Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Night Thoughts

***

A few people have been asking about the offseason.  What are the Eagles doing?  Is this all about money?  All we see are players getting cut.  The Eagles have added a couple of role players, but no one worth a flip.  In the immortal words of Vince Lombardi, "What the hell is going on out there?"

I understand that mentality.  I can see where that is the way things appear if you are skeptical about the front office.  Your first inclination is to doubt moves, to find the gray lining in every cloud.  I don't mean that as a criticism.  It is just a behavioral observation.  The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl.  There are times when Andy Reid, Joe Banner, Jeff Lurie and the Personnel Department seem as if they know something the rest of the world doesn't.  Their somewhat unorthodox ideas mixed in with a secretive, business-like approach to things can lead someone to wonder about the guys.  I get that. 

I'm generally an optimistic person.  I'm not unrealistic, though.  I'm  a fan of the Sixers as well as the Eagles.  The Sixers were god-like in the late 70s and early 80s, but that organization has done very little in the last 15 years to make me feel that they know what they are doing.  When they make a move that is odd, I question it.  The Eagles have a track record of success.  Not perfection, but success.  When they do something odd I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I think they've earned that with the winning ways of the Reid era.  This doesn't mean you can't be skeptical or critical. 

The offseason so far is a mixed bag.  The Eagles, and most fans, coveted Julius Peppers.  I had real mixed feelings about him so seeing Julius go to Chicago didn't break my heart.  My goal is for the Eagles to win the Super Bowl.  Julius seems interested in money and making Julius happy.  I'm not sure that goes well with winning a SB. 

I do like the Darryl Tapp move.  He is the right kind of guy.  He fits our team and our scheme.  I wish he was a difference-maker, but he's not an elite talent.  I think he does make our defense better and that really is the key.  People point out that he only had 2.5 sacks, but the guy only started 5 games.  He was the #3 DE last year.  Darryl still managed 40 solo tackles and 7 TFLs.  That tells you that he's a good run defender.  He'll be an effective pass rusher at LDE for us.  I think he's likely to be in the 6-8 sack range, but Darryl could be better than that.  He's never gotten to play on a defense that blitzes like us.  That should mean some more sack opportunities where he comes free due to confusion among the blockers. 

Marlin Jackson is a mystery.  We just don't know what to make of the ACL situation.  The key point for you to remember is that Marlin wasn't brought here to fill the FS hole.  Marlin was brought here to compete for a job.  The Eagles do not see FS as solved.  They are keeping their eyes open.  This isn't a case of the Eagles being cheap.  They feel like Jackson was worth the risk.  He can play CB, NB, SS, and FS.  This is a guy you invest in and see what he can do.  The Eagles didn't want to pay huge bucks to Antrel Rolle because they didn't like him all that much as a player.  No team has yet to make a run at O.J. Atogwe.  There might be an injury issue none of us knows about. 

Mike Bell is what we need at RB.  He isn't a great athlete or receiver.  He isn't a scat back.  He isn't someone to play out in space.  Bell is a 225-pound runner to feed the ball between the tackles.  Isn't that what we've wanted for several years?  We finally get him (maybe) and fans are somehow disappointed.  I don't get criticism of this move.  We need a physical runner with some size to be a backup and role player.  What's not to like?  Bell is good enough that he could start for a game or two if McCoy got hurt.  Bell isn't anything great, but again...he's what we need. 

As for the cuts...forget about the money for a second.  Let's talk just about the players:

Shawn Andrews - nothing.
Kevin Curtis - couldn't stay healthy.
Brian Westbrook - health issues.  
Darren Howard - good sack total, but wasn't consistently disruptive this year.  Descending player.
Will Witherspoon - slowed down in the stretch run. 

Chris Clemons - traded.
Reggie Brown - traded.

I'm writing a column about Shawn's situation.  Cutting him was smart.  Same for Kevin.  Trading Reggie and CC was smart.  Neither guy was a lock to make the roster in 2010.  That leaves us with Darren and Will. 

Darren is a player that I've mentioned to friends as cut material for quite a while.  He was good in 2008, but not nearly as effective in 2009.  I'm not sure if he slowed down or teams just caught on to him.  Yeah, he had 6.5 sacks, but Howard got a few of those because he was in the right place at the right time.  Those sacks are replaceable. 

Witherspoon is the trickiest cut.  I'm okay with letting him go, depending on what the Eagles do to replace him.  I've heard that this wasn't done to get Akeem Jordan back on the field.  I hope that is true.  Jordan ideally is a backup and STer.  If the Eagles add a pro player or draft a LB fairly high, then I might love cutting Spoon.  If we sit here on August 1st with Jordan as the WLB I'm going to be ticked off. 

I haven't heard a specific target at WLB, college or pro.  I'm sure the Eagles have some guys they are interested in.  The question is whether they can pull off those moves.  Because they cut Spoon so early I'm assuming they feel confident in landing a target.  I could be dead wrong, of course.  Time will tell. 

