Eagles news and links for 9/7
The players on the roster who will try to help Wentz as he takes over aren’t thinking 2016 will be a lost season. They don’t expect anything less just because a different guy will be under center.
"Guys are excited," tight end Zach Ertz said. "It doesn’t change our outlook for this season by any means. I mean, guys have worked — we’ve worked, I’ve worked — way too hard this offseason to get where we are now, and no one’s going to relax now because expectations are lowered by any means.
"I don’t think they’re lowered. I don’t think anyone on this team is going into the season with the thought that expectations were lowered by any means."
Tight end Brent Celek adamantly agreed with Ertz when asked if the team has lowered its expectations: "No. Never," he said.
So starting a rookie QB isn’t a death knell for team offense. Of course, the reason those teams drafted these QBs was because they were terrible enough to get such a high pick. If you look at the base level scoring (Year -1 column), you can see that it’d be pretty hard to get worse for some of these teams.
By comparison, the Eagles scored 377 points last year. Some of that was due to the pace of the offense (more plays = more pts). But by DVOA the team ranked 26th and was 22nd in points per drive. Not good, but not dreadful either. In other words, the team is in a relatively unique situation. We just haven’t seen teams as good as the Eagles were last year draft top 5 QBs.
The closest analogue is Mark Sanchez and the Jets. The Jets were a 9 win team with Brett Favre the year before drafting the Sanchize. The team traded up from #17 to #5 to take him. The offense declined significantly by points scored and marginally be DVOA (18th to 22nd).
When the Eagles trimmed their roster down to 53 players, it initially included four undrafted free agents – WR Paul Turner, OT Dillon Gordon, DT Destiny Vaeao, and CB C.J. Smith. Turner and Smith were released to make room for three waiver claims, one of which was another 2016 undrafted player, WR Bryce Treggs.
The Eagles then filled out their entire 10-man practice squad with 2016 undrafted rookie free agents, which is actually quite rare. A conclusion that could be made there is that Roseman likely wanted his own set of 10 players to try to develop.
"We feel like we’ve got to find ways to improve this football team in an unconventional manner," said Roseman. "When you look at the percentage of rosters taken up by undrafted free agents, outside of first-round picks, I think it’s the highest percentage of players on rosters. For us, we felt like we needed to throw darts at that pool of guys that we liked."
In the Eagles' case, 22.6 percent of their roster is made up of undrafted players.
"Since they drafted him, he's exceeded all of their expectations," said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, who was the television analyst on the Eagles' preseason games on CSN this summer.
"Despite the injury, I think they came away feeling he was ready to play a lot earlier than they thought he would be."
Mayock never has been big on the watch-and-learn method of developing first-round quarterbacks. He feels the best way they can learn, the fastest way they can learn, is by playing.
"Both Wentz and the Eagles are going to be a lot better off (with him playing) than if they had waited a year," he said. "Every rep he gets this year should make him a better player next year.
"I'm a play-now guy with one caveat - that you can protect the kid. I've seen a lot of top 10 quarterbacks get the crap kicked out of them early in their career and not turn into what we all thought they were going to be.
"That's why I always talk about Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. They came out the same year. Both of them started 16 games as rookies and played pretty well. Why? Because their teams had good run games and good defenses. That took a lot of pressure off what they were asked to do. It enabled them to get a lot of reps and be that much more effective in Year 2."
"For us to do that, it would change the NFC North, it would change the NFC East, it would change the NFC as a whole. It puts our coaches in a really tough position. That's going to be a situation that's gotta be a no-brainer for our team. And I said, so what does that mean? I said, well, the Carson Palmer trade was like that and it was a one and a two," Roseman recalled. "And [Spielman] was just taken aback. And he said, 'Well, that doesn't make any sense.' And I said, 'No, it does.'"
The trade Roseman referenced came in October 2011 when the Cincinnati Bengals sent an unhappy and "retired" Palmer to the Oakland Raiders for a first-round pick in 2012 and a second-round pick in 2013.
The Eagles ended up getting close to that in return, as Minnesota gave up a first-rounder in the upcoming draft and a conditional pick in 2018 that can become as high as a second-rounder, depending on how the Vikings perform with Bradford.
Roseman said he sat and watched the Eagles' preseason finale against the New York Jets Thursday night thinking a deal would not get done. But on Friday, the Vikings had conceded to a first-round pick and the teams ironed out the details from there.
The second part of this equation was feeling good about putting the ball in Carson Wentz's hands so early. The coaching and personnel staff provided Roseman with some peace of mind during a team meeting prior to pulling the trigger.