Eagles

Howie Roseman using what he learned from Andy Reid

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Howie Roseman using what he learned from Andy Reid

One thing Andy Reid was spot on about during his long tenure with the Eagles was the importance of building around both lines. 

Big Red always made the offensive and defensive lines a priority, and during the Eagles’ stretch of deep playoff runs — from 2000 through 2009 — the O-line was anchored by guys like Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, Jermane Mayberry and Todd Herremans and the D-line by Corey Simon, Trent Cole, Mike Patterson and Hugh Douglas.

During that 10-year stretch, the Eagles had the most wins in the NFC and the third-most wins in the NFL, and the one constant during that stretch was solid line play. 

Donovan McNabb was very good when healthy most of those seasons, and the Eagles always had good running backs and corners, but the heart of those teams was up front.

Just look at how Big Red drafted. Eight of his 11 first-round picks were linemen. After taking McNabb in 1999, all six of Reid's picks in the first half of the first round were linemen.

They obviously didn’t all work out, but Reid was committed to both lines, and Howie Roseman, then a young, rising personnel executive, was paying attention.

The Eagles have done a lot of things differently in the five years since Reid's final season here, but one thing Doug Pederson and Roseman believe in is building around the lines, and it sure paid off last year.

According to figures on salary cap website Spotrac, the Eagles in 2017 were the only team ranked among the top five in the NFL in both offensive line and defensive line spending.

And the only team that had a parade in February.

And they’re only going to spend more this year.

The Eagles will spend 22.36 percent of their 2018 cap money on the offensive line, fourth most in the league, and 28.84 percent to the defensive line, fifth most.

That’s more than half their 2018 payroll on the big guys up front.

The Jets — sixth in O-line spending, 10th in D-line — are the only other team in the top 10 in both.

Seven of the Eagles’ 10 highest-paid players last year were linemen, as are eight of their 13 projected highest-paid players in 2018.

And five of those guys — Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Vinny Curry and Jason Peters — are actually holdovers from the Reid era.

Think of them as Reid’s parting gifts to the 2017 championship team.

Creating a Super Bowl roster was a complicated process for Roseman, and to be able to make this sort of financial commitment to the two lines means you just don’t have much money left for everything else. 

The only way to make that work is to build with cheap labor elsewhere. 

And that means younger players on bargain-basement rookie contracts, cheap but productive quarterbacks and low-round picks and undrafted players with cheapo contracts excelling.

It means drafting well and making exceptional free-agent decisions without overspending.

It’s a crazy juggling act, and Roseman juggled all those things magnificentely last year.

In fact, according to Spotrac’s data, the two lines are the Eagles' only positional groups ranked even among the top 15 in the NFL.

The secondary and QB positions rank 16th in cap allocations, tight end 18th, running back 21st, wide receiver 27th, linebacker 31st and special teams 32nd.

These numbers are all based on the 53 highest-paid players currently under contract, so they will change slightly once the final roster is set, but they won’t change much.

The Eagles were very good in a lot of areas last year — really, in every area — but their offensive line was the best in football and the best in Eagles history, and the defensive line was easily one of the two- or three-best in football.

Everything the Eagles did, everything they accomplished, started up front.

Put Peters back on the O-line and add Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett to the D-line with an increased role for Derek Barnett, and both lines could conceivably be even better this year.

It’s going to get harder for Roseman to keep paying the Eagles’ linemen the way he has. Once Carson Wentz signs his next contract, the Eagles’ entire salary cap balance will change. 

Those $25 million annual cap hits for one guy have a tendency to make roster decisions way more challenging.

So it will be tricky for the Eagles to re-sign Graham. He wants a fortune, and he deserves a fortune. 

But even if Roseman can’t get that done, Barnett has three more years on his rookie deal, and that’s the key to making this whole thing work. 

You can’t re-sign everybody, so if you want to remain elite, you have to draft well so you can replace the people you invariably lose.

