05.12.21

the 2021 off-season: a watershed moment for the eagles

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:52 pm by Administrator

while howie roseman and the eagles get a B minus from me for the draft, they get an A for their undrafted free agent rookie signings (awosika, newman, and grimes in particular), their signings of anthony harris and eric wilson, and their trade of carson wentz to the colts for significant draft capital. i’m really unable to grade the coaching hire of nick sirianni and have my doubts, as i really wanted duce staley as our “ceo” head coach, but i’ll give our bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new coach some benefit of the doubt. without a doubt, this was a successful off-season for howie roseman and a good start to 2021.

the off-season is not over for sure, and the eagles have a number of remaining questions to answer. first and foremost, what will we do to address the hole at outside cornerback, which we cannot realistically fill with michael jacquet or zach mcphearson? second, what are we going to do with zach ertz, whom we cannot realistically bring back to this team after publicly severing the cord with him? and lastly, what other options do we have to create financial flexibility, not only for this season but the next?

these questions cannot be addressed properly as one-off management issues, as they are interrelated and have plenty of repercussions for the future of the team. there’s only so much utility in plugging holes with one-year deals; at some point, we have to establish a personnel strategy that shifts our payroll from aging veterans to longer-term and more cost-effective talent. like i wrote in a prior entry, this requires a vision and a purpose beyond simply improving the team. this requires a specific strategy for a rebuild that can hopefully be accomplished within two seasons and that will give us a measurable ROI (i.e. playoff victories) in that time frame.

to me, here are the questions we have to answer before we can even discuss if and how we will fill the gaping hole at cornerback and best leverage zach ertz for our future plans.

1. which quarterback will take the eagles deep into the playoffs in the 2022 season?

do we think this is jalen hurts, who could develop this year and emerge in 2022 as a star? or do we think that we’ll be in a position next year to draft a top qb prospect who can win it all in year one? or is it a premiere veteran that we have to trade for or woo in free agency?

i believe that the time window has to be that immediate and that clear, because this rebuild cannot extend into 2023 without taking on entirely unpredictable dimensions. we will almost certainly be moving on from key guys like lane johnson, brandon brooks, fletcher cox, javon hargrave, and brandon graham before the 2023 season begins. these players are cornerstones of this eagle team, and replacing them with equivalent talent is an improbable proposition. if we don’t think we can be a winning team in the 2022 season, then we have no business sticking with any of these five guys, who are taking up too much of our salary cap for no clear purpose.

i’m going to stick with the presumption that the eagles are absolutely committed to winning the division and competing for the championship in 2022. this means that our most important question this season is what i’ve already articulated above: who is the quarterback that can take us deep into the playoffs in 2022?

i’m a fan of jalen hurts, and i think he’ll be fun to watch this year. but i think the odds are against him that he can be a star quarterback in the NFL. looking ahead to the 2022 draft class, i don’t see any quarterbacks that look remotely like trevor lawrence; there isn’t a guy in that class that is fully capable of taking us to the NFC conference championship in year one. so i’m going to go out on a limb and say that the answer to question #1 is pretty straightforward: we need to trade for a premiere veteran quarterback some time in the next 12 months. deshaun watson is a risk to the organization and not a particularly upstanding human being. but if jalen hurts doesn’t shock us with qualities that we absolutely didn’t foresee during this upcoming season, then i think that the eagles must be prepared to sell the farm (or our three 2022 1st round picks) to get watson next year.

2. outside of quarterback, what are the key pieces we’ll need in 2022 to compete for a championship?

we’ll have young and talented wide receivers under contract in 2022, including smith and reagor. we’ll also have good talent and depth on the offensive line and on the interior of the defensive line.

defense wins championships, and specifically a strong pass rush and solid coverage are critical to winning in the playoffs. the eagles championship team is one of the few super bowl teams i can recall that was inept at generating a pass rush and making third down stops. this current eagle roster is mediocre on the edge and stunningly uninspired at the second and third levels. if i had to define the key pieces that the eagles must acquire in the next 12 months to compete for a championship, they are 1) an elite edge player, 2) a linebacker with plus coverage skills, and 3) at least one veteran cornerback with elite traits and proven success in the NFL. assuming brandon graham begins his expected decline, we have none of these right now.

if we’re lucky, we may be able to get our edge player and linebacker on fortuitous one-year deals in 2022, but i would not bank on stumbling across a playmaker at cornerback next year, nor would i count on a rookie (even a high draft pick) being that guy for us right away. at some point in the next twelve months, the eagles have to open up enough cap space to put $10-15 million into a cornerback in his prime. hopefully he’ll be better and more impactful than darius slay, whose future on this roster a year from now is dubious at best.

what that means for me is that cutting zach ertz after june 1 makes all the sense in the world. we’re not competing for playoffs in 2021. we need that cap space, either to land a premiere cornerback this year or roll cap space into next year when we can use it on next year’s free agents.

3. is there anyone on the current roster worth extending for a 2022 championship run?

there are three guys who aren’t under contract for next season and who are good enough to at least consider for an extension. that’s dallas goedert, jordan mailata, and josh sweat.

of the three, josh sweat is the toughest decision, and jordan mailata may be the most important decision. like i’ve indicated above, the eagles desperately need an elite pass rusher to make a championship run in 2022. derek barnett is very clearly not that guy, and i’m not sure he’ll be worth keeping around at any price. brandon graham will almost definitely be on the roster in 2022, and we’ll be hoping he can keep up his high level of play through the 2022 season. josh sweat will be a hard decision for us because he’s good enough to start but not elite enough to warrant the big bucks. almost certainly, another team will feel differently about him. my guess is that we will not re-sign him because he will price out of our range. i feel almost the same way about mailata, who is intriguing but even at this point not worth crowning as our left tackle of the future. dallas goedert may be the only of these three guys that is worth to us the price tag that he will command on the market. even as important as it is to free up cap space for an edge defender, a linebacker, and at least one cornerback next year, goedert may be worth the tag if we can’t get a reasonable long-term deal done.

