Speed is Going to be Key for the Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles had a goal going into the off-season to get Carson Wentz’s speed. I think it’s fair to say that I got some speed. Now the talent of that speed is another question, but let’s evaluate the need for speed the Eagles have.

It’s clear that the Eagles missed Desean Jackson last year. Considering that Jackson totaled the fifth-most receiving TDs’ for the Eagles this season while only playing three games (only one full one), was a problem. We all saw what could happen when Wentz had an option that could get open 25 yards plus, and catch the ball. In particular, the two plays that we all remember from Wentz to Jackson last year were the two touchdowns in week 1. Both of those plays were 50 yards or more (51 and 53 yards to be exact). Even with two 25+ yard touchdowns in one game, Wentz went on to only have three more in the other 15 games of the season. So it’s clear that the Eagles needed speed.

“But we already knew that!”

Yet there is a pattern to Wentz’s performance to the amount of TDs’ of 25 yards or more he has per season. Wentz had five touchdowns that met that criteria in 2019, three in 2018, eight in 2017, and three in 2016. It makes sense, the more big plays you have, the better your team will be.
Wentz’s best year was in 2017 when he was arguably on his way to win the MVP award. It makes sense that his most “big plays” came in that year. For 2019, arguably his second most impressive year, and then 2016 and 2018 follow behind. The Eagles investing a first-round pick in Jalen Reagor, trading for Marquise Goodwin, and drafting John Hightower and Quez Watkins in the later rounds was an attempt to give Wentz more speed.

In the games when Carson Wentz throws 25 yards or more for a TD, the Eagles are 10-4 in those games. For games when he throws 30 yards or more and it results in a touchdown, the Eagles are 9-2 in those games. 40 yards or more 6-1. The outlier in the last one was the Titans game from 2018, so that really doesn’t count.

All those statistics are just evidence to show that Wentz with speed, equals wins. With all of this speed, the Eagles are trying to build a foundation that gives the teams weapons down the field. With Ertz, Godert, Jeffery, and whoever 25 yards and in placing options for Wentz, Jackson, Reagor, and Goodwin will cover everything else.

No Eagles fan will question the method of getting speed for the Eagles, now the players that they acquired to do so, maybe.

“Are Reagor’s hands good enough?”

“Can Jackson or Goodwin play a 16 game season?”

“Why did they draft Jalen Hurts?”

Okay the last one might be for a different matter, but nevertheless before you blast Howie Roseman for having the worst draft ever, evaluate. The Eagles did get faster, Wentz now has speed. We don’t know right now if Reagor over Jefferson was a mistake, or spending two later round draft picks on players with the same skillset was the right decision.

In conclusion, Howie Roseman addressed the speed aspect for Carson Wentz. The players we can debate, but the fundamental ideas were addressed. I’m not saying Roseman has given Wentz everything he has ever wanted, nevertheless, the Eagles have answered on speed end for the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Grading the Eagles' Free Agency Moves

After letting some big name free agents slip through their hands on day one, Eagles fans seemingly lost hope in the front office. Byron Jones signed with the Dolphins, Stefon Diggs got traded to the Bills, and most of the names Eagles fans wanted to target were off the market. The signing of Javon Hargrave only exacerbated the frustration of Eagles fans as the front office chose to superload a position of strength when there were glaring weaknesses on the roster. Then Darius Slay happened. The trade for Darius Slay was a phenomenal move by Howie and the rest of the guys. The Lions were in a poor position after they signed Trufant and were forced to trade Slay in a couple of hours. This allowed the Eagles to acquire Slay at an extremely low price. The birds followed this acquisition with a couple of strong depth signings. That being said, here are the grades for our free agency moves thus far:

