Eagles

The 10 Greatest Eagles Mysteries

The 10 Greatest Eagles Mysteries

These are the things that keep me up at night. The things I get asked about more than anything else. The things I just can’t figure out.

These are the 10 Greatest Eagles Mysteries.

Let’s dive in!

1. Why can’t Doug hire a good WRs coach?

By most measures, Doug Pederson is an excellent judge of talent. His football instincts are off the charts. The dude won a Super Bowl, toppling Belichick and Brady. But for the life of him he can’t find a competent receivers coach. He’s had four in four years and fired all four, although he didn’t fire Mike Groh until after he spent two years as offensive coordinator. Andy Reid had one WRs coach in 14 years. Whoever Pederson hires this time around? He should keep that resume updated.

2. Why so many injuries?

This might be the biggest mystery surrounding the Eagles. How can an entire team be on IR? And why do so many of the injuries linger longer than expected? Or take strange unexpected twists and turns? And it’s not just because this was an old roster. The young guys have gotten hurt just as much. They’ve changed trainers, they’ve changed doctors, they’ve changed the way they practice. They’ve changed everything but the strength and conditioning staff. Which very well could be next.

3. Why isn’t Eric Allen in the Hall of Fame?

You’d think 58 interceptions and 9 pick-6’s would be enough to get Eric Allen into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he’s never even been a finalist. Aeneas Williams got in on his fourth try. Aeneas Williams was a very good cornerback. He wasn’t in Allen’s class. Why does the Hall keep snubbing E.A.? Maybe because those Eagles teams underachieved in the postseason. Maybe there’s a perception that defense was just Reggie and nobody else. Whatever the reason, it’s inexusable. We finally got Harold in. Now we gotta get Eric in.

4. What the heck is going on with Sidney Jones?

I’ll be honest. When Sidney Jones had those late-game flashes late in the season, I really thought he was turning the corner. I did. He finally looked healthy and confident and just maybe that 2017 2nd-round pick wasn’t going to be a waste. Then comes the playoffs and … Jones didn’t play. Not a snap on defense. He’s going into Year 4 and who is he? That guy who finally started making plays at the end of the season? Or the guy who got benched for the biggest game of his career?

5. Why did it take so long to cut Mack Hollins?

I’ll never understand how the Eagles could keep sending Mack Hollins out there to catch zero passes while averaging 27 snaps over an eight-game span while Greg Ward – who’s been here since 2017 – gathered dust on the practice squad. I get that Mack was mainly an outside guy and Greg is mainly a slot, but Hollins had no catches for two months. Ward finally gets a chance and catches 28 passes in his first six NFL games. How on Earth didn’t they know Ward > Hollins?

6. Why does everybody call Mike Mamula a bust?

You know who was a bust? Jon Harris was a bust. He was a 1st-round pick and had two career sacks. Marcus Smith was a bust. He was a 1st-round pick and had 6 1/2 sacks. Mamula was a 1st-round pick and had 31 1/2 sacks in five seasons. He played hard, he played every down when he really should have been a 3rd-down pass rusher and to this day he has the 6th-most sacks ever by a DE the Eagles have drafted. He averaged one less sack per year for his career than Trent Cole. Mamula was never a star, but he wasn’t a bust.

7. Why is the music at the Linc so bad?

The defense runs on the field in a pivotal situation. Game on the line. Players jumping up and down trying to work the crowd into a frenzy. And out of the massive speakers at the Linc comes … dance pop! Because what better way to fire up a crowd of drunken obsessive Eagles lunatics on a cold football Sunday than that “I drove my car into a bridge” song! It’s 20-17 in the fourth quarter and the defense needs a stop! Give me some Sabbath! Give me some AC/DC. Give me some Zeppelin, Scorpions or Aerosmith! Don’t give me Icona Pop.

