What They’re Saying About the Eagles
The latest news and rumblings about the Eagles from across the country, with much of the focus this week on the quarterbacks.
The Eagles had the best offseason of any NFC East team, according to Pro Football Focus.
After moving on from Chip Kelly and bringing in former Chiefs OC Doug Pederson, the Eagles’ offseason headlines have been dominated by quarterbacks. First, the team spent a combined $34 million in guaranteed money on Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. They then made a big draft trade, sending multiple picks to Cleveland for the chance to take North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz with the second pick — a move that reportedly (and understandably) displeased Bradford. However, that shouldn’t overshadow the team’s other good moves in both free agency and the draft, as they heads into the summer looking improved over what was a 7-9 team a year ago.
Training camp draws closer with the Eagles looking improved on both sides of the ball after a solid draft and free agency period with notable additions at offensive line and in the secondary. Of course, that’s usually the case for most teams at this time of year. How they fare in 2016 season will depend on making it through camp without major injuries and the play of their signal caller, whomever that ends up being. Bradford looks like the likely starter at this point, and despite not quite living up to his No. 1-draft status, he’s graded above average in the last four seasons he’s played, including a 10th-ranked passing grade in 2015. But there’s always the injury concern and he’ll be competing with Wentz and a quarterback in Daniels who has more familiarity with Pederson.
The team’s next step will be signing Fletcher Cox, who’s entering the final season of his rookie contract. Cox has taken a massive leap over the past two seasons, turning into one of the top interior defenders in the NFL – last season JJ Watt and Muhammad Wilerson were the only 3-4 DEs with more total pressures than Cox’s 77.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, meanwhile, gave the Eagles a B-.
What went wrong
They took an enormous risk in moving up for Carson Wentz. It’s reductive and short-sighted to say that Philadelphia’s move up to grab the second pick and Wentz will be worth it if Wentz succeeds and not worth it if he fails. We don’t know what will happen with Wentz, but we do have an idea of what happens when teams make these sorts of trades, and we know that it’s usually a bad idea. I thought Chris Brown put it wisely in pointing out that the historical 50-50 chances of such a trade working out are more meaningful than your organization’s specific insights into a specific player.
They re-signed and then did not trade Sam Bradford. I would not blame you if you were sick of reading about Bradford. The deal to re-sign Bradford before free agency wasn’t great for a guy who has been a below-average starting quarterback during his time in the NFL, and after the decision to trade for Wentz, the decision to hold on to Bradford as a lame-duck starter was even weirder. The Eagles badly need to recoup some of the picks they lost in the Wentz trade, and they should have taken the best offer available to them during the draft.
Cornerback is still a mess. While Philly was right to move on from Maxwell given his contract, the moves it made otherwise didn’t do much to help its cause. Importing Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks from Buffalo gives them two corners who are familiar with Schwartz’s scheme, but I’d be skeptical that they’ll be above-average starters in their new digs. 2015 second-rounder Eric Rowe can only go up from last season, which is promising in a way. The Eagles added safety Rodney McLeod from Los Angeles, which helps, but the idea of covering Dez Bryant or Odell Beckham Jr. with this cornerback group is going to keep Schwartz up late at night.
Carson Wentz will be the 10th-best rookie in the NFL in 2016, says NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread.
Yes, the club called Sam Bradford its starter after taking Wentz No. 2 overall, but don’t expect a long wait for the takeover. The Jaguars talked about developing Blake Bortles in a backup role for his first season, and he ended up throwing 475 passes as a rookie.
The burning question for the Eagles revolves around Sam Bradford, according to NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison.
Will Sam Bradford seize the starting QB job and keep it … or regress?
Technically, the job is Bradford’s already. He also played very well over his last seven games of 2015, tossing 10 touchdowns against only four picks. Yet, Bradford made an effort to skip town after the Eagles traded up for QB prospect Carson Wentz. Bradford has since resumed prepping for the season. But with Wentz always looming over this potentially testy situation, why couldn’t Chase Daniel snake this deal? Daniel is more familiar with coach Doug Pederson’s offense than all other parties, having worked with Pederson in Kansas City the past three seasons. So should you care? Not unless you think Bradford is more than marginally better than Daniel or what the second overall pick can be.
The Eagles’ best offseason acquisition is Jim Schwartz, according to ESPN’s Phil Sheridan.
The Eagles made a huge amount of change this offseason, from hiring a new coach to trading up for what they believe will be a new franchise quarterback. But the offseason move that could have the biggest impact isn’t as obvious. Defensive coordinator Schwartz is a former head coach tasked with running the Eagles’ defense. If he can coax dominant play out of the Eagles’ miscast defenders, it will make everything Doug Pederson is trying to do on offense work that much better. — Phil Sheridan
The rookie quarterback with the most injury risk is Wentz, writes Rotoworld’s Jake Davidow.
Wentz missed most of 2015 with a broken wrist bone in his throwing hand that required surgery during the season. On a common sense level, it is fair to assume that QBs have their throwing wrist injured frequently due to the nature of their occupation and the 300 pound defensive linemen whose job it is to bat down those passes. Oddly enough this is a very rare injury for an NFL QB to suffer. So rare in fact that in our database of thousands of injuries we have no incidences of this injury occurring to a QB.
Without the data it’s impossible to say why but perhaps it’s survivor bias: quarterbacks who injure their throwing hands/wrists in college are not drafted. Or perhaps QBs in the NFL don’t injure their throwing wrists due to Wolff’s Law (the idea that bones get stronger when exposed to stress as found here).
Whatever the reason is you can assume with a fair amount of certainty that having a structural weakness on a critical part of your anatomy required to do your day job is not a good thing, generally speaking. Our injury prediction algorithm has Wentz as a medium risk in the event he takes the field in 2016.
Two former Eagles are among the best available free agents, writes Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke.
Brandon Boykin, CB
The Eagles traded away Boykin for a mid-round draft pick, the Steelers kept him glued to the bench for several weeks last season and now the Josh Norman-less Panthers cut him despite a cheap contract. So, there has to be more than meets the eye here. Still, when Boykin has had a chance to play, he has been a highly effective slot corner. A GM out there will give the 25-year-old another gig.
Walter Thurmond, S
Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News reported two months ago that Thurmond, 28, might be considering retirement. While that would be a surprise with Thurmond coming off a career year, the ex-Eagle does have a checkered injury history. If he does want to give it another go, his 2015 performance, when he shifted from corner to safety, only bolsters his standing.