05.11.21

capitalism, racism, and america

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:57 pm by Administrator

the Left’s critique of capitalism seems more mainstream to me now than ever before. whereas once it was strictly the realm of activists and academics, it is now the every day stuff of conversation among politicians in our government. bernie sanders for instance openly criticizes american capitalism, and his many acolytes in the democratic party are even seeking to outdo him, almost patently pushing for anti-bourgeois revolution. i never thought i’d see the day. my take on this is that the broadening willingness to consider alternatives to capitalism was made possible only by the spectacular and complete failure of communism throughout the world. now that america’s communist rivals have been thoroughly discredited, the talk of socialism is no longer considered a legitimate threat to america’s interests; and thus a real examination of the shortcomings of american capitalism can begin.

i see many strains in the conversation. i see capitalism being blamed for the emerging environmental catastrophe, which i find to be a very legitimate concern. i also see capitalism being blamed for the oppression of laborers both here and abroad, which is not hard to understand. increasingly, i see capitalism being blamed for most everything disorderly or unpalatable in america, including systematic racism. to me, this seems to be the leading edge of the conversation now: the conflation of racism and capitalism, as synergistic and inextricably tied forces of oppression that define america at this point in time. racial capitalism, coined and explicated by cedric robinson in the 1980s and onwards, builds upon a discourse developed by marxists like frantz fanon and posits a view of history within which capitalism and racism have consistently worked in concert to sustain the other.

i won’t deny that i find the idea of racial capitalism to be at once plausible and also conjectural at best. an important thing to understand is that robinson’s ideas represent a distinct off-shoot from conventional marxist theory, and among the critics of racial capitalism are more than a few marxists who cannot accept robinson’s ontological view of the slave trade in relationship to the global emergence of capitalism. conventional marxist theory posits that capitalism represents a rejection of the stark and fixed stratifications of feudal aristocratic society, within which institutions like serfdom and movements like settler colonialism took shape. nevertheless, i find marxism and anti-racism to be increasingly intertwined in the public consciousness, and the term “racial capitalism” seems to be common diction now. it’s a sign of our times: we are struggling across the globe with evident and expanding disparities in wealth, even as the extent of systematic racism is more and more thoroughly revealed.

i’ll tell you why i am uncomfortable with the idea of racial capitalism, even as i experience reservations about the future of capitalism and our history with racism. the idea of racial capitalism suggests that reversing racism requires the undoing of capitalism and the inequalities that it invariably capitalizes and exaggerates. to me, this only obscures the psychological complexity of bias and inadequately explains the historical phenomena we have experienced in the modern era. capitalism, for all of its macroscopic and microscopic effects on the relationships people have with one another and with capital, has certainly been responsible for a globalized economy and the juxtapositions, migrations, and even integrations that have resulted from that. has the era of capitalism witnessed a continuation of the interracial dominion and violence established by settler colonialism? for certain it has. but has capitalism, by virtue of its fostered interdependencies and integrations, also illuminated the historical problem of racism and encouraged pathways out of it? i would argue that it has had this effect as well.

after all, how can racism be properly confronted except in the context of a racially and ethnically diverse society? and how would we have had such racial diversification of nations across the globe, except by virtue of the forces and pressures introduced by capitalism? for sure, settler colonialism traumatized peoples, and capitalism fueled emigrations and immigrations that represented the extreme displacement of these victims of global oppression. these globalizing movements have forced white people and people of color to live together, as citizens of the same nations, competing for the same limited resources. naturally, the socioeconomic strata of these nations are defined by race, thus making the reality of systematic racism extraordinarily clear. in contrast to pre-capitalistic societies of five or six centuries ago, when nations were segregated by mountains and seas, and when racism was reflected in rare and momentous interactions between explorers and diplomats, our societies today experience racism in lurid immediacy; it is a reality we cannot escape or ignore, and it foments agitation and violence in this nation on an hourly basis. we have capitalism to thank for exaggerating the differences that add to the pain of racism; but we also have capitalism to thank for bringing together peoples of vastly different regional origins, the experience of which illuminates not only our historical plague of racism but also the imminent necessity of overcoming it, in the interests of peaceful coexistence.

i am not a capitalist or a neoliberal. but i hesitate to blame capitalism and the inequalities it fosters for all of the world’s troubles. this problem with race didn’t come about because of human greed or an obsession with accumulating capital. our racism has ancient origins, and it only required the forced convergence of the world’s various tribes to be properly understood. the question is not how to dismantle the very system that forced the tribes together, in this painful, sudden, historically unprecedented, and unequal manner. the question is how to accept our convergence and also to accept our responsibility—as individuals and as societies—to reckon with racism apart from every other human illness and malady, as its own unique, psychological, pervasive, and ultimately personal evil to be called out and erased from our way of life, one interaction at a time. the solution will require legal reform, the redistribution of wealth, and most importantly a neuropsychological definition of bias—something we can objectively diagnose, treat, and manage—among many other things. but the solution will not be as facile as disrupting free market economics and consigning people to a prescribed social station, for the enforcement of equality. anti-racism is harder work than that. let’s begin with that understanding, and proceed in the most expansive and transformational manner possible