8. What really happened to Nelson Agholor?

Nelly at his best is a good receiver whose whole game is incumbent on confidence. When he’s confident? When he feels good about himself and his game? You get nine catches for 84 yards in a Super Bowl, three first-down catches on the game-winning drive. A solid guy. When the confidence goes? It really goes. He can’t function. Then factor in a knee injury and you get what we saw this year.

9. Why did Doug announce Mike Groh would be back in 2020?

I still can’t believe this happened. It’s possible that when Doug spoke two weeks ago the decision to fire Groh hadn’t been made, but I’m not buying it. I think Doug knew all along he was axing Groh and Carson Walch, but he felt like he needed to protect one of the victims at that point. Because Doug genuinely cares about the people he works with. Even the ones he’s firing. Still, one of the more bizarre moments in Eagles press conference history. Even though we didn’t know it till the next day.

10. Why don’t the Eagles have an offensive coordinator yet?

And the current mystery. The Eagles are playing this close to the vest, so we really don’t know what they’re thinking. Maybe they have the perfect guy picked out and we just don’t know it yet. But the impression we’re getting is that a lot of top candidates don’t want this job. In a way it’s surprising. This is a stable organization, playoff team three straight years, franchise quarterback, elite young running back, offensive line stocked with Pro Bowlers. But it seems nobody wants the job, and it has to be more than just not having play calling duties. A lot of very good OCs work under offensive play-calling head coaches. But the whole situation is bizarre. And if the Eagles tweet out that Juan Castillo is the new offensive coordinator, would anybody really be surprised?

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Four reasons the NFL's CBA proposal is bad for the players

Four reasons the NFL's CBA proposal is bad for the players

If you're a football fan, you've probably read about ongoing negotiations on a new CBA between the NFLPA, which the union representing the players, and management council, which represents the 32 NFL owners.

The NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season, but negotiations have been ongoing this offseason.

The NFLPA executive committee voted 6-5 to not recommend the current proposal to the members, so negotiations continue.

The complete proposal hasn’t been made available to the public, but enough details have leaked over the last two days to get some sense of what’s included.

The NFLPA released this fact sheet outlining key points in the CBA proposal.

And there are a lot of positives for the players. It expands pension eligibility and improves insurance benefits for retired players and raises minimum salaries, eases drug testing and reduces fines.

All good.

But there are plenty of red flags, enough that numerous high-profile players have been tweeting against the proposal.

Here are four reasons the deal as currently proposed is a bad one for the players:

1. The proposal calls for a 17-game regular-season schedule while also calling for an increase in player revenue from the current 47 to 48.5 percent. That’s about a 3.1 percent revenue increase for a 6.3 increase in games played. How is that fair? The owners are going to be raking in massive TV revenue increases, especially with the expanded playoff schedule, but the players won’t be receiving an equivalent share of that money.

2.  All players under contract when the league goes to a 17-game schedule — presumably in 2021 — will be paid only $250,000 more for that 17th game game. So anybody with a base salary over $4.25 million in 2021 will essentially be taking a pay cut. The Eagles have 10 players with 2021 base salaries of at least $5 million. Carson Wentz is on the books at $15.4 million. That’s $905,882 per week based on a 17-week schedule. So his weekly salary would go down to $869,440. That’s a $36,000 pay CUT per week. He’ll essentially be making less money per week. Now multiple that pay cut by several hundred players. The NFL will be raking in billions more dollars by increasing the regular season from 256 games to 272 - and eventually more with expansion - and increasing the postseason from 11 games to 13. While essentially asking the players to earn less per week.
 
3.  The proposal does shorten the preseason from four games to three, but there is apparently no second bye week included. So the players are being asked to play 17 regular-season games in an 18-week span in an era where the NFL loves blabbing about player safety. Add to that the likelihood of increased international travel and the wear and tear that takes on a player as the league explores more and more international games. This is just pure greed on the NFL’s part. It’s clear that everything the league says about player safety is just lip service if they are so desperate to add a 17th regular-season game in an era with increased focus on concussions, injuries and player health after football.  

