Not every general manager is going to bat 1.000 on his draft picks, free agent signings and trades. Being a GM is tough. Much is out of their control, and the best laid plans of mice and men during the summer often times crap out when the leaves change color and the autumn wind begins to blow.
Howie Roseman is under a lot of fire right now for the state of his 3-3 football team. Through six weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles have underachieved. The pass defense remains one of the worst in football, with a collection of cornerbacks either hurt or struggling. The defensive line is not getting to the quarterback with enough frequency, the linebackers (when they haven’t been providing bulletin-board material to their opponents) have largely been invisible, and the offense has been a plodding, uninspiring unit that has looked slow and been little else other than Carson Wentz trying to will his teammates into giving him some help.
As one looks at the roster, one sees a team that isn’t getting much top-shelf production from their recent draft picks. As a way to make up for that, Roseman got busy this off-season and attempted to supplement the team with a number of free agent signings and trades. Through six weeks most of those moves have not worked out.
Some of that has been bad evaluation and some has been bad luck. Regardless of the reason, and with the understanding there are still 10 weeks left in the season here are 12 moves that have either worked, not worked so far, or been utter disasters.
Moves That Have Worked
- Brandon Graham’s three-year free agent contract has worked out pretty well. After going the first month of the season without a sack, Graham has tallied four in his last two games and has been one of the better run-stoppers on the team. He consistently gets pressure on the QB and is versatile enough to move to the inside to help with a shortage of pass rushers at the tackle position. He’s also stayed healthy. All in all, keeping Graham has turned out to be a good move.
Leaders in QB Hits Through Wk 6:— Johnny Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) October 16, 2019
T.J. Watt, J.J. Watt: 14
Matt Judon, Myles Garrett, Preston Smith, Za'Darius Smith, Marcus Davenport: 12
Brian Burns, Markus Golden: 11
Danielle Hunter, Shaq Barrett, Cam Jordan, Everson Griffen: 10
Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Nick Bosa: 9
- Roseman’s trade of a conditional 6th-round pick for Jordan Howard has given the Eagles a viable running game, something they lacked in 2018. He’s tallying 4.5 yards per attempt this season, his highest since his Pro Bowl rookie year. He’s looked good as the Eagles’ chain-mover, running inside the tackles and gaining positive yardage on every play. Like so many of the Eagles’ offensive players, he’s not a big play guy, but he helps move the chains. And for the cost, Howard has been a steal.
Moves That Haven’t — So Far
- It’s too soon to say the trade for DeSean Jackson was a bust, because Jackson will hopefully get back into the lineup as soon as Sunday night against the Cowboys, and when he does, it’s going to transform the offense. But Jackson has a history of injuries (he’s missed at least three games every year since 2014) and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll be as effective when he does eventually make it back onto the field.
- Re-signing Ronald Darby to a one-year deal could still work out, as Darby is set to return to action on Sunday following a three-week absence due to a hamstring injury. But Darby wasn’t playing well prior to getting hurt, so it’s unclear how much of a step he’s lost since he went out last season with an ACL tear. Will those three weeks off help turn Darby back into a viable starter? A nation waits.
- Re-signing Timmy Jernigan seemed like a nice depth move for Roseman this off-season, and he’s shown flashes of productivity when he’s been in there. But like Darby and Jackson, Jernigan has been hurt, out for the last month with a broken foot, and will probably be out one or two more. He won’t play this Sunday against Dallas, for sure.
- I know it came as a great shock to everyone when Darren Sproles — who played nine games over the previous two seasons — went down with an injury. A total and complete surprise. Seriously though, when he is on the field, he’s a steady hand returning punts. Hopefully Boston Scott can handle things until Sproles comes back, but given his age and injury history, it’s fair to wonder just how much of Sproles we’ll see over the final 10 weeks of the season.
Moves That Look Awful
- The free agent contract given to defensive tackle Malik Jackson looked like a good one at first blush. Jackson had played all 16 games in each of his first six seasons and the hope was that pairing him next to Fletcher Cox would give the Eagles a dominant pass rush from the inside, which would give the edge rushers an easier path to the QB as well. Well, Jackson suffered a Lisfranc injury in Week 1 against Washington and it appears he will miss the remainder of the 2019 season. As a GM, you can’t predict injuries, so this is a tough one to lay at the feet of Roseman, but it is a move that has not worked out.
- The Eagles made two moves to upgrade their linebacking corps this off-season, and both have absolutely blown up in their faces. L.J. Fort was signed to a three-year deal worth $1.9 million guaranteed, but he was released earlier this month after failing to impress on the field. Hey, at least the Eagles potentially get a 4th round compensatory draft pick back in the process...
- ...whereas the signing of Zach Brown to a one-year deal ended in disaster after the former Washington linebacker ridiculed Vikings QB Kirk Cousins ahead last Sunday’s game and then watched as Cousins did whatever he wanted in their 38-20 victory over the Birds. Brown was also not very productive, a surprise given how PFF rated him as one of the most improved linebackers in football last season. So, the team cut him, but not because of the Cousins comments, but rather because he didn’t fit the scheme. And now, the Eagles are down to Nigel Bradham (injured), Nate Gerry, Kamu Grugier-Hill and T.J. Edwards as their linebackers. Yikes.
- Andrew Sendejo has had more impact injuring his teammates than he has had stopping opponents.
- Vinny Curry... has anyone actually said his name out loud during a football game this year? One sack and seven tackles. Mmmmm, spicy.
- The Eagles had to scrap their 12 personnel minutes before the start of the Falcons game in Week 2 because they only had two tight ends, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, and Goedert went down with an injury in the pre-game. Richard Rodgers signed a two-year deal with the Eagles this off-season, but was lost to IR and hasn’t played a single snap with the team. No viable third tight end has been found as of yet.
Again, some of this is not Roseman’s fault. A general manager cannot divine the future and know that Malik Jackson is going to get injured. But many, if not most, of these players are older, veteran players, and older, veteran players tend to break down. That the Eagles had to go out into the marketplace and make deals for all these guys points to the lack of draft picks the team has had over the last four years and the lack of success they’ve had selecting impact players to fill the gaps.
So while Bleeding Green Nation rightfully analyzes Roseman’s draft history, it’s also fair to note his off-season moves have not helped the Eagles all that much here in 2019.