Brooks Retires

Posted: January 26th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

In news that should shock no one, Eagles guard Brandon Brooks announced his retirement on Wednesday. This is the end of a terrific career for a very talented player. Brooks played at a Pro Bowl level and helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl in 2017.

Brooks handled every defender that lined up against him, but he just couldn’t beat the injury bug. Brooks missed all of 2020 and only played two games in 2021. He kept himself in great shape, but his body just couldn’t handle the wear and tear of pro football. Training in a gym is one thing. Constant collisions with 300-pound men is a whole other story.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Brooks coming out of college. He was big and strong. He put on a show at the Combine and really opened some eyes. I just didn’t think his game tape matched his combination of size and athleticism.

Oops.

Brooks became a terrific pro. He was great at anchoring in pass protection. DTs wouldn’t get him to move an inch. Brooks was devastating on double-teams in the run game. Depending on the play, he would partner with Jason Kelce or Lane Johnson and they would drive the DT off the ball, creating a lot of running room for the various runners who played behind them. Brooks was athletic enough that he could also get out in space and take on LBs or DBs. He will go down as one of the great O-linemen in Eagles history.

There were plenty of accolades. Brooks was elected to three Pro Bowls. He was named All Pro teams on four occations (PFW 3, PFF 1).

Les Bowen wrote an excellent piece on Brooks and talked about Brooks overcoming his issues with anxiety. That made his success even more impressive. It also says a lot about him as a person and the people around him who helped Brooks to manage his situation.

That is a crazy story.

Looking to the future, the Eagles have Jack Driscoll and Nate Herbig as potential replacments. Driscoll is the better player, but he’s had trouble staying healthy. Herbig is a good fit at RG. He just has a limited ceiling. Sua Opeta will get a shot, but he’s generally been more comfortable at LG.

The Eagles also have Isaac Seumalo coming off injury. Rookie Landon Dickerson took his spot at LG and might not be giving it back. Dickerson and Jordan Mailata formed quite a powerful duo on the left side. You wonder if the Eagles would consider trading Seumalo or moving him to the right side.

The good news is that the team has options.

I doubt the Eagles will use any of that money to chase free agent OL. With Kelce and Johnson being older players, the Eagles need to think about young replacements and that means draft picks.

*****

Speaking of the draft…the Senior Bowl is next week and I will be going to Mobile. Well, as long as I pass my Covid test on Sunday morning. I don’t anticipate any issues, but you never know these days.

I’m excited to go down and see some future Eagles in action.

The scouts did a good job with the draft last year and those rookies were a huge help to the Eagles successful 2021 season.

If the team can repeat that, it will go a long way to making this team more of a legit title contender. As we watched the playoffs this past weekend, it was obvious the Eagles just don’t have enough talent. There are some good pieces, but you need more when you want to compete for a championship.

*****

No updates on Jonathan Gannon’s future in regard to either the Broncos or Texans, where he reportedly had great interviews.

Gannon coached for the Vikings from 2014 to 2017 so they could take a look at him now that they’ve got a GM in place.

In a fantasy world, Gannon would get a HC job and the Eagles would hire Vic Fangio to replace him.

*****

COMMENTS

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Offseason Overview

Posted: January 22nd, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The 2021 season is in the books. It is time now to turn our attention to the offseason and how to improve this team. The Eagles showed real promise, but have plenty to do if they want to become a true Super Bowl contender.

PLAYERS

The biggest question is what to do at QB. We’ll be discussing this over the coming weeks/months so don’t expect a quick answer here. I’ve seen people framing statistical arguments that show Jalen Hurts is off to a better start than some star QBs. I’ve seen others showing that Hurts didn’t play well against good teams. As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

The 2021 version of Hurts wasn’t good enough to beat good teams and win in the postseason. The question becomes how Hurts will play in 2022 and 2023 and beyond. This was his first season as the starter. He’s not going to be a finished product. What is his ceiling?

The other thing to factor on in this discussion is that you don’t want to make a change for the heck of it. You only change to upgrade. The draft doesn’t have compelling QB prospects so that means you’re focused on trading for a veteran. Russell Wilson certainly makes some sense, but he seemed to take a beating in every game I watched. How much does he have left? What would the cost be?

The Eagles need to upgrade WR. Nick Sirianni said he likes DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor as the #1, 2 and 3 receivers, but that is not a good enough group. The Eagles need someone with a bit more size/physicality to add to the group.

There are reports that Brandon Brooks will retire. Jack Driscoll and Nate Herbig can replace him. The big question is if Jason Kelce returns. It feels like he will, but that is purely a guess.

There is a lot of work to be done to the defensive side of the ball.

With Derek Barnett likely gone in free agency and Brandon Graham being an older guy coming off a major injury, pass rusher is a big need. You could just bring back Ryan Kerrigan and hope that every blocker he goes against is dealing with a severe ankle injury, but that probably isn’t the way to go.

