Howie Speaks

Posted: February 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 48 Comments »

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.

PE.com has some video of Howie speaking to reporters.

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.

* * * * *

Jeff McLane says the Eagles will focus on keeping Jeremy Maclin over Riley Cooper.

The Eagles have prioritized retaining Jeremy Maclin before Riley Cooper as the wide receivers near free agency, according to NFL sources.

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.

_


  • shah8

    The original Seattle OL is not a bad unit, especially run-wise. At least two plus players at LT and C. Decent players elsewheres. They were just really hurt most of the year, and never really gelled.

    As for RBs, I’m tired of the silly idea that RBs are fungible. No, they are not, and if you examine a whole hell of a lot of teams, they are really missing production at RBs. Cleveland after TR was traded. Miami. Indy with Donald and TR. Baltimore with Ray Rice being terrible. Etc. Lots of people will sell you on the idea that Bryce Brown is a disappointment, and that you couldn’t even get a seventh for him…They’d be wrong. Anyone can look at Bell and Lacy and see what RBs that can get the job done can really help the offense, and know it’s worth it to pay for someone reasonably proven.

    • shah8

      There is a reason why SF would spend a fourth on an injured RB. Same reason why Sea spent a second on Michael.

      • Media Mike

        To be fair, that RB SF drafted in the 4th round is a first round talent with a knee injury. That dude getting healthy would make Frank Gore quite easy to cut.

    • Neil

      I think Tommy was pointing out that RBs aren’t too useful without an offensive line. Turns out their offensive line played well enough that Lynch could put up the performances he did, but to Tommy analysing their decision to draft RBs at the time, it seemed like offensive line was going to make RB talent moot.

  • Mark Sitko

    “Cooper had a terrific season, but let’s not pretend that he did anything that would register as special.” – I completely agree that Maclin is better – but saying Cooper didn’t do ANYTHING special is a little bit of a cheap shot. I think he made several if not many special catches this year – the high ball, the ball thrown on the goal line way to the right of both defenders on him, the snow catch that got the comeback going – do you not see those catches as “registering” on the special meter? I am not saying he did enough to get a contract from us, but he did a lot more special things than Avant or any other WR besides Desean – all thought Avant did have a few special blocks I do not mean to ignore…

    • Mark Sitko

      I would also have to admit both receiving TEs were more “special” than Coop – Celek surprised the ehll out of me this year with some of his specialness…

    • GEAGLE

      Yeah it’s as if the Chip offense was the one that jumped up, battled for jump balls all year and came down with it….ridiculous statement…dude led the league in big plays and had damn near 10TD…nothing special? But hey, Chris carter only caught TDs…

      Be shocked if Coop isn’t an eagle

      • mksp

        Please name one “jump ball” that Coop battled for and came down with. I seriously can’t remember one. He made some really nice plays, but let’s not pretend he’s randy moss.

        And that dropped pass against the saints still pisses me off.

        • shah8

          The classic catch on an underthrown ball from Kevin Kolb against the Titans.

          He’s fine when he can track the ball like a centerfielder, like at Green Bay or home against Detroit.

          Remember that beautiful catch and throw from Cam Newton to Steve Smith in the playoffs? Newton throws a great pass, but did you see Steve Smith wait until the very last moment he could before looking back, spotting the ball, and catching it? Cooper has made some wild catches away from his body, even with Vick, by virtue of his long arms, but he has never been good at catching the ball when someone’s on him and the ball comes darting in and isn’t floating above him.

          • mksp

            Yeah I meant last year. GEAGLEs fairy tale narratives on some of these guys get away from him sometimes.

            I have no problem bringing Coop back, he proved he’s a serviceable 4th WR on a good team who can step in and play on the outside if there’s an injury to one of the top two guys.

            But he’s not explosive and he’s not really a natural ball catcher, though he does have good hands. And he sort of understands how to use his body to his advantage (his TD against the Bucs being a good example), though not really on true jump ball situations.

            Edit: For reference, I think DJax is a natural ball catcher, he has soft hands and never really fights the ball. He makes tough catches look easy (e.g. TD against the Vikings was an extremely difficult catch that he made look simple). My only issue with DJax is he body catches too often.

            In the draft, ODJ I think is by far the most natural ball catcher with the best hands. Would still love to pick him.

      • greenblood0118

        I would love to see Coop’s production with an entire off-season and 16 game regular season as the starting WR…but it seems unlikely to happen if Maclin is healthy.

    • TommyLawlor

      I don’t think you guys understand what “special” means in the football world. Cooper had a terrific season. He made some highlight plays. Everyone had to be impressed with what we saw.

