CB Update

Posted: February 23rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 121 Comments »

The Eagles need CB help. Nolan Carroll is a free agent and won’t be re-signed. Leodis McKelvin got cut recently. That leaves Jalen Mills, Aaron Grymes and CJ Smith to create a no-fly zone in south Philly.

The Eagles will add a CB in free agency. We just don’t know if they will throw megabucks at a top corner or if they will focus big money on WR and add a solid veteran at a reasonable price to help the secondary. We did get some news today on a couple of potential targets.

Verner spent the last 3 years with the Bucs, but he began his career with the Titans. He never played for Jim Schwartz (already in Detroit), but he did play in the same system and for the man who succeeded Schwartz, Chuck Cecil.

Adding Verner would be a band-aid. You can think of him as a better version of Nolan Carroll. The Eagles will add one or maybe two CBs in the draft. You don’t want to count on them to start so it would help to have a dependable veteran on the roster. Verner could be that guy. He is 28 years old. He has started 70 career starts and has only missed 2 games in his career. Verner’s price would also be right.

He does have 15 career INTs and his familiarity with the scheme should help him to fit in.

Some highlights for your viewing pleasure.

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If the Eagles decide to spend big, one guy they could target is AJ Bouye of the Texans. Because the team already has pricey corners in Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson, it sounds like Houston will let Bouye hit free agency.

Here is a good piece on him by MMQB.

In fact, if it weren’t for injuries to Jackson and Joseph in October, Bouye might never have gotten an extended look as a starter in Houston. But once that door opened, Bouye didn’t let it shut. He became the No. 1 corner and one of the best players on the NFL’s best defense, in on 296 of 298 snaps from Week 12 to Week 16 and every one of the Texans’ defensive snaps in the playoffs.

“All that [I went through] instilled something in me, it gave me a chip on my shoulder,” Bouye says. “When you’re a first-rounder, you have way more room to make mistakes, people make excuses for you, saying you’re growing or you’re learning. But as an undrafted guy, you have to be perfect.”

I have watched tape on him and Bouye is terrific. If the Eagles want to invest big money, he would be an excellent choice.

https://twitter.com/WeAreDBNation1/status/790996171044958208

I get the feeling the big money will go to WR, but Bouye would be very tempting.

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Guessing Game

Posted: February 22nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 143 Comments »

Doug Pederson was hired in 2016. He drafted Carson Wentz the same year. That’s the foundation.

  • 2017…Eagles have a winning record, get back to the playoffs. Realistic goal.
  • 2018…Eagles go a step further and become a title contender. Realistic? Sure. Likely? Impossible to say without knowing what happens in 2017.
  • 2019…New President Justin Bieber declares martial law while Eagles are 13-0 and that leads to complete chaos and civil disorder. No Super Bowl for anyone.

My crystal ball has been acting up recently so could be a tad off on those predictions. We’ll just have to wait and see.

We can talk about 3-year plans or 5-year plans or whatever schedule you want, but the truth is that we really don’t know what is going to happen. Each year a football team is a chemistry experiment. The 1998 Rams went 4-12. Their offense was 24th in points and 27th in yards. The next season they went 13-3, led the league in yards and points and won the Super Bowl. For my money, that was the best offense I ever saw. The Rams didn’t have more than 7 wins in any other season in the 1990’s. That team just exploded from bad to great.

Andy Reid’s Eagles built year-by-year. Bad to good to very good from 1999-2001. Then from 2002-2004, the Eagles were one of the best teams in the league.

The Falcons made the Super Bowl in Dan Quinn’s second year. That schedule is different from others because he inherited a good veteran QB in Matt Ryan and an elite player in Julio Jones. Really helps when you can build around a great duo like that.

The Rams have been the youngest team in the league for a few years in a row. That hasn’t done them any good. They aren’t building so much as treading water. That got Jeff Fisher extended fired and we’ll have to see how the new coaching staff does out there.

The Titans went from 2-14 to 3-13 to 9-7 last year. They seem to be a team headed in the right direction. The last time they won more than 9 games was back in 2008 (under Jeff Fisher) so this group of players is in somewhat uncharted waters for them. It will be interesting to see if they can continue the upward trend.

Seattle was mediocre in Pete Carroll’s first couple of years, going 7-9 each season. The team drafted Russell Wilson in 2012 and has won at least 10 games every season since then. Beyond that, they have been a title contender in each of those years.

