Weekend Reading: Free Agent Fits For Philly
Some links to keep you updated on the latest with the Eagles.
PhillyVoice’s Jimmy Kempski lists a few free agents who may still make sense for the Eagles to sign.
RB Chris Polk (5’11, 222)
A number of fans have suggested Chris Polk as a potential free agent signing, and it’s one that makes some sense, seeing as he was an old Andy Reid acquisition in 2012. The Eagles need bodies at running back and Polk fits in a West Coast offense. While he is most often thought of as a tough, hard runner, his real appeal is as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. As long as he can stay healthy, which was always a concern, he would give the Eagles a competent backup who can run, catch, and pass protect at reasonably competent levels.
RB Joique Bell (5’11, 220)
Bell hasn’t been much as a runner in Detroit’s offense’s lately, averaging 3.9, 3.9, and 3.5 yards per carry over the last three season. However, over the last four seasons, he has amassed 161 receptions. Again, the ability to make plays in the passing game seems to be a focus of the running back position in Doug Pederson’s offense.
Malcolm Jenkins was the best Eagle in 2015, ranking 25th in the NFL, according to Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus.
Once trapped in an unfriendly system in New Orleans (and earning negative cumulative PFF grades), Malcolm Jenkins has reinvented himself in Philadelphia and been one of the league’s best over the past couple of seasons. This year, he was second only to Minnesota’s Harrison Smith in overall PFF safety grades, with a mark of 89.8, grading well in coverage and against the run. Often covering the slot, Jenkins was thrown at 83 times, the most among safeties by almost 10 targets, but was beaten for an average of just 8.9 yards per reception and allowed fewer than 500 receiving yards.
Best performance: Week 10 versus Miami: +3.7
Key stat: Jenkins had the second highest PFF rating of any safety at 89.8.
Fletcher Cox, meanwhile, comes in at No. 28.
Few defensive linemen in today’s NFL are asked to play two gaps on defense anymore. Philadelphia did ask that of their D-linemen in 2015, and Fletcher Cox was still able to notch 77 defensive pressures over the regular season, despite playing in a system that would require him to defend two gaps on early downs—and slow his advance to the quarterback because of it. Cox was one of the most troublesome players to block in the entire league, and a true force on the Philadelphia line. He could be even better in 2016 if freed from two-gapping responsibilities in a new defensive scheme.
Best performance: Week 10 versus Miami: +6.5
Key stat: Despite being asked to two-gap much of the time, Cox notched 77 total pressures and two batted passes as a pass-rusher.
Sam Bradford is one of the quarterbacks with the most to prove in 2016, according to Sports Illustrated’s Eric Single.
He made himself few friends with the way he handled the Eagles’ quarterback transactions this off-season, but as the season gets closer it should become clearer that Sam Bradford’s hold on the starting job in 2016 was never in doubt. To win some supporters back this fall, he needs to raise his game against the top competition: He did just enough in that out-of-nowhere win over the Patriots to give Philadelphia its only win over a playoff team in five tries last year, but overall there was hardly any difference between his numbers in wins and losses. That’s not the admirable type of consistency.
Jordan Hicks is on NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison’s updated All-Under-25 Team.
Inside linebacker: Jordan Hicks, Philadelphia Eagles
We’re accounting for both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses here — thus, there is room for Hicks, who was in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year until getting hurt midseason. Despite playing only half the season, Hicks produced two interceptions and three fumble recoveries, and he even managed to score a touchdown.
A couple of former Eagles — Michael Vick and Terrell Owens — are the two most hated players in NFL history, says Bill Bender of the Sporting News.
Remember the protests? Vick went from one of the league’s more popular players to one of the most reviled for his role in a dog-fighting ring that eventually led to a federal prison sentence for the quarterback.
Vick missed the 2007 and 2008 seasons before returning with the Eagles, and the protests continued. He’s repaired his image, but no star player has ever faced that level of hatred during his playing career.
Dave Richard of CBS Sports details Doug Pederson’s fantasy football impact as the Eagles’ new playcaller.
Pederson has never been a full-time playcaller in the pros. He shared back in January that he took over the Chiefs playcalling in the second-halves of their last 12 games, but it might not be fair to judge him based on that data alone. What’s more reliable is to base Pederson on the type of offense he’s grounded in, which is Andy Reid’s version of the West Coast system.
It’s a conservative doctrine with a lean toward the run game — last season the Chiefs were 51 pass/49 run. It seems to be a formula perfect for the Eagles considering their quarterbacks — an injury prone veteran and a rookie who played his collegiate ball at a FCS school. The running backs, led by Ryan Mathews, should benefit as might the sure-handed catch-and-go guys like Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz.
The MMQB’s Andy Benoit takes a look at why NFL offensive linemen rarely get in trouble, relative to players from other position groups.
This can’t be a coincidence, and the more I learn about football and talk with coaches, the more I realize it’s not. Think about the nature of playing offensive line:
• You must check your ego at the door because when you do something great, most fans don’t notice and, frankly, neither do many announcers. The position requires humility.
• By nature, you’re working in unison with four other guys. Teamwork and cooperation.
• You have a heavier mental burden than any position on the field save for quarterback. Intelligence.
The NFL is moving the Pro Bowl from Honolulu to Orlando, reports Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick.
In Orlando, the game will be played at the Citrus Bowl, which underwent a $200 million renovation two years ago. Greg Creese, a spokesman for Florida Citrus Sports, which promotes local tourism, declined to comment.
The NFL’s Pro Bowl contract with Hawaii’s tourism authority expires on May 31, and the league can opt out of the agreement.
The Pro Bowl drew a 5.0 overnight rating on ESPN this year, down from 5.6 the previous year on the same network. It drew a 6.7 on NBC in 2014. While ratings have slipped, the Pro Bowl is consistently the highest-rated all-star game among the four major U.S. pro sports leagues.