He’s Not Perfect!!!

Posted: January 22nd, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

I’ve got breaking news!!! Carson Wentz is a human being. He’s not perfect and he’s not worshiped by all of his teammates.

Please make sure to give me credit if you use my breaking news.

I’m responding to the awkward piece done by Joseph Santoliquito for Philly Voice.

I won’t call it a hatchet job because I feel that’s going too far, but this is a highly flawed piece. It felt as if Santoliquito had a conclusion and worked backward from there, piecing together odd bits to support his theory that Carson Wentz has some real issues.

One of the real problems here is that Santoliquito has a history of pieces on Wentz that have a negative slant.

(h/t to Patrick Causey)

Even before Wentz took his first snap, Santoliquito had issues with Wentz. You could say that he wasn’t a fan of the pre-draft trade up to the number two pick.

What the bold move has done is push the Eagles, a team already full of holes that was fortunate to even finish 7-9 last year, further back from contending, while also letting their fanbase know that these next few years will be a rebuilding time under new head coach Doug Pederson. Sam Bradford has now become “Bridge,” Bradford, as the Eagles rest their future on an unproven quarterback that checks all of the physical criteria, but has proven little else.

The foolhardy trade places Wentz, or possibly Jared Goff, behind a dubious offensive line, with no discernible running attack and a receiving corps that’s devoid of a play-maker that can stretch the field and tended to drop passes last year. Compound those facts with a young quarterback that will be walking into a cauldron of living up to Von Hayes’ old “five-for-one” moniker and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Regrettably, that’s what Wentz will wear: Five-for-one Wentz.

Get used to it. Five may be prominent. Expect a few 5-11 seasons—if that—without any draft picks to hinder the bleeding.

“The last time I looked Carson Wentz, or Goff if he’s there, didn’t look like (Andrew) Luck, (Marcus) Mariota or (Jameis) Winston to me,” said one NFC scout. “A deal like this makes sense for any of those guys. Wentz and Goff aren’t those guys. And you’re dealing with the Philly market. Whoever it is they take better have thick, rawhide skin, because Philly fans could eat them up alive—and it won’t have anything to do with the kid. It’s (Eagles’ general manager) Howie (Roseman) that they should be putting on the skewer. But he won’t be the one out there running for his life with an offense that right now has nothing, on a team that has no draft picks for the next two years. Good luck with that.”

So when a guy with this background writes about Wentz’s shortcomings, it doesn’t have the same impact as if this was done by a beat writer like Jeff McLane, Les Bowen or Zach Berman. This is more a case of “connecting the dots I like” than actual reporting.

We can’t completely dismiss Santoliquito’s piece because he does have some good connections on the Eagles and he is a hard-working writer. This isn’t a made-up piece. The problem is that he’s twisted some things and then turned the hyperbole up to 11. If Santoliquito had written a more subdued and nuanced piece, it would have had far more credibility and possibly impact.

There was little to no balance here. There was a conclusion and the spinning of facts and quotes from unnamed sources to back that up.

This is just a mess.

His aw-shucks, overgrown-Opie-from-Mayberry routine plays well with the local and national media. Indeed, sources describe Wentz as “incredibly hard working,” “determined,” and “highly intelligent.” But the true Wentz is more nuanced and complicated, with sources describing him as “selfish,” “uncompromising,” “egotistical,” one who plays “favorites” and doesn’t like to be “questioned,” one who needs to “practice what he preaches” and fails “to take accountability.”

Numerous sources confirmed Wentz was once verbally attacked by a highly respected teammate for not being “a team guy.”

“Carson Wentz’s biggest enemy is Carson Wentz,” one source said. “He’s had his ass kissed his whole life, and sometimes acts like he’s won 10 Super Bowls, when he hasn’t played in, let alone won, a playoff game yet. Everyone around him wants good things for him. He did more thinking on the field than he did playing (in 2018). You don’t have to be a brain surgeon or a football expert to see how differently this team plays and reacts with one guy as opposed to the other.”

A reporter can’t use that Opie line. It’s funny, but not appropriate for someone who is writing this kind of a piece. And then “But the true Wentz…”. Wow. So the sources who describe Wentz as  “incredibly hard working,” “determined,” and “highly intelligent” aren’t as true as those who describe him as “selfish,” “uncompromising,” “egotistical,” one who plays “favorites” and doesn’t like to be “questioned,” one who needs to “practice what he preaches” and fails “to take accountability.”

Fantastic.

Must be wonderful to know which unnamed sources paint the more accurate picture.

Listen, I don’t doubt that Wentz does rub some teammates the wrong way. When I was around him at the Senior Bowl in January of 2016, you could see Wentz was a natural leader and a strong personality. Players gravitated to him. But guys like that aren’t for everyone. They will ruffle some feathers.

