Embracing Risk

Posted: March 28th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

I thought one of the themes for the 2020 offseason needed to be “embrace risk”. The Eagles had gotten into a habit of keeping older players around and also loading up on veteran additions. That had to change. At some point you must take a chance on younger players.

The younger guys have less of a track record, but they usually have more upside. There is risk in bringing them in. But there is risk in going with the older players, as the Eagles learned in 2018 and 2019. Injuries and inconsistent play proved to be major problems.

The Eagles were the second oldest roster in the league at the beginning of the 2019 season. That had to change. And all the Eagles needed to do was look at some of the young players that had taken the field for them.

Avonte Maddox, Josh Adams, Treyvon Hester, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Greg Ward and T.J. Edwards all came through for the Eagles in the past two years. That’s a mixture of draft picks, UDFAs and low-level free agents. The Eagles didn’t always go with those players willingly, but they performed well.

The need for change isn’t all about age. Part of the problem was coaches wanting “their guys” kept around. Instead of finding the right guys, coaches wanted players they were comfortable with.

I’m happy to say the offseason has broken away from those trends.

The Eagles seem to be embracing Andre Dillard as the LT and they are letting Jason Peters shop his services.

Darren Sproles is retired. The team saw enough from Boston Scott to know they should stick with the young RB.

The Eagles let Malcolm Jenkins walk, keeping his younger, cheaper counterpart, Rodney McLeod.

The Eagles haven’t shown any interest in bringing back Jim Schwartz favorite Tim Jernigan. The team went for younger players like Javon Hargrave and Hassan Ridgeway.

The last three years the Eagles had veterans in the #3 safety role. Corey Graham and Andrew Sendejo were those guys. This year the team is going with Will Parks, someone who still runs well and has upside.

Nigel Bradham, another Schwartz favorite, is gone. The Eagles are relying on young LBs already in place in Nate Gerry and T.J. Edwards. They also signed Jatavis Brown, another young guy who can run.

The Eagles are embracing risk. They are taking chances.

Maybe that is the mentality at WR as well. Earlier today, Demarcus Robinson re-signed with the Chiefs. Cheap. It appears the Eagles had no interest in him. They passed on a handful of other receivers who came at a cheap price. The Eagles weren’t linked to any of them.

The Eagles are taking a chance that a healthy DeSean Jackson will once again be a difference-maker. He barely played in 2019, but in the season opener he showed that he can still be a dynamic deep threat.

They are taking a chance that Greg Ward will build off his 2019 performance. Ward showed the ability to get open and he showed good hands. He also had a knack for making crucial plays.

The Eagles are betting that J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can go from minimal impact as a rookie to a regular contributor in 2020.

The Eagles are also betting that they can find a couple of rookies who can come in and help the team right away. In recent years, the Eagles have had low expectations for rookie receivers. Howie Roseman has talked about how studies have shown that position struggles in the first year.

The game of football is always evolving. 2019 was the year of the rookie receiver. Deebo Samuel and Mecole Hardman helped their teams  get to the Super Bowl. I think the Eagles have changed their mindset on rookie receivers. After getting burned by Terry McLaurin, Darius Slayton, D.K. Metcalf and a handful of others, the Eagles know first-hand that rookies can get the job done.

I expect the Eagles to embrace their rookie receivers. The scouts have to find the right guys. The coaches have to get the best out of them. And of course, Carson Wentz has to develop immediate chemistry with them.

Wentz was able to make plays with Robert Davis and Deontay Burnett last year. He showed the ability to make things work with new guys. I would expect Wentz to do everything he can to get the rookies up to speed.

All of this might have been moot if there were better options on the free agent market, but this was an incredibly weak class. Rather than spending money on players they didn’t believe in, the Eagles are rolling the dice on the guys already in place and then finding help in the draft.

They can continue looking for veteran help through the spring and summer.

I don’t necessarily agree with all the moves that have been made or not made, but I do like the overall mentality.


One Comment on “Embracing Risk”

  1. 1 Embracing Risk | SportSpyder | said at 1:02 AM on March 29th, 2020:

    […] Embracing Risk […]