All 53 Matter

Posted: June 19th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 36 Comments »

The Eagles won a lot of games under Andy Reid because of Donovan McNabb, Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook and other star players. Don’t overlook the impact of key role players. Guys like Ike Reese, Brian Mitchell, Joselio Hanson, Paul Grasmanis and Mike Bartrum all did their part to win games. Sometimes that was on offense or defense. A lot of it came on STs.

We spent a lot of time the past few weeks discussing Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Derek Barnett and other key players. The Eagles are going to need all 53 guys on the roster to find a way to contribute. With that in mind, I wrote about some role players on the rise for PE.com.

Being a role player in the NFL is tough. These guys were stars in college and mega-stars in high school. It isn’t easy to adapt to coming off the bench and being expected to do the dirty work. Not all players are wired for that. Talent, effort and production don’t always go hand in hand.

That could easily be the mantra of role players.

Jason Avant wasn’t nearly as talented as DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin, but he caught every pass thrown his way, blocked his butt off and did everything he could to help the team win.

Koy Detmer went from star QB in college to being the best holder in the NFL. Detmer embraced his job and worked at his craft. He helped David Akers become the best kicker in Eagles history. And he never did this.

Always fun to look back at that clip.

The Eagles have some good role players already. They have a few spots where guys need to step up. Who will be the #3 DT? Beau Allen will likely have that role by October, but he’s hurt and won’t be back before mid-September. Destiny Vaeao was the #4 DT last year and could win the job. Rookie Elijah Qualls has the skill set to win the job. Gabe Wright was signed this spring to eat up reps due to injuries at DT. Wright played a lot and might have impressed the coaches enough to actually battle for a roster spot.

There is going to be serious competition to win an O-line roster spot. Chance Warmack was a starter for the Titans, but has to embrace life as a backup in Philly. In his mind, he’s battling for a starting job. Reality says he should focus more on a roster spot. That will be tough enough. Josh Andrews is the last remaining Eagle to have played for Dick Vermeil. Wait, he didn’t? I guess it just seems that way. Andrews has quietly made the roster for several years. He is facing more competition than ever. This summer will be the ultimate test for him. Even a guy like Matt Tobin, who has started at multiple positions, isn’t guaranteed a job.

Byron Marshall showed NFL ability last year. His reward? Seeing the Eagles load up on runners and receivers. Marshall is probably headed back to the practice squad this year, but injuries could open the door for him to get back on the field for a game or two. He needs to be ready if called upon.

The Eagles will keep at least five WRs. That should be Jeffery, Smith, Matthews, Agholor and rookie Mack Hollins. Hollins could be a terrific role player, with his WR talent and STs ability. The Eagles could keep a sixth receiver. Shelton Gibson, Greg Ward, Bryce Treggs and DGB would be battling for that job. DGB had a poor spring and looks headed out. He’ll have to play lights out this summer to win a job.

Gibson was disappointing this spring, but he’s a rookie so the decision on cutting him will be trickier. The Eagles like his long term potential. Do you risk cutting that guy and letting other teams claim him? Treggs did some good things at the recent practices and is at least showing he won’t go down without a fight. That’s what you want to see. If he plays at a high level in August, maybe the Eagles find a way to keep him. Ward is the real long shot here. I mention him because it wouldn’t shock me for Ward to play well and show enough potential that the Eagles decide to keep him. Only 46 players are active on gameday. You can keep one or two developmental guys on your roster. Dillon Gordon got a spot like that last year. Most likely, Ward will be hoping for a practice squad invite.

Finally, there is LB. The top three guys are set. Najee Goode will be the primary backup. After that, things are open. Kamu Grugier-Hill can be a good STer. He needs to show LB talent as well. Rookie Nate Gerry is making the move from S to LB. He showed talent this spring, but Training Camp will be a real test for him. Joe Walker missed his rookie year due to a torn ACL. He could be the backup MLB, but has to show he’s healthy and ready to play. Don Cherry is a limited athlete, but the Eagles like him. Can he push for a roster spot this year?

Lots of questions. The Eagles will start getting some answers in about 6 weeks.

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  • Media Mike

    Keeping the right 53 is vitally important. Love this article’s mentions of some of the really important bottom the roster guys.

    • Rellihcs

      Like Barner. And Watkins.

