Trade Talk Update

Posted: October 14th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

No game action for the Eagles today due to the Thursday night win over the Giants, but that doesn’t mean Howie Roseman isn’t busy.

Howie is currently on the phone with half of the NFL, seeing who is available and at what price. He is going to focus on talent more than a specific position. The goal is to improve the Eagles, not just add a body who might help.

With that in mind, let’s talk about some names that are being mentioned as possible targets.

RB Le’Veon Bell – PIT

We’ve talked about this for a while now. The Eagles would love to add a talent like Bell, but cost is certainly an issue. It seems like he would cost at least a 2nd rounder, and that’s an issue since Bell is a free agent at the end of the year. You could let him walk in free agency and get a comp pick in 2020, but that would mean you couldn’t sign any big free agents. The Eagles like to be aggressive so dealing with a constraint like that wouldn’t be ideal.

Bell is supposedly going to report to the Steelers this week. Will his teammate welcome him back? Does the organization really want him? If the price tag lowered somehow, Howie might get real interested real fast.

RB LeSean McCoy – BUF

There are several angles to this. The first consideration is whether Shady would be worth bringing back. He turned 30 this summer and has taken quite a beating over the years. He’s got more than 2,600 touches in his NFL career. RBs tend to wear down and it does seem like that’s starting to happen. Shady averaged 4.0 yards per carry last year, a career low. This year he’s down to 3.8 ypc. Obviously circumstances play a part in that, but the eye test also says the same thing. Shady is still quick and elusive and a good player, but he’s not as consistently dynamic as he was in the past. He’s human.

McCoy would be interesting for the Eagles. He would be the most talented RB Doug Pederson has had to work with in the past three years. McCoy would add a big play element that the current group doesn’t really have. On the flip side, he’s not as physical as the current staff prefers. Ryan Mathews, LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi were all 220 or more pounds and very physical runners. You give that up with Shady, but add his elusiveness and big play ability.

The Bills are leaking to the media that they will listen to offers, but need at least a 2nd rounder. That is clearly nuts. You would give up a 4th or 5th round pick for a 30-year old RB averaging 3.8 ypc. If they stick by that demand, you shake your head and pass.

What about the character question? Shady was less than perfect while with the Eagles. There were some serious allegations made against him by his ex-girlfriend this summer. Is this a guy you really want to bring into the locker room? The Eagles weren’t choirboys last year, but had no one with those type issues.

The Eagles are as thorough as any team in the league when it comes to background checks and taking character issues very seriously. They have taken some really good players off their draft board in recent years due to character concerns. Some were legal issues, others as simple as personality. The Eagles don’t want anyone who they don’t think will fit in. They don’t want anyone who is going to be a major distraction.

If the Eagles make a deal, they will have done their research and concluded that Shady can help this team on the field and not be an issue off it.

To a certain extent, the same questions apply to Bell due to his drug issues. He was suspended for multiple games in 2016 for failing at least his second drug test since entering the NFL. We can argue the merits of marijuana, but it is against the rules for now.

RB David Johnson – ARZ

The Cardinals should build their offense around Johnson, but they’ve used him awkwardly this season, making you wonder if they would be willing to deal him. Johnson is a gifted runner and receiver and would be an ideal addition. I’d certainly call about him, but wouldn’t expect the Cards to be receptive.

S Karl Joseph – OAK

The Raiders are off to a 1-5 start and things are getting ugly. Jon Gruden is reportedly shopping several players. Joseph has been hurt recently, but I’m not sure why he’s not part of the team’s long term plans. Joseph is a good hitter and tackler. He’s 25-years old and has 24 career starts. Joseph isn’t a big playmaker, but he could help a banged up secondary.

CB Patrick Peterson – ARZ

Peterson is one of the top cover corners in the league. I can only guess the Cardinals are open to shopping him because they are in rebuilding mode and he’s 28. Peterson would not be cheap so this move would be complicated. You would have to make sure Jim Schwartz and the defensive staff were all-in on adding him and knowing how to use him.

The Eagles might have to give up Jalen Mills or Ronald Darby (along with picks) to get Peterson, but adding a talent like him would help any secondary. He would give you a player to match up with the top receivers. Then the other DBs could cheat to the other side of the field.

Cost would be an issue, but this would interest the heck out of me.

CB Gareon Conley – OAK

There are no rumors about Conley being shopped. That said, he did not play at all in today’s game. Instead, Gruden went with veteran Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Gruden going with a veteran like DRC on a bad team is so very Gruden.

The Eagles liked Conley quite a bit prior to the 2017 draft. He had the ability to play in the slot or out wide. If the Raiders are down on him, the Eagles might have interest. They could certainly use his versatility this season.

WR Amari Cooper – OAK

Jay Glazer reported that Cooper and Joseph were being shopped by the Raiders. Could it really be this simple.

