Eagles

Howie Roseman rejects idea that lack of young talent makes this a crucial draft

Howie Roseman rejects idea that lack of young talent makes this a crucial draft

There’s no debate that the Eagles are one of the NFL’s older teams. The debate is just how much that matters.

According to Spotrac, the Eagles have the NFL’s ninth-oldest roster, which in itself shouldn’t be alarming.

But examining their roster, it’s easy to see that other than Carson Wentz, there are no elite players under the age of 28.

There are some solid pros, like Nelson Agholor, Ronald Darby and Kamu Grugier-Hill.

There are several who’ve shown a world of potential, like Avonte Maddox, Dallas Goedert and Derek Barnett.

And there are some intriguing prospects, like Jordan Mailata, Josh Sweat and Matt Pryor.

But elite players?

There were 67 Pro Bowlers league-wide in 2018 who are 27 and under, none of them Eagles. Really, no Eagle under 28 was close.

The Eagles’ best players – from Fletcher Cox to Malcolm Jenkins to Jason Kelce to Jason Peters to Alshon Jeffery to Zach Ertz to Lane Johnson to Brandon Brooks to Nigel Bradham – are all in their NFL prime, which is 28 to 32.

Agholor, Rasul Douglas, Maddox and Isaac Seumalo are the only players under 28 who started both playoff games last year. And of that group, only Agholor started all year.

All of this isn’t a problem for 2019. And it isn’t a problem for 2020. And it might never be a problem.

But it sure seems like the Eagles need to string together a nice run of productive drafts to replenish the roster with young talent.

They have a tremendous opportunity to start that process next week with three of the draft’s first 57 picks – the first time they’ve had three of the first 57 picks since 1994 (when they took Bernard Williams, Charlie Garner, Bruce Walker).

The notion that this is a crucial draft for the Eagles because of their aging roster, lack of elite young talent and three early picks was bounced off executive vice president of football operations on Tuesday.

Fair to say he bristled.

His answer was fascinating and revealed a good deal regarding his feelings about the way the current roster is set up and the future of the team.

I would have a different perspective on that question. If I would have said to anyone in this room or anyone in our building that we’re going to have to trade a couple of second-round picks and third-round picks to get a franchise quarterback for the next decade, to win a world championship, to win four playoff games the last two years, I don’t know who wouldn’t sign up for that. I’m very proud of what we’ve done. I watch a lot of other team-building in a lot of different sports and I saw another GM being interviewed and he talked about, ‘I would do anything to win one world championship and sacrifice things,’ and when I look at it, we haven’t sacrificed our future to do that. What we’ve done as a group, as a staff, and the success we’ve had, I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I’m very proud of what we’ve done. 

So I think we have a lot of talent on this team, I think our roster is really good. I think there’s (value) to getting younger, but to get younger just for the sake of getting younger doesn’t make a lot of sense to us. We’re looking for good players, and we have a lot of good players. We have a lot of players under long-term contracts., a lot of our core players are under long-term contract that are true Eagles, so I think the way we built this team makes a lot of sense, and I don’t think there’s any undue pressure on the picks that we have right now. We understand that the draft is a crapshoot and we’re not going to go 7-for-7 on picks. 

So I think that at the end of the day we’re going to stick to our process. We’re going to be right more than we’re going to be wrong, but we have a good process and we have a good team and we’re going to continue to do that going forward and make sure we have a team that we’re proud of and the city is proud of.

Roseman mentioned that the Eagles this offseason acquired running back Jordan Howard, a 24-year-old former Pro Bowler who has the third-most rushing yards in the NFL since he entered the league in 2016.

But Howard, like a lot of the Eagles’ young players, isn’t signed beyond this year.

Any way you look at it, this draft is a huge opportunity for the Eagles to acquire some young, low-cost playmakers on both sides of the ball.

Whether or not it’s imperative remains open to debate.

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The Eli Manning Hall of Fame debate has one obvious answer

The Eli Manning Hall of Fame debate has one obvious answer

Eli Manning is one of only 12 quarterbacks in NFL history to win more than one Super Bowl.

Is that enough to get him into the Hall of Fame?

Manning was benched by Giants coach Pat Shurmur Tuesday in favor of rookie Daniel Jones. 

Manning is 38 and in his 16th season. He's faced the Eagles more than any quarterback in NFL history.

Maybe he’ll get another chance to start somewhere, but most likely the body of work that he’s put out in 246 games so far is essentially what he’ll be judged on when the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters start considering his candidacy five years after he retires.

Let’s take a look!

The case for Eli Manning 

Manning is one of only 12 quarterbacks in NFL history to win more than one Super Bowl, and of the eight QBs who are already eligible for the Hall, seven have been enshrined. 

The exception is Jim Plunkett, who beat the Eagles in 1980 and the Redskins 1983.

But it’s tough to make any sort of case for Plunkett, who played 16 seasons, was a full-time starter eight years, had a winning record twice, never made a Pro Bowl, threw 34 more interceptions than touchdowns and has the 8th-lowest passer rating since 1970 among QBs who played at least 100 games.

You can definitely make a case for Manning.

