The Biggest Need

Posted: November 12th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 133 Comments »

The Eagles need WR help.

Some might prefer a stud RB

I think a top fight CB could help this defense become a great unit.

You can make a strong argument the team needs help in several areas. I think obsessing on position is the wrong way to go. The Eagles have a talented team with plenty of solid players. This group needs impact players more than anything.

Think about Dallas right now. You can argue that they have the best LT, C, RG, RB and 4-3 LB in the NFL. That’s impressive. Those guys can be dominant in games. It is easy to build around those players. There are some major holes on the Dallas roster, but the great players make up for that. In a fantasy world you would have good players everywhere. It is incredibly hard to build a roster like that.

I’m not saying the Eagles shouldn’t address weak areas. Obviously they should. But the notion that they must focus on one position over another is flawed. This roster needs impact guys more than anything. Would you rather have a good WR like Demaryius Thomas or a great pass rusher like Von Miller? The Eagles aren’t weak at DE, but Miller is an impact player. Those are the kind of guys who help you win big games.

I haven’t started thinking too much about the offseason and going over lists of who might be available, but the Eagles need to keep their eyes open for impact players. If that is a WR or RB or CB, great. If it turns out to be an OL or DL, that’s fine too.

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Speaking of holes on the Dallas roster…

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One thing that will help the Eagles quite a bit is the development of Carson Wentz. He has the potential to be a great player. Tom Brady has won with a variety of blockers, runners and receivers over the years because he is a great player and makes those around him better. It isn’t likely that Wentz turns out to be as good as Brady, but go back in Eagles history. Donovan McNabb won without having great skill players around him. He made James Thrash, LJ Smith and guys like that better players than they should have been.

Wentz does that here and there, but he’s too busy learning how to play to really make the players around him significantly better. He has shown the physical skills it takes to be a special QB. He needs experience to learn the subtle aspects needed to be a great one.

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Part of what the coaches have to do this year is figure out what their schemes need to thrive. If Doug Pederson has a choice between a great RB and a great WR, which way does he go? Beyond that, would he prefer size or speed? Strength or quickness?

Jim Schwartz is known as a DL guy. He might love to add another piece to the front seven. He might also see CB as a position that must be upgraded. Beyond that, he needs to figure out what kind of a player he might want for those spots.

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Grymes was promoted because of his ability to play CB, NB, S and STs. When you’re near the bottom of the roster, you need to be able to do multiple things. Coach Pederson said Grymes would be active on Sunday.

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Mr. 53?

Posted: November 10th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 161 Comments »

The Eagles have an open roster spot. They never signed anyone after cutting Josh Huff last week. What gives?

There was no need to sign anyone before last Sunday. The player wasn’t going to come in mid-week and then make a difference in the game. The fact that no move has been made yet leads me to believe the Eagles are looking around the league. If you want to add a player from someone’s practice squad, you make that player an offer and he then makes a decision of whether to stay on the PS or join your active roster. Some teams will throw extra money to the player to get him to stay on their PS. And there are times when a player likes where he is and a little extra money keeps him happy, even on the PS.

I have no idea who the Eagles could be looking at from other teams. They liked hundreds of players in the pre-draft process. They evaluated players this summer during the preseason games. Pro scouts continue to write up reports on young guys who might be available.

What position? WR is the most obvious choice. The Eagles could also go for a CB. If there is some player they like, the Eagles could add him even if he’s not at a position of need. We’re talking about the 53rd spot on the roster. This is mostly about adding someone for the future.

Doug Pederson did mention that the team is looking at its own PS. He specifically mentioned WR Paul Turner and CB Aaron Grymes. I’d be happy with either of those players. Part of me would love to see Turner in action. I think the Eagles were wise to cut him back in September, but part of me would like to see him in action now to see if he can be an effective role player. Grymes would add another young body to the already CB spot. Jalen Mills has shown promise, but certainly doesn’t have anyone jumping for joy. CJ Smith has yet to play this season. He did impress this summer.

One factor in this equation could be injuries. Pederson might be waiting to see if any spot is more banged up than another and needs an extra body. There are no major issues that I know of.

We’ll just have to wait and see what the team does. If they were desperate, they would have made a move. The fact the team has been this deliberate makes me think there could be some outside player with complications.