05.09.21

a monster to myself

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:49 pm by Administrator

i woke up this morning and considered what i have become. i am a man in a fortress, an elaborate fortress. i am not the king of this fortress. no, he is walled in and inaccessible, the inscrutable commander. no, i am the warden of this fortress. i walk the walls, and i know every one of them. i know the people who draw the gates; i know the people who enter and leave; i know the people who live within. i see the sun rise on one side of the walls, and i see it set on the other. all the shadows that the light casts upon the grounds do not escape my eye. i know the seasons by their length and angles. i have such a routine of walking, of knowing, of observing, of feeling, that this fortress is all i know. i cannot remember what it is guarding or indeed what exists in the lands beyond. all i know is the walls and what is within them.

it was not like this when i was younger. i lived out there, where there were no walls. but like the rest of us, i have a duty now, to separate what is inside from what is outside. there are rules for these things, and there are only certain doorways between these worlds, and there are guards and there are passwords for these passages. one can make a whole life out of navigating these things, and most do. i certainly have.

there will come a point where the walls begin to crumble, and i will mindlessly begin pushing the stones and fragments into the places where they once were. i will repair walls that have no meaning, but the dust i push back into the divots and holes will only fall back out, and more of the stones and bricks will fall to pieces, of their own accord. someday, i will face it: that this intricate fortress, with all its passages and codes and hallways and dungeons, was for my mind. it was to give my mind something to do, for a whole lifetime.

what monsters life makes of us. we commit ourselves to occupations, obsessions, and orders of various kinds. we grow accustomed to them, and as the days pass we begin to lose our imagination and our sense of the unknown. we preoccupy ourselves with the things we can control, and we lose an aspect of our humanity. in the intricate order of things, we become automatons with fixations and anxieties. no one can find us within our walls. no one can reach us, nor can we reach them. we are monstrosities in the end, barely recognizable even to ourselves. what is poetry, but the hidden passageway we create when we are not looking, so that spies can bypass our defenses and render to the outside world the stagnating thing we had thought to keep for ourselves.

i do not understand why i think about money, or about responsibility, or about the way things ought to be. there is no way things ought to be. i never should have stopped learning, and i never should have stopped finding my footing in this strange, strange place. i have titles, and i take what i am entitled to, and i own, delegate, and control. the monster that i am eats and eats, but there is still within me a common man, a child like all children, who eats from the fields and goes where he pleases. he will be there, when i lose my mind. until then, he sits on the wall like he’s threatening to jump, and it is all i can do to look away and pretend that i do not notice how high, how high these walls really are

05.07.21

The 2021 NFL draft: my eagle picks, and overall thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:00 pm by Administrator

as per my last entry, i graded the eagles draft a B-minus, but i feel somewhat worse about it than the grade would imply. here’s what i would’ve done if i’d been in the driver’s seat for days 1, 2, and 3:

1.12: trade down

i would have sat tight, watched devonta smith go to the Giants, and done the deal with the chicago bears, which would undoubtedly have been there for us to make. i’d like to think that roseman could have gotten us 5.20 this year and chicago’s 1st and 3rd in 2022.

1.20: jeremiah owusu-koramoah

even with the rumors of a medical issue, i would have leaped at this opportunity to take j-ok, my favorite defensive player in this class.

2.5: rondale moore

it will be interesting to compare rondale moore to devonta smith as they progress in the NFL. rondale would have been a terrific pick here at 2.5, and he was definitely a steal later in the second for the cardinals.

3.6: paulson adebo

in the week before the draft, i decided that adebo’s superior athleticism, vision, and ball skills were worth a bet, and i certainly would have taken him here at the top of the 3rd. the saints moved up to get him at pick 76, and i believe that their aggression will be rewarded. adebo has the traits required to be a top outside corner in this league.

3.20: quinn meinerz

here’s where i would have taken our center of the future. in the mid-3rd, i would have targeted meinerz, kendrick green, and josh myers, in that order.

4.18: rashad weaver

the post-draft legal issues are certainly concerning, but i can’t deny that on day 3 i would have pulled the trigger here on rashad weaver, the last 4-3 defensive end on the board with compelling potential.

5.6: shaun wade

it absolutely boggles my mind that the eagles passed on shaun wade here early in the 5th, opting instead to take yet another inside defensive lineman in marlon tuipoluto. wade has all the potential in the world and certainly profiles as an above-average slot corner at the next level. we will regret passing on him.

5.20: jamar johnson

jamar actually went off the board at this very pick. had we gotten this pick courtesy of the trade-down with the bears, i would not have hesitated to take him, as he would immediately be our most talented safety on the roster. denver got several steals in this draft, and johnson was one of them.

6.5: marvin wilson

marvin wilson saw his draft stock tank after a lackluster 2020 season, but there’s no doubt that i would rushed to the podium for this pick. the 6th round was the earliest that i would have taken an interior defensive tackle, which shows you the contrast between my approach and that of the philadelphia front office.

6.40: trey smith

yet another guy who saw a slide thanks to a dubious medical evaluation. trey smith is way too talented to have fallen this low in the draft, and he’s a starting guard in the NFL by my projection. this would have been another very easy pick for me.

6.41: patrick johnson

this is the only pick i might have had in common with the eagles. patrick johnson is talented enough to take a flier on, and i’m surprised he wasn’t taken earlier in the draft. i wouldn’t fool around with repurposing him as a linebacker. patrick johnson is a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, and he should do two things in the NFL: set the edge and rush the passer. i have some hope that the eagles will deploy him properly.

