Friday, August 18, 2017

Newest Eagle Make a Big First Impression

In one of my previous posts on EaglesLincs, I talked about the crowded situation in the Eagles' current receiving corps. A day later, the team decided to make some room on that list by trading Jordan Matthews and a third round pick in next year's draft to Buffalo for cornerback Ronald Darby.

Given Matthews potential with second-year quarterback Carson Wentz throwing him the ball along with his positive impact with the rest of the team in the locker room, many players and fans were upset to see him go. The reality of the NFL comes down to winning games and sometimes that calls for tough decisions that are designed to ultimately make the entire team better at the expense of losing highly popular players. Darby took the first step towards making this trade a huge plus for the Birds' beleaguered defensive secondary with his play (ironically enough) in Thursday night's 20-16 victory over the Bills.

The third-year vet out of Florida State's biggest play of the night was a 48-yard interception return and he was also instrumental in breaking up a pair of Buffalo pass plays to help seal Philly's first win of the preseason. It was no big secret that one of the biggest areas of concern heading into the 2017 regular season was the shaky play of the cornerbacks that were already on the roster before this trade. The addition of Darby adds some much needed stability in the secondary and his presence in the defensive backfield has the potential to actually elevate the play of the front seven.

Matthews will be missed and the offense now needs players such as Nelson Agholor and rookie Mack Hollins to step up their games to help fill the void. However, Darby's early play is encouraging enough to justify this recent trade.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Three Main Takeaways from Eagles' Preseason Opener

The Eagles opened the 2017 NFL preseason with a 24-9 loss to Green Bay on this road. This is the time of the year when you have to focus on individual performances as opposed to the scoreboard since the idea of winning the game is a pretty low priority on the list. These early exhibition games are more of an extension of training camp in an effort to translate what happens at practice to actual execution on the field. This dynamic will shift a bit heading into the next two preseason matchups with a higher focus on outscoring the opposing team before Game 4 is used to determine which players deserve a spot on the final 53-man roster.

When it comes to Philadelphia's player performances in Thursday's game against the Packers, I came away with three main observations from what happened on the field.

1-Eagles are Ready to Fly in Carson Wentz's Second Season at the Helm

While the second-year quarterback out of North Dakota State only played one series, it was enough to give his team an early 6-0 lead against most of Green Bay's starting defense. He went 4-for-4 for 56 yards including a big fourth down conversion as well as a 38-yard scoring strike to rookie Mack Hollins, who added some nice yards after the catch to make his way into the end zone. Wentz looked extremely comfortable under center and while a winning record and return to the playoffs cannot be built around one scoring series in the first preseason game, he has definitely caught our attention heading into next week's game at home against Buffalo.

2-Rookie Derek Barnett is the Real Deal

Defensive end Derek Barnett was the Eagles' first round pick in this year's draft at No. 14 overall and the former Tennessee Volunteer helped validate that lofty draft position by recording two sacks, four tackles (including two for a loss) and a pair of hits on Green Bay quarterbacks. He is still second on the depth chart behind Vinny Curry with Brandon Graham anchoring the other end of the line, but these early results could land him the starting role in the regular season opener against Washington if he continues to play like he did on Thursday night.


3-The Eagles could be Deeper than Expected at Wide Receiver


Second-year head coach Doug Pederson made a big splash this offseason in free agency with the help of team vice-president Howie Roseman with the addition of wide receivers' Alshon Jeffry and Torrey Smith to address one of the team's biggest needs on offense. While neither player factored into Thursday's game, a few of the wide receivers that did play made an early impact on what could turn out to be one of the most interesting roster battles moving forward. Incumbent No. 1 Jordan Matthews pulled down three balls for 18 yards in his limited time on the field while former No. 2 Nelson Agholar was blanked on the night.

Howard made a strong case for a roster spot on that 38-yard touchdown catch and run alone and he ended the game with four receptions for 64 yards. Second-year receiver Bryce Treggs threw his name into the mix by leading the team with seven catches on eight targets for 98 yards including a 38-yard reception of his own.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tips for Using Fantasy Football Rankings to Dominate Your League's Upcoming Draft

Whether you are an avid fantasy football fanatic entrenched in multiple leagues while also trying your luck at a multitude of online one-day fantasy leagues or just a casual fantasy fan trying to win your best buddy's league, there is one basic thing to keep in mind. To win your fantasy football league you need to first win your fantasy football league’s annual draft.

The most basic tool used for drafting your team is a fantasy football rankings list. This comprehensive guide can provide just about everything you need when it comes to sorting out the best NFL players by position in terms of their fantasy scoring potential for the upcoming season. There are a number of different fantasy football information sites that compile these ranking lists and while they all use the same basic criteria, the actual player rankings can still be vastly different from list to another.

Your job as team owner is to sift through all the available information on player rankings to come up with your own unique fantasy football player list that you can take into draft day with a high level of confidence. This can be easier said than done since anyone who participates in a fantasy football league is bound to be swayed by what you read and hear from the so-called experts out there. That is why it is beneficial to use at least two or three fantasy football rankings to try and come up with a consensus that makes objective sense to you. The key word here is ‘objective’ since you have to put aside the inherent bias that creeps into everyone psyche based on favorite NFL teams or favorite NFL players.