Cooper is young, productive and talented. He has some size at 6-1, 210. The Eagles like WRs who have size so he makes sense in that regard. The Eagles offense has picked up since the return of Alshon Jeffery, but the receiving corps could still use a boost.

Cooper did take a big hit to the head in today’s game and was being checked for a concussion.

*****

Here are some names that could make sense. This is pure speculation.

CB Richard Sherman

SF added the veteran CB with the expectation that they would compete this year. Then Jimmy G tore his ACL and things changed in a big way. You wonder if they might be open to dealing him. Sherman has a strong, forceful personality so this would have to be carefully checked out and planned. h/t to Iggles Nut for coming up with this idea.

S Landon Collins

The Giants are a bad team. Collins is in the final year of his deal. If the Giants have any hesitation about re-signing him, trading him could make some sense. Collins was great his first couple of seasons, but it doesn’t seem like he’s played to the same level the last couple of years. Still, he would be an interesting target for the Eagles.

S Tyrann Mathieu

I loved this idea when the Texans were losing to the Bills, but then Houston came back to win that game. If Houston started to have doubts about their season, dealing Mathieu would make some sense. He signed a one-year deal with them when a lot of other teams were dragging their feet when it came to safeties. Unfortunately, the Texans are now 3-3 and tied for the division lead. They would need to lose the next couple of games before considering a move like this. Doubtful, but worth Howie making a call.

DT Adam Gotsis

The Eagles liked Gotsis prior to the 2016 draft. Denver shocked some people by taking him in the 2nd round. Gotsis has slowly developed into a solid NFL player. I don’t know how the Broncos coaches feel about him at this point. With Denver sitting at 2-4 and looking up at the Chiefs and Chargers, they might be open to dealing him. Worth a call. Gotsis has played 3-4 DE and DT for Denver, but would be a DT for the Eagles.

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Youth Movement

Posted: October 14th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles want to repeat as Super Bowl champs. They had that in mind when making moves in the offseason.

In a league where youth is prized, the Eagles re-signed 35-year old Darren Sproles and 33-year old Corey Graham. They brought LT Jason Peters back for another year. He’s 36. All three of those players have been injured this year. They have produced mixed results on the field.

The Eagles signed 34-year old Haloti Ngata to add depth to the DL. An injury to Tim Jernigan pushed Ngata into more snaps. He has missed the last two games.

32-year old Mike Wallace was signed to give the team a vertical threat. He didn’t do much in the preseason and got hurt before even catching one pass this season. Wallace is on injured reserve.

It is fair to question whether the Eagles should have had any of these players on the roster.

DeAndre Carter has taken over Sproles role as the return specialist. Carter is in the Top 10 in the league as a PR, with 12.7 yards per PR. He averages 20 yards per KOR. Carter looks like he could be a long term fit as the team’s RS.

Wendell Smallwood has gotten a lot of Sproles touches on offense. Smallwood is playing the best football of his young career. He’s not doing anything special, but has been effective as part of the RB rotation the Eagles are using.

Peters has started each game, but has missed plenty of time. Big V has stepped in when needed and done a solid job.

Ngata has one sack and 6 tackles this year. He’s been effective, but hasn’t stood out in a big way. Treyvon Hester was signed just a few weeks back and has played well each of the last two games. He is good vs the run and disruptive. The Eagles were high on him coming out of college and he looks like a good fit for Jim Schwartz’s scheme.

Rookie Avonte Maddox has taken over as the starting FS. He has played well and could develop into the FS of the future. Maddox takes good angles to the ball and he’s smart. He tackles well. He has good ball skills. I’m not saying he’ll be next in line with Dawk and Wes Hopkins, but Maddox could be a good starting FS.

The funny thing about all of this is that the Eagles have made some tough decisions. They cut Brent Celek with no one ready to fill his spot. They moved on from Jon Dorenbos to Rick Lovato. They moved on from Donnie Jones to Cameron Johnston. All of those moves have worked out well for the Eagles.

I understand the loyalty that Doug Pederson has to Sproles. Or Jeff Stoutland to Peters. Or Schwartz to Graham. Those players helped you win games. They contributed to a team that won the Super Bowl. Moving on from them is not easy.

The 2019 Eagles will be a younger team. They have a lot of draft picks. I also think Howie Roseman and Pederson will think twice before bringing back guys in their mid-30’s. After all, the Eagles won last year without Sproles and Peters. Football is a young man’s game. The Eagles probably need to keep that in mind as they consider making moves for the rest of this season.

*****

This is nuts.

*****

The Giants once led the rivalry with the Eagles 46-26-1. Not anymore.

The Eagles have owned the G-men in recent years. Will be cool when the Eagles finally take the lead in the series.

