 16 QB hits, and 9 of his 13 tackle for losses, in the first eight games. Then he went cold as a dead man, posting 1 sack, 5 hits, and 4 TFLs, over the remaining eight games. In short, he disappeared when the playoff hunt began in earnest, making his first Pro Bowl nod feel hollow. After four seasons, Derek Barnett seems like a player who has maxed out his ceiling already. He produced 5.5 sacks while playing 49% of the defensive snaps in 2020. Yet he’s still making 10M$ in 2021. Josh Sweat on the other hand, seems to have a ton of upside. He had 6.0 sacks and 3 FF last year, despite playing just 38% of the snaps. Joe Ostman is a high-effort type, with a low athletic ceiling. In last year’s Wide Nine system, fresh players produced more results than individual talent. If this new system asks for a more classic approach, all indications are that the Eagles won’t fare well here. (-)
DT: Fletcher Coxmeans more than stats to this defense, but his numbers have spent the last two years trending in the wrong direction. Especially for a player making 24M$ in 2021. He had 10.5 sacks and 34 QB hits in 2018. He had 6.5 sacks and 9 QB hits in 2020. It’s not a three year slide, so he isn’t a has-been. Yet. However, this year those numbers need to tick up, or he’ll be on par with DeMarcus Lawrence.Javon Hargrave took a while to hit his stride as a new Eagle, but he settled in nicely near the end of the year. Perhaps the Eagles have found Cox the partner in crime that he’s needed for so long. Returning from a bicep injury that ended his 2020, is Hassan Ridgeway. Ridgeway was a solid, and highly disruptive rotational player who will likely see even more snaps with the departure of Malik Jackson. That is, if he can stay healthy. He’s missed nine games in each of his two years as an Eagle. Two good starters and a quality back-up. (+)
OLB:Alex Singleton, started last season as a Special Teamer. However due to Nate Gerry being injured, during Week four Singleton got an opportunity to play Defense. The result was that him being the difference in the Eagles first win of the season. Two weeks later he was a starter, and showing the NFL why he was the CFL Defensive Player of the Year (2017).
Now Singleton enters 2021 as a starter with a fresh new contract. America! Land of motherfuckin’ opportunity! Davion Taylor was drafted as a project, and so didn’t see much time as a rookie. That said, it’s hard to know if he fits in the new coaching staff’s plans, or if they’ll have the patience for a project. That’s especially true with the signing of free agentEric Wilson, formerly of the Vikings. Wilson put up 122 tackles, 3 sacks, and 3 picks last year. Which incidentally was his first as a starter. Did I mention that he’ll be just 27 this season? Suddenly the Eagles have two legitimate starters at this position for the first time since 2017. (+)
MLB:T.J. Edwards is said to have athletic limitations, because he’s a Tackle to Tackle player, and not a sideline to sideline player.
He’s a young, so he still has room to improve, but he already slips blocks well enough, wraps up, can get home on a blitz, and even pull down a pass. The biggest hole in his game, seems to be how often he’s subbed out for Nickel and Dime packages. Shaun Bradleyhas to learn how to get off blocks faster, and not let eye candy pull him out of position. He has a lot of energy and could be an emotional spark plug, but in his second year, he’ll have to be a more disciplined player. (+)
S:Rodney McLeodseemed a long-shot to make the 2021 roster, but at least for the moment, he’s still here. He has the eyes and mind of a seasoned veteran, but after suffering another season-ending leg injury (knee), it’s reasonable to question how much speed he’ll still have at age 31. Free Agent Anthony Harris comes over from the 38 – 7’s . Sorry, the Vikings. He has experience playing for new Defensive CoordinatorJonathan Gannon, when both were in Minnesota. With six years of NFL experience, Harris has only been a primary starter for the last three. Statistically, he looks like a ballhawk one year, and then an in-the-box player, the next year. Now with a new team (on a one year deal), he seems like a seventh year player who is still trying to find himself.
With three starts to close-out last season, Marcus Epps made a strong enough case for the Eagles to feel good about letting Jalen Mills leave via free agency. K’Von Wallace is the reason that Harris’s deal is one year. He’s expected to step up this year. Still, there are too many question marks back there, right now. (-)
CB:Currently the Eagles have ten players under contract at this position, but really only four or five of them matter. Darius Slayis coming off of his worst season as a pro. For over a decade now, I’ve been telling Eagles fans (first on Yardbarker, and then here onEaglemaniacal.com), that the Eagles Cover One/Cover Three look, has been making chumps of even the top CB’s. With Slay we saw it happen yet again,just last season. Doesn’t matter. New DC Gannon is said to be bringing a Cover Two look, that lets Corners play Corner. Slay still has his physical capabilities, so it stands to reason that in a scheme that isn’t working against him, he’s still at least better than average. Avonte Maddox was a feisty Nickel in his rookie year, but injuries and opponents taking advantage of his 5’9’’ frame, seems to have destroyed his confidence. He’s just out there going through the motions, and ending up being less than average. But hey, maybe a new system will enable him to recapture his swagger at Nickel. (I say ‘maybe’ because the Eagles will draft a Corner pretty early. Maddox won’t be the starter on the outside.) Grayland Arnold, Craig James, and Michael Jacquetall got a chance to play, and all them allowed completion percentages of 80 or higher. Again, there are ten players here and only one of them is worth starting. (-)
IN A NUTSHELL: Many of the players here, seem to have been picked for a defensive system that the Eagles are no longer going to run. The Wide Nine system is so specialized that it’s hard to see this unit being successful without a couple of high-impact changes at a couple of positions (DE, CB). (-)
K: Jake Elliottlooked like trash last year. He connected on just 14/19 field goal tries (73.6%), yet again proving useless from 50 or more (2/5, 40%). His extra point kicking 24/26 (92.3%) was a career-low, as was his 61.8 yard kickoff average. Worst of all, the moldy fondant on the over-priced wedding cake… was his (1/3) field goal kicking from 20 to 29 yards. (-)
P: Arryn Siposs is a 29 year old, ex-Australian Football League player, who’s never played an NFL game. He had a cup of coffee with the Lions before they cut him last year. His AFL highlights make him intriguing, but he’ll be impossible to me to co-sign until we at least see him a preseason game. (-)
IN A NUTSHELL:
There are no clutch legs on the team. So close games and defensive battles where winning field position matters, looks like it will be a problem this year. (-)
BOTTOM LINE: Right now, there is no aspect of the game(Offense, Defense, Special Teams) that the Eagles can be given a passing grade in. On the one hand, there so much change coming with a new coach who has never called plays in a game. Talent-wise, the roster isn’t awful at anything. It just isn’t great at anything. And you need to be great at something to win a division. If the newness of the Eagles gets traction, they could take the NFL by total surprise. That said, history is not on their side. Which you realize, makes the Eagles an underdog. And NOBODY on Earth loves an underdog, more than Philadelphia.
