The Jump

Posted: May 30th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 60 Comments »

Whenever a new coach takes over a team and makes serious changes, it starts a new clock, so to speak. 2016 was Year One for Doug Pederson. There were new schemes on offense and defense. There was a new starting QB ( a rookie at that) and a fair amount of personnel changes.

Year One is about learning. And adjusting. You set a baseline for things.

2017 will be Year Two. And there should be a jump this year.

Go back to Andy Reid’s first years. The 1999 team went 5-11. The 2000 team made a huge jump, going 11-5 and looking worlds different. Donovan McNabb was no longer a helpless rookie and the team found ways to win close games instead of losing them.

I don’t anticipate a huge jump this year because the Eagles went 7-9 and were highly competitive last year. They were a couple of plays away from being a playoff team. Don’t get me wrong. There is plenty of room for improvement, but the 2016 team was better than the ’99 bunch. There isn’t as much room for improvement.

I wrote about the players and the jump for Not everyone will improve. Someone will always find a way to disappoint. As long as that someone isn’t Carson Wentz, the Eagles should be okay. I am certain he will be better. The question for me is how big a jump he makes. Obviously I think part of his improvement will be related to a better supporting cast (you know…receivers who can actually catch the ball).


Evan Silva of RotoWorld has Wentz as one of his fantasy football breakout candidates for this year.

Wentz started his rookie year fast against one of the NFL’s easiest Weeks 1-6 schedules (CLE, CHI, PIT, DET, WAS), only to fall flat the rest of the way. Experiencing recurring mechanical flaws amid pass-protection breakdowns with an atrocious pass-catcher corps, Wentz was Pro Football Focus’ lowest-graded passer from Week 7 on with a dismal 9:13 TD-to-INT ratio and 5.77 yards-per-attempt average over Philadelphia’s final 11 games.

Popular sentiment remains positive on Wentz entering year two, and the Eagles’ pass-catching upgrades further that optimism. Perimeter receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith join middle-field targets Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz to form a multi-dimensional passing game. Draft busts Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham, respectively, played 78% and 57% of the Eagles’ 2016 offensive snaps. Agholor may open the season as a game-day scratch, while DGB’s roster odds are long. After Wentz finished fifth in the NFL in pass attempts (607), an efficiency boost derived from improved weapons would go a long way toward Wentz realizing his breakout potential.

That comment about the schedule…3 of those teams finished with winning records. The first 2 games were easy. Things changed drastically for the rest of the season.

It really would have been interesting to see the Eagles if they had a different bye week and/or didn’t have the Lane Johnson suspension. If you are going to have bad luck, do it in Year One of the new regime. Save the good fortune for better teams down the road.


More OTAs today.

And Jim Schwartz will meet the media. Should be interesting to hear what he’s got to say.


60 Comments on “The Jump”

  1. 1 Sb2bowl said at 10:46 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    I know this may sound disappointing, but if we can get to 9-7 or 10-6 this year, I think we’ve done extremely well. I’m basing that off of getting a few more bounces this year, and not fumbling two potential wins away against NFC opponents.

    Our defense should continue to be a strength early as our offense takes time to gel and find its grove. My hope is that Wentz doesn’t try to do too much, too early- grow into the season and get acclimated with the new weapons.

    We’ve had a lot of skill position turnover on the outside, and our offense is going to look different this year- limiting mistakes will be vital. My hope is that by the end of the year, we are close to the division or in prime position for a Wild Card spot.

    As much as I hope to see us fight for a spot atop the NFC, my expectations are tempered at this time; as long as we continue to progress, I’ll be happy. Whatever that looks like

  2. 2 Bert's Bells said at 10:56 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    A two game swing would be excellent. 10-6 would be “Coach of the Year” stuff.

  3. 3 Sb2bowl said at 11:24 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    We had a 2 game swing last year- Dallas (1st game) and Detroit were both lost because we couldn’t close out the game due to fumbling issues. That takes us to 9-7 last year.

