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”.
LAST year the NFC East was the laughingstock of the NFL. Aggressive moves have been made to ensure that history will not be repeating itself anytime soon. While every team in the division ranks #21 or lower in the NFL power rankings, the rosters in this division are telling a different story.
Alright. So yeah, Washington is Washington. Their power moves were to sign a pair of slot receivers (Curtis Samuels and Adam Humphries), and Dr. Jekyll (Ryan Fitzpatrick) to play QB. Adding G Ereck Flowers was a sneaky good move, but hardly a transcendent one. Adding an OT and then subtracting another, was definitely not a step forward. While Washington is the early favorite to win the East, they seem to be back in self-sabotage mode.
As for the other three teams:
Dallas fans made it clear to the owner, that they were done quietly waiting for their team’s defense to improve.
In response, the Cowboys cleaned house in terms of both coaches and players. They then leaned heavy on defense in the Draft. While they may not have added free agents who are household names, they’ve sent a message from the top-down, that they are serious about getting results.
The giants took a risk adding CB Adoree Jackson, but if he can stay healthy, they have probably the best CB duo in the division. Signing Kelvin Benjamin to play TE, was a magnificent piece of outside the box thinking. Benjamin had trouble getting reliable separation from DB’s. However, if he can (very likely) gain separation on LB’s, then a Safety will have to be cheated away from a WR to help cover him. Benjamin may all at once, make the giants more explosive and help them challenge for the best TE duo in the division.
The Eagles made no fewer than FOUR non-Draft related moves. All of which look low-key at a glance. However, upon further inspection… For new DC Jonathan Gannon, signing former Vikings OLB Eric Wilson and S Anthony Harris, gives him two guys who can help quickly install his system, because they’ve played together while under Gannon. Slick move. Signing RB Kerryon Johnson was a stroke of pure genius, which I discussed in my last article (The Eagles RB’s). Then of course, there’s the addition of OLB Ryan Kerrigan.
One of my brothers speculated that Kerrigan could be Chris Long 2.0 for the Eagles. Maybe, but I doubt it. I think his real value, will be in getting young players to realize, they will have to out-produce Kerrigan, to take his spot in the rotation. He either forces them to step up, or it tells the Eagles that next year’s Draft, will be heavily spent re-arming the Defensive Line.
Getting QB Jalen Hurts a WR (Devonta Smith) that he already has chemistry with, was also a boss level move.
Nobody in the NFC East was okay with how 2020 ended. Well… I guess Washington seems to be. Honestly, watching their fans practically give each other handjobs over a 7 – 9 season, just to be bounced in the first round of the playoffs… Their “bragging” has been really hard to watch.
As for the rest of the division, none of us is looking for a repeat of 2020. The NFL had better not get caught sleeping.
WHEN the Detroit Lions released RB Kerryon Johnson, Eagles fans on social media started asking if we should sign him. I immediately bellowed “NO! That guy gets injured too much! Why should we stick our necks our for blah blah blah, yadda, blah blah blah…”
And I was wrong.
I was ignorant, loud, and wrong. I didn’t know quite as much about Johnson as I thought I did, and initially I didn’t do any further research. I was sloppy. I was lazy. I didn’t give my full effort, which is not who I am. I’m sorry, and I’m ashamed. No excuses.
The national sports media has given the Eagles up for dead. I watched a segment on ‘Undisputed’ where the NFC East was discussed, and only three teams were talked about. Rich Eisen held a similar discussion on the NFL network. Again, apparently just three teams play in the NFC East.
Desperate to read about the Eagles, sheer boredom is what got me looking further into the Eagles roster. Starting with Johnson.
I loved his interview. Especially the part where he discussed his reputation as being one of the league’s best RB’s at pass protection. (Which I didn’t know.) His prowess for pass pro, is extremely important. It makes him a genuine three-down back. It also means whether situationally or due to injury, when Johnson is on the field, the Eagles can use their entire playbook.
There are a couple of things he’ll want to work on here. Things like hitting the hole with more immediacy, and holding the ball tight to his body. That of course ,is why the coaching staff gets paid. While Johnson isn’t a genuine home run hitter, he can gash a defense for serious yards, runs with some pop, and can finish runs falling forward.
