Position Breakdowns: How the Eagles stack up against the Redskins

Position Breakdowns: How the Eagles stack up against the Redskins

You will be hard-pressed to find two teams who match up more closely than the Eagles and Washington. Looking up and down the rosters, there is little to no separation in the level of talent between the two teams at multiple positions.

It should make for a tight battle between NFC East foes this Sunday at FedEx Field -- but dissect the two teams deeply enough, and we might find one side has a distinct edge in terms of quality personnel.



Have to give Washington the advantage here, although that could always change. Kirk Cousins has thrown for 9,083 yards and 54 touchdowns the last two seasons, but that was with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon as two of his primary targets. How much their departures impacts Cousins remains to be seen. Carson Wentz has better physical tools, and more upside -- and much to prove after an inconsistent rookie year. Wentz is a prospect, whereas Cousins is widely considered to be established.

Edge: Washington



Washington has some semblance of clarity in the backfield. The Eagles have more talent. Rob Kelley rushed for 601 yards and 6 touchdowns in 9 games after becoming Washington's starter last season, but only averaged 3.98 yards per carry. That rate of productivity was roughly in line with LeGarrette Blount in '16, except nobody was better than Blount in short yardage or at the goal line especially (18 TDs). Darren Sproles is a more dangerous third-down back than Chris Thompson as well.

Slight edge: Eagles



A trio of Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Torrey Smith for the Eagles might be relatively even compared to the combination of Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder for Washington. Jeffery's freak athleticism probably pushes the Eagles over the top, especially considering Pryor is a bit of an unknown coming from the Browns. The emergence of a credible fourth option on either side -- Nelson Agholor for the Eagles or Josh Doctson for Washington -- would swing the conversation more definitively.

Slight edge: Eagles



Both units are strong. Washington's Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are probably even with Jason Peters and Lane Johnson on the edges at this point. There are some question marks along the interior for both sides, but Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks is the best player there. Center Spencer Long is also dealing with a knee injury for Washington, which could be a hindrance, assuming he plays. That may or may not be a factor, but is definitely something to think about.

Slight edge: Eagles



With 58.5 sacks in six seasons, Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan might be the most impactful player in either team's front seven. However, Washington is without Trent Murphy (injury) and Chris Baker (free agency). Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Jordan Hicks are all big playmakers for the Eagles, and the hope is Tim Jernigan and rookie Derek Barnett will be, too. Even with the additions of Zach Brown and Johnthan Allen in Washington, the Eagles appear to have a lot more firepower.

Edge: Eagles



Josh Norman is superior to anybody the Eagles have at cornerback, and a tandem with Bashaud Breeland gets the nod over Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. That's where Washington's advantage ends. Second-year player Kendall Fuller takes over in the slot, where he is essentially an unknown, and the best safety is D.J. Swearinger after the sudden retirement of Su'a Cravens. Patrick Robinson is solid in the slot, Malcolm Jenkins will lock down Reed, and Rodney McLeod is comfortable in center field.

Slight edge: Eagles



The Eagles are better in every phase. Crowder is a quality punt returner, although even if he's right there with Sproles -- debateable -- that's one spot. Caleb Sturgis is a more consistent kicker with better range. Donnie Jones has a bigger foot and more accurate punt than Tress Way. Sturgis and Jones benefit from some of the NFL's top coverage units. And the Eagles returned two kickoffs for touchdown in '16 compared to Washington's zero.

Edge: Eagles



Jay Gruden has posted back-to-back winning seasons in Washington, with a trip to the playoffs. Gruden also beat Doug Pederson head-to-head twice in 2016. Much like the quarterback position, our understanding of these head coaches could change with time, because it's not as if Gruden is viewed as some mastermind. Washington also changed both coordinators, while the Eagles assistants Jim Schwartz (defensive coordinator) and Dave Fipp (special teams) are among the best in the league. This is close.

Slight edge: Washington



Who has the ultimate edge likely depends on how large one believes the discrepencies to be at quarterback and head coach. There isn't much separating the coaching staffs as a whole, while a case could be made Wentz's stock is on the rise just as Cousins might be poised for regression. Even if we concede Washington is safely better in either area, the Eagles look slightly ahead or the same everywhere else, so it's not as if the differences at the top are insurmountable.

Slight edge: Eagles

Eagles wise to reject Nick Foles trade offer ... for now

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Eagles wise to reject Nick Foles trade offer ... for now

Nick Foles for the 35th overall pick in the draft? A lot of Eagles fans would’ve probably pulled the trigger on that trade.

We know now the Eagles, wisely, did not.

Technically, it was Foles who shunned the Cleveland Browns’ overtures. According to an report, the Eagles approached the Super Bowl MVP in March about the Browns’ offer of a second-round choice in the 2018 draft. He would rather remain a backup quarterback in Philadelphia than start for the league’s most pitiful franchise.

The Eagles respected his wishes. It wasn’t what was best for Foles. He earned that deference.