    I’m hopeful for 10-6, expecting 9-7, but could see another 7-9 year. Who knows?

  4. 4 Bert's Bells said at 11:47 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    This isn’t the article I was looking for (that one basically says teams usually improve or decline by less than two games per year) but it’s an interesting study on longer term win/loss records.

  5. 5 Gary Barnes said at 12:12 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Disagree – Roseman himself said 10-6 gets us nowhere in the long run. The goal should be win the division outright and compete strongly for the #1 seed and HFA. We should be building a dominant team that can compete over as long a stretch of years as possible. Incremental improvement is not really needed in the NFL; teams can make big leaps fast and win SB in years they did not think they had a chance. Every season of Wentz on a cheap contract is critical – once we have to pay him the task gets much tougher.

  6. 6 Bert's Bells said at 12:25 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    The possibility of a 3 game swing is just highly unlikely.

    That’s not my opinion based on roster talk and schedule -it’s just a statistical fact of the NFL.

    Coaches and front office will say “win the division” (which is a definitely possibility this year), “number 1 seed” (much less likely), “SuperBowl” (stranger things can happen), but the facts of the NFL show these turnarounds are rare.

    It’s more likely that the Eagles are building from season to season in a long term 3-5 year plan. Like Andy Reid’s start. That’s what Tommy’s written about here. The jump from 5-11 to 11-5 is highly unusual. From 7-9 to 9-7, reasonable. 10-6, achievable goal even if it’s a statistical outlier.

  7. 7 Gary Barnes said at 12:41 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    The problem with that strategy is by the time you get really good, you have to pay Wentz $100M+ which hurts your ability to keep the roster together and add more talent when necessary.

    Reid was successful because he made that big leap in year 2, had McNabb improving and had enough cap space to add important talent on the D, OL and RB. Eagles extended McNabb early to get more of a discount (2002), but they still had 3 seasons with him cheap.

    QB also get much more now than they did during McNabb’s era. I doubt the Eagles would play the tag game with Wentz or try to strong arm him, but it all depends on his performance. If he does not pan out, this debate would be moot. If he does, he most likely gets franchise money.

  8. 8 Buge Halls said at 12:59 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Reid was successful (lucky) becasue he inherited an incredible defense – which carried the team for years. Once it broke down, got old, left, his wins went away right with it.

  9. 9 Gary Barnes said at 1:21 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Agree Reid inherited some good talent on D. Disagree he simply rode it out and his success went south with it. Reid hired JJ to run that defense and brought in a good amount of talent for it as well: Burgess, Kearse, Lito, Brown, Lewis, Simon, Emmons, Kalu etc.

    They were among the NFC elite from 2000-2009. That does not happen on one group of defensive players drafted or acquired prior to 1999. Reid improved the D immensely and also built very good offenses and ST units.

    It was really the stalwart coaches Reid hired initially leaving and the lack of success in replacing them along with obviously McNabb and Dawk leaving that led to Reid’s demise.

  10. 10 Bert's Bells said at 1:00 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Sure, but wanting these things to happen and the practical realities of making them possible are two different things.

  11. 11 Gary Barnes said at 1:23 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    It is what Roseman himself said was their goal as an organization: to be a sustainably dominant team and not stay in the 10-6 trap.

    Seattle has done it most recently; hopefully Roseman & Co. can get the job done.

  12. 12 Bert's Bells said at 2:06 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Isn’t that every team’s goal?

    The question is -how do you get there?

    It could be in a single year jump, like ’99-’00. But even then “the plan” was to get there after a little more time. Lot’s of things went right for that to happen.

    The move from good (9-7, 10-6) to great (11+ wins), as Tommy says is the hardest one.

  13. 13 Gary Barnes said at 2:19 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Your original point was a 2 game swing would be excellent and COTY stuff.

    I disagreed since I believe like Roseman that 10-6 is not good enough and is not and should not be the goal of this organization.