4. The NFL is way too eager to get a deal done now when the current CBA doesn’t expire for another year. It definitely benefits both sides to have a deal hammered out and guarantee labor peace for a decade. But you just get the feeling the owners want to get this done before the NFLPA really has a chance to digest the full proposal and its long-term financial implications for the players. The owners over the last few days have embarked on a carefully strategized PR campaign to make this proposal seem like a good one for the players and try to rush a vote through before everybody knew what the implications were. Nobody wants a strike. Nobody wants a lockout. But the players are what makes the league work. Without them there is no NFL. They deserve more than what this CBA proposal calls for.

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Figuring out likelihood Eagles free agents return in 2020

Figuring out likelihood Eagles free agents return in 2020

The Eagles have over a dozen pending unrestricted free agents and if they want to bring some of them back, they have a few more weeks of exclusive negotiating rights.

Free agency begins on March 18 and the legal tampering window opens on March 16. Until then, the Eagles won’t have to bid against other teams. Just last year, the Eagles signed pending free agent Brandon Graham to a contract at the combine.

All of the following players are pending UFAs except Nigel Bradham, who was released a few days ago and is already a free agent. Any team can negotiate with him now.

Here’s a look at all the Eagles’ free agents (in alphabetical order) — Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro try to figure out how likely they are to return:

Nelson Agholor

Roob: Everybody seems to understand it would be best for both Nelly and for the Eagles if he finds a new home. The ultimate guy who needs a change of scenery. I'm not going to put 0 percent but ... 1 percent.

Dave: Agholor’s career in Philadelphia was a perfect bell curve. He struggled early, helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl and then struggled mightily last season. It’s best for everyone to move on and I think we all understand that. 0 percent

Nigel Bradham

Roob: A lot of people seem to think the Eagles are going to bring Bradham back at a lower salary, but I think he’s gone. I think they want to get younger and they’re concerned about his level of play dropping the last couple years. 28 percent

Dave: The Eagles want to get younger and faster and bringing back Bradham wouldn’t help either area. I’ve heard Bradham is open to a return but I don’t think it’s very likely. 15 percent

Vinny Curry

Roob: He wasn’t awful last year. He actually had a team-high 4.0 sacks over the second half of the season. He won’t cost much, he loves playing here, he wants to be here, and they need pass rushers. But he’s 31 and it's probably best if they move on. 41 percent

Dave: Curry ended up having a much better season than anticipated, finishing with 5.0 sacks. He was a productive player but again … time to get younger. If other options are too expensive, it’s possible. 25 percent

Ronald Darby

Roob: I never got why they brought him back for 2019 at $5 million, and I definitely would be shocked if he’s back in 2020. Has averaged 8 1/2 games in his three years here and lately on the rare occasions he’s been healthy hasn’t played well. 9 percent

Dave: The Eagles brought back Darby in 2019 and it was a mistake. When healthy, Darby was an OK player but he struggled to stay on the field and it’s time to move on. 6 percent

Kamu Grugier-Hill

Roob: Kamu has played four years on a rookie 6th-round contract and wants to get paid. He’s not going to get a big deal here, so I’d expect him to at explore the open market and see what he can get. If it doesn’t happen for him I could see him coming back. 38 percent

Dave: Last season was supposed to be a breakout season for Grugier-Hill and it didn’t happen. And then it was kind of odd how his season ended with the concussion and surgery. Seems like the marriage might be broken, which is a shame because he still has potential and fits what the Eagles want in their linebackers. 22 percent

Jordan Howard

Roob: I think I’m in the minority on this one, but as much as I like him as a player I don’t think it makes sense for him to come back to a team where Miles Sanders has established himself as the lead back, and I don’t think it makes sense for the Eagles to spend significant money on a back that needs carries to shine. 32 percent