      That’s not special, though. Special is when a player does something rare or unusual. There are plenty of WRs who could make the plays Cooper did this year.

      Compare that to DeSean and some of the things he does. He makes special plays, the kind of things that few, if any, could do.

      Saying Cooper isn’t special is not an insult. That’s reality. It doesn’t mean that he’s not a good player. Cooper isn’t just a product of the system. The guy flashed in previous years and had a huge Senior year at Florida. He is talented. He can make plays. But he simply isn’t a player you would describe as special.

      • mark2741

        We also seem to have forgotten the simple fact that Cooper was not only not special the first half of the season, he was essentially non-existent. And that can’t be pinned exclusively on the idea of Vick not being willing to throw to him.

      • A_T_G

        Riley’s agent redid his playlist, trying to ween him off the Kenny Chesney. Recently, Riley was heard singing in the locker room shower:
        “I want you to notice when I’m not around.
        You’re so fucking special,
        I wish I was special,

        But I’m a creep.
        I’m a weirdo.
        What the hell am I doing here?
        I don’t belong here…”

        Riley is reportedly shopping around for a new agent.

      • shah8

        Well, let’s put it like this, for all of the nice things that Cooper had done the last season, what anyone would want out of the WR position, like being able to get open without having to be schemed open a reasonable percentage of the time. Or making contested catches more like Boldin and not merely of the centerfielder or rebounder grabbing the ball.

        At the meat and potatoes aspect of the WR position, Cooper is mediocre to terrible.

      • Ben Hert

        I think a lot of the time “special” is only allocated to physical attributes, something you can measure and compare (speed, strength). I think Cooper has a “special” ability to locate deep balls and adjust accordingly, which is just as valuable as having the physical tools that Maclin does. Would I choose Maclin over Cooper? Absolutely, but I think a lot of times the mental aspects that make certain football players great gets overlooked. Nick Foles is also a prime example of this. And exhibit A of people not noticing was Vick being the favorite over Foles the entire offseason.

      • jay ray

        and now the great Tommy is going to tell the rest of us underlings what the subjective word “special” means in football-world. Man, did this blog go to his head or what?

  • Flyin

    Tommy,

    A couple of thoughts…

    1st. Cooper going to another team would shine the light on how big of a story his racial comments would persist in the media. I personally want him back as an Eagle.

    2nd. Regarding Dee Ford, I believe you said he was 243lbs. Does he have the build to bulk up to 260lbs?

    3rd. Have you gained anymore insight how the Eagles measure prospects and how that translates to the NFL? i.e. measuring knee size. The science of projection based on measurables?

    Thanks as always!

    • Media Mike

      It may have been Tommy, it may have been somebody else, that said relative to Trent Cole at the same point Ford doesn’t have the same size frame to look like bulking up would be an option.

    • mark2741

      Two ways to look at the Cooper decision, from his perspective:
      a. Stay here. No issues (that the public is aware of).
      or
      b. Get a fresh start somewhere else.

      If you’re a GM for another team and you decide you want to sign Cooper, you would probably bring in your coach and some key African-American leaders on your team and get their thoughts, get their buy-in on the idea. Cooper isn’t anywhere near good enough that a GM with any brains would just go and sign him without making sure the team will accept him.

      On a related note – I personally think Cooper will stay simply because I don’t buy the hype: he has #4 WR talent on most teams. He just happens to have clicked in this system, though it took a half a season+ before the click translated to catches.

    • TommyLawlor

      Ford is up to 252. Measured in today.

  • Weapon Y

    It does stink that just when Riley Cooper finally played up to his potential after all these years, we probably have to let him walk.

    • Media Mike

      In the grand scheme of things Cooper was a mid-round draft pick who is a WR4 on a good team. I’d enjoy seeing him back here on a deal that is team friendly, but if somebody wants to pay him in the $3 mil + /year range he can go and get paid elsewhere.

    • Neil

      He was always a decent backup and then saved our bacon for a playoffs year. I’m thankful for the contribution.

  • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

    maclin has always gave effort in blocking.

    • Mark Sitko

      I hope you are being sarcastic – Maclin is the closest thing to Pinkston since Pinkston left this team – being a physical blocker is not his thing

      • A Roy

        He doesn’t want to hit or be hit. That’s why he’s “self tacklin’ Maclin”

    • TommyLawlor

      Not in 2012. Trust me when I tell you his lack of effort frustrated his own teammates.