Resigning DB Jalen Mills to a 1 year/ $5 million deal: A-

I’m still not sure how the Eagles managed to sign Mills for such a cheap price. Mills came back from his Lisfranc foot surgery in an emphatic way. He solidified his position as our CB1 and offered stability at a relatively unstable position. The move to safety is one that I, and many other Eagles fans, am excited to see. Mills played safety at LSU and excelled there. If it weren’t for off the field issues he would not have dropped to the 7th round. He has been told that he will assume the Malcolm Jenkins role. These are obviously huge shoes to fill. But if anyone can do it, it’s the Green Goblin. He has this gaudiness to him that makes him fit to be a CB, S, or LB. His tackling ability is top notch and he backs down to no man. Much like Jenkins, he embodies the Philly mentality. Losing Jenkins was gut wrenching and left a sour taste in the mouths of all Eagles fans, but the resigning of Mills should act as a mint.

Signing DT Javon Hargrave to a 3 yr/ $39 million deal: B+

The duo of Cox and Hargrave will give offensive coordinators literal nightmares. Fletcher Cox had a poor statistical season last year because of the constant double teaming he faced. If teams double him this year with Hargrave lined up right next to him? Good luck. Now this signing didn’t address our principal needs which is why it didn’t reach an A, but this is going to be fun to watch. Hargrave is a strong, bull of a man who simply knows how to attack the QB. He was shadowed by Tuitt, Watt, Dupree and many other talented defensive Steelers last year, but with more reps, he will prove how he is a force to be reckoned with. The move was a bit puzzling at first, but after watching some film, one can understand how disruptive Hargrave truly is. We already know that Schwartz rarely blitzes but with this signing, it seems as if he doesn’t even have to. Oh, and did I mention Malik Jackson is rostered and healthy as well? The best part of this signing is that we can finally see Cox getting one on one matchups. Because Schwartz rarely blitzed, Cox was the target of a lot of offensive gameplans and thus, a lot of double teams. This year will have a different narrative.

Trading for and signing CB Darius Slay to a 3 yr/$50 million deal: A

Darius Slay is a straight playmaker. The clear differentiation between him and Byron Jones is that Slay has a knack for locating and intercepting the ball. The Eagles haven’t had this type of talent at CB since Asante Samuel. Now, we’ve seen the Nnamdi Asomugha experiment fail and the same thing be done for the Byron Maxwell signing. But this just feels different doesn’t it? To make matters better, in the two games Darius Slay has faced Amari Cooper, he has been utterly shut down. Cooper has 0 TDs and averages only 21 yards per game when being followed by Slay. Darius Slay is the type of cornerback to welcome a challenge against opposing teams number one guy. In fact, he prides himself on doing just that. And in a 2020 schedule when the Eagles face Hopkins, Beckham, Thomas, Green, Kupp, Cooper (twice), McLaurin (twice), and Smith-Schuster, the acquisition of a true CB1 who is not afraid to cover any receiver in this league was crucial. The Eagles simply delivered. They covered up a hole that has been a detriment to this organization for years. And they only traded a 3rd and a 5th to do so. Howie has outdone himself with this signing, and the fact that Slay is in Philly for 3 more years is exciting to say the least.

Signing LB Jatavis Brown to a 1 year deal: B

This is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward type move. Jatavis Brown had a down year last year, but had more than 90 tackles in 2018. He’s athletic and most importantly, he’s young. He wasn’t a full time starter in Los Angeles, but a change of scenery may turn him into just that. With the departure of Nigel Bradham, the depth at the LB position has thinned and the Eagles were (and still are) in dire need of quality LBs. At the worst, Jatavis will come in an immediately help in Special Teams, but an impressive training camp could bump him into being a starting linebacker.

Signing S Will Parks to a 1 year/$1.6 mil deal: A

When two sides want to make something happen, chances are that it’ll happen. Philly native Will Parks wanted to come back to his hometown in such a great fashion that he took a paycut to play for the Eagles. He’s a physical, passionate player who in my eyes, should take over the Malcolm Jenkins role. He lacks elite coverage skills, but he makes up for it in tackling and athleticism. I would love to see him in the box, confusing the defense and acting as the wildcard for our defense. The cheap price tag is the most mind boggling part of this deal. Parks could’ve easily signed for more money elsewhere. Instead, he chose to come to Philadelphia. We should all respect that fact.

