More QB Talk

Posted: February 18th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 42 Comments »

There are times when Nick Foles seems too good to be true. That’s one of the reasons the Eagles didn’t want to let him go after the 2014 season. Unfortunately, to make the deal for Sam Bradford they had to give up a QB. Foles regressed during the 2014 season and that’s the only reason the team dealt him. They loved him as a person. He really is the ultimate team guy.

Not everyone is sold that he’s that good.

Of course I’m talking about Mike Florio, the most cynical human being in the history of mankind. Maybe even longer than that. Florio saw Foles hit the talk show circuit this past week and didn’t buy the Mr. Nice Guy answers.

Yes, if the Eagles are handing out Super Bowl cookies, Nick Foles should want the biggest one. As he makes the rounds with TV hosts would wouldn’t have been able to distinguish him from Jon Heder two months ago, Foles danced around the question of whether he wants a chance to get paid a lot more than $7 million in 2018, or to be a starter elsewhere. Considering the full scope of his answers, however, it’s clear that the issue eventually will come up.

“Are you gonna re-sign you say with the Eagles?” Ellen Degeneres asked Foles. “What’s happening?”

Foles didn’t shut the question down by simply saying, “Actually, I’m already signed for next year. So it’s not an issue.” Instead, he gave an answer hinting that a request for something is coming.

“That’s a question that everyone wants to know,” Foles said. “My honest answer, not being politically correct, is all I want to do is just be with my wife, be with my daughter. All that stuff will take care of itself. I’ve been waiting. It’s a long season. We go through a lot. The family sacrificed a lot. Just literally the simple things of just like being there and being present, being at the home all day, being able to go on walks. We have a dog Henry. If I didn’t mention him he’d be sad because he’s gonna watch. Those little things that’s what I look forward to. We’ll see what happens with my career.”

That’s not a commitment to go along with whatever the Eagles want to do. It’s an effort to shift the focus on his career away from the present, with an acknowledgment that the details of his career for 2018 and beyond will be resolved in the not-too-distant future.

Later in the week, Foles was pressed more aggressively on the question of whether he can go back to being a backup quarterback.

“You have to be a starter,” Kimmel said. “You must, you have to be. You’re the Super Bowl MVP.”

Again, he didn’t say something like, “Well, I have a contract with Philadelphia for 2018, and Carson Wentz is the starter.” Instead, he said this: “Yeah, I mean, that’s a question that everyone wants to know. The thing I look forward to — the season’s a long season. The family, my wife. We have an eight-month-old daughter Lily. They sacrifice throughout the year because it’s a seven-day-a-week job, we’re in the facility, come back late. Right now, it’s just focusing on being a husband and father to the best of my ability. This is a time I really look forward to. And then with that part of football, we love Philly. That stuff’s out of my control. We have agents that handle all of that, but we love Philly. We love the situation and we’ll worry about it when that time comes. . . . Yeah, we love Philly. We came back to Philly and they had us. Just to be a part of the community to be a part of bringing the first Super Bowl there. That’s something that’s really special.”

Of course, if it were that simple, there would be nothing for agents to do. Foles would simply be staying put at $7 million for the final year of his deal and then next year would be the time when “stuff will take care of itself” and when “we’ll see what happens with my career.” The fact that he’s not making it clear that there’s no decision to make and nothing to talk about for 2018 strongly suggests that there is something to to talk about — and that it could be Foles’ desire either for a financial reward (much greater than $250,000) to stay with the Eagles or a chance to strike while the iron is glowing.

By pushing it all to his agents, Foles hopes to avoid losing any of the lifetime of goodwill he has earned among Eagles fans. But the agents work for Foles, and all he has to do is to tell them, “I don’t want more money, and I don’t want to be a starter with another team.” Unless and until he does, there’s a chance that the agents will try to squeeze the Eagles for something more than $7 million to continue to serve as the understudy to Wentz.

Ugh.

It really feels like Florio is reaching here.

Foles went to the Rams in 2015 and was absolutely miserable. After they cut him, he seriously contemplated retirement. He was ready to go work in his dad’s restaurant business and also doing youth ministry work. Not exactly Gordon Gekko.