You lose Patrick Robinson, you have Sidney Jones waiting. You lose LeGarrette Blount, there’s Corey Clement ready to go. You lose Mychal Kendricks, you hope a Nate Gerry can contribute. Trey Burton leaves, and Dallas Goedert is cheaper and better.

You get what you pay for. And the Eagles right now are paying for the best in the business.

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Thoughts on newest Eagles coach Marquand Manuel, LeSean McCoy's Hall of Fame case, more in Roob's 10 observations

Thoughts on newest Eagles coach Marquand Manuel, LeSean McCoy's Hall of Fame case, more in Roob's 10 observations

Thoughts on the Eagles’ new secondary coach, LeSean McCoy’s Hall of Fame case and an unbelievable stat about Lito Sheppard and Michael Lewis.

All that and so much more in this weekend’s edition of Roob’s random offseason Eagles observations! 

1. OK, it’s been 18 days since the Eagles fired Mike Groh, and they still don’t have an offensive coordinator. Senior Bowl week is over, the combine is only a few weeks away and free agency starts in less than two months. Of the 10 teams with an OC vacancy, the Eagles are the only one that hasn’t hired anybody. A couple thoughts: 1) Maybe the guy Doug Pederson is going to hire is already in place. Internal candidates Duce Staley and Press Taylor were both at the Senior Bowl practices. Maybe the Eagles are just waiting until the entire staff is complete to announce everything. I doubt it, but it’s possible. 2) Maybe Doug has decided not to hire an offensive coordinator and just do the job himself with his position coaches. I doubt that too, but it’s possible. 3) Otherwise, it has to be Jim Caldwell, right? As long as he’s healthy. By far the most impressive remaining outside candidate. Caldwell was QBs coach of the Colts when they won the Super Bowl and offensive coordinator of the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl. If Doug wants a veteran QB guru for the job, this is a no-brainer. Get it done.

2. I do like the Marquand Manuel hire. I like that he’s been a defensive coordinator on the NFL level, I like that he’s coached in a Super Bowl, I like that he played in the NFL for eight years and I like that he’s got a little background with Jim Schwartz — he played for Schwartz in Detroit in 2009 — but still brings a fresh voice to the coach’s room. He’s got his work cut out for him. Getting Sidney Jones on track is priority No. 1. But the Eagles’ secondary as a whole is going to look very different in 2020, and the Eagles needed a capable veteran voice to bring it all together and make it work. He looks like the guy to do it.

3. The last Eagles defensive players to make a Pro Bowl before their 25th birthday were Lewis and Sheppard in 2004. Since then, 94 defensive players league-wide have made a Pro Bowl before they turned 25. 

4. How many QBs would you rather have right now than Carson Wentz? First I’m going to eliminate anybody in their 30s — Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, all those guys. Who does that leave? You’d rather have Pat Mahomes than anybody, but beyond that? Lamar Jackson? Brilliant talent but I wonder how sustainable his style of play is. Dak Prescott? No thanks. Jimmy Garoppolo? Nope. Deshaun Watson? You can make a case, but I’d take Wentz. Jared Goff? Kyler Murray? Daniel Jones? Nah. The injuries are frustrating but no doubt in my mind that despite everything the Eagles have the right QB to build around. 

5. I wonder if the Super Bowl will be McCoy’s final game. He had a nice first half of the season and showed he has something left, but since Damien Williams’ emergence, he’s barely played and doesn’t even have a carry since mid-December. Shady’s a free agent after the Super Bowl and turns 32 this summer, an age where few running backs are still going. Shady’s the only player in NFL history with 11,000 rushing yards, a 4.5 rushing average and 500 catches. Hall of Famer if he retires now? Probably not quite. But one hell of a career.

6. Curious note about McCoy: He’s never had a carry in a postseason victory. The Eagles were 0-3 in the playoffs with McCoy in uniform and the Bills were 0-1. He didn’t have a carry in the Chiefs’ win over the Texans and was inactive for the win over the Titans. 

7. In Eagles history, Jordan Matthews has the most receiving yards after three seasons and Shady has the most rushing yards after three seasons. One of them will win a Super Bowl ring next Sunday. Both will probably be inactive.

