Monday, March 15, 2010

Mike Bell Coming To Town


The Eagles will be hosting free agent RB Mike Bell on Tuesday.  Good move.  The RB I coveted was Justin Fargas, but there are injury concerns with him.  Bell is a similar player so the Eagles and I are on the same page.

Bell is 6'0, 225.  He has a thick, sorta squatty build.  He lacks breakaway speed, but has enough burst that he can break off the occasional 20 or 30 yard run.  Bell is a one-cut runner.  He likes to stay N-S as much as possible, but if given a cutback lane he can see it and has the ability to get there.  That shows he has good feet and body control.  Bell runs behind his pads and is a physical back, but he's not a power runner that will just steam roll tacklers. 

He played a lot as a rookie with Denver and then this year with the Saints.  Bell was quiet in 2007 and '08.  This year he was 172-654, 3.8 ypc.  He ran for 5 TDs.  He only caught 4 passes so that is something he'll want to work on.  He's only got 26 in his career.  He did catch 50+ passes in college and showed the potential to be a solid pass catcher out of the backfield.

Bell would give us a nice complement to LeSean McCoy.  We need someone that can come off the bench for 8-10 carries a game and be effective.  Bell also can be a good short yardage and goal line runner.  Him running behind Leonard Weaver gives us a good combo on 3rd/1.

Bell is a RFA, but the Saints tendered him low.  No compensation is required.  They kept the right of first refusal, but New Orleans has a crowded backfield with Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, and Lynell Hamilton already in place.  Chances are the team that signs Bell will be free and clear.

The addition of Bell wouldn't rule out the Eagles taking a RB in the draft.  Since 2004 we have not had a RB by committee approach.  Brian Westbrook was so good that Reid wanted him on the field as much as possible.  Shady is a good young RB, but hasn't shown anything so special that you feel obligated to make him "the man".  I'd like to see us add Bell and then a bring in a rookie to challenge Eldra Buckley for his spot.  I want to get back to the days of using all 3 RBs on a regular basis.  That is one NFL trend I'd definitely like the Eagles to follow.

Mike Bell at


RE:  1st Round DE?

Not going for Edwards doesn't mean the Eagles are definitely thinking DE in the 1st.  With Trent Cole and Juqua Parker in place we won't reach for a DE.  They'll only take a position due to need if there is a huge hole to fill.  In 2003 we had to go DE.  Our projected starters were ND Kalu (career backup to that point) and Derrick Burgess (coming off a major injury).  We traded up for Jerome McDougle and the rest is history. 

RE:  Graham / Morgan

Brandon could easily go in the 15-20 range.  He is the kind of guy that some teams could absolutely love due to his motor, speed, production, and toughness.  I wouldn't be shocked to see him go before Morgan, but I think most 4-3 teams will prefer Derrick.


Tommy Lawlor said...

I know there was some talk about the running game in the last set of comments. I didn't have time to get into that this time around. I know it is a subject that needs discussion.

Stephen said...

Is there ever a time when people aren't talking about the running game? :)

I like Mike Bell, I think that would be a real solid addition and I'm surprised he hasn't garnered more interest around the league.

T_S_O_P said...

I want to get back to the days of using all 3 RBs on a regular basis.

Forget coaching, I'll promote you to Eagles OC now. Realistically, Bell or whoever Bell turns out to be will get 3 - 5 carries a game, and some of those will be "clock runner outers".

izzylangfan said...

The thing I like about Mike Bell and Justin Fargas as well is that they would be good in third and two, fourth and one type situations. In addition Bell with a 3.8 average should be good on first down for 3 or 4 yards to give McCoy a rest.

While I thought that last year the Eagles showed vast improvement in short yardage pick ups they did it without a true short yardage back. This year they seem committed to that concept. In the past they wanted backs that were more like Brian Westbrook and weren't looking for a change of pace type back. So I'm wondering if there hasn't been a bit of a shift in terms of the overall approach to the running game.

Tyson said...

Our short yardage back is Leonard Weaver. What we need is a home run hitter like Felix Jomes, Jamaal Charles or Darren Sproles. Shady doesnt have the speed to be that type of player.

izzylangfan said...

Weaver has big play potential and we use him in a wide variety of ways. But if we have Waever and a short yardage back in the backfield the defense will be a bit harder pressed to key on the right one. I agree with Tyson as to what kind of back we should draft in April, particularly if we sign Bell.

Myron said...

TSOP: Regarding your comment about Drew Brees and the balanced attack being the key to Super BOwl success... you're dead wrong.

The #1 reason the Saints won the Super Bowl this year was improved defense.

Remember in 2008 that Drew Brees almost set the single-season yardage record, coming close to Dan Marino's record of 5000 some yards. Their offense was never a problem. The defense was atrocious until they got some decent DBs this year, and a competent DC. Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter (who was an injured rookie last year), and Greg Williams deserve all of the credit for taking a team with the #1 offense year-in and year-out and turning it into a competitor by improving the defense.

You simply can't compare McNabb to Brees. Brees is elite, McNabb isn't. Brees has been elite for the past 4+ years. 8-8 and 7-9 are ALL ENTIRELY on the defense, if you look into the stats and watch the games.

Myron said...

Tommy: The more and more tape I watch of Graham, the more I come away thinking this kid is going to be a Dwight Freeney-like prospect in the NFL as a 4-3 end. Not only is he an explosive rusher with a plethora of moves, but he's also stout against the run, which is what you want in your LDE.