7.6: jermar jefferson

i personally believe that we didn’t need to spend a 5th round draft pick on a back-up running back. as i demonstrated above, the 5th round really should have been devoted to the secondary, as many talented corners and safeties were still on the board at 5.6. i’m assuming that miles sanders still has the potential to be a three-down back for us, and until it’s clear that our former 2nd rounder is not meeting those expectations, i don’t see much draft value at the position. kenny gainwell is a good player, but jermar jefferson is actually an easier projection as an all-purpose back and would have been a perfectly adequate back-up to take in the 7th round.

overall, i thought it was an interesting and fairly undramatic draft, with no majorly controversial picks (i.e. jordan love and jalen hurts last year). i don’t see any teams that obviously bombed this draft, though some teams definitely drafted worse than others. i was surprised for example to see chris ballard draft so poorly for the colts; kwity paye was an uninspired pick in the 1st round, and dayo odeyingbo is a developmental prospect that was taken 2 rounds too early, in my opinion. there were definitely teams that drafted exceptionally well, and those include the lions, the bears, the browns, the titans, and the jets. as with most draft years, it’s the quality of the guys taken in the top 2-3 rounds that matters this year, and all four of those teams took exceptional players that should make an immediate impact for them. with zach wilson, alijah vera-tucker, and elijah moore (all of whom were high value picks), the jets will have a new-look and very dynamic offense that could put them ahead of the dolphins and pats in the afc east; the browns took two of the best defenders in this class in rounds 1 and 2; the lions had the second best pick of the first round, in penei sewell; and the bears had the best overall draft class by a country mile, outsmarting every team that passed on justin fields and following that up with teven jenkins, khalil herbert, dazz newsome, and thomas graham—four underrated talents that will make the bears better right away.

it is extremely difficult for me to imagine the eagles’ draft class of 2021 looking particularly good three years from now. unless javon hargrave and fletcher cox flame out spectacularly or get traded next year, there’s virtually no way for milt williams and marlon tuipoluto to develop in a manner that can justify their draft positions, and while terron jackson and patrick johnson could be thrown into the fire as early as next year, i don’t that the eagles will trust them enough to give them a chance to earn full-time starting roles. a year from now, i wouldn’t be surprised at all if the eagles spend one of their first round picks on a pass rusher. what will that say about all the mid and late round picks they put into the defensive line this year? these were opportunity costs. they were luxury picks when what we needed was high upside talent in the secondary.

i’m more disappointed with our draft now than i was at the start of the entry, so i’ll stop here. the bears are going to win the NFC north as early as 2022 and i think they’ll be competing for a super bowl within the next three seasons, thanks to this draft class. that could have been us. shrug

05.05.21

Early predictions for the 2021 season

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:00 pm by Administrator

you would think that the spring is too early to make credible predictions about the upcoming NFL season, but it happens to be a prophetic season for me. my season record prediction two years ago in 2019 was spot-on, and of course last year on april 27, 2020 i had this to say about the 2020 season:

the eagles are in decline, and there’s nothing we could have done in the 2020 draft to change that. taking justin jefferson in the 1st round and then landing denzel mims or kristian fulton in the 2nd wouldn’t have changed the fact that the eagles lack compelling talent at too many positions to keep up with the rest of the league, and the coaching isn’t strong enough to make up for our overall mediocrity. I am predicting that carson wentz will regress in 2020, and the eagles will go 6-10, losing to cleveland, arizona, green bay, seattle, new orleans, pittsburgh, baltimore, dallas at least once, and new york at least once. it’s a rough slate, and the eagles will be thoroughly exposed. fans will be all too happy to practice social distancing and avoid the stands at the Linc, as the team utterly melts down by midseason. jalen hurts will play in 3 games this upcoming season and start 2 of them, and he’ll definitely show enough on the field to get the talk started about which QB is truly the future. that talk is going to culminate in a massive off-season trade that will change the fortunes of the franchise and put us back on track to compete in the playoffs.

can you even believe that i predicted all of that one year ago? even more stunning, can you believe that all of this actually happened?

in the same entry, i predicted a few other things correctly (jim schwartz moving on) and a few things incorrectly (we would trade for ngakoue and trade wentz to the colts for 3 first-rounders), but i did happen to predict that jalen hurts would “rip a 100+ rushing performance in one game and toss 3 TDs with no interceptions in the other.” how about that? so everyone reading my blog knows that i am a fan of jalen hurts. i earnestly believed that all he needed was a chance to show off his game. he got that chance—and yet he seems to have more doubters now than he had before.

let me be clear: i think that the eagles should have drafted justin fields at pick 10. that was the right business decision to make, no matter how much faith the eagles were willing to have in jalen. but in a way, i’m relieved that we didn’t make the right business decision, because now jalen has a clear path to a starting role and a chance to show us what he’s made of.

thor nystrom describes jalen hurts as a consummate “facilitator”, in the best and worst sense of the idea. in other words, jalen won’t singlehandedly create an offense with his arm. he needs to use his legs; and in the deep passing game, he has to pick his opportunities sparingly, the read has to be pristine, and his man has to be open. but in these respects, jalen hurts is like the vast majority of quarterbacks in this league. what he has over most game managers is his pure running ability (bested only by lamar jackson and deshaun watson in this department) and his composure and leadership (which i think are unrivaled). jalen hurts is a guy who can win football games. he won’t win them pretty, and he won’t win them all, but on the right squad he can be a winning quarterback.

to win consistently, jalen hurts is going to need a stiff defense and a great special teams unit that can keep him in good field position and allow the run game to support him. that’s where i see some problems this year. all due respect to the football genius of jon gannon, who by all accounts is a smart coach, but i think that the eagle defense is old at its positions of strength and extremely untalented and thin at its positions of weakness. the draft last week did little to change the latter, which means that we will still struggle to stop offenses that effectively pass to their running backs, tight ends, and receivers. in other words, we will basically get scored on at will. and what that means is that jalen hurts and our offense will be constantly playing from behind. as we saw against dallas and washington last year, that doesn’t put jalen in a position to suceeed. we’re going to lose a lot of games this season.

