Saturday, February 24, 2018

An Early Look at the Eagles’ 2018 Draft

The annual NFL Draft over the past two seasons played an integral role in the Eagles’ recent run to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history. At the top of the list was a series of trades that allowed Philadelphia to select quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick of the 2016 draft. This gave the Eagles stability at their most important position. What Wentz has been able to accomplish in his first two seasons has laid the groundwork for a potential Super Bowl run every season he remains under center.

Going back to the 2016 draft, this was the first time that the duo of team vice president Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson worked together on the personnel decisions for the team. Fast forward to the team’s second pick in the fifth round when it selected TCU offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. He stepped in for Jason Peters early in the season and stepped up his game to fill a huge hole in the offensive line. In the seventh round they added safety Jalen Mills, who has gone on to become a key addition to the defensive secondary.

Moving on to last year’s draft, the Eagles went with defensive end Derek Barnett in the first round. Playing on one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, he made enough plays as a rookie to justify such a high pick. Cornerback Sidney Jones was a reach in the second round given his injury status, but he is the type of player that can make a huge contribution next season and hopefully for years to come. Mack Hollins was added in the fourth round to give the wide receiving corps some additional depth. He ended the regular season with 16 receptions for 226 yards and one score. This was well down the list on the team’s stat list, but productive none the less.

Turning to this year’s draft, Philly will have to wait until the final pick of the first round to go on the clock. One of the biggest areas of need would be on the offensive line even if Peters returns as the starting left tackle. Roseman and Pederson have done an excellent job of building this team from the inside out with a solid line on both sides of the ball.

Given that the Eagles will not pick again until the fourth round, their first-round pick could be the best available player at any number of positions. Some draft gurus have Philly taking Georgia running back Sony Michel at No. 32, but I still believe that it will be an addition up front. I would not rule out a defensive end or linebacker to add even more depth to one of the team’s strongest areas.

When it comes to the first of two fourth-round picks, I could see Pederson going with the best tight end on the board. Zack Ertz has developed into one of the best players at that position in the NFL, but Brent Celek is getting up there in years and early reports have Trey Burton testing the free agent market.

After that, it will come down to the best available player for the remainder of the picks, which include the second pick in the fourth round as well as two fifth-round picks and one more in the sixth. The dynamic duo of Roseman and Pederson have quite a bit less to work with in their third draft together, but the confidence level is rather high that they will make the most of the situation.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hey Philly, Buy that Eagle a Beer!

Before Philadelphia’s amazing run to its first Super Bowl title in franchise history even got out of the gate, Eagles’ right tackle Lane Johnson made the following statement back in August in an interview with ESPN.

“I have a lot to prove to this city. I think if we have a few big years and make the playoffs, if we win a Super Bowl, I’m giving out beer to everybody.”

Following Sunday’s amazing 41-33 victory against New England and against all odds as underdogs throughout the entire postseason, the good folks at Bud Light backed him up by announcing that they would buy everyone in Philadelphia a beer via Thursday’s celebration parade.

Philadelphia should be the ones buying this entire team a beer. Multiple beers for the rest of the time that each member of this team remains in the City of Brotherly Love. In fact, I would go as far to say that the entire 53-man active roster, anyone on IR, the practice squad, coaching staff and anyone else employed by Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles organization should never have to buy a drink again at any drinking establishment inside the five-county Philadelphia area. Throw in my old stompin’ ground in the Lehigh Valley, South Jersey and the entire state of Delaware for good measure.

The 2017 Eagles accomplished what 51 other team rosters could not. Two teams came close in 1980 and 2004 with Super Bowl appearances, but neither of those squads could seal the deal with everything on the line even with their starting quarterback (Ron Jaworski in ’80 and Donovan McNabb in ’04) on the field.

There were a few other good runs over the years, but somewhere along the line they all came up short.

