And So It Begins

Posted: March 3rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 94 Comments »

The Eagles added their first veteran free agent of the year on Monday. They signed ILB Brad Jones, recently cut by the Packers. The defense is now set.

Before all of you spit PBR on your monitors, that was a joke. Jones is here to be part of the mix at ILB, but even Dave Spadaro is keeping this signing in perspective.

There are no promises here with Jones, no guarantees of a starting job or, even, of making the roster. Signing Jones doesn’t mean the Eagles are finished added to the position, honestly. He’s going to have a chance to compete for a roster spot and earn playing time, and that’s the promise head coach Chip Kelly makes to everyone on his roster.

Jones has started and been a role player in his career. He won’t come to town with any sense of entitlement. He does bring an inconsistent resume.

He never lived up to the deal, starting 12 games in ’13 and having minimal impact. He had three sacks, one forced fumble and no pass breakups for a defense that ranked 25th overall.

Jones and Hawk were the starting inside linebackers on opening day this past season, but Jones lost his job after one game and Hawk became a part-time player midway through the season.

Jones’ 2014 season was a microcosm of his career. He matched up well against some opponents as a single linebacker in the middle of coordinator Dom Capers’ dime defense, but too often he would commit a bad penalty or miss a tackle.

Jones is a good STer.

I’m glad the Eagles signed Jones. ILB is a spot that has troubled me. What do you do opposite of Mychal Kendricks?

DeMeco Ryans is rehabbing from a torn Achilles. And he’s old. And he’s expensive. I can’t imagine the Eagles are counting on him for 2015. Najee Goode showed promise in 2013, but missed virtually all of 2014. Do you count on him? Emmanuel Acho showed some promise, but didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Do you count on him?

There aren’t many good options in free agency. Mason Foster is the most interesting, but isn’t worth over-paying.

There are some talented guys in the draft, but you can’t count on finding the answer there. After all, what if the team is able to pull off a deal for Mariota. Are you using your 3rd round pick on an ILB and counting on him to start?

Jones isn’t an ideal answer, but he gives you flexibility.

The Eagles can look at some players in free agency if there is someone they like. They can let the draft play out and see if they find the answer there. They can see if any additional veterans are cut after the draft. If things don’t work out as hoped, Jones could start.

In a fantasy world, the Eagles will find someone better and end up cutting Jones. For now, he’s a good insurance policy.

* * * * *

Jeremy Maclin did not get the franchise tag.

This means the Eagles have a week to get him signed before all heck breaks loose. You don’t want Maclin hitting the open market.

One bit of good news on the WR front. There could be a slew of veterans getting added to the mix. The Texans told Andre Johnson they will trade or cut him. You know the Eagles love former Texans. That could be interesting.

Mike Wallace, Brandon Marshall, Pierre Garcon, Stevie Johnson, and Marques Colston are some other big names who could get cut this offseason.

* * * * *

Another bit of good news. The Pats did not tag FS Devin McCourty. They probably will still work out a deal for him, but if he hits the market, he should be the top priority, even over a CB. McCourty is a legit FS and we just don’t see many of those in the league anymore.

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To Tag Or Not To Tag

Posted: March 2nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 475 Comments »

The Eagles have until 4pm today to decide whether to use the franchise tag on Jeremy Maclin. And this is a big decision.

Reason to do it…safety.  You ensure Maclin is here in 2015 (and hopefully beyond). If you don’t tag him, there is no guarantee a deal will get worked out. Can you afford to lose him and get nothing in return?

Reason not to do it…money. The tag carries a cost of just under $13M and that would eat up about half of the Eagles salary cap space. They could still try to negotiate a long term deal, but Mac may be fine with just playing for the $13M and then facing the same situation next year. The difference is that his price tag as a franchise player would go up automatically.

A few reporters seem to think the Eagles won’t tag Maclin. Maybe they know something I don’t. I think you almost have to. If you lose him, Jordan Matthews becomes the key to your passing game. Suddenly you have to sign another WR or draft one early. I certainly don’t want to commit that much money to Mac for a year, but there is so much uncertainty at WR I’m not willing to risk losing him.

In a fantasy world, the team will announce a long term deal with Maclin today at 3pm.

It will be interesting to see how this situation pans out.

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Howie Roseman spoke over the weekend at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Zach Berman has some good quotes from the appearance.

“When you’re looking at trading up, at some point, your board drops off so dramatically in terms of how you evaluate that player,” Roseman said, as heard on the conference’s webcast. “But the history of trading up for one player, when you look at those trades, isn’t good for the team trading up and putting a lot of resources into it.