in this upcoming 17 game season, i see the eagles struggling their way to a 7-10 record. that sounds dismal, but there will be a lot of encouraging signs on the field. jalen hurts will look fine and pretty clearly won’t be the main reason for our losses. the connection with devonta smith will be fairly effective. i think landon dickerson will see the field and improve our offensive line, which looked broken even when lane johnson was healthy. on the other hand, our defense will probably give up 28 points per game and the highest completion percentage in the league, thanks to a new zone defense that will be soft and generally ineffective. in at least 5 of our losses, we’re going to get solidly blown out. we may even see some junk time from jamie newman, a UDFA signing that i happen to like.

all of this will culminate in a top-10 draft pick yet again, which we’ll almost definitely have to devote to a cornerback. derek stingley, keep us in mind, my friend! i do believe that jalen will play well enough that we will not reach for a quarterback next year, which is absolutely fine given the quality of the signal callers that are coming out next year.

regarding our friends in the division, i wouldn’t be surprised to see the Washington Football Team take the division yet again and go a bit further into the playoffs this time, with their imposing defense. the cowboys, meanwhile, will suck because they have no soul. i say this every year, and every year i am proven right.

GO EAGLES

05.03.21

eagles: more thoughts on our draft

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:28 pm by Administrator

after 48 hours of reflection, i’m going to grade our draft a B-minus. as i mentioned in my last entry, the overall plan for this draft was ill-advised and left us with redundant d-linemen and not enough defensive backs. the quality of the players we drafted was high, but many of them will not make an impact in the near future because either they’re not ready or we’re not ready to play them.

i’ll go through the picks and briefly state my feelings about them.

1) Devonta Smith: as good a pick as any in the first round, but let’s be real: he can’t save the franchise all by himself. at pick 10, justin fields would have been the smarter and more strategic pick for the organization, and i’m saying that as a fan of jalen hurts.

2) Landon Dickerson: no problems with this pick at all, even despite the extensive history of injury. this was in my mind the best and most straightforward pick of our draft, considering the options on the table.

3) Milton Williams: despite his dubious size for an interior player, i like milt williams—but i hate the selection for the eagles. there’s no possible way that milt williams should have been the best player on the eagles’ draft board when cornerbacks elijah molden and ifeatu melifonwu were still on the board. even beyond positional value, there were so many reasons not to use our valuable 3rd round pick on an interior defensive tackle. our solid starters at the position. all the money we’ve already invested into our defensive tackles. our desperate needs at other positions.

the trade down for a 6th rounder was immediately enraging to me and pointless. if you’re going to trade down, do it for meaningful draft capital. as it stands, we missed out on a couple guys that we liked (according to roseman himself), which makes our 3rd round selection even more unfortunate.

4) Zech McPhearson: i’m hearing that mcphearson is a boundary corner with great skill, instincts, and athleticism. i’m also hearing that he’s not ready for prime time. i’d have no problem with zach mcphearson if he were the second or third cornerback we had drafted in this class. but as it stands, he’s the only corner we took over seven rounds. if we’re going to take just one cornerback from this class, it had better be a day one starter with star potential. zach mcphearson ain’t that—so in the context of our draft strategy, this pick can only be judged as woefully inadequate.

5) Kenneth Gainwell: good player. was passing-down running back more important than taking a corner or safety here in the 5th round? i know that gainwell has his fans, but to me this pick was an opportunity cost. if miles sanders is really insufficient as a three-down back, then this makes our 2nd round selection of him look even worse, in retrospect.

6) Marlon Tuipoluto: middling player and a terrible selection. why pass on rodarius williams, trey smith, tay gowan, thomas graham, and seth williams—better players at positions of greater need—when you’ve already overdrafted an interior defensive tackle? even as late as this pick was in the draft, the F that it gets is enough to put the minus on the B grade that i gave this draft class.

7) Tarron Jackson: he’s an effort player with less talent and upside than quincy roche, who was taken 25 picks later. tarron won’t be a quality starter for us on the edge. i’m not sure why we spent this pick on a practice squad player when we had imminent needs in the secondary to address.

8) Jacoby Stevens: a late round defensive back from LSU. what’s not to like? if he has the career path of the green goblin, i can’t complain. we have a need for a hard-hitting linebacker/safety hybrid, and jacoby profiles as a guy who can meet that need.

9) Patrick Johnson: on the one hand, he was definitely the best player on the board. on the other hand, he’s not a great fit for a 4-3 scheme and was the fourth defensive lineman that we took in this draft. we just had to add insult to injury by adding more redundancy to the defensive line?

05.02.21

Draft Recap: There’s a Reason for the Box

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:56 am by Administrator

relative to mock draft boards, there was value at nearly every pick the eagles selected this year. and yet, in the end, what we ended up with was a baffling draft class that reflected all kinds of strange and fanciful thinking. howie roseman and his team as usual were trying to think outside the box; but there’s a reason for the box, and sometimes it’s just plain stupid not to put yourself squarely inside of it.

let’s talk about why this draft was so positively befuddling and ultimately disappointing:

1. i don’t mind that we waited until the 4th round for a cornerback. i mind that there was absolutely nothing to set mcphearson apart from bigger school, better scouted, and more highly regarded cornerbacks that were still on the board. i also mind that with all the draft picks at our disposal, we didn’t even bother to take a second cornerback. i really don’t care if we sign a great veteran to a cheap prove it deal to lock down a starting rotation for the upcoming season. we needed an infusion of young defensive backs this year, we had no good reason not to make it happen, and yet we failed to do so yet again.