      • Media Mike

        Those would be the wrong guys.

  • Benny6968

    Some great insight here Tommy. I like how you brought to our attention the fringe players who have a shot at making this team and how close they are in terms of talent.
    I think it also highlights as to the quality of our depth compared to last season, where we did not have nearly as much talent on the roster.
    I have faith in our coaching staff to make the correct decision.

    • Media Mike

      Yeah, depth is really important. I’d love to get to a point where “next man up” actually had some value to it here. But that certainly can’t happen in a day.

  • Tumtum

    I have really liked our depth the last few years. The one thing that you can say for Chip and Howie from year one is that they turned over the bottom of the roster. The bottom of the roster seemed to be a problem every year for a while, and end up costing us. Now a days they may not all be upcoming stars but I am real happy with that group.

    • Media Mike

      I think it is at a better point now, especially along the lines, than it has been for a long time.

  • Insomniac
    • Media Mike

      Poor Iverson. If his name was Westbrook or Runyan, nobody would have every given him grief over not practicing.

      • Sb2bowl

        But both of those guys would never mention a line like that, so its a moot point.

        • Media Mike

          That’s certainly true, but my point is that Iverson took endless grief for not practicing. Prior to that rant. Runyan and Westbrook never practiced either. All 3 didn’t practice due to nagging injuries, but all 3 laid it on the line each and every game. Only Iverson took grief over it.

          • Sb2bowl

            Runyan was afraid to miss practice and games; he knew that injuries were just another way for someone to steal your job. Near the end, they managed his wear and tear but during the early, prime, and late prime of his career- that dude was on the field.

            Westbrook was our offense for a number of years. And as you state, injuries were a concern with him- so they safe guarded his contributions during the week leading up to the game.

            Iverson gets grief for this because of his disdain for the work; the preparation in the “little things” which often take someone with amazing physical talent to even greater heights because of determination of preparation. That’s why this still gets played almost 20 years later.

            Think of Vick. It wasn’t a secret that he hated doing the things which would have made him the best NFL QB of all time. Wasn’t something that was cultivated in him at an early age, and it has dogged him for his entire career.

            Compare that with Peyton Manning. I’d put Manning’s mental aptitude up there with Vick’s prime physical skills any day. But Manning knew how to do the little things- he knew how to work, develop his game, and receive instruction. Vick didn’t; and even in a recent interview admitted to dropping the ball during his time with the Jets and Steelers. He still hadn’t learned his lesson.

            Westy and Runyan would have been on the field if they were allowed; most great players are- even Peters in this modern day example. Iverson, for all of his talent and God granted gifts- didn’t enjoy the off-day work. That’s what separates the greats from the all time greats.

  • Gary Barnes

    I’m still concerned about the depth at LB, RB and CB, but your point, Tommy, that it takes all 53 guys is dead on the mark.

    The NFL structure and rules also make finding and keeping good depth tough, hopefully at some point there will be a roster expansion or some type of farm teams linked to a minor league system.

    The NFL badly needs a minor league system anyway to negate the fraudulent NCAA, push our colleges back to their primary mission of education and improve the skill level of talent in the NFL. This would also help the athletes who fail to stick initially at the NFL level, but can pursue a paid career working their way back for another chance.

    • Media Mike

      “The NFL badly needs a minor league system anyway”

      AMEN!

      Too many clown a$$ spread and garbage running QB “systems” being played in the NCAA and there aren’t enough lineman who can block and QBs who can play the right way coming up. A fully controlled by the league minor league system would be amazing.

      • Gary Barnes

        Absolutely right. I think MLB’s minor league system is the best model.

        Players coming out of HS could choose between college or the NFL draft (there would need to be changes to the current draft system obviously i.e. more rounds, compensation levels etc.).

        If they go to college, maybe they can enter the draft after a mandated number of years. If they enter the draft, they either make the NFL roster or get “sent down” to the minor league level that best fits their current skill set (A, AA, AAA type structure).

        The NFL has tried to use NFL Europe, the CFL, USFL etc. over the years, but none of them have worked because they are not integrated into the NFL and affiliated to a NFL team. The college system under the NCAA has been broken badly for years and is truly unfair for the athletes. The incentives are all wrong and folks are lining their pockets at the expense of our youth imo.

