Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Draft Wish List (Offense)

This years draft will set the tone for new head coach Chip Kelly as he beings to rebuild the Eagles and make his mart on the NFL. All eyes are on Kelly and the Eagles who own the #4 overall pick in the upcoming draft, and there has been a whirlwind of speculation as to what direction the team will go. As I sat down to analyze how I see the draft unfolding with the Eagles I decided to take a look at the roster as it is today and what the Eagles need going into this season.

Quarterback: Chip Kelly is looking for his future team leader. It's yet to be seen if that guy is in this draft or on the roster or what. New head coaches often look for their guy in the first year however, so I expect that he'll take a hard look at everyone in this class.
Geno Smith is someone obviously linked a lot to the Eagles as he's considered the top quarterback in this years class. He's got a first round grade but I don't like him at 4, I tend to think he's more of a late 1st round early 2nd value but given the drought of available guys at the position and passing league the NFL has turned into he'll most likely be pushed up. I'd rather take someone later or even next year if that's the case.
I see a lot of talent in the second round with a guy like EJ Manuel. Manuel is a guy with great size and a ton of talent. He can be inconsistent at times but I think he'd make a great fit in Kelly's system.
Matt Scott is another guy that intrigues me. Lacks the typical size you'd look for in a quarterback, but he's mobile and a very tough player. Could easily be available in the late 3rd early 4th, possibly even 5th round.
As a undrafted free agent I like Robert Marve. This guy has a lot of buzz early on in his career. Unfortunately he's had 3 ACL injuries so he'd be a developmental prospect for the Eagles, but with a guy who was that highly touted it's a pretty low risk.

Running Back: The Eagles are pretty set here. LeSean McCoy is clearly the guy no argument so there's no need to search for a starter. With Bryce Brown showing a lot of promise last year the biggest need for the Eagles here is to get Brown to hang onto the ball. However, there are some guys this year that I think could be nice additions.
Jonathan Franklin out of UCLA is a really quick guy who could fit Kelly's fast paced offense. Guys chase him all over the field. He'll probably go in the 3rd which is a little expensive for me given the teams other needs.
Another guy I see as a 3rd rounder is Andre Ellington. The reason I think the Eagles need to look at him is he's a guy that can line up all over the field and that's the type of player Chip Kelly loves.
The former Oregon Duck, Kenjon Barner is clear choice just given the fact that he used to play for Kelly. He's shifty, has got good hands, and has punt and kick return experience. Could see him in the 5th which would be a nice spot for the Eagles to get a guy like him.
Reggie Dixon is another guy I could see doing PR/KR for the Eagles. He's a smaller guy with a fast 40 time. Will most likely go undrafted which could equal to a big time steal.

Full Back: I don't see the Eagles NEEDING a fullback seeing as Kelly traded away the only one on the roster, and brought in the H Back/TE James Casey. It was that signing though that brought my eye to one guy in this draft.
Kyle Juszcyk has been listed as both a FB and a TE. He was also used as a WR at Harvard so he's another one of those players Chip looks for to create mismatches and confuse defenses. I see him going in the 4th or 5th. I like him better in the 5th.

Tight End: Brent Celek, Clay Harbor, and James Casey leave us pretty well rounded at this position, but there are two guys I think are worth a look.
Nick Kasa is a guy who used to play DE so he hasn't had that much experience at the TE position. However, he's an extremely aggressive blocker and has improved his receiving ability. He will only get better with increased time at the TE spot, so if he falls to the 6th round he could be worth it.
Levine Toilolo was overshadowed a lot at Stanford by Coby Fleener and Zach Ertz, because of that he's projected to go in the 6th or 7th round, might even go undrafted. He's got great size and athleticism, and again he's a Chip Kelly type player meaning he's able to cause match-up problems for defenses.

Wide Receiver: I see the Eagles pretty set here. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are clearly the starters for this team so going after a wideout early more then likely isn't happening. Mid to late rounds is a different story.
A guy I'd consider taking a bit earlier is Stedmen Bailey. He's probably going in the late 3rd to 4th round, but he's got good lateral quickness and deceptive speed. Might make a nice slot receiver.
Aaron Mellette is a big body guy, 6'3'' 217lbs, who moves very well and, here's the big plus, he goes up to get the ball. The Eagles have lacked that big body red zone threat for awhile. If Mellette is available late in the draft, 5th or 6th round, he'd be a nice addition.
Another versatile guy this year is Sam McGuffie. He's played both RB and WR for Rice. Good speed and quickness, but has had a few concussions. Because of this he'll most likely end up going undrafted.

Offensive Tackle: This is one of the areas that the draft shines. This class is packed with top talent and with the injuries the Eagles suffered last year along the offensive line I see them needing to grab one of the top guys.
My overall pick for the eagles is Eric Fisher, he's started to become the guy considered to be taken #1 overall by a lot of people, and with good reason. He seems to be neck and neck with Luke Joeckel, but Fisher has been said to have the higher upside.
Another guy with huge upside is Lane Johnson. If the Eagles are going to use their first round pick on an offensive player I'd like it to be him, Eric Fisher I most likely see being gone then. Johnson has a ton of natural athletic ability, and while some consider him to be a work in progress he's a day one starter. Due to his natural athletic ability however, he just might have the most potential out of any tackle in the draft.
Kyle Long is the last tackle I would target because I believe the Eagles should have already used their top pick on the offensive line. That being said, Long is another Oregon player so the familiarity could be great. Long is versatile however, playing both guard and tackle which could help the Eagles a lot. He's also an impressive athlete, and comes from a football family (Son of Howie Long and brother of Chris Long). He has light feet and is very mobile. No one will know better then Kelly if Long has peaked or not and thus if he'll be worth the 2nd or 3rd round pick he's projected to be taken around.

