Eagles Wake Up Call: Why Not Invest In the Defense?
Today’s question comes from Patrick, who e-mails from Canada:
The evidence seems to show that Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme can seemingly make good players better (Mark Sanchez). Would it not be beneficial to spend the resources and money towards creating an elite defensive unit somewhat similar to what the Seahawks do? They can win with a strong running game and [timely plays/decisions] from the quarterback.
Basically, Chip’s scheme is so good that scoring hasn’t really been a problem, but with a stronger defense, we probably could have had a 12-win season. Anyway, I think it’s an interesting topic, although it is coming from a hockey player.
Let’s tackle this one from a couple of different angles, Patrick.
I agree with your point that Kelly’s scheme has helped players be productive. In 2013, Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper all had career years. In 2014, Sanchez completed 64.1 percent of his passes and averaged 7.8 YPA. His decision-making issues continued, but those numbers were 55.1 and 6.5 with the Jets.
However, I disagree with the notion that you can plug in any 11 players, and the offense will still go. The offense ranked 13th in DVOA, the Eagles led the league in turnovers, and they were 20th in red-zone efficiency. This unit was far from a juggernaut. Granted, there were significant injuries, but the offense was mediocre in 2014. The high scoring totals were largely the result of 11 touchdowns on defense and special teams.
Having said all that, I agree with your overall premise. Put simply, the Eagles should have an advantage on most weeks with Kelly directing the offense. He’s built his career on that side of the ball and been hailed as an innovator. It would make sense for the Eagles to invest more in their defense where they don’t possess the same advantage.
However, that’s not how it’s played out. In 2014, the Eagles ranked fifth in cash spending on offense, according to Over The Cap. They ranked 14th on defense. Four of their six picks in rounds one through three of the draft have been on offensive players.
We’ll see how those numbers are affected by the moves in the coming months and whether Kelly agrees with you that investing more in the defense is the way to build the team.
Your question can be the topic of the morning post. Simply leave one in the comments section, on Twitter (@Tim_McManus and @SheilKapadia), via e-mail ([email protected] and [email protected]) or on Facebook. We’ll choose one each day and answer it.
We’ll go through the questions once a month and randomly select a reader for a free Birds 24/7 t-shirt.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Will the Eagles be forced to use the franchise tag on Jeremy Maclin if they don’t reach a deal soon?
Roundup of the post-combine mock drafts.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice believes that the Eagles’ O-line may be their most pressing need in the draft:
From the Eagles’ perspective, assuming they don’t think Herremans’ career as a starter is over, signing a starting-quality free agent offensive lineman wouldn’t make much sense financially. The only seemingly reasonable possibility would be if the Eagles signed a quality (and therefore costly) guard to replace Herremans, which would almost surely end Herremans’ career in Philly. However, cutting Herremans would result in a cap hit of $2.4 million. Let’s do that math:
New costly free agent RG + Herremans’ $2.4 million cap hit = A lot of money allocated to the least important position along the offensive line.
That basically means that if the Eagles are going to add a player this offseason capable of being a quality NFL starter, they’re going to have to do so through the draft only, while starting pieces in the secondary can be added both through the draft and in free agency.
Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation thinks the Eagles could target Chiefs safety Ron Parker in free agency:
In 2014, Parker played 745 snaps in 15 starts as a safety. He the season with 84 tackles, 12 passes defensed, one interception, one forced fumble, and one sack. According to Pro Football Focus, opposing quarterbacks had a 86.7 passer rating when target Parker. He also missed one tackle for every 4.6 attempts, which was the fourth worst rate among all safeties last season.
The 6-0, 206 pound Parker is reportedly seeking around $6 million per year. Chiefs fans seem willing to see Parker return to Kansas City, but only if the price is reasonable.
The Eagles value versatility and could be in need of a starting safety so Parker could make some sense but I doubt Philadelphia is eager to spend big on him.
We’ll take an All-22 look at free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell.