Mr. Right?

Posted: January 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 177 Comments »

The Eagles found their QB.

Carson Wentz is the future.

The Eagles found the biggest piece of the puzzle, now they just have to build around him.

Some people hear statements like these and wonder how true they are. Wentz went 7-9 this year. He finished with a rating under 80. He only threw 16 TDs and turned the ball over more than 20 times. He threw a ton of short passes and failed to come through late in games for most of the year. How the heck is that guy your franchise QB?

I think many people get confused with what we’re talking about. Wentz has the potential to be a franchise QB. He has the tangible qualities and the intangibles to develop into a star. He isn’t anywhere close to that level right now. When you think of Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre and the other classic examples of franchise QBs, you think of the finished product. Those players, like most QBs, were very different early on.

Dak Prescott is having an amazing rookie season. He’s set more than a few records and looks like the real deal. Why can’t Wentz be like him? As with any QB, circumstances are a huge factor. RB Ezekiel Elliott has a legit chance to be the league MVP. Think about that for a second. Prescott is having a great year and he’s not even the best rookie in the offensive huddle. Elliott is the foundation of that whole team. Prescott just has to get the ball to his playmakers. That takes a tremendous amount of pressure off him.

Wentz has no such star RB to lean on. The Eagles lack playmakers. Who is the MVP of the Eagles offense? Jason Peters started all 16 games, but wasn’t dominant. Darren Sproles was terrific at times, but finished with 865 yards from scrimmage and 4 TDs, hardly great numbers. Jordan Matthews was the key to the passing game, but failed to make some key plays and missed a couple of games. Wentz should be the offensive MVP.

Some of you read this and say “You’re just making excuses for Wentz. Stop it!”. Nothing could be further from the case.

I can’t tell you that Wentz would be great if he had Julio Jones to throw to or David Johsnon to hand the ball to or whichever skill players you want to bring up. I don’t know how Wentz would perform. He hasn’t had the chance to do that. And that’s the point. We need to see how he does play when surrounded by really good talent.

No young QB is going to thrive when he has to carry most of the load on his own. It always bothered me when Peyton Manning got praised over and over and no one brought up the point that he always had HOF talent around him. The moment he stepped onto an NFL field, he had Marvin Harrison and Marshall Faulk as his weapons. Faulk was then traded and replaced with Edgerrin James. Manning was great, but those are some seriously potent weapons to work with.

Late in his time with the Colts, things fell apart. Manning didn’t have his star players. He still found a way to pile up yards and points. That’s when I truly gained an appreciation for him. But Manning had more than a decade of experience by then and could carry a team on his back.

How many people remember Steve Young in Tampa? He left BYU and went to the USFL, where he was a star. Then he came to the NFL, but had the misfortune of going to the worst franchise in the league, the Bucs. Young played there in 1985 and 1986. He went 3-16 as a starter. He threw 11 TDs and 21 INTs. Bill Walsh traded for him and Young sat behind Joe Montana for a few years before he got a chance to play. Young then had an amazing run from 1991 until he retired. Even a special talent like Young needed the right situation to make him a star.

Wentz might become a star if the Eagles can find the right supporting cast. It is also possible that we’ll find out he’s not that guy. I can tell you that I see all the right signs. I can tell you that he looked better to me as a rookie than Donovan McNabb did. If Wentz turns out to be a better version of McNabb, he’ll be a terrific pick and the team should be in for a good run.

It is also possible that Wentz will prove to be a mediocre QB like Sam Bradford or a flat out bust like Matt Leinart or Jake Locker. I don’t think he is likely to be a complete bust because of what we’ve seen so far this year and the fact that Wentz is hard working and driven. Locker just wasn’t that good. Leinart was focused more on hot chicks than hot reads (understandable, but not good for a QB).

We need a couple of things to find out if Wentz is the real deal. The first is time. It took Matt Stafford a few years to really blossom as a QB., The Lions were patient and it paid off. Time works the other way as well. Mark Sanchez looked like a terrific young QB early on, beating Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in playoff games. He didn’t handle success well off the field and his game regressed on the field. He could be out of the league in a month or so.

We also need the Eagles to get Wentz some key pieces. That could mean an elite RB. It could mean a great receiver. It could be a couple of good receivers. Whatever. We need to see how Wentz plays when he has good players around him.

Then we’ll find out if he is in fact Mr. Right.

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Down Goes Dallas

Posted: January 1st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 464 Comments »

The Eagles wrapped up the 2016 season with a 27-13 win over the Cowboys. The Eagles wrapped up the game with a late TD run by rookie Terrell Watson and that put a smile on my face.