“Because the guys who are really good at the draft, if you’re hitting on 60 percent of your first-round picks, that’s a pretty good track record. And then it’s dropping as you go through the rounds. So really, the more chances you get, the more tickets to the lottery you get, the better you should be doing.”

Howie is right. Putting a lot of resources into one player hasn’t worked out a lot. Just look at the Skins and RG3. They had one amazing year (2012) and then injuries hit. Then character became an issue. Was RG3 more interested in doing Subway commercials than studying game tape? The Rams added a lot of talent with those extra picks while the Skins remain a roster with many holes.

I think Howie would be the first person to tell you that no two situations are alike. The Skins were a bad team looking for a savior. The Eagles are coming off consecutive 10-win seasons. There is plenty of talent already in place. The point in using resources to move up is to add a player who will put you over the top. That’s very different.

Also, there isn’t a question about scheme fit or personality fit since Chip Kelly recruited and developed Marcus Mariota. That angle makes this a particularly odd situation.

If you follow the math, this wouldn’t be a deal to do. There are times when you don’t follow the math.

Make sure to read the article. Roseman had good thoughts on a variety of subjects. Whether you like him or not, Howie is a very smart guy. I’m always interested in his take on things.

* * * * *

I wrote some more on Todd Herremans for PE.com. He had an interesting career, going from the insane 2005 team to the Chip Kelly era. Think about the QBs he blocked for.

Donovan McNabb
Koy Detmer
Mike McMahon
Jeff Garcia
AJ Feeley
Kevin Kolb
Michael Vick
Nick Foles
Matt Barkley
Mark Sanchez

Crazy.

I also went over some veterans who have been cut recently. Unfortunately, I’m not seeing players that would interest the Eagles. Some guys just aren’t good any more. Others are interesting, but at a position where the Eagles don’t need help.

* * * * *

If the Eagles don’t move up for Mariota, they could take an OL with pick 20. Tyler Aston has reports up on some interesting targets.

TJ Clemmings full report

Fit with the Eagles – TJ Clemmings is a powerful and athletic blocker who profiles well as a fit for the Eagles. He is a bit raw, having made the switch from defense just two years ago, but has a very high ceiling. He is an ideal candidate to play RG for the Eagles next year and can transition to RT down the line. He will also have to transition from a power run scheme to zone blocking, but seems to be intuitive and has a skill set should ease the transition.

Brandon Scherff full report

Fit with the Eagles – A big nasty bruiser, he would certainly be a popular player with the Eagles fan base. I don’t think he can play either tackle position for us. He could however be a great guard. Playing him at guard would minimize his liabilities in vertical pass pro, and would emphasize his zone blocking, brute force, solid lateral movement and ability to get to the second and third levels both in the run and screen game. Ultimately I doubt he is available when the Eagles pick, but he would be a fun player to have.

Ty Sambrailo full report

Fit with the Eagles – Sambrailo best projects as a zone blocking lineman. He should be a natural fit in Kelly’s scheme. He has the pass protection skills to play LT for us and could play 4 of the OL spots for the Eagles. Stoutland and Kelly are sure to love his motor, tenacity, and football IQ. He needs to improve his functional strength, but is capable of playing immediately.

Scherff and Clemmings could both be targets at 20. They could plug into RG as rookies. Scherff is the better player right now. Clemmings has the higher ceiling.

Sambrailo would be a trade back from 20 or a move up in the 2nd round. I see him most likely going in the early 2nd, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go late 1st. Very good prospect.

Some of you have talked about the Eagles going for Orlando Franklin as the RG. I’d love that, but he could cost a lot of money and I’m not sure the Eagles have that to spend, with the other areas that must be addressed in free agency.

I’ll cover the RG situation more in my Offseason post, which I’m now finalizing.

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Some Free Agent Talk

Posted: February 28th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 341 Comments »

We have a little bit more than a week until free agency starts. Obviously the key in-house name for the Eagles is Jeremy Maclin. He just had a career year and showed that he is a good fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. The Eagles are talking to him and agent Tom Condon, hoping to work out a deal. The team can use the franchise tag if they can’t work out a deal.

There is optimism that the deal will get done. Still, we’ve been down this road before. You can’t really relax until the signature is on the paper and the deal is done.

The Eagles had a charity event today and Maclin took part in the event. That sure feels like a good sign. Les Bowen was there and has some good quotes.

“I’ve always said I want to be here in Philadelphia, but I’ve also always said I understand it’s a business,” Maclin said Saturday, following an appearance on behalf of the team at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Heart Health Day, in front of Lord & Taylor at the King of Prussia Mall. “Both sides have made it known that we both want each other back, so the rest of it is in God’s hands. If it’s supposed to happen, it’ll happen. I want to be here.”

