One of the popular themes this offseason is that the Eagles finally got back to being the Eagles. Last year they went and signed a bunch of free agents while ignoring their own players. This year the team looked inward and is better off for it.
This is way too simplistic of an evaluation. We’ve seen teams go out and try to buy titles. They pay mega-deals to the Albert Haynesworth’s of the world and then end up with a team of mercenaries that have no chemistry and play only for a paycheck. This is the Skins of the 2000′s for sure.
The Eagles did something very different. They knew 2011 would be a unique situation. There had been no true free agency in 2010 because of the CBA situation. That meant the market would be flooded in 2011. The Eagles planned ahead and made sure to have plenty of cap room. The goal wasn’t to run out and overpay for stars. It was to go out and bargain hunt.
The Eagles landed Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, and Jason Babin at deals that were less than expected. Does anyone really think the Eagles would be better off without those guys? Were any of those 3 the reason we went 8-8 last year? Hell no, to both questions.
The Eagles added veteran backups and role players on the cheap in Evan Mathis, Ryan Harris, Ronnie Brown, Derek Landri, Anthony Hargrove, Jarrad Page, Johnnie Lee Higgins, and Donald Lee. Mathis turned out to be a home run. Ditto for Landri. Hargrove could have been a good player, but got caught up in the numbers game. Brown started off well, but then things turned sideways for him.
The Eagles added a pair of other veterans who had a bit more fanfare. Vince Young was signed to be the backup QB. Steve Smith was signed as WR insurance.
So which players didn’t work out? Page was awful. The Eagles didn’t anticipate him starting, but he was awful no matter how you slice it. Brown was disappointing, but part of that is on the coaching staff for simply not using him enough. You can’t sign a productive veteran and expect him to function well with 2 carries a game. Dumb coaching.
VY…the Eagles signed him thinking that he could win games if Vick missed starts. Vince isn’t pretty, but he’s won 60 percent of his starts so he usually gets the job done. The problem is that he did that in a run-heavy offense and not the Eagles passing attack.
Smith is the big mystery. I don’t know who pushed for him, Andy Reid or Howie Roseman. Whoever did that made a bizarre decision. I get that Jeremy Maclin was a huge question mark at the time. Here’s what I don’t get. You choose someone that is coming off ACL surgery to be the insurance policy? Also, he is at his best in the slot. Mac is an outside receiver. How is he insurance?
Signing Steve Smith was a flat out mistake. At the time I was guessing this meant we would do more 4-WR sets and would want 2 slot guys, one on each side. Using Smith like that would have made sense. Didn’t happen. We paid him $2M to sit and watch. When he did play, he was even worse than when sitting on the bench. No need to re-hash the horror.
If the Eagles got burned by FA, it was Brown, VY, and Smith. Even so, would I say avoid them if it meant the Eagles didn’t get Mathis and Landri as well? Where would we have been without them in 2011?
The Eagles got far more out of FA than they lost. And the guys who did succeed are happy to be here and high character guys that should be leaders going forward.
Last year’s problems were Vick’s erratic play and turnovers, bad LB play (no FAs), erratic DB play (complex issue – some FAs), and critical mistakes by every single part of the team, often in critical situations. Did FA make Juqua Parker jump offside in Buffalo? Did it make Alex Henery miss 2 short FGs vs SF? Did it make Maclin drop a pass vs ATL and fumble vs SF? Did it make Reid go for it on 4th/1 vs the Giants? Did it cause Kurt Coleman to miss the tackle vs ARZ in the RZ? And so on.
Bringing in players from the outside did piss off 2 guys, Asante Samuel and DeSean Jackson. The irony with Samuel is that his arrival pissed off Sheldon Brown. What goes around, comes around I guess. The Eagles erred (greatly) in not dealing him last summer. They got greedy and the 3-CB experiment failed.
As for DeSean, I’m sure he was very angry to see Steve Smith get that money when he wasn’t getting paid. I do sympathize with DeSean, but at the time I was hearing that his contract demands were a bit high. The Eagles didn’t screw up in bringing in a veteran WR. They screwed up in who they chose. The situation might have been a bit easier for DeSean to deal with if the player was part of the solution (to winning) instead of a more expensive part of the problem (with losing).
It was good to see the Eagles pay current players this year, but let’s not use revisionist history and act like a bunch of players needed/deserved deals last year. Todd Herremans got a new deal in part (probably largely) to his move to RT. OTs get paid more than OGs. He deserved a raise. Evan Mathis got his deal because we brought him in last summer. Trent Cole has deserved a new deal for a couple of years. He has talked to the Eagles about this, but kept it behind closed doors and never let it affect his play.
The Eagles didn’t lose a bunch of key FAs last year. David Akers was let go, but only after the team drafted Alex Henery. If we didn’t make that move, Akers would have been kept around, even if just on a short deal. Who did we lose? Stewart Bradley, Jerome Harrison, Dimitri Patterson, Ernie Sims, Eldra Buckley. Anyone dying to get those guys back?
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The Eagles did sign DT Fletcher Cox yesterday. This is an addition we can all agree is kinda decent. I’m really excited to see him in action. He’ll have some ups and downs, but Fletch has big time potential.
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The Eagles are talking to veteran Safety OJ Atogwe. There are some reports that the team has signed him, but Adam Caplan says it hasn’t happened yet. Adam is tied into agents like no other so if he says it, I believe him.
Atogwe would come here to compete for a job, but would not take Kurt Coleman’s place atop the depth chart. The Eagles like Kurt.
This could be another sign that the team is disappointed in the progress of Jaiquawn Jarrett. Or this could just be the Eagles seeing a chance to add a veteran at a cheap price. Can’t hurt for depth.
Atogwe was a good player just a couple of years ago, but age has caught up with him. He was on the bench late last year in WAS. Maybe Atogwe comes in and lights it up. Problem is, we can’t even trust that. Jarrad Page was a preseason all star last year and then was a disaster when the real games started.
We’ll see what happens. All of this is meaningless until he actually signs with the Eagles. Or should I say if he actually signs with the Eagles.