    Roseman’s point was in reflection to the late Reid era when he thought there was belief, I assume by Reid and Banner, that getting to 10-6 and the playoffs was success. I disagree that is what Reid and Banner believed, but regardless Roseman threw down the marker. For me, it was a very good sign that Roseman understood the 10-6 trap and how/why teams fall short of greatness.

    Therefore, if we get to 10-6 this season and people are all celebratory, I’ll be happy we have a winning record, but will expect the Eagles to demand more and continue to build toward elite.

  14. 14 Bert's Bells said at 3:02 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    I stand by the statement that a 10-6 finish puts Doug on the shortlist for Coach of the Year.

    People who pick those awards don’t have the same level of expectations that fans have.

    10-6 this year (or 9-7), I think, would be great. It’s not the end goal -obviously -but would be a big step towards achieving that goal.

  15. 15 Gary Barnes said at 3:08 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Fair enough, I certainly respect your opinion and thank you for the debate. We’ll just have to agree to disagree in harmony! 🙂

  16. 16 Bert's Bells said at 3:27 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Harmony?!?!?!? Cram it up your cramhole, Cowboys fan!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. 17 P_P_K said at 3:38 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    LOL. I think I sat next to you on the 700 level.

  18. 18 Dominik said at 2:46 PM on June 1st, 2017:

    Very well put. Fits my expectations. 7-9 is the base. 6-10 would be a disappointment, no doubt. 8-8 would be ok. 9-7 a success. Everything more and I’m a really happy person.

  19. 19 izzylangfan said at 11:31 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    It’s all true. But all teams have guys that are expected to have a big jump in year two, guys that should be better because they are recovering from injury and guys that are finally in year two of the same system after years of coaching changes and incompetent coordinators. But, of course, all teams are not better. I’d be curious to know what are the real factors that you can identify in the off season that let you predict that a team will improve more than most teams in the upcoming season.

    That said I’m very optimistic this year. Let’s mess up some quarterbacks.

    P.S. I’m optimistic every year.

  20. 20 Gary Barnes said at 12:03 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Strong health, general luck (scheduling, zebra calls etc.), + turnover ratio, talent emergence and a weak division all factor in.

    Our last playoff year, 2013, was partially due to strong health for our roster.

  21. 21 Gary Barnes said at 11:51 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    The NFL is also different now than it was in 1999. One hopes the Eagles understand what wins now instead of what did back then or what they think should win.

    I would disagree we were “highly competitive” last year. We started 3-0 and proceeded to go 4-9 as other teams figured us out and our talent/execution stalled. Like you said, Tommy, it was a steep learning curve year for the QB, the HC, the DC and all the rest. That is understandable, Eagles had to change course and make the transition.

    However, we all know that each season is a completely separate experience; the Eagles will need to earn everything again. Just because we finished 7-9 last year does not mean a thing for this season.

    If the OL and DL do their jobs effectively, we should have a fighting chance and Wentz should improve. Games are won in the trenches and the Eagles, smartly IMO, invested in those two areas this off-season. If we can dominate the LOS on both sides of the ball, we may surprise many folks.

  22. 22 Ark87 said at 12:10 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    semantics on the word “competitive”

    We had a very rough 3 game stretch where we were not competitive against the Seahawks, Packers, and more concerning the Bengals. There was a time when the Wentz wagon was over-flowing and the only concern was that he hadn’t put together a game-winning drive. When we won by a mile, and when we lost it was a close game and we came up just short in the end. We lost all the close games. I think the only close game we won was in week 16 with the defense holding on for dear life. But it’s worth noting that we were competitive or dominant in all but 3 games

  23. 23 Gary Barnes said at 12:24 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    That is the nature of the NFL now; a few elite teams combined with the remaining vast majority of teams at a mediocre to decent level so each game is a dogfight.

    Those other mediocre to decent teams are the ones we have to beat consistently. If we do not, like last season, we are not “highly competitive” in my book. If we cannot beat them, we have very little chance against the elites. That was borne out as you described.