Linebacker is a need spot. The team saw good things from T.J. Edwards and Davion Taylor, but should try to bring in more talent. Alex Singleton is a good STer, but you don’t want him as a starter or primary backup. If the scheme stays the same, having a good SAM would help. Apologies to all the Genard Avery fans.

Safety might be the biggest need on the team. Anthony Harris and Rodney McLeod just didn’t make plays. The Eagles need to bring in a pair of safeties. The smart move would be to go for one in free agency and one in the draft. Marcus Epps showed he can be a good role player, but you don’t want to count on him as a starter.

Cornerback is tougher to figure out. Darius Slay had a terrific year on the outside and Andre Avonte Maddox was good in the slot. Is Zech McPhearson ready to be the other starter? The Eagles have a bunch of other young guys in the mix. They could still draft a corner knowing that Slay isn’t a long term answer.

COACHES

Nick Sirianni and his staff did a good job in their initial year running the Eagles. That said, there will likely be some changes. That always happens after the first year a staff is together. You find out who is a good fit and who isn’t.

Shane Steichen will be back as offensive coordinator. Jonathan Gannon might be leaving. He is reportedly the favorite in the Texans coaching search and also might be the favorite in the Broncos coaching search. Most Eagles fans would say good riddance.

How can a guy who ran a mediocre defense get a promotion? It feels like teams are trying to buy in early on him. Gannon is a good communicator, leader and relates to his players. Those are key qualities you want in a head coach. If you strictly focus on 2021 results, Gannon wouldn’t make any sense. History is filled with guys who had great resumes and failed so I don’t blame teams for thinking creatively. This just might be a case where they are out-smarting themselves.

I would like to see a new WRs coach. There were way too many penalties by the receivers this year. It was also incredibly frustrating to watch them catch short passes and head to the sideline repeatedly. That makes it easy on defenders. The sideline is a 12th defender. I don’t think Moorehead was awful, but I would like a better coach.

I have concerns about the DL. Players were wildly inconsistent. The DL looked dominant at times and disappeared at others. Barnett didn’t show any progress. Kerrigan had an awful year. Amazingly unproductive. Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave were up and down. The rookies flashed at times, but no one blew us away. Maybe this had to do with Gannon’s scheme. Players were being asked to do things they hadn’t done before. Or maybe Tracy Rocker wasn’t a good fit as the DL coach.

Eagles STs weren’t good this year. Rick Gosselin had them ranked 21st in the league. Michael Clay is very young so Sirianni might have expected some ups and downs. At the same time, Sirianni might think a change is needed. STs mistakes proved to be costly down the stretch. The group didn’t get better as the year went along. Talent is part of that, but coaching as well.

*****

DRAFT

https://twitter.com/RossTuckerNFL/status/1484144758201241604

In his recent mock, Brugler had the Eagles take:

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami) — Tyler Linderbaum, OC, Iowa

Obviously, this selection is based on the future of Jason Kelce, who just earned his fourth All-Pro nod. Even if he returns for his age 35 season in 2022, Kelce would be the ideal mentor for Linderbaum, who has exceptional quickness and a nasty streak to dominate defenders.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (from Indianapolis) — Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

With Steven Nelson headed for free agency, cornerback could be a need for the Eagles this offseason. Booth is a terrific athlete and can make plays on the ball — the two most important traits when scouting the position. Booth also has above-average downhill skills to drive and blow up plays near the line of scrimmage.

19. Philadelphia Eagles — George Karlaftis, edge, Purdue

The Eagles’ defensive end depth chart will likely look wildly different next season, and Karlaftis would be a welcomed addition. The Purdue pass rusher doesn’t have elite length or twitch, but he is relentless and strong with hand work that is not only violent but also well-timed and strategic to defeat blockers.

51. Philadelphia Eagles — Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming

I would be fine with a haul like that. Linderbaum is a great center prospect and it would be good to see an infusion of young talent for the defense.

Matt Alkire posted a mock on his site and went like this:

15 – Philadelphia – David Ojabo, EDGE Michigan

16 – Philadelphia – Devin Lloyd, ILB Utah

19 – Philadelphia – Kaiir Elam, CB Florida

51 – Philadelphia – Lewis Cine, DS Georgia

That would be a ton of help for the defense. Matt is trying to get the D fixed right away. Would the Eagles really consider an off-the-ball LB in the first round? If they did, it would be a guy who had 7 sacks and 4 INTs in the 2021 season. Lloyd is a big time playmaker.

I tend to think the Eagles will only use 2 of the picks and will trade the other. That would give them plenty of ammo for both years. Of course, that requires some team to want the pick. It would be fun to see the Eagles make all 3 picks in one draft.

