CLEVELAND Browns QB DeShaun Watson, seems to have a new accuser every 6 hours or so. It’s gotten so bad, that people are speculating about what it will take for the Browns to weasel out of the record, fully guaranteed, 230M$ contract that they signed Watson to, just a few months ago.
My guess however, is that as long as no criminal charges are filed, the Browns will stick with Watson. Come Hell or high water. Because they have to. They have almost no other option.
In order to pry Watson away from the Texans, the Browns parted with their:
2022 first round pick (CB Derek Stingley Jr.)
2023 first round pick
2024 first round pick
2022 fourth round pick (RB Dameon Pierce)
2023 third round pick
2024 fourth round pick
This was in exchange for Watson, and a lowly 2024 sixth round draft pick.
Understand, if the Browns cut Watson with him never playing a down for them, they will have effectively given the Texans three first round picks, a third round pick, and two fourth round picks, in exchange for just one sixth round pick. This would be six picks for one. With every pick the Texans get, being of much greater value than the one they gave up.
It would be the greatest hosing in sports history. The Texans could surpass the Great Trade Robbery, pulled off by the Dallas Cowboys in 1990. In that trade, the Cowboys sent RB Herschel Walker, two third rounders, a fifth rounder, and a tenth rounder to Minnesota; in exchange for three first rounders, three second rounders, one third rounder, one sixth rounder, and four players.
This is before Jimmy Johnson’s draft pick valuation chart changed the way the NFL executives viewed draft picks. So keep in mind, no one (not coaches, GMs, owners) looked at picks like we see them now. Imagine a caveman stubbing his toe on a brick of gold, before it ever had any value assigned to it. To him it was just a stupid rock. In 1990, a pick was more or less, just a pick.
One player and three picks, for four players and eight picks. As lopsided as the GTR was, Minnesota still had Walker (the focal point of that entire trade) play for them, and they won the third round exchange, (two for one). With the Browns, if Watson doesn’t play, everything, literally every single thing, that the Browns gave up, is more than the one thing they got.
If the Browns cut Watson, the NFL will not rescind the trade. Some of those picks have already been cashed in. So that part of it is DONE. Complete. Finito. So the Browns have to stick with Watson, come Hell or high water. If they don’t, it only makes their foolishness look even worse.
Even worse for the Browns would be if they cut him, and Watson ends up back in the NFL. Someplace like New York or Pittsburgh, on a 4 year, 175M$ deal, 100M guaranteed, and laden with reachable incentives. At that point this trade would get a nickname (maybe the Cleveland Crappy Ending™), that would for ever define the city of Cleveland.
As for Herschel Walker, he spent three seasons going 21 – 22 overall as a Viking, and one playoff win. The only team he would ever have a career winning mark with, would be the Philadelphia Eagles (26 – 22), and one playoff win. With Dallas (34 – 56) and the New York giants (5 – 11), Walker (86 – 111) would never win a playoff game.
If the Browns are dumb enough to cut Watson now, then the Texans will surpass the mark left by the Cowboys. I never thought I’d see the day when a franchise out-dumbed the GTR, but my dear reader, get your Gallagher poncho out of storage. We may be about to witness some messy history.
PRESSURE can bursts pipes, or make diamonds. So do we need a plumber, or a jeweler? Understand, TE J.J. Arcega-Whiteside switching position from WR, isn’t just pressure on him. The Eagles also have quite a bit at stake. In fact, it could be argued that the stakes are higher for the team, than for the player. The Eagles need for this move to work, more than JJAW does.
Aside from TE Dallas Goedert, the Eagles don’t have a receiver at the TE position. That’s where JJAW needs to come in. We know he can block and play Special Teams, and we need him for those things already. We just have to see if the change in positional coaching, will change his perspective enough to make him a respectable option, if he should have to start.