I was hoping for a NFC East title this season after new head coach Doug Pederson led this team to seven wins in 2016 with first-year quarterback Carson Wentz at the helm. In my wildest dreams, I never expected to add a NFC Championship to the mix, let alone that oh so elusive Super Bowl title.

The 2017 Philadelphia Eagles will go down as being one of the best ‘teams’ to ever win a world title in the true sense of what being a team is all about. New England head coach Bill Belichick became well known for his simple mantra of ‘know your role, do your job’ and the Eagles followed that edict to a tee to beat the Patriots at their own game.

There are no egos on the 2017 Eagles. There are a number of great players, but no superstars that put their individual goals ahead of the collective goals of the group. You never heard a world from LeGarrette Blount when the Eagles traded for Jay Ajayi. Carson Wentz went out of his way to help Nick Foles prepare for this epic run while it seems apparent that Tom Brady did his best to run his backup Jimmy Garoppolo out of town.

Change is inevitable in the NFL and next season’s roster is bound to have a few new faces and a few missing from this year’s team. You wish you could hold time in a bottle and keep everything the same. However, that will (and probably should not) be the case.

The good news is that the basic core of this team will remain intact along with its heart and its sole. Doug Pederson should immediately be given a long-term contract (or at least longer than his current deal) and Howie Roseman should be given a huge raise. Signing existing free agents already on the team should be a top priority as opposed to shopping the market for players from other teams and keeping Nick Foles on the roster until Carson Wentz is 100 percent ready to go should be the plan at the quarterback position.

It is going to be a fun offseason for Eagles’ fans even if we have to wait until the 32nd pick of the first round of the draft for Philly to be ‘on the clock’. Wouldn’t you just love that to be the case every single year.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Eagles Head into Super Bowl LII with a Zero Margin for Error

I have covered this Sunday’s Super Bowl LII showdown between our beloved Philadelphia Eagles and the reigning champion New England Patriots from every possible angle in more than a dozen articles I have written for my various sports betting sites over the past two weeks. One of my goals in this thorough analysis of stats, facts and trends was to find a way that the Eagles could finally bring home a Super Bowl title against a team that has made a habit of winning world titles over the past 18 seasons with Bill Belichick in place as the team’s head coach and Tom Brady under center as quarterback.

This may be a rather obvious conclusion, but the only way I see Philly winning this game is with a mistake-free performance that is capable of scoring more than 24 points while holding New England to no more than this exact same amount. This means no interceptions, no fumbles, no bad penalties. It also means that head coach Doug Pederson must orchestrate a perfect game plan and quarterback Nick Foles has to execute it. It also means that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz must find a way to keep constant pressure on Brady with just his front four rushers to keep as many players in coverage as possible. Finally, if the Eagles are finally going to taste Super Bowl glory, they will have to play a full 60 minutes of football or longer in overtime if necessary to seal the deal.

Playing with a zero margin of error is not easy to do against the Cleveland Browns let alone the New England Patriots, but that does not mean that Philly cannot pull off that third upset in a row. More than a few fans at Sunday’s game were expecting to cheer on the hometown Vikings and we all know how that turned out.

I have stopped short of making an actual prediction of which team wins this game since I honestly believe this matchup is too close to call. My homer pick would be the Eagles, but there is a reason why New England is going for its sixth Super Bowl in the Belichick/Brady era. The one pick I will make is that the final score will be 28-24. For my complete game preview of Super Bowl LII in one of my articles for, please check out the link below.

LINK: Super Bowl LII Game Preview

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Eagles Hoping the Third Time is the Charm

The Eagles’ run all the way to Super Bowl LII has captivated football fans all across the nation given the obstacles they had to overcome just to get there. They have one last hurdle to clear to become unlikely world champions, but it is easily the biggest obstacle they will have to get over, under, through or around to achieve this loftiest of goals.

