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“Mediocre” is not bad

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Quite literally

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus had a tweet that drew the ire of many Eagles fans.

Because it’s fun to refute people’s claims with their own work, or “clapback” as the kids say, I had a little fun.

Palazzolo’s point isn’t completely wrong (though his claim that cornerback is the most valuable position on defense is hilariously wrong), but his framing ignores the whole picture, which can just as easily be spun as a positive. Yes, no one would argue that the Eagles cornerbacks are elite, though two of the starters were good enough to win the Super Bowl with, which is really the only barometer that matters.

Palazzolo overlooks an important factor, though it’s there lurking in his point: they’re young. Really young. Ronald Darby is the old man of the group at 25. Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, and Cre’Von LeBlanc are 24. Avonte Maddox is 23. Sidney Jones is 22. That’s why they’re nearly all cost controlled, most of them are on their rookie contracts.

And it’s a reason why PFF thinks they “mediocre” (I’m not even going to get into a discussion of the value of their player grades.) Darby and Mills pretty much are who they are, though again that is literally “good enough to win a Super Bowl with.” They’re also young enough that improvement is possible. But the rest aren’t in their prime yet. Sure, the Eagles would benefit from the addition of an elite corner, but then so would every team in the league. It’s like when people criticized Carson Wentz in his rookie year for playing like Alex Smith. Are you kidding me? Playing like Alex Smith when you’re a rookie is a good thing. It’s when you’re playing like Alex Smith in your fifth year that it’s a problem.

From a talent perspective, no, the Eagles aren’t “set.” But from a roster perspective, where is a high draft pick going to play? Darby and Mills are the starters. Maddox is going to get his playing time, though it may be at safety. Jones and Douglas aren’t going anywhere this year. LeBlanc might have been a flash in the pan last year, but even if he is I just listed five guys ahead of him on the depth chart. If at some point on Day 3 of the draft there is a corner available that is head and shoulders ahead of the rest of their board, sure, grab him, especially if it’s a guy who can play safety. As we saw last year, you can never have enough depth. But this team has bigger draft needs. That’s what people mean when they say they’re “set.”

Being “mediocre”, young, and cheap is a much better situation than a lot of the league. For example, PFF’s own grades say that they’ve got the best group of CBs in the division. OverTheCap says they have the 8th cheapest group of CBs. And for the first time since Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard took over as starters 15 years ago, the Eagles outlook at corner is on the up. No Nmadi Asomugha and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie checking out. No Cary Fletcher and Bradley Williams predictable struggles. We’ve seen what this group of corners is capable of, and it’s exciting.

*end rant*

Let’s go over the week that was

Bad Times at the El Lambeau

Packers management was the last to realize it but we all knew that despite winning a Super Bowl that Mike McCarthy is not a good coach. But oh boy is this dirty laundry airing piece on what went wrong between him and Aaron Rodgers bad. None of the major players come out of this looking good.

It reminds me, just a little, of the story earlier in the year of Carson Wentz being a bad teammate in 2018. There was a lot in that piece that was hilariously wrong, and we’ve gone over that several times and I’m not interested in rehashing the whole thing. But there was some truth in it, and Wentz acknowledged that he was not at his best. I bring this up not because there’s a direct comparison between the Eagles and what happened in Green Bay, as Doug Pederson laps McCarthy in every facet of their jobs, but because it is a stark reminder that things are not always what they seem to be and that in the close knit world of professional sports (and in a lot of walks of life), relationships matter a great deal.

RIP the AAF

Sadly the AAF folded earlier this week. A whole lot of people got screwed over. The players, the coaches, and the staffs are suddenly out of a job, and while some of them are already finding work, most won’t. There just aren’t enough options out there. But the story goes beyond that. Vendors haven’t been paid, and never will be since the league doesn’t have any money. There were two games and the playoffs left, and there were people who would have worked those games that can’t anymore. I drive by the stadium where the Atlanta Legends play every day on the way to work, more than once commenting to myself “they want $20 to park at these games?” but now that parking lot will sit vacant tomorrow. That may not mean anything to you or me, but there were people staffing that lot, there were people selling fans food and drink, there were people working merchandise stands. And now they won’t be, they won’t be working tomorrow. Which means they won’t be paid for tomorrow.

In good hands on draft day

Announcing picks for the Eagles on Day 2 of the draft this year will be Mike Quick and Brent Celek. Good choices. My guess is that Quick will have good energy, maybe try and pump up the crowd a bit, while Celek will be mundane. If they get to make an announcement. It wouldn’t be surprising if their respective pick is dealt.

Mocking some mocks

It’s one of my favorite times of the year: mock draft season. Let’s riff on a few real quick.

Mel Kiper:

No. 25: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State — Time to start thinking about a Malcolm Jenkins replacement? He’s 31. Abram is my No. 1-ranked safety.

Mel you dummy, the veteran safety most likely to be replaced is Rodney McLeod.

Todd McShay:

No. 25: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia — Philly gets a super-instinctive cornerback here for a defense that was No. 30 in passing yards per game last season.

Todd, we just talked about this.

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