Howie Roseman is in Indianapolis for the Scouting Combine. He spoke to the general media on Thursday and then spoke to the Philly media in a casual Q&A. Howie didn’t drop any bombshells, but that was to be expected. He is always careful with what he says. That can make for some boring press conferences, but it is the smart way to deal with the media. Being honest and/or outspoken can be entertaining for fans, but it doesn’t help the team at all.
The main PC was uneventful. At one point Howie was talking about finding the right players and made reference to the Eagles as a team that runs the ball. I have to say, that comment made me smile. It really does feel good to think of the Eagles as a running team. The run game is key to the scouting process now. The wide receivers must be good blockers. The TEs must be willing blockers with solid potential. The O-linemen must be good run blockers. And you need 2 to 3 good RBs on the roster.
Howie talked a lot about competition. I know some people think this is a load of bunk. Others don’t get all the talk of competition. Does it really mean anything?
I think it does mean something. Let’s take Seattle for example. In 2012 they had a good veteran rusher in DE Chris Clemons (11 sacks). They had a talented rookie rusher in Bruce Irvin (8 sacks). Rookie Greg Scruggs had a couple of sacks. So what did the team do this past offseason? They drafted DTs and then signed Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and O’Brien Schofield as free agents. Instead of signing one guy or maybe two, they brought in three pass rushers. They wanted competition on the DL.
Check out what they did at RB. The team had an elite runner in Marshawn Lynch. They had a young back named Robert Turbin that they spend a 2012 4th round pick on. When the 2013 draft rolled around the Seahawks spend their first pick (2nd rounder) on RB Christine Michael. Then in the 6th round they added Spencer Ware. That is a very gifted set of RBs.
Seattle’s weak spot has been the OL in recent years. They didn’t spend any 2012 picks on blockers and didn’t take one in 2013 until the 7th round. You can find RBs anywhere, but Seattle spent a 4th, 2nd and 6th rounder on them over 2 year while virtually ignoring the O-line. To be fair, Seattle did spend a late pick in 2012 on DL J.R. Sweezy and then converted him to OG. This past April they used a 7th rounder on OL Ryan Seymour.
I would have ripped the Seahawks for adding RBs and virtually ignoring the O-line, but that worked for them. They obviously didn’t like the blockers in the last couple of draft classes as much as they liked other players. Instead of worrying about need, they focused on adding players they liked. You can argue about the merits of this philosophy, but it certainly worked for them. And Pete Carroll preaches competition more than any other coach in the NFL.
I sometimes think people misunderstand the word “competition”. It isn’t an insult to the players currently on the roster. You aren’t necessarily saying “we must have competition here to get better”. You’re really talking about stocking up on talent and letting the players battle for snaps. If the Broncos came to you and said for a 7th round pick you can have S Rahim Moore, S Duke Ihenacho or TE Julius Thomas, the decision would take less than one second and would be Thomas. The Eagles need Safety help, not another TE. But Thomas is too talented to pass up. You grab him.
If the talent level is close, you always go for need, but things don’t always work that way. And sometimes competition is a good thing because it can push the players already on your roster. The goal is to find the best players possible, whether through free agency, the draft or on your own roster.
The interesting thing here is his comment about spending resources. Too often we assume that if you spend a high pick or give out a big contract, a problem gets solved. It doesn’t work like that. Throwing resources at a problem doesn’t guarantee anything. You need answers…the right answers.
If there is a Safety worth handing a big contract to, do it. If there is a Safety worth taking at 22, do it. But don’t force those moves just to say “We tried to solve the problem in a tangible way.” Sure, that will appease some fans and media, but you need to make sure to use those resources wisely. Remember that we’re always one play away from having a big hole at any spot on the roster.
Howie did say that the Eagles would be willing to make a big move in free agency if the circumstances were right. They won’t overpay for the heck of it, but if the right guy hits the market and the price makes sense, the Eagles will pull the trigger. Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward might seem like great targets, but we don’t know what the Eagles think of them. I’m still not convinced Ward will hit the market. He feels like a serious franchise tag candidate. The Eagles would prefer a slow and steady approach, but Howie did mention that the team isn’t afraid to take risks. In a few weeks, we’ll find out if this is the right set of circumstances for taking a risk.
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If all goes to plan, the Eagles will sign Maclin to a one-year contract and attempt to acquire another starting-caliber receiver via free agency. Cooper remains on the radar, and the Eagles could circle back if they don’t land another target, but securing Maclin will take precedence.
This does make sense. Maclin is the more talented player. Cooper had a terrific season, but let’s not pretend that he did anything that would register as special. I’d love to have him back for the sake of continuity, but you can’t overpay him based on a season. Maclin is also a year younger, believe it or not.
As much fun as it was to have Coop break out in 2013, the Eagles got lucky that DeSean Jackson stayed healthy. Coop would not have been able to be the #1 WR. He isn’t a guy that will beat star corners, let alone double coverage. Mac can be “they guy” if needed. He can thrive in Chip Kelly’s offense if his knee checks out and if he will block for Shady and the runners. I’m guessing sitting out 2013 will have Mac motivated to get back on track.