  24. 24 Ark87 said at 12:46 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    eh, we soundly beat the Falcons and Steelers, took the Cowboys into overtime. but again, semantics, what you call highly competitive, I call dominant. Only the Patriots consistently beat mediocre and decent teams.

    But all these are relative terms, I say we were competitive relative to the team we play against on Sunday. We were not competitive for a Superbowl, at all.

  25. 25 Gary Barnes said at 1:34 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Good points, maybe that is the missing context: “highly competitive” in or for what?

    In each game except the 3 you mentioned (SEA, GB, CIN)? Ok, I guess I can go there.

    For the division? Not IMO. For the playoffs? Not IMO.

    For the SB? As you said, not at all.

    Translation: we’ve got a lot of work to do to achieve what we want to achieve. This year continues the climb, but IMO we’ve got to make a lot more headway than we did last season toward the summit.

  26. 26 Sb2bowl said at 1:33 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    The Bengals always seem to have our number, just one of those teams that we historically don’t match up well- for whatever reason.

    Bengals lead the series, 9 wins vs 3 losses and the “I didn’t know the game could end in a tie” debacle.

    So, we have never won a game in Cincinnati. 0-4-1 dating back to 1972. Which means we are 3-5 in games in Philadelphia.

  27. 27 Ark87 said at 1:52 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    bad memories.

  28. 28 Buge Halls said at 12:54 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    You have to remember, that they were two late-game fumbles away form being 9-7. I know, could’a-should’a-would’a. But still all of those loses don’t tell the full tale.

  29. 29 Gary Barnes said at 1:37 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Yea, I just can’t think that way. I’m a Parcells “you are what your record says you are” guy. A loss is a loss whether by 1 or 20.

  30. 30 Howie Littlefinger said at 3:11 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    A loss by 1 is competitive a lose by 20 is not

    That said I agree u are what ur record says. Lets throw on that other classic cliche “Good teams find a way to win, bad teams find a way to lose”

  31. 31 Ryan Rambo said at 1:18 PM on May 30th, 2017:

  32. 32 Ryan Rambo said at 1:21 PM on May 30th, 2017:

  33. 33 mheil said at 1:47 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Reid had a huge advantage over the current team. Banner was years ahead of the competition in his handling of the salary cap. Other teams had to cut good players in their prime and the Eagles had their pick. Reid never put together a team without a significant weakness, be it WRs, LBs or returners, properly use the running game or learn to adjust on game day. He had McNabb in his prime, Banner, great assistant coaches [Johnson, Harbaugh etc], his pick of other teams stars and still couldn’t win the big game.

  34. 34 RobNE said at 1:57 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Reid never had a team where WR’s were a significant weakness? what now?

  35. 35 A_T_G said at 1:59 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    No, the opposite. He never had a team without a weakness. WR was one of the weakness.

  36. 36 Howie Littlefinger said at 3:06 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    He was also known for coveting the LB position and PR/FR were also a strength with the likes of Reno Mahe and THE Greg Lewis

  37. 37 Bert's Bells said at 3:28 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    You mean desiring the LBs on other teams?

  38. 38 Howie Littlefinger said at 5:00 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Matt Mcoy Chris Gocong and Ernie Sims would beg differ.

    Reid was a great coach in this city but u always knew how he would lose. Not running when he should, No pre snap motion to help weak WR beat press coverage, Poor time management. That predictable shovel pass out of 2 back sets in redzone

  39. 39 KillaKadafi said at 7:50 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Gocong in the same group as McCoy and Sims? no way!

  40. 40 wee2424 said at 10:59 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Or when you could tell from very early on in the game that Mcnabb was going to be off.

  41. 41 Gary Barnes said at 2:39 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Great point about Banner being innovative and ahead of the competition with the cap.

    The Reid critique is too hash and simplistic IMO. Reid was the one who hired those great coaches like JJ and Harbaugh. He was the one who drafted and developed McNabb.