The dynamics of fantasy football change radically every season. You have your standout players that can be considered ‘blue chip’ picks, but really winning your fantasy league’s draft is more about the players you pick up in the later rounds. If you operate in an eight person league, you can almost script the first two or three rounds of the draft. With your customized fantasy football ranking list on hand, you will most likely go with the best available player on the board with your first two or three picks. The debate between taking a running back or a wide receiver in the first round rages on, but if you trust your rankings, then you should already know which player you are going to draft first.

Things start to get interesting once you move away from making the easy picks. If you did your homework by comparing the rankings from two or three fantasy football player lists, you are bound to come up with a few second-tier players that have scored well across the board. This is the best way to build the actual core of your team. Maybe you can find a running back that has some huge upside potential in 2017 based on the numbers he put up in the final few games last season.

Another tip to winning your draft is to make sure that you are up to speed on rookies since some fantasy football rankings do not include them in their lists or they are basically guessing on what their weekly point potential might be. One easy guide to putting a value on a first year player in a skill position is to check their betting odds to win NFL Rookie of the Year. Heading into last season, Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott was the odds-on favorite to win this award and we all know what kind of year he had.

Knowledge is king when it comes to dominating your fantasy football draft and it all starts with taking the time to put together your own player ranking list that is a product of all the information that is out there.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Expectations are Running High as Eagles Open Training Camp

Last year at this time, the Eagles were just a blip on the NFL radar screen when all 32 teams went back to work to prepare for the upcoming season. Doug Pederson was in place as the team’s new head coach in light of the failed “Chip Kelly Experiment” and Sam Bradford was in place as the incumbent starting quarterback while the Birds’ top draft pick Carson Wentz was relegated to No. 3 on the depth chart.

I distinctly remember having to search long and hard for any type of news on the team when it came to national sites such as NFL.com and ESPN.com. The Eagles were picked to finish last in their division and their projected win total stood at seven games. Both of those projections held true with a 7-9 record and last-place finish in Pederson’s first season as a NFL head coach, but the winds of change were in the air.

Flash forward to the present and the expectation level for the Eagles this season has moved in the right direction with a projected third-place finish in the NFC East behind Dallas and New York to go along with their projected eight-game win total. That may be the national view, but the bar has been raised much higher than that from the Philly faithful with summer camp in full swing.

Wentz showed flashes of greatness in his first 16 games as the Eagles new franchise quarterback, the defense took a big step forward last season under the guidance of Jim Schwartz as the team’s new defensive coordinator and you have to be impressed with the front office’s aggressive offseason moves to address some of its biggest needs. With the addition of offensive weapons such as wide receivers’ Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith and running back LeGarrette Blount as free agents along with Derek Barnett and Rasul Douglas on the defensive side of the ball through the draft, there has been a major upgrade in personnel over the past few months.

The Eagles still have more questions than answers since everything looks good on paper and it still comes down to winning games on the field, but I do think it is safe to say that expectations are running high for bigger and better things from the Birds in 2017.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Eagles Open Camp at Nova Care Center on July 24


Philadephia Eagles 2017 Summer Training Camp

Rookies: July 24

Veterans: July 26

First practice: July 27

Site: NovaCare Complex

Location: Philadelphia


The Eagles officially open their 2017 training camp on Monday, July 24 with rookies reporting to the Nova Care Center in South Philadelphia. The veterans are set to report two days later with the first full team practice scheduled for Thursday, July 27. It is an exciting time to be a Philly fan with the addition of free agent wide receivers' Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith and running back LaGarrette Blount to the offense and rookie defensive end Derek Barnett and cornerbacks' Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas to the defense via this year's draft.

Philadelphia went 7-9 in Doug Pederson's first year at the helm as head coach and the pieces are now in place for bigger and better things in 2017. While the Birds are not favored to win the NFC East this season behind both Dallas and the New York Giants, the ever-revolving spot at the top of this division has continually been up for grabs over the past several years. In fact, you would have to go all the way back to 2004 to find the last time that the reining NFC East Champion repeated as the top team the following year with the Eagles laying claim to their fourth-straight division title in a run that also included four-straight trips to the NFC title game and one run to the Super Bowl.

I may be a homer, but I like the Birds' chances to win the division this season as much as any other team in the NFC East. Dallas went from just four wins in 2015 to an impressive 13-3 last year behind a pair of rookies named Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The problem for the Cowboys this time around other than playing a first-place schedule is that they are not going to sneak up on anyone. Defensive coordinators have a knack for scheming against an opponent's top weapons on offense and both of these standouts could be headed for a sophomore slump. The Giants could be the team to watch in this division in 2017 after jumping up to 11 victories last year. This followed three seasons of a sub-.500 record so the big question heading into this year's campaign is which direction does New York go in 2017?

Washington has been an up and down team for the past few years. The Redskins won the NFC East title in 2012 with a record of 10-6 before plummeting to just three victories the following year. After going 4-12 in 2014, the Skins managed to win nine games the following season to claim the title again. Last year's 8-8 record puts Washington into a very interesting situation this year; however most of the NFL experts have the Redskins to bring up the rear in the NFC East this season.

It all gets started in late July in what should be one of the most interesting division title battles in the NFL this season.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Eagles to Add to Your 2017 Fantasy Football Lineup

Any true Eagles fans will add at least one or two Birds to their fantasy football roster even if there are some better players still available on the wavier wire from other teams. Last year I had tight end Zach Ertz on my fantasy team all season long and I jumped back and forth with Darren Sproles as one of my running backs. I went on to win the regular season, but my march to a championship ended in the first week of the playoffs.

