Monday, May 10, 2010

Roseman's Rookie Year

***

The offseason is at that point where most of the moves have been made so we have a pretty good feel for the roster heading into Training Camp.  As I look at the team and each position group, I feel pretty good.  There are some questions at RCB and on the offensive line, but there are possible solutions in place at both spots.  If one guy emerges at CB we're okay.  If Stacy plays well at RG and either Cole or McGlynn looks good at Center, we should have a solid, if not good, O-line. 

The man who guided us through the offseason is General Manager Howie Roseman.  He has spent the last few years preparing for his turn at running things.  You know the old saying, "be careful what you ask for because you just might get it?"  Howie wanted to be GM.  He got it.  And he had a really complex offseason to deal with. 

First, the rules of free agency changed because of the CBA situation.  That limited our ability to add players.  It did keep some players on our roster, which allowed us to keep them as depth or use them in trades.   Still, this was a tough offseason for finding talent.  There just weren't good options on the open market.  The only free agent the team missed on that they really wanted was Julius Peppers.  I don't fault any one person in the Eagles front office.  Chicago basically went all out for Peppers and did everything humanly possible.  I'm not sure anything beyond a crazy offer was going to pry Julius away from the Bears.  We did land free agents Mike Bell, Hank Baskett, and Marlin Jackson.  Those guys are role players, but that is basically what was available this year because of the CBA restrictions.  
 
Howie was given the task of adding youth, speed, and talent to the defense, but doing so with one hand tied behind his back because of the limited market.  He didn't let that ruin our plans.  He got creative.  I thought Howie did a terrific job.  He made several trades and brought in multiple players to help us.  Some of the players will start.  Some will be role players.  Some will fail and get cut.  I liked the creative, aggressive approach that Howie and Andy Reid took.  We were as active as any team in the league.  Here is a list of teams that we either did make a deal with or I know for a fact we talked to seriously at some point:

-deals-

Seattle
Detroit
Washington
Cleveland
Dallas
Denver
Tampa Bay
San Diego
Green Bay

-serious talks-

Oakland
Buffalo

That is more than 1/3 of the NFL (11 of 31 for those scoring at home).  Not too bad when you consider the fact that Howie is new to his job and had to live with a hatchet job article by Michael Silver that labeled him as a "shakedown artist".  I'd say that Howie weathered that storm well and it proved to be written based on the grumblings of someone with several axes to grind.  Howie did well with trades.  He got us good players and at reasonable value.  Darryl Tapp could start for us if needed.  He only cost a 4th rounder and Chris Clemons (who wasn't a lock to make the team).  Ernie Sims cost just a 5th rounder.  He has the potential to be a real good WLB.  Alex Hall is a guy they like, but we're not quite sure where he'll end up (DE or SAM).

Howie also happened to take over at GM the year we decided to trade Donovan McNabb.  I think Andy Reid was the front man in those talks, but Howie was key as well.  You don't do a deal like that without a lot of phone calls to cover a lot of bases. 

I loved what Howie did in the draft.  He played the board to move up and back as it fit what we wanted to do in each round.  We were aggressive and smart.  We focused on certain areas and landed the players that we really wanted, with very few exceptions.  Time will tell whether we made good picks.  For now all we can judge is how we moved around and handled the situation.  If Howie had landed us a slightly better CB I'd be ecstatic.  I thought he did a very good job overall.  He might have landed us a couple of starters for the 2010 season in Brandon Graham and Nate Allen. 

What kind of grade do we give Howie for his first offseason?  I'm going with an A-. 

I'm sure some people will focus on Peppers and the inability to land a top shelf RCB.  I personally wasn't completely sold on Peppers and had my doubts about going after him.  I wonder if we'll regret not getting him or if this will be a blessing in disguise. 

As for RCB...we've discussed that spot quite a bit in the last couple of weeks.  I'm not happy with the uncertainty at the position, but I'm not sure what could have been done.  There weren't good choices in free agency.  There weren't any trade targets that I know of for a fact that I feel strongly that we should have gone after.   The CB draft class fell apart over time.  Character issues came up for some guys.  Slow 40 times hurt others.  Some guys showed poor COD ability.  We thought there would be 10-15 really good CBs, but that group shrank down to 5.  There was talent available after that, but the players each had some concern which knocked them down a notch.  The Eagles decided Trevard Lindley was a player they were comfortable and went after him in the early 4th. 

I'm not trying to give Howie a pass for RCB.  My point is that normally I would say why I disagreed with a move and would have given an example of what I'd have done.  Well, I wanted a pass rusher early in the draft.  We moved up and got one.  I wanted a quality FS prospect early.  We took one.  I also wanted a CB.  This is where things got weird. 

The top 5 CBs all went in the 1st round.  That surprised me.  I didn't see that kind of a run coming.  I guess I should have realized that meant there was a real drop-off from them to the next tier.  Onto the 2nd round.  Minnesota took CB Chris Cook with pick 34.  He was the only pure CB taken in the whole round.  Javier Arenas was nabbed by the Chiefs, but his ability as a RS was a major part of his value.  Think for a second about the fact that the 2nd round only had one pure CB taken.  That is wild.  After pick 37 our next selection was 55.  We dealt out of that down to #59.  We dealt out of that and into the 3rd round. 