This is the same team that only won seven games last season with rookie head coach Doug Pederson at the helm and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz under center. The outlook for the 2017 season was positive, but Philadelphia was the third-favorite just to win the NFC East behind Dallas and New York. The Eagles got tripped up in Kansas City against Andy Reid and Co. to open their schedule at 1-1, but the next loss did not come until Week 13 against Seattle and the rest is history. Meanwhile, the Cowboys faltered in the absence of Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott to finish 9-7 and the Giants never even got out of the gate with a 3-13 record on the year.

The loss of Wentz to injury and the subsequent ascension of former Eagles’ starter Nick Foles to the man running the show on offense was supposed to result in an early exit from the playoffs as the top seed in the NFC. I was the one that proclaimed Foles the Eagles’ franchise quarterback of the future following his breakout season in 2013, but little did I know that then-coach Chip Kelly had alternative plans for that position. Fole's NFL career faltered over the next few seasons until he returned to the nest this past offseason. Wentz has obviously stepped up to fill that role for hopefully the next decade and beyond, but I could not be happier for Andy Reid’s third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

All told, the Eagles have a chance to finally win that elusive Super Bowl title in their third trip to the NFL’s biggest stage. They never showed up against Oakland in their trip to the Super Bowl following the 1980 season after head coach Dick Vermeil had that team wound tighter than a two-dollar watch. The Super Bowl appearance in the 2004 season looked good on paper with a 24-21 loss to New England, but the eventual outcome of that game was never really in doubt.

The odds have been stacked against Philly throughout the postseason and the underdog role suits this team well. The one encouraging thought about facing Bill Belichick’s Patriots with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady under center is the fact that this duo’s only two losses in the Super Bowl along with their five victories came against a NFC East team that was given no chance to win either game. If Foles can take a page out of Eli Manning’s two magical Super Bowl performances against New England, then the third time just might be the charm.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Eagles Flying High as Underdogs

The minute that Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 14 of the regular season, the Eagles were destined to play the role of underdogs in any postseason game they played with his backup Nick Foles in the starting role at quarterback. Even when Philadelphia clinched the top seed in the NFC to guarantee that it would have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, the word out of Las Vegas from the folks that set the betting odds for the games confirmed this notion.

Last Saturday against Atlanta in the Divisional Round, the Eagles used their bruising ground game combined with some high-percentage pass plays to score just enough points (15) to win that game to move to 14-3 on the year. The real credit goes to a defense that held the high-powered Falcons’ offense to 281 total yards and more importantly to just 10 points on the scoreboard. I would expect head coach Doug Pederson to rely on the exact same game plan to launch the Birds into their third Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

Apparently, there was a run on dog masks this week in advance of this Sunday’s NFL Championship matchup against the Minnesota Vikings after Lane Johnson and Chris Long donned a dog face for the postgame celebration at Lincoln Financial Field in last week’s win. The entire team appears to relish the role of underdogs which can be a powerful motivational tool when you have the talent to fully utilize this high level of emotion on the field of play.

I am not discounting what the Vikings have been able to accomplish this season with an identical 14-3 run through their first 17 games, but I would also be quick to point out the way they won their Divisional Round matchup against New Orleans on a miracle 61-yard touchdown with no time left on the clock. Some football experts might suggest that this improbable victory gives Minnesota an edge in momentum coming into Sunday’s game as a three-point road favorite. I would suggest that the memory of how the Vikings blew a 17-point halftime lead while getting completely outplayed in the last two quarters of that game has to creep into this team’s suddenly fragile psyche.

The biggest edge that Philadelphia has in this conference title showdown along with playing the role of underdog is the game being played at the Linc. Other than a garbage loss to Dallas in Week 17, the Eagles have been dominant on their home field all season long. There is a reason why earning the top seed in the conference carries so much weight in the NFL playoffs.

My guess is that Minnesota gets too caught up in playing the Super Bowl in its home stadium that it forgets that it must get there by beating an extremely hungry pack of dogs on the road.