I get where Florio’s cynicism comes from. A lot of coaches and athletes are out to earn every last penny. I’m not naive enough to think every Eagles player will give the team a hometown discount so they can stick around and help the team win another 10 Super Bowls. Brandon Graham wants to get paid. I’m sure Nigel Bradham will be looking for a good deal. Trey Burton is going to get a good contract from some team.

But there are some guys who aren’t out for every penny. After all, you can’t buy happiness. Just look at Eagles history. Plenty of guys left to go chase dollars and came back to play for less because they enjoyed being in Philly and playing for the Eagles. The reverse was true with DeMarco Murray, who came to Philly strictly for the money and ended up making everyone miserable.

Foles was thrilled to come back to the Eagles in 2017. He played for a team he liked. He played for a coach he liked. Yes, he was a backup, but he got to enjoy football again. And he made $4M, so it isn’t like he’s on some minimum deal. Foles is scheduled to make $7M in 2018, which is good money for being a backup.

I’m sure Foles would have interest in being a starting QB and making mega-bucks, but I think that is only true if the situation is right. Which word better describes Foles…missionary or mercenary?

I think this is one case where Florio is absolutely barking up the wrong tree. If Foles leaves the Eagles, it will be on good terms. I’m just not convinced Foles wants out.

*****

Peter King threw out the idea that it would take some team offering two 1st round picks to get the Eagles to trade Foles. Obviously that is insane and won’t be happening.

I’m sure Howie Roseman made it clear the Eagles won’t be giving Foles away so King went with a high guess. It is possible some team could offer a 1st round pick for Foles, but that doesn’t seem likely. I’m starting to wonder if there will be much of a market for his services.

A.J. McCarron will now be a free agent, joining Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, Tedy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford on the market. There are a lot of interesting QB prospects in the upcoming draft.

The Eagles will be patient. They’ll be at the Combine soon and other teams will approach them to see if Foles is available and what the real cost might be.

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Offseason Talk

Posted: February 17th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 200 Comments »

Normally the offseason is an exciting time. You look forward to figuring out how your team will get better. When you’re coming off a Super Bowl win, the offseason isn’t as exciting. You want to keep as many players as possible, but that’s a real challenge. Good players aren’t cheap.

The Eagles showed some goodwill toward Stefen Wisniewski recently.

$250K isn’t much in the big scheme of things, but I’m sure Wiz really appreciates the gesture. It isn’t lost on agents and other players.

The team can’t make everyone happy that easily. Brandon Graham is in the final year of a cheap deal and would like to get paid. Jimmy Bama wrote a good piece on Graham’s contract situation and why the Eagles should pay him. Jimmy pointed out that Graham could get a deal similar to the one signed by Vikings DE Everson Griffen.

In 2018, Graham’s cap number is $8 million. The Eagles could realistically actually lower his cap charge in 2018 by working out a contract extension, and if a deal were to be structured anything like Griffen’s, the Eagles could protect themselves against any age concerns by making him easily releasable after two seasons.

Realistically, the Eagles should be falling over themselves trying to get Graham to sign a deal similar to Griffen’s. From Graham’s perspective, it should take more.

If the Eagles think Graham can be a top flight pass rusher for the next 2 to 3 years, they should give him a new deal. If they have concerns about him declining, then they have a tough decision to make. You can’t talk about Graham’s situation without mentioning Vinny Curry. He signed a big deal a couple of years back and is due $11M in 2018. Curry simply isn’t worth that much money right now. If you can get him to take a pay cut, giving Graham a new deal makes a lot more sense.

The Eagles took a long look at DEs while down at the Senior Bowl. That wasn’t by accident. They know the DE situation is tricky and want to be prepared in case these contract negotiations don’t go as hoped.

I haven’t written much about the draft, but that will be changing.

*****

BGN found an interesting piece by Jason La Canfora. He went through the tough situations facing all 32 teams. About the Eagles…

The more executives I talk to, the more I am convinced that Howie Roseman will keep Nick Foles deep into the offseason and not trade him for anything but significant value. I’m not buying the alleged two first-round pick evaluation, but at least a second-rounder and something else. We’ll see if that market develops, but Foles’s value while Carson Wentz recovers from knee surgery is high. I do, however, expect him to be proactive in what he can get for left tackle Jason Peters. “The offense operated well without Peters, and he’d have some value,” one exec said. “The kid who filled in is nothing special, but the offensive line as a whole was fine without Peters.” Philly is in a cap bind, but Torrey Smith’s $5 million option might be too steep. And the Eagles want to extend Brandon Graham and began talks with him in season.