        • Media Mike

          The league has been penny wise / pound foolish with their player development over the last few decades.

          • Gary Barnes

            Very much so. Goodell could cement an incredible legacy as commish if he got a legit minor league system implemented. It would put the NFL in much better shape and also help them manage the concussion and other health issues with the players more effectively.

          • Media Mike

            I’d love to see 8 teams with 60 man rosters of 15 players owned by each team. You could have all 8 coaches be out of work NFL coordinators or recently retired head coaches. Make it a spring / summer league to fill some broadcasting time. And allow those 15 guys to be an additional “practice squad” of a sort who could also be called up as you lost players to injuries over the actual NFL season.

          • Gary Barnes

            Exactly, you’re right it provides more opportunities for coaches and front office folks as well not to mention scouts and personnel folks too.

            To me, it is a no brainer although I’m fully aware the NFL would have to initiate major changes that some owners may view as not only unnecessary, but also costly.

            This is why leadership from the commish’s office is so critical; if there is no vision for the league beyond making as much money as humanly possible every day, the league will eventually plateau and then start to lose their position in sports.

          • Media Mike

            I’d be willing to bet you’d be able to get a large enough TV deal to break even on it.

          • Gary Barnes

            Especially if they start now while the popularity of the league and sport are still high. If they wait too long, it only gets harder imo.

          • Bert’s Bells

            Here’s one big problem -most of the owners are shortsighted grifters. They’ll see minor league teams as competition (heck even MLB has geographic limits on MiLB teams despite the affiliation with big league clubs).

            I think the Jerry Richardsons of the NFL are too feeble-minded to see the big picture benefits of farm system. They’ll continue to block developmental leagues, especially in the US.

          • Media Mike

            Jerry Richardson was soooooooooooooo brutally bad during the lockout.

          • laeagle

            It was amazing and terrible to watch a former player try to wipe his ass with current players. Guy probably punches his mom on his birthday, too.

          • ColorSgt

            He could but won’t. He’s too busy sending the jags to london and throwing darts to determine punishments.

        • eagleyankfan

          Injuries and short careers to begin with. Minor legue system..while looking good on paper..will never fly. Pipe dream. Im in favor of making kids graduate before being allowed to enter draft. That’s my pipe dream. 🙂

          • D3FB

            Forcing kids to finish their bullshit degree in physical education and continue their exposure to career ending injuries at the expense of millions of dollars. That seems like a good idea.

          • eagleyankfan

            world needs college educators, not football players. Like I said – Pipe Dream for all kids to graduate. I get it, football is life for some…a career after football is a smarter move….

          • D3FB

            Again most of these guys have bullshit majors. Alot of schools force guys to major in easy stuff so that they can focus on football. Sure some guys have finance and biochem and engineering degrees but most of them are getting half assed education in a soft major.

            Barnett: Communication
            Jones: Africana Studies
            Douglas: Multidisciplinary Studies
            Hollins: Exercise and Sports Science
            Pumphrey: Communication
            Gibson: Multidisciplinary Studies

            Gerry: Sociology
            Qualls: ???

            When a bowler can suffer a catastrophic injury and not earn millions of dollars because he was forced to stay and finish his 10 classes he needed for a degree in communications then we can draw a comp.

            Alot of guys that leave early still finish their degrees over the next few years.

        • Tumtum

          Only concern I would have if the NFL had a system in the image of MLB minors, is that college players still go spend a few years in that minor league system. There is just no jumping strait to the bigs. With NFL careers being so much shorter, that concept makes me nervous.

          I’m sure smart people could sort that out though. I’m just a dumb Orioles fan watching my boys get destroyed…

          • Media Mike

            Yeah, I can imagine it is fun watching the Orioles right now. The Phillies are PUTRID this year, yet management refuses to call up anybody we’d actually want to see.

          • Tumtum

            At least there are people you want to see in the minors…

  • bushisamoron

    Still think this team could add a veteran corner cap casualty

    • Media Mike

      Have any names you like so far?

  • eagleyankfan

    Congats to The Slants. Ruling for the Redskins. Bout time courts stepped up…

    • Sean Stott

      Yea, I’m on the side that they probably should change their name, but if Dan Snyder doesn’t want to, he shouldn’t have to.