Howdy team! It’s mailbag time.
If you ever want to get your questions in, hit me up on Twitter @BenjaminSolak. If you don’t have a Twitter, you can also e-mail me at benjamin [dot] solak [at] gmail, but I will probably tell you to get a Twitter (and answer your question anyway).
It looks like the WR core isn't as healthy as we had hoped at the start of the year. Is this affecting your original W/L projections, or are we going to ride the tight ends to our back to back titles?— R.J. Shields (@rshieldsII) September 13, 2018
I think we all expected a few initial weeks without Alshon — and considering the conditions under which he finished 2017, I think he more than earned the rest. His absence I considered in my season-long predictions.
Hollins, on the other hand, is the bigger disappointment. While he, of course, only represents a WR4 when healthy, he has good special teams value and broke the rotation in 2017 — in a spread-the-wealth attack, every pass catcher is valuable. Shelton Gibson and DeAndre Carter, while flashing with promise, can’t be considered proven or consistent players at this point — so depth is the biggest concern.
How much is my season-long projection affected? Minimally. Philly beat the Falcons, should still beat the Bucs, the Colts, and the Titans all before that Week 5 Minnesota game. If Alshon’s back by then, we’re basically right on schedule.
RE: tight ends powering us to victory — I certainly hope so! I’m gonna call Doug now and tell him that 24% of the snaps for Dallas Goedert is unacceptable! (Lol jk Doug scares me since the Wentz press conference.)
Do you think it’s more likely that we re-sign Graham over Darby because of the age of some D-linemen and the fact that Long (retirement) and Bennett (as a cap casualty) could be gone by next year? It almost seems like we need to focus more on the line instead of re-signing Darby.— Conor Lyons (@ConorbleMention) September 13, 2018
This feels like a response to my uhh should we sign Darby? post from earlier this week. If it wasn’t, sorry — I’m just trying to get them clicks.
Short answer: yes. Philadelphia has 1) more youth/draft capital at CB than DE, and have 2) invested more time and effort into said youth. Also, 3) apples to oranges, Brandon Graham is probably better than Ronald Darby.
Long answer: it’s not that easy. It is worth noting that Brandon Graham will be over 30 come extension time, and would likely demand more money than Darby (25) would — for a team staring down the barrel of a massive Carson Wentz extension, every penny-pinching option should be considered. It’s also worth nothing that Graham has made it clear he expects a fat check, while Darby at the very least has not been so forthright in his demands.
Gun to my head, I’d still extend Graham before Darby — but it’s more of a conversation than we initially thought, and the team will likely move mountains in an effort to keep both.
Don’t get married to that *cut Bennett* idea, by the way. If Jernigan never returns to form (sadly a strong possibility), Bennett becomes very valuable to this team.
How awesome is it to see Sam Donarld do good in his first start knowing the giants passed on him?— Remp the Fapper (@Rempstar55) September 12, 2018
Legally, I cannot confirm that I spent several years collecting enough Giants fans’ tears — whether organic or induced — in order to actually draw myself a bath and bathe in them. But if I had — and again, I can neither confirm nor deny — this Darnold thing would feel juuuuuuuuust like that.
Jokes aside, I’ll be more willing to gloat and taunt when Darnold is actually good, which requires multiple years of evaluation to know for sure. (When you begin boasting on a small sample size, you start shooting off Dak > Wentz takes prematurely, and look where that leaves you.)
In avoiding results-based analysis, the Giants forgoing a quarterback for a running back that early in the Draft was a bad process, and worthy of ridicule regardless of Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, or Lamar Jackson’s respective seasons. Make that the meat of your mockery — every good throw from a passed-over quarterback is just garnish; insult to the injury.
Why did Ajayi and Sproles see the same # of snaps last week? Does that change ?— Aaron Palacios (@Anpalacios5) September 12, 2018
Also, does Clement see more than 18% or is that something to expect going forward? #FlyEaglesFly
The Eagles/Falcons RB snap counts were as follows:
- Darren Sproles: 40%
- Jay Ajayi: 40%
- Corey Clement: 18%
From what I understand, Ajayi felt a little gimpy early, which cut into his snap time. I would expect to see his percentage climb a bit — and Sproles’ drop accordingly — when everyone is healthy. Think just 45/35 instead of a perfect split.
Clement around 18 makes sense to me, to be frank. While Corey a great dude, with Sproles back on the field, he’s no longer the best “______” back. Ajayi is a better runner, in both zone and power, while Sproles is a better pass-catcher and protector. He’s just a change-of-pace guy at this point.
There will be fluctuation — for example, I think this upcoming Bucs match-up calls for a heavy dose of Sproles. But 45/35/15 is my expected ratio moving forward.
Where do you think Sul ends up in this system? Strictly a situational guy?— Jordan Glass (@KingJordannn) September 12, 2018
Great question. Love it.
Let’s start here. Both DB Coach Cory Undlin and SAF Coach Tim Hauck have expressed their lack of interest in transferring Sul to a safety role. That never should have been an idea in the first place, in my opinion — and as of this point, it isn’t one for the coaches in the building.
Now, let’s look forward. With Sidney Jones manning the slot, it’s tough to imagine Sul never getting a crack at starting on the outside. Darby’s contract expires this season; Jalen Mills’ expires next season. Unless both players are retained on new deals (unlikely), there will be a starting outside slot open for competition by 2020 at the latest — that’s the last year of Sul’s contract. That’s not to say Sid won’t get an opportunity to work outside (with Maddox in the slot) when that day comes — just that it will be a competition.
Let’s assume that day comes in 2019, after Darby moves on. What is the stronger starting three? Sul-Sid-Mills, or Sid-Maddox-Mills? (Maybe even Sul-Maddox-Sid, but don’t tell the Mills’ stans I threw that out there.)
I think Sul gets himself the starting job in 2019. He’ll have had another year of developmental work in the building — one more than Maddox, who will be working to earn the starting slot job — and the team will not want to move Sid out of the slot if he finds success there. Douglas seems an improved player in his second season, and he brings a size profile and a production profile that nobody else on the roster does.
Also, I’m a fan of his. So go Sul.
Looking ahead to the off-season, the amount of draft picks the Eagles acquired makes me think they're going to trade for somebody big. Do you agree, and if so, who do you think some possibilities could be?— Lonis (@sxric) September 12, 2018
I do not, though I like your thought process. Howie ain’t never acquired capital for capital’s sake. There’s always a multi-step plan in place.
But Philly’s about to become a team burdened with big contracts — Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Alshon Jeffery, Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, and Zach Ertz all represent 8-figure cap hits in the upcoming years. Carson Wentz, Brandon Graham, Ronald Darby, and Nelson Agholor all could soon join them.
Philly doesn’t have the money to acquire somebody big — not an established NFL star, at least. They need rookie contracts.
It’s nigh on impossible to trade for a star player on a rookie contract — it only just happened with Khalil Mack, and that was with a 6-year extension tagged on to the trade package. Philadelphia just isn’t in that fiscal position.
That being said, don’t be surprised if Howie’s 11 picks in the 2019 Draft class become 7 or 8 as he trades up/around to ensure the Eagles land the contributors they believe in. With such a deep and talented roster, eleven draft picks simply won’t make it onto the final 53-man team — so it’s better to move up and get impact players you know will matter in 2019.
Who cuts your hair?— Bob Loblaw (@mrgregshields) September 12, 2018
If you like it, then fun story: I’ve starting learning how to cut my hair myself. Been working on it for a few months now — it’s tricky but it’s fun, and more importantly it’s cheap. Thanks for the compliment.
If you don’t, then a barber. You probably don’t know him; he goes to a different school.