There simply is no set schedule for teams. You have so many variables that you can’t make accurate predictions over an extended period of time. A lot of this is based on how Wentz progresses. He is ahead of where Donovan McNabb was after his rookie year. But McNabb took a big step forward in Year 2. Can Wentz do the same? I didn’t think McNabb really started to look like a consistently good pocket passer until Antonio Freeman arrived in 2002. Having a reliable slot receiver who could work the middle of the field helped a lot. Wentz already has a good slot receiver in Jordan Matthews. Wentz needs guys on the outside.

The Eagles could take a huge step forward this year if they add the right players. Or Wentz could get hurt and we could watch Chase Daniel throw passes to Trey Burton in painful loss after painful loss. I think the team has a good enough foundation in place that they can add some good pieces and become a playoff team. If they can find a great player, that changes things. That’s when you jump ahead of your schedule.

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DeSean Jackson wants to be an Eagle!!!

Or a Redskin.

Or whoever will pay him.

“I mean, it’s definitely a great story and ending, I guess you could say,” Jackson told Schefter of a possible return. “Starting your career somewhere and you go to a division rival and possibly maybe going back. You think about all that, you start somewhere and maybe you want to finish it. There’s a lot of speculation of a lot of thoughts. It all sounds good, but you never know until the final decision is made.”

But he does like Wentz.

“He killed it,” Jackson said. “He had a heck of a year. He showed he can do it all. He has the intangibles of being a big-time quarterback.”

It is cool to hear DJax say good things about the Eagles and Wentz. There is no denying that. And Jason La Canfora recently wrote that a lot of people around the league think it is almost a done deal that Jackson is coming back to Philly. I’m just not sure. If he was younger or cheaper, they might love him. He’s not.

I could be wrong and the Eagles might target him. I haven’t heard anything about DeSean that you haven’t.

We’ll find out more soon enough.

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What a Difference a Year Makes

Posted: February 21st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 103 Comments »

Can the Eagles find an elite receiver? Can the team find a good CB? Who is going to be the starting tailback this year? There are some interesting questions as we head into this offseason. But those questions seem pretty easy when you think back 365 days. A this time last year there was tremendous uncertainty for the organization.

I wrote about that for PE.com.

All we knew about Doug Pederson is what we heard in his press conferences, and that was pretty scary. We had no clue if he could be an effective head coach. There was also a fear Pederson would be Andy Reid Jr, mis-managing the clock and refusing to run the ball. Pederson was far from perfect, but he did okay with the clock and he did run the ball. There is hope for him.

Nobody knew what to expect from Howie Roseman. Would other teams deal with him the way they had in the past? Would he remain good with contract negotiations? Would the team draft okay? Would he get along with the new coaches? Overall, Howie had a very strong offseason. He moved players the Eagles didn’t want and managed to get the Eagles up to #2. He drafted Carson Wentz. The overall rookie class looks promising. The Eagles landed good free agents and extended Fletcher Cox. Not every move worked perfectly, but doing all that and then trading Sam Bradford for a 1st round pick is a good offseason in my book.

Last February we had no idea what to make of the Eagles. From management to coaches to players to schemes, we had no idea exactly what to expect. It looks like the Eagles made mostly smart moves and now have the foundation in place to get back to being a winning team. Can the team take the next step and become a Super Bowl contender? We’ll have to wait and see on that.

The next 6 months are going to be huge for the Eagles. They need to make the right cuts/trades to create cap space. They need to sign the right players. They need to scout and draft well. And the coaches must develop the young players already on the roster. If the team can make enough of the right moves, a year from now we’ll be talking about what a difference a year makes, only this time it won’t be about laying a foundation, but rather winning games and getting back to the playoffs.

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I’ve mentioned this as a possibility in previous posts.

If Maclin hit the market, his price would certainly be cheaper than it was last time around. He’s older now and isn’t a star player. Still, he would be a high character, quality veteran receiver to add to the offense. He has RAC ability and is still fast enough to get deep. The Eagles might be interested.

There are reports that the Eagles are targeting Alshon Jeffery. If true, that would make Maclin and other receivers backup options if the Eagles aren’t able to land their primary target. The good news is that there are enough receivers who will definitely be on the market that the Eagles can find at least one to add to the lineup.

Help is on the way.

We just don’t know who yet.

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Words Matter

Posted: February 19th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 121 Comments »

Did you hear?

That would be great if the Eagles could deal Barwin. It would help the cap situation and it would be nice to get something in return, even if just a late round pick.

There is only one problem. This tweet is based on a piece written by Mark Eckel. It is pure speculation. Eckel said those teams “could have interest”. There is nothing wrong with what he did, but someone made the jump from that to the idea that there are teams definitely interested.