After receiving some criticism on day 1 of free agency, Howie has delivered in an emphatic way. Headlined by the Darius Slay move, the Eagles free agency period has improved the talent on the team without breaking the bank and has left them flexibility to sign a couple more role players. What Howie Roseman has done so far is remarkable. And draft season is only getting started…

Making Sense of the Javon Hargrave signing

The Eagles have signed Javon Hargrave to a 3 year/ $39 million deal.

The NFL Free Agency period has been crazy. WR DeAndre Hopkins was traded to the Cardinals. Stefon Diggs was traded to the Bills. Former backup LT Halapoulivaati Vaitai inked a luxurious 5 year/ $50 million deal. And all these moves all happened in the first day. With all of these big name players being moved, the Eagles signed someone that some Eagles fans may not have even known: Javon Hargrave. A player who was underused in the Steelers system, Hargrave, AKA the “Grave Digger”, is a NT/DT that can get to the quarterback in a hurry. He registered 6 sacks in a scheme that didn’t even favor him. Schwartz’s 4-3 defense combined with the fact that he will lined up next to Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and a multitude of other talented pass rushers, makes the Eagles’ defensive line scary.

Similar to Fletcher Cox, his pure strength makes him a nightmare for offensive linemen. Don’t forget, the Eagles also have Malik Jackson, a talented interior lineman whose season was cut short last year, on the inside as well. Last year, Cox saw a plethora of double teams come his way. Malik Jackson was supposed to help Cox break out, but his injury allowed opposing teams to double Cox and because Schwartz rarely blitzes, this allowed for one on ones on the outside. Doubling Cox and leaving Hargraves and/or Jackson in a one on one is something that teams just can’t afford to do. This signing is great for Cox in particular.

Hargraves is a short and compact player who has a powerful bull rush. You’re not going to get the finesse in the big fella as you may see in Cox, but he knows how to use his hands and how to attack offensive linemen. He may not be the run stopper that you may expect him to be, but the Eagles are already tremendous at stopping the run, as they ranked in the top 3 in rushing yards allowed, but ranked in the middle of the pack in sacks per game. And the importance that he can now play in a scheme that fits the way he plays cannot be stressed enough. Hargrave was shadowed by Tuitt in his time in Pittsburgh and was able to perform when given the opportunity. The Steelers just had to choose between Dupree and Hargrave. The Eagles should be thankful they chose Dupree.

Many people such as myself wanted the Eagles to make a splash and sign Byron Jones or trade for Stefon Diggs. The thing with football is that one improvement can have a domino effect. A more talented defensive line will help the secondary defend deep passes because the QB will have less time to throw. Now as of March 17th, the Eagles have not done enough this free agency. But after cooling down, I realize how valuable the Hargrave signing is. I’m extremely excited to see what he can do in Philadelphia.

6 Eagles Breakout Candidates for the 2020 season

We’re slowly witnessing a new page being turned in the Philadelphia Eagles franchise. Jason Peters and the Eagles have parted ways, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are bound to departure, Darren Sproles has retired, and it’s time for new players to step up and fill the void that these talented players are leaving. The Eagles could quickly find themselves in a rebuilding stage if young players fail to perform at a high level. It’s absolutely imperative that Eagles have a number of breakout players in 2020.

1) Andre Dillard

Dillard is now in the spotlight after the news of Jason Peters and is left with one of the most important roles in football. To put it in perspective as to how important left tackle really is, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, (yes, I had to google how to spell that) our current backup tackle, is in the market for $12 million/year. The importance of protecting a quarterback’s blind side cannot be stressed enough. And considering we’ll play Chase Young, Demarcus Lawrence, and many other talented pass rushers two times a year, Dillard needs to step up. And I really think he will. He showed flashes of excellence last year and is one of my favorite draft choices in recent memory. He has quick feet, a long reach, and has a beautiful kick-slide. He has the talent to fill Jason Peters’ shoes, but it’s always hard to follow up such an accomplished player such as Peters.