Lots of draft talk to come in the coming months.

*****

COMMENTS

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The First Step

Posted: January 16th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Nick Sirianni talked about the 2021 season being a journey. Sunday was the end of that journey, with the Eagles losing to the Bucs 31-15. If you look big picture, though, 2021 was really the first step of the Nick Sirianni era.

Tampa was clearly the better team on Sunday. They coached better. They played better. They were ready for the moment. The Eagles looked like a young team that didn’t understand what playoff football was all about. It was an ugly ending to a good season.

Sirianni said he didn’t think the moment was too big for the players. That’s not the way I saw it. They looked confused at times and didn’t play confident, aggressive football. The defense woke up in the second quarter. The offense didn’t really come alive until the second half. Too little, too late

Put simply, the Eagles didn’t play well.

We don’t want to make any sweeping conclusions from one game, but this game should be examined carefully. The goal is to be able to beat QBs like Tom Brady, teams like the Bucs and to be able to win in the playoffs.

The Eagles weren’t good enough on offense, defense or STs.

Jalen Hurts finished 23-43-258 with a TD and 2 picks. A lot of that came after the game had been decided. Early on, Hurts was not seeing open guys or not seeing them quick enough.

You have to see those guys in the playoffs and get them the ball on time. The QB must be able to make big plays from the pocket. That just didn’t happen enough on Sunday.

The skill players didn’t always help. Dallas Goedert dropped a pass that would have put the Eagles inside the Red Zone. Receivers and runners routinely made poor reads when trying to make plays with the ball in their hands.

The defense was too soft early on and didn’t make a play until it was 17-0. They settled in at that point and started to get pressure on Brady. The Eagles finished with 4 sacks. Amazingly, Ryan Kerrigan played his best game of the year. He had 1.5 sacks and 2 TFLs.

STs didn’t do their part either. Arryn Sipposs struggled again and one of his shanks led to a Bucs score. Jalen Reagor muffed a punt. Tampa recovered and scored off that. He bobbled another punt, got it and then lost yards on the return. Ugh.

Bad day by the bay.

This was a frustrating way to see the season come to an end. There wasn’t much to be excited by or happy about.

At the same time, there was plenty to be happy about with the 2021 season. There is more right than wrong with this team. The sky isn’t falling. You don’t need to cut/trade most of the roster and fire all the coaches. Tampa is a good team. The Eagles needed to play well to have a chance to beat them. That just didn’t happen.

The Eagles do need to separate what happened in the 7-2 stretch from what happened today. They was able to beat bad teams. They weren’t good enough to beat good teams. The coaches and front office need to figure out where the team must be impoved.

I think Sirianni is a good coach. I expect changes to be made to the staff, but not many. There are always tweaks after the first season under a new coach.

Is Hurts the right QB? This is a much tougher question. Today’s performance didn’t help his case to be the QB going forward. At the same time, we need some context for his performance. Randall lost his first three playoff games. Donovan lost his first playoff game. Nick Foles lost his playoff debut.

Hurts didn’t get much help, from the coaches or his teammates.

Still, this was a huge opportunity for Hurts and he didn’t handle it well. That opens the door for all kinds of speculation on QB moves in the upcoming offseason.

Hurts certainly has the right mindset. Embrace it. Acknowledge it. Learn from it.

The Eagles had a strong rookie class and some other young players really step up. There is plenty to be excited about. It certainly helps to have a trio of first round picks. This should be a fun offseason.

*****

The day wasn’t a complete waste. We got to see Dallas find a new, painful way to lose a playoff game.

The Boys were lucky to even be in that position. Instead of taking advantage of the gift, they didn’t get a final play off.

Beautiful.

Even better, Mike McCarthy and Dak Prescott ripped the officials after the game. They were home favorites over a team that lost key players in the game, but think the officials are the reason they lost.

Beautiful.

*****

COMMENTS

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Gameday – PHI at TB – Wild Card

Posted: January 16th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Yesterday I talked about the Eagles being pretty healthy. Oops. Apparently that is not the case and the team will be missing a couple of starters.

That’s not ideal.

Losing Sweat really hurts. He is the team’s best pass rusher and that’s a guy you want on the field when going up against Brady. The Eagles now need Derek Barnett or Ryan Kerrigan to really step up. That doesn’t feel very likely. I still think Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave are the real keys, but having a legit threat off the edge would be a big help.

As for Herbig, he was the third string RG so now we’re onto Sua Opeta, the fourth string guy. Crazy. Opeta has started and played this year, but he’s not as good as Herbig so this will hurt. The Bucs have good DTs and you can bet they’ll attack Opeta.

The Eagles still have the talent to win this game. These injuries won’t make or break the team. Tampa is missing several key players as well. Both teams are hurting, but also have more than enough talent to play well and win.

