A few readers made the point to me that in yesterday’s post on the roster, I relied too much on “maybes”. That’s a fair criticism, but it does need some context.
Let’s say the Eagles went out and signed Darrelle Revis and DeMarcus Ware. Guess what? They would have been maybes as well. All roster moves involve projection. All of them. Rookies, free agents, trades. Adding stars, ascending players, fading players, or just solid veterans. All moves involve projection.
After the 2011 free agency period, how many people thought Evan Mathis was the prize signing and not Nnamdi?
How many people thought Juqua Parker would have more sacks as an Eagle than the man who suggest the Eagles sign him, Jevon Kearse?
You never know about injuries. You never know about how a player will fit in with the new team. How much will the guy and his family like the new cit? Will the Philly media affect him? And so on. There are a ton of X-factors.
I try to make realistic projections. Notice that I’ve never said getting Jeremy Maclin back cancels out the loss of DeSean Jackson. I’ve always talked about how Maclin plus the rookies plus Darren Sproles will cancel Jackson and Jason Avant out. The Eagles need to replace 121 catches and 11 TDs. I believe the new group will surpass those numbers.
Maclin is coming off a torn ACL, but he’s done that before. He tore his ACL in 2006. Maclin then had one of the greatest Freshman seasons in NCAA history in 2007. He had 9 TD catches. He added 4 TD runs, 2 KOR TDs and 1 PR TD. Not bad for a gimp. Maclin didn’t suffer another major injury until last summer. He’s missed time here and there, but is mostly durable. The Eagles have been following his rehab progress closely. The fact they tried to sign him to a 5-year deal back in March leads me to believe they felt good about his health.
That doesn’t mean he will be fine. I’m comfortable with projecting him to start and catch 60 passes. Will he be at top ability? Will he miss a game or 2? We have to wait and see. Optimism is good, but we must be realistic as well.
Some readers point out that you can’t count on rookie receivers. That is somewhat true, but rookie receivers are now making significant contributions on a regular basis. This is another situation where you need to look to specifics. The Eagles added a pair of players with NFL size and speed. They added players who faced elite competition in college. Both went to the Senior Bowl and had very good showings. Both played in offenses that are very similar to what the Eagles run so the adjustment should be easier for them. And both players had successful careers. There are no 1-year wonders here.
Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff feel like players you can project to play right away. They are great fits for the Eagles. That doesn’t mean they will be great players, but simply that they match what the Eagles want and that should help them to fit in more quickly than if they went elsewhere.
Is it possible that Maclin will get hurt (ACL or otherwise) and that Matthews and Huff will both struggle as rookies? Sure. And if that happens, the passing game will be in serious trouble. I don’t think that kind of doomsday scenario is likely.
The passing game won’t be the same as 2013 since you lose such a dynamic vertical presence. That doesn’t mean the passing game will be worse, though. We have to wait and see on that. The Eagles added players that can thrive in Kelly’s offense. They just no longer have anyone that can run by any DB in the league. Jackson is a freak in that sense.
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Speaking of Jackson, many people love to point to his great numbers from 2013.
But why did he have such a great season? Hmm…..
Nick Foles had his best year and posted freakishly good numbers.
Riley Cooper had his best year and shocked everyone by being among league leaders in yards per catch (17.8).
LeSean McCoy had his best season and led the league in rushing.
Zach Ertz had a terrific rookie season, going 36-469-4. If you combine LJ Smith and Brent Celek’s rookie seasons, you get 43-499-2.
Brent Celek saw his number of catches drop, but his yards per catch soar. He averaged 15.7 yards per reception, an amazing total for a TE. He had 6 TD catches (2nd best total of his career) and would have had 7 if he didn’t slide at the 10-yard line in the Lions game.
I think you have to give Chip Kelly, his offensive system and his style of play some real credit here. A lot of different players thrived. It is going to be very interesting to see if DeSean can replicate his numbers in a different system and to compare them to those of Maclin, Matthews and Huff. Not every player who gets on the field for Kelly is going to light it up (see Bryce Brown for example), but clearly his ideas work and skill players can rack up good numbers.
Defenses will adjust this year. But so will Kelly. It is really going to be interesting to see what he does.
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The Eagles re-signed WR Arrelious Benn. He’s now back on pace to make the Hall of Fame. Easily. Joking aside, he is capable of winning a roster spot and contributing – if healthy – so I’m happy he is back.
The Eagles cut rookie CB John Fulton and added BB Davon Morgan. Fulton didn’t play much at Bama so there isn’t a ton to say about him. Morgan got a tryout over the weekend and impressed the coaches. Here is some bio information from PE.com.
Morgan spent the 2011 preseason in New York Jets camp and was a second-team All-ACC safety at Virginia Tech after picking off five passes and finishing second on the team in tackles. Morgan played with the Richmond Raiders of the Professional Indoor Football League last year and finished third in the league in pass breakups and fourth in tackles. The scouting report on Morgan from 2011 stated that the former Hokie was a “solid run-defending safety who is best playing downhill. Fast up the field, aggressively attacks ball carriers, and throws his shoulder pads into the action. Displays skill in zone coverage and is effective picking up assignments facing the action.”
He was a good “in the box” Safety for the Hokies. Good tackler.
Interesting that the Eagles have former Hokies in Roc Carmichael and Davon Morgan, and that they supposedly loved CB Kyle Fuller, another Hokie. Something about those Va Tech DBs…