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.