2) Dallas Goedert

When Ertz was struggling with injuries last year, Goedert assumed the role of TE1 and proved his value to the Philadelphia Eagles for years to come. I believe his play opened the eyes of some of the coaches and now more than ever, an emphasis will be put on 2 TE sets. And when the Eagles bolster their WR core, the middle of the field will open up for Goedert and Ertz. You have to remember that last year, teams were doubling Ertz and Goedert because of the lack of offensive firepower and they still managed to produce. I expect defenses to gameplan for Ertz, leaving the door open for Goedert to have a career year.

3) Nathan Gerry

The Eagles declined Bradham’s team option are now in a bit of a limbo at the linebacker position. With no proven players, it has become a hole in our roster and is a position of need. Joe Schobert and Blake Martinez highlight some of the free agent linebackers, but if history tells us one thing, it’s that the Eagles likely won’t sign a free agent linebacker. Gerry and Grugier-Hill both are candidates to break out, but I gave Gerry the edge because of his speed. Sideline to sideline linebackers are becoming more and more popular in today’s pass happy league and Gerry fits that prototype. If he can improve his tackling and physicality, the former safety from the University of Wisconsin can truly break out in the 2020 season.

4) Miles Sanders

This one is a bit of an anomaly on this list because unlike everyone else, Sanders has already proved himself among Eagles fans and coaches. The next step for Miles Sanders is proving himself to the world. His combination of running and pass catching is second to none and he has the ability to become a top 5 all around back in this league. A full season as a starter will only boost his stats, and I can’t wait to see what he can do next year.

5) Derek Barnett

Aside from a strip sack recovery, Barnett has underwhelmed as a high first round pick and has many people questioning his future in Philly after his rookie deal expires. One thing I love about him is that he was able to perform well in college without insane physical talent; he is just a very crafty and skillful player who knows how to get to the quarterback. He has experienced a plethora of small and persisting injuries throughout his young career, and a healthy 2020 campaign is crucial.

6) Josh Sweat

I must preface this by admitting my bias towards Josh Sweat. For whatever reason, I am a HUGE fan of Josh Sweat. I love how tall he is, how imposing he is, and how diverse his bag of tricks is. As a pass rusher, it’s important to have a mix between power and finesse and Sweat has both of those boxes checked. He played a limited amount of snaps last year and was able to sack the quarterback four times. With more snaps, I truly believe Sweat can break out in the 2020 season. The issue is that it’s going to be tough for him to get those snaps. The depth at defensive end is a good problem to have and Schwartz has done a good job at rotating all of his pass rushers to keep them fresh, but Sweat deserves more of an opportunity. However, if Barnett fails to stay on the field, Sweat could vulture some of his snaps and potentially “Wally Pipp” him.

Did I forget anyone? Let me know in the comments!

Grading the Last 3 Eagles Drafts

The Eagles are notorious for drafting poorly. Whether it be the lack of scouting, lack of good decision making, or a mixture of the two, it seems as if the Eagles can never have a solid draft class. And in a league that is constantly getting an influx of young talent, drafts are telling for the future of any team. This is especially true for a veteran (and injury plagued) team like the Eagles. That being said, let’s take a look at the Eagles’ significant draft choices.

2019 Draft: A few hits?

Round 1: OT Andre Dillard Grade: A-

Dillard was not a flashy pick at the time, but was surely the correct one. With an aging Peters and a constant need to protect Wentz, Dillard was a sturdy selection and should contribute to the Eagles this coming season.

Round 2: RB Miles Sanders Grade: A

Sanders was an absolute stud this past season. After an unfortunate injury to Jordan Howard, the Eagles looked to be in trouble in terms of running the ball. Sanders not only assumed this role, he solidified for years to come. Just to put his superb play into perspective, he ranked 13th in scrimmage yards among all RBs. This is especially impressive given his limited play time for more than half the year. The future is bright with Sanders.