There is still plenty of time to fine-tune your draft strategy for this year's fantasy football season, but I am already plotting as to which Eagles I plan to grab ahead of some of the other die-hard Philly fans in my league. I would definitely go with Ertz again as one of two tight ends, but my top target would have to be newly added wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey. I know of at least three other league members (you know who you are) that will be chomping at the bit to get the Eagles' new No. 1 receiver ahead of me, so I just might have to make him my first round pick. In all seriousness, he is probably the highest ranked fantasy player that Philadelphia has to offer.

Next on my list of targets would be running back LeGarrette Blount as another new offseason addition. He scored 18 touchdowns last season in New England and I could easily justify giving him a spot on my team even if this number gets cut in half in 2017. I am also open to picking up wide receiver Jordan Matthews a bit later in the draft. You already know that opposing defenses are going to scheme against Jeffrey and possibly even Torrey Smith which could open up some scoring opportunities for the Eagles' former No. 1 target in the passing game.

The big dilemma I will face is what to do about quarterback Carson Wentz. I know that someone else in my league will draft him, so I might have to make a bold move to draft him first. The added weapons this offseason add some serious value to his point potential. I still love Drew Brees or possibly Aaron Rodgers as my top signal caller, but I do not want to be that guy that missed the boat on the next big thing when it comes to fantasy football quarterbacks.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Key Takeaways from the Eagles' Recent Minicamp

The big news in Philly this week was the Eagles' recent minicamp that ran from Tuesday through this past Thursday. While nothing is ever won or lost in a series of practices that are meant to set the stage for training camp later this summer, they do give us a quick peek at which players might have the biggest impact on turning things around from a 7-9 campaign in 2016.

At the top of the list would be second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. Most NFL experts would call his rookie season an overall success in light of the talent he was surrounded by, but the bar has definitely been raised heading into this season with the addition of Alshon Jeffery at wide receiver and LeGarrette Blount as the new lead running back in the ground game. Both players are major upgrades at their position and they should both work to take some of the pressure off of Wentz to try and carry this team on his own.

The Eagles used the draft to upgrade its defense both upfront and in the secondary, but it is still going to take some time to see if these additions can have a major impact on a unit that ended the 2016 regular season ranked 12th in the league in points allowed and 13th in total yards allowed. Statistically, this was a major improvement from a disastrous showing in Chip Kelly's final season at the helm as head coach; however there are still some major question marks with the team's defensive backfield. First round pick Derek Barnett at defensive end should immediately improve a pass rush that was tied for 16th in the NFL in sacks (34) last season. This, in turn, should also work to take some of the pressure off the secondary if everything goes according to plan.

The biggest takeaway from this week's practices is a renewed sense of optimism that there is enough talent on this roster (on both sides of the ball) to successfully compete for a NFC East title this season or at the very least a wild card spot in the playoffs. As one of the biggest homers there is when it comes to our Beloved Birds, I would have to wholeheartedly agree with this assessment.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Why I am an Eagles Fan

Bleeding Green Nation is arguably the No. 1 Eagles' blog in the game today and one of the most popular sport's websites in the country overall. It is currently asking its loyal readers to send in posts on why they are an Eagles' fan. This got me to thinking of why I am an Eagles' fan and I came up with the following conclusion; I had no choice.

While all the kids at St. Anastasia Grade School in Newtown Square were running around in their Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins jackets given each team's success in the Super Bowl in the late 60's and early 70's, I always came to school in Eagles' green. When Philly did win the NFL Championship in 1960, my father decided to give the local team the kiss of death by becoming a season ticket holder the following year. The Birds went 10-4 that season but it was just a mirage. In the year of my birth in 1962 they only won three games to kick off a run of 14 losing season's in the next 16 years. They did post a 9-5 record in 1966 when Norm Snead was still the starting quarterback and they managed to break even at 7-7 in 1974 with Roman Gabriel under center, but that was it Eagles' fans...and when my older brother stopped going to the games I had the unique privilege of sitting through one miserable loss after another. My fondest memory was our annual ass kicking at the hands of Washington Redskins in the cold pouring rain at Veterans Stadium. My dad never and I mean NEVER left a game before the final gun no matter what the score, no matter what the weather.

The 1996 season was a turning point for the franchise with arrival of former UCLA head coach Dick Vermeil is his first stint in the NFL. This kicked off a seven-year run that saw the Eagles make the playoffs four years in a row including a trip to the Super Bowl in 1980. It was like going to heaven after escaping the gates of hell. The highlight was the NFC Championship when Wilbert Montgomery ran up and down the field against the hated Dallas Cowboys in one of the coldest games ever played at the Vet.

The Eagles would make a few more playoff runs under Buddy Ryan in the late 80's and Andy Reid during his very successful 14-year tenure as head coach from 1999 to 2012. My dad grew ill and gave up his season tickets when Philly made the long awaited move to Lincoln Financial Field. He passed away in 2004 having never tasted the sweet smell of success that comes with actually winning a Super Bowl. We are all still waiting for our beloved Birds to make a championship run while having to watch every other team in the NFC East bring home multiple world titles for their loyal fans.