Offensive Guard: The right guard position is the biggest hole on the offense as of right now. It could be filled by taking a tackle and sliding Todd Herremans back inside, but that doesn't solve the problem of depth behind the starting offensive linemen.
Chance Warmack is the top guard in the draft and will go in the top 10. He's got long arms, and very few flaws. The main thing I like about this guy though is it is very hard for opposing players to move him. Should all three top tackles be gone Warmack could be a possibility for the Eagles.
Alvin Bailey is another guard I'd like to see the Eagles target because he could turn into a solid starter. He's a bit of a weak pass blocker but he is a very good run blocker. He has slow feet but despite that he is surprisingly quick. I don't love him in the 3rd where he's slated to go, I'd rather take him in the 4th. If the Eagles pass on an offensive linemen in the 1st and Long in the 2nd, Bailey might have to be taken in the 3rd.

Center: I like Jason Kelce I think he's a solid center, and a hard worker. I don't think the Eagles need an upgrade here but because of what happened last year to the offensive line they're going to be grabbing some linemen, although I don't necessarily see the Eagles taking a center.
Matt Stankiewitch is a guy I like however. He should be available in the late rounds, and is a gritty player. Also played guard while at Penn State, he seems like a tough guy who battles all the way through a play.

So, forgetting about the defense for now and speaking strictly offensively, here's how I'd like to see the Eagles draft:
1st - OT
2nd - QB/OT/OG
3rd - OT/OG/RB
4th - WR/RB
5th - TE/WR
6th - NO PICKS
7th - C/WR/KR&PR/TE

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda!

With the draft drawing every closer and everyone speculating who is going to be taken where?, Who's going to move up?, Who's going to be the biggest winner?, etc, etc, etc... I thought it would be fun to look at the recent 1st round draft history of the Eagles and see how things could have turned out for Philadelphia. I'll start back at where I think the Eagles started to slide with regard to how they drafted (2007) and move forward.

Each year will be broken down like this:
1. History: Who we actually took and how they seemingly panned out.
2. Coulda: Who I think the Eagles should have targeted that year (focusing on the players available where where they picked), and then ultimately who I think they should have taken.
3. Woulda: Who the break out player was closest to where the Eagles actually had the ability to choose (roughly ten or so picks behind where the Eagles pick).
4. Shoulda: Just for fun a look at a player who was a late round pick or even undrafted who the looking back I wish the Eagles took a shot on.

No before everyone bites my head off and starts talking about the butterfly effect and altering the time space continuum I'm going to lay out how it's going to be done. First, we're going to assume that the Eagles draft spots from year to year didn't change. I'm not going into how these picks would have impacted the team in the past I merely want to see how the roster might look entirely different today. Secondly, I have the right to reverse any trades for 1st round picks. I know that alters who the Eagles would choose later but i'll make explanations as to how it effects the team or doesn't. Lastly, I'm going to assume that the Eagles made the majority of off-season acquisitions, unless I think a pick would have made an acquisition obsolete. AGAIN this is just for fun so try not to take this post too seriously.

Starting at 2007
History: The Eagles entered the draft with the 26th overall pick but traded it to Dallas for a 2nd (Kevin Kolb), a 3rd (Stewart Bradley), and a 5th (C.J. Gaddis).
Coulda: I really wanted the team to target an offensive linemen in this draft. We had Tra Thomas, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, Shawn Andrews, and John Runyan starting the previous year and I thought it was time to prepare for the departure of our aging tackles and possibly upgrade our center. So I really thought the two guys they should have been focusing on when they were on the clock were OT Joe Staley and OG Ben Grubbs. Given the fact that Andrews was hadn't had his breakdown yet and Herremans was still young I pick Joe Staley.
Woulda: Looking at the guys selected around the 26th pick I think the woulda pick would also have to be Staley. He's a 2x Pro-Bowler, and a 2x All Pro.
Shoulda: Ahmad Bradshaw, selected 250th overall in the 7th round he has became a solid back for the NY Giants. I think he would have complemented Westbrook and ultimately McCoy nicely, and additionally we would have avoided having to do with that Earth, Wind, and Fire trio in NY.

History: Again the Eagles traded out of the 1st round for the second time in a year. This time it was the 19th overall pick going to Carolina for their 2nd (traded again), 4th (Mike McGlynn), and 2009 1st round pick (28th).
Coulda: I again had the Eagles targeting some offensive linemen in Jeff Otah, Duane Brown and Sam Baker after Joe Staley stepped up to fill as Tra Thomas departed, and it was clear the writing on the wall was there for John Runyan. After thinking about Curtis Lofton at LB and Brandon Flowers to take over for the unhappy Sheldon Brown I decided to go with Duane Brown.
Woulda: I go back and forth between Brown, Flowers, and Lofton. The defense was still in it's good years then so I'll stick with Brown. He's gone on to make the Pro-Bowl as well as earn both 1st and 2nd team All-Pro honors.
Shoulda: Peyton Hillis, taken in the 7th (227) overall by the Denver Broncos he broke out onto the scene as a physical fullback who could be utilized for more then just blocking. Remeber how nice it was when Reid had Leonard Weaver? We'll could have had Hillis a year earlier.

History: '09 was actually one of the better drafts for the Eagles. They traded up from 21 to 19 to select Jeremy Maclin. Maclin has been solid for the Eagles since being drafted and despite his health scare in 2011.    On a side note, the Eagles struck gold in the 2nd round when then grabbed LeSean McCoy who has broken out and took over for Westbrook nicely. Also, Jason Peters would not be joining the Eagles because in 2008 we would not have traded our 1st round pick which later turned to the 28th overall pick used to acquire Peters from Buffalo. No matter we already drafted our two bookend tackles.
Coulda: This was a year a lot of fans were clamoring for Reid to draft another WR for Donovan to target even though I was among them I was eyeing other guys as well. It was unclear if Shawn Andrews was going to bounce back from his injury/depression, but at the time I think most expected him to return to his Pro-Bowl form. Alex Mack I saw as a guy who would solidify our offensive line. I also was checking out Vontae Davis to beef up our secondary, but we also brought in Ellis Hobbs to do that. While I did like Maclin I liked Percy Harvin a lot better. I liked the way DeSean Jackson was used and thought Harvin played almost as fast and thought that he and DJ would be nightmarish for teams to cover. Not to mention he'd give us another outstanding return man. So my pick goes to Percy Harvin.
Woulda: Seeing how every on turned out Alex Mack would have been the clear choice. We'd have gotten our franchise center, he's made the Pro-Bowl, and when Shawn Andrews couldn't resolve his issues we wouldn't have taken as big of a hit as we did. Imagine what'd he'd look like next to Joe Staley, (a questionable) Shawn Andrews, Todd Herremans, and Duane Brown WOW!
Shoulda: The obvious choice here is Arian Foster. Now think about that McCoy starting, Westbrook still on the roster, AND Foster. Defense wouldn't get winded before the half trying to chase these guys all over the field. If only Andy Reid would run the ball.