JJAW runs well enough. The issue is his reliability as a receiver. On a career 35 targets, he has just 16 catches for a 45% catch rate. Keep in mind, only 3 of those 19 incompletions are drops, but still, that 45% catch rate almost makes him a member of the opposing defense. Aside from the 3 drops, he’s had 16 phantom (balls not dropped) incompletions. Those are his worst enemy.
Whether it’s miscommunication on routes, being late to signal when open, not being physical coming back to the ball, whatever. These are some of the things that cause phantom incompletions. The difference between being a talented WR, and being a professional one, is technique. JJAW wasn’t getting WR technique, so the team is hoping a different perspective will give the team access to his physical talents.
The Birds re-signed TE Richard Rogers, but if they were serious about him, they wouldn’t have a total of seven TE’s on a roster, likely to only carry three. TE Jack Stoll is a very good blocker whom I discussed in a prior installment. Stoll can be a chain mover, but he’s never going to be a match-up headache.
Rookie TE Grant Calcaterra has had so many concussions that he no longer has a count. Some media outlets report the number as three, but anything you read quoting Calcaterra (before he unretired), hints STRONGLY that the number is well north of that. Well north. The fact that there is no solid number reported anywhere, is terrifying in itself.
Promising young TE Tyree Jackson is still rehabbing a blown ACL, and TE Noah Togiai is getting cut. Early. So this preseason JJAW has to be put through the ringer. At least a dozen targets in the preseason, and some work in-line. He can’t be some pet guy that we’re stashing on the roster. Both the player and the team need to find a way to make this work.
Given his Combine scouting, I don’t know why this move wasn’t made years ago. No matter. If both sides can make this work, the Eagles might end up with a player very similar to former TE Jordan Reed. (Minus the concussions.) He wouldn’t be a steal, but he certainly wouldn’t be a wasted second round pick anymore.
DARREN Sproles was the last Eagles Returner, who made Special Teams feel like a legitimate contributor in every game. Helping to win the hidden yardage battle, is what former Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipp used to call it. These days Special Teams has been de-prioritized, and it shows up in our starting field position.
Right now on the Eagles roster, we have 6 RB’s, and 12 WR’s. Of those 18 players, only 2 have serious collegiate experience returning both punts and kicks. (Don’t even ask about pro return experience.) Those players are WR Jalen Reagor, and undrafted rookie WR Britain Covey. Reagor and WR Greg Wardare our only options with over 20 pro punt returns.
So we have Ward not being dangerous, or Reagor muffing the ball twice in a game. Honestly, the Eagles players who have tried their hands as return men, have sucked horribly at it. Mostly because it takes more than speed to be a great returner. The most important thing you need, are nerves of steel.
For that reason, I think we need to take a serious look at Covey. By “serious” I mean at least until final cuts. We need to see what, if anything, we can squeeze out of his 5’8” 170 pound frame. Yep, he’s a little fucker. This coaching staff has an absolute fetish for small offensive players. And not even the fast ones! Just a bunch of tiny, short legged guys, getting caught from behind.
In five college seasons, Covey posted 4 punt return touchdowns on 92 attempts, racking up 1,092 yards for an average of 11.9. No Eagles player had college numbers anywhere near that, and they’ve been worse as pros. Covey also averaged 25 yards on 33 kick returns, but with all the touchbacks in today’s NFL, the punt numbers are far more significant.
As a receiver, he’s kind of in the mold of Raiders WR Hunter Refrow, just smaller. Like Refrow, Covey does his damage in the Slot; is fearless in traffic; and understands how to settle into another receivers wake to give his QB a clean target. At least that was his game in college. We don’t need him to be a starter, but if he can be a 5th WR, we’d be golden.
So we should take a long look at him. No need to rush, but try to develop this kid a little. Because if he can give us a PR/KR/WR, then he’s more than worth one roster spot. In fact, at that point I think the five WR’s we keep are Devonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal, and Covey. And if Covey doesn’t pan out, I guess we keep… Ward?