Some ask if his presence means that RB Boston Scottis out. Others say that he’s a threat to RB Jordan Howard.
I beg to differ. Having a stable of players like RB Miles Sanders, Howard and Johnson, gives the Eagles loads of high level insurance against injury. When all three are healthy, they can be shuttled in and out, or lined up in different combinations to create horrifying mismatches.
As for Boston Scott, I happen to think his biggest threat, is rookie RB Kenneth Gainswell.
Scott has proven that he can be a quality role player, but Gainswell has way more wiggle in his run, and is also a superior route runner. While I wouldn’t project him as a long-term starter, Gainswell seems to have way more upside than Scott has shown, when pressed into the role.
With Sanders, Howard, Johnson and Gainswell, the Eagles have three, possibly four quality starters on the roster. That’s amazing depth! This was a well-rounded group before the Draft. Since then the Eagles have added just two players, but are exponentially better at this position.
The best part of all this? This sort of commitment to loading up the RB position, indicates that the Eagles are going to lean pretty heavy on the position. Think about it. They haven’t loaded up like this at WR or TE, have they? Nope. Not at all. By the way, this guy is still the starter:
Running the ball more, should really help the starting (Jalen) QB, whomever (Hurts) he turns out (Jalen) to be. After all (Hurts), the coach did say (Jalen) that it would be (Hurts) a completely (Jalen) open competition. I’m excited to see how the competition shakes out. I expect that QBJalen Hurtsand the other one, will make it hard for the coaches to decide on who our Jalen QB will be.
But the RB’s though! Very excited about this group, and I’m happy to be wrong about Kerryon Johnson. As for being lazy, I will give my standard effort in the future.
Flacco! The other QB is named Flacco. Wow. What a weird first name.
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.
LIKE the 2020 Draft, this wasn’t a draft that was meant to produce a bunch of immediate starters. Most of the picks here were made with an eye towards restocking the shelves, in order to avoid desperation down the road. That being said, an upper-tier CB would have been great.
Round 1 (12th overall): WR DeVonta Smith (H)
Remember when I told you “Ignore all this nonsense about “guys competing for the starting job”. Jalen Hurts is the guy.” With their first pick in this draft, The Front Office put the entire farcical notion of an honest competition to bed, and then killed it with a shovel in it’s sleep.
Smith comes in as a rookie who doesn’t have to win over the confidence of the starting QB. In fact, his very presence does something unheard of among rookies: His history and chemistry with QB Jalen Hurts, actually helps legitimize the notion of Hurts as the starter, despite all the question marks about Hurts himself.
Whether stemming his route, running the route, or running after the catch, he has an easy, graceful, long stride that is damned near hypnotic. He has reliable hands, and is willing to block despite not being very good at it. I expect him to start, and have a 1,000 yard, 8 TD season.
Round 2 (37th overall): CLandon Dickerson (H)
I love everything about the way he plays, but I hate his injury history:
ACL tear ended his freshman year.
Ankle injury ended his sophomore year.
Another ankle injury ended his first junior year. He then red-shirted.
He completed his second junior year.
ACL injury ended his senior season.
Dickerson is the post-Jason Kelce plan. Again, I love his play. He’s powerful and mean. He’s also bigger than Kelce and appears to have a better anchor. While Kelce will no doubt be a Hall of Famer, we have watched him for a over a decade be ridden back into QB’s from Michael Vick to Jalen Hurts. I don’t see that being an issue with Dickerson.
This pick is the primary example of what I meant when I said restocking. Having to rehab, he’s clearly not meant to contribute in 2021, but that high pick means that his contribution is expected soon.
Round 3 (73rd overall): DT Milton Williams (Q)
At 284 pounds, and possessing an average college first step, he will be a liability against the run in the NFL. If he’s exclusively played as a 3rd down interior pass rusher, he might find a role. If he’s moved to weak-side DE, he may even find a way to start some games. Otherwise, this just seems like a bad pick.