History: Still unknown here if this was a good 1st round pick of not. So far everything says no. Brandon Graham was selected 13th overall after the Eagles jumped up ahead in the draft again! This time from 24th when the traded with Denver.
Coulda: There were a TON of guys I liked in this years draft, and I got giddy after hearing that the Eagles had traded up. Jermaine Gresham, Mike Lupati, Sean Weatherspoon, Maurkice Pouncey, Dez Bryant, and dare I say it... the clear heir to the Eagles QB throne TIM TEBOW!!! (Just kidding back to reality). But the guy I really wanted, the apple of my eye in this draft Earl Thomas. With Dawkins gone, and with him the heart and soul of the defense, as the Eagles move on they move on with Earl Thomas.
Woulda: Maurkice Pouncey I think was the best player selected in the 10 pick limit after the Eagles drafted, butI think the obvious pick is still Earl Thomas. He's a defensive leader, a 2x Pro-Bowler, a 2x All-Pro, and the best replacement for Brian Dawkins. Nothing more to say.
Shoulda: It's clear that the shoulda pick for this year is Victor Cruz. He absolutely exploded onto the scene in New York and has since become an NFL sensation from his play to his touchdown dance. He would have been huge for the Eagles receiving corps.

History: This year's 1st round pick left me scratching my head. I know the Eagles have a hole at guard so I understood taking one. I just didn't get why Danny Watkins. So far he's been a bust, but there's still a chance he can turn it around. That wasn't my biggest concern, mine was that he was 27.
Coulda: For me this was a no brainier when I saw who was available at 23. QB Andy Dalton. With Kolb being traded to Arizona and Vick struggling last season made it clear we needed a plan for the future and we got it in Dalton.
Woulda: Jimmy Smith/Colin Kaepernick. CB Jimmy Smith would have provided the Eagles with depth at CB but with Samuel, Asomugha, and Rodgers-Cromartie on the roster it seems like a waste to use a first round pick on on. Kaepernick is obviously a woulda pick just based of what he did this past year in San Francisco. It's clear that he's very talented but we got Dalton instead.
Shoulda: I went all the way up to the 6th for my shoulda pick and there's two there DJ Smith (186th) and Jacquain Williams (202nd) both these LBs did really well for their teams in for 6th rounders. The Eagles linebackers have always been a point of weakness and taking a chance on one of these guys would have pay off.

History: It's too early to tell how well the Eagles did in this draft. Flectcher Cox (taken 12th overall) has shown quite a bit of promise in his rookie debut registering 5.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble.
Coulda: The offense is seemingly now set, the defense however has struggled. Dre Kirkpatrick was a guy I was high on because of the poor secondary play. Michael Brockers, Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram were all defensive linemen I was eyeing (along with Cox). I also considered David DeCastro at guard, but in the end I think I would have taken Fletcher Cox again he was the guy I was highest on last year when the Eagles we on the clock and I'm still just as high on him now.
Woulda: Could probably argue one way or another but I'm again sticking with Fletcher Cox.
Shoulda: This was EASY for me. It was a guy I was high on from the time the draft started being debated. Vontez Burficit. I liked the way he played from day one, he played mean and angry and I thought could be an immediate starter for the Eagles. His draft stock plummeted because of issues both on and off the field but I still thought a 5th round pick for a guy who was considered one of the best available linebackers in the draft  AND was originally projected as going as high as top 5!!! Turns out we could have got him for a 7th, and man oh man did he prove people wrong.

Having made smarter draft picks clearly would have left the Eagles in a much better position then what we are currently in. Heck it may have even saved Andy Reid's job. So what Coulda our team looked like today? (I know there's some questions as to what the defense will look like so don't beat me up for how I list players here). Just by going on the coulda picks let's see:

QB: Andy Dalton
HB: LeSean McCoy
Hback: James Casey
WRs: DeSean Jackson, Percy Harvin
OTs: Joe Staley, Duane Brown
OGs: Evan Mathis, Todd Herremans
C: Jason Kelce

DEs: Trent Cole, Brandon Graham
DTs, Fletcher Cox, Issac Sopoaga
LBs: Connor Barwin, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks
CBs: Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher
SS: Patrick Chung
FS: Earl Thomas

Monday, April 8, 2013

Trading Back!!!

With the draft only a few weeks ahead of us everyone is speculating who the Eagles will select with the 4th overall pick this year. There seems to be a lot of buzz about Geno Smith being linked to the Eagles, and a lot of mock drafts have the them grabbing Smith to solidify their QB for the future. Yes it's true, when a new guy comes in and takes over a team he often looks for a guy who he can groom to be his on field general. However, I don't think Geno Smith is that guy. At least not at #4.

Everyone has been saying how this draft class is weak at the QB positions and it appears that every NFL team has taken notice as well. Recently more and more "QB needy" teams have been seen grabbing up players that have had past starting experience. The Bills signed Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals traded for Carson Palmer, and the Eagles even restructured Mike Vick's deal earlier this off season. What this tells me is that teams are gearing up NOT to rush and take a quarterback early on. In the case of the Eagles I hope it's true because there is SO MUCH talent at other positions in this draft class and Chip Kelly can afford to pass on it as he begins to rebuild this team.