If he's still on the board @ #24, and the Eagles pass on him for any other player (especially OG or C), I'm going to flip my lid. The draft will be a failure, in my eyes, if this happens.

There is no player that they can take in the draft this year that will have a greater net positive impact on the success of the team than a stud DE. If you can project that a certain DE will be a stud, or close to it, taking that player will do more to improve the team than taking any CB, LB, or OL. We all know the heirarchy of positional value: QB, OT, DE. And I have a strong feeling that Graham will be a stud DE at the next level.

It's not about reaching for a position of need; it's simply about taking the player with the most positional value. Say the Eagles are really high on Mike Iupati or Kyle Wilson at #24, but Graham's still there. *IF* you can project that Graham will be an impact DE in the NFL, taking either Iupati or Wilson, no matter how great each may be at their respective position, will be a failure, because a stud DE will always be more important than a stud OG or a stud CB.

T_S_O_P said...

@ Myron

Here are the stats from which Idrew my conclusions.

2006 (10-6)
Saints Offense
Rank # 1 Passing Attempts
Rank # 3 Passing Yards
Rank # 12 Rushing Attempts
Rank # 7 Rushing Yards
Saints Defense
Rank # 3 Passing Yards
Rank # 30 Passing TDs
Rank # 23 Rushing Yards
Rank # 7 Rushing TDs

2007 (7-9)
Saints Offense
Rank # 1 Passing Attempts
Rank # 3 Passing Yards
Rank # 26 Rushing Attemps
Rank # 28 Rushing Yards
Saints Defense
Rank # 30 Passing Yards
Rank # 31 Passing TDs
Rank # 13 Rushing Yards
Rank # 3 Rushing TDs

2008 (8-8)
Saints Offense
Rank # 1 Passing Attempts
Rank # 1 Passing Yards
Rank # 26 Rushing Attemps
Rank # 28 Rushing Yards
Saints Defense
Rank # 20 Passing Yards
Rank # 23 Passing TDs
Rank # 17 Rushing Yards
Rank # 15 Rushing TDs

2009 (13-3)
Saints Offense
Rank # 15 Passing Attempts
Rank # 4 Passing Yards
Rank # 7 Rushing Attemps
Rank # 6 Rushing Yards
Saints Defense
Rank # 27 Passing Yards
Rank # 26 Passing TDs
Rank # 17 Rushing Yards
Rank # 21 Rushing TDs

I hope that shown that it doesn't matter how many yards a QB throws for if the team he plays for have such a dire running game in terms of use and uefulness. The contast in the stats is not in D but in balance and effectiveness in there offense. As regards defense, every part of my original statement stands. The Saints D is no better than average... at best!!!

Stephen said...

I think it was a twofold improvement for the Saints. They got a bit better on defense (mostly through more opportunistic takeaways and better QB pressure) and they systematically overhauled their approach to the running game.

Both moves paid off, and in combination with Sean Paytons creative offensive gameplans, they managed to have an awesome season.

Andy should take notes on what Sean Payton does in regards to offensive planning, Payton does the creativity thing the right way.

Myron said...

TSOP: Those stats are very misleading because:

1.) Rushing yards and rushing attempts do not correlate with victory. Instead, rushing attempts and rushing yards can be the result of a team running the ball at the end of the game to preserve the lead. The thinking of "running the ball to win" is a fallacy:

"There are two reasons why nearly every beat writer and television analyst still repeats the tired oldschool mantra that "establishing the run" is the secret to winning football games. The first problem is confusing cause and effect. There are exceptions -- usually involving the Indianapolis Colts without Bob Sanders -- but, in general, winning teams have a lot of carries because their running backs are running out the clock at the end of wins, not because they are running wild early in games."

Read the section there entitled "ou run when you win, not win when you run."

2.) The defensive stats are very misleading as well because they lost their two starting cornerbacks (Porter and Greer) toward the end of the year, and subsequently reverted back to bad pass coverage for the last few games of the year, until the playoffs when Greer and Porter returned. Those games skewed the stats to make the defense look less effective than it actually was for the majority of the year and later in the playoffs.

If you instead look at the defensive DVOA of the Saints until the Greer/Porter absence, they had one of the top passing defenses. Bad running defense, but this was masked because the offense would force the opponent to pass to attempt to get back into the game, and thus rely on the passing attack which was shut down by Greer, Sharper, and Porter.

T_S_O_P said...


After readng those stats you stand by this?

"The #1 reason the Saints won the Super Bowl this year was improved defense.

Remember in 2008 that Drew Brees almost set the single-season yardage record, coming close to Dan Marino's record of 5000 some yards. Their offense was never a problem."

In the bottom 25% rushing O is a problem regardless of the reasons behind it. The 2007, 08 offense would not have won the Superbowl this year with the 2009 D

Myron said...

You should read that FO FAQ that describes why winning teams have high rushing stats.

High rushing stats mean that a team is playing with a lead in the majority of its games. The real reason that the 2008 Saints had such few rushing attempts and so many passing attempts is because they were forced into shootouts in many of their games due to a shoddy secondary.

With an improved secondary in 2009, they could limit the number of passing attempts necessary to mount a lead and instead ice the clock with rushing attempts.

The yardage gained per attempt and the total yardage remained similarly high due to the elite nature of Drew Brees and the offense in general, however, despite the number of passing attempts decreasing.

Because the 2008 Saints offense was mostly carried over into 2009 season intact, I do stand by the opinion that the 2008 Saints offense would win the Super Bowl with the 2009 Saints defense.