Start of Something Big

Posted: July 2nd, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

Winning the Super Bowl last February changed Eagles history. No matter what happens, this organization will always be part of a special club. You either have the Lombardi Trophy or you don’t. And the Eagles most certainly do.

There are different hierarchies within that club. The Steelers have 6 Super Bowl wins. The Bucs have one.

Are the Eagles going to be a one and done champion or was last year the start of something big?

I’ve been looking for some data to point out the fact the Eagles look like the real deal and not just an anomaly. Chase Stuart just did that for me.

The 1981 Niners, 1999 Rams and 2001 Patriots all went from losing records to winning the SB. The Niners and Patriots became major dynasties. The Rams are an interesting story.

They got back to the Super Bowl in 2001, but lost that…to those Pats. One thing that hurt the Rams is that right after winning it all, coach Dick Vermeil “retired”. And then went to KC to become coach. Mike Martz replaced him as coach in St. Louis. Martz was a gifted offensive mind, but a highly flawed head coach. If Vermeil had stayed, the Rams might have won another title.

The Eagles are bringing back the bulk of their team. They are bringing back the bulk of the coaching staff. They sure feel like a team that will compete for the Super Bowl this season, as well as into the future.

It seems like teams that win based on defense are more likely to be anomalies. The 1985 Bears never made it back. The 2000 Ravens couldn’t recapture their magic. Nor could the 2002 Bucs. Those teams kept their great players, but playing defense at an all-time great level isn’t something you can sustain. The Bucs were still Top 5 in points and yards allowed in 2003. They just didn’t make the same number of plays (and Brad Johnson threw 21 INTs of his own).

Great offenses are usually built around great QBs. If you have the right QB, you are going to be a contender on a regular basis. The Eagles have the right QB and the right backup QB. They should absolutely be in contention this year.

It is fair to try and poke holes in the Eagles. History is filled with teams that thought they had just won the first of several titles. Seattle was the king of the NFL world in 2013. They had a great young QB and record-setting defense. Everybody studied their schemes and their roster. How did they do it?

Seattle came oh so close to winning the SB again the next year, but Malcolm Butler picked them off and brought the Patriots dynasty back to life. Here we are heading into 2018 and Seattle has been completely torn apart. No dynasty for them. They got their ring and a bunch of What If’s.

Jimmy Bama wrote his dumpster fire piece on the Eagles on Friday. It is hard to really find major holes, but he did point out some legitimate concerns.

I’m pretty confident in the Eagles because of what we saw last year. They were the best team in the league all year long. They beat good teams and blew the doors off bad teams. They dealt with a challenging schedule (logistically speaking). They overcame a slew of key injuries. This wasn’t a case of a team winning a bad division and then getting hot in the postseason. This wasn’t about lucky matchups.

The Eagles beat the defending NFC champions in the first round of the playoffs. Then they beat the best defense in football. Then they beat the top offense (and defending SB champs) to win the Super Bowl. That’s about as legit as you can get.

If history is any indicator, the Eagles are going to be a lot of fun to watch for the next few years.

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No Nigel in the Opener

Posted: June 30th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Nigel Bradham had a couple of off-field incidents in 2016. We wondered if the NFL would ever punish him for his actions.

Question answered.

https://twitter.com/Jeff_McLane/status/1012807032817311744

All in all that seems pretty reasonable.

Jimmy Bama seemed to think Bradham would be pretty happy about that outcome.

Such an artist.

How does this affect the Eagles? While the suspension only being one game is good news, having to replace Bradham in a key game will be quite the challenge. That’s especially true at LB, where the Eagles have a lot of bodies, but little proven depth.

Assuming the Eagles stay healthy at LB between now and the opener, I’m  guessing Jordan Hicks will be the MLB and Corey Nelson the WLB. Those two will likely also be the LBs in the Nickel D. It sounds like Nate Gerry has a chance to be the SAM. He would play in base looks.

Obviously a lot can change between now and September. Kamu Grugier-Hill has outperformed Nelson to this point, but Nelson is learning on the fly. He’ll have a much better feel for things in Training Camp. Maybe KGH continues to shine and wins the WLB job. Gerry could play well enough that the Eagles actually want him on the field.