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Huge news. With the Falcons’ explosive attack coming to town, the Eagles need all the defensive help they can get.

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We talk about learning from a loss. As painful as that final play was, it could drive Carson Wentz and Jordan Matthews to perfect that play for future reference.

I look forward to seeing it run sometime here in the near future.

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Balancing Act

Posted: November 9th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 100 Comments »

Doug Pederson is building the Eagles for the future. He’s also trying to win now. That makes for one heck of a balancing act.

I wrote about that, as well as some game observations, in this column for PE.com. Think about what’s going on with the Eagles. There are 10 first and second-year players that are contributing so far. That is a lot of young guys. It also complicates things when they can’t lean on veterans as much because the veterans are still learning the offensive and defensive systems. Knowing the playbook in theory is one thing. Putting it into practice in a live game setting is very different. It takes reps in practice and games for players to perfect their roles and learn the subtleties that truly make a scheme come to life.

When Lane Johnson got suspended, the Eagles gave his job to a completely unproven rookie. Compare that to the Vikings. They had OTs get hurt and ended up signing veteran Jake Long to come in and fight for a job.

The Eagles had a chance to trade for WR Torrey Smith last week. They decided to keep their picks and not take on his salary. They also get more of a chance to see their young guys in action. I know some of you think that is insane, but the Eagles want to have a really good idea of who and what DGB, Bryce Treggs and Nelson Agholor are by the time this season is over.

Agholor is not having a good year. No one disputes that. Teams just always fear giving up on an early pick too soon. Look at RB Melvin Gordon. He had a poor rookie year. He then started slowly this season. Something happened and he just had the best 2-game stretch of his career. It looks like the light finally came on for him. I’m not trying to sell you on the notion that will happen. The Eagles just want to make darn sure Agholor has to be replaced before they do it.

Treggs looked good Sunday. Now the test is to see if that was a “beginner’s luck” kind of thing or just a sign of things to come. His speed is legit, but one game is just one game. He’s got to show more. DGB started the season looking so good, but didn’t have a good game Sunday and had some costly drops vs Dallas. We’re starting to see why the Titans were so ready to give up on him. He still has great size and big time talent. You need more game action for him to show what he can be counted on to do (or not do).

This is the year for the Eagles to find out about these players. Next year there will be real pressure for the team to win.

Dealing with the growing pains of new/young players, new coaches and new schemes isn’t fun. You love change when it works, but hate the times when things don’t go so well. You just have to understand that what is happening this year is that Pederson and his staff are laying the foundation for the future.

Let’s compare that to some other situations. Todd Bowles is in Year 2 with the Jets. His QB, RB and star WR are all over the age of 30. He’s got some serious veterans players in that lineup. The Jets are 3-6. They have 4 losses by 10 or more points. That is a team with some serious issues. They have coaching, GM and player questions to deal with.

Gus Bradley is on pace to be the 2nd worst coach in NFL history. He is 14-42 as coach of the Jags. His franchise QB is a mess and their defense (Bradley’s specialty) has been awful throughout his tenure. Bradley is gone at the end of the year. Can Blake Bortles be fixed? What does that defense need? They’ve invested picks and money, but don’t have good results.

The friggin’ Packers are 4-4 right now. They have Aaron Rodgers. They have good receivers like Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. They have the right Matthews brother. They have Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a terrific young FS. How the heck do the Eagles have the same record as those guys? As mad as you might be about the Dallas loss, the Packers lost to them by 14 at home. Ugh…

Trying to flat out “win now” is tough. Balancing that with also building for the future is a real challenge. I think Doug Pederson is handling that well so far.

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I will write more about some of his decisions and strategies in a different post. I don’t like everything he does, but he’s trying to be consistently aggressive and build an attitude with this team. That could pay off in a big way in the future.

Could…

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Some Questions

Posted: November 8th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 204 Comments »

Rather than write out a long post this morning, let me address some questions/topics of interest.

There is no question the Eagles got the short end of the stick in this game. The lack of roughing the kicker was costly in the 1st half. There was the non-call on PI on the 3rd down pass to Bryce Treggs. And I don’t know how they missed the defender hitting Wentz in the helmet late in the game. That’s just nuts.

Still, the game counts as a loss. Nothing you can do about blown calls. It’s just unfortunate when so many are key plays that could have changed the outcome of the game.