2. in a historically bad year for defensive linemen, we chose to spend 4 of our 9 picks on the defensive line. that is an incredible waste of draft capital, and it is also a terrible opportunity cost. beyond the misallocation of draft resources, the picks themselves were questionable—but i’ll get to that in a moment.

3. in a historically impressive year for offensive tackles, we came away with none. our offensive line last year was injured, average at best, and rapidly aging, and we have no good reason to believe that they will magically regain form this year. we had opportunities to use mid and late round picks on guards and tackles after most teams saturated themselves in the early rounds with the glut of ascendant offensive line talent. somehow, we decided that this was the year to focus on the defensive line instead. out of the box thinking. motherfucker.

4. after passing on a superior hybrid linebacker at pick 37 (perhaps because we didn’t want to deal with the complexities of moving owusu-koramoah around the formation), we suddenly decided after round 2 that we are intensely interested in tweeners of all kinds. in the 3rd, we took milt williams, who is too small to anchor the middle of the d line and too stocky to make it on the edge. in the 6th, we took jacoby stevens, whom we are magically going to convert from a safety to a linebacker. in the 7th, we took patrick johnson, who’s a stand-up pass rusher but is now presumably going to become an all-purpose linebacker in our 4-3 scheme. that’s beyond mysterious to me. in 1-2 seasons, we could have so many guys playing out of their natural position that we might be the very first totally positionless defense. do you want to make a bet with me that this won’t turn out to be a case study in absolute futility?

5. for all the picks we spent on the defensive line, i still don’t see a single guy that looks like he can legitimately step in next year if we lose brandon graham, josh sweat, derek barnett, or all three. on the other hand, i see a lot of interior guys that hopefully won’t get any play time at all this year behind our extremely highly paid defensive tackles.

so there you have it. in my last mock before the draft, i had us taking devonta smith and landon dickerson in rounds 1 and 2. i don’t have any problems with those picks. but had i been GM on draft night, i would have stayed at 12, watched devonta go to the Giants, made the deal with the Bears, and taken j-ok at pick 20, rondale moore at pick 37, paulson adebo at pick 70, quinn meinerz at pick 84, rashad weaver at pick 123, and a safety, corner, and offensive tackle in the late rounds. yes, that would have been a massively superior draft, but that’s beside the point. the eagles had a bad plan going into this draft. it was a bad plan that’s unfortunately given us more than a few good young players that won’t make it either because of a bad fit or not enough time on the field. it’s a disservice to them and to the fan base.

thumbs down, eagles

04.30.21

NFL Draft: on to Day 2

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:06 pm by Administrator

i have mixed feelings about Day 1, which was not an unqualified victory for the Eagles.

on the one hand, i’m relieved for howie roseman and the organization, because they got Heisman. he’s a selection that won’t distract the franchise, and he’s a talent that may elevate jalen hurts this season. devonta smith was a consensus wish for the fan base.

on the other hand, i hate the trade up and what we sacrificed for the move. as i mentioned in my pre-draft entry, a trade up for a receiver in this draft was the wrong move for the eagles. in my opinion, a mid-3rd round pick was too expensive not just to move up 2 picks from 12 but also to get devonta smith. devonta isn’t “my guy”. i’ll defer judgment to alex rollins, who put up an excellent youtube on smith’s game and his projections. we have mad respect for what devonta did at alabama; we have doubts about his position versatility and potential at the NFL level. in my opinion, a trade up at the cost of a day 2 pick would have been entirely justified to grab justin fields, a quarterback prospect with rare talent, strong upside, and coachable flaws. but taking devonta smith at pick 10 is betting that this undersized slot receiver will replicate what he did in alabama’s dominant offensive scheme. that’s a bad bet.

in the end, howie roseman did what he always does. he abandoned discipline, made a trade up, and sacrificed critical draft capital. had he not done the deal, we likely would have seen devonta smith go to the Giants—and then we would have been in the position to either draft justin fields (a steal by any stretch of the imagination) or do the monster deal with Chicago that i have been campaigning for.

moving into day 2, the top 5 guys on the board for the eagles are jeremiah owusu-koramoah, trevon moehrig, christian barmore, teven jenkins, and samuel cosmi. if the eagles miss out on j-ok, they should definitely trade down in the 2nd round to pick up an additional 3rd or 4th rounder, as the early (and baffling) run on defensive ends is pushing plenty of talented offensive tackles into day 2. i would advocate for a trade down anywhere between 10 and 20 spots, if that’s what it takes to get back the 3rd rounder we gave up. even late in this 2nd round, we should still have a shot at excellent offensive tackles (i.e. brady christensen or jalen mayfield), and it should absolutely be our goal to come away from round 2 with a startable offensive tackle.

round 3 is obviously where we’ll take our cornerback, and there’s little to nothing differentiating the guys that are still on the board right now. paulson adebo, kelvin joseph, tyson campbell, elijah molden, asante samuel, ambry thomas, ifeatu melifonwu, aaron robinson, and tay gowan all have their strengths and evident flaws, and more than half of these guys will be on the board at pick 70. my preference at this point is paulson adebo, whose ball skills and aggression set him apart from the rest, but i’ll concede that i’m no expert, and the defensive coach should have his pick.

if we’re lucky enough to recoup a 3rd round pick after howie’s splurge in the first, we should double down on the o-line or take a safety, given that there are no quality defensive ends left on the board. trevon moehrig (if he falls to 37) is certainly a consideration there, but i vastly prefer a trade down and an offensive tackle selection, given value and team need.