The other possibility isn’t as fun. Hicks is solid in the middle, but the OLBs underachieve and the Eagles are shaky going into the opener.

The Eagles will have all summer to plan for this situation. That’s very different than a guy getting hurt and having to throw a player onto the field and hoping for the best. The Eagles coaching staff should be able to figure out a good solution for a single game.

You can bet the Falcons will use a lot of 2-TE sets to try to keep the Eagles in base looks. Atlanta will want as many LBs on the field as possible, seeing that as a weakness. We’ll have to wait and see how the Eagles players respond.

*****

Mike Florio is just dying for problems to come up between Carson Wentz and Nick Foles.

Eagles fans showed up as early as 4:30 a.m. for a Friday night book signing by Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles (but there definitely won’t be a quarterback controversy in Philly).

Florio is a lawyer and a cynic of the most extreme degree. He just knows that the Eagles are headed for Drama City.

Nick Foles seems too good to be true and Florio isn’t buying it. He’s just sure that the first time Wentz throws a pick, Foles will be angling to get on the field. Or that some on the coaching staff will want that. Or some of the players. Or some fans.

In his mind, there will be a QB controversy.

That might happen. But this also might be the right group of players and coaches to keep that from happening. Foles and Wentz are very close. Doug Pederson isn’t the typical alpha male coach who rules with a “My way or the highway” mentality. Eagles players love Foles, but know Wentz is the heart and soul of this team. Eagles fans see Wentz as the franchises savior.

We’ve all seen bad Foles. And that’s not pretty. We haven’t really seen bad Wentz. He will have to really struggle for a real amount of fans to want him benched.

Could there be a vocal minority shouting for Foles? Heck yes. There was a vocal minority pushing for Nate Sudfeld to play over Foles heading into the playoffs last year. Pederson isn’t going to listen to fans. And as much as he loves Nick Foles, Pederson knows Wentz is his meal ticket for the next decade (or two).

Unless Wentz is just dreadful, I don’t see a legit QB controversy happening in Philly.

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Still Moves to be Made?

Posted: June 29th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles have arguably the best roster in the NFL. And they may not be finished.

Look at who the Eagles added last year after May 1.

  • LeGarrette Blount
  • Corey Graham
  • Ronald Darby (trade)
  • Dexter McDougle (trade)
  • Nate Sudfeld
  • Jake Elliott
  • Kenjon Barner
  • Dannell Ellerbe
  • Jay Ajayi (trade)
  • Bryan Braman
  • Will Beatty

The Eagles made some of those moves due to injury, but others due to a desire to get better.

Not all of those additions were home runs. Heck, some didn’t mean a thing. It does go to show you that Howie Roseman wasn’t going going to rest on “We’re good enough”.

The team would seem to be fairly set for this upcoming season, but I’ll be surprised if they don’t make a couple of minor moves between now and early August. They could add a backup safety. They could sign a DT to add to the mix. They could consider bringing in a MLB for depth.

The key isn’t to make a move, but rather to make a move you think will make you better. Too often I think fans have the mentality that “doing something is better than doing nothing” when the exact opposite is probably true. By that I mean that you should trust the players already on your roster.

If you have a good personnel staff and have acquired talented players and if you have good coaches who can develop young players, trust your guys. The Eagles didn’t panic when Darren Sproles got hurt. They signed Kenjon Barner to replace his roster spot. His offensive touches went to Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, guys already in place. Clement proved he could handle the load and became a key player for the Eagles.

In some ways, the Bryan Braman move was the most interesting. The Eagles were 11-2 when they signed him. They had a punt blocked and returned for a TD a couple of days earlier. You have to think Doug Pederson and Dave Fipp decided it would be worth it to bring in a veteran STs player to help the team in the stretch run and the postseason.

Braman helped the Eagles block a punt in his very first game back. They were down 20-7 at the time so that was a huge play. Braman did his job and helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl. That’s a great signing, even if people don’t pay all that much attention to it.

Howie Roseman will keep his eyes open for players who can help the Eagles. Joe Douglas and Andy Weidl know the players from all the pre-draft study they did and they know which guys they like. Dwayne Joseph and the pro personnel staff study everyone in the league, waiting for the right guys to come available.