There were 3 CBs taken to open the 3rd.  The Rams took Jerome Murphy, the Lions took Amari Spievey, and Tampa got Myron Lewis.  I've asked around to see if we "lost" any of these guys through our trading down.  I cannot confirm that any of them were on our board.   CB Kevin Thomas was taken by Indy and Brandon Ghee went to Cincy in the late 3rd.  The Titans surprised me by going for Alterraun Verner of UCLA just before our 4th round pick.  We got Lindley with the seventh pick of the 4th round. 

Here is what we missed on between pick 37 and Lindley:

Jerome Murphy - character issues
Amari Spievey - ran a 4.56 at his Pro Day
Myron Lewis -considered a CB/FS tweener
Kevin Thomas - serious injury concerns
Brandon Ghee - character issues and lack of production (only 1 INT in 3 years as starter)
Alterraun Verner - surprising pick...I thought athletic limitations would put him in the late rounds


I liked Murphy and Spievey, but had concerns with each guy.  Lewis had a down Senior year, but does have good potential.  Ghee is the guy I kept thinking we'd take.  I learned after the draft that there were some character issues that knocked him off a few draft boards.  It looks like we were one of those teams. 

On draft weekend I was frustrated by passing on Ghee.  Now that I know that there were outside issues I understand passing on him.  I would have preferred Walter McFadden of Auburn, but he slid all the way to the 5th round so it isn't like the Eagles passed on a slam-dunk prospect.  I just happened to like Walt better than Lindley.  I hope that Trevard, Dick Jauron, and Howie prove me wrong. 

The point of all this CB talk is that I don't think you can point to Howie making a clear mistake in how he handled the draft and the RCB position.  We all have ideas of what we might have done differently, but I didn't see anything that screamed "what the hell was he thinking???". 

Someone could raise the point about the fact we traded Sheldon Brown in the first place.  Trust me, that had to happen.  He wasn't happy here.  Sheldon has not been a happy camper since Asante landed here with his mega-deal in March 2008.  Sheldon didn't rock the boat publicly (to his credit), but he made it clear to team officials that he wanted out. 

Essentially I'm giving Howie an incomplete grade for RCB.   That spot is now at the top of the To Do list.  He can address it this summer, wait for someone to emerge, or make it the unquestioned priority next offseason.  If we have this same talk next May then Howie will have failed at RCB and I won't be a happy camper.  Let's just hope that doesn't mean that I get traded to Cleveland. 
__

19 comments:

N / said...

Cleveland would be lucky to have a starting fan of your caliber.

Any word on Macho & Marlin and what position(s) they'll likely line up at in training camp? I guess we probably won't find out until then...

Eric said...

I still say Macho is the guy when it's all said and done.

Cliff said...

I think I've spent more time today reading about Kolb than I have since we drafted him. First, the long analysis over at Bleeding Green Nation and then I saw the tidbit on Kolb on PE.com: He's the only QB of his draft class to be a lock to start for his team in 2010.

Anyway, that same article talked about CB David Pender as a RFA that could make the team. Since this post is mostly about our RCB position, where do you see Pender? How do you rate him? Does he fit in as an outside CB, nickel CB, or what?

Tommy Lawlor said...

I like Pender. I had him targeted for us as a 6th round pick. He's got good size and can run. He has lots of potential. Dick Jauron will need to really work with him, but David has NFL ability and could make the team.

Stephen said...

I feel like Sheldon was a good enough player to work to keep. Unless he wanted a real mega deal as well. I'm a big fan of his, I realize his play declined in the 2nd half of last year, but I feel like that was mostly the injury, aside from that one disasterous brain fart in the cowboys game. Its not like every other player out there doesn't make a mistake. He was solid all around, and even upped his interception totals this year. He was getting older though so we'd have to be looking to replace him in the next couple years anyhow, but I feel like we could have worked to keep him around in the meantime and groom someone in the background.

Edward said...

If the Eagles had given Sheldon a raise it would have set a precedent for paying players that wanted more but didn't necessarily play like they deserved it. I think Sheldon did deserve /some/ more money, but i can guarantee that amount would not be as much as he wanted.

I'm rooting for Macho at FS and Marlin at RCB. Nate Allen could win FS later in the year and Macho could go to Nickel CB. I think most of us like the way Macho players far to much for him to be on the bench.

Bit of business question Tommy, O.J. Atogwe is reportedly not going to sign his tender and thus become an UFA. Why don't more players do this? Seems many stand to make far more money by waiting.

I liked the Fandemonium article Tommy, LB is probably the best position on defence to watch except maybe safety and it'll be great if we can get plenty of plays from them this year.

Mike said...

I don't think you are allowed to calculate your GPA when you still have a incomplete on your record for that semester.

Brian said...

