Eagles news and notes for 1/24
So why did the Eagles trade Rowe?
“I think it’s good to just go back to the process,” Roseman said. “So it’s the first week of the season and we get this offer and it’s the Patriots and we’re not sitting there thinking, ‘We’re getting one over on Bill Belichick,’ maybe the best evaluator of defensive backs in the history of the NFL.
“What we were thinking about was where he was on our depth chart. At that time the starting three guys were Nolan (Carroll), Leodis (McKelvin), Ron Brooks. Jalen Mills at that point in camp had beat him out, so he was the fourth guy, and then when we spoke with our coaches, they said that Malcolm (Jenkins) would be the next guy in the slot. So for where we were and what his role was at the time, we thought it was pretty good value.
“For them to give up that kind of pick — a fourth that could be a third — we knew they had a role for him. We knew that there was going to be an opportunity, and we’ve got to do what we think is best for us.”
Roseman on Monday morning didn’t exactly admit the Eagles made a mistake by unloading Rowe at a point when the team was desperate for talented young cornerbacks.
But he came close.
“We probably make 50 decisions a year that are really real decisions that we sit down and make,” he said.
“To say that we don’t go back and think about them and think about whether they were right? That’s part of it, you know? You want to hit as many as you can, but when you’re watching games of other players that you’ve had here, that’s the hard part about doing it.”
The last few years have featured plenty of talk of scheme versus talent with regard to the Eagles, but coaching might be the branch of the tree that matters most.
Consider Sunday's championship game field. While much of the media focus was on the four quarterbacks who took the field – and rightfully so – a lesser common thread uniting three of the four teams was their coaching staffs' proven history of developing talent. Antonio Brown was a sixth-round pick who caught 16 passes for 167 yards as a rookie before blossoming into the Steelers latest pass-catching sensation. At left tackle, Pittsburgh features former Eagles training camp fodder Alejandro Villanueva, whose transformation from Army Ranger defensive lineman to blind-side pass protector calls to mind another former Eagles practice squadder Stephen Neal, a collegiate wrestler who eventually latched on with the Patriots and started at guard for seven seasons, including 2004, when the Pats beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl.
The Packers' organizational development machine needs no rehashing. The 53-man roster they took into Sunday's thrashing by the Falcons included just eight players who hadn't spent their entire career in Green Bay, including two specialists, a back-up fullback, and the No. 7 wide receiver on the depth chart. Who knows what that number would have been if not for the six original Packers on injured reserve.
Maybe the best way to put it is this: How much of the Eagles' failure in the draft has been an inability to identify talent capable of playing in the NFL, and how much of it has been their inability to develop and/or deploy that talent in a manner that lets them succeed? I don't know the answer. But as Eric Rowe and two other cornerbacks developed by the Patriots celebrated a trip to the Super Bowl, it was an interesting question to ponder.
Sunday was one of the most lopsided Conference Championship days in many years, as home teams Atlanta and New England advanced to Super Bowl LI with convincing victories. Within those games, however, are lessons to be learned.
First, and this needs to be digested, home field does matter in the NFL playoffs. Since the league introduced the seeding element to the postseason in 1975, 31 of the 41 Lombardi Trophy champions have been No. 1 or No. 2 seeds. New England (No. 1 seed) and Atlanta (No. 2 seed) obviously fit that profile. Not since Baltimore (No. 4 seed) in the 2012 season has a seed other than No. 1 or No. 2 even reached the Super Bowl.
It's important, then, to win in the regular season, secure the bye week, and have the best possible chance to reach the Super Bowl. Green Bay clearly ran out of gas after beating No. 1 seed Dallas in an emotional, gutsy victory one Sunday earlier. Pittsburgh's pass defense was exposed and the Steelers, without star running back Le'Veon Bell, who sat out much of the game with a groin injury, looked very much like the team the Eagles dismantled in September at Lincoln Financial Field.
Other lessons? There were plenty...
The best quarterback usually wins, right? Both Atlanta's Matt Ryan and New England's Tom Brady were nearly perfect, combining for 776 passing yards and seven touchdown passes. Pure brilliance. It helped that Ryan was not sacked, while Brady was downed only two times among his 44 dropbacks. Offensive line, offensive line, offensive line. For the Eagles, that's good news, because the team feels good about its group up front offensively, with its depth there and a couple of the young prospects developing in the pipeline.