The biggest challenge for the Eagles will be handling Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate. Opposing TEs have been a major issue all year long. With the Bucs missing some WRs, you know Tom Brady will be feeding the ball to his TEs.

It will be interesting to see how Jonathan Gannon tries to handle them. Will they use bracket coverage? Will they use a CB or S or LB on Gronk? I’m not sure there is an ideal strategy. Gronk will go down as one of the greatest TEs in league history.

It sounds like the weather will be reasonable today. The hard rains came early and have gone away. There will be wind, but both teams should be able to throw the ball.

The Eagles will win if they can run the ball effectively and if the defense can affect Brady. He was 34-42-297 in the first meeting. The Eagles took away big plays, but Tampa had 27 first downs. They moved the ball consistently well until they went up 28-7. They got sloppy after that.

The defense can’t let Tampa move the ball like that. They must get stops or takeaways.

The Eagles have had a tough time with slow starts in recent weeks. That needs to change today. Coming back vs mediocre teams with bad QBs is one thing. Trying to do it vs Brady and the Bucs is very different.

As for a prediction, I think Tampa just has too many good pieces. I think they’ll find a way to win this game.

I’m excited and curious to see how the Eagles do. What we see today will help us to figure out where this team really is. Did a weak schedule get them into the playoffs and they’ll be exposed or is this a team that improved all year long and is ready to kick some ass?

I sure know which one I want to be true.

*****

As for Sweat, losing him for the day is bad, but the big story here is his health.

Crazy situation. I hope Josh gets healthy, whether he plays again this year or we have to wait for the 2022 season.

Just get healthy.

*****

COMMENTS

I know the site is still having major issues. That’s why I’m putting a Comments link at the end of posts.

I am trying to get things fixed. Thank you very much for your patience.

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A Little Help

Posted: January 15th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Buccaneers are better than the Eagles. Compare the rosters and Tampa has the obivous advantage. Compare the achievements and Tampa has the obvious advantage. They are the defending champs and went 13-4 this year. They also beat the Eagles this season.

The good news is that Sunday’s wild card game is a stand alone event. Tom Brady’s legacy won’t throw a pass. Last year’s Lombardi Trophy won’t make a tackle. And Tampa won’t have the roster than helped them go 13-4 this year.

The Bucs will still have Tom Brady at QB, but he’ll be missing a lot of firepower. This won’t be the same team that beat the Eagles earlier in the season.

As for the Eagles and their health…

Jalen Hurts is healthy and ready to go. He’ll have his whole OL, a full stable of RBs and all his key pass catchers.

The Eagles defense will have all of its key pieces, and they’ll need them when trying to pressure Brady. Sweat is the team’s best edge rusher. He must come up big for the Eagles to have a chance on Sunday.

The key to affecting Brady is normally pressure up the middle. That means Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave are the real keys for the Eagles. They must win up front and get quick pressure on Brady. He gets rid of the ball as fast as any QB in the league so interior pressure is the best way to affect him. You need to make Brady move his feet and you want to be right in his line of sight. Even if you don’t hit him, he’ll have to hold the ball longer than he wants as he adjusts. That gives guys like Sweat time to win off the edge.

I can’t stress enough that the Eagles and Bucs are different teams now than when they met. Tampa had the best run D in the league and they were also coming up with takeaways. The game was played on a short week, which gave a real advantage to the team that had a veteran coach and QB. The Eagles had lost 3 of 4 games. The offense was struggling and the defense couldn’t stop the run. Nick Sirianni was still hell bent on turning this into a passing team. Jonathan Gannon played a defense that was so soft that it might as well have been cotton candy.

Needless to say, a lot has changed. That doesn’t mean the Eagles will win, but these are different teams.

The big X-factor in the game will be the weather. It will be windy and rainy in Tampa. That means passing could be more challenging. If things play out that way, it would give an advantage to the Eagles and their dominant run game.

This will be a great test for the Eagles. Can their run game keep going in the playoffs? How will the defense do in their first game against a good QB since the first week of November? How will Hurts do? Are Sirianni and his staff ready for playoff football?

It would be great to see the Eagles pull off the upset and win this game. If they get some help from the weather and injuries, that is fine with me. The goal in the postseason is to win. If it involves luck, fine. If it is an ugly win, fine. Just win.

We all remember the beatdown of the Vikings and amazing Super Bowl, but the 15-10 win over the Falcons was hardly an NFL classic. And that game did involve some luck.

https://twitter.com/JustinLever3/status/1481745624139591681

Forget style points. Just find a way to win.

And hope luck is on your side.

*****

I hated the injury to Tyree Jackson, but Rodgers is probably an upgrade in this type of situation. Rodgers is the better blocker and is a veteran receiver. If you need him to make a play, he can. Jackson was all about upside.

*****

COMMENTS

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