Eagles mailbag

Eagles mailbag: What should the Eagles do at wide receiver next year?

Eagles mailbag: What should the Eagles do at wide receiver next year?

The Eagles will face off against the Giants tonight but we still have plenty of time to kill. 

We answered half of your questions yesterday.

Here are the rest. 

It’s a fair question. Jackson just turned 33 and his body failed him this season. He had one tremendous game and that was it. Recently, in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Joe Banner said he thinks the Eagles will move on from Alshon Jeffery and Jackson. 

If that happens, we’re talking about serious dead money. In Jackson’s situation, Banner wondered if Jackson would maybe be open to moving some of his salary to bonuses. That would certainly be worth a shot. Try to get Jackson to bet on himself with the chance to make even more money. 

If I’m the Eagles, I’m open to bringing Jackson back, but they just can’t let that be their solution. They need to get younger at the position, which leads us to this next question … 

They can’t think like this. When you focus in on one position, you end up reaching and get Marcus Smith. The Eagles have to be smarter than that. With that said, if it’s a tie, I’d go receiver. 

While they certainly need help at cornerback, the Eagles’ biggest problem this season has been at receiver. They need to upgrade there and finally hit on one in the draft. Take a look at every receiver they’ve drafted this decade: 

2019: JJ Arcega-Whiteside (2nd round) 
2017: Mack Hollins (4th round) 
2017: Shelton Gibson (5th round) 
2015: Nelson Agholor (1st round) 
2014: Jordan Matthews (2nd round) 
2014: Josh Huff (3rd round)
2012: Marvin McNutt (6th round) 
2010: Riley Cooper (5th round) 

The Eagles haven’t had much success, but they need to find a way to give Carson Wentz more weapons. They’ve invested so much in Wentz, so they need to at least try to surround him with more talent. 

Jason Kelce was a sixth-rounder back in 2011 and he’s been a Pro Bowler. Getting Kelce in the sixth round qualifies as one of the best draft picks in franchise history. 

The real problem for the Eagles is that they’re not drafting Pro Bowl players even in the early rounds. Since 2010, the Eagles have drafted six players who have become a Pro Bowler for them: Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Nick Foles, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Carson Wentz. 

During that same timeframe, the Cowboys have drafted 12. 

Probably not the way you want them to and I get why that’s frustrating. With Jim Schwartz as the defensive coordinator, the Eagles have drafted just two linebackers: Nate Gerry in the fifth round and Joe Walker in the seventh. When going through position coaches last week, I actually gave LBs coach Ken Flajole a lot of credit because he’s done the most with little. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Eagles mailbag: Who is the Eagles' 2019 MVP so far?

Eagles mailbag: Who is the Eagles' 2019 MVP so far?

Since the Eagles play on Monday night this week, we have an extra day to wait for their game against the Giants. 

So let’s take a dip into the mailbag. As always, thanks for all your great questions. 

We’ll get to some more tomorrow. 

This is a simple question, but it’s not a simple answer. Far from it. I spent way too much time thinking about this question, so I’ll walk you through some of my thought process. First, I came up with a list of players I deemed eligible: Carson Wentz, Rodney McLeod, Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Zach Ertz, Fletcher Cox. 

Wentz: I had to include the quarterback, but he isn’t playing as well as he needs to play. I still think he’s far from their biggest problem, but he’s not the MVP either. 

McLeod: You wouldn’t know he’s coming back from injury and he’s been solid. But he hasn’t really made many splash plays either. 

Howard: The Eagles were 5-4 with Howard and are 0-3 without him. That shows how important he has been to this team. But he’s about to miss his fourth straight game, so he’s eliminated. 

Sanders: An interesting choice. The rookie running back got off to a slow start but is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and has been one of the most explosive playmakers on offense. 

Graham: There aren’t many players who are exceeding expectations this season, but Graham is one of them. He has 7 1/2 sacks to lead the team and has been consistently good, even before those sacks started piling up. 

Johnson: He missed one game with a concussion, but the right tackle has been as solid as they come this season. He was rewarded with a big contract and should be heading back to the Pro Bowl. 

Brooks: Like Graham, Brooks is one of the few players exceeding expectations. He missed most of one game after a return of his anxiety, but aside from that, he’s been their most reliable offensive lineman. And that’s after coming back from an Achilles tear. 

Ertz: Ertz has been the Eagles’ best offensive weapons again this season. He has 70 catches for 736 yards and three touchdowns. He’s on pace for 93 catches for 981 yards. Another great season, but a drop from his numbers in 2018 and he’s made more mistakes this year. 

