The SB Nation NFL team sites will be doing theme weeks all throughout the 2017 NFL season. This week’s theme is: “What would your team do today if they could go back and change one move they made in the offseason? Would it instead be a move or addition they didn't make?”
Usually this is a pretty easy question to answer.
It’s typically not difficult to point to a player the Eagles should have signed/drafted instead of the one they acquired.
But with the Eagles sitting pretty at 5-1, it’s hard to point to a lot of glaring mistakes.
I still maintain that the Eagles could have done a better job at addressing the running back position, even though LeGarrette Blount has been playing pretty well. But complaining about the Donnel Pumphrey selection feels too nitpicky for today’s post and I’ve already complained about that enough.
So in honor of staying positive, I’m going to flip today’s question around into: “Where would the Eagles be if they HADN'T made a certain move?”
The move that comes to mind is the Eagles’ decision to trade Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick for Ronald Darby. A number of people were NOT on board with trading JMatt at the time.
There was concern about removing Matthews’ production from the offense. There was concern about losing a valued member of the locker room. There was concern about how this trade would specifically impact Carson Wentz.
At this point it’s clear those concerns were overblown.
The reality is that the Eagles’ offense has been more efficient and explosive with Matthews gone. The addition of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith as outside threats has certainly helped in this regard, no doubt, but so has giving Matthews’ targets to Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor.
Ertz, who functions similarly to Matthews, is finally having that breakout year with JMatt gone. Ertz leads the Eagles in receptions (34), receiving yards (405), and touchdowns (4). He’s establishing himself as one of the best tight ends in the league.
Remember when everyone laughed off Daniel Jeremiah saying that Agholor would be the Eagles’ slot receiver this year? Well, Agholor has defied expectation to become a legitimate weapon in Philly’s offense. He ranks third on the team in receptions (20), second in receiving yards (321), and tied for first in touchdowns (4). Agholor’s presence has given the Eagles a more explosive, shifty option in the slot.
Two months prior to the Matthews trade, I argued that his production was flawed and that he would not be worth what it would take to re-sign him. The Eagles, who clearly read BGN to figure out what moves they should make (just joking), felt Matthews wasn’t the indispensable piece some made him out to be.
The Eagles made the right decision to trade Matthews. I bet you there hasn’t been a single moment this season where you’ve thought “oh, I wish we still had JMatt.” Trading him, along with adding Jeffery and Smith, has really allowed Ertz and Agholor to flourish. The feeling here is JMatt’s targets are much better utilized by them instead of him. There’s a true “addition by subtraction” feel here.
And look, I’ve barely touched on the Darby aspect of the trade to this point! It’s very unfortunate that he got hurt in Week 1, but the good news is he should be returning with the next few weeks or so. In addition to his pre-Eagles resume, I saw enough out of Darby this summer to feel confident he’s going to be a good piece for this team. Philly’s defense has the potential to be even better when he’s able to get back on the field. Great trade by Howie Roseman.
Another angle I considered for this post is that some of the best offseason moves the Eagles made were the ones they didn’t make at all. We now know trading Jason Kelce and Mychal Kendricks for peanuts would’ve been a mistake. Cutting Jason Peters to save some salary cap space? That would’ve been a disaster. Credit to Roseman once again.
Now I turn today’s question over to you: “What would the Eagles do today if they could go back and change one move they made in the offseason? Would it instead be a move or addition they didn't make?”