    He won a lot of “big games”, no team goes to 5 NFCCG and 1 SB without winning big games. Plenty of great coaches never won a SB.

    I think it is impossible to build a NFL roster without 1-2 weaknesses. Reid had multiple flaws in drafting, development etc., but to say he never learned to adjust on game day or properly use the run game is over the top IMO. In 2003 alone, our run game was lethal and guys like Westbrook and McCoy showed that Reid valued the position. The game day capabilities were not Reid’s strength, but he certainly won games adjusting at halftime or during the game effectively.

  42. 42 mheil said at 3:06 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    I am an old guy so my memory isn’t as good as it used to be, but I remember 2003, or at least I think I do. It was the year I reached the opinion that Reid would never win the SB. He had Runyan at Rt and Williams at RG, two great run blockers. He had Staley, Buck and Westbrook at RB, yet in the playoffs against Carolina, he continue to feed Pinkston and Thrash, who couldn’t get off the line of scrimmage. He called plays like TO was already on the team, even though he didn’t arrive until 2004. It was the most frustrating game of Reid’s tenure. I think there was an argument on the sideline with Staley and Runyan asking for more running plays. I checked the game book. 41 called passes, including 5 sacks, averaging less than 4 yards a play. Reid won a lot of games when the NFCE, other than the Eagles, was terrible. He won with better personal against inferior coaches and made a lot of games close which should have been easy wins. Against good coaches, with equal or better personal, he lost far more then he won. I loved Reid when he first arrived. In 2003, I started posting on the EMB that he should be fired. In retrospect, I believe that I was correct.

  43. 43 Gary Barnes said at 3:30 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    You seem to have your mind pretty set on Reid and that 2003 NFCCG, but here are some facts from that game to consider:

    1. We did run the ball and effectively too. 26 times for 135 yards. That is 5+ yard per clip. The problem is we never led and were behind 14-3 by the end of the 3rd quarter.

    2. Westbrook did not play in the game: he was injured at the end of the season. Westbrook was the most dynamic of our RB – our home run hitter via both the run and pass.

    3. We turned the ball over 4 times – mostly due to tough man to man coverage on our WR, poor decisions by McNabb and the refs letting them interfere (this is my opinion). The INT caused by Manning’s hit on Pinkston in particular was illegal IMO.

    4. McNabb was sacked 5 times for 36 yards lost. Not acceptable in this type of game.

    5. The defense did not turn the ball over and had 0 sacks vs CAR. Not good enough by far. I also remember Dawk falling down in the end zone as their WR caught the 1st TD and several Eagle defenders bouncing off Foster on the 2nd TD.

    6. McNabb got speared illegally IMO by a CAR LB and had to sit out for part of the 4th quarter.

  44. 44 mheil said at 3:55 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    I remember that the refs allowed the Carolina CBs to manhandle our WRs, but when it became apparent that was the way they were calling the game and our WRs couldn’t get open, Reid continued to call their number. I don’t remember if Williams gave up any of those sacks, but he was a much better run blocker than pass blocker in 2003. I had forgotten Westbrook missed the game. Dawkins is another story, great player without question, but unlike the other great Ss of his era, like Harrison, Reid, Polamalu, he didn’t make the big play [interception, forced fumble] in the biggest games.

  45. 45 KillaKadafi said at 7:49 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    I don’t know about the comment regarding dawkins.
    I remember him coming up big against Atlanta in the 2004 NFCCG – Ask Alge. The 44-6 game against Dallas also comes to mind, both were BIG games.

  46. 46 sonofdman said at 4:37 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    If I remember correctly, McNabb got illegally speared and injured on the first possession of the game and played the rest of the game (until he came out in the 4th quarter) with a separated rib cartilage or a broken rib or something that affected his performance. That hit was ridiculously later.

  47. 47 Sb2bowl said at 4:40 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Was laying on the ground near the end of the play when a linemen from the Panthers landed on his chest. Probably should have left the game, but tried his best to play through it.