So who does he take? I've come up with a short list of guys I think are "Chip Kelly Guys," players that fit what the mold of what he's come out and said he looks for in players. Guys who are:

1. Versatile. Kelly loves guys who cause match up nightmares. Who when they step on the field the other team doesn't know what to exactly expect. Kelly looks of multi-dimensional players  like James Casey who was brought in this off season already. But don't just think that only applies to the offense. Look for Kelly to target guys who can play all over the front 7 on defense.

2. Athletic. Coach Kelly has spoken out about how he wants guys that run. He's said that he likes to have his offense scoring with in two minutes of getting the ball. He runs a fast paced, up-tempo game and his players of going to have to be able to keep up in order for it to work and be successful.

3. BIG. "We want taller, longer, people because big people beat up little people." - Chip Kelly. That says it all AND MORE. Don't look for him to target guys who might need to add a few pounds or get stronger. He wants guys who right out of the gate are going to be ready to man handle opposing players. Also his quote gives me the suspicion that he's going to want guys who are BAD! I'm not talking about guys with off field problems or character issues. I'm talking about WARRIORS men that aren't to get dirty and battle it out. Guys who walk around the field with a little swagger because they know they are the toughest guy out there and they're going to prove it!

Ok, now who meets that criteria, AND deserves a the 4th over all pick? Well here's my list:

1. Eric Fisher - OT
2. Dee Milliner - CB
3. Lane Johnson - OT
4. Dion Jordan - OLB/DE
5. Star Lotulelei - DT *Star did have that medical issue at the combine but has since been cleared. He also may not be AS athletic as most would like, but his size, talent, and versatility should make up for that.

Why a title of Trading Back then? Well, with many other talented players going also available like Luke Joeckel, Chance Warmack, Ezekiel Ansah, Sharrif Floyd, etc... It's unlikely that every other team sees these 5 guys that Kelly would. Not to mention there are still teams that might be desperate enough to reach on Geno Smith in the top 5 or 10. I say we let the Draft work for us.

If you are Kelly and these are the five guys you are the most high on then you have to believe that they will all go in the top 10. I believe that if the Eagles we to drop back to the back half of the top 10 at either 7 or 8 they could still grab one of these five prospects. My guess is that Fisher would be gone at that point along with Jordan and Milliner. Meaning we'd have our pick between Lotulelei, and Johnson. Not bad!

It mean's getting Arizona or Buffalo to trade up. They both still have question marks at quarterback despite both teams acquiring a veteran this recently. Buffalo seems to have the bigger need there because Kolb has struggled in Arizona and hasn't played up to the hype he had around him when he was traded from Philadelphia. If the Bills can be enticed to trade up to #4 so they can get Geno Smith, then the Eagles could slide back to the 8th pick. This would not only allow Philly to grab a guy who fits their system but should also net them AT LEAST the Bills 2nd round pick in this years draft as well. However, after what we saw Washington give up in order to acquire RG3 last season I'm willing to be the Eagles could get get a little more then just the Bills 2nd.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Sometimes you need to manage expectations and that's exactly what the Eagles and Eagles fans need to do this season. For so long Eagles fans have been spoiled year after year with teams who's goal it was to win the Superbowl. Under the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia the Eagles have gone to the playoffs 9 times. It is now expected that the Eagles are a team that WILL make the playoffs. Alas the last time that happened was in the 2010 season when the Eagles won the NFC East and we knocked out of the wildcard round by the Greenbay Packers (who went on to win the Superbowl).

2010 was a significant year for the Eagles because it SHOULD have been the transition into a new era of prosperity. Brian Westbrook was released, Donovan McNabb was traded, and Kevin Kolb was supposed to take the reigns as starting quarterback. The only thing that panned out for the team was the release of Westbrook, and LeSean McCoy taking over as the franchise half back. The McNabb traded netted the team a second round pick which was used on Nate Allen. Allen has since never lived up to the expectations placed on him as long awaited replacement for Brian Dawkins. Kolb as we all know lost his job when he was injured and Mike Vick took over and dazzled everyone. Since then the team has been steadily going downhill posting an 8-8 record in 2011 and a dismal 4-12 this past season.

This is why I say tear it all down so that we can build it back up. Now before everyone goes crazy thinking that I mean we should throw away every ounce of talent we have on the roster and start from scratch let me explain. The way I see it right now on the offensive side of the ball we have one big problem and one smaller one. The smaller problem is that our offensive line seems to have a hole in it a right guard. Danny Watkins, while not as young as most of the guys in his draft class, is still young to the NFL but has not yet proved he is a starting caliber guard. Luckily there should be a number of ample offensive linemen available via free agency or the draft. The other upside in solving this issue is that right tackle Todd Herremans has proven that he can play both the guard and tackle position, so the Eagles don't NEED to look for just a guard. If there are better tackles available then there are guards then the Eagles can grab him and slide Herremens to right guard to solidify the starting offensive line.

Now the bigger question what to do with the starting quarterback spot? Dennis Dixon has been brought in to compete, Mike Vick has restructured his deal to stay in Philadelphia for another year, and Nick Foles is still on the roster despite trade rumors. Unlike the offensive line problem, the quarterback dilemma does not have as easy a solution. The free agent pool will likely dry up quick WHEN Baltimore gets Joe Flacco taken care of with a new huge deal. After Flaco however the pickings are slim. Someone like Tarvaris Jackson might be an interesting signing given Chip Kelly's offensive system but then again Dixon and Vick are both on the roster. So the next logical place to look is the draft! Kelly is the new head coach obviously he would be looking for a young quarterback to lead his team into the future much like Andy Reid did back when he drafted Donovan McNabb in his first year right? Well, despite his soaring up everyone's mock drafts, Geno Smith isn't really being graded at a top five pick level, and much like free agency, the quarterback draft pool falls off after him for quarterbacks expected to be picked in the first round. With the number four pick this year the Eagles are going to want a guy who is going to be a lock as a starter or even a future Pro-bowler. If the Eagles don't see him as that then they should use the pick on someone worth it. All that being said, barring a draft pick blowing everyone socks off, I see the starter already on the roster. right now it seems to be Mike Vick's job to loose and Dennis Dixon's job to earn.

