Thursday, June 21, 2018

Eagles Lincs Expands its Editorial Staff

I started this blog several years ago as a tribute to my Dad as a long-time suffering Eagles’ fan. He was a season ticket holder from 1961 through the 2002 season when the Birds ripped our hearts out in that stunning loss to Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship.

I was at that game to witness what is still the most devastating loss that I have endured as an Eagles' fan. I will never forget watching Ronde Barber return a Donovan McNabb interception the length of the field for a touchdown to seal the trip to the Super Bowl for Jon Gruden and the Buccaneers. I will also never forget the image of 100-plus Philadelphia policemen on horses circling the field with about 500 fans left in the stands at the end of the final Eagles' game ever played at Veterans Stadium.

My Dad left this earth in 2004 having never savored the sweet taste of victory at the game’s highest level. However, he loved his Eagles and stood tall to cheer them on through some other tough losses and more than a few bleak seasons. His season tickets were sold to a business associate and friend of the family. As the years passed, my brother-in-law Maurice and nephew (and Godson) Kevin still had access to two of the tickets at the Birds' new digs in the Linc. Through some Divine intervention and two costly seat licenses, two of the four tickets were eventually returned to the family to continue my Dad's legacy with this team.

The dream of Super Bowl glory was finally realized this past February and just this past weekend things really hit home when Maurice, Kevin and my sister Judy had the opportunity to get their pictures taken with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Kevin also sent me a picture of him wearing a Super Bowl ring while donning a #20 Brian Dawkins’ jersey. It does not get any better than that.

With Maurice and Kevin gearing up for the 2018 NFL season and the Eagles’ title defense, I decided to reach out to my nephew to see if he would be interested in writing some posts for Eagles Lincs. I know that my Dad was one of the biggest knucklehead Eagles’ fans in the world and Kevin has followed right in his footsteps.

Living in the Philadelphia area and going to all the home games makes him extremely qualified to write about our beloved Birds. I am also excited about the unique twist he will bring to the table. Kevin is not afraid to voice his true opinion and (no pun intended) ruffle some feathers from time to time.

I look forward to the opportunity to work with him on this endeavor as we try and expand the scope and reach of the site. Together, our goal is to provide our loyal readers with some keen insight into the team from a true fan's perspective. The fact that Kevin does have the inside track as a season ticket holder should vastly improve the quality of the site. I will still be around in my designated role as the ultimate homer with my picks and predictions for each week's game.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Eagles Make the Most of Limited Draft Picks

The only downside to winning the Super Bowl is falling all the way to the No. 32 pick in the first round of the draft. However, I would not mind if the Eagles had the last pick of the first round in the draft every year. The one thing that Philly fans have come to expect from the team's recent drafts under the guidance of Howie Roseman, as the mastermind behind player personnel moves, is some wheelin' and dealin' with the picks he has.

Because of past trades, the Eagles did not have any draft picks in the second or third round in last week's draft. Instead of reaching for a player they wanted at the end of the first round, they traded out of the No. 32 pick with Baltimore to gain some more leeway in their overall draft strategy. The end result was five new Birds joining the nest.

Philadelphia Eagles 2018 Draft Class:

Rd 2, Pick 17 (49) Dallas Goedert-Tight End
Rd 4, Pick 25 (125) Avonte Maddox- Cornerback
Rd 4, Pick 30 (130) Josh Sweat- Defensive End
Rd 6, Pick 32 (206) Matt Pryor- Offensive Tackle
Rd 7, Pick 15 (233) Jordan Mailata- Offensive Tackle

To be honest, I have not read one thing about how the Eagles' draft was graded by any so-called NFL expert. I, personally am going to give it an A+ given the picks the Eagles had and the picks they made.

When you establish yourself as the best NFL team in the league, drafts are all about maintaining your depth of talent. Zach Ertz is one of my favorite players on the team, so backing him up with another young tight end that can mirror some of his skills is a great move. Adding depth to the defensive secondary is equally important and Roseman and Co. stayed true to the original game plan of building this team from the inside out on both sides of the ball with a trio of linemen.

The Eagles are the reining Super Bowl Champions and the best team in the league until one of the other 31 teams prove me wrong. Chalk this draft up to the best team making the right moves to make it better.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Eagles' Road Back to the Super Bowl is Set

The complete 2018 NFL regular season schedule was released earlier this week so we now know the path the Eagles will have to navigate to get back to the playoffs for a chance to defend their 2017 Super Bowl title.

It all starts on Thursday, Sept.6 at the Linc with a rematch of last season's Divisional Round game against Atlanta that started Philly's Super Bowl run. The Eagles have already been opened as home favorites in that game by more than a field goal and I like their chances to win that game by a couple of touchdowns. Carson Wentz makes a successful return to the starting lineup by throwing for three touchdowns and running for one more in that opening day romp.

Week 2 features a road game against Tampa Bay followed by a home game against Indianapolis in Week 3. When you add in a Week 4 road game against Tennessee, I have Philly sporting a nifty 4-0 record when it faces another playoff opponent from last season in a scheduled 4:25 p.m. start at home against Minnesota on Sunday, Oct. 7. The matchup in the NFC title game was never close and, while the Vikings will be a much tougher out this time around, I have the Eagles once again coming out on top.

With a road game against the New York Giants in Week 6 followed by home games against Carolina, Jacksonville and Dallas (the game against the Jaguars is in London), I have the Eagles going on the road the face New Orleans in Week 11 with a record of 8-1. I am not sure when that one loss will occur, by my guess would be when the Eagles are out of the country. I am going to give the benefit of the doubt that the Saints are still playing like they were last season to hand the Eagles their second loss of the season.

Looking ahead to the stretch run of the regular season, I have the Birds stumbling one more time (possibly on the road against the Los Angeles Rams) to match last season's mark of 13-3. This was obviously a very quick look at the 2018 schedule since we still have five months to go before Atlanta comes to town, but I am pretty confident that Philadelphia is going be one of the top two teams in the NFC to give itself a legitimate shot to successfully defend its NFL title.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Eagles Lincs NFL Mock Draft 1.0

In an effort to expedite my first mock draft ahead of the actual 2018 NFL Draft in Dallas on April 26-28, I have decided to jump to the last pick of the first round which is normally reserved for the previous season's Super Bowl Champion.

I have to be honest when it comes to this year's draft. I am woefully behind the curve since the Eagles are picking last in the first round. In previous years, I would normally be immersed in charting all the top prospects, breaking down Philly's biggest needs and grading the players that might be on the board when Howie Roseman and Co. go on the clock. This year, I am still busy watching the replay of Super Bowl LII and pinching myself to let me know that the final score was in the Eagles' favor.

Two years ago, it was classic Roseman wheelin' and dealin' to land Carson Wentz with the second overall pick. If you would go back over my draft posts on this blog for the 2016 proceedings, you would find that I was not too keen on what the Birds gave up to get their franchise quarterback. You would also realize why I am doing what I do and Roseman does what he does.

Last year's draft filled a big hole in the defensive line with the addition of Derek Barnett. He did not win Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, but he was instrumental in helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl title in 52 years. I had Philly taking running back Dalvin Cook with that pick, but he ended up going to Minnesota early in the second round.

Looking ahead to this year's draft, the buzz in town is that the Eagles are taking a very close look at LSU running back Derrius Guise at No. 32. There is a chance he will be off the board by then given that quite a few mock drafts have him going earlier in the round. However, if is is on the board when Philly goes on the clock in Big D with the last pick of the first round, Guise would be my top pick as well.

Last year's amazing Super Bowl run through the top teams in the league proved that you can never have too many backs running the ball. I love Jay