Early Questions Facing the Eagles

The 3 Biggest Questions for the Philadelphia Eagles

After a solid offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles are preparing for Training Camp. But there’s uncertainty abound in a division full of contenders.

Who isn’t getting invited to the Carson Wentz Fargo camp out next year?

Every time I attended a sleepover as a kid, there was always one person that ruins the whole thing. They order porn on your parents’ cable account, eat all the skin (and only the skin) off the fried chicken or won’t put the online NHL play to rest. 4 am on a pull out couch, in a basement lacking air conditioning, and you can’t sleep because Corey keeps triggering Doc Emrick: HE SHOOTS HE SCORES!!! It takes only a glance and a roll of the eyes between the others in attendance to reach an agreement: let’s never invite this guy anywhere again.

Out of those attending Carson Wentz football vacay, I wonder who won’t be invited back next year? Maybe Alshon Jeffery, for sitting out of any sort of physical activity, sucking the fun out of something potentially great. Possibly it is Jordan Matthews, who is to blame after Wentz threw him an Xbox controller, and Matthews let it go right through his hands destroying the “R” AND “L” triggers as the controller struck the wall. Or perhaps it was Nelson Agholor, who was so good at hide-and-go-seek due his ability to be virtually invisible to other football players, that the others had to submit a missing person’s report to the hard working gentlemen of the Fargo Police Department.  

In all seriousness, this receiving core has a lot to prove. All of them. Alshon is on a one-year, “prove you can stay on the field” contract. Torrey Smith’s contract provides the Eagles an out after this season. Nelson Agholor’s season could dictate whether or not he needs to make a LinkedIn profile and put out resumé feelers. It’s bittersweet: with so much on the line, Wentz’ pass catchers should be giving it their all. At the same time, their very situations create doubt over their ability to contribute.

One thing is for sure about this unit: if they don’t come to play, there could be major turnover in the receiving core.

Will the secondary play improve?

I’ve never eaten sushi. I have no idea how it’s made, what it should look like or how it should taste. But if I walked into a kitchen to see someone melting silly puddy in the microwave and pouring battery acid into a bowl, and I asked, “What are you doing?” to which said person responded, “Making sushi”, I’d be able to conclude, “That’s not how you do that.” I imagine an alien life form, with no prior football knowledge, would respond the same way to an Eagles coach telling them last season, “Those cornerbacks out there, they’re playing defense.”

Despite solid safety play from leader Malcolm Jenkins and first year Eagle Rodney McLeod, the Eagles pass defense was again one of the worst in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranked the unit the worst secondary in the league. Returning are Jalen Mills (impressively bad some games with flashes of starter potential in others) and Ron Brooks (coming off season ending injury). Gone are team leaders in snaps at cornerback, Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll. The additions? Sidney Jones (who figures to be out until at least October, if he doesn’t redshirt all together), Rasul Douglas (who may not be fast enough to cover NFL WRs), and Patrick Robinson (who will be playing for his fourth different team in as many years.) Doesn’t sound to me like the Eagles should expect a significant upgrade in cornerback play.

This defense has a ton of talent, with one of the best front seven in the league and a safety duo that could be elite. But it can only go as far as the secondary will take them, which is why the Derrick Barnett pick was so maddening to me: it isn’t so much that I don’t like Barnett, I just would have much rather selected any one of the 3 cornerbacks that went after him in the first round, Gareon Conley (not totally fair as his name was yet to be cleared when the Eagles picked), Tre’davious White (solely for the sweet name) or Adoree’ Jackson (who will be a stud.) I’m tired of this team plugging the second most important defensive position with journeymen or late round picks. I’m tired of watching opposing quarterbacks sling deep balls at the Linc, only to see Eagles defensive backs trailing 20 yards behind.

If the Eagles are to make any serious noise in the NFC, they HAVE to improve their pass defense.

Is Doug Pederson an NFL Head Coach?

His job title says so, but I’m not yet convinced he’s up to the task. I don’t doubt Doug’s knowledge from an offensive standpoint, I just don’t know if he’s the guy to lead an entire team. He’s done some pretty bonehead-esque things. May I call your attention to Sunday, October 30th, 2016?

The Eagles were leading the Dallas Cowboys by 7, when they found themselves at 1st and 10 on Dallas’ 32-yard line. Doug Pederson, in a playcall maybe more atrocious than the Chip Kelly/Ronnie Brown disaster on the goal line a few years before, decided he was going to call a wide receiver pass, with JOSH HUFF slinging the ball. The idiocracy continued to unfold, when 2 downs later, the Eagles dialed up a screen pass for negative 6 yards. That was the play call sequence. For a team up 7. On the opposition’s 32 yard line. In the 4th quarter. Needing only a field to win the game. Ok so just kick the long field goal right? Caleb Sturgis hit a 55-yarder earlier in the game! But Doug punts. The defense, and time management that would make only Andy Reid proud, blew the game for the Eagles as time winded down and the result was an overtime loss to the team’s biggest rival. How could an NFL head coach screw up a situation that my 1-year-old goddaughter could have managed? Run. Run. Run. Kick. Win game.

Doug has a lot to improve upon if he wants to be a respected coach. Fans should be looking early on to see if Pederson has improved his in-game management skills. God Bless Andy Reid and the product he gave me during my early years as an Eagles fan. But I don’t want another Andy Reid, and I definitely don’t want a head coach that’s, at his peak, best suited as a coordinator.

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