Washington's last Super Bowl run was back in 1987, but that franchise has two titles to its credit. The New York Giants have had the most recent success with Super Bowl victories in 2007 and 2011 as part of their four world titles and the Dallas Cowboys top the list with five Super Bowl rings after winning it all in 1996. It is pretty obvious that the Eagles have lagged woefully behind their division peers with their 0-2 record on the NFL's biggest stage.

I know why I am an Eagles' fan and why I will always be loyal to the only team I have ever known. Over all of these years, Philly's bandwagon has been empty and it has been standing room only; however the one constant has been the bleedin green, snow ball throwing, knucklehead 700 level fans that still keep the faith. I am proud to say that my entire family is part of this tortured clan. Conversations still revolve around the free agents added in the offseason, the rookies that hold our future in their hands and the rest of the players that we cheer and quickly boo each and every Sunday come fall. It is in our blood, a part of our DNA. It is an affliction that cannot be cured. Super Bowl glory has eluded us for over 50 years, but come September we will all be back on the wagon for better or worse. Face it, anyone reading this post is an Eagles' fan and I personally thank you for your unending faith in the face of far too many disappointing losing seasons. One day that faith will be rewarded and as my dad would always say...I know that this is our year!



Friday, May 26, 2017

The Shining Stars in the Eagles' Recent OTA's

This is the time of the year when the long NFL offseason really heads into a lull. The height of the free agency signing period has come and gone and excitement of last month's draft in Philadelphia is starting to fade. We are still more than two months away from the start of training camp and the regular season opener the Sunday after Labor Day is hardly top of mind heading into the Memorial Day weekend.

The big thing going on this past week was the Eagles' recent OTA practices. The inside scoop from the good folks at Bleeding Green Nation, who actually go to things like this pointed to a couple of players who stood out from the rest based on their performance on the field. The ones that I would be the most interested in would be any of the new free agents as well as the Eagles' draft picks so it is good to hear that wide receiver Alshon Jeffery appears to be ready to make an instant impact in the passing game. Even better is the fact that they were also impressed with running back LeGarrette Blount as one of the newest birds in the nest. Both of these veterans have a chance to improve an offense that was ranked 22nd in the NFL last season in total yards per game.

On the defensive side of the ball, first round draft pick Derek Barnett received high grades from the BGN staff, but I am not really sure what for. These are practices without out pads probably run at three-quarter speed, but if those guys are excited about what they saw, then so am I. One of the most interesting takeaways was that third-year wide receiver and former No. 1 draft pick Nelson Agholor was also highly praised for his performance in the OTA's. It is amazing what someone can do when they are faced with the possibility of losing their spot on the roster. Maybe he is simply responding well to the Eagles' new wide receivers coach Mike Groh.

These early team activities are the first important steps toward building a winner in Philly, but it is hard to get all that excited because a professional football player catches the ball or looks sharp in a running drill. Right now, I am still much more focused on things such as getting my boat in the water or catching a ton of crabs for Sunday's dinner.

Friday, May 19, 2017

LaGarrette Blount Adds Some Much Needed Power to the Eagles’ Finesse-Style Ground Game

Last week in a post on Eagles Lincs, I talked about the team’s need to upgrade the running back position by signing LaGarrette Blount as a free agent after he played such an instrumental part in New England’s run to a Super Bowl title last season. I had no idea that my blog had so much influence on team vice president Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson, who both agreed with my stance by signing him to a one-year deal this week for a reported $2.8 million. Either that or common sense prevailed given what he brings to an offense that had major problems getting into the end zone running the ball last year.

The main reason why I was so high on Blount was the simple fact that he was the best option available at this point of the NFL’s offseason. There were trade rumors flying around for a number running backs including Mark Ingram from New Orleans, but none of these options appeared to be all that feasible when you consider what Philly would have had to give up in return.

The biggest benefit that Blount brings to the table as the newest Eagle is a power running game that can gain yards between the tackles, especially in short-yardage situations. The Birds still have Darren Sproles for outside speed and to catch the ball out of the backfield as well as Wendell Smallwood and rookie Donnel Pumphrey, who both mirror Sproles’ style of play. Signing Blount should give the Eagles’ rushing attack the balance it had been lacking the past few seasons.

With a solid ground game behind Carson Wentz and Philadelphia’s new-look passing attack that features both Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith as major upgrades at the wide receiver position, Roseman and Pederson get high marks from me for their offseason efforts to make this offense much more competitive against the likes of Dallas and New York in the NFC East. If some of their offseason moves on defense pan out as well, we could be looking at a legitimate run to actually winning a division title in 2017.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Eagles' Running Back Situation Still Needs an Upgrade

For the second year in a row under the Howie Roseman & Doug Pederson regime, the Eagles waited until the fourth round of the draft to address the team's pressing need at running back. They missed out on Christian McCaffrey in the first round and were unable to trade up in the second round to land Dalvin Cook. Instead, Philly used its second pick in the fourth round to select San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey.

Last year the Eagles added Wendell Smallwood out of West Virginia in the fourth round and with what now appears to be a running back-by-committee approach to their ground game , you have to question what the overall plan is to bolster a rushing attack that has now become the team's biggest hole to fill on offense.