That came from a piece by Mike Jones of the Washington Post. The problem is that Jones was just speculating and named the Eagles as a team “expected” to be interested in Garcon. The Eagles have the worst (or close to it) set of WRs in the league. NFL writers and analysts know the Eagles need help. Expecting them to have interest in a free agent receiver is obvious, not insight. Jones implies he knows something by using the word “expected”, but doesn’t go all the way and say the Eagles will have interest. To me, this means he is simply speculating.

Every offseason I have to write a piece on how confusing this time of the year can be. You have to know who to trust and you have to read things very carefully to understand whether they are reporting something or just speculating.

The biggest issue has to do with sources. Some people get a lot of info from agents. The problem there is that agents have agendas. If they offer legit news, the item will still have a positive slant for their client. Other times the agent is lying and trying to generate rumors about their client. Good writers can usually tell what is legit and what isn’t, but there are times when even a veteran writer will go with a errant report.

Jay Glazer is the one guy I trust implicitly. He doesn’t report that much, but when he’s got a nugget, it is real. He isn’t a middle man for agents. Glazer has ties to a lot of players and coaches. He knows what is actually going on.

Most of the national guys are solid. Adam Schefter gets more scoops than anyone, but he will be wrong at times. Ian Rapoport, Albert Breer, John Clayton and Jason La Canfora are all worth following on Twitter and keeping up with. They all have some good connections. La Canfora seems to be the guy with the closest ties to the Eagles of that group. That doesn’t mean you have to trust everything he writes, but at least pay attention to what he puts out there.

All of the local guys that I have met in person are stand up guys who work hard to develop sources and get information. Les Bowen, Jeff McLane, Tim McManus, Zach Berman and even Jimmy Bama do their best to provide you with breaking news.

We’ll have all kinds of news and rumors coming out soon. The Scouting Combine is about 10 days away and then free agency starts on March 9th. Teams and agents will do a ton of talking in that time frame. Read every nugget and every report that you can, but make sure to be careful so you can figure out what is a rumor and what’s actually got some substance to it.

Rumors can be fun, but also very misleading.

The crazy thing about this time of the year is that no one knows what is going to happen, even the teams. The Eagles might desperately want to sign Alshon Jeffery, but there are 31 other teams that could be involved. And you never know what the player wants. I remember years ago when the Eagles really wanted CB Fred Thomas. He came to visit and then decided he wanted to stay in New Orleans. Thomas snuck out of town and headed home. Back in 2010 the Eagles were desperate for Julius Peppers. Before they could make a run at him, Lovie Smith was already in town talking to him. Peppers headed to the Windy City and the Eagles were forced to change their plans.

Stay tuned. The next month should be very interesting.

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Young Runners

Posted: February 18th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 32 Comments »

Ryan Mathews will become an ex-Eagle sometime in the near future. He was the Eagles leading rusher in 2016, but age, price, durability and fumbles are among the reasons the team is ready to move on. There is no clear replacement for Mathews on the roster.

That doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare.

Darren Sproles remains a terrific role player. He ran for 438 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry last year. I don’t think people understand what a good runner he is because there is so much focus on him as a receiver and returner. Sproles is at his best in space, but he’s better than people think at running between the tackles. He’s just not a guy you want to feed the ball to 20 times a game.

What about the young guys?

Wendell Smallwood played in 13 games and showed good potential. I loved his vision and patience. Those are key traits for a good RB. You must allow your blockers to do their job and you also need to be able to see where the hole is.

https://twitter.com/iNubyy/status/783340853309898752

Smallwood did have a costly fumble in the Dallas game. He also got hurt late in the year and missed the final 3 games. I don’t know if he has what it takes to be a starting RB in the league, but at the least I think he can be a good backup.

Byron Marshall was very impressive in the preseason, but that was mostly against 3rd stringers. I wasn’t sure if he was ready to play as a rookie. When Smallwood got hurt, Marshall was added to the roster and he took advantage of the situation.

Marshall showed vision and burst. He can make sharp cuts. He has outstanding lateral agility. He reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles. I don’t know that he’ll be that good (not many are), but Marshall can be a terrific role player in his own right.

Terrell Watson is a big, physical runner. He showed potential late in the year.

https://twitter.com/Eaglesfans9/status/815665030846935044

I still see him as more of a project / long shot. This spring and summer are going to be crucial for his NFL future.

Kenjon Barner is the mystery man. There are times when he shows really good ability. At the same time, he only has 61 carries in his 4-year career and is about to turn 28 in April. The coaches like him enough to keep him around, but never seem to want to play him on a regular basis. Barner is a restricted free agent this year. It will be interesting to see what the Eagles do. They will tender him low, if they want him back at all. It is possible they’ll just let him walk.

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