And I’m sure Wentz was in a weird place since mid-December of 2017. He had the Eagles off to a great start. He was on pace to be the league’s MVP. Wentzmania was sweeping the NFL. In the blink of an eye, he was rehabbing a knee while his teammates went and won the Super Bowl.

I’m sure Wentz was pushing himself incredibly hard this offseason. I’m sure he was a pain in the butt to some people around him as he worked relentlessly to come back from his injury. Wentz wanted his chance to go win the Super Bowl. A big part of his success is the fact he’s very driven. That can probably make him difficult to deal with at times.

Wentz is a great young QB with a bright future. The Eagles are lucky to have him. But he is far from perfect, on or off the field. No player is. To portray Wentz as a problem for the Eagles is really pushing things.

Just look at the players who have come out in support of him. BGN has a whole collection of tweets.

Nick Fierro got Jason Kelce to offer his thoughts.

“Carson arrived here three seasons ago and has been nothing but an incredible teammate,” Kelce told The Morning Call via text message. “From the moment he started taking reps as a rookie, you knew there was something different about him, and our entire offense got better largely because of the competitor and player he is. His work ethic and attention to detail every day made an impact on others, and he’s without a doubt a tremendous leader through his words and actions.

“I have not read Joe’s article and don’t want to get into a habit of addressing unnamed opinions, but I know this: Carson through the first three years has been nothing but a great teammate trying to get better each and every day, trying to make others better each and every day, trying to make this team better each and every day. And when the dust has settled, his legacy will be one of an incredible competitor and teammate who laid it on the line each and every day for the guy next to him, and a man who did everything he could to help this team succeed.

“I’ll go to war any day of the week and twice on Sunday with guys like Carson Wentz.”

I’ll trust the guys going on record over those who were off the record.

I’ll also trust my eyes. I see a really good player and a team that responds to him on the field.

And if you give me a choice, I’d prefer Wentz improve his deep accuracy more than his ability to be loved by all 52 of his teammates.

Derek Sarley summed it up nicely.

*****

Thank you to everyone for the kind words in regard to my mom’s situation. That really means a lot.

Eagles fans are something special.

You guys are the best.

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The First Domino

Posted: January 21st, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles won the Super Bowl a year ago and then made it to the Divisional Round this year. Normally that kind of success leads to stability. That may not be the case for the Eagles.

Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas and Doug Pederson have some tough decisions to make. Who is going to be the LT? Who will be the starting DEs? What happens at RB and WR? There are a lot of situations to figure out.

They must also come up with a plan for what to do with Nick Foles. He might be the key to the offseason.

Brandon Lee Gowton wrote a good piece on the situation and some of the options the Eagles have. Normally the team would have to be very careful about this, but the Eagles and Foles have a good relationship so that may help them to work together.

Howie Roseman made it clear recently that he must do what is right for the Eagles, first and foremost. That said, he won’t be treating Foles the way he would just any old player. Foles is highly regarded by the organization and he seems to feel strongly about the Eagles as well.

The Eagles need to figure out what to do with Foles because it will affect their cap situation. Do they need to account for him or not?

Also, if they can work out a deal with a team, that will give them more draft ammunition and would certainly affect their plans. If they could get a 2nd round pick for Foles, they could turn around and deal that for some other player they might have interest in.

Roseman is a shrewd negotiator and usually has a good feel for what’s going on around the league. I know many fans think of Foles as a great QB with a huge price tag, but that’s just not reality. He’s not going to thrive just anywhere (remember his Rams days?). Roseman will have a realistic idea of what the market is and whether the Eagles can actually work something out.

Personally, I hope Foles goes to the AFC so I can pull for him.

It will be interesting to see how the whole Foles situation plays out. He brought the team a Super Bowl last season. It would be great if he could bring a draft pick or two this offseason.

*****

Heartbreak city for Andy Reid and the Chiefs. Ugh.

Big Red is now 1-5 in conference title games. Four of those losses came with the Eagles so I probably didn’t have to tell you that stat.

I was really hoping he would break through and win it all this year.

The Patriots are just amazing in the postseason. They don’t make mistakes. They have brilliant gameplans. It really is amazing that the Eagles beat them last year. The Eagles were the better team, but as we see so often, that doesn’t always matter in the playoffs.

41-33.

*****

A personal note…

My mom has been battling cancer since November of 2016. Unfortunately, that battle is coming to an end.

We’re not sure if she’s got days or weeks left, but time is winding down. Obviously I won’t be going to the Senior Bowl. That’s normally my favorite week of the year, but sometimes real life shoves football to the side.

