Eagles

Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Taken individually, all the Eagles’ moves so far this offseason make sense. 

Taken as a whole, they raise concern whether the Eagles are getting too old. More specifically, whether Howie Roseman is committing too many dollars to guys on the back end of their careers.

Jason Peters got another year. He’s 37. Jason Kelce got another year and is now signed through 2021. He’s 31. Brandon Graham got a pretty big three-year deal. He turns 31 in a couple weeks.

DeSean Jackson got a sizable contract for a guy who’s 32. Andrew Sendejo is 31. Vinny Curry turns 31 this summer. 

I’ve got no problem with any of the moves taken apart from the others. But the analytics make it pretty clear that older guys are more likely to get hurt or see their production diminish dramatically. 

We saw it last year with guys like Peters, Darren Sproles, Haloti Ngata and Mike Wallace. 

Now, young guys get hurt too, but the older you are as a team, the more you’re at risk. And when those older guys have high cap figures, it makes it tough to function when they start missing time.

According to pro sports salary cap tracker Spotrac, the Eagles had the 17th-oldest team in 2017, when they won the Super Bowl, and the ninth-oldest team last year, when they advanced a round deep in the playoffs. 

Today — and obviously rosters are nowhere near settled — the Eagles have the fifth-oldest team in the NFL.

The Eagles’ nucleus is guys in that 28-to-32 range. Alshon Jeffery, Malcolm Jenkins, Kelce, Nigel Bradham, Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz, Jackson, Graham, Malik Jackson. 

Who are their best players under 28? Carson Wentz is 26, Nelson Agholor is 25, their promising young defensive backs like Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones are all in their early 20s. Derek Barnett is only 22. 

But there are question marks about every one of them.

This is why Roseman, Joe Douglas and Co. have to nail this draft and the next couple drafts. This is a roster that really needs an infusion of young talent. 

When this current group of veteran stars moves on, who takes over?

Roseman has had only three drafts since being returned to power, and he’s taken only six guys in the first three rounds. Of that group, Wentz is a certified Pro Bowler and a star, although he still needs to show he can stay healthy. 

And Dallas Goedert certainly seems like a stud. 

But the others — Barnett, Jones, Isaac Seumalo and Douglas — are works in progress.

The Eagles have found one Pro Bowl defensive player in their last 13 drafts, and that was Cox in 2012. 

Their draft record has been better on offense, but the Lane Johnson/Ertz draft is now six years old.

The Eagles aren’t in the danger zone. Not yet. But things change quickly in the NFL and teams that can’t keep up in terms of young talent inevitably fall by the wayside.

The Eagles have three of the first 57 picks in next month’s draft, and as of now they have their own picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 draft, plus two 5’s in addition to the compensatory picks they’re stockpiling.

So the opportunity is there to get younger. To get faster and more durable. To find the talent to remain a perennial contender for a deep postseason run.

Right now, the Eagles have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. I see them as a legit Super Bowl contender.

But in the next few years, the face of the Eagles will change dramatically. 

To remain competitive, to remain elite, they need stars to emerge once guys like Peters, Graham, Jenkins, Jackson and Kelce either move on, retire or experience a downturn in their productiveness.

All they have to do is find them.

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Eagles Injury Update: Jalen Mills will start Sunday, but Eagles missing other key players

Eagles Injury Update: Jalen Mills will start Sunday, but Eagles missing other key players

The Eagles are getting at least one key starter back for Sunday Night Football against Dallas, but will be missing several others. 

Jalen Mills (foot) will be officially activated off the PUP list and said he will start against the Cowboys. 

I asked Mills what it meant to him to be named a starter after nearly a year off the field. 

“I had to make plays at practice, you know what I’m saying?” Mills answered. “It wasn’t nothing given. At the end of the day, you’ve got to show the coaching staff and you also gotta show the other 10 guys on the field that I’m capable of going out there and making plays.” 

It’s been nearly a year since his last game action (Oct. 28, 2018), but Mills said he feels like he’s in good enough condition to play the entire game if he needed to. But that probably won’t happen. Expect to see the Eagles rotate some. 

“It’s good,” Mills said about his conditioning. “Did a great job with Josh (Hingst), our strength coach as far as these six weeks on PUP on the side field, as far as me running and getting my heart and my lungs strong. And then football today and the last two days, running all over the field. If the ball’s getting thrown the other day, chasing it down.” 

Mills was not required to be on the injury report all week because he hasn’t been on the active roster. 

Here’s the final injury report of the week: 

Out: Nigel Bradham (ankle), DeSean Jackson (abdomen), Tim Jernigan (foot), Avonte Maddox (concussion, neck), Jason Peters (knee) , Darren Sproles (quad)  

Questionable: Ronald Darby (hamstring) 

No real surprises there. All the players ruled out haven’t practiced all week. 

Darby hasn’t played since he suffered his hamstring injury against Detroit. Doug Pederson said on Friday morning that he still viewed Mills and Darby as starters. So if Darby is able to play, expect him to start opposite Mills. 

Without Peters, rookie first-round pick Andre Dillard will make his first-career start at left tackle. He’ll see a lot of Robert Quinn and maybe a little of DeMarcus Lawrence. 

Jackson has been doing some work on a side field this week, but didn’t practice. He hasn’t played since early in the Atlanta game in Week 2. This will be his fifth consecutive game missed. On Friday morning, Pederson was asked if it’s even possible for Jackson to get to 100 percent this season. 

“Nobody is ever 100 percent,” Pederson said. “Again, with the type of injury that he has, and being a track guy, a speed guy, it affects you. It makes a difference. Is he going to be 100% when he comes back? Probably not. Is he going to feel better? Yeah, he'll feel better and be able to put it behind him and focus on football.”

Bradham was seen on Friday walking through the locker room, still with a noticeable limp. Without him, expect Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry and T.J. Edwards to be the starters, with the first two playing on nickel downs. 

Sproles is out again, but is at least healing. For the first time (at least that reporters have seen) since his injury, he was working on a side field Friday. 



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Some thoughts on the latest anonymously sourced report about Eagles’ offense

 

DeMarcus Lawrence says Doug Pederson should ‘shut his ass up’

DeMarcus Lawrence says Doug Pederson should ‘shut his ass up’

Earlier this week, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson on Monday morning said the Eagles were going to go down to Dallas and win on Sunday night.

Pederson claimed it wasn’t a guarantee; it was just showing confidence in his team. 

And then we went most of the week without hearing a ton about it, at least nothing incendiary, from any other players or coaches … until Friday. 

I don’t think it was ever in question that Pederson was going to stay on the sideline for this game. Not much use for a 51-year-old backup quarterback coming off offseason ankle surgery. 

Anyway, with two 3-3 division rivals battling on Sunday Night Football, neither squad probably needed a ton of extra motivation. But here it is. 

For the Cowboys, it’ll be Pederson’s declaration that the Eagles are going to win. 

For the Eagles, it’ll be Lawrence saying their head coach should “shut his ass up.” Don’t talk to dad like that. 

Some of this stuff can be silly, but I’ll take anything that throws gasoline on the rivalry fire. And this might just do it. It’s just more fun when these two teams hate each other. 

While Lawrence is a very good player and has been to two straight Pro Bowls, it is worth noting that Lane Johnson has pretty much shut him down in the past. Lawrence has played the Eagles nine times in his career and doesn’t have a sack.

 

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