Dave: The Eagles need to move forward with Miles Sanders as their lead back, which means Howard should probably find another landing spot. But he seems to like it here and if a strong market doesn’t develop, the Eagles could certainly use him as thunder to Sanders’ lighting. 54 percent

Timmy Jernigan

Roob: It all depends how much $$$ Timmy wants. The Eagles would love to have him back at another reasonable deal. But who knows what the market is for a guy like Jernigan, who is clearly talented but can’t stay healthy. 51 percent

Dave: I understand the Eagles want to get younger and I understand that Jernigan has struggled to stay on the field. I like the idea of bringing him back as a third DT in the rotation. 50 percent

Josh McCown

Roob: As much as I respect his effort in the playoff loss and what he means in the locker room, I don’t want a 41-year-old backup quarterback. But the Eagles love him, so I’d expect him back as No. 3 and a sort of unofficial player-coach. 67 percent

Dave: I think McCown is going to hang ‘em up. After getting hurt in the playoffs, it’s hard to imagine him signing up for another year of this. 10 percent

Rodney McLeod

Roob: It just makes sense for him to stay where he’s played at a solid level for four years and it makes sense for the Eagles to spend a few bucks at a position where there's no depth. When it makes sense for both sides it usually gets done. But they still need to draft a safety or two. 68 percent

Dave: This is a tough one because if the Eagles can’t figure out the situation with Malcolm Jenkins, they’d probably really like to keep McLeod. And I’m not sure they can find a better value or a better player on the open market. 65 percent

Jalen Mills

Roob: Another one whose greatest value is here. The Eagles absolutely need to bring in a stable of young, fast corners. But Mills won’t cost a ton, he’s a known quantity, he’s popular in the locker room and he's a functional player at a position where the Eagles don't have many. 71 percent

Dave: This is a case where I think the Eagles value the player way more than the rest of the league. Jim Schwartz loves him some Jalen Mills. He’s the one I’m most confident will be back but there’s no guarantee. 75 percent

Jason Peters

Roob: One of the most intriguing roster questions. Can the Eagles really bring back a 38-year-old left tackle who’s had injury issues in an offseason where one of the GM identified getting younger as a major priority? Peters is still a good player when healthy. But he’s not a great player. And Andre Dillard is waiting in the wings. 42 percent

Dave: It’s time to move on. The rest of us know that but I wonder if there’s a chance the Eagles don’t. Eventually, though, I think they come to their senses and Andre Dillard is the starter at left tackle in 2020. 19 percent

Hassan Ridgeway

Roob: Ridgeway was giving the Eagles some productive snaps before he got hurt. He’s only 25, they need interior line depth, and it would make sense to have him, especially if Jernigan is looking for a big deal. 59 percent

Dave: I think either Ridgeway or Jernigan will be back for the 2020 season as a rotational defensive tackle so I’m giving them both the same chance. 50 percent

Richard Rodgers

Roob: He wasn’t even in the league most of the year, so it’s not like there’s a market for him. If the Eagles want to bring him into camp they will. 40 percent

Dave: I really don’t see the need to bring Rodgers back. Sure, he knows the offense but there has to be a younger guy who can do the same thing. 7 percent

Nate Sudfeld

Roob: Sudfeld can’t be thrilled he remained No. 3 after his wrist healed. It just kind of feels like both sides are ready to move on. 36 percent

Dave: This is a really tough one for me. The Eagles would have rolled with Sudfeld as the backup last season but then he got hurt and they brought McCown in. Would they feel comfortable enough rolling with Sudfeld as their backup in 2020? I’m not sure. 45 percent

Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Roob: I think somebody is going to look at Big V as a versatile 26-year-old who’s started on a Super Bowl team and pay him significant dough to be a starter. And he’ll probably do fine. The Eagles can’t compete with that when he’d only be a backup here. 27 percent

Dave: I think the Eagles would love to have Big V back as their swing tackle and key backup but I still think there’s going to be a team that will give him more money to sign as a starter or at least to compete for a starting job. 36 percent

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