HEAD Coach Nick Siriannineeds to develop TE Jack Stoll into a weapon. Relax, I’m not suggesting that we try to make him into TE Zach Ertz. Stoll probably couldn’t gain 1,000 yards on 1,000 catches. What he can do is block. What he did do, was contribute mightily to the Eagles 2,715 rushing yards last year. What he didn’t do was help other players get open.
Last year, on 331 offensive snaps, Stoll saw just 5 passes come his way, catching 4 of them for 22 yards (5.5ypc). That can’t happen in 2022. We need to make opponents respect Stoll as a threat, to stop them from doubling our other weapons. Playing him at H-Back would be a subtle way to help get the ball in his hands a little (or a lot) more.
For those who don’t know, an H-Back is essentially a TE/FB hybrid. Where as an in-line (regular) TE lines up on the line of scrimmage next to the Offensive Tackle, an H-Back lines up behind the line of scrimmage (like a FB). Often a yard or so behind the Tackle, but he can be lined up anywhere back there. And that’s the point.
Keep in mind, our run game still NEEDS him out there. As an H-Back, Stoll’s TE blocking is still in play, because he can line up outside of the Tackle. Lined up inside the Tackle, he can be used more like a FB. That means he can lead-block for RB Miles Sanders, or be in a better position to push QB Jalen Hurts from behind, on QB Sneaks.
Drawing up a TE Screen for him coming out of the backfield, can have more wrinkles than a Screen where he starts out as an in-line TE. Plus, if he receives a hand-off here and there, opponents also have to respect him on play-action. Right now we do none of these things with him. None of them.
Oh, and here’s the best part of playing him at H-Back. That FB aspect? The Dallas Cowboys are looking to pull the FB position out of mothballs. The Ravens have FB Patrick Ricard, but he has just 32 touches in five years. Rumor has the Cowboys using their new FB in the Daryl Johnston mold. (FYI: Johnston averaged about 47 touches per year. And won two Super Bowls.)
Given that the NFL has made the FB irrelevant for a little over a decade, it’s fair to say that most defenders don’t know how to approach it. If we use Stoll at H-Back and have him practice there, our Defense will have familiarity with it when they see it. Thus a division rival has no surprise or secret weapon against us. Plus it’ll help our other weapons get open! Ta-daaa!
On 331 snaps, he was practically ignored, and we never capitalized on it. Seriously. How many times did we let opponents off the hook in the red zone? That lack of vision can’t happen again in 2022. We have a 100% off the radar, surprise weapon lurking on our roster. Let’s make the guy dangerous!
LETTING FS Rodney McLeod walk as a free agent, was probably a little premature. While I think FS Marcus Eppsis ready for the starting role; it would have been better to increase Epps snap share for the first four weeks, then hand him the keys on Week 5. If for any reason he looked shaky, McLeod should have still been here as insurance.
Instead, what we did was jump right off that bridge. Maybe not the most careful move, but it’s easy to see why the Eagles did it. Hell, I’ve been yelling for months, that they should. Epps has generally looked good with extra snaps (usually at SS). Also, given his age (26), and his contract situation (Unrestricted Free Agent after this season), the Eagles need to know what they have.
That said, we need to stick with him when things get bumpy for him. Let me repeat, a lot of his best tape comes at SS, so playing alone, back deep, he’s going to be learning a new gig. Though Anthony Harris has started at FS (in Minnesota), his deep speed is questionable. While K’Von Wallace can run, his eyes are less experienced. Epps is unseasoned, but the clear option here.
We didn’t draft Epps, but we signed him when Minnesota cut him, just eight weeks and 12 defensive snaps into his rookie year. He’s been an Eagle ever since. We raised him. Nurtured him. Brought him from deep bench, to possible starter. What is the point of stockpiling young talent, just to develop it for other teams? Don’t do that. Start Epps, and stick with him. Period.
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.
KEEP in mind, when these predictions come out, no one knows who will be drafted by which team. So this is an assessment of the team, as it is staffed by veteran players with track records.
While rookies may contribute heavily to their team, they don’t usually shake up the NFC East as a division. That being said, there’s a pretty good chance that what you see here, will be how it shakes out for the year.
If you’ve read all of the articles leading up to this, you’ll understand my conclusion. Good job! If you didn’t, you’ll likely be annoyed because YOU did a bad job of preparing. (Read the supporting articles!)
Now let’s look at 2022:
Offense, defense, special teams. Three units, multiplied times four teams, equals twelve total units in the division. Easy math, right? Out of twelve units, only three units across the division either stayed strong or got stronger. Nine units however, either stayed weak or got noticeably weaker during the free agency period. Put plainly, so far the NFC East is already weaker than it was in 2021.
Strongest Offense: DALLAS
They have all kinds of issues with their offensive line, but they have a real QB, and they have the most dangerous collection of skill players in the division. Philadelphia has a great offensive line situation, which allows for the smoke and mirrors, which they use to offset a lack of WR talent or a QB who can read a defense.
Weakest Offense: NEW YORK
Their offensive line is shit. It’s just shit! They have the least talented QB in the division. In fact, it can now be argued that he might not be as good as his new back-up (eventual replacement). Their RB clearly has his eye on the exit, and they lost their underachieving TE, and replaced him with- No. They’re about to draft a TE. They have to be. There’s no way they can be serious about going into 2022 with him as the starter.
Strongest Defense: PHILADELPHIA
This was the easiest call. In 2021 the Eagles surrendered fewer passing yards and fewer rushing yards than the Cowboys. The Cowboys allowed 21.1 points per game to the Eagles 22.6. From that, the Eagles added not just a pass rusher, but a sack artist, as well also upgrading speed at LB. The Cowboys lost a starting DE and a starting S, then replaced neither with a player of similar caliber. The other two teams aren’t even part of this conversation.
Weakest Defense: NEW YORK
New defensive coordinator, a soft secondary, and a bunch of edge players, but no real DE’s or OLB’s. This is the current state of the defensive side of the ball in New York. It’s a toolbox full of hammers and mallets, but no screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches or even a tape measure. And at some point in the next two weeks, a kid out of college will be expected to provide a spark of hope. Yikes.
Strongest Special Teams: PHILADELPHIA
Washington has the much better punting situation, but Philadelphia has a far superior kicking game. However, since punts never produce last minute wins, the edge goes to points.
Weakest Special Teams: DALLAS
New York’s punting situation isn’t “bad”, it’s more of a big question mark. The kicking situation in Dallas however, is pure comedy. This team does such an amazing job of fucking this up every year! They deserve a round of applause for the work they do. I mean c’mon, it has to be deliberate. No one is this bad, this long, without a supreme level of effort being put into it.
PROJECTED WINNER: DALLAS
You’re thinking “Philadelphia won two of these categories to Dallas’s one. So how can Dallas still be the favorite?!”
For the record I totally agree, except there’s two things nagging my mind:
The first thing is, 17 – 37, and 21 – 41. Those are the scores that Dallas has won by, in the two games Jalen Hurts started against them. Those aren’t just loses, they’re blowouts. While Dallas continues to dominate Hurts, picking the Eagles as the favorite is out of the question.
The second thing is, a two game sweep has an effective difference of four games. The make-up distance in a playoff race, between let’s say 4 – 6 vs 6 – 4, is four games. If the Cowboys sweep the Eagles again, that gap would be very hard to make up. Given that the last Eagles QB to beat Dallas was Carson Wentz, there is nothing in recent history to indicate that the Eagles will turn this around this season.
DARK HORSE WINNER: PHILADELPHIA
Overall, Philadelphia looks like the strongest team in the East. The issue is at their QB position. Which is huge. If Jalen Hurts were to take a a couple of steps forward in being able to read defenses, and utilizing his second WR, this Eagles team would sweep the division, and win it in a walk. However, until we see that for Philadelphia, QB is a huge question mark at best, and a liability at worst.
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.