It appears that the Birds are going to part ways with last year's rushing leader Ryan Mathews (661 yards) given his current salary and his inability to stay healthy for an entire season. That would leave 13-year veteran Darren Sproles as the team's top rusher after gaining 438 yards on 94 carries last year. Sproles was never a lead back in the NFL even when he was tearing things up for San Diego early in his career and given that he will be 34 by the time the 2017 regular season gets underway, you have to wonder when Father Time will finally catch up with him.

I was really high on Smallwood coming into the 2016 season and he has demonstrated the ability to take another step forward this year after gaining 312 yards on 77 attempts in his rookie campaign. The jury is still out on Pumphrey making a significant contribution in his first season at this level and the only other player on the roster that you can work into this mix would be rookie Corey Clement out of Wisconsin, who was recently added as an undrafted free agent.

In light of current situation at this position, I cannot help but think that Philly should continue to scan the free agent market for a veteran player that can come in and fill that role of an every down back. Trade rumors heated up with New Orleans about the prospect of adding Mark Ingram to the mix, but I do not think that the Saints are ready to go all-in on newly acquired running back Adrian Peterson as their full-time starter. Other possible candidates that have supposedly drawn attention via a trade are San Francisco's Carlos Hyde and Cincinnati's Jeremy Hill, but coming up with a workable deal for either one would be a longshot at best.

The one running back that would make the most sense is LaGarrette Blount, who is currently a free agent after his current contract with New England expired at the end of the 2016 season. Due to the Patriots employing a tender offer to try and resign him, Blount would now come at a price including a compensatory pick in next year's draft. DeAngelo Williams is still out there, but much like Sproles at 34-years old, he would only fill a specialty role in this offense. Some of the other available running backs include Rashad Jennings and Karlos Williams, but there are plenty of issues with both of these players to keep them off Philly's short list of options.

Short of an unknown trade or another free agent signing of a player not on the list above, I believe that Blount is the Eagles' best option to plug this hole. The guy ran for 1,161 yards and scored 18 touchdowns for the Patriots last season and at 30-years old he should still have enough gas in the tank to anchor the Eagles' running game for the 2017 season.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Eagles Look to Beat the Odds to a Winning Season in 2017

Heading into Doug Pederson's first season at the helm as the Eagles' new head coach, the Oddsmakers in Las Vegas had the Eagles pegged as a seven-win team when it came to their projected win totals for the 2016 regular season. The Birds held true to form with a 7-9 record on the year. Some of the top books in the sports gambling capital of the world recently released their win total projections for the upcoming season and Philly's total climbed to 8.5.

When you look how this projected win total compares to the rest of the teams in the NFC East, the Eagles appear to be in position to seriously compete for a NFC East Division title in 2017. Washington went 8-7-1 last season and its projected win total for next season actually dropped to 7.5 for 2017. The New York Giants clinched a wild card spot in the playoffs last season with a regular season record of 9-7 and they are expected to match that mark again in 2017 with a projected win total of nine wins. Dallas turned things around in a big way after sinking to just four wins in 2015 by posting the best record in the NFC last season at 13-3. The Oddsmakers are looking for Dallas to take a step backwards next season with a projected win total of 9.5.

Based on these numbers, the race to the 2017 NFC East title should be a good one that might just go down to the final week of the regular season when the Eagles play host to the Cowboys and the Redskins go on the road to face the Giants. I quickly went through Philly's regular-season schedule when it was first released in early April and came up with a projected record of 7-9, but following a fairly productive draft and a favorable stance from Las Vegas when it came to its win total projections, I am amending my prediction to 9-7. That may or may not be enough to land the Eagles back into the playoffs for the first time since 2013, but either way I do feel confident that they will remain right in the mix with New York and Dallas in the division title race.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Eagles Get Defensive in the NFL Draft

The speculation over which player Philadelphia would select in the opening round of this year's draft in front of the raucous home-town crowd continued all the way to Thursday night when Cleveland went on the clock with the No. 1 overall pick. A few mock drafts had the Birds adding another wide receiver with their 14th pick, but once Mike Williams and John Ross came off the board in the first 10 picks that plan came to an end.

Running back was another position the Eagles were looking to fill heading into the draft, but Leonard Fournette went to Jacksonville at No. 4 and Christian McCaffrey went to Carolina four picks later as the two top prospects in this year's class. There was some speculation that they would take former Florida State standout Dalvin Cook, but he remains on the board heading into Friday night's second round.

Everyone knew that Philly needed some help in their defensive secondary and both Marlon Humphrey and Adoree' Jackson were still on the board when the Eagles went on the clock at No. 14. However, team vice president Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson decided to go in a slightly different direction. It was no big surprise that they went with former Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett with that pick since he had been linked to Eagles throughout the entire draft process. He had a stellar three-year career as a Volunteer that was highlighted by breaking Reggie White's career record for sacks with 32.

The lone caveat to this pick was the fact that former Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen was still on the board at 14 and he eventually went to division rival Washington with the 17th overall pick. Looking back at most of the player rankings coming into this draft, Allen was expected to go in the first 10 picks. There was no real explanation why he dropped so far down in the opening round, but maybe the Eagles knew something that all the draft experts overlooked.