EXPECT the Eagles to get off to a fast start. Head Coach Nick Siriannihas been an assistant for years, so he knows the NFL. In fact, right now, he knows the NFL better than it knows him. That will eventually change once teams get film of what he calls, when he calls it, who he leans on, how he uses time outs, how skilled he is in using the environment as a weapon, etc.
But for now…
Like any coach, Sirianni is going to try to develop certain strengths. Some things will develop on schedule. Some things possibly not at all. When things don’t pan out, he’ll have to adjust. However, when something happens that’s better than he was hoping for, or faster than he was hoping for, he needs to adjust to that too.
Use any advantage, like an advantage.
FOR EXAMPLE! Last year, WR Travis Fulgham came from out of nowhere. He had a few hot games, then he disappeared. He got targets, but the former coaching staff didn’t try very hard to scheme him open, or scheme to his strengths.
Nothing special was done during Fulgham’s emergence, so perhaps the feeling was that nothing needed to be specially adapted for him, once he’d made his presence known. This turned out to be a mistake.
That can’t happen again. If we stumble across another hot player, we need to scheme opportunities for them to capitalize on. Think of it as sleight of hand. While the opponent struggles to figure out how to stop our new shiny toy, Sirianni can focus on nailing down the principles that he wants to install as cornerstones.
This is me highlighting a possible path to Sirianni having long-term success, as an Eagles coach. Stay loose. Stay fluid. And capitalize quickly on opportunities, when players become them.
THIRD down is the biggest dividing line between a terrible offense and high powered one. However, before all the yardage, and the score rankings, an offense needs to be able to consistently sustain drives. This is why many will say that 3rd down is the most important down.
That’s wrong. The most important down is 2nd down. For instance, I’m sure we can all agree that 3rd and 10 is a far different situation than 3rd and 1. If the offense can’t convert on 3rd down, the distance to go, will play a huge role in whether the offense “goes for it”on 4th down.
On 3rd and 10 the defense generally knows that a pass is coming, and they plan accordingly. On 3rd and 1? Well on 3rd and 1 it could be anything. The play-book is wide open, and the offense is less predictable. That steals confidence from the defense.
This is why 2nd down is the most important. It’s true, 3rd down is generally the ‘make or break’ down. However, converting before a 3rd down, or setting up shorter 3rd downs, drives up an offense’s confidence, while breaking a defense’s.
The point of 1st down is for running to set up the pass, or taking a gamble on a big play. When that dust settles, however it settles, the 2nd down which follows needs to be a down where our Eagles are thinking “Convert NOW!”
Sound silly? Hey, have you ever seen the Eagles face a 3rd and 8, only to have a receiver “take what the defense gives”, run a 7 yard route, make the catch, and be immediately tackled? Oh you have? How did you react? Oh yeah? Well me too. But if that same thing happens on 2nd and 8, we’re clapping.
What we don’t get on 1st, we need to chase aggressively on 2nd, with the idea of not seeing a 3rd. This way when we do see a 3rd down, most of them should be easily converted, or helpful in setting up a 4th down conversion.
EAGLES QB Carson Wentz was traded to the Indianapolis Colts on February 18th, 2021. At that point, all talk of the drama could cease. The was nothing left to do for the Eagles organization and fans, but look towards the future.
With that in mind, I stepped back and observed. I watched. I listened. I waited to see what the new coach envisioned for the team. I waited to see what the fans would chatter excitedly over.
Two excruciating weeks have dripped by, and there’s been practically nothing about the team. Most peculiarly, from the organization itself. It’s 3:04a.m., March 4th as I write this, and these are stories on the Eagles website:
Now don’t get me wrong. I understand not tipping your hand, but to say nothing? Are they telling us that no one, has an encouraging word for presumed starting QB Jalen Hurts? Are they telling us that “Where Are They Now?” articles are more important than “This Year’s Break-out Player Will Be” articles?
Aside from my THE 12 series, there doesn’t seem to be much passion for football in this city, anymore. Sad. Maybe we traded it away on February 18th.