Round 2: WR JJ Arcega Whiteside Grade: D+

He’s not a bust. Not after one year of play. But if his performance last year is similar to that of next year? He’s a bust. Even after our receivers got absolutely decimated with injuries, JJAW was unable to step up and make any real difference. All hope isn’t lost in Whiteside, but I fear Philly has made him lose all hope in himself.

Round 4: DE Shareef Miller Grade: C-

Round 5: QB Clayton Thorson Grade: F

Why in the world did the Eagles take Thorson here? Regardless of the answer to that question, Thorson was absolutely abysmal in his short lived career in Philly. He was unable to make the practice squad as a 5th round pick. I’m going to say that again just to attempt to fathom the stupidity involved in this pick. He was unable to to make the practice squad as a 5th round pick.

2018 Draft

Round 2: Dallas Goedert Grade: A

Dallas Goedert is a top ten TE as a 2nd stringer behind a top 3 TE. That is an extremely difficult task to accomplish, but Goedert has done it. He came on strong at the end of last year and gave Eagles fans glimpses of how dangerous a 2 TE set with Goedert and Ertz could be. I, along with the rest of you guys, am extremely excited to see what the future holds for Goedert.

Round 4: Avonte Maddox Grade: B-

Maddox has performed decently well for a guy who was selected in the 4th round, but has never been more than just another body in the young mess that is the Eagles’ secondary. Maybe a move to safety would help his game? Regardless, this wasn’t a bad pick by any means.

Round 4: Josh Sweat Grade: B

Josh Sweat has been constantly shadowed by Graham, Barnett and Curry throughout the entirety of his career. Although he hasn’t done much in the regular season, I’m giving him a B because when asked to perform, he has. A breakout year for Sweat is pending.

Round 6: Matt Pryor Grade: B-

Pryor was never expected to be a starting offensive lineman in this league. He’s supposed to be a guy who is versatile and can get the job done when someone goes down. That’s exactly what he did last year when Brooks got hurt. He’s another quality offensive lineman. Never hurts to have another one of those.

2017 Draft: Substandard

Round 1: Derek Barnett Grade: C-

If not for a fumble recovery in the Super Bowl, Barnett would be getting bashed by Eagles fans. He’s not been durable and has not performed to the standards of someone who was picked at 14. Barnett is someone who I believe that Eagles should shop around and see what the value is for him.

Round 2: Sidney Jones Grade: C-

Sidney Jones has been an interesting corner to evaluate. One game he’s making the game winning deflection, and another he’s letting every WR burn him deep. In many ways he has epitomized the Eagles’ CBs. I haven’t seen enough out of him to give anything higher than a C-. He’s just another body in the Eagles’ secondary.

Round 2: Rasul Douglas Grade: C+

Douglas is very similar to Jones. He has his ups and downs, but has been a lackluster selection. In the 2nd round, you look to find a CB1 or CB2, and Rasul has been that, but only because of injuries. On many other rosters he would not be that high on the depth chart. He’s an interesting one though, and I would not be surprised if he improves his play.

Round 4: Mack Hollins Grade: D+

I guess he was good on Special Teams right? That’s really about it. Aside from one quality touchdown dance against the Redskins on Monday Night Football, he was a very poor receiver when in Philly.

Round 4: Donnell Pumphrey Grade: D-

AKA a worse version of Boston Scott. Pumphrey could never really put it together in the NFL and his short, light frame did not bode well for him in the NFL. Maybe he’ll do well in the XFL?

The Rundown

A’s: 3

B’s: 3

C’s: 4

D’s: 3

F’s: 1

Eagles Complete 7 Round Mock Draft

The draft is absolutely essential for any team who is trying to make a deep playoff run. A good draft class can boost a team into playoff contention, while a bad one can set them back a couple of years. Last year, the years scored on Dillard and Sanders, but seem to have missed on JJ Arcega Whiteside. The rest of the draft was lackluster, and the Eagles are now sitting at pick 21 with the future of the organization at stake. The Eagles are the second oldest team in the NFL, and infusing youth into the organization is imperative. This draft has massive repercussions on the future of the Eagles. The importance of the 2020 draft cannot be stressed enough.

