Eagles news and notes for 2/7
We all know there are two huge areas of Eagles concern heading into free agency and the draft - wide receiver and cornerback. Pass rusher and running back are just below those top two, especially if Logan, Mathews and Barwin won't be on the 2017 team.
If you read the Senior Bowl coverage a few weeks back, you might remember the discussion with Howie Roseman that the 2014 draft was an outlier, that even if you draft a potentially dominant receiver, he doesn't tend to dominate as a rookie. Julio Jones caught 54 passes for 959 yards in 2011, which is nice, but hardly transformative. And choosing either 14th or 15th in the first round, depending on a coin flip, the Eagles are unlikely to uncover a Joneslike talent.
I would guess the Eagles will both draft and sign wide receivers. But I'd also guess that vast improvement in 2017 will have to be a cumulative thing, not the result of one special guy being added.
The biggest name on the pending UFA list is Chicago's Alshon Jeffery. The Bears tagged him last year and have plenty of cap room to do that again, but it's unclear whether they want to, in a rebuilding situation. Jeffery didn't have a great year, 52 catches for 821 yards and only two touchdowns, served a four-game PED suspension, one year after missing seven games with injuries.
Jeffery, who turns 27 on Feb. 14, is amazing on 50-50 balls, would be better overall than anyone the Eagles have, but if he gets to free agency, is he really worth top-of-the-market, Dez Bryant-level money? (That's five years, $70 million, $45 million guaranteed.)
Eric Rowe was simply not a fit in Philadelphia.
Somehow the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots found a way to use the Eagles' discarded cornerback plenty in their improbable 34-28 comeback win in Super Bowl LI in Houston.
No. 25 was on the field for 32 of the Patriots' 49 defensive snaps (65 percent) on Sunday night. In the Patriots' three playoff games, Rowe played 70.6 percent of defensive snaps. In the AFC Championship Game against the Steelers, Rowe played 88 percent.
I know ... who cares?
Here's why you should care: It's significant for the Eagles going forward because the fourth-round pick the Eagles got in exchange for Rowe can turn into a third-rounder if Rowe plays enough next season. This year, Rowe didn't play until Week 6, so he played just 43.3 percent of the Patriots' snaps during the regular season. That fell below the required 50 percent to turn that pick into a third-rounder. But if he plays at least 50 percent next year, that pick will still change.
Now, the playoffs don't count toward the percentage, but the fact that the Patriots played Rowe 65 percent of the time in the Super Bowl and 70 percent in the playoffs probably bodes well for next season.
No more Super Bowl hype.
No more playoffs.
No more Hall of Fame.
2016 is finally in the books so we can now concentrate on something truly important…the 2017 offseason. Spoken like someone who follows a non-playoff team, right? When you aren’t at the top or near the top, you can’t wait for the offseason. That’s when your team has a chance to make moves that could change their fortunes and get them where they want to be.
Atlanta had a great offseason last year. They signed free agents C Alex Mack, WR Mohammed Sanu and DE Dwight Freeney. They drafted well, landing 4 starters. They also developed their own players. That pushed them from 8-8 to being up 25 points in the Super Bowl. There were no mega-deals given out. There were no parades for the signings of Mack or Sanu. Atlanta got the right guys to help their team get over the top.
As for that loss….I cannot imagine how Philly would handle that.
The Falcons had the Super Bowl won. And then they blew it.
I’m still hurting from blowing a 10-point lead to Dallas back at midseason. I can’t wrap my head around the idea of losing the Super Bowl the way the Falcons did. I’ll be interested to see how those players respond next season. That’s the kind of loss that could galvanize a team or ruin it. Those guys will be second-guessing each other for the rest of their lives. Getting past that will be a monumental task.
Wentz, the Eagles believe, has that kind of top-tier talent in him, and his rookie season demonstrated the quarterback's maturity, poise, and his late-game tools (against Atlanta, in Baltimore, and at home against the Giants). Wentz has a chance to be the elite quarterback the Eagles haven’t had since Donovan McNabb, and maybe even more than that. Wentz has a superior physical stature compared to McNabb, and there is no quarterback out there who puts in more time and has more love of the game than Wentz.
So the Eagles have the quarterback. They have made it very clear that the offseason goal is to bring in players to give Wentz his best chance at greatness. It’s likely to take more than one, and maybe even more than two, offseason to fulfill the vision of Wentz’s supporting cast.
Pederson and his coaching staff had a 7-9 first season. The Eagles didn’t reach the postseason, but there were some extremely positive signs in the development of some key, young players, and in the locker room’s response to tough times - the way the players heard Pederson’s message and put forth great effort during a stretch run that was challenging.
Year 2 for Pederson and the Eagles starts now. Every team in the NFL is 0-0. The Eagles have some difficult decisions to make with their current roster and in free agency, which begins on March 9. The NFL Draft is right around the corner after that.
It’s always going to come down to the quarterback and the coaching in the NFL. The Eagles feel like they are heading in the right direction. To get there, a whole lot of work remains. Let the 2017 season begin as 2016 ended with a Super Bowl for the ages and a quarterback, and a coach, who are the best in the history of the sport, demonstrating again how champions do it.