But it wasn’t what was best for the Eagles, either.

Never mind the organization owed it to Foles to ask his feelings about a possible trade, or that dumping him off in Cleveland against his wishes would’ve been unpopular with fans and around the league. Those were good reasons to turn down the offer. Just not necessarily the only reasons.

There was no need for the Eagles to settle for a second-round pick at that point in time, and all the rationale in the world says to wait and see what transpires.

Carson Wentz’s ongoing recovery from a torn ACL is the obvious. As confident as Wentz is he’ll be under center for the Eagles in Week 1, that remains to be seen. His progress was an even greater unknown when the offer was made over two months ago.

Was No. 35 enough to gamble on Wentz’s getting healthy in time for the 2018 season, amid the Eagles’ bid to repeat?

Maybe, maybe not – fortunately, the Eagles didn’t have to decide to trade Foles right then and there.

If recent history has told us anything, it’s not only do the Eagles have the option to trade Foles at a later date, but his value could increase based on demand.

The Eagles would know. Fans couldn’t believe the front office didn’t ship a disgruntled Sam Bradford to the Broncos for a second-round pick after making the move to draft Wentz in 2016. A few months later, almost everybody was amazed when Bradford was dealt to the Vikings for a first and a fourth.

Circumstances changed. The Vikings were a viable contender that, due to an injury, suddenly became desperate for an established quarterback just as the regular season was about to begin.

There’s no telling which teams might have interest in Foles between now and the mid-season trade deadline, or what price they might be willing to pay. And the Eagles were never going to find out had they shipped him out for the first semi-decent package that was floated their way.

The absolute worst-case scenario now is Foles sticks with the Eagles all this season, is never called upon to play a meaningful snap, then opts out of his contract and becomes a free agent next year.

Yet, even in that scenario, the reigning Super Bowl champions had the best insurance policy in the NFL, for a relatively modest price at $8 million against the salary cap, and the league eventually awards the team a compensatory draft pick after his departure. Along the way, the Eagles simultaneously get to do right by Foles and engender positive vibes among fans and around the league.

The Eagles could’ve used the cap space and another second-round pick this year, but they were better off keeping Foles.

For now, at least.

Eagles releasing Mychal Kendricks the right thing to do

Eagles releasing Mychal Kendricks the right thing to do

For the past two years, the Eagles kept Mychal Kendricks in a state of limbo. It was about time the team set him free.

The Eagles didn’t release Kendricks on Tuesday simply because it was “the right thing to do” — if there was such a thing in this instance. They did it because the move will save $6 million against the salary cap in 2018. They did it because Corey Nelson is a cheaper alternative. They did it because Kendricks isn’t an ideal fit for Jim Schwartz’s scheme. They did it because, evidently, they couldn’t find a trade partner.

In short, the Eagles released Kendricks because the 27-year-old linebacker wasn’t worth $16-plus million over the next two seasons. That really should be enough.

It was also about time the Eagles put Kendricks out of his misery. He made no secret about being unhappy with his reduced role since Schwartz became defensive coordinator, asking the team to either cut him or move him last offseason. The subject of trade rumors annually since 2015, Kendricks probably hadn’t felt comfortable about his standing with the organization for quite awhile.

At what point are the Eagles holding him hostage?

Good thing the club didn’t oblige Kendricks’ request last year, as he wound up filling in for the injured Jordan Hicks and playing a pivotal part in the Eagles’ Super Bowl run. Some see that as evidence the team made a mistake in letting a six-year veteran with 78 career NFL starts to walk away for nothing.

While it’s true Kendricks came up big in 2017, he wasn’t exactly an impact player for the Eagles, finishing the season with four tackles for loss and two sacks in 18 games, including playoffs. He hasn’t forced a fumble since 2015. He hasn’t recorded an interception since 2013. And rushing the passer, arguably his greatest strength, goes almost completely unutilized in Schwartz’s scheme, which sent Kendricks after opposing quarterbacks just eight times all year, according to Pro Football Focus.

Numbers may not do Kendricks’ campaign justice, but typically more would be expected of somebody who was set to carry a $7.6 million cap figure into ’18.

The Eagles also feel they are in better shape now in terms of depth at the position (see story).

Kendricks’ days appeared to be numbered the moment the club signed Nelson and the free-agent addition declared he would compete for the starting weakside linebacker job. It’s unclear whether the Eagles are putting too much faith in the former Denver Broncos reserve and the host of linebacker prospects already on the roster. Regardless, the team likes its options.

So why force Kendricks to stick around? From the team’s standpoint, it was a lot of money for the level of production, for not being a great scheme fit and given his impending return to the bench. The Eagles were wise to keep him around for one more year, but with other arrangements since made, moving on now doesn’t sting as much.

The fact Kendricks was anything less than thrilled to be back only makes it easier. After handling his displeasure like a pro last season, then helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl championship, granting his release seems like the least the team could do.