Both players are outstanding additions to their respective new defense and they are sure to be compared to one another over the next few seasons given that they will both be playing in the NFC East. Let hope that Barnett can continue to follow in the larger-than-life footsteps of No. 92 by breaking his NFL sack total someday.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Eagles Face the Redskins in Season Opener

The NFL released the dates and times for the 2017 regular season on Thursday; a week before the NFL Draft is set to get underway in the City of Brotherly Love. The Eagles will open their 2017 campaign on the road against a very familiar foe when they head to FedEx Field to play the Washington Redskins. The early betting line out of Las Vegas has Philly listed as a 2.5-point underdog in this matchup.

The Birds will stay on the road in Week 2 to face former head coach Andy Reid's Kansas City Chiefs before playing their home opener against the New York Giants in Week 3. We should get a pretty good idea of just how good (or bad) this team will be in these three tough tests. Week 4 takes Philly to the West Coast to face the San Diego Chargers before playing host to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5. The Eagles will then play a pair of night games in the next two weeks starting with a Thursday night road game against the Carolina Panthers before facing the Redskins for the second time this season on Monday night at home.

They will close out the first half of their schedule with a home game against San Francisco. Given the first eight games on the Eagles' 2017 schedule an even 4-4 record at this point could be considered a good start. Week 9 brings the Denver Broncos to Lincoln Financial Field in their third-straight home game. Following a bye in Week 10, the Eagles will go on the road in their first game of the season against Dallas in a prime time showdown on Sunday Night Football. The next three games are against Chicago at home followed by road games against Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams.

Given its schedule to date, I have Philly at 6-7 heading into the final three games of the year. Next up could be tough road game against the Giants before closing out the season at home against Oakland and Dallas. I have them squeezing at least one win in the closing trio of games for a second-straight season at 7-9.

Do not worry all you die-hard Eagles fans out there. These predictions are pre-draft and largely based on what all of the Eagles' 2017 opponents did last season. The NFL is still a league of parity that has a tendency to produce a number of new playoff teams each and every year. A couple of bounces of the ball in the Eagles' favor could easily turn this record to 9-7 and 10 wins is not out of the question. With five prime time games on the schedule, maybe the NFL knows something that I do not!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Are the Eagles Leaning Towards Dalvin Cook with Their First Round Pick?

It is common knowledge that the Eagles need a featured running back that can anchor the ground game in order to balance out their recent upgrades in the passing game via free agency. Ryan Mathews has not been the answer given his inability to stay healthy and Darren Sproules is not about to fill that role heading into his 13th season in the league. Last year, Philly used a fourth-round draft pick to select Wendell Smallwood out of West Virginia, but the jury is still out as to whether or not he can be an every down back at this level. I would have to put fourth-year back Kenjon Barner in the same category following three very pedestrian seasons with the team.

That leaves this month's NFL Draft, which just so happens to take place in the City of Brotherly Love, as the best venue for acquiring a player than can immediately step in and fill this role. Using a first round pick on a running back is not all that common of a practice in the NFL, especially as one as high as No. 14. However, it is hard to ignore just how much mileage Dallas got last season from former Ohio State standout Ezekiel Elliott as the fourth overall pick of the 2016 draft.

Draft guru Todd McShay as linked the Eagles to Stanford's Christian McCaffrey as a possible solution at the running back position, but I still think that Florida State's Dalvin Cook is at the top of the list. Just a few days ago on a local radio show he was quoted as saying "They’ve (the Eagles) been showing heavy interest in me and I loved the city when I went there. So everything is good". Most football experts have Cook as the top-rated running back in this year's draft so there is a chance that he may be already off the board when Philly in on the clock; however if he is still available it would give team vice president Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson a golden opportunity to fill the biggest remaining hole on the offensive side of the ball.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Eagles Ink Veteran's Chris Long and Patrick Robinson for Added Depth on Defense

Last week I talked about the Eagles possibly leaning toward taking a defensive end with the 14th overall pick of the draft, but it now appears that this move would be put on the back burner considering that they just turned to free agency to help fill that need. Veteran defensive end Chris Long came to terms on a two-year deal this week to join the nest after helping New England win a Super Bowl last season.

Long was a first round pick by the Los Angeles (then St. Louis) Rams back in 2008 out of Virginia and his best seasons as a pro were in 2011 and 2012 when he registered a total of 24.4 sacks. He recorded four sacks for the Patriots in 2016 in his only season with the team.

I still think that Philly goes with a defensive pick when it is on the clock in the first round of this year's draft, most likely at the cornerback position. In another move this week to address that very need, the Eagles signed free agent defensive back Patrick Robinson to a one-year deal. Robinson was a first round pick by New Orleans in the 2010 draft, but he spent last season with Indianapolis after a brief stop in San Diego in 2015. Plagued by injuries throughout his career, he has only played a full 16 games twice in his first seven seasons in the NFL.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Eagles NFL Draft Update- Thinking Defense in First Round

Philadelphia Eagles vice president Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson where able to address some of the team's biggest needs on offense through free agency with the signing of wide receivers' Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. There is still a glaring need at the running back position; however early indications point towards the Birds using their first round pick of this year's NFL Draft on the defensive side of the ball. Taking a cornerback with the 14th overall pick appears to be the general consensus given just how deep this year's draft class is at that position, but there are some rumblings that they may go with a defensive end to add some depth up front with the recent departure of both Bennie Logan and Connor Barwin.