This has been a frustrating season. Finishing with a 2-game winning streak and a win over Dallas is a good way to end on a high note. The Watson TD was sweet because this was his first NFL game, his family was in attendance and he’s got such a compelling background story. That TD will mean something to Watson, his friends and his family.

People will point out that Dallas was missing some starters and used 3 QBs. That’s absolutely true. But don’t overlook the fact the Eagles had UDFA skill players all over the place. Beyond that, there were 12 first or second year players getting regular snaps in the game. I don’t think the Eagles need to apologize at all for winning that game.

Jordan Hicks was terrific, coming up with a pair of INTs (courtesy of Mark Sanchez). He also had 5 solo tackles. Brandon Graham did not have a sack, but he was disruptive all game long. He did have 2 TFLs. Nolan Carroll is the one defender who struggled. He was hit with a couple of PI’s and gave up the lone TD of the game. Not a great way to close out a season where you are looking for a new contract.

It was fun to watch Byron Marshall (10-42) and Watson (9-28-1) run the ball. Marshall has come a long way since the first couple of carries in the Ravens game. He looked so lost on those. Now he runs with confidence. He’s proven to be stronger and more physical than I anticipated. Marshall also has a good burst. Watson showed his physicality as he ran over tacklers a couple of times. He has good speed for a big man. Marshall could be part of long range plans. Watson is more of a developmental player.

The biggest takeaway from the game is that Carson Wentz played pretty well and came away healthy. He started the game well, went into a lull and then finished pretty strong. He was 27-43-245 with a pair of TDs and no turnovers. Wentz didn’t have Jordan Matthews to throw to and then Nelson Agholor got hurt early on. That meant a ton of work for Zach Ertz, who had a huge day. Ertz was 13-139 with 2 TDs. He actually did a good job of adding RAC yards as well. It will be interesting to see how Wentz plays when he has skill players he can rely on every week.

There is a lot more to the 2-8 stretch than just Johnson’s absence, but you cannot ignore the fact he makes this team better.

We’ll quickly shift the conversation from this game to the offseason.

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Halftime – PHI 10, DAL 10

Posted: January 1st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 157 Comments »

Weird game because Dallas is has already used all 3 of their QBs. And because the 2016 Eagles are just a very weird team.

What have we learned?

  • Jordan Hicks is good.
  • Carson Wentz is talented, but very inconsistent.
  • Mark Sanchez is awful.
  • The Eagles need WRs in a big way.
  • Nolan Carroll is not an elite shutdown corner.

That’s about it.

Can’t wait for the 2nd half.

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Gameday – The Boys Are Back in Town

Posted: January 1st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 128 Comments »

I hate Dallas. You hate Dallas. Every respectable living creature on the planet hates Dallas.

Losing to them is a miserable experience. Losing to them at home is even worse. The Eagles have not beaten Dallas at The Linc since 2011. That’s crazy and depressing at the same time. The Eagles have been a good home team this year, going 5-2. The Eagles have played outstanding defense at home.

Let’s hope that trend continues today. I don’t care that this game doesn’t affect the standings. I want to beat the Boys and end this annoying home losing streak to them. Let’s get 2017 off to a good start.

The biggest surprise is Kendricks. If Dallas goes out of a standard set, that will mean reps at LB for Najee Goode. He had a very good preseason, but hasn’t played much LB, if any, this year.

Keep Carson Wentz healthy beyond all else. We want him focusing on his game in the offseason and not rehab or some surgery, even a minor one.

I am happy about this.

Seumalo has shown real talent and potential. The more experience he gets, the better.

Win or lose, give us a fun game. This hasn’t been a great year to be sure, but let’s hope the finale is fun and sends us off with a smile on our face. This is the final Eagles football for the next 7 months.

Go Eagles.

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Season Finale Eve

Posted: December 31st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 29 Comments »

The 2016 season is over on Sunday. We get to see Dallas come to town. The game doesn’t mean anything in the standings, but you always want to beat Dallas. You never want to see a smile on Jerry Jones face.

I wrote a piece for PE.com on the game, but also about how the Eagles can learn from Dallas. A year ago they were a 4-12 team that finished 31st in the league in scoring points. This year they are going to win at least 13 games and are 4th in points and yards. What a difference a year makes. The Eagles can learn from Dallas and find themselves greatly improved next year.

It sounds like the Eagles will be without WR Jordan Matthews on Sunday. That will make things more difficult for Carson Wentz, but it gives Paul Turner another chance to show what he can do.

*****

Not much sympathy for Chip in Philly.

I’m not on the anti-Chip bandwagon. He was a great coach at New Hampshire and at Oregon. He did some impressive things with the Eagles. Chip is a very flawed coach, but he’s had a significant impact on the game of football and I hope he finds a spot where he can get back to being fun to follow.

*****

Happy New Year!!!

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