Now you're probably saying "Wait wasn't this supposed to be all about rebuilding  Adding an offensive linemen and thinking about drafting a quarterback isn't rebuilding, that's just a normal off-season " We'll yes it is, however the defensive side of the ball is where the actual rebuilding takes place. The Eagles defensive unit hasn't been the same since the passing of Jim Johnson in 2009 and the attempts made after his passing to field a top defensive unit have failed and any positive notes like how the Eagles were tied for first in the league in 2011 for sacks with 50 are erroneous because the wide 9 gimmick failed, we've had personnel turnover along the defensive line, and now our coaching staff is completely different. The way I see it four of the starters from last year NEED to be on the team this upcoming season Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, and Fletcher Cox. Cole and Ryans are two Pro-Bowl caliber players who should be the leaders of this offensive unit. Cox and Kendricks are to talented young guys who should only continue to progress this off-season. After them I would say defensive end Brandon Graham deserves a shot, injuries have kept him off the field but he had 5.5 sacks last season and could be finally able to prove he isn't a first round bust.

After that no one else on the roster who started last year really deserves a starting spot. The secondary was horrific despite the supposed elite corner backs on the roster. Our safeties have been consistent disappointments, and the strong side linebacker is a position that still needed to be addressed. First of all Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie should be allowed to leave via free agency and Nnamdi Asomugha should be cut from the team. Both "elite corner backs" have been anything but for the past two seasons and while the argument could be make for DRC that he is very talented his performance on the field doesn't reflect that. With those moves made and the issues laid out I'd say Jamar Chaney, Nate Allen, and Kurt Coleman should all be demoted to backups. Doing this will do one of two things, either motivate them to work hard, play better and prove the deserve it, or they will continue to play like backups and be exactly where they should be. The last guy that should be talked about is Cullen Jenkins, some people seem to think he needs to be cut, I tend to disagree I think he's a solid player and moving forward I think there are much bigger issues to be addressed.

By my count now that leaves 5 starting holes on the defensive side of the ball. Finding five quality starting guys in the NFL can be a daunting task but I think it can be done. Obviously, remaining hopefully about last years rookies and even the ones from the previous season stepping up and making an impact is all well and good. I just don't see anyone who I can point to and say "that guy should be starting!" So first we look to free agency. There are three guys out there that I think the Eagles need to target early and grab at least one of. Linebacker Paul Kruger, corner back Charles Woodson, and safety Jairus Byrd. Kruger and Byrd could be hard for the Eagles to get their hands on as both their teams should be making a strong effort to retain their services. Kruger has been outstanding for the Ravens and has brought the pass rush opposite Terrell Suggs. Byrd reestablished his game this year and even improved on it. Buffalo won't let him walk easily and could even slap him with the franchise tag. However, with other safeties like Ed Reed, William Moore, and Dashon Goldson also set to become free agents the Eagles shouldn't have trouble upgrading at least one stop on their last line of defense. The Eagles could make a strong case to Woodson and get him to play in midnight green. He's already at the end of his career and wants to play for a team where he's going to have a shot at another ring. If the Eagles can convince him that they are only maybe a year out of that goal Woodson could provide veteran leadership as well as a physical presence in the secondary. Him coupled with a new safety and some young talent via the draft could just turn the secondary and possibly the entire defense around this year.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chip Kelly's first big roster move

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has made his first big roster move today. Well actually he didn't. But in not making a move he has seemingly put and end to the quarterback question in Philadelphia. Mike Vick was NOT released today which means that the Eagles will owe Vick at least 3 million dollars this season. No there is a prevision that if another team signs Vick or pays him at least 3 million before the start of free agency, then the Eagles won't owe him anything. The hope here is that the team will be given enough time to finalize the rest of Kelly's coaching staff before making decisions with players. Additionally, the team would obviously like to restructure Vick's deal as his performance hasn't lived up to expectations since signing his monster contract. Vick has said that he only wants to be on a team if he is the starter and there has been rumors that he hasn't been open to redoing his deal.

Many thought that Vick and the Eagles would part ways at the end of last season. Then after the hiring of Kelly people began to thing that Vick would be the perfect quarterback for Kelly's new up tempo offense. While Vick's speed may be beneficial to Kelly's offensive plan there as some aspects to Vick's game that seem to be overlooked. First Vick has always had a problem with staying healthy (especially in recent seasons). His style of play puts himself in harms way and end with him missing several games a season. In a division that is only getting increasingly competitive the Eagles can't afford to be losing their starting quarterback at all, and Vick always seems to be one head first slide away from ending up one the bench for several weeks. 

Secondly, his knack for coughing up the ball and throwing picks still hasn't been corrected. Vick tends to want to always make the big play with often leads to him holding on to the ball too long and not simply taking what the defense give him, the result is turnovers galore. Maybe Kelly thinks he can rectify the problem and for all we know he might be able to, but is it worth risking his first season as a head coach on. If Kelly goes with Vick and things don't change how long will it take until Eagles fans start calling for his head like they did with Andy Reid. 

I think the hiring of Chip Kelly should have signaled the dawn of a new era in Philadelphia. Next season has a lot of things going for it. The team has the number 4 pick in the draft this year, three talented offensive linemen returning from injury, and a number of exciting, young, talented players. Why risk one more season on a guy who has proven the past two seasons he can't stay healthy or protect the football. Nick Foles may not be the long term answer for the team but neither is Vick. At least with Foles the team has the importunity to forget the past and move forward in a completely new direction. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

What to do with the #4 pick?

The Eagles haven't had a top ten draft pick since 2000 when they selected Corey Simon 6th overall and haven't had a top five pick since Donovan McNabb was taken 2nd overall in the 1999 draft. Simon was a good player for the Eagles for six seasons reaching the Pro Bowl once in 2004 and helping the team get to Super Bowl XXXIX. McNabb's role on the team was even greater. Led the team to 5 NFC Championship games, won 4 NFC East Championships, Led the team to XXXIX, 6 time Pro Bowler, and holds numerous Eagles records. 