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Problems Solved?

Posted: October 13th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

I like looking to history when trying to figure out what is happening in the present. Was the Eagles dominant win over the Giants a turning point in the 2018 season?

Go back to 2007. The Eagles had a star QB coming back from an ACL injury. Donovan McNabb was healthy enough to play, but didn’t look all the way back. He certainly didn’t play that way early on. The Eagles started 0-2 and were struggling to score points (only 25 after two weeks). There were a lot of questions.

Then the Lions came to town.

The Eagles had one of the greatest days in the history of the franchise. They won 56-21. McNabb was 21-26-381 with 4 TDs. Brian Westbrook was 14-110-2 on the ground and 5-111-1 as a receiver. Kevin Curtis (remember him?) had the game of his life, going 11-221-3. That was fun.

The Eagles were then 1-2 and we thought they might go on a run. Oops. The next week was the Winston Justice debacle, with McNabb getting sacked 12 times and the Eagles losing 16-3. That team was up and down all year. They fought their way back to 5-5 only to lose three in a row. They won the final three games to finish 8-8.

2011 was the group labeled as the Dream Team (I always hated that). There was a lockout and all the new faces had an abbreviated time to come together. That team started 1-4 and had some painful losses. They beat the Skins 20-13 to get to 2-4 and then hosted Dallas coming off the bye week. The Eagles dominated that Sunday night game, winning 34-7. Shady was 30-185-2 and looked unbelievable. Michael Vick had a good game and it was easy to think the team had turned things around.

The 3-4 Eagles then lost two tough games in a row. They fell to 4-8 at one point before winning out to finish the season at 8-8.

Are the 2018 Eagles doomed to be a .500 team that will be maddeningly inconsistent?

There are some reasons to think that won’t be the case. Carson Wentz is a star QB in his prime. McNabb turned 31 in the 2007 season and life in the NFL had taken a toll on him by then. He was hurt in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006. Vick was 31 in 2011 and a declining player. Each of those guys still had amazing moments, but age affected them. Wentz is just getting started.

There is also the point that he looks like a player on a different level. McNabb and Vick were great at times, but they also showed some limitations. Wentz is putting up numbers that neither of those guys ever did. Having a legitimately great QB makes it easier to get over some struggles and start winning games.

Neither the 2007 or 2011 teams had anyone like Fletcher Cox. You can argue Trent Cole vs Brandon Graham, but Cox is in a league of his own. He can make game-changing plays. That can be the difference between winning and losing.

I think you can argue the 2018 Eagles have the best coaching staff of the three teams. There is no question this group is better than 2011, when you had Juan Castillo running the defense and Jim Washburn pissing off more than a few people inside the building. Bobby April had become a terrible STs coach by then. The staff didn’t have good chemistry, to put it mildly.

The 2007 team did have Jim Johnson running the defense, but all the success of the early years of the Reid era had led to jobs for many key assistants. Reid struggled to replace them and the staff was an odd mixture of coaches. The 2018 team did have to replace a couple of key guys, but Doug Pederson remains the key voice for the offense. There are strong assistants like Duce Staley, Jeff Stoutland and Justin Peelle. The defensive staff remains intact and Dave Fipp is still one of the best STs coaches in the league.

The 2018 Eagles have better leadership and chemistry than the 2011 team. I don’t think anyone will dispute that. The 2007 Eagles had good chemistry and leadership. That team had talent problems. L.J. Smith was the starting TE. I’d say Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are better than him. Omar Gaither and Takeo Spikes were the primary LBs. Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham are a better duo. The 2007 team didn’t have a pair of WRs like Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. They didn’t have a group of pass rushers like Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett and Chris Long.

Time will tell if the 2018 Eagles are truly different than the 2007 or 2011 teams that were so maddeningly up and down.

For the win over the Giants to mean anything, the Eagles must go out and play well against the Panthers.  Instead of enjoying success, they need to build on it.

*****

It would help a lot to get some good injury news.

Doug Pederson said he thinks the news on Jason Peters will be positive. He said Sidney Jones will be week to week, which isn’t such good news. That seems to mean a guy will be out a few weeks. Ugh.

Getting Darren Sproles and Haloti Ngata back would help.

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Fun Night

Posted: October 12th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles won. They won big, 34-13. And the game wasn’t even that close.

A lot of things went right for the Eagles.

The defense came up with a takeaway on the first drive and that led to a short TD drive. A good PR by DeAndre Carter put the offense in good position later and the offense scored again to go up 14-3. The Eagles were making plays on offense, defense and STs.

The Eagles dominated the line of scrimmage. Eli Manning was under pressure all night (4 sacks, many more hits). He really struggled, making bad decisions and even worse throws. The Giants offense looked completely inept…except for one guy.

Saquon.

