Eagles news and notes for 12/30
The only other likely voice in the room was senior personnel scout Tom Donahoe, whom Roseman had hired several years earlier. It's unclear if Pederson's opinion was taken into account after he was hired, but negotiations continued until it was announced that Ertz, Johnson, and Curry had signed five-year deals in succession on Jan. 25, Jan. 29 and Feb. 2.
Ertz's extension was worth $40 million, Johnson's $56.25 million, and Curry's - he was set to become a free agent - $46.25 million. Veteran tight end Brent Celek was also signed to a three-year, $12 million extension on Jan. 26. And while Cox's contract would prove to take longer to work out, he signed a six-year, $102.6 million extension on June 16.
After each signing, Roseman spoke of the importance of locking up in-house talent and of forming a core the Eagles could build around. It's a sound philosophy, and in many cases one that produces Super Bowl contenders, but the players had better be difference-makers if you're going to pay them as much as the Eagles paid their own guys.
With one year almost in the books, it's fair to question whether Ertz, Johnson, Curry, and Cox are difference makers, or at the least, worth the contracts the Eagles gave them. It could be argued that not one performed up to expectations, or in Cox's case, as dominating as he played from 2014-15.
Only Johnson seemed to take a leap forward, but he was suspended 10 games for using a performance-enhancing substance. Ertz has had a solid second half, same as he had in his previous three seasons, but overall he has had a disappointing season. Curry couldn't even crack the starting lineup and has been severely lacking in difference-making plays.
The struggles of all four could merely be circumstantial. Perhaps the change in scheme and attention affected Cox more than anticipated. Maybe Johnson won't repeat his previous mistakes. It's possible that Ertz needed time to develop chemistry with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. And it's conceivable that Curry just had a down year.
The names on a team's short list are likely to include former head coaches and up-and-coming offensive and defensive coordinators. Names not likely to be on that list: special-teams coordinators.
When his Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl four years ago, head coach John Harbaugh, who spent nine seasons coaching the Eagles' special teams, thought it would kick the door open for other special-teams coaches to get serious consideration for head jobs.
He thought wrong.
"I'm shocked that more (special teams) guys haven't gotten the opportunity," Harbaugh said.
That's unfortunate for the league's top special-teams coaches. Guys like the Chiefs' Dave Toub and the Ravens' Jerry Rosburg.
And the Eagles' Dave Fipp.
Fipp's special-teams units have been among the best in the league the last three years. If the Eagles' offense or defense had performed at the same high level that their special teams have, Frank Reich and Jim Schwartz would have their pick of head-coaching jobs.
Fipp? The 42-year-old Eagles assistant probably won't even get invited for an interview, which is a shame.
"For whatever reason, I think sometimes special teams gets kind of snubbed a little bit, and it's unfortunate because there are some great special teams coaches in the league," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "Every year, these guys kind of get overlooked."
Owners covet the young offensive geniuses and the shrewd defensive generals who can beat protections and put quarterbacks on their butt. But the truth is special teams may be the best training ground of all for an NFL head coach.
"I think Dave is very capable," Pederson said. "Next to myself, he's the next coach on the staff that really is in front of the whole team, talking and coordinating meetings and things of that nature.
The Dallas Cowboys employ one of the most effective formulas for success in the NFL. And it’s no secret why they’re successful.
The reason why the Cowboys won 13 games this season is due to their run game. Dallas ranks second in the league in rushing and first in attempts. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott is an MVP candidate. He’s clearly a special talent whose life has been made even easier playing behind one of the league’s best offensive lines.
The way the Cowboys run the ball so effectively impacts the performance of the rest of the team. Dallas’ defense doesn’t have to face as many snaps due to the offense being able to control the clock, for example. The Cowboys rank second overall in average time of possession (31:56).
An elite run game can also be a quarterback’s best friend. Fourth-round rookie Dak Prescott certainly exceeded expectations while filling in for Tony Romo. The Cowboys’ quarterback has thrown 23 touchdowns to four interceptions and ranks third in the league in passer rating at 105.7.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson sees the value in the Cowboys’ strategy.
“Yeah, it is a strategy obviously for success,” said Pederson “And really, you look at Carson [Wentz’s] attempts per game and Dak’s attempts, I think it’s within four or five attempts per game, so it’s not that far off. Even our rushing attempts are 10th in the National Football League right now.”
“You know, it feels like we’re throwing the ball a bunch, but I think obviously a recipe for success is lower those attempts, keep them in that manageable 33, 34, maybe 30 attempts a game but still have the ability to run the ball just as equally, I think are formulas for success, and then obviously play great defense and special teams.”
His salary went up, his production went down, and Connor Barwin understands that at 30 years old and with the second-lowest sack total of his career, there is going to be plenty of speculation about his future.
And he knows it’s already started.
“It bothers me that I don’t have more sacks, so I understand why it bothers other people,” Barwin said at his locker Thursday. “So it’s been a tough year.
“But I know the game is much more than just that, so I try to keep things in perspective.”
Barwin recorded 26½ sacks in three years playing in a 3-4 front under Bill Davis, sixth-most in the NFC during that span and also sixth-most among all NFL linebackers.
But with the coaching change, a new defensive coordinator and a new system, Barwin went from 3-4 left outside linebacker to a 4-3 right defensive end, and his sacks dropped to four this year, including none in the last six weeks.
With upcoming base salaries of $7.75 million and $9.25 million in 2017 and 2018 and cap figures of $7.35 million and $8.35 million, the speculation about Barwin’s future is understandable.
The Eagles would absorb only $600,000 in dead cap money if they released Barwin this offseason, and Barwin’s age — he turned 30 in October — and declining production combined with his cap number add up to a huge question mark about his future for the cap-strapped team.
Barwin said it wasn’t appropriate to talk specifics until after the season but indicated Thursday he would consider taking a pay cut to stay in Philly.