The Jets game doesn’t fit. The Eagles were up 24-0 and then let the Jets crawl their way back into the game.

The Eagles did win tight games in Dallas and in NE. You had a veteran QB starting for the Eagles. You had defensive TDs in each game. And the Eagles found a way to make clutch plays in those contests.

This team has a rookie coach and rookie QB. The offensive and defensive schemes are new. That means the players are still learning them and are more likely to make the kind of small mistakes that matter in close games.

The Eagles also lost plenty of close games last year: ATL, WAS, CAR, MIA.

I think everything will change once the Eagles have that breakthrough moment and win the first close game. That will ease the pressure and give the guys the confidence they can get this done. Let’s hope that happens soon.

Wentz did this in college a few times. I think he’ll get it done in the NFL. It just hasn’t happened so far. Let’s also be honest. He hasn’t had the guys around him step up and make huge plays for him.

It is fair to question Wentz in this area until he proves he can do it in the NFL, but I think that will happen.

I wish I had been dead wrong with this, but it sure felt like that is exactly what happened.

More than a few people are really upset with Doug. He is a rookie coach.

Stop. Let that sink in.

He is a rookie coach.

Just as with players, there are going to be ups and downs with rookie coaches. Belichick, Reid, Carroll…you name it. Most guys have bad years in their first season as the head coach. There are the occasional exceptions, but the average rookie coach is going to be up and down because he is learning on the job, just like all of us when we start something new.

Pederson has been more good than bad by far. I’ve got a few bones to pick with him from the Giants game (and overall) and I’ll get into them later, but I’ve seen enough to make me think he can be a good coach for the Eagles.

Is he good enough to take this team where we want it to go? That’s a much tougher question and I think it’s too early to make that call.

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Another Painful Day

Posted: November 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 396 Comments »

Giants 28, Eagles 23.

The Eagles fall to 4-4 and 0-3 in the division. What a tough, frustrating loss. Just like the one in Dallas. And the one in Washington. And the one in Detroit. All close games where the Eagles did some good things, but made too many mistakes and lost. You cannot make crucial mistakes in close games or you will pay the price in the loss column.

This is a really frustrating Eagles team right now. They are too good and too talented to be considered a bad team. Go watch the Jags or the Jets. Go watch the Bears or the Bucs. Those are bad teams. The Eagles are beyond that.

Unfortunately this team is not good or talented enough to be considered a good team right now. They are in no man’s land…mediocrity.

Here is the situation as simple as you can make it. The Eagles could be a winning team with the talent already in place. The problem is that the team needs to play smart, efficient football. We’ve all seen a group that overachieves. They do all the little things right. If the Eagles played like that with this roster, they would likely be 6-2 or better.

The Eagles could be a winning team with the current erratic playing style if they had more dynamic playmakers. Dynamic players can overcome mistakes by making big plays. Look at Seattle. They always have a lot of penalties. They struggle to protect Russell Wilson. But that team makes huge plays and overcomes the kind of mistakes that are killing the Eagles right now.

Instead we have a solid group of players that makes costly mistakes and just isn’t good enough to overcome them.

The talent level isn’t going to change this season. For this team to start winning games again, the Eagles must eliminate mistakes and play smart football. Can they do it? Sure. Will they do it? I have no idea. I don’t have a good feel for this team right now. There are so many new faces and young players that it is hard to know what to make of this group.

I know a lot of you will be furious and on the “Fire him!” and “Cut him!” bandwagon. I get the anger, but once you move past the immediate emotions and look at the big picture you’ll see that drastic action would be dumb.

The Eagles led Dallas 20-13 at the end of the 3rd quarter last week. Take out the 1st quarter today and the Eagles outscored the Giants 20-14. For 3 quarters in each of the last 2 games, the Eagles were good enough to have the lead and somewhat control the game. The problem is that in each of those games the opposing team had a big quarter that was enough to give them the win.

I’m not trying to tell you to love this team. I’m frustrated as heck. But some people will overreact and talk about the Eagles as if this is an awful team that is devoid of talent and has no hope. That’s just not the case. This team is good enough to be close, but they are not making the clutch plays that it takes to win games.

The Eagles are 4-4.

Mediocre.

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