Monday is the deadline for the Eagles to ensure Maclin returns by sticking the franchise tag on the team’s 2014 top receiver. Maclin said he had no idea if that would happen, and said he didn’t know until a reporter told him that the franchise figure for a wideout would be about $12.8 million for 2015. If that hasn’t been part of discussions, and if Maclin hasn’t even talked over the ramfications of the tag with his agent, Tom Condon — it all makes the tag seem unlikely.

The tag might not be an attractive option for the team because all the money would count toward the 2015 cap, using up about half the current available room, before free agent shopping starts.

I expect a deal. I don’t think Maclin is delusional and thinks he is worth megabucks. And the Eagles will usually pay good money to a player they feel is worth it.

* * * * *

Jimmy Bama and I were talking on the phone the other night. After a lengthy argument over whether Funyuns go better with red wine or white wine, we shifted the talk to free agency. Both of us feel that the Eagles essentially have to sign CB Byron Maxwell. In fact, we almost take it for a given that they will.

This isn’t a case of inside information. Rather, the Eagles are desperate for corner help and Maxwell is the top guy on the market. He also fits the scheme and comes from a winning organization.

Maxwell feels like a player the Eagles must get.

* * * * *

There is also a strong chance the Eagles will go after a Safety in free agency. Bo Wulf and Greg Cosell took a look at the top candidates for PE.com.

We’d all love Devin McCourty, but I just don’t see the Pats letting him hit the market. The player I would like is Rahim Moore from Denver. He is a centerfielder type, which is what I think the Eagles need.

The Eagles love to talk about interchangeable Safeties. They may prefer Marcus Gilchrist of the Chargers. He can play in the box or in the slot, but isn’t as natural downfield. I loved him coming out of Clemson so I’d be fine with adding him as well.

I haven’t watched tape of Da’Norris Searcy or Tyvon Branch yet.

* * * * *

Lots more FA talk to come.

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Herremans Out

Posted: February 26th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 566 Comments »

The ugly side of pro football.

Herremans struggled with the move to RG in 2013, but played much better in 2014. Unfortunately he got hurt and missed the final 8 games of the year. He will turn 33 in October and the Eagles felt it was time to move on.

Herremans played 10 years for the Eagles. He was never a star, but was a very good offensive lineman who played LG, RT and RG. He played a few games at LT, but was never a regular starter there.

I wrote something about Todd for an old PE.com piece on player development.

Back in 2005, I remember reading NFL.com one day to see what Gil Brandt was reporting about pro day activity. He mentioned that a lineman from Saginaw Valley State had drawn quite a few offensive line coaches to his workout, as well as the normal contingent of scouts. The coaches and scouts came away raving about the prospect’s footwork and overall potential. The player was some guy named Todd Herremans. I’d never heard of him. I didn’t have any game tape of him from the season, but did have a copy of the Division II all-star game called the Cactus Bowl.

Herremans played in the Cactus Bowl and I was excited to pop it in and take a look. I watched the game and took some notes. I came away impressed, but noted that Herremans had zero chance to play left tackle in the NFL. He was beaten a couple of times by pass rushers in that game. If a guy can’t block rushers coming from D-2 schools like West Virginia Wesleyan, Colorado School of Mines or Eastern New Mexico, how the heck is he going to have any chance against NFL rushers? I was so focused on results that I lost track of watching Herremans’ raw ability.

I went up to training camp at Lehigh a few months later to watch the team practice. I looked out on the field and was shocked to see Herremans at left tackle with the starters. To quote the great Vince Lombardi, “What the hell is going on out there?” Tra Thomas wasn’t healthy so Juan Castillo had to put a backup on the field. He decided that Herremans was the next best fit. That really blew me away. Herremans got beat a few times, but held his own for the most part. How was it that the guy who gave up sacks in the Cactus Bowl could now function as a left tackle in the NFL?

Coaching.

Herremans had the raw tools. He was big and pretty athletic. He did have good feet. He was experienced, so he had a solid understanding of blocking concepts. Herremans was smart and coachable. Castillo was able to teach Herremans the Eagles’ blocking system and the specific techniques needed to make it work. I learned a valuable lesson that day up at Lehigh. Don’t underestimate the importance of coaching.

A bit more nostalgia. Here is something I wrote on him after the Eagles drafted Herremans.