Cox: He’s still their best player and he has come on incredibly strong, but he got off to a slow start coming back from injury. He always has a strong case. 

My verdict: I’m going with Graham. On offense, my pick would have been Brooks, but I’m going with the best player on what has been the stronger unit. Graham got paid this offseason and has been very good and consistent. He has a shot at his first 10-sack season and is still as stout in the run game as ever. 

(Note: It’s not a good sign that it was this hard.) 

I don’t think so. Right or wrong, the Eagles are committed to Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills as their starting corners. Now, if one of them were to get hurt, they’d have a decision. Ultimately, I think Maddox is either a nickel corner or a safety. As unorthodox as it might be for a guy of his size (5-9, 184), I really liked him at safety last year. 

During the 2018 season, Jim Schwartz compared Maddox to Cortland Finnegan. But I have another comp for Maddox. When he was playing safety last year, I saw a little Bob Sanders. Not saying he’ll be that good, but a smaller safety with ball skills who can still hit. The Eagles will have a decision to make on McLeod this offseason. If he’s not back, I’d think about Maddox at FS. 

Tough question because they’ve lost these games in different ways. Since the offense barely showed up in two of those three games, I’ll go with the lack of offensive consistency. Even in the game when they scored 31, they couldn’t get points late. 

As much as they don’t look like contenders, it’s Doug Pederson’s job to try to win games. And this team still has a really legitimate shot to make it into the playoffs. And if they win the division, they get a first-round home playoff game. I know it’s unlikely this team goes on a run to the Super Bowl, but they have to at least try to get to the playoffs and see what happens. Remember, they were pretty darn close to advancing to the NFC Championship Game last year after starting that season with a 4-6 record. Gotta at least try. 

I have actually talked to people about this before. I really don’t think they could bring him back. They made their decision to go with Carson Wentz — and it wasn’t even like they thought about it. Bringing back Foles would put so much unnecessary pressure on Wentz, it wouldn’t be fair. From a football standpoint, it would make a ton of sense. But everything the Eagles do should be with Wentz in mind. I wouldn’t do it. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Eagles mailbag: Biggest 2019 concern, rookie of the year, LBs

Eagles mailbag: Biggest 2019 concern, rookie of the year, LBs

I answered half of your questions yesterday and saved the rest for today. 

The first batch were about Shelton Gibson, Mack Hollins, training camp and I picked a candidate to have a breakout season.

Let’s get to the rest right now: 

I’m tempted to say the health concerns about the offensive line, but instead I’m going on defense to the defensive end position. In my last mailbag, I picked Derek Barnett as a breakout candidate for 2019, but even if he does break out, the Eagles don’t have great depth at the position. They started last season with these top four defensive ends: Brandon Graham, Barnett, Michael Bennett and Chris Long. This year, their top four are probably: Graham, Barnett, Vinny Curry and Josh Sweat/Shareef Miller. That could be a problem. 

At least the Eagles now have much better depth at defensive tackle with Malik Jackson and a presumably healthy Tim Jernigan. But will that be enough to cover of the deficiency of depth at edge rusher? Not sure. 

I’ll make the safest bet here and say Miles Sanders. I don’t like that Sanders was forced to miss the entire spring with an injury, but among all the rookies, he has the best chance to get significant playing time. Andre Dillard won’t play unless Jason Peters gets hurt. JJ Arcega-Whiteside is behind three very talented receivers. Shareef Miller has room to grow. And Clayton Thorson won’t play. Maybe there’s an undrafted guy who carves out a role, but we know Sanders is going to play and be a complementary player with Jordan Howard and Corey Clement. In fact, I still think Sanders can have a big year as long as he can stay healthy during training camp. 

I think they’re doing it to give themselves flexibility. If a team were to trade for Halapoulivaati Vaitai, they’d do it because they think he can play tackle, not because he learned how to play guard. And based on the spring, it seems like the Eagles are preparing Vaitai to play right guard if Brandon Brooks isn’t ready for Week 1. Doug Pederson even mentioned the importance of Lane Johnson learning how to play next to Big V; that comment wasn’t lost on me. Ultimately, I think the versatility can only help Vaitai and it might help extend his career. 

It’ll be Kamu Grugier-Hill. He played 32 percent of defensive snaps last season and I think he can handle even more this season. I thought he played well when he got the chance last year and he’s in line to have a big role in the defense this year. Zach Brown is kind of playing catch-up as he learns the defense. He’ll play in base defense, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Nigel Bradham and KGH on the field in nickel situations. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles