DO you see? Just like that, the Eagles are already getting better.
NOTE: I wanted to get this one in before we play the Browns today.
I wrote last week in EASILY FIXING THE EAGLES that the team’s issues stemmed from a culture without enough competition built into it. I also wrote a week prior to that, in HOW TO HELP CARSON WENTZ that he is at his best, with a hard-nosed running game, not a finesse one.
So what moves did the Eagles make?
Move The First: We signed RB Jordan Howard to the Practice Squad. For casual Eagles fans there’s a lot in that move that’s easy to miss. For someone like me, it’s all the subtle things that jump out at me. It’s all the “down the line” implications that I’m excited by. It likely won’t impact THIS game, but that’s beside the point.
Howard should have never been cut in the first place. Despite RB Miles Sanders’s obvious talent, he still could benefit from the presence of a veteran RB, to bounce things off of. RB Corey Clement fits the bill, but the Eagles spotty commitment to him, gives his voice less weight when talking to younger players.
With their treatment of Clement and cutting of Howard, the Eagles created a situation where there was no player to mentor Sanders. Thus, he’s still making small mental mistakes, that have huge impacts. Like on his blitz pick-ups, and pass route landmarks. Signing Howard, and letting Sanders see a vet do it, will help with that.
Move El Dos: Elevating RB Elijah Holyfield from the Practice Squad to the Active Roster. The advertisement on Holyfield is that he will be a tough, between the Tackles runner. The film on him says different. It says that once he gets past the line of scrimmage, there’s been too much East-West running in his very short football history. At least for my taste.
That being said, he was young and playing in Carolina. The Panthers had a playbook developed for a WR small RB trying to prove a point. So coming here, may help fix some bad habits that Holyfield may have picked up there.
Those two moves by themselves are solid personnel moves. Add a veteran mentor, who has a skill that you clearly lack. Then elevate a guy from the Practice Squad, so you can get enough tape to evaluate him at season’s end, to determine pressing Draft needs. Solid GM-ing.
Now for the parts that are easy to miss.
Last week the giants made forcing-feeding us the run, look like Bluto force-feeding spinach to Popeye.
But how was the Eagles Defense supposed to practice stopping that kind of downhill run game, without selling out to stop it? Practicing against which RB? Sanders? Clement? RB Boston Scott? Holyfield was on the PS, but he isn’t the downhill runner that Howard has proven to be.
There is a role for a short yardage/back-up RB on this team. The elevation of Holyfield and signing of Howard (who mostly still knows the playbook), is a competitive situation. Two players making Practice Squad money, who want real contracts. Real careers. Suddenly the Eagles are going to be practicing better. Do you see?
For a RB to impress in practice, he has to embarrass defensive players. If a defensive player is embarrassed too often, he may lose starts. That means our LB’s and Safeties are officially on notice. If they don’t get it now, they will the first time one of them gets run over by a teammate. Do you see?
I wrote just four days ago that THIS was the way to fix the team, and it is already underway! I doubted that the Eagles could/would do it during the season. Yet here are two subtle moves, that will spur culture change in the team’s practice habits. On both sides of the ball! Practice habits are work habits. They become game habits.
Do you see?