Wake-Up Call: The ‘Batting Average’ Approach

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There was no good reason for the Eagles to swing for the fences in free agency last season.

They were coming off a 4-12 campaign and were in the midst of an organizational reboot. The focus was on foundation building and no one knew exactly how long that build would take; it made little sense to splurge for big-ticket players at that time. Instead, they went shopping for “mid-level” free agents and ended up with the likes of Connor Barwin, James Casey, Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Patrick Chung, Donnie Jones, Jason Phillips, Isaac Sopoaga and Kenny Phillips. Some good, some bad, some in-between. Decent return rate.

“That group as a whole I think contributed a lot to our football team. We certainly weren’t perfect on our free-agent signings but I thought it matched what was out there in free agency last year and served us well,” said Howie Roseman.

The team is in a much different place than it was a year ago. The turnaround happened quickly, and Chip Kelly claimed an NFC East title in his first year. The Eagles are further along and presumably in position to contend. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will alter their plan when free agency opens on March 11. Last year’s approach was more about a shift in philosophy than it was a reaction to circumstance.

“If you can sign a bunch of guys that maybe aren’t the high-price guys, you have a chance to kind of have a batting average,” said Howie Roseman. “As opposed to, if you sign one or two big-price guys and one or two don’t work out, it kind of puts you in a bind. If you sign a bunch of good players or solid players, you want them all to work out but you don’t necessarily count on them and it doesn’t really hurt your team going forward if one or two don’t work out.”

Safe to say, the 2011 offseason splurge still haunts this franchise. Not only was the overall production from that crop a disappointment, but team chemistry was profoundly affected when Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Steve Smith, Vince Young and company were added to the mix.

The Eagles were coming off a 10-6 season and had fallen just short against the Packers at home in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. They loaded up in the offseason, thinking that was the key to reaching championship heights. It backfired. Here they are again, coming off a 10-6 campaign and a narrow home defeat in the playoffs. The thinking is much different this time around.

“I think we have to learn from that moment. We’re going to try and continue to build this team the right way. There are no quick fixes in the National Football League. It’s such a team sport that one player is not going to make the difference,” said Roseman. “We have to build this, and hopefully we’re competing for a long time. I think you’ll see a markedly different approach from the last time both in free agency and the draft…Regardless of where we are right now or what we finish with [record-wise], we’ve got to keep the process right and build onto a young team and hopefully have a good core of young players that we can build with, and do things the right way.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Evan Mathis might have been a Pro Bowl snub but is feeling the love elsewhere.

Sheil and I look into the crystal ball to try and figure out Jeremy Maclin‘s fate.

Sheil offers 10 observations from the divisional round of the playoffs (with an Eagles slant).

DeMeco Ryans debunks the tempo theory.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Maclin talks contract with Derrick Gunn.

“Both sides have had talks,” Maclin said about returning to the Eagles. “I respect [GM] Howie [Roseman]. I understand this is a business, I understand he has to look out for what’s best for the organization, and that’s what he’s supposed to do. I have all the faith that he’s going to do what’s best for the organization, whether that’s deciding to keep me there or moving in another direction. I’m a realist, I understand that’s a possibility.

“For a team that wants to give me a one-year deal, that’s cool, I’ll just go out there and ball out, do the things I think I can do. Hopefully get that type of deal I’m looking for. If a team wants to give me a long-term deal, I’ll go out there and still do the same thing.”

DeSean Jackson is offering a reward of $50,000 for information leading to a conviction in the burglary of his South Philadelphia home. From ESPN.

A statement from a spokeswoman for the receiver said Sunday the burglary happened while Jackson was out of town on vacation.

Police say at least $250,000 in cash and jewelry was taken from the home, along with a handgun. Jackson’s statement says a small amount of money was taken and stolen items make up the bulk of the loss.

The statement says Jackson is upset about the break-in but confident police will find those responsible.

COMING UP

We’ll continue our feature on pending free agents with a look at Riley Cooper.

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