The rookie RB ran for 130 and had 99 yards as a receiver. He broke tackle after tackle and looked spectacular on multiple plays. If you are ever going to spend a Top 5 pick on a RB, this is the kind of guy you do it for. I’m not advocating for the pick, but Barkley is a special player.

At the same time, the Giants stunk. They piled up 402 yards of offense, but struggled to sustain drives and went 0 for 3 in the Red Zone.

It was great to see the Eagles get off to a fast start and play from ahead. This finally looked like the 2017 team, mixing in big plays and ball-control offense. The Eagles won the time of possession battle by five minutes. And the no-name RBs got the job done.

The real star for the Eagles was Carson Wentz. He was 26-36-278 with 3 TDs. There were a couple of throws he’d like to have back, but Wentz was terrific overall. The first TD of the game was a spectacular play.

Before we celebrate too much, we do have to keep in mind the Giants stink. They were not good tonight, aside from Barkley.

Still, good teams beat bad teams and they make it look easy. The Eagles did exactly that. They dominated from early on.

Hold off on “that game turned around the Eagles season” takes. One game is just one game. There is a lot to be happy about, but you have to be careful in assuming a team that has been highly inconsistent all year is now going to play consistently well.

There is plenty of reason for optimism. This looked like a good Eagles team. At the same time, what made last year’s team so good is that they played one game at a time. They focused on the little picture, not the big picture, and that helped them to avoid letdowns and kept them winning all year long.

The team can now get some extra rest before the next game. They’ll need that because this is a banged up bunch and there is a lot of season to go.

For the next few days, sit back, relax and think about Fletcher Cox repeatedly knocking the crap out of Eli. That should keep you smiling.

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Crossroads Game

Posted: October 11th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Eagles at Giants is always an interesting game. This year, it is a big game.

A win would get the Eagles back to .500 and they would have time to rest and get healthy. A loss would put them two games under .500 and the scrutiny would go through the roof, turning louder than Nigel Tufnel’s guitar solo on Sex Farm Woman.

A win for the Giants would give them some hope. They almost beat the Panthers last week and played the Jags tough early in the season. A loss would drop them to 1-5 and would be pretty deflating.

Big game.

Eli is completing 72 percent of his passes. Getting pressure on him, covering his receivers and then tackling well will be quite the challenge. The Giants are averaging 25 points a game over the last three weeks. The Eagles haven’t scored more than 23 points in a game so far this year. For the Eagles to win, the defense has to shut Eli down or Carson Wentz and the offense have to finally break through and score 27, 28 or 31 points. Something like that.

The Giants have been vulnerable to the run so it will be interesting to see how Doug Pederson plays this. People have ripped on him for the lack of a balanced offense, but there are multiple things to consider. Last year the Eagles threw to score points and then ran in the second half. This year they aren’t building the lead so the run game isn’t used as much in the second half.

Pederson could once again throw to build a lead or he could focus on running the ball to build some confidence in his O-line and his RBs. There is an argument to be made for each plan of attack. Even if Pederson does throw a lot, I think he will mix in more runs early. Of course, that will only be true if the Eagles have success.

The return of Corey Clement will be interesting to watch. Does he become the feature back? Does Wendell Smallwood get that role? Some think Clement could become a guy who should get 20 touches a game. I have my doubts. I see a terrific role player, but I’m not sure he’s someone you want to feed the ball to. I would love for him to prove me wrong.

The Giants only have six sacks this year so this is a game where Carson Wentz should have good chances to throw. The Giants do blitz a lot and they will get some hits on him. If the line and other blockers can buy him time, Wentz will have the chance to make plays.

Vernon could be a key addition. I don’t question his ability. We just don’t know if he’ll be banged up or rusty. The Giants defense has needed him in the worst way so they have to be happy to get him back for this game.

Let’s shift back to the Eagles defense.

Sullivan will have a chance to play in his first NFL game.

The Eagles will get Derek Barnett back. Even though Eli gets rid of the ball incredibly quickly, you want your best pass rushers on the field. With Ngata out and Barnett back, Michael Bennett could play more in the middle than usual. Pressure up the middle can still get the best of Eli.

The Eagles had all offseason to figure out what they want to do against Eli and the quick throws. Jim Schwartz says tackling well is the biggest help to stopping this offense. It will be interesting to see if there are any schematic twists. That would be really tough on a short week.

The Eagles understand the importance of this game. Now we need to see evidence of that on Thursday night. Understanding it in theory doesn’t do us any good if that doesn’t lead to gameday actions.

*****

The speculation continues.

We’ll see.

There are a lot of angles to this. The Steelers may want certain rumors out there. The Eagles, too. And Bell’s agent certainly can work the press.

I’m sure the Eagles have at least passive interest. I still have doubts that anything happens with this.

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