• He didn’t only win two Super Bowls, he was MVP of both and he toppled the greatest dynasty in NFL history, the Bill Belichick Patriots, in both. He's one of only six multiple Super Bowl MVPs in history.

• Manning never missed a game because of an injury, starting 210 straight games — second-longest QB streak ever — before sitting for one week in 2017. 

• Manning ranks seventh in NFL history with 56,537 passing yards and eight with 362 touchdown passes. Every eligible QB who’s reached either 50,000 passing yards or 300 TD passes is in the Hall of Fame.

• From 2005 through 2012 — his first eight seasons as a full-time starting quarterback — the Giants never had a losing season. Manning made his first three Pro Bowls during that eight-year stretch, and only three QBs won more games during that span — Tom Brady, older brother Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. 

The case against Eli Manning 

• I start with this: When I’m judging a player for Hall of Fame consideration, I ask whether he was ever the best in the NFL at his position for any five-year span. Manning never even came close close. His best five-year span was probably 2011 through 2015, and during that span he ranked 19th in the NFL in passer rating, 20th in completion percentage and 15th in wins. He was seventh in TD passes but first in interceptions.

• He was never great over a full season. Manning played 14 full seasons and finished in the top 10 in passer rating once — he was seventh in 2011. He also ranked 20th or worse six times. He never had a passer rating over 93.6. Sure-fire Hall of Famers like Drew Brees, Brady, Peyton, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger have each had a passer rating over 93.6 at least eight times.

• He never led the NFL in completion percentage, touchdowns, passing yards, yards per game, passer rating or any other major category except interceptions. He led the NFL in interceptions three times.

• Manning’s 3.09 interception percentage ranks closer to the bottom since he entered the NFL than the top. It’s 49th-best out of 73 QBs who’ve thrown at least 1,000 passes since 2004.  

• How many of those 246 games was Eli Manning truly great? He has five career games with 300 passing yards, 3 TD passes and 0 interceptions. That’s the same number as Jared Goff, who’s played 206 fewer games.

The verdict 

On Feb. 3, 2008, and Feb. 5, 2012, Eli Manning was the best quarterback in the world. For nearly all of the other 244 football Sundays since his career began he not only wasn’t the best QB in the world he was remarkably average.

He has a .500 career record, and in 12 of the 14 seasons he was a full-time starter the Giants failed to win a playoff game.

Even Manning’s Super Bowl performances weren’t off the charts. 

In the first one — after the 2007 season — he had a modest passer rating of 82.5, which is 13th-worst of any winning quarterback in Super Bowl history, and he put up just 17 points. In the other, he was very good but still only threw one TD pass.

A lot of people will tell you when talking about Manning that he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, he should be in the Hall of Very Good. 

Honestly, I’m not so sure he belongs in that one either.

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With two injuries at WR, rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside ready for expanded role

With two injuries at WR, rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside ready for expanded role

Rookie receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside spent most of last week on scout team, helping the Eagles’ defense prepare for Julio Jones.

He didn’t expect to have a huge role in the offensive game plan.

That changed in a hurry.

With Alshon Jeffery (calf), DeSean Jackson (groin) and Dallas Goedert (calf) knocked out of the Falcons game early, the Eagles told Arcega-Whiteside pretty early, “you’re going to play the rest of the game.” He ended up playing 75 offensive snaps in the Eagles’ 24-20 loss after basically no practice reps during the week.

This week, with Jeffery and Jackson still nursing their injuries, the Eagles will spend their upcoming practices getting Arceaga-Whiteside prepared for an expanded role Sunday. Mike Groh said he expects the rookie to take more of a “primary role” in practice until they learn more about Jeffery’s status.

“I mean, I’m ready,” the second-round pick said. “That’s what I dream about. That’s why I’m here, to help this team win.”

With little practice time last week, Arcega-Whiteside’s expanded role didn’t go extremely well in Week 1. While he played 75 snaps, more than any receiver other than Nelson Agholor, his production lacked. He had just one catch on four targets and it went for four yards.

Remember, there was a point on Sunday — when Agholor was getting checked for a concussion — that Arcega-Whiteside was the top receiver on the depth chart.

So what happened on the passes his way that weren’t complete?

“Me and Carson haven’t ran those (plays), like, ever, together,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “So that kind of showed a little bit. … That’s just going out to practice and working it. We’re not even worried about it because we know once we get that timing down, it’s over.”

Groh called this play from late in the second quarter a “very good example” of how timing between a QB and receiver can be off without enough practice time together.

Groh said he wasn’t sure how many times Arcega-Whiteside had gotten practice reps in that play, but knows he wouldn’t have been their primary player for that route. This week, Wentz will get a chance to work with Arcega-Whiteside and they can tailor a game plan with the understanding that they’ll be shorthanded.

The production wasn’t great from Arcega-Whiteside, but he said he did feel the game slow down for him as it went on and he thinks those game reps will be valuable. And Jeffery was with him every step of the way. He said his veteran teammate, who he’ll likely replace Sunday, was the first one to greet him after drives and even coached him during the game when Arcega-Whiteside lined on the Eagles’ side of the field.

“Going into this weekend now, it depends on what the game plan is,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “They haven’t given us the game plan yet. Once we know what that is, we can start focusing more on that and individually how we’re going to handle it.”

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