8. Chiefs GM Brett Veach is a remarkable story. He grew up in Mt. Carmel, between Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre, starred at Mt. Carmel High School, played with Matt Nagy at Delaware and was on track to work in Delaware’s athletic department after college when he landed an internship with the Eagles in the summer of 2004. With his work ethic and uncanny eye for talent, he worked his way up the ladder. When Andy Reid asked him to find a wide receiver the Eagles could take in the second round in 2008, Veach recommended DeSean Jackson, even though he was coming off a poor season. When Reid was hired by the Chiefs in 2013, he brought Veach with him. In 2015, Veach was watching film of Texas Tech offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark and Tech’s unheralded QB kept jumping out at him, and Veach knew even then Mahomes was something special, and in 2017 they traded up for him. Mahomes is now the best QB in the NFL, an MVP and one win from a Super Bowl. In span of 10 years, Veach went from interning in the Eagles’ scouting office to drafting Pat Mahomes.  

9. This is kind of a strange one, but Boston Scott this year became only the seventh player in NFL history with 85 or fewer touches but at least five rushing TDs and 20 catches. The dude definitely made the most of his limited workload.

10. I used to think Harold Carmichael’s franchise record of 589 catches was untouchable. Only seven Eagles even reached 300 during the 30-year period from 1985 through 2015, and only Brian Westbrook got over 400. But Zach Ertz will go into 2020 just 64 catches behind Harold, and at his rate of 5.8 catches per game over the last five years he’ll pass him somewhere around Week 12 if he stays healthy. Harold will go into the Hall of Fame in September and have his most hallowed record broken in November. And knowing Harold, nobody will be happier for Ertz.

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Eagles have reportedly hired Marquand Manuel as the new secondary coach

Eagles have reportedly hired Marquand Manuel as the new secondary coach

Marquand Manuel is the Eagles’ new secondary coach, according to a tweet by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

The 40-year-old Manuel replaces Cory Undlin, who had served in that role since 2015, first under Chip Kelly and the last four years under Doug Pederson. Undlin was named Lions defensive coordinator two weeks ago.

Manuel and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz go back a ways. Manuel played for the Lions in 2009 when Schwartz was their head coach.

Manuel was not in the NFL this past year. He spent the previous four years under Dan Quinn with the Falcons, two years as secondary coach and two years as defensive coordinator before getting fired following the 2018 season.

The Falcons reached the Super Bowl in his second year in Atlanta, losing to the Patriots in Houston.

Before Atlanta, Manuel spent three years working under Quinn with the Seahawks, holding a variety of titles on the defensive staff.

Manuel, who played for Steve Spurrier at Florida, was the Bengals’ 6th-round pick in 2002 and spent eight years as a safety in the NFL with six different teams — the Bengals, Seahawks, Packers, Panthers, Broncos and Lions.

He played in 116 games, starting 58, with two interceptions and a pick-6 while he was with the Packers in 2006 off Jon Kitna of the Lions.

The Eagles also reportedly interviewed Browns defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker for the position.

The Eagles already have a safeties coach on the staff, former Eagle Tim Hauck. He was Pederson's teammate with the Eagles in 1999 and has been on Pederson's staff since 2016.

Quinn had this to say about Manuel on the Falcons’ web site back in 2018:

From the time I've met him from now, one thing that's cool to see that has stayed consistent is the energy and enthusiasm he has for players. He made the transition from player to coach really seamlessly because he knew the boundaries of coach, but he also stepped across to say, I can push you. That's not easy to do. He's always had mental quickness of a quarterback or someone who gets concepts really quickly. That transferred into this coaching fast. He can communicate concepts and ideas quickly to people on the run, in the moment, that's a really valuable asset as a coach.

The Eagles still have openings to replace the three assistant coaches Doug Pederson fired: offensive coordinator Mike Groh, wide receivers coach Carson Walch and defensive line coach Phillip Daniels.

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