Round 4 (123rd overall): CB Zech McPhearson (Q)
I can’t offer a solid opinion on him, because all I could find was highlight videos. There was no video that showed who he is down-in and down-out. In the limited bits that I can piece together (from other player’s videos), he looks more like a FS than CB. I’m at a loss for why we waited until 123 to grab a CB.
Round 5 (150th overall): RB Kenneth Gainwell (H)
Last year I wanted WR/RB Antonio Gibson out of Memphis, but Washington got him. This year the Eagles went and got us RB/WR Kenneth Gainwell out of Memphis. While Gainwell is smaller, between the two players, at this stage of their college career, Gainwell is clearly the more natural receiver, and a better blocker. (Just ask Micah Parsons.) Neither runs very hard
Gainwell is an immediate upgrade over RB Boston Scott, though neither of them have that “take it to the house” type speed. His ability to be split out, and run routes like a WR, allows the Eagles to move him around the formation, even while RB Miles Sanders is on the field. We could line up in the I Formation, and audible to Empty, and every bit of that would have to be respected. Look. I’ve got goosebumps!
Round 6 (189th overall): DT Marlon Tuipulotu(M)
Heavy footed and doesn’t gain penetration. Even when the play is run away from him. He may have been good enough to start at his college, but he’ll likely be out of here before training camp is over.
Round 6 (191st overall): DE Tarron Jackson (Q)
Lacks decent first step, because he never really gets into a three point stance. Lines up almost sitting on his heels. When he plays out of two point stance, he gets a much better jump. That however, basically makes him a situational player, who offers nothing vs the run. Again, his biggest flaw can be fixed with coaching, but he still doesn’t seem to have a high ceiling beyond that.
Round 6 (224th overall) : S JaCoby Stevens (M)
Early word has the Eagles wanting to move this 212 pound S to LB. Either move would be a mistake. He lacks a feel for pass coverage as a S, but he doesn’t shed blocks or tackle well enough to be a LB. He also doesn’t initiate contact, and ends up watching more football than he plays. Honestly, it looks like he gets stuck trying to read where the play is going, instead of locking down his area, and forcing plays into the shark tank.
Round 7 (234th overall): EDGEPatrick Johnson (H)
I hate seeing the term “Edge”. Is he lining up at DE or OLB? The responsibilities are very different. Their techniques are very different. Usually “Edge” means either LB who can’t cover, or undersized DE. At 240 pounds, Johnson looks to be the latter.
Despite my bitching about a title, I like what I see on tape. The guy sets the edge before pass rushing, or chasing a tackle. He is nimble enough for stunts, uses his hands to shed blocks, and can cover in an underneath zone. Unfortunately he lines up at DE in a two point stance, which almost eliminates him as being useful vs the run. If he’s going to do that, he needs to move to OLB.
Otherwise, he needs to add 12 pounds and put his hand on the ground.
For this year’s haul, I’d have to say we had four hits, two misses, and three that we’re waiting to see about. Let’s math!
With 9 players drafted, (H)its being worth 2, (M)isses 0, and (Q)uestionables 1, we had a possible score of 18, and scored 11. As a grade, that’s a 61% out of 100. If you recall, 65 was a ‘D’ in school. Not a great haul, Howie. Then again, it is just a restocking.
WHAT I really want the Eagles to get out of the 2021 NFL Draft is: Clarity.
In the Eagles last game of the 2020 season, they deliberately tanked against Washington. We came into that game slotted in the #9 position for the 2021 Draft, but tanking the game moved us into the #6 position. The 2020 season was a burning heap, and so already the Eagles had turned their attention to arming for the 2021 season.
That indicates that the organization was planning ahead. Which says plainly: We have a plan.
Then Owner Jeffrey Lurie, fired head coach Doug Pederson, and replaced him with Nick Sirianni, who is green enough to have been Reggie White’s jersey. Then General Manager Howie Roseman traded franchise QB Carson Wentz to Indianapolis, and signed QB Joe Flacco to compete with QB Jalen Hurts for the starting job. Man, I wish I were joking about that.
After that, the Eagles traded down in the Draft from #6 to #12, picking up a first rounder in 2022 for their trouble. Shrewd move if the guy they want this year, is likely to be at 12 or lower. However, now the Eagles want to move back up. But that is a move that will likely cost them a first rounder next year. So what was the point of trading the #6 spot, in the first place?!
All indications are that this team is in a tailspin, because the pilot is incompetent.
The team that used to be The Gold Standard, seems to lack the clarity of vision, which has more or less defined them since the turn of the millennium.
Or perhaps this Draft will bring it all home for us. Maybe those 11 picks we have, will be used to complete a puzzle that we just can’t make out right now. That’s extremely doubtful, but I want to put it out there. I WANT to be wrong about my team being rudderless. I WANT the Eagles to show me that they’ve had it under control the whole time.
When this Draft is done, I want us Eagles fans to be able to sit back and say, “Ahhhh. Now I get it. Now it makes sense.” Because right now, it seems like incompetence is in charge. As of right now, it seems like if Howie counted his balls 10 times, he’d never get the same number twice.
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??
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.
Rookies may contribute heavily to their team, but 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.
Now let’s look at 2021:
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. The fact is, I gave NO team’s overall offense a passing grade, and I gave NO team’s defense one either.
Instead of rating units (offense, defense, special teams), this year everyone was so weak in key areas, that I was forced to award points for positions. So if this year’s report feels different than another year’s, rest assured, it is.
Strongest Offense: PHILADELPHIA
Yeah. I was surprised too. I gave no team points for QB, as everyone either has to prove themselves (Prescott, Hurts), or they’ve been trash historically (Fitzpatrick, Jones). Of all the teams here, Philly is the only one without an immediate need for offensive line help, as they are the only team in the division who doesn’t need help at OT, and even have competition there. They also have the best TE situation in the division by far, and a complete stable of RB’s. What they lack is WR firepower, but that’s more of a playoff problem, than a regular season issue.
Weakest Offense:NEW YORK
They have one OT and a C. Everything else is in a state of unnecessary upheaval. This team’s offense used to run through RB Saquon Barkley, but that can’t happen this year, as he’s just getting back from a torn ACL. QB Daniel Jones has to step up and prove that he can carry the… Sorry. I had a laughing fit. Jones is on his last leg as a starter, and it’s the worst kept secret in all of sports. Sadly too many of the pieces just don’t complement each other. It’s awkward. It boxes lefty. This offense was ruined in the front office, and it gets worse every year.
All four teams have issues in the secondary. That can’t even be debated. Of all the teams, Washington has the least issues and the best front seven. They can play their base 4-3, but they can easily flex to a 4-3 under, or to a 3-4, without changing personnel. NY wants to be multiple, and still can’t pull it off as well as Washington can.
They not only have everyone’s coverage problem, they also can’t rush the passer. They have a pair or good young LB’s in the heart of their unit, but that wasn’t enough last year, and won’t be enough this year.
Strongest Special Teams: DALLAS
They have a pair of reliable legs. Nothing fancy, but reliability is how you win field position battles. Which in turn is partly how you win games. Especially close ones.
Weakest Special Teams:PHILADELPHIA
A Kicker who seems to be rotting away on the inside, and a Punter who’s entirely an experiment from another part of the world.
Projected Winner: WASHINGTON
Having the most solid defense in the division cannot be ignored. Their offensive woes are partly due to focusing on adding defensive talent, and partly due to a scheme which relies too heavily on being cute, instead of being smart. Last year they went 5 – 1 (out of 7 wins), under game managing QB Alex Smith. This year their starting QB likes to gamble with house money. On it’s own, this team can’t win the division. But they could get by, with a little help from their friends.
New York is a team rotting on the vine, and Dallas doesn’t think they need a defense. Besides, whenever the Cowboys see something they don’t like in the mirror, they just cover it and add another WR. QB problems be damned, there is no way a team with so much talent on it, should have finished 6-10. I meant the Cowboys of course. There is no way I could have been talking about the giants.
After taking a looooooong look all four teams over this last month, I’ve noticed that Philadelphia is not nearly as far away as many people, (including me initially) might think. Currently, they have the most complete offense, and the second most complete defense in the division. If they end up putting things together at the QB position, the Eagles will have people treating them like a team that’s missed the playoffs for the last decade, instead of the team that has won the East, two of the last four times.
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.