These two players were Andy Reid's first two first round picks. Now Chip Kelly is leading the team and this years first round selection will be a guy who Kelly and fans will look to make an impact for years to come. What's interesting about this years draft is, is that former Eagles head coach and newly appointed Chiefs head coach, Andy Reid holds the number one overall pick. This means that his selection will start the domino and most likely dictate who the Eagles will select at #4. 

The Chiefs need a QB, but they also have a big question mark in the LT spot. Branden Albert struggled with injuries last season and is slated to be a free agent. Luke Joeckel is considered by most to be the number one overall prospect in this years draft, and someone who can be an anchor for the O-line for years to come.  So the question is do the Chiefs stick with what they have at QB and strengthen their offensive line, or "reach" for QB Geno Smith. While Smith's draft stock has been rising as of late he still isn't considered to be in the top ten of overall prospects. 

The Eagles should prepare for the Chiefs to go either way, and regardless of how the Chiefs draft the Eagles will benefit. Despite not being ranked in the top 5 or top 10 of overall prospects, Geno Smith does possess the size, mobility, and arm strength that will translate into the NFL. That being said he has known to be inconsistent with his delivery and some question his mental toughness. Additionally he took most of his snaps out of the shotgun formation and his eye popping stats could have been a result of the high powered offense he ran. He could however just be the type of quarterback to thrive in Chip Kelly's system. 

If the Chiefs do grab him at #1 then Joeckel should fall to the Eagles at 4. Joeckel has been compared to the Browns Joe Thomas, arguable the best tackle in the game today. He possesses everything you look for in an offensive linemen and most annalists have to nitpick his performance to find weaknesses. If he does slip to number 4 then the Eagles should have a perennial Pro Bowler for years. 

On the off chance that both are gone by the time the Eagles are on the clock then the team should switch focus to the other side of the ball, as taking any of the other QB prospects would seem like a reach. With the focus on defense two guys stand out CB Dee Milliner and OLB Jarvis Jones. Both are top ranked for their position and both are aggressive football players. Milliner has a slight edge over Jones in that the Eagles secondary was horrific last season and I don't see the team keeping both Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Milliner would become the teams franchise CB immediately. Some will look at taking either of these guys and point out that their are higher overall ranked guys but those prospects are all defensive linemen. While it isn't always good practice to not take the best overall player the Eagles D-line isn't the most glaring problem on defense so drafting for a need shouldn't be as much of a problem. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Eagles quarterback this season

Everything is still up in the air regarding Chip Kelly's coaching staff although it seems to be that the final spot (defensive coordinator) will come from on of the teams playing in this Sunday's Super Bowl. Kelly won't officially name his staff until he has all spots filled rumors have former Brown's head coach Pat Shumur taking the offensive coordinator job, Dave Flipp coming from Miami to turn around the Eagles abysmal special teams, and supposedly Ed Donatell moving from the 49ers to defensive coordinator position. Kelly has apparently filled the coaching jobs on the offensive side of the ball (i.e. WR coach, RB coach, etc..). The defensive positions coaching staff has not had so much news. This is a good thing though because it would seem that Kelly is waiting to have his coordinator before making position coaching decisions which will allow the coordinator to have a say in who he is going to be working with. Fans should be happy as this should prevent another Washburn/Castillo disaster. 

Since the defensive coaching staff has yet to take shape and there is a debate as to whether the team will switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and what roster moves that will entail I'll be focusing on the offensive side of the ball, specifically the biggest need for the Eagles, the quarterback.

Kelly's hiring has brought many to believe that Mike Vick will have one last season in Eagles green, stating that his speed will be a perfect fit for Kelly's high paced offense. I disagree. He has too many question marks in my mind for the paycheck he is getting this season. The ball security, the injuries, and trying to hard to make a play are just a few. It is time to move forward... without #7.

So who fills the starting spot. Kelly currently has Nick Foles who has shown that he has the skills to play in the league. The questions with Foles is can he be consistent? and will he fit into Kelly's offensive scheme? I'm not completely sold as many people shouldn't be. It was hard to tell how good Foles was last season because the team as a whole was so bad. I think moving forward he is the starter until someone else takes it from him. That being said I would be in Kelly's best interest to bring in a group of QB's this offseason and have an open competition for the starting job.

There are some intriguing names out there who could push Foles into that starting job or even make a statement in Kelly's offense and take the reigns. Some would like to see Alex Smith come over from the 49ers seeing as he has proven he can lead a team and has lost his job to Colin Kaepernick. Losing the starting gig all but guarantees that Smith will be throwing for a different franchise next season. This is only going to happen via a trade and their a plenty of teams in the league, besides the Eagles, that have question marks at their starting signal caller spot. That means a trade for Smith could be a bit pricey, which I don't like.

I see there are some cheaper alternatives who could surprise, Joe Webb and Dennis Dixon. Seems crazy at first but Webb is a taller guy who posses similar skills to Vick at a fraction of the price. So for everyone who says Vick will thrive under Kelly's system, I say Webb (a guy who beat the Eagles before) should be able to do the same, and if he fails then it's safe to say Vick wouldn't have fared all that well either.

Dixon is a guy who is on the Raven's practice squad right now and was a back up for the Steelers for three years. Before that he was an Oregon Duck and played for Chip Kelly. Could Dixon be the answer as a starter, probably not but Dixon gives Kelly a familiar face to work with which could come with positive results.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chip Kelly's hiring and a look at the D

Last time we looked at the offense and since then there has been some big news. The Eagles have hired Chip Kelly as their new head coach. It took awhile but the Eagles end up getting the guy they wanted. What does this mean? Look for player and coaches to be evaluated to see if they will buy in and/or fit into the schemes that Kelly is going to be using with his new team. I still stick with my last post about what should be done personnel wise on the offensive side of the ball. Now that Kelly is in charge however, Mike Vick may get another season in Eagles green. He should be the most looked at player by Kelly and the rest of the staff. At first glance one would think that Vick would be a perfect for for Kelly's uptempo style offense but, Vick still does have a turnover problem that needs to be corrected if Vick is not only going to run the offense but also if Kelly is going to win over fans and win as soon as much as soon as he wants to.