You may have noticed that my posting has been erratic recently. This is why. I’ll do my best to keep writing. It serves as a good distraction and it is also what my mom would want me to do. But if I disappear for a few days, it doesn’t mean I’m off stalking Megan Fox or working with Corey Graham on his autobiography.

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Coaching Changes

Posted: January 18th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Doug Pederson is a nice guy. That doesn’t mean he can’t make tough choices. With the season over, the Eagles have begun the process of self-scouting. The first area that was reviewed was the coaching staff.

Let’s talk about the changes.

Brewer was hired just a year ago, after Mike Groh was promoted to offensive coordinator. Brewer had been purely a college coach and I wonder if that ended up being an issue. Some guys make the transition smoothly (Jeff Stoutland), while others struggle.

I follow Brewer on Twitter and he would regularly post things about UNC, where he coached in recent years. He posted plenty of Eagles material as well, but you could tell the impact his previous job had on him. He seemed to love the place, the people and college football.

Not everyone is cut out for life in the NFL. Brewer said and did things that had a collegiate feel to them.

Constantly referring to the WR corps as Freaks or Freakshow just feels very college to me. And I can see kids eating that up. Sure didn’t seem like Eagles receivers were overly inspired by it.

Chris Wilson has been the DL coach for three years. His departure makes less sense, from a simplistic point of view. Fletcher Cox just had the best year of his career. Brandon Graham has been highly disruptive in recent years. Chris Long has played well the past couple of years. Michael Bennett was productive and disruptive this year.

So what gives?

One thing that both Wilson and Brewer may have had in common was a lack of player development.

DE Derek Barnett had a solid rookie year in 2017. He played better this year, but didn’t take such a leap forward that it blew you away. Elijah Qualls failed to show much progress in his time with the Eagles. Josh Sweat didn’t show any progress this year. He looked completely raw.

Shelton Gibson caught one pass in 2018. It felt like Nelson Agholor took a step back. Mack Hollins got hurt and missed the year, but he wasn’t overly impressive in the offseason camps.

Developing talent at the NFL level is hard. You have to be a great teacher. You also have to know how to motivate men. That means being both tough and positive. Greg Lewis wasn’t tough enough on the receivers in 2016. He got fired. Groh was tough on them in 2017. The receivers played really well and he got promoted.

As for Chung, we don’t know if he’s being let go or he wanted to leave. Chung may want to pursue being an OL coach rather than Stoutland’s assistant. You would think the Colts might have some interest in Chung, reuniting him with Frank Reich.

We don’t have any good replacement rumors yet. Philip Daniels is the assistant DL coach. Carson Walch is the assistant OL coach. Those guys could get promoted.

The Eagles aren’t looking for help in mid-February so they should have good options. They may have already talked to people. They could be waiting to see the outcome of the games this weekend if there is a coach they like. We’ll have to wait and see how things play out.

*****

Mr. Bama is exactly right. Linehan ran a simple, predictable offense in Dallas. It worked when the OL was dominant and things clicked with the passing game, but Dallas enjoyed almost no schematic advantages.

It will be interesting to see what they do.

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Howie and Doug Speak on ’18 and ’19

Posted: January 16th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson met with the media on Tuesday. What did we learn?

Carson Wentz is the Eagles QB moving forward. Doug was asked the question point blank and that’s how he answered. Howie later said the Eagles would love to also bring Nick Foles back. He did not address the difficulties in doing that, but the tone in his voice let you know it wasn’t going to happen.

Both men acknowledged how much they like this team, but also talked about the need to add talent. It is important that they don’t overrate some of the role players. Wendell Smallwood had some good moments, but clearly the Eagles must upgrade RB. They need a playmaker.

The O-line came up as a topic. Obviously neither man was going to make any commitments in terms of who would be coming and going. Doug talked about Big V as a candidate for next year. Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata also got mentioned. Jeff Stoutland is high on both players. The question is whether the Eagles are willing to count on either of them as starters next season.

Doug said all three of his coordinators would return. There was fan and media criticism of Jim Schwartz and Mike Groh, but both men will be returning. Honestly, that’s the smart move. Schwartz remains one of the top DCs in the league. The Eagles banged up defense gave up 35 points in two postseason games. Dallas, with a healthy and high-ranked defense, gave up 52 points.

Groh is a more complicated subject, but at the end of the day, I think there is value in staff continuity when dealing with a young QB like Carson Wentz. If you want to add someone to the staff, fine. But getting rid of Groh doesn’t seem like the right move.

As for Dave Fipp, he’s still one  of the best STs coaches in the league. There is no reason to make a change there.