04.28.21

1 Day Until the Draft: How the Eagles Lose this Draft (and Win)

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:21 pm by Administrator

up until yesterday, i was feeling excited and optimistic about the nfl draft.

today, i woke up and remembered my past draft night experiences. 2014, when we took marcus smith in the 1st round, a pick that flipped me into an instant rage. 2019, when we took jj arcega-whiteside at pick 57, an inexcusably unjustified pick that proved to be a major setback for the franchise. yes, i’ve written recently that howie roseman cannot be dismissed based on the results of two very bad drafts, one of which may have been driven predominantly by chip kelly. nevertheless, the eagles have not had anything resembling an excellent draft in more than a decade, and today i’m feeling a certain dread about what will transpire over the next four days.

to be concise, here are the scenarios that i would consider a total loss for the eagles:

1. the eagles take an edge player other than jaelan phillips at pick 12.

i’m specifically talking here about kwity paye. in my very first mock draft for the eagles months ago, i had them taking kwity paye, but that’s the last time i’ve mocked him to the eagles. this is for two reasons in particular. firstly, kwity paye is not a proven edge rusher. he is a very athletic football player with the requisite measurements to function on the edge; but he is not an accomplished pass rusher, and his lack of significant college production is obvious evidence of this. secondly, paye’s tape does not show a player with an encouraging “time to sack” potential. kwity paye is a pass rusher who produced late in games as a result of methodically outworking his opponent over the course of four grueling quarters, and his sacks were frequently coverage sacks deep into plays. kwity paye doesn’t win outright with power; he wins with a plan. i like his motor and his intelligence, but i don’t believe his traits translate to pressures and sacks at the NFL level.

2. the eagles trade up from either pick 12 or 37 to get a receiver.

in my opinion, no sacrifice of draft capital is warranted for a trade up to get a receiver, and a trade up from either 12 or 37 for a receiver will be expensive. i’ll be happy if devonta smith or jaylen waddle fall to us at 12, but i’ll be very disappointed if we lose a 3rd round pick this year or next to get one of them. i’ll be even more disappointed if we lose the equivalent of a 3rd rounder to move up from pick 37 for terrace marshall, a guy with limited short area quickness who struggled with bad routes and concentration drops throughout his college career.

3. the eagles do not draft an offensive lineman in the top 3 rounds.

it would be very inadvisable for the eagles to pass on an o-lineman in the top rounds when we have such a stellar class at our disposal, particularly given the recent instability and shaky future projections of our current o-line starters.

4. the eagles draft a running back in the top 3 rounds.

no explanation needed here.

how do the eagles win this draft? there are all kinds of ways in which we can win this draft, and all howie roseman has to do is not lose it outright.

1. the eagles draft justin fields without losing any 2022 draft capital.

based on my belief that this is generally a weak draft class, leveraging any or all of our 2021 picks to move up and get justin fields—one of this draft’s top 2 quarterbacks and an instant starter in year one—would be a victory for the eagles. i haven’t talked about this scenario much, and i do believe that jalen hurts can make the most of his situation if we need him to. but justin fields is a rare quarterback talent, and getting him late in the top 10 even at the expense of both a 2nd and 3rd round pick this year would be a worthwhile price, strictly from a value perspective.

2. the eagles trade down, not up.

any trade down in the 1st or 2nd that nets us an additional day two pick or more draft capital in 2022 is a win in my opinion, regardless of whom we end up passing on. beggars can’t be choosers; the eagles need more picks, not fewer—unless we’re sacrificing picks to get our quarterback.

3. the eagles use at least 8 of their draft picks on players this year.

we’re not going to draft 11 guys this year, but let’s get at least 8 young guys with potential.

4. the eagles get devonta smith or jaylen waddle without trading up.

specifically for howie roseman, this is the clearest “win” scenario. a trade up is an opportunity cost for us and makes the eagles look silly for trading down from 6. but standing firm at 12 and grabbing one of these two receivers makes howie look like a star. it’s that simple.

04.25.21

Last Eagles Only Mock before Thursday Night

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:00 pm by Administrator

in my last entry, i gave my projected mock for the first 3 rounds. today, i’m going to put out my personal wish list for the first four rounds. it’s probably unrealistic, but nevertheless these are my high-conviction picks for the eagles, and i will offer my rationale for each one.

Round 1: trade back to pick 20 (Chicago) for a 2nd round pick (52) and draft jeremiah owusu-koramoah

i think there’s better than a 50% chance that either trey lance or mac jones falls to pick 12, mainly because i cannot see more than one of the top 10 teams being willing to trade down to the mid-1st if it means missing out on kyle pitts, patrick surtain, or rashawn slater—3 guys with very specific and avid suitors. even if jaylen waddle or devonta smith are still on the board, i want the eagles to make the trade down because i believe in the quality of the 2nd tier of wide receivers (as i’ll discuss shortly).

at pick 20, the eagles will possibly have their choice of five excellent defensive prospects (jeremiah owusu-koramoah, jaelan phillips, christian barmore, caleb farley, and greg newsome), and the receivers on the board (bateman and both moores) will be worthy of consideration. to me, there is no downside to trading down into the mid-1st unless one is absolutely committed to taking devonta smith or jaylen waddle—a commitment that i believe is unjustified given the depth of this receiver class.