The offense, minus the QB position, was never really the main concern for the Eagles coming into this next season. A healthy offensive line will solve a myriad of problems for the Eagles and other than QB and maybe RG no major changes need to happen going forward. The defense on the other hand is a disaster to say the least. This had been a unit that was supposed to get us back to the hard hitting, stifling defense of the Brian Dawkins era. Bad moves on both the coaching side and with player acquisitions allowed this "dream team" to fall flat on their face and become another cautionary tale about teams trying to buy a championship. Moving forward the roster moves that the team decides to make will largely depend on the scheme that Kelly decides will be the new face of the Eagles D. For this post we'll assume Kelly won't be making sweeping scheme changes keep the current scheme.

With that lets take a look at who's on the roster, and where the team needs improvement. The first line of the defense looks to be in fairly good shape. Look for Trent Cole to bounce back and return to his old form. Opposite him Brandon Graham was penciled in as the end of season starter and showed promise, both should continue to start unless and upgrade is made over Graham. Inside on the D-line was Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox. Jenkins has been a decent starter for the Eagles since his signing and has shown he's a team player by renegotiating his contract in order to stay on the team. Cox was one of the bright spots for the defense as he impressed and made All Rookie team honors. The team also boasts a great amount of talented depth all along the line (attributed that to Andy Reid's love of D linemen), so don't expect any grand moves to be made especially with only a few intriguing names in free agency.

LBs for the Eagles have been an overlooked position for the team for quite awhile. Last year ended with Jamar Chaney, DeMeco Ryans, and Mychal Kendricks making up the starters. Ryans was a clear upgrade to the unit and brought a positive veteran leader to the defense that has been missing since the departure of Dawkins. Kendricks is another rookie who showed a lot of upside and he should continue to show improvement. Chaney has been serviceable at best. He is a good football player but not starter pedigree. An upgrade would be nice but I don't see it coming via free agency as there are bigger fish to fry then the SAM position.

Lastly, we move to the secondary which has been the biggest disappointment of all. The big free agent signing Nnamdi Asomugha and trade bait Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made up the starting CBs while Colt Anderson and Kurt Coleman ended the season as the starting safeties. Two seasons ago the Eagles secondary was supposed to be the envy of the league and we'll it never panned out. Now the team is faced with some tough decisions Rodgers-Cromartie is set to become a free agent and Asomugha is set to be highly overpaid after his performance the past two seasons. Neither CB dazzled anyone this year but the argument that the two former Pro Bowlers could be coached back to an elite level of play, if the price is right. Asomugha should be requested to have his deal restructured or shown the door. At his age and recent level of play there may be teams out there who would welcome him but not at the price the Eagles are currently paying him. Rodgers-Cromartie should be able to come back for a reasonable price, however the free agent class this year is filled with guys who either haven't hit that "elite" level of play or are decent CBs but have question marks in the injury column. It looks like Rodgers-Cromartie is the best bet for the Eagles moving forward for the time being. After that look for Kelly to use a high round pick on a CB to become the cornerstone of the secondary.

 The safeties also disparately need to be addressed. Once upon a time Nate Allen was set to be the guy to fill the SS slot for years to come but since has been a let down. It is obviously that the Eagles don't have a clear guy to be a long term starter at either the FS or SS positions. This is where free agency might be able to greatly help the Eagles guys like Dashon Goldson, William Moore, or Jairus Byrd would be a huge upgrade and fix half of the Eagles last line of defense woes. It will be interesting to see what Kelly does moving forward but a rejuvenated defense would be a gift to a fan base that has sorely missed great defensive play for several years

Sunday, January 6, 2013

This offseaon....

So the possible head coaching pool has been diminished by one as Doug Marrone of Syracuse will be taking over as head coach for the Buffalo Bills. Other reports indicate that several teams have met with Oregon's Chip Kelly but there is no solid indication that he will be leaving the college ranks. From what I have heard the Eagles owner Jeffery Laurie has met with Kelly and tried selling him on the idea of coaching the Eagles and of Nick Foles or Mike Vick running his offense. Honestly, I can get behind bringing in Kelly to lead the Eagles I can't however wrap my head around keeping Vick for another season. It seems to me the best way for the team and the fans to move forward is to cut wasted money, wasted talent and rebuild. So I've decided to take a look at the Eagles roster and make a wish list of sorts as to what the front office should do this offseason. So this post we'll focus on the offense and next will be the D.

Since I already mentioned Vick lets start with the QB's. I saw we cut ties with Vick, he's a turnover machine, he makes bad decisions, is on the wrong end of his career, is injury prone, and costs way to much money. Could he restructure his contract and stay sure, but he has already said that he won't. The Eagles can cut him and not have to pay him anymore money and since we're rebuilding lets use the money to do just that. Nick Foles has shown some promise and we should move on with him. The free agent pool should be pretty bleak for QB's and I haven't heard all that much hype about the rookie class. That's not to say that a talented QB can't be found in the draft (just look at around the league this year) but unless there's a decent trade for another QB around the league to come in and help Foles develop I don't seem a much better offer. The only name I can think of to go after in a trade situation would be Alex Smith from the 49ers but again it would have to be for the right price and even then I'm not completely sold that Smith would be an upgrade.

RBs come next and right now we are stacked. Bryce Brown has shown that he has what it takes to be a very productive back and LeSean McCoy is well LeSean McCoy, nothing more needs to be said about him. We have our franchise back in McCoy and possibly a guy who can split or be better then him in Brown (if Brown can fix his fumbling). Obviously having a stable of talented backs never hurts and there could be some interesting names in free agency but there is no need to overspend for someone who will be a #2 at best. Look mid to late rounds in the draft or not even at all. The only spot there could be some interest in upgrading would be the FB spot. Andy Reid was never big on using a FB and that's part of why the Eagles don't really have much there. Peyton Hillis is a free agent this year and what with Reid taking over as head coach for the Chiefs maybe Hillis will be looked at by the Eagles new head coach.

