The Eagles OTAs are just wrapping up and there seems to be a sense of optimism around the team. With those practices over and done with, the BGN Roundtable decided to get together for a discussion on a few key topics. This week, we are splitting the discussion in two parts, the Eagles and the NFC East. Today, we look at the Eagles with Dave Mangels, BGN Radio hosts James Seltzer and John Barchard.
Are you concerned about the backup quarterback position?
Mike Kaye: Not really. While I think Matt Barkley and Mark Sanchez would be lower-level starters, especially for a full season, they hopefully won't need to play in more than one or two games with the worst case scenario. I am more concerned with who will win the the job as opposed to how they will impact the season. I think that Sanchez is the key, honestly. If he can at least be up to "game-managing" starter level, this team will be fine if Nick Foles goes down for a game or two.
Dave Mangels: No. Look around the league, Sanchez is an adequate backup, and now he’s on an offense light years ahead of anything he’s played on in the NFL. The market for backup QBs was as usual awful, you can do worse than an experienced starter who has had some success.
James Seltzer: How could you not be? Sanchez/Barkley inspire very little confidence in me. Furthermore, the backup QB position has become extremely important in today’s NFL as all Eagles fans learned last season. I think if Foles goes down for any extended period of time, this Eagles team is in a lot of trouble.
John Barchard: There is a reason why they are called backups in the first place, for me there will always be a concern if your starting QB goes down. That said, I was really comfortable last year with the Vick/Foles combo. I think we all knew that either guy could run the offense effectively and the preseason battle helped put our minds at ease.
Jump to the present… Vick is gone and the only things I have burned into my brain with the backup QB position is a butt fumble, 3 god awful interceptions against the Cowboys and way too many USC glory days stories. I have a feeling Barkley will surprise a lot of people this year and I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up with the #2 gig. His best advantage is the experience he has in Chip's offense. I am actually really excited to see how he has progressed during the preseason games. I really do think he makes a big jump this year and instills some confidence back into the fan base. I wish I could say the same about Sanchez and it's really nothing against him, but I just think there are too many scars from that abusive relationship he had with Jets, I don't expect a big turnaround from him.
TL;DR - If Barkley doesn't have a big leap this year, Foles has to have the cleanest jersey in the NFL.
MK: Again, not really. This is something that we knew would happen when the likes of Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco got ridiculous extensions. I honestly blame this all on the Bills and Ryan Fitzpartick, who worked out at $59 million deal for a player who had never won anything and was on his third team in three years. Agents smelled the blood in the water from there. I think the Kaepernick contract is worth way more than he is, but the 49ers basically have annual out-clauses. I think Foles will get something in the Kaepernick range (maybe less because of the lack of playoff success, despite not having a Top 3 defense) and get the first two years fully guaranteed. After those first two years, the Eagles will lose little by dropping Foles if he falters.
DM: I think Kaepernick is overpaid, but now that we’ve seen the details, it’s actually a really good deal for the 49ers. Howie Roseman is the best cap manager in the league, so I’m confident Foles won’t get a Tony Romo like contract, he’ll probably get something similar to Kaepernick’s. If anything, Kaepernick helped pave the way for a team friendly contract.
JS: Of course I’m concerned he will cost too much money…but that is the name of the game in these days. Contracts for QB’s are severely inflated, especially when guys like Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco are making the kind of money they are. In addition, Foles is still young and thus, in theory, the best should still be ahead of him, which will only add to the price tag. As to whether he is worth it or not, I cannot say. We need to see him perform at a high level again this season for me to be willing to give him Kaepernick money. I’m not saying he has to go 29 and 2 again, but he needs to have another great season in the Kelly system for me to be willing to give him that kind of cash/commitment.
JB: He's worth a little bit of that money, how much exactly? I don't really know, I guess that's what this year is all about. I do have that Howie won't Flacco up his contract unless he's earned that right. And since Chip & Foles have the same agent I am not worried about the Eagles overpaying for Foles.
Do you feel like the team has improved from an on-paper perspective? Where could they afford to get better?
MK: I'd say they have improved on defense a lot more than some have alluded to this offseason. The unit's biggest weakness was not the well-publicized lack of pass rush, it was actually the lack of depth. Outside of Najee Goode, the team didn't have a suitable fill-in for any position once Bennie Logan took over at nose tackle. Now the team has quality guys behind the projected starters. Adding Nolan Carroll, creating a competition between Nate Allen and Earl Wolff and drafting Marcus Smith were bigger for this team than most of the press will acknowledge. The offense may not be better with the release of DeSean Jackson, but it definitely has way more options. The Eagles have essentially replaced Jackson with Jordan Matthews, Darren Sproles and a healthy Jeremy Maclin.
DM: I think they’re a little better, the additions on offense outweighing the losses and the defense is a little better, a little deeper. But it’s tough to make major improvements on a 10 win team, and margins can be all the difference. The defense still needs improvement.
JS: I do not think the team has improved much on paper. In fact, the roster looks very similar this season to how it did at the outset of last season. I think the biggest improvement we will see will be in the system from year one to year two. This might not be evident on paper, but I think the ability for players to have a second year in the system, and perhaps more important for Kelly to have a second year in the NFL, will be the major stimulus for improvement this season. As for where they could afford to get better, I think the secondary is still a clear area of need for the Birds. I like the Jenkins and Carroll signings; I just don’t think it will be enough to make them a strong unit.
JB: Absolutely they have improved. Somehow I feel the offense is better despite DeSean getting the axe, Malcolm Jenkins provides a lot more stability at safety (more than he has been given credit for) and most importantly the training wheels are off on both sides of the ball this season. That's huge.
I know they drafted Marcus Smith, but until I see a solid rotation and constant pressure between him, Curry and Graham this team could still probably use one more pass rusher.
What position are you most excited about this season and why?
MK: Outside linebacker has me pretty intrigued. I think Connor Barwin may be the most important player on the defense and seeing him grow in it is extremely important. I like the idea of having Trent Cole and Brandon Graham in the defense for another year. Marcus Smith is a player I loved in the draft process and I was one of the few pundits that was pretty happy immediately with the pick. I think he is a rotational player as a rookie, but I think that is an upgrade over what was there last year.
DM: Wide Receiver, particularly Jordan Matthews. I liked him in college and he should be a terrific fit for this team. Huff intrigues me.
JS: I think the prevailing opinion here will be WR simply because of Jordan Matthews. And while I agree, it’s hard to not choose RB. Between Shady, Sproles, and Polk, the Eagles easily have the most dynamic backfield in the NFL this season. Watching Shady and Sproles on the field together will be a treat for Eagles fans and misery for the fans of any team the Eagles are facing. So while I am excited for Matthews (and for Ertz in year two as well), I think RB is the position any Eagles fan would have to be most excited about.
JB: WR, it's on everyone's mind and I would be lying if I said another position. I have been on the Jordan Matthews hype train since Mike Quick announced his name at the draft. There are so many different variations of "DeSean made this offense go…" mantras and I want those people to look absolutely foolish.
I will be handling the BGN mailbag this weekend, so if you have any questions that you want answers or opinions on, feel free to write them down below. Also, give us your takes on these questions!