  48. 48 Sb2bowl said at 4:40 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Trotter hit Westbrook which tore his triceps, thus ending his season.

    Trotter was with Washington at the time- last game of the year if I remember correctly.

  49. 49 Insomniac said at 10:52 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Yea well it was Reid’s fault for not trying to resign him so it’s actually still his fault – Reid haters

  50. 50 Sb2bowl said at 9:33 AM on May 31st, 2017:

    That would fall on Banner, and how the team wanted to allocate resources. They made a mistake with Trotter, but Washington paid him a lot of money to go there and play.

  51. 51 Rob Jarratt said at 3:31 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    I think it was a little premature in 2003 to call for his firing, mheil, but not so after the SB loss. However, as we know in sports, you don’t go to a championship game, lose, and then get fired very often. For us Eagles fans so starved for a SB win, the frustration of watching time slip away in the molasses march to a TD with a 2-TD deficit, my admiration for Coach Reid came to an abrupt end. It was his in-game mismanagement primarily that set me off. It’s interesting to read that KC fans share our frustration. PLayoff losses to the Steelers and, especially, the Colts have soured many Chiefs’ fans on Reid.

  52. 52 mheil said at 4:01 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    The time wasted on the last drive in the SB was difficult to swallow. Reid liked to call plays with different personal packages and kept running players in and out of the game. Reid thought you win games with great plays. OTOH, Parcels believed in giving the ball to his stars at the key moments.

  53. 53 Ryan Rambo said at 7:33 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Here u go sir!

  54. 54 daveH said at 10:12 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Achtung. … nfl got to it first.. but thanks

  55. 55 Tumtum said at 11:12 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    I just remember being drunk and hating John Fox’s face.

  56. 56 CrackSammich said at 1:22 PM on May 31st, 2017:

    Calling it now: Bill Bellichick will be fired sometime in the next 20 years. You heard it here first, folks.

  57. 57 unhinged said at 4:39 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    I am all for giving Big Red his due. He had accountability, and pretty consistent play from his units. Two big buts…his defense was responsible for most of his team’s success, and the division at the time was mediocre at best. A dynamic offense with that defense would’ve had more to show than 5 division wins, one conference win and one SB loss. His offenses were serviceable. I share your perspective that he recognized coaching talent. Jim Johnson was a master hire, and that scout that he eventually made asst HC is now HC in Buffalo. As to DMAC, yes AR drafted him, but then insisted upon making him a WC QB which No.5 was never going to be. If (here comes 20/20 hindsight) he made defenses honor the run game, week after week, those 2nd and 3rd tier WR’s would have had more space, and a mobile QB with a credible running threat would have been playing to McNabb’s strength. But Big Red did break a long cycle of big personalities with meager results, and for that he deserves much credit.

  58. 58 Tumtum said at 11:08 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    If McNabb didn’t fall off the face of the planet at 30 (probably the drinking) he was well on his way for making a strong case toward Canton. Sure he was always probably going to end up on the outside looking in, but he was by anyone’s estimation an elite QB.

    The second biggest threat to McNabb that AR’s teams ever had was Brian Westbrook. Sure he didn’t sit in the iformation and run the ball every play, but he played to his player’s strengths. He used power running behind Duce and Buck. He smashed the ball with Weaver for a brief period. He always had a dynamic offense, that was far better than the league average. He wasn’t the Colts, but who is?

    Fair to critique his selection of talent and total lack of concern with certain positions, but using his players in less than optimal ways was not a flaw of his.

  59. 59 mheil said at 7:06 AM on May 31st, 2017:

    to get to Canton, a QB has to win a SB or pass for 40,000 yds. mcNabb did neither, probably for the reason you stated.

  60. 60 Tumtum said at 6:07 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    The WR situation during the first few years was probably at least as bad as CB is now. Just easier to hide that group with a running QB, solid TE and good run game.