Currently DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant make up the Eagles top three receivers  and while they are very talented we all know the passing game has had it's fair share of problems recently. All in all I think the Eagles are solid here but there could be some interesting names in free agency. However, after Vincent Jackson signed his monster contract last year many of this years free agent WRs will be looking to cash in big as well. So while I'd like to see the likes of Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace or Dwayne Bowe added I don't see the numbers matching up. A guy like Josh Cribbs could be an interesting addition as he isn't an elite receiver so he wouldn't be able to command elite money in that regard but he is one of the best returners in the game and would be an immediate upgrade to our special teams since we haven't been using Jackson on returns. Keeping with receivers, as I look at our TEs I like Brent Celek and Clay Harbor. I again don't see the Eagles going to free agency for an upgrade. Again look for talent to try and be added through the draft.

Lastly is the offensive line. Ok good news first. We should have all of our starters back which is great because if everyone is healthy and back to normal our starting O-line should be one of the best in the league. Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, and Todd Herremans will be a sight for sore eyes when they are all back on the field together again. The position in question for the Eagles is the RG spot, however, they do have some wiggle room. Herremans has shown that he can play both the offensive tackle and guard positions so he could either continue to play RT or possibly slide in to RG. This will depend on what the Eagles decided to do regarding Jake Scott and Danny Watkins. Thus far Watkins has been a bust and Scott was brought in this season to fill in for him. I don't see either being a long term solution and there are some interesting names that could be coming up in free agency. Ryan Clady of the Broncos, Brandon Albert of the Chiefs, and Andy Levitre of the Bills are just a few names who could immediately upgrade the offensive line of the Eagles. I'm not saying that any of them will get to see the light of free agency but if they are then the Eagles should pounce on one, and Herremans ability to play either position will allow everyone a starting spot.

Additionally, if the Eagles have learned anything about the offense from this past season is that the depth of the offensive line needs to be addressed ASAP! The loss of Jason Peters alone made that clear. After three other starters went down it was a disaster. The new coaching staff should evaluate the free agent market closely as we don't want another Demetrius Bell experiment, but I would rather use draft picks to grab solid offensive linemen with potential.

All in all the offensive side of the ball shouldn't be in terrible shape QB is the big question right now but moving forward with Foles should be a no brainier for a team obviously rebuilding. Secondly, address the offensive line problem by finding a suitable starter since Watkins doesn't seem to be panning out as hoped, and grab some solid depth so if and when a starter goes down we have someone who can step up and be a satisfactory fill in.

Next post it gets interesting when the defense gets examined.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

So who's the next coach?

Reportedly former Eagles head coach Andy Reid will become the new head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. This move in my mind make a lot of sense for Reid first off he would control the first overall pick in this years draft allowing him to start to build his new team with the exact young talent he wants. Also, the Chiefs are sending five players this year to the Pro Bowl. RB Jamsal Charles, OLB Tamba Hali, MLB Derrick Johnson, SS Eric Berry, and Punter Dustin Colquitt. Compare this to none being sent by the Eagles and it would seem that the Chiefs are already an upgrade. The Chiefs also have a large amount of talent on their roster with players like WR Dwayne Bowe, FB Peyton Hillis, RT Eric Winston, LT Branden Albert, RG Jon Asamoah, RE Glenn Dorsey, OLB Justin Houston, and CB Brandon Flowers. With all of this talent especially on the offensive line and the defensive side of the ball Reid could turn this team into a contender in a short period of time. He'll have to decided if he wants to resign Bowe, Hillis, Albert, and Dorsey as they are all scheduled to be free agents this offseason although the only one I can see him letting walk would be Hillis based purely on the fact that Reid has historically has never been big on the use of FBs. Additionally, Reid brings his ability to make QBs better then they are which could make the difference for the Chiefs when it comes to Matt Cassel. He should do fine there and I wish him all the best, I'll be happy if he does go to KC if only for the fact that he wouldn't be coaching in the NFC. Farewell Andy.

So what now for the Eagles head coaching job? Reports are out that the Eagles will be interviewing Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Sunday and it makes a lot of sense. McCoy has taken the Broncos to the playoffs in back to back seasons with two very different QBs. Last year was with Tim Tebow and this year obviously Peyton Manning. Clearly McCoy is a man who is flexible and can tailor an offense to the players on his roster rather then forcing guys to play a style they aren't suited for.

The Eagles have also made requests to interview Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, and special teams coach Keith Armstrong. Clearly the Falcons have got it right this season as they boast the best record in the NFC and are tied with the Broncos for best in the NFL. It seems that Jeffrey Laurie wants to get a closer look at each facet of the Falcons game and determine  which assistant coach there has the biggest hand in the teams success.

Lastly it also seems that the Eagles are also going to be taking a look at two of the biggest coaching names in the college ranks. Both Chip Kelly of Oregon and Bill O'Brien of Penn State will certainly get multiple looks from around the league to fill vacant head coaching positions.

Other then these reports not much else has surfaced as to who the favorite is or how long it will take before a decision is made. Laurie has come out and said that he wants to do his do diligence to make sure that the right guy is hired for the job and that there is no rush for him to fill the vacancy for the sake of filling it. He did however say that if they were to determine who they felt the right guy was soon that he wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger and make an offer.  That being said I think Laurie is being smart here as he was when hiring Reid. We all know how great it was to have a coach who made the Eagles a legit contender year after year and brought a winning mindset to Philadelphia for the past 14 season, well maybe not so much in the last two. However, I fully expect that Laurie is looking for his next Andy Reid. He wants a guy who will come in and change the mood of the locker room that seems to have brought the Eagles down in recent seasons and get back to the championship caliber teams that we all used to know and love.