I’ve been meaning to get back and to finish fixing the Eagles. We did the “easy” part already
- a minimal retooling of a Top 5 offense is a little easier than wrapping your hands around the defense. The Eagles' defense was a pretty maligned unit last year. They weren't bad exactly- you could move the ball on them between the 20s
- but teams couldn't throw it at all in the red zone, which allowed the Eagles to stack the box against the run in tight, thus stop teams and keep "points against" in the top half of the League. Remove the Colts road disaster, and the numbers look even better.
On defense, a lot of decisions are sort of made for them- as opposed to having others decide for them on offense. For example, after the 2005 debacle, the Eagles knew they had immediate problems at linebacker and defensive tackle- and drafted accordingly.
It is now showtime for those first day draft picks Broderick Bunkley and Chris Gocong. They still have trouble with the established players at those two positions, those two guys interniships are over, and they are the fixes. On paper, they have appropriate pedigrees- and they are the solutions that’ll be presented.
The Eagles ask only steady, unremarkable play from their linebackers- and boy, do they get unremarkable play in bunches from this group: they get no lift from the linebacker play, no big plays, no sacks, no turnovers.
Dhani Jones is gone, no one in Philadelphia can deal with him anymore, he is just oh so tiring.
Unfortuately, there are problems elsewhere on defense with higher priority- so I think they are going to be content to try and survive with Gocong, Trotter and Gaither.
That is one mystery player, one declining player and one young player who probably will be okay- not exactly a promising situation. It is the one position on the field where they might shock us all- and draft their terrific need here- get someone they think can start. I suppose it almost has to improve with the departure of Dhani Jones, the worst starter on the team by far. I dunno- it is the most vexing position they have, the one with the least good options.
Sheppard, Brown and Dawkins are mortal locks to return, Lewis and Hood gone. Oddly, the departure of Hood hurts more. Hood was a great nickel back, provided “starter level” play when called on to play a lot, at a very friendly cap number.
They’ll miss him, which means a first day draft pick is gonna be spent at corner- as they need a cheap guy who can play today here. I like William James/Joselio Hanson fighting for the dime spot- the perfect veteran depth versus improving young player conundrum.
I railed about young Considine all year- but my attitude toward the young man has softened a little
. He isn’t the first rookie to struggle when asked to play a whole lot of safety in big spots in the NFL. And when you struggle at safety, you can look real bad. But he wasn’t all that terrible, I am more than a little confident he might be a whole lot better with a whole year under his belt. He’s cheap, young, durable- things you love in a every down roster spot.
I think they’ll be more than okay here. There was some talk about drafting a safety to replace Dawkins in a year or two- but Quintin Mikell quited down that talk with a superior, big hitting last month or so of the season.
The defensive line also presents some intractable problems: overpaid vets underperforming their contracts (Kearse and Howard), inconsistent veterans who might not deserve rotation time (Rayburn and Walker), mixing "nicely" with younger unproven players.
Mike Patterson is the only sure thing going upfront. Part of the hard part here is that all these veterans have played well for stretches, then disappeared. I’m sure they are going to go with mostly a mixture of young players (Cole, Thomas, Patterson, Bunkley) they groomed this year
- and hope they blossom- a strategy with merit. Add the vets they are sort of stuck with (Howard, Walker and Kearse)- and hope they stay healthy.
Bottom line, there were a ton of fixes identified after 2005- safety, outside inebacker, defensive line- and every position on that list has a young player assigned to it that was groomed in 2006 (Considine, Gocong, Gaither, Bunkley, etc.) that frankly needs to continue to evolve and to play better.
There are no more immediate reinforcements.
They suffered some playing these guys, found some who couldn’t play (Matt McCoy). So if the offensive story is what decisions other teams make concerning our free agents, then the defensive story is the disaster of 2005 identified positions of need, the Eagles have auditioned and seasoned players in these roles, now they need to be young core veterans to stop being rookies and contribute for sixteen weeks.
Labels: Eagles, Tulane