Round One: Tee Higgins, WR from Clemson

It’s no doubt that the biggest weakness of the 2019 Eagles was the wide receiver position. Drafting a 6 foot 4, 215 pound receiver with an unbelievable catch radius and proactive athleticism will certainly help with that issue. There are other receivers that the Eagles could select such as Justin Jefferson, but Higgins feels to be a better fit. This is also assuming that Henry Ruggs is not available, and if he runs the 40 yard dash at the combine, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll be available at 21. Even still, Tee Higgins would be a great selection that not many fans would disagree with.

Round Two: AJ Terrell, CB from Clemson

Another Clemson product, Terrell is excellent in man to man coverage, something that will certainly fit well with Schwartz’s scheme. He’s got range, height, and excels in press coverage. His only issue is tackling, but as long as we have quick, versatile linebackers and safeties, the Eagles should be able to hide him in that regard. Overall, Terrell is another solid pick at a position of need. That’s a common theme in this mock draft.

Round Three: Michael Pinckney, OLB from Miami

The future of Nigel Bradham in an Eagles uniform is in question. Many, like myself, believe that the Eagles should decline his option and let him explore free agency. That being said, LB is a position of need and the departure of Bradham would only hurt our LB core. Pinckney is a sure tackler and is able to record a sack here and there. The only issue is his pass defense, but much like we did with Bradham, we can hide him in coverage. Think of this pick as replacing Bradham with a guy with a similar skillset, just very raw. With the right coaching, he can develop very well.

Round Four: Leki Fotu, DT from Utah

I hate to say it, but Cox and Jernigan aren’t going to last forever. Neither is Malik Jackson. And drafting a young guy with potential (like Fotu) would be wise because he can learn behind Cox and our other elite interior linemen. Fotu is raw, yes, but then again it is the 4th round. He has strong hands, an excellent two gap player, and has a tremendous tackle radius in the backfield. He can stop the run, but doesn’t look versatile enough to play multiple gaps. But if we could find a sure run stopper in Round 4, it would be a solid pick.

Round Five: Jace Whittaker, CB/S from Arizona

Jace Whittaker was a CB who converted into Safety his senior year. His instincts led him to succeed at that position. His football IQ compensated for his short and skinny frame (5 foot 9 inches) and he has a similar playstyle to Avonte Maddox. Maddox has also been considered to make the transformation to safety. The two can compete and make the each other better.

Round Five (via the Patriots): Bryce Sterk, DE, Montana State

Never hurts to have more pass rushers right? Especially in Schwartz’s scheme, the more pass rushers the better. Sterk is a towering 6 foot 5 inches and can get to the QB in a hurry. He was second in the Big Sky in sacks and why not take another chance on a small school player? It worked for Carson Wentz. He struggles with quickness, but his strength made up for that in college. The transition from a small school in Montana to the NFL may be tough, but it is worth the risk, especially in the 5th round.

Round Six (via the Falcons): Cesar Ruiz, Center, Michigan

It’s very probable that Ruiz doesn’t fall this low. I wouldn’t be shocked if we select him in the 5th or even 4th round, but I’m feeling ambitious this mock draft. Ruiz is a special talent. He is powerful, quick, and athletic. And if you haven’t noticed, the common theme in this draft is to draft successors to our veteran players. Ruiz is exactly that. Kelce is not getting any younger and quite frankly, the Eagles playbook extremely reliant on Kelce and his mobility. Think about all the screens we run; I can’t name one other center who can do what Kelce can do. If Ruiz cuts a few pounds he can model Kelce a little bit. And Kelce can act as a mentor to Ruiz.