Looking at the big board of any number of mock drafts, the one defensive lineman that could still be available at that 14th spot is former Tennessee standout Derek Barnett. A few other names that could be in the mix if the Eagles decide to go in this direction would be Takkarist McKinley out of UCLA and Alabama's Tim Williams.

Going back to cornerback as Philly's biggest need on defensive, it is probably just wishful thinking that Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore would still be on the board. This means that the Eagles would once again have to trade up to get the player they want, which is not an ideal situation for a team that has quite a few holes to fill in this year's draft. A bit further down the list are another two former Buckeyes at that same position. The first and most likely choice would be Gareon Conley, who has already shown up on NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper's board as the Eagles' top pick. The other prospect from Ohio State would be Malik Hooker, but he could be a bit of a reach this high in the first round.

The best thing about this year's NFL Draft is that it is being held outdoors at the Philadelphia Art Museum from April 27 to April 29. With the draft in our own backyard, the one thing that you can rest assured is that no matter which direction Roseman and Co. take when Philly is on the clock with that 14th overall pick, the home-town crowd will be sure to let them know exactly what they think about the player they select. If you think Donovan McNabb got booed way back in 1999 as the second overall pick in that year's draft, just wait and see how bad things get if the Philly faithful do not like this pick.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Is Former LSU Standout Leonard Fournette on the Eagles' Draft Radar?

It is no big secret that Philadelphia needs a major upgrade at the running back position to help the ground game complement its recently upgraded passing game. Speculation that team vice president Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson are high on Florida State running back Dalvin Cook as a possible first round pick in the upcoming draft is still running high, but you might want to add the name Leonard Fournette to this list.

Fournette first started garnering attention from pro scouts in his freshman year at LSU and he started high on the list of Heisman hopefuls in his next two seasons. While he never really lived up to all the hype, in all fairness the bar might have been set a bit too high given the Tigers' inability to live up to some pretty high expectations as a team. In three seasons with Louisiana State, Fournette rushed for 3,830 yards and 40 touchdowns while averaging a solid 6.2 yards a carry. He proved to be a bruising back that knew how to gain the hard yards when necessary. A few mock drafts have him off the board within the first 10 picks, but it could make for an interesting situation if he is till available when the Eagles go on the clock with the 14th overall pick.

Most experts still believe that Philly will target the top defensive back available when its first draft pick does roll around and I would probably agree given a high area of need in the Eagles' secondary. However, a fresh set of legs in the backfield would be an exciting addition to an offense that is suddenly looking like it has what it takes to be one of the more productive units in the NFL next season.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith Bolster Eagles' Receiving Corps

Last week I posted a piece on the Eagles' options to improve their receiving corps through free agency and on the first day of the new free agent season they came through in a big way by agreeing to a one-year deal with former Chicago wide receiver Alshon Jeffery after already inking Torrey Smith to a three-year deal as a free agent receiver out of San Francisco.

In that post, I questioned Philly's ability to land a high-profile player like Jeffery given the team's current strains on the NFL salary cap, but it started the process of making some room by releasing fan-favorite defensive end/linebacker Connor Barwin and his $7.75 million hit on the cap. It takes hard decisions to win in the free agent game and the mentality of this team appears to lean towards helping the offense at the expense of the defense. Standout defensive lineman Benny Logan was already given his walking papers which has to raise some concern for a unit that finished the regular season in the middle of the pack in total yards allowed.

Do not get me wrong, the addition of both Jeffrey and Smith immediately upgrades a passing offense that was 24th in the NFL in yards per game and it gives second-year quarterback Carson Wentz both a big target that can come down with the jump ball as well as a speedster that can bring the deep ball back into play. These moves also help to turn up the heat on Jordan Matthews to up his game as possibly the third-best receiver on this team right now. Rest assured that the heat will also get turned up pretty high on Wentz if he does not take full advantage of his two new weapons.

The Eagles still need to address their running game and there are more than a few holes on defense that could turn into huge craters if team vice president Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson do not start doing a much better job with the draft. I would not look for anymore big splashes in free agency given that the Eagles' cap situation could still be called tenuous at best, but they should be able to add a few pieces here and there to keep things moving in the right direction.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Eagles' Free Agent Plans at Wide Receiver

It is no big secret that one of Philadelphia’s most pressing needs this offseason is a major upgrade at the wide receiver position. The Birds tried to solve this problem a few years back by drafting Jordan Matthews in the second round of the 2014 draft before using a first round pick in 2015 to land Nelson Agholor. Both players have proven they can play at the next level, but neither one will ever be considered an elite wide receiver in the NFL.

After giving away the farm last year to move up and get Carson Wentz with the second overall pick of the 2016 draft, it is time to bring in some legitimate weapons to give the second-year quarterback a chance to live up to his potential. The quickest and easiest way to accomplish this goal is through free agency since you already know what you are getting in return for your money. With a number of high-profile wide receivers expected to test the free agent waters in the coming weeks, the question on every Eagles fan’s mind is which players they should go after.

DeSean Jackson was one of the most exciting wide receivers to ever play in Philly, but I do not think he is the answer should Washington decide to cut him loose. DJax would create a 'been there, done that' type of situation that could actually do more harm than good if he reverts back to some of his old selfish ways. Another name on the list could be Alshon Jeffery, who reportedly is looking to test the free agent market as opposed to staying in Chicago. That situation could turn into a bidding war with several teams and Philadelphia is not in the best of situations when it comes to NFL salary cap.

