Early Eagles moves show where Howie Roseman's priorities are

Early Eagles moves show where Howie Roseman's priorities are

The biggest thing Andy Reid left behind when he was fired after the 2012 season was a philosophy that he never strayed from.

To build from the inside out. To make the offensive line and defensive line the biggest priority aside from QB and worry about everything else next.

After taking Donovan McNabb in 1999, Big Red had 11 more first-round draft picks, and eight of them were linemen.

Some were Pro Bowlers, like Corey Simon and Fletcher Cox, some were disasters, like Danny Watkins and Jerome McDougle.

But the philosophy was spot on. And Howie Roseman was there every step of the way watching and learning.  

Doug Pederson was there for some of that too, and he and Roseman are in lockstep on this:

Get yourself an elite quarterback, figure out how to protect him, then figure out how to attack the opposing quarterback, and you’re well on your way to building a championship contender.

Or a Super Bowl champion.

There are four holdovers on the Eagles’ roster who’ve been here since the Reid Era — Cox and Brandon Graham on defense, Jason Kelce and Jason Peters on offense.

Four linemen. No surprise there. 

As long as Roseman is here, this philosophy won't change. The lines will always be the biggest priority. You can find running backs and receivers. You can find corners and linebackers.

But none of it matters if both lines aren’t big-time.

And with free agency still a day away, the Eagles have already taken steps to upgrade or solidify both lines.

Think about it. 

Until the DeSean Jackson trade, each move the Eagles made involved one of the lines. Extending Jason Kelce and Isaac Seumalo. Restructuring Lane Johnson. Giving Jason Peters another year. Giving Brandon Graham a three-year deal. Cutting ties with Tim Jernigan. Trading Michael Bennett. Signing Malik Jackson.

The Eagles are a better team today than they were a week ago.

Securing Kelce amid questions about his future was huge. Peters is a big question mark because of his injuries, but be honest — would you rather have Jason Peters at left tackle or Big V? Jordan Mailata is the left tackle of the future, but don’t bet against Peters being able to crank it up for one more big-time year. And Seumalo got an extremely team-friendly deal for a versatile and capable pro.

On the D-line? Cutting ties with Jernigan and Bennett cleared $14.2 million in cap room and the Eagles have replacements for both. There’s no reason to think Derek Barnett can’t do what Bennett did or more — for half the price and a decade younger. Graham is a bit of a risk because of his age, but healthy again I think he’ll be his usual effective, whistle-to-whistle self.

The key to all of this is Malik Jackson. He’s a beast. 

The second defensive tackle was a real liability for the Eagles last year. They used four different starters, but none of them was effective. 

Opening-day starter Destiny Vaeao did little, Jernigan was out virtually all year and Haloti Ngata proved to be only a shadow of his one-time all-pro self. Practice squadder Treyvon Hester showed a little promise but is best suited to be a role player.

Opposing offensive coordinators didn’t even have to account for those guys.

Now Cox has a guy next to him who’s a legit NFL defensive tackle, a 6-to-8 sack guy, and that’s only going to make Cox more dangerous.

The Eagles have improved on the offensive line, and they’ve improved on the defensive line, and they’ve also added an explosive wide receiver, and they’ve done it all without destroying their salary cap and without hurting their 2020 compensatory pick haul.

This is what Roseman does. 

The Eagles are a better team than they were a week ago.

And free agency and the draft haven’t even started. 

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Report: Jordan Howard expected to miss Eagles-Patriots Week 11 game with injury

Report: Jordan Howard expected to miss Eagles-Patriots Week 11 game with injury

Eagles leading rusher Jordan Howard is not expected to play Sunday as he deals with a shoulder injury, according to a report by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Eagles have officially listed Howard as questionable for the team's Super Bowl rematch Sunday afternoon against the Patriots at the Linc.

Howard suffered a stinger in the Eagles’ win on Nov. 3 against the Bears, his former team.

That means Jay Ajayi, who the Eagles re-signed on Friday, should be active for the first time in over a year and will likely have a role.

Howard, in his first year with the Eagles, has 525 rushing yards, a 4.4 average and seven touchdowns, including one receiving. 

Since Week 4, Howard has been the 13th-leading rusher in the NFL, averaging 71 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry.

