Way too soon to write off forgotten Eagles running back Josh Adams

Way too soon to write off forgotten Eagles running back Josh Adams

Every conversation we’ve had about Josh Adams this offseason, every podcast, every roster projection, every Twitter discussion, has come to the same conclusion.

“Oh, he's not going to make the team.”

It’s an understandable opinion.

The Eagles’ backfield is crowded. Corey Clement is back, Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard have been added, Boston Scott had an impressive summer. Wendell Smallwood always seems to find a way to stick around. One-time fourth-round pick Donnel Pumphrey is still here.

And Adams? Because his production dropped late in the season and then he was the forgotten man in the postseason, playing just one combined snap against the Bears and Saints, we’ve all just kind of assumed he’s gone.

And maybe he is.

But let’s take a minute to take a fresh look at Adams.

There was a stretch in the middle of last season when he was actually one of the more productive running backs in the league.

From Week 7 through Week 14, a span of seven games, Adams averaged 5.1 yards per carry, seventh-best among all running backs in the league who had at least 75 carries during that stretch.

Look at this stretch from the Jaguars game in London through the overtime loss to the Cowboys in Dallas:

9-for-61, 6.8 at Jaguars
7-for-47, 6.7 vs. Cowboys
7-for-53, 7.6 at Saints
22-for-84, 3.8, vs. Giants
20-for-85, 4.3 vs. Redskins
7-for-36, 5.1 at Cowboys

That’s solid, consistent production, especially for an undrafted rookie who began the year on the practice squad.

Here’s one thing I really liked about Adams: He was always good for at least one long run per game. During the seven-week stretch from the Jaguars game through the first Redskins game, he ripped off six runs of 18 yards or longer, and during that period, only Saquon Barkley (8) and Joe Mixon (7) had more in the entire NFL.

Now at some point late in the season, Adams hurt his shoulder seriously enough that he needed post-season surgery to repair a torn labrum.

It’s not clear when Adams got hurt, but he kept playing, and the injury would certainly help explain the late-season drop in production.

Adams averaged just 2.7 yards per carry the last three weeks of the regular season and then got that one postseason snap, a two-yard carry against the Bears.

But when evaluating Adams and his possible future as an Eagle, we have to take the injury into consideration.

Adams did enough during that two-month stretch in the middle of the season to at least warrant an honest look this summer.

Even starting the season on the practice squad, getting just 11 carries the first seven weeks of the season and then getting hurt, Adams still led the Eagles in rushing and became the 20th undrafted rookie in NFL history to rush for at least 500 yards, three or more TDs and an average of 4.3 yards per-carry or higher.

When you step back and look at his season, he was pretty darn good in all but the two December games against the Rams, the NFC champs, and the Texans, who had the No. 3 rush defense in the NFL.

Obviously, Sanders and Howard project to be the heart of the running attack. A healthy Clement can catch, run, block and play special teams. Smallwood and Scott can both run, catch and return.

Adams is limited. He isn’t a polished receiver — he caught just seven passes last year — and he plays very little on special teams — just 48 snaps as a rookie, only two in the last six games.

That puts him at a disadvantage from the start. So for him to win a spot on the 53 the Warrington native and former Notre Dame star has to have a healthy training camp and show exceptional production as a runner.

The odds are against him. But Adams is 22, he was the Eagles’ leading rusher last year, and undrafted rookies don’t have an eight-game stretch averaging 5.1 yards per carry by accident.

If we got rid of every rookie running back who had two mediocre games at the end of a productive season there wouldn’t be any running backs left.

Adams is talented. It’s tough to say where he fits in, but it’s way too early to say he doesn’t.

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Eli Manning is retiring and the Eagles will miss him

Eli Manning is retiring and the Eagles will miss him

After 16 seasons and two Super Bowl wins, Giants quarterback Eli Manning will announce his retirement at a press conference on Friday afternoon, according to ESPN.

The Eagles will probably miss him.

Because over Eli’s 16-year career, he played the Eagles more than any other team. And he finishes with a career record of 10-21 against Philadelphia, which doesn’t even include both playoff losses to the Birds.

And recently, it was even worse for Manning against the Eagles. Including the game back on Dec. 9 this season, when Manning started for an injured Daniel Jones, Manning lost the last six times he faced the Eagles.

The Eagles have never faced another quarterback more; they have also never beaten an opposing quarterback more.

Here’s a look at Manning’s numbers in his 31 career games against the Eagles:

Record: 10-21
Comp %: 59.3
Yards: 7,994 or 257.9 per game
Touchdowns: 54
Interceptions: 34

Manning threw for more yards, touchdowns and interceptions against the Eagles than any other team. And on the flip side, Manning is the all-time leader in those three categories among opposing QBs facing the Eagles too.

But Manning didn’t have trouble with the other division teams like he did against the Eagles. His record against the Cowboys was 13-17; his record against the Redskins was 19-10.

So now the question for the next five years becomes about Manning’s Hall of Fame odds and worthiness. It’s a question we’ve already been trying to ask for years. Reuben Frank gave his best assessment of that question during the season.

I think the answer to that question in Philadelphia is going to be different than the answer from the rest of the country.

I’m interested to see how different it is.

Manning’s Hall of Fame candidacy is going to be one of the trickier cases we’ve ever seen. Overall, he was a slightly above average quarterback who will finish with a .500 record but who also had moments of greatness, especially when it mattered most.

Manning was the MVP of Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI. Both wins came over Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and one of the most impressive dynasties in the history of American sports. But his combined numbers in those two games aren’t even very impressive: He completed 66 percent of his passes for 551 yards (275.5) with three touchdowns and one interception.

Still, the four other players to win multiple Super Bowl MVPs are Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Tom Brady. Three are in the Hall of Fame and the other will be there the split second he’s eligible.

The crazy thing is that I’d imagine his career record of 117-117 will be one of Manning’s biggest hurdles to get into the Hall. He can thank the Eagles for that. If he never had to play the Birds, his career record would be 107-96, which sounds a heckuva lot better.

He'll probably get into the Hall either way. But it might have been a lot easier for him if he never had to play the Eagles.

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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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