  • Daniel Norman Richwine

    Looking back on the 2013 draft, what was the most suprising pick? Had to be Barkley, right? That tells me the FO really is committed to BPA in the draft, even if it means drafting a position of strength. The philosophical commitment to competition fits hand in glove with this.
    I can’t imagine anyone predicting who or even what position will be targeted by the Eagles, could be a QB or RB In the first round if that’s the BPA.

    • Media Mike

      True enough! And I really enjoyed that pick because it started the end of the “Kelly needs a running QB” meme.

      • A_T_G

        Now, if only the echo would start to fade out…

    • Adam

      Was QB really a position of strength last year? Vick was old, broken, and on a 1 year rental, and Foles was coming off a shaky rookie season not to mention he was a “mobile QB”. Neither was a Chip guy.

  • Scott J

    The more I hear Howie talk, the more I’m convinced he’s not very good at lying. He always sounds like he doesn’t want to give away their plans, and is never sure what to say to skirt the issues.

    • Media Mike

      Ha ha. I agree with you. I’d almost rather hear him give nonsense answers so nobody gets a read on our plans. If he answered “clone Brian Dawkins” to the safety question, it would essentially give a non-answer and not let anybody gain insight into Howie’s thoughts.

      • anon

        Who would even care about our plans. I font even see what purpose deception would serve it’s not like he’s ever been obtuse. I don’t think other teams care what we do in the draft and whether we day were going to spend big in fa wouldn’t affect our negotiations with actual players, people lie all the time.

        • Neil

          Other teams care bigtime for the draft. If you tip your hand people will use that information to decide on whether to trade up or down for certain players.

          • Cliff

            Don’t teams scout other teams anyway? I assume the rest of the NFL has a general idea of what we want to try to do in FA and in the Draft. I don’t think HR has ever said anything that gives them any info they don’t already have.

          • Neil

            I’m sure there is some degree of trying to anticipate what another team thinks its needs will be by scouting them. HR has never really said anything to compromise the team, but what I’m thinking of is Bills ownership openly declaring they wanted a franchise QB. I don’t think such remarks hurt the Bills in that specific situation, but imagine someone else really wanted Manuel and was willing to spend a mid first to get him. They could have looked at the Bills QBs and the owner’s comments and decided they better trade up above the Bills.

            Nobody’s ever really sure what anyone else is thinking. Any revealing comment could always just be a smokescreen. So in that regard most of the time saying something revealing probably wouldn’t end up being a big deal. But what if the comments by the Bills made someone else skittish enough to pull the trigger on Manuel, leaving the Bills out in the rain? At the same time as it’s probably not a big deal, it would be devastating if your pointless (because who cares what the fans and media think or get to know) comment cost you a player you coveted.

          • Maggie

            Totally agree that nobody on any team cares about what media or fans say. Most fans don’t have a clue except for having favorites based on their own emotions, and many reporters will always say or write anything that helps sell advertising. Whether it is true or not is immaterial. And smart team management is always looking ahead 2 or 3 years to develop or grow their roster and roll over their cap space. Not just for this year.

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  • A_T_G

    Also remember, with players like Chung out there we are always one play away from having two or three holes in the roster.

    And, if he is going for a tackle along the Eagles sideline, possibly six or seven.

    • TommyLawlor

      You always find the holes in my theories,

  • Weapon Y

    Carroll got greedy on DL and I mean that in the most complimentary way. The Eagles should pick one or two positions to get greedy at. Chip could definitely get greedy at WR by resigning Maclin and Cooper, and then taking a rookie WR in the first four rounds of the draft.

  • Vick or Nick

    As much as we all want impact players at Safety, OLB, CBs and WRs, it won’t necessarily propel this team to Championship contender.

    The one thing I will say is that in the NFL, you are always in contention.

    Yes there are teams that are good year in and year out. And there are teams bad year in and year out. But if you are in the middle, you have a chance every year.

    Theres quite a few people out there that believe Eagles are a few players away from serious contention. I am also one of them.

    But I also realize that Eagles would have to hit on almost all of their FA/Draft acquisitions for that to come to fruition.

    The point: Eagles are still a major work in process. They overachieved in their first year under Chip.

    The goal: Keep adding as many talented players as possible regardless of position and above all make sure they fit into the locker room culture.

  • Anders

    dam sounds like Bama players are the walking wounded when they leave that program.
    Saban is grinding them to dust before they even get paid for real.

  • holeplug

    ruh roh

    Ian Rapoport ✔ @RapSheetFollow

    The #Bills still want to do a deal with S Jairus Byrd. If not, I’m told they plan to franchise tag him. Won’t let him get away for nothing