I do think we're a better team now than on March 5th.  We added a starting LDE in Tapp.  That moves Parker to the bench, making him more effective.  Parker played DT in the Nickel at times in the last few years.  He could take that role full time now that Tapp is here, as well as Juqua being a good backup DE.  I think Bell is just what our backfield needed.  We traded a broken down Westy for him.  That's an improvement in my mind.  Don't think of Brian the star RB.  Sadly, doesn't seem like that player exists anymore.  And I definitely like Hank over Reggie as the #4 WR.  Brown was needed in '09 because we didn't know what to expect from J-Mac.  Now we know he's a good starter.  Hank is here to be a role player, something he's good at and happy to do. 

We will make another pro move or two, not necessarily involving starters.  We'll have to see how that goes.  We have 4 picks in the Top 100 on draft day.  That's good ammo.  There will be good players added to the roster.  The offseason isn't over.  I know I keep saying this, but the key is to add the right players and not the biggest names.  I think we're doing a solid job so far.  A little work on the back seven and I might be real happy with this offseason. 


MISC NEWS

* Sounds like the Gocong deal might be on hold for now.  Chances are that he will be dealt between now and the draft, but I think the Eagles and Browns are both trying to figure out exactly what they want to do before finalizing the trade.  Scouts and coaches are working out players on a daily basis and that can affect the plans for next round of moves. 

* Someone in the comments section asked about Victor Abiamiri being on crutches after some kind of operation.  I've heard rumors that he might have to undergo a procedure.  Sounds like that happened.  Let's hope he gets well by the summer.  You can't count on the young man, but you hate to count him out because he's still so young. 
___

13 comments:

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Tommy,

My biggest concern has been the QB situation. I'm ok with the rest of the offseason approach, but the QB situation is becoming frustrating.

As the offseason rolls on, more and more teams are filling their holes at QB and the Eagles haven't been a part of that. Sure the McNabb/Vick/Kolb options are probably better and more talented for much of the QB needy teams, but the more $'s these teams spend on the Anderson's, Delhomme's, Whitehurst's of the league, the fewer options the Eagles have left.

I've been on board with the move to Kolb, but I'm starting to struggle with what teams would even want McNabb or Vick any more. Buffalo? Is that it?

Cliff said...

Of course I don't actually know any of this as a fact, but I'll speculate...

Seattle

Jags

Oakland (maybe to help salvage Russel's career)

Vikings (if Favre "retires")

Cardinals

Buffalo

arby said...

Give Zack some slack.

The Eagles have gone into this postseason with arguably more needs than they have in the past few seasons. Of course there is the desire to make the big splash but outside of Peppers, there were few options. Dumping Witherspoon for zero and then his signing quickly with another team does not look good. We'll see how soon Howard signs. My question is not letting go of these guys but why now? Do their contracts kick in now or could we have kept them till after the draft to keep our cards close to our vest? (It's surprising we couldn't get a 6th or 7th for Spoon??) To me it looks like the Eagles have made lateral but sensible moves, not aggressive creative moves. Bell and Tapp fill needs but neither were our first choices. We are plodding along filling needs, gambling that these younger guys will blossom in our system and setting ourselves up in the draft to take the BPA. Here's hoping we make a couple more moves before dealing our QB's and the draft.

andystak said...

+1 Matt,

The cuts and lack of big FA's are not what has me worried. This team has holes, and not getting bigtime value for McNabb or Kolb seems more and more likely everytime another QB gets picked up.

I'd rather they trade Kolb and extend McNabb, but they MUST trade one of them... and their dance partners are one by one making there way off the floor.

Tom Ballman said...

Is this a stretch to salivate over???

Gocong and our second third rounder for D'Qwell Jackson and their fourth?

Pitmanite said...

Tommy-

I agree with you on the cuts the team has made so far. Also, I'm fine with what they've done on defense so far because I just don't think there was much opportunity for them to grab a real playmaker on defense.

However, if I didn't know any better I'd think Spadaro hacked into your account and wrote that blurb on Tapp. I like adding a young guy to come in and compete w/ Parker, but you're defense on people being concerned about Tapp's low production was pretty weak. You say he only had 2.5 sacks because he was the 3rd DE and only had 5 starts. I would argue that this doesn't really bolster your case. He had Kerny and Jackson in front of him. Kerny had 5 sacks, but he's a veteran who has put up good numbers in his career so i'll excuse that. L. Jackson had 32 tackles and 4.5 sacks! If you had two DEs in front of him who were dominating out there, then maybe you'd have a case as to why Tapp couldn't get on the field. But he was the 3rd DE on a 5-11 team behind two DEs that had 9.5 sacks combined. I guess I just don't understand how you think that this all leads to him possibly getting more than 8 sacks this year. I trust your judgement on players, so if you tell me your gut just tells you that you think he'll be really productive then i'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but your defense of his playing time in seattle and conclusion that it will lead to big numbers here seems to be a bit of a stretch.