Interesting RT prospect. A lot of people don’t remember this, but Jon Runyan was a 4th Rd pick himself. He was 6’7, 310 and ran in the 5.25 range. We can only hope that Todd develops into the kind of player Runyan became. Todd has a similar description to Jon’s when he came out. Good run blocker. Needs some work on pass protection. Herremans has good feet. He moves well and does a good job of keeping his feet active. Bends his knees, but needs to be more consistent about it. Can mirror DEs. Does have trouble with inside moves. That’s something that needs work. Does a good job of extending his arms to keep DL from getting to his body. Will ride a DE wide of the QB. Shows a feisty side. Caught a DE off balance and slung him to the ground. Does a good job of blocking LBs in the run game. Not likely to see much playing time this year. Has the raw physical ability to be an NFL RT. Should get good coaching from Juan Castillo and will be given time to develop.

6’6, 321…5.13 in the 40

Son of a HS Coach. Played basketball and baseball for 4 years in HS. 2 time all conference. Started 40 of 48 college games.

Old Notes: We’ve been mentioned as a team interested in Todd. Some projections have said that he could go as high as 3rd Rd. I’m thinking more in the 5th.

Cactus Bowl Notes: I saw him in a Div. II all star game. Played RT and LT. Didn’t look comfortable at LT. Did look right at home at RT. Comes off the ball very well. Very good job of getting to the 2nd level and taking out LBs. I’ve read he has “great feet”. Can’t say I saw that. Good feet. He needs work at handling edge rushers. Lots of upside. 

Enough looking back…let’s look ahead.

What happens at RG? Allen Barbre, Matt Tobin and Andrew Gardner could take over the spot for 2015. Barbre is the best of the trio, but is an older player. There is something to be said for giving Tobin a full-time shot at the job. He is a good run blocker, but needs work on his pass protection.

The Eagles could go after someone in free agency, but that seems unlikely with a lot of money already going to the OL. They could take an OL early in the draft. They were likely to take an OL or two in the draft anyway. Now, the rookie would have a chance to compete for a starting job.

As for Herremans, he will get a chance to play with another team. Please let him go anywhere outside the NFC East so I can enjoy seeing him with his new team.

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Business Decisions

Posted: February 24th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 433 Comments »

Senior Bowl…over.  Combine…done. The focus now is on the Eagles and business. Who gets cut? Who gets an extension? Who gets re-signed? And so on.

PE.com has a good interview with Adam Caplan where he discusses a lot of the issues.

That’s definitely worth checking out.

Les Bowen had some Eagles nuggets in a recent article. He talked about who would be dealing with agents.

An agent who dealt with the Eagles recently on a player contract matter said yesterday he spoke exclusively with Howie Roseman, did not hear from Chip Kelly. There was a report at the Senior Bowl that Kelly was giving agents his cellphone number, but this agent said he sees no difference in the team’s contract setup, from his perspective.

Another agent who met with the Eagles in Indianapolis said he sat down with a triumvirate – new personnel vice president Ed Marynowitz, Roseman and director of football administration Jake Rosenberg.

It has been unclear, since the front-office restructuring announced Jan. 2, exactly how this dynamic will work. Will Roseman control every aspect of contract negotiations, make decisions on what the team can afford, or will he work within parameters established by Kelly? No one from the team has been made available to speak to this.

This isn’t ideal, but Roseman and Rosenberg are good negotiators and generally get deals done. Players/agents don’t seem to mind dealing with them. Things could get adversarial at times when Joe Banner was in charge of contracts.

Still no word on Cary Williams contract. Can the Eagles really pay him $8M this year? I find that hard to believe.

It will be interesting to see how Chip Kelly handles the business decisions. Letting go of James Casey certainly wasn’t fun for him, but that shows he can do what’s got to be done.

* * * * *

Someone recently asked about Nate Allen coming back as a backup. I doubt it.

I’d have no problem with Nate as a backup, but there is one flaw. Backup Safeties need to shine on STs. Nate isn’t exactly a warrior on STs and doesn’t fit that role all that well.

If no one else is interested…maybe he comes back to compete for a job.

I am glad he got his name cleared in the recent situation. Nate might be a frustrating player, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about him as a person.

* * * * *

I am mixing in some NFL game watching with draft prep. I’ll have a post up on Brandon Graham soon.

I also watched a bit of Jaylen Watkins recently. I came away feeling better about him than I expected.

And I’ll be writing about Byron Maxwell. Sure feels like the Eagles have to go all-in on him. That makes this good news.

Honestly, the move just makes too much sense. Maxwell needs a big deal. The Eagles need a big corner. Match made in free agent heaven.

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Want to support a good Eagles fan? Check out the show “Fresh Off the Boat” tonight on ABC at 8pm (EST). One of the writers is a die-hard Eagles fan and a friend of mine.

Gotta support each other so we can continue our move toward world domination.

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