It doesn’t matter the debate, at some point there comes a time where the seesaw slams too hard on one side. That’s what’s happening with the conversation about how “old” the Philadelphia Eagles roster has become.
There’s still merit to becoming younger, as Howie Roseman recognized this off-season. Over the past five years the Eagles could be considered long in the tooth in every year but one (2018) and even that outlier year is an illusion when you dig deeper. Per Football Outsiders, the Eagles were the third oldest team that year in “snap weighted age” (SWA).
How much does it matter? The numbers we have available from the 2018 season paint a muddy picture.
“The level of correlation between SWA and DVOA is usually low, but 2018 takes the cake — just a 0.04, which is far and away the lowest number we have ever seen... in 2018, there was really no connection to how old or young a team was and how well they performed on the field. Age is just a number, indeed.” - Bryan Knowles, Football Outsiders
It’s worth noting that from 2014 and on, the Super Bowl winners list is dominated by dinosaurs.
2016: New England Patriots (10th oldest) d. Atlanta Falcons (8th oldest)
2017: Philadelphia Eagles (7th oldest) d. New England Patriots (5th oldest)
2018: New England Patriots (1st oldest) d. Los Angeles Rams (11th oldest)
“To sum up, being young is in vogue, but experience wins championships, right?... With the exception of the Legion of Boom Seahawks, we have never seen a team with an SWA below 26 even make the big game. So, teams should load up on those veterans in free agency and start planning their Super Bowl parade, yeah?
Well, no, of course, that’s silly. The question about where a team wants to rank in SWA to be the most competitive remains open, and this year’s results continue to muddy the waters. Half of the twelve playoff teams had an above-average SWA; half of them were below average. If you’re looking for the One True Roster-Building Model, you’ll have to keep looking elsewhere.” - Bryan Knowles, Football Outsiders
According to the player’s union, the average life of on an NFL career is just 3.3 years. Players at positions of cornerback, wide receiver, and running back are cut short at an average of less than three years. Certain players are old simply because they’re good, that’s how they’ve lasted so long in the league compared to their comrades.
There’s something to be said for not overpaying aging players as they hit the decline, no question. There’s also a delicate balance to be struck between wanting to get younger and being woefully inexperienced compared to having proven players that have stuck in the league for very good reasons.
One question that comes out of this concerns what the Eagles should do at cornerback. On one hand, you want to get younger, right? Well, the Eagles cornerback has been incredibly young in recent history and a lack of development has created a huge hole there entering 2019.
With a new defensive backs coach, should the Eagles trust that their fortunes change or should they make a shift to more proven players on the outside? Would a young rookie suffer from stunted growth here and bust out? Would an old cornerback fall off the cliff an land on injured reserve? Either way, the Eagles can’t be paralyzed by fear. They have to chose which gambles to take.
We talk about this more on The Kist & Solak Show #174! Other topics include:
- Are the Eagles right with how they “devalue” linebackers?
- Scenarios where taking LSU LB Patrick Queen become more likely...
- Second round linebackers the Eagles should avoid...
- Cory Littleton costs a pretty penny, what about Joe Schobert, AJ Klein and others?
- What are we comfortable paying WR Breshad Perriman?
- Darius Slay, worth the price tag? Or is Byron Jones more palatable?
- Are Jimmie Ward or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix an answer at safety?