La Canfora and Howie are buddies. This could be Howie’s way of floating Peters name out there just to see what teams are willing to offer. If some team feels it is a LT away from being really good, they might make a good offer for Peters. With his age, price and the fact he’s coming off injury, I certainly wouldn’t count on that.

You know the Eagles would love to have Peters back, but he’s nearing the end of his career and his price tag is $10.67M. That’s a lot for a team with cap issues. If you could trade him, add some resources and save money…that would have to be tempting. We’ll see if anything comes of this.

Here is the BGN take on Peters.

*****

PFT had an update on the Eagles offensive coordinator situation.

“I’m thinking through a lot of things and processing a lot of things right now, a lot of names,” Pederson said. “I haven’t ruled out not having an offensive coordinator. But you know, as a head coach and some of the responsibilities that I have to do during the week and some of the other obligations, I’ve got to look at that too. Because that’s where your offensive coordinator can really step in so, like I said, I’m processing a bunch of things. I’m not going to rush into it, I’m going to make sure it’s the right person, the right fit for what we’re doing. I think that’s important too, that that person fits the culture and his way of thinking has to coincide with the way we’re thinking and … calling the plays and go from there.”

The Eagles have such a close-knit team and coaching staff that you have to make sure you bring in the right people. There is no reason to rush and make a hire.

Andy Reid struggled to find good replacements for the great staff he initially put together. That hurt the Eagles over time. It will be interesting to see how Pederson handles this challenge.

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A Fun Thought

Posted: February 16th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 177 Comments »

The Eagles just went 13-3 and won the Super Bowl. As crazy as it may sound, it is possible the 2018 team could be even better.

COACHING

There are going to be changes to the staff, but Doug Pederson has put himself up near the top of the NFL. He showed he can run a team and also produce a brilliant offense. Dave Fipp and Jim Schwartz are back. There is a question of what to do at offensive coordinator and we’ll see how that goes. My guess is that they hire an outsider for that role, but we’ll see. They aren’t going to rush and make a move for the sake of making a move. Pederson is very picky.

OFFENSE

Carson Wentz will be back. He’s coming off an MVP type of season and then got to watch the offense thrive without him. That will make him a driven player, but it also could help that he was able to see things you just can’t when you’re playing. QBs tend to get better as they get more experience so we could have an even better version of Wentz in 2018.

I lean toward Nick Foles returning so that would give the Eagles outstanding depth at QB. If Wentz needs to slow down his comeback or gets banged up in the season, the team can turn to a proven QB that the team knows can win big games.

The O-line should be outstanding, with all five starters returning, plus the likely return of Jason Peters.

There will be plenty of skill player talent. There could be some changes at RB, TE and WR, but the key pieces will all return. And Corey Clement could suddenly become a key role player. The guy in the Super Bowl sure looked like someone you want getting more touches in 2018.

DEFENSE

Most of the DL will be back and that group was outstanding in 2017. Tim Jernigan will be even more comfortable in the system. Derek Barnett could take a big step forward. This group could be improved next year.

There are some questions at LB. Jordan Hicks is coming off injury, but is a terrific player when healthy. The team has to decide if they can afford Nigel Bradham. Mychal Kendricks will be tricky as well. He was a good player in 2017, but would be an expensive backup if Hicks and Bradham are the key guys. Nate Gerry showed some promise late in the year. The Eagles need some young talent to add to the mix.

Safety will be set with the starters. The Eagles could try to bring back Corey Graham if he’ll play cheap. Jaylen Watkins is worth keeping around as a backup.

CB could be improved with Sidney Jones set to take one of the starting spots. Ronald Darby will have a full offseason to master the scheme and lock down the other side. Jalen Mills will be in for a major challenge as he likely will slide inside to replace free agent Patrick Robinson. Rasul Douglas will be in Year 2 to provide good depth on the outside.

SPECIAL TEAMS

This unit was up and down in 2017. Jake Elliott missed too many extra points. That is something he and Fipp will work on.

The Rams blocked a punt and got pressure up the middle. Fipp will want to tighten up the punt protection unit.