Howard was limited in practice during the week and head coach Doug Pederson said Friday he had not been cleared for contact, which left him with a remote chance to be active on Sunday.

Howard has never missed a game because of injury. He didn’t play in the Bears' 2016 opener against the Texans — opening day of his rookie year — but he did dress for the game and was active, he just didn’t get onto the field.

Since then, he’s played in 57 of a possible 57 games.

Howard has the second-most rushing yards in the NFL since 2016 behind only Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys.

The Eagles are already down two running backs. Super Bowl hero Corey Clement is on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury and Darren Sproles joined him on Injured Reserve this week with a season-ending quad injury.

The Eagles will go into Sunday with Miles Sanders, Ajayi and Boston Scott. They also have a rookie, De’Angelo Henderson, on the practice squad.

Sanders, after a slow start, is averaging 4.4 yards per carry on 76 for 336 and has 22 catches for 305 yards.

Ajayi, acquired by the Eagles from the Dolphins midway through the 2017 Super Bowl season, hasn’t played since injuring his knee in a game against the Vikings on Oct. 7 of last year.

Ajayi has battled knee injuries most of his career but his 4.5 career average is fifth best in the NFL since 2015 among running backs with at least 500 carries.

Scott has 16 carries for 68 yards, a 4.3 average in limited duty.

The Eagles have averaged 141 rushing yards in their last six games. The Patriots are allowing an NFL-worst 5.6 yards per carry over their last six games.

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Eagles send high-ranking official to Colin Kaepernick’s workout

Eagles send high-ranking official to Colin Kaepernick’s workout

According to those who attended Colin Kaepernick’s workout in Atlanta on Saturday, the Eagles were well represented.

The Eagles could have sent a regional or a low level scout to watch Kaepernick, but instead, they sent vice president of football operations Andrew Berry, which seems noteworthy.

On Friday, head coach Doug Pederson was asked if the Eagles would be in attendance at the workout.

“I would assume that we would,” Pederson said. “Obviously for us, we're in season so I can't be there. I’m comfortable with the guys we have, but I'm assuming that we would have somebody there.”

Pederson might be comfortable with the quarterbacks the Eagles have now, but it makes sense that the Eagles would at least take a look at Kaepernick. While Carson Wentz will be in Philly for a long time, his backups — Josh McCown and Nate Sudfeld — are both set to be unrestricted free agents after this season is up.

McCown will be 41 at the beginning of the 2020 season and Sudfeld has attempted just 25 career passes. The Eagles also have Kyle Lauletta on their practice squad.

Philadelphia, more than any other NFL city, should realize how important the backup quarterback position can be. Sure, maybe Kaepernick gets a crack at a starting job, but after three years out of the league, that’s certainly not a given. And the Eagles, with their progressive owner, might just be willing to sign Kaepernick despite potential backlash. Or maybe this leads nowhere.

Despite a last-minute move to a location 60 miles away from the Falcons’ facility, Berry and a few representatives from other NFL teams still made it to the workout.

The whole workout on Saturday was seemingly thrown together hastily and was organized by two sides that clearly have a contentious relationship. There were plenty of issues between them, including ones about the liability waiver, media availability and video footage. The move happened 15 minutes before the workout was scheduled to happen.

After the workout, Kaepernick explained why the move happened:

The NFL on Saturday released a statement saying it was “disappointed that Colin did not appear for his workout.” He didn’t appear for the workout at the Falcons’ facility, but the 32-year-old quarterback did appear at the high school sight in Georgia and apparently looked good.

The Eagles pride themselves on searching everywhere for talent and evaluating all options. Kaepernick is certainly an option. Of course, there’s a lot more to the Kaepernick story than a former Pro Bowl quarterback looking for a new team. The NFL in February settled a collusion grievance with Kaepernick and his former teammate Eric Reid. And Kaepernick hasn’t played since 2016, claiming collusion after he began a series of protests over social and racial injustice in the United States. He famously kneeled during the national anthem before games.

It’ll be interesting to see if this workout leads anywhere for Kaepernick or if the Eagles would actually pursue him. For the rest of this season, the Eagles are in a good spot when it comes to the quarterback position, but when this year is over, it’s more questionable. That’s probably why they looked at Kaepernick today.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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