WTS: The Eagles’ Biggest Offseason Question Marks
As the regular season comes to a close, let’s see what the national media are saying about the Eagles.
ESPN.com’s Tim McManus takes a look at some big offseason questions for the team.
Are any major changes in store? Executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman is one of the most aggressive personnel men in football, so a splash move or two (or three) should be expected. The Eagles have plenty of needs, including at corner, receiver, defensive end and running back. After a wild spending spree to lock up core players last year, the Eagles have just two starters from the 2016 group (defensive tackle Bennie Logan and cornerback Nolan Carroll) who aren’t under contract. They would like to get back to a blueprint of building through the draft and limiting free-agency activity. Whether they can stay true to that is another story, especially with so many holes to fill. As for the coaching staff, [Doug] Pederson should be given another year, and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is expected back unless he lands a head-coaching gig.
Is DeSean Jackson heading back to Philly? ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Eagles are likely to pursue a reunion with Jackson — a notion that we hear the receiver would be intrigued by. A move to reacquire the 30-year-old would not be met with universal approval inside the NovaCare facility, but there are only a few who get a vote. Considering Jackson would solve their deep-threat problem — at least in the short term — it wouldn’t be surprising if the Eagles jumped into the mix.
What’s the plan for [Carson] Wentz? This is a big offseason for Wentz. The coaching staff has identified some mechanical flaws. One of them, as ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski pointed out, is a tendency to “drop the ball” toward his lower body post-snap, which lengthens his delivery. They’ll likely try to quicken his stroke before next September. Both parties are limited in what they can do during the season. Adjustments will be hammered out over the next handful of months. The physical ability and football IQ are there. Now comes the process of refining his skills.
Finding weapons for Wentz is the biggest offseason question the Eagles will have to address, opines John Kosko of Pro Football Focus.
Will GM Howie Roseman find Carson Wentz some weapons?
When your team’s best offensive weapon is a slightly below-average tight end, you have a skill position problem. The Eagles have their franchise QB protected by one of the better offensive lines in the NFL—when RT Lane Johnson isn’t suspended—and now it’s time to give the talented signal caller some weapons to distribute the ball to. While the jury is still out on Carson Wentz, he flashed major potential early in the season, but graded as the worst QB since Week 7. Wentz’s production took a major hit, and not all of that is his fault, as he was working with one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL.
WR Nelson Agholor has clearly never lived up to his first-round status, and has finished back-to-back seasons as the lowest-graded wide receiver in the league. Dorial Green-Beckham is a physically-gifted, but raw player that has yet to put it together as an NFL receiver. Jordan Matthews is the team’s best receiver, but ranks 55th out of 118 WRs in PFF’s grades. Roseman needs to take a Raiders-type approach to this offseason and sign a WR in free agency and draft one high, such as Clemson’s Mike Williams or Western Michigan’s Corey Davis.
There are some cornerbacks that the Eagles should look out for, according to Turron Davenport of USA Today.
Dre Kirkpatrick Bengals
Kirkpatrick is perhaps the best option for the Eagles. He is capable of playing in zone or press coverage. Kirkpatrick is a fierce competitor that brings the swagger and fire that matches what Jim Schwartz wants to do on defense.
There is a strong possibility that Marvin Lewis is not back with the Bengals in 2017. Turnover at the head coach position could open the door for Kirkpatrick to leave via free agency.
Stephon Gilmore Bills
Gillmore would be another former Bills player to follow Schwartz to Philadelphia. He posted a career-high five interceptions in 2016.
Rex Ryan relied on Gilmore’s coverage ability in man defense when the two were together in Buffalo. There will be plenty of teams in line for Gilmore’s services. Should the Eagles enter into the bidding war?
The first offseason moves of the offseason for the Eagles will show what the future holds for the team, opines Robert Molnar of Yahoo Sports.
Even with some talented deal making to free up cap space, don’t look for the Eagles to make a big splash in free agency. The one player that could become the team’s marquee signing is DeSean Jackson. Other than that, look for some veteran players to come in later during free agency on cheap, one year contracts.
The biggest thing to keep your eye on this year will be the 2017 NFL Draft. Thanks to the Minnesota Vikings win over Chicago, the Eagles will now be making their first round pick at number 14. With many areas of need, will Philadelphia go with true talent or team need? While this is a simple question, it’s answer will likely determine the immediate future of the Eagles.
Should the team just add talent during the draft, the Eagles long term outlook would rise. However, given the holes across the roster the short term outlook would likely remain the same. Nearing .500 and always outside the playoff picture. Given the want for playoff football, this move would almost certainly put a strain on the relationship of the fans and head coach Doug Pederson.
Depending on the moves hear at the beginning of the offseason, we will see how the 2017 campaign is likely to shape up.
Offensive coordinator Frank Reich is expected to be interviewed for the Buffalo Bills head coach opening, per Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News.
The Bills also contacted the Philadelphia Eagles about the possibility of bringing offensive coordinator Frank Reich for an interview for the position, The News has learned, although it is unknown whether they have submitted a formal request for permission. Reich was a quarterback for the Bills from 1985 to 1994.
The Bills interviewed Reich in January of 2015 before hiring Rex Ryan, whom they fired last week after only 31 regular-season games.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com says that Wentz’s final game of the season was a summary of his rookie year in the NFL.
2. Carson Wentz’s finale was a microcosm of his rookie season. The quarterback came out firing, completing his first five passes. Then he sputtered, missing receivers high and wide. Wentz was under siege all day by the Cowboys’ pass rush and got no help from his wide receivers. The rookie overcame his struggles by heavily targeting tight end Zach Ertz (13 catches for 139 yards, two TDs) in the second half. The rookie’s finish displayed all the promise that made the Eagles’ brass drool before the season. Wentz will head into the offseason needing to tweak his elongated mechanics (dropping his elbow leads to sailed passes) and footwork. On balance, for a rookie that many said needed a year of seasoning before he was ready to play, Wentz’s first season should be viewed as a success. Now he needs to grow in his first full offseason, and Howie Roseman needs to get Wentz some skill-position help.
In CBSSports.com’s Rob Rang‘s latest mock draft, the Eagles are taking Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis.
Despite plenty of draft picks invested in the position, the Eagles lack a go-to target in the passing game to aid the development of Carson Wentz . Starring in the MAC rather than a Power 5 conference, Davis does not earn the attention he deserves but he’s a polished route-runner with an ideal combination of size (6-3, 213) with 4.4 speed.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller also has Corey Davis going to the Eagles.
The best route-runner in the class happens to be built like Terrell Owens. That’s a combination the Philadelphia Eagles need after watching Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor struggle to get open or consistently pull in passes for Carson Wentz.
Davis is a freak. Don’t let his level of competition fool you. His ability to break off routes and dice up defenses with his feet is among the most impressive things you’ll see in college football this season. But he combines that fancy footwork with a powerful physique and the playmaker mentality needed to spark the Eagles offense.
There will be time to draft cornerbacks and get help at running back. Passing on Davis is something Howie Roseman can’t do.