Each week Dave and Patrick discuss the week that was. It's Two Guys Internetting Football!
Patrick: Dave, the impossible has happened. The seas have run red with blood, locusts swarm our major cities and the dead walk the earth.
Kendricks' shiny new four-year, $29 million contract looks to be fair market value; right under guys like Lavonte David and Bobby Wagner. I'm happy with the re-signing, if not a little surprised. It really seemed like Kendricks was on the outside looking in, especially after the Draft when the Eagles brought in Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks in the third round.
Do you think this was a long-term calculation, or more of an insurance policy against DeMeco Ryans' age and the unknown of Hicks?
Dave: You don't give a guy that much money as an insurance policy. Kendricks is a difference maker, so I too am glad they locked him up, because like you I thought he was gone after this season, especially after they traded for Alonso, gave Ryans a new contract and drafted Hicks.
With Kendricks now added to Alonso, Graham, Barwin, Cox, Logan, Thornton and hopefully Curry, this front seven looks to be really, really good for the next few years. It could be something special if a couple of guys get even better. Chip Kelly and his offense get all the headlines, but like last year the defense might be the best part of this team. I'm getting pretty excited about this defense.
Patrick: It sort of reminds me of the Andy Reid/Jim Johnson teams. The offense got a lot of the credit, but the defense won enough games on its own, too. That isn't to say Bill Davis is Jim Johnson, but that almost makes the talent on this current defense even more impressive.
Speaking of contracts, this week Evan Mathis signed a one-year deal with the Broncos. He'll make about half of what he was scheduled to make in Philly. This whole thing seems pretty botched to me; it's a shame he and the Eagles couldn't find common ground. The guard situation should be fine, but if the o-line struggles there will be a constant "what-if" looming over. What do you think happened with the Eagles and Mathis?
Dave: Yeah the Andy Reid era parallel is a good one. As for Mathis, I think he's a good example of when Chip said "we want a bunch of guys that love playing football, not what football gets them." I do think Mathis loves football, but he's also a diva for an OL. He loves the attention he gets, and he's also sensitive to what is said about him. Chip wants guys who aren't attention seekers, that just shut up and play. I can get behind that, but he knew Mathis wasn't going to be on the team and they did nothing to address the depletion on the interior. It's fair to criticize him for not signing or drafting anyone. It was a position of long-term need even with Mathis. This is a case where both parties were in the wrong.
But enough about ex-players. Let's talk about current ones. It's only been two games, but I am getting excited about Nelson Agholor. That TD he had in the Colts game was sweet, and he had a subtle little move on his 20 yard reception against the Ravens that gained him a good 5-7 extra yards. When the ball safely lands in his hands, he's dangerous. He'll be starting sooner rather than later.
Patrick: Agholor has been a pleasant surprise. I think most of us expected him to be the kind of rookie to contribute early, but it's nice to see him limit the "rookie mistakes" so far in preseason. He's had a couple drops and what looks like a concentration error here and there, but the moment hasn't seemed too big for him so far. I'm not anticipating that we'll see Agholor have the same kind of inconsistent rookie season we saw out of Huff.
Speaking of Huff - how concerned are you? It's only been two games (and preseason games at that), but he's basically been a non-factor. And it sounds like he may not go this Saturday as he mourns the loss of someone close to him. It seems like he'll start on the outside, but how confident are you in his abilities this season - especially early in the year?
Dave: It's disappointing that Huff hasn't shown anything. In fairness, Sanchez was so erratic against the Colts that I can't completely fault any of the WRs in that game. That said, it's not like he's been shining in practice and just hasn't been able to show it in limited snaps in a preseason game. So my confidence is very low. But then, my confidence is low for all the other candidates to start on the outside. Riley Cooper is awful and Miles Austin is completely uninspiring. So basically we're halfway through the pre-season and we haven't answered any questions about the WRs aside from wondering if Jordan Matthews can take the next step, and even then we can't be sure, though all signs say yes.
But I do think we can have confidence in the overall depth of this team. They've played two games against teams that were in the playoffs last year and should be in the playoffs this year, and they've completely dominated them in all phases. They've put up points passing, running and in special teams, and they've given up a combined 3 points in the first half, when it's essentially all first and second team players for both teams. Standard "it's just the pre-season" disclaimers apply of course, but so far this team looks good and deep. That I am feeling confident about.
Patrick: At a certain point, though, you have to put some stock in preseason, right? Yes, it's essentially the bones of the offensive and defensive schemes. But it's not like they're running some kind of system in the preseason that we won't see against the Falcons. If anything, I think the preseason should excite fans because the potential exists for the team (especially the offense) to look better in the regular season. Of course, the defenses they'll be seeing will be more exotic, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect.
One thing that struck me watching last Saturday's game was that this team "feels" more like a Chip Kelly squad than any we've seen. Maybe it's because of the complete overhaul of the roster, but I had a moment watching DeMarco Murray hit the hole and burst up the middle when I thought to myself, "now there's something I haven't seen in a while." The team just feels different, and in a way that is almost difficult to properly quantify. Am I crazy? Do you see it, too?
Dave: Yes, you're crazy, but not for those reasons. You should probably see a doctor though.
Every season feels different but I agree that this one feels very different, and that it's tough to describe exactly why. Certainly the roster overhaul is a big reason. There's so many new names in the starting lineup, that is going to make any team feel different. With major roster changes comes a different style of play, such as being more of a north/south running team, and that too is going to make any team feel different. But expectations are different too. Usually when you change out that many players it's either a new coach or a coach on the hot seat, they're either rebuilding or making one last run at it. Neither applies to the Eagles. While Kelly is new to being a GM, it's still the same coaching staff, there's tons of familiarity with what they are trying to do. And Kelly's job isn't on the line, so there isn't the sense of desperation that say, the Giants have. It's one part team that is going for it, one part team that already has a good core on the rise, one part rebuild, one part under new management, one part building on success. That's not a combination you see often. Hopefully it's a winning one.