i favor taking either j-ok or jaelan phillips at pick 20 for reasons i’ve written about for months. thor nystrom just published his linebacker rankings on april 8 and ended his analysis of j-ok succinctly: “this kid is going to be a star”. he has 33 inch arms and a 36.5 inch vertical jump. his 20 yard shuttle of 4.15 seconds was faster than that of every linebacker that came out in 2020. he covers like a cornerback, he hits like a 240 pound linebacker, and he’s positively fearsome as a blitzer. he doesn’t just check all the boxes; he does everything extraordinarily well. j-ok is not a “hybrid” player; he’s a positionless defensive weapon because he really can do it all. yes, i’m pounding the table for j-ok until it breaks, and i think we can get him with a trade down because he’s that underrated.

jaelan phillips is not a consolation prize if we miss out on j-ok; he’s the very close 1B option. i’m going to quote nystrom again, since he’s by far my favorite draft analyst out there: “jaelan phillips is the archetype of how an edge rusher should be molded.” with prototypical size, elite athleticism, burst off the line, effortless bend on the edge, a full arsenal of moves, powerful hands, and incredible instincts, phillips is an easy projection for the NFL and by far the best overall pass rusher in this class, easily outmatching the less explosive and more methodical kwity paye in every department. to me, the medical assessment is an all or nothing binary, not a nuanced factor that should knock him down 5-10 spots on draft boards. either he’s ready to go or he’s not. if he’s ready to go, he should be a top 10 pick in this draft.

Round 2: dillon radunz (and quinn meinerz?)

it is a wildly abnormal draft year when prospects like dillon radunz, liam eichenberg, alex leatherwood, and jalen mayfield fall to the 2nd round. while the 2021 draft class is not impressive overall, it has very notable depth at two positions: receiver and offensive tackle. the offensive tackles are in my mind the stronger position group, with multiple day 2 prospects that will soon be full-time starters in the NFL. the eagles have to take note of just how unusually strong this position group is and pull the trigger on one of these guys in the 2nd round.

i favor dillon radunz because he’s a plug and play pass protector from day one, but the eagles are fortunately in a position where they will not need their rookie tackle to rotate in right away. jalen mayfield may have the higher long-term upside and could easily be the pick at 2.5 as well. that being said, our left tackle spot is even now a question mark, and we may actually be better served trading mailata this year rather than committing big money to a guy that still has not proven himself to be elite. lane johnson cannot stay healthy and is clearly on the tail end of his career; i believe we will have to replace him on the right side within two seasons. thus, with both tackle positions possibly being in flux within a year, and with next year’s offensive tackle class looking decidedly inferior, i don’t think there’s any doubt that we must take a promising tackle this year.

if we get the bonus of a second 2nd round pick by virtue of a trade down in the 1st, i would recommend that we double down on o-line with an interior guy like creed humphrey or quinn meinerz.

Round 3: tylan wallace and paulson adebo

we wait until the 3rd to take our receiver and cornerback because we absolutely can.

i’ve been thinking about tylan wallace for four months now and i still can’t find a reason why he shouldn’t be a high 2nd round wide receiver in this draft. like greg newsome, no one thought tylan was fast until he proved to have sub-4.5 speed (and possibly sub-4.4 speed) at his pro day. but unlike greg newsome, who vaulted a full round thanks to his pro day, tylan wallace is still a victim of detractors who are nit-picking his agility test numbers to knock him down into the day 3 conversation. that’s totally ridiculous. tylan wallace is a complete receiver who transcends his peers with toughness, ball skills, and playmaking ability. his tape is second to none. tylan wallace doesn’t win the beauty competition, but the game isn’t a pageant. wallace wants to go out, grab the ball, and make you pay for sleeping on him. i’ve been high on him from the start, and i think that if the eagles take him in the early 3rd, he will absolutely show up and put his doubters to shame.

i don’t have the same level of conviction about paulson adebo, but i do believe that at 3.20 we will be able to take a cornerback that is just as good as anyone coming off the board after round 1. i think adebo will be available because of arbitrary concerns about his 2019 season; and other quality guys like kelvin joseph, benjamin st. juste, tay gowan, and rodarius williams will be hanging out in no-man’s land as well. here’s the thing to remember: we’re unlikely to need a man cover guy that we can put on an island. in gannon’s defense, a guy with length, vision, and ball skills will excel, and day 2 and 3 are chock full of outside cover men with potential. here’s where i pound the table one more time: we don’t need to take patrick surtain or jaycee horn in round one, and we shouldn’t.

Round 4: dayo odeyingbo

we of course have no right to expect that any of our day 3 picks should pan out on the field, but there are a few guys worth betting on in late in the draft, and more than a few of these are edge rushers that are either raw, undersized, oversized, or unknown. dayo is my favorite of these guys, but let’s not forget guys like cameron sample and jordan smith as well.

the fact is that the eagles do have to take a flier on a defensive end this year. they won’t have to play him in year one, but they may need him as early as 2022, when josh sweat leaves for a big contract and brandon graham possibly retires. we all want to avoid the shareef miller debacle, but then again it should have been clear that lack of play strength is a fatal flaw for a defensive end project.

the reason i’m moving away from taking a defensive end earlier (i.e. round 2) is that i think that the defensive end class is entirely a coin flip after jaelan phillips. kwity paye is a track star, a late bloomer (to his discredit), and a guy who wins late in the game with perseverance, not with power. azeez ojulari and joseph ossai are undersized for a 4-3 scheme. basham and odighizuwa are too big to play 5 technique effectively. jayson oweh is frankly a project. greg rousseau is possibly an interior tackle, but who knows right now? payton turner seems to have all the traits but on tape doesn’t appear to do any one thing especially well. my point is that unless we take phillips in the 1st, this is not the year to spend a day 1-2 pick on a d-lineman. but our need is strong enough that the 4th round seems about right, and i do like dayo’s potential.

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