The Eagles need more production from their return units. Kenjon Barner had one long punt return vs Arizona, but that was it.

There were a lot of young faces on the field in 2017. Those guys learned a lot and can get better in 2018.

OUTLOOK

The Eagles had great chemistry in 2017 and it is hard to imagine things will be that perfect again, but most of the key players will be the same so I expect a strong locker room and a team that still functions well together. There is leadership with Pederson, his staff and the players. That won’t change.

There are no guarantees the Eagles will be as good next January/February, but the talent is there for this team to be better during the regular season.

2018 could be a lot of fun.

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The New Normal

Posted: February 14th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 108 Comments »

Doug Pederson had a blast as he and his team celebrated winning the Super Bowl. There were lots of smiles, hugs and good feelings all around. He also made sure to send a message. “This is the new normal.”

Pederson was referring to playing football in February…winning Super Bowls.

It would be fair for a fan of a rival team to say “Slow your roll there, Douglas. You guys just won the Super Bowl, but the new norm? That’s a pretty bold.”

Why would Pederson say such a thing? Won’t that just fire up rivals and put pressure on his players? Probably. I still think he had a specific reason for his comments. I think he was sending a message to his players.

You didn’t win the Super Bowl as some kind of fluke. You didn’t go 9-7 and just get hot at the right time of the year. This wasn’t about lucky matchups. The Eagles were a great team all year long. They earned that Super Bowl by kicking the asses of the guys across from them. This wasn’t about destiny or heart or anything like that. The Eagles are champs because they were the best team and that’s something they can do again next year and after that as well.

There are no guarantees the Eagles will be great in 2018, but the first step is establishing the right mentality. Good coaches understand that psychology is critical with a team that has already won a title. Those players aren’t as driven as a team that hasn’t won. You have to keep the standard high because, in a sense, they are chasing themselves. The rest of the league will be gunning for the Eagles. The Eagles will be pursuing excellence.

One of the best ways to do that is to have them understand that they just did something special and that they should expect to do it again.

That does put pressure on the players, but this team will have most of the starters back from a 13-3 Super Bowl winner. There should be pressure on them. They need to embrace it and let it bring out the best in them.

Pederson was brilliant this year when it came to motivating his players and getting the best out of them. He’s already started on the 2018 team.

*****

I wrote a piece for PE.com on the Super Bowl win and what a special team this was. I think you’ll enjoy it.

This team has kept a smile on my face going back to September. The last six months have given me a lifetime of great football memories.

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No HOF Game

Posted: February 14th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 117 Comments »

The NFL announced the teams in the Hall of Fame game.

There were some Eagles fans upset with this. They wanted to see the Eagles play in Canton on the weekend when Dawk and TO get enshrined in the HOF. I get that to a certain extent, but the NFL just did the Eagles a huge favor.

This team just played into early February. Teams that play in the HOF game report to Training Camp a week early and then have extra travel and an extra chance for injuries. Starters only play the opening drive, maybe two. Then you have backups for the rest of the game. And the coaches have only been hands on with some of those guys for a few days so the football is low quality.

Remember Colt Brennan? The Skins drafted him out of Hawaii a decade ago. Brennan played lights out in the HOF game and the Skins thought they had found their star QB of the future. They were soooooooooo excited. He went 9-10-123 with a couple of TDs. Brennan never even threw a regular season pass. So much wasted WAS hype (fun for us).

The Eagles have to play in the UK. They have to travel to California. They are going to be the defending champs. This team doesn’t need anything else on their plate. The NFL did the right thing in not sending the Eagles to Canton.

Eagles can, and will, take over the city to show their love for Dawk. That will be an amazing day. Let the players stay in Philly and focus on getting ready for the 2018 season.

*****

Paul Domowitch wrote a terrific piece on RB/RS Donnel Pumphrey. It is easy to give up on the young man because he struggled so mightily last summer, but Pumphrey had been lights out in the spring and just came off a truly great college career. There is still some hope for him.

A hamstring injury really hurt Pumphrey in the summer. Let’s hope he stays healthy this year so we can see what he looks like at 100 percent. The Eagles need to get a feel for whether he can be part of the future or not. It would help a lot if he could be the RS and a solid role player on offense.

Don’t forget how good he was in college.

As for size…he says he is 185 now and hopes to be at 190 by the spring.

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