Tommy - any insight as to who had the axes to grind against Howie that led to the Yahoo article? Was it a former Eagle employee?

mosdefinite said...

i'd like to see Macho battling for the starting RCB position. he seems way to small (short and slight) to defend against NFL caliber TE's on a regular basis. but i do like his ball and COD skills. i'm not sure if he has starter talent but i think he has as much, if not more, potential than any of the other CB we have on the roster battling for the other starting spot.

Matt said...

Tommy,

Not sure what you are talking about with Ghee's character issues. I'm a Demon Deacon myself, spend way too much time following Wake Forest football, and had never heard bad things about him.
However, I was glad to see us pass on him---aside from the fact that recent wake db's have not yet panned out in the NFL (2007 3rd rounder Josh Gattis out of league, 2009 2nd rd alphonso smith couldnt see the field for Denver and the jury is still out on Chip Vaughn who was hurt last year) Ghee doesnt have the elite speed or production to satisfy the RCB void.

Get blog though, I check it everyday.

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: axe grinder

Probably Jason Licht. He was cut loose a couple of years ago. It seemed like he lost a power struggle and Howie Roseman was the main beneficiary.


RE: Ghee

I'm reporting something that was talked about in scouting circles. I don't know any specifics. Wake Forest is a very good school and runs a clean program, but we're still talking about football players. Aaron Curry had a couple of issues, but it was just minor stuff and didn't affect his value.

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: Howie's grade

There are circumstances beyond his control so I don't let the RCB situation affect the whole thing.

If there was a clear cut failure to make a pretty obvious move that would be different. Had we passed on a good CB for an OG prospect...that would be reason to blame Howie directly.

Jonathan said...

I know this is a big, huge, gigantic "if." However, if Marlin Jackson can stay healthy, why wouldn't he be our RCB? Is the concern he won't have the required speed now that he has had two ACL injuries?

Jeppe84 said...

Hi Tommy... First of all - thanks for an amazing blog! I log on every day hoping to see a new article! Is there any possibility that the Eagles accidently leaked their draftboard, like the Cowboys? I would LOVE to see it!!! How well would anyone be at guessing our board? There are surdenly some surprises on the Cowboys' board...

Jason said...

@Edward

I'm not sure O.J. Atogwe would become a UFA. If I understand correctly, if he doesn't sign his tender, his contract becomes guaranteed at 110% of his 2009 salary after some time in June. In Atogwe's case, that translates into a $7 million contract (as apposed to the $1.2 million contract he was tendered at). I think the UFA talk has been a result of speculation that the rams will not be willing to give Atogwe the $7 million (which may in fact be the case). As for why other players would not do the same thing, they usually are in a different situation. The tender offer given to them is usually already higher than the 110% salary increase, so by not signing the tender, they would actually lose money. Atogwe's situation is not the norm.

Myron said...

Several things they could have done differently regarding the RCB position:

1.) Go after Dunta Robinson in free agency. Instead, the Falcons snagged him.

2.) Instead of drafting Brandon Graham in the first round, sit tight and grab Kyle Wilson with the #24 pick. A top 3 CB with a low first round pick? That would have been nice, especially considering that RCB is a far greater need than LDE after the Tapp signing and the Brown trade.

3.) I still think that Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (sp) in the 4th round would have been a better selection than Trevard Lindley. The kid runs a legit 4.3 40 at 200-210lbs and 6'0", and the only thing really keeping him out of the first 2 rounds was the fact that he played in a small school against poor competition.

Myron said...

For the record, the grade on Howie's first offseason is mostly incomplete.

It all depends on how well Ernie Simms, Marlin Jackson, and Daryl Tapp play.

It also depends on whether or not Brandon Graham turns into a stud DE or if he fails to impress, and similarly, if Earl Thomas or Derrick Morgan (passed on at #13) or Kyle Wilson (could have been had at #24) becomes bigger stars than Graham.

Jason said...

@Myron

I agree with you that grading Roseman now is like grading a draft immediately after it happens. You can value the trades and moves at first glance, but the real grade will come after seeing how these players play on the field as Eagles.

As for Graham, I know you have been fairly vocal about your dislike for drafting him that high, but I think the real question will not be him vs. Thomas or even Wilson. Graham will have to do two things for me to think that he was a worthwhile pick. First, prove that he is an impact player. That's obvious and is first and foremost. If he can't become that kind of player within three years, he was a wasted pick. The second part is that he proves to be better than Morgan or JPP, two other DEs available at that pick that were rated highly. Honestly though, if Graham, Thomas, and Wilson all turn into Pro Bowl caliber players, I have no problem that we passed on them for Graham. Regardless of the need at CB, DE is such an important position thatI don't mind passing on a CB. And at safety, we still got Nate Allen. Again, obviously the story changes if Thomas, Wilson, or Graham bust, but we will just have to wait and see.

Ian said...

You guys forget that abiamiri is likely done for the year even with tapp here we needed help at D-line. If we can get pressure with only the front 4, and drop 7 back you can have OK DB's, it's not like we leave our guys on an island.


Who knows we might even switch to more cover 2