Eagles

Eagles Stay or Go — Has Jaylen Watkins worn out welcome?

usa-watkins.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — Has Jaylen Watkins worn out welcome?

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles. All of our previous Stay or Go posts can be found here.

Jaylen Watkins
Roob:
Watkins didn't play as much in 2017 as he did in 2016, but he was a serviceable reserve safety who can also play cornerback or slot if needed. His snap counts decreased dramatically — from 388 to 168 — but Watkins was a core special teamer, and Jim Schwartz really seems to like his versatility. Little is set behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, so I'm guessing the former fourth-round pick out of Florida sticks for another year.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Watkins is a restricted free agent this offseason so it'll really be up to the Eagles if they want him back. They aren't going to tender him, so he'll become unrestricted on March 14. They weren't going to pay him what that contract would cost. But that doesn't mean he's necessarily gone. It's not like there will be a lot of teams busting down doors to get to him. While Watkins isn't a starter, he played some good snaps for the Eagles in 2017 and was a backup at every position on defense. When the Eagles needed a cornerback instead of a safety, Watkins moved there in the summer. He should be cheap enough to keep. 

Verdict: STAYS

Carson Wentz 
Roob:
I remember that guy! Wentz enters his third season, and thanks to Nick Foles' heroics, it's easy to forget that before he got hurt Wentz went 11-2 with 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions and 254 passing yards per game. His 101.9 passer rating was third highest in NFL history by a QB in his first or second year (minimum 400 attempts), and his 33 TDs set a franchise record. If Wentz can stay healthy, he's going to be an absolute superstar in this league.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: The biggest story of the offseason is Wentz's rehab. Will he be ready for Week 1? Obviously, the Eagles have a pretty good backup plan in Super Bowl MVP Foles, but Wentz is still the guy in Philly. He was likely on his way to an NFL MVP award before tearing his ACL and LCL on Dec. 10 in Los Angeles. He has two more years left on his rookie deal and then a fifth-year option before the Eagles might have to pay him well over $30 million per season. 

Verdict: STAYS

Stefen Wisniewski
Roob: 
Wisniewski was a beast once he got settled in at left guard. Why did it take a month for that to happen? Just chalk it up to the Eagles really wanting to make things work with Isaac Seumalo, a third-round draft pick, and Chance Warmack, a Jeff Stoutland favorite. What happens next? Wiz deserves the left guard spot, but he has a fairly significant $2.958 million cap hit in 2018, so it's no lock the Eagles bring him back. But I think they will.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It seemed like the Eagles gave everyone a chance to start at left guard before Wiz. First there was Allen Barbre, then Seumalo, then Warmack. Finally, Wisniewski got into the lineup and never left. The Eagles' dominant offensive line didn't really take form until it solidified the left guard spot and that didn't happen until Wiz got in there. Even if he was just a backup, he'd be worth keeping. But now, Wiz is a starter on one of the best units the Eagles have. 

Verdict: STAYS

When do players know their football days are over?

us_brady.jpg
USA Today Images

When do players know their football days are over?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss Father's Day weekend. What kind of basketball parent is Barrett? The guys give their 53-man roster after spring practices. Tom Brady says he can feel his playing days are getting numbered. When do players first start realizing that the end is near and what makes that reality most difficult? Also, how should the Giants handle Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract situation?

"I think that Saquon [Barkley] is going to be better than [Ezekiel] Elliott." — Barrett Brooks.

1:00 - What kind of basketball parent is Barrett?
3:00 - Father's Day weekend recap.
5:00 - Eagles' 53-man roster after spring practices.
15:30 - Tom Brady tells Oprah the end is near ... when do players start seeing that reality?
20:00 - The hardest part about having to say goodbye to football.
23:00 - Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract situation.

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

The Eagles were just a few days away from the Super Bowl and there was a clear indication of just how loose the team really was. 

On Feb. 1, Carson Wentz tweeted out a photo proving it. 

So, what’s the point of this? Why show a photo that Wentz sent out from an escape room well over four months ago?

Well, because it was a little glimpse into the future. Because the five guys in that photo are going to be the five guys in the Eagles’ quarterback room this season. 

Along with Wentz, Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld, the other two are Press Taylor (sitting) and Spencer Phillips. This offseason, after John DeFilippo left Philadelphia to take the offensive coordinator job in Minnesota, the Eagles promoted Taylor to take his position as quarterbacks coach and then promoted Phillips to take Taylor’s spot as the assistant quarterbacks coach. 

It was probably a no-brainer. 

And it’s crazy to think, but just a year after the Eagles blocked DeFilippo from leaving the organization, DeFilippo has left … and the Eagles are going to be just fine. 

At the time, before the 2017 season, it made sense to block DeFilippo. He was seemingly integral to the development of a young Wentz and he certainly deserves plenty of credit for the big jump in Wentz’s play last season. But now, without him, the Eagles are going to keep a finely-tuned machine running. And they’re going to do it with a very young and very promising coach. 

Taylor is just 30 years old, which seems incredibly young for a coach who is supposed to lead the most important position room for the Eagles and possibly the most important position room in the entire league. He’s just one year older than Foles. 

He might be young, but Taylor is uniquely positioned to handle this responsibility. And aside from his football acumen — which has been touted by his superiors — it’s his relationship with the players in the room that made him such a no-brainer replacement for DeFilippo. 

“I feel really close (to Wentz, Foles and Sudfeld),” Taylor said last week. “I know what makes them tick going into it. And then we all had our own relationships. Obviously, I wasn’t their quarterbacks coach at the time, but I was in the room, sat through those conversations, had my own conversations out on the practice field. I feel like I know the things they like, the things they didn’t like. And then was able to learn from the other guys, the other coaches in the room.”

After the Super Bowl, Taylor is probably best known in the city for bringing the Philly Special to the Eagles. In his position last year, it was his job to mine gadget plays from around the league and found that play being used by the Bears the season before (see story). And that’s great. But all the stuff we don’t know about last year is what’s going to make the most difference for the Eagles this season. 

Taylor has been with the Eagles since 2013, when Chip Kelly brought him to town. And then Doug Pederson was smart enough (and without ego) to keep Taylor in 2016. The brother of Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Press has quickly worked his way up the ladder. 

Last week, Wentz was asked if the team wanted his opinion before promoting Taylor. 

“I think it was pretty much known how we felt about Press beforehand,” Wentz said. “We’ve seen Press behind the scenes the last couple years and how hard he works. A lot of guys have a ton of respect for him as a person and as a coach. I know that’s where I sit. So far, it’s been great. He understands the game extremely well. We’re very like-minded, both on and off the field. The relationship I have with him personally and the relationship he has with all the quarterbacks has been tremendous so far.”

The relationship between Taylor and the QBs is so important. Relationships for this entire coaching staff are so important. Really, that’s what has made Pederson so special. He has that “emotional intelligence” and understands how to deal with his players. 

Taylor seems to have that too. And really, that’s why the Eagles’ QB room won’t miss a beat. 

More on the Eagles