I like the M. Bell addition. If he was looking for a chance to prolong his career by not taking many hits, then this was a smart move for him. I'll set the line of # of carries this year for him at 55 and take the under.

ZackISM said...

Tommy,

You really think the team is better today? I don't but that's fine.

I guess my biggest problem with the off season is I know they are going to be relying on the draft.

You said Jordan is best suited as a back-up, you said Marlin Jackson needs to win a job. That means there is a free safety and a WILL that should be among the positions drafted.


Lets alos take into consideration we have a former 7th round SAM - who is severly under-sized (for what the Eagles ask them to do), a MIKE who is returning from a ACL tear, and a LDE who had the majotiy of his career sacks - which isn't exactly a lot - from the right side (if I'm not mistaken).

If this team is better on paper (it's razor thin - and I lean the other way). We're going to be asking a lot from a number of young players....which means if you are a betting man - put you're money somewhere other than Philadelphia - even with good odds.

ZackISM said...

@arby,

I'm sure there are a number of people who think I'm a typical tater where the off season was Peppers or bust - it kind of was - but my feelings are mostly that this team is moving the wrong direction.

It will be one thing if come September they've found McNabb a new home, and are admitting they are going young and re-building. But I'm not buying this as a championship calibur team. They weren't last year - and they haven't added any play makers yet.

Yeah maybe they'll draft the next Dwight Freeney and Troy Polamalu, but that seems like a very low likelyhood, but it seems to me - it's what they'd need to sell me a championship squad.

I can't agree with the timing of the cuts - there is no way our roster is better without Darren Howard, Will Witherspoon, Kevin Curtis, Brian Westbrook and Shawn Andrews. I've detailed that I understand the last three moves, they made sense, but we don't have better players. Chad Hall is a longshot to be better than the gimpy Kevin Curtis we have.

Howard & Witherspoon are another case all together. September 1st cuts - great, they were beaten out for their jobs (ala Jeremiah Trotter). March 10th-15th? Those cuts were all about finances....Those were cost cutting, salary reducing efforts. We don't have a better team without them. The same level? Maybe, better no.

Tommy Lawlor said...

Zack...

Please... Chad Hall is not the replacement for Kevin Curtis. The moves may have come near each other, but don't equate the two. Kevin was almost cut last year, but the Eagles kept him around just in case he got healthy or they got desperate.

Spoon is the only cut who had a good shot to make the team in 2010. Like I've said, let's see what happens.

Matt said...

@Cliff

Seattle just traded a bunch for Whitehurst and still have Hasslebeck as the starter. The interest may have been there for McNabb or Vick, but with the Whitehurst investment I'm not seeing it.

Jacksonville is an interesting idea. I thought they gave Garrard a ton of money two years ago. As a team in desperate need of funds, can they really pull a Carolina and get rid of their QB? Also, is Garrard that bad or is it the coaching/team?

Oakland is a good call that had fallen off my radar. They gave away next years first round pick already, would they do the same this year for McNabb?

Cards. With Leinart and Anderson in the fold (at decent money) I don't see an opportunity there.

And the Bills is the one team I have left as a last chance for hope.

So...I'm back to the Bills and maybe Oakland. I can't get away from the sinking sensation that we are going to have the same QB squad in 2010 and we will get zero value for the 2/3 that make sense to be gone.

ZackISM said...

Tommy,

I understand Chad wasn't brought here to "replace" Curtis - but we brought in 2 WR's and let go of two WR's. It's entirely possible their special teams ability is far better than Curtis' (I'd bet on that), but my point is we are letting go of guys - we don't need to prior to training camp.

You say only Witherspoon had a shot at making the roster - and that could be true - but sometimes competition brings out the best in a player. The Eagles appear to me - to be handing jobs over. Tapp has done nothing to win the LDE job. Jordan has a better case (but you've said yourself he's better suited as a back-up).

I just don't understand the timing. The timing is why I think they are about saving dollars (and it may not be a bad thing if a cap is put in place - just feels like it). We have less depth with these players off the roster than we would with them. We have less talent. Even if all 5 we're cut - the team could said they were beaten out for their job, right now, they are just saying, these players were over paid, I'm not how you see that as a long shot, or sterch. I guess we have differing opiinions (and obviously when it comes to what happens on a football field I'll defer to yours).

If Akeem Jordan tears his ACL prior to September - do you think this squad is better off with Witherspoon? If Tapp's ankle breaks? We've had some major injuries in camp - and often never had the back-ups in place...We had a couple guys we let go that would have provided at the very least a insurnace policy through camp - might have cost a couple million - but they paid Vick - I don't see what the difference is.

Eric said...

Tommy,

So Gocong is on the outs? I know people are somewhat doubting the Eagles would take a linebacker in the draft, but it could still be wise to grab someone like Weatherspoon and keep Gocong as a backup and a situational DE.

I just never understood why they play Gocong out of position. I understand he's supposed to be a cerebral guy, but at 6'3 270 and running a 4.7 40, he can't be effective as a situational DE?