Moving down the list, names such as Kenny Britt (Los Angeles) and Kenny Stills (Miami) come to mind as potential targets. Both of these players are coming off big years which should boost their value on the open market. If I had to choose between the two, I see more upside in Stills given his relative youth.

Trade rumors surrounding New Orleans’ wide receiver Brandin Cooks have been linked back to Philadelphia, but it appears that New England has stepped to the forefront with an offer involving a first round pick.

A new name on the list could be Terrelle Pryor after he failed to come to terms on a new contract in Cleveland. Another Redskins' receiver that could find himself on the open market is Pierre Garcon, who has proven himself to be one of the more consistent players at his position. In this head-to-head matchup, I would opt for Pryor given his youth and incredible versatility as an all-around playmaker.

Brandon Marshall was given his walking papers by the New York Jets, but he is another wide receiver that comes with too much baggage to be a good fit in Philly. A few of the other big names on the potential free agent list include Victor Cruz (New York Giants) and Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay), but neither of those two players can make the major impact that the Eagles need from a new No. 1 or even No. 2 receiver.

The bottom line in this whole situation is that team vice president Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson have their work cut out for them when the NFL starts its new business year on March 9. They could opt to try and fill this need with the draft, but that strategy is what has gotten the Birds into this situation in the first place. While I am not exactly sure which available free agent receiver I would go after, I would not break the bank to get a deal done. This position may be at the top of the list when it comes to offseason needs, but there are plenty of other holes to fill on this team if the Eagles have serious plans to be competitive in the NFC East next season.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Eagles 2017 Draft Picks

Courtesy of my friends at Bleeding Green Nation, the following is the complete list of Philadelphia's draft picks this year after receiving an additional fourth round pick from Cleveland as a result of last season's trade with the Browns that brought Carson Wentz to town.

Eagles' 2017 NFL Draft Lineup

1st - No. 14 or 15 (from Minnesota) TBD with a coin toss at the NFL Combine

2nd - No. 42

3rd - No. 75

4th - No. 119

4th - No. 139 (from Cleveland)

5th - No. 154

6th - No. 197

7th - No. 232


In the coming weeks, I will be weighing in on which direction I believe the Eagles will take in this year's draft based on a number of areas of need.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Eagles Well Down the NFL Futures Odds List to Win Super Bowl LII

The confetti was still flying in the streets of Boston following the Patriots' incredible overtime victory in Super Bowl LI when the futures odds to win next season’s NFL title game were first released. As expected, New England has been opened as a +500 favorite to repeat. As far as the betting odds for our beloved Philadelphia Eagles, the current outlook is not as nearly as encouraging.

It should not come as any big surprise that Philadelphia is well down the list as a +5000 longshot to win Super Bowl LII after going 7-9 in 2016, but we also have to live with the fact that the Eagles have the longest odds on the board of any team in the NFC East. The Dallas Cowboys have been opened as +800 second-favorites to win it all next season after posting the best straight-up record in the NFC this year to earn the top seed in the playoffs. The New York Giants’ betting odds to win Super Bowl LII are set at +2000 and the Washington Redskins are next in the division at +4000 odds.

Looking back at Covers.com’s final football Power Rankings for the NFL this past season, the Eagles came in at No. 23 on the list, so there is some serious ground to make up in the NFC East in light of Dallas being ranked second and the Giants coming in at No. 7. Washington contended for the division title for most of the season, but it faded to No. 20 on Covers' list with just two victories in its last six games.

The good news for tortured Eagles’ fans is that the precedent for a worst-to-first run in the division has already been accomplished three times in the past five seasons. The Redskins pulled off this feat in 2012 and in 2015 and more recently Dallas went from worst to first this past season. The Cowboys sunk to 4-12 in 2015 before a pair of rookies propelled them to the top of the heap with this season’s 13-3 run. What’s to say that Eagles’ vice president Howie Roseman and second-year head coach Doug Pederson do not cook up a couple of hot free agent deals along with some more wheeling and dealing on draft day to add the necessary player personal to quickly turn things for the Birds next season.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Green Bay Aims to Eliminate the NFC East from Postseason Play

The Green Bay Packers will put their seven-game winning streak on the line this Sunday afternoon against the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. They advanced to this round by hammering the New York Giants 38-13 last Sunday in the Wild Card Round while the Cowboys earned the week off as the top seed in the NFC. The Cowboys may be listed as 4.5-point home favorites in this matchup, but you have to believe that they will have their hands full against one of the hottest teams in the league.

Before the 2016 NFL regular season got underway, I had the Packers winning the NFC this year. Things did not look all that promising when they slipped to 4-6 after their first 10 games, but once Aaron Rodgers got hot he never cooled down which is one of the main reasons why Green Bay is just one more victory away from a trip to the conference title game.

The big story in Big D all season long has been the exceptional play of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott. The big question for both of these players is how they handle playing their first game on the biggest stage of their young careers. You know I will be rooting hard for both of these newbies to falter under all the added pressure given my utter dislike of their team as a whole. There is nothing better in the world then to see team owner Jerry Jones burying his head in his hands on national TV when Dallas loses. I would love to see this weekend's loss be at the hands of the Eagles, but for now I will be pulling hard for that other team in green to send the Cowboys packing to complete the NFC East sweep!