The Eagles probably won’t make a splash move, but they can make key moves if they find the right guys.

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Way Under the Radar

Posted: June 27th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Aziz Shittu signed with the Eagles as a UDFA in 2016. He had a good preseason and showed real promise. He spent time on the practice squad. I was interested to see the kind of progress he would make in 2017. Unfortunately Shittu got hurt and we didn’t get to see him.

The Eagles brought Shittu back this year and he’s had some good moments.

Shittu has a real opportunity this summer. The Eagles are light at DT with Tim Jernigan being injured. Destiny Vaeao and Elijah Qualls are ahead of Shittu on the depth chart, but neither one has played at such a level that they are guaranteed anything.

Doug Pederson mentioned Shittu to the media this spring in a press conference. When you’ve gotten the attention of the head coach, that’s a good thing.

The Eagles prefer DTs that can penetrate and make plays. That’s Shittu at his best.

Shittu had 14.5 TFLs as a senior at Stanford. He can be a playmaker.

Shittu had 1.5 sacks in the 2016 preseason. The Eagles want to see more of that this summer. If they do, Shittu could push for a roster spot and maybe even some playing time.

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Comeback Kids

Posted: June 27th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Comeback Kids

The thought of adding special talents like Darren Sproles and Jason Peters to the Eagles offense is pretty exciting. The offense played most of the year without them and did some amazing things. Now you bring back talented veterans, and guys who will have a chip on their shoulders.

At the same time, it is fair to ask about what to expect from them. Peters is 36-years old and coming off a major injury. Sproles is “only” 35, but he’s coming off two injuries. If these guys played for another team, it is fair to say we’d be somewhat skeptical of their return.

Let’s start by looking at how they played last year.

Peters was having a good year. Maybe even a great year. He’s not at the level he was back in 2011. That was his peak and he was a freakishly good LT back then. He can still be a dominant player, which is crazy for a man in his mid-30’s. Football is a young man’s game. Peters really is a freak.

If he’s healthy, I would expect him to play at a high level. Everything we’ve heard publicly is that he’s on pace to be back for the season and he’s looked good so far. Peters knows that Father Time will catch him at some point so he’s a man on a mission, trying to get back on the field to be part of an elite team that can make a Super Bowl run.

Peters missed the 2012 season with an Achilles injury and returned to play at a high level in 2013. Comebacks aren’t new to him. He knows what he has to do to get healthy. The Eagles coaches and support staff are monitoring him closely. They want Peters to push himself, but also understand the importance of rest and recovery to an older player.

Jeff Stoutland and Doug Pederson know what Peters can do. They won’t need to see needless practice reps from him. They’ll make sure he gets his work in. but also will let him rest and get mental reps.

I expect Peters to return at a high level.

Sproles only played 3 games last year and got hurt early in the third. We don’t have a lot to judge him on. Sproles was averaging 4.1 yards per carry and 10 yards per reception when he got hurt. Those are good numbers. That’s especially true when you remember that Isaac Seumalo was the LG for the first two games and really struggling. Sproles didn’t get much time to play behind the O-line when it was at its best.

Sproles only returned one punt last year. He got 10 yards on that. He is at his best as a returner, but we just didn’t get to see much of that.

All indications are that Sproles will be fully healthy. He’s been running around and looks good. Sproles says the only ones holding him back right now are the Eagles. He’d like to be out there fully practicing. You have to love that mindset, even if the Eagles are smart to bring him along slowly.

Peters will be the starting LT. Sproles may slide from the #2 RB to the #3 spot, behind Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. Sproles will still have a key role on offense, especially as a receiver. I think Pederson also is really excited to get him back for his return skills. The Eagles were inconsistent on STs last year. Sproles would bring some juice to the return game. With a reduced role on offense, Sproles could the the PR and the KOR.

Jason Peters has never played for the winning team in a playoff game. Darren Sproles has done that, but has never gotten to a Super Bowl. Both men loved watching the Eagles win last year, but really want a chance to get on the field in the Super Bowl. These guys are going to do whatever it takes to make it back and help the Eagles win games in 2018.

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