Doug did say that the team is still reviewing personnel and the coaching staff. It is possible there could be changes made with the staff outside of the coordinators.

Jimmy Bama asked Howie about the draft.

Take that as a strong hint. The Eagles could be looking at DL. There are going to be some tough decisions about which veterans to keep.

Howie mentioned QB and RB as positions that aren’t as good. QB is weak up top. RB is good up top, but lacks depth.

Someone asked about the Golden Tate trade. Howie wouldn’t say anything critical of Tate or the trade. He talked about swinging for the fences and continuing to be aggressive. It sure seemed like he was trying to admit the deal didn’t work as expected, but that there was value in being aggressive and that he would continue to do things that way in the future.

Jeff McLane tried to get Howie to talk about Carson Wentz’s injury timeline and situation. Howie refused to comment, several times.

We really didn’t learn much from the press conference. We’re only a couple of days from the season ending so no real decisions have been made. There is a lot of work to be done, in terms of figuring out who to keep and who to add. The Eagles have business and football decisions to make.

Watch the PC below.

*****

Holton has elite speed, but is a major project. Maybe Shelton Gibson can tutor him.

Oh wait…

_


Culture Matters

Posted: January 15th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

Winning in the NFL isn’t easy.

A year ago, the Jaguars looked to be a team that was embarking on a successful run. The team went from 3-13 in 2016 to 11-5 in 2017. They made it to the AFC title game and had the Patriots on the ropes. The team was loaded with young talent and the future looked incredibly bright.

Jacksonville went 5-11 this year. Injuries were an issue, but the team just fell apart. When things got tough, they didn’t have “it”. You can call it chemistry or camaraderie or culture or whatever you want. Some teams have it, some don’t. The Jags didn’t.

When the Eagles hit rock bottom after their 48-7 loss to the Saints in mid-November, the team could have easily fallen apart.  That didn’t happen. Instead, the team leaders took it upon themselves to bring the players together and let them know what had to be done. They worked together to right the ship. There was no “I” or “me”. It was all about the team.

Eagles players refer to themselves as a brotherhood. They seem to genuinely care for each other and that locker room sure seems to have a special vibe.

And there is value in that.

Look at how dysfunctional the Steelers have been in recent years. From 2011-2018, they have been .500 or better every year. They only made it to the AFC title game once. As much talent as they’ve had, the Steelers seemed to underachieve. Compare the leadership skills of Nick Foles and Carson Wentz to Ben Roethlisberger. Foles and Wentz go out of their way to make everything about the team. Big Ben adds drama to the mix.

Doug Pederson is a terrific leader. He has good assistants. And the Eagles have terrific leaders up and down the roster. Malcolm Jenkins might be as good a leader as anyone who has ever played for the organization. I don’t know who I’d put above him. Then you mix in guys like Michael Bennett, Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce and Jason Peters. Add in personalities like Chris Long, Jalen Mills, Tim Jernigan, Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz. You get one heck of a team.

When things are good, that team rolls to the first Super Bowl win in the organization’s history. When things are tough, they battle their way into the playoffs and go as far as they possibly can.

The Eagles won’t be able to keep all the players they want to, but there is a strong enough core that the locker room should remain a key strength and help this team continue winning in the future. The brotherhood will go on.

*****

https://twitter.com/JamieApody/status/1084617841712787457

I can’t imagine players not wanting to play for this guy. Great video.

*****

It is really cool to see how far Graham has come in his time with the Eagles. He had to battle injuries, expectations and the legend of Earl Thomas over the first few years of his career. Graham has never posted great sack numbers, but he is a highly disruptive player and a hero from the team’s first ever Super Bowl win.

Brandon Graham turned out to be a great draft pick.

I hope the team can work out a fair deal for him and them and keep him around.

*****

The 2018 season is over and that means we’ll focus on the future. There will be plenty of time to talk about offseason plans and the moves that should be made.

The only thing I’ll mention here is that Carson Wentz will be the QB and should be the QB.

Nick Foles is a special guy and did some amazing things, but Wentz is the guy you build your franchise around.

*****

There was a time back in November that I was ready for the season to be over. The team wasn’t winning and they just weren’t that much fun. They weren’t making plays. They were a mediocre team that had enough talent to be competitive.

That changed and the season became enjoyable. It wasn’t just the winning. It was seeing guys like Cre’Von LeBlanc go from “Who?” to hero. Football became fun again.

I’m sorry it’s over, but I’m glad we got to enjoy part of the ride. We got a shutout and a road playoff win. That should put a smile on your face.

The 1995 season is one of my favorite of all-time. The Eagles went 10-6 and won a wild card game. Nothing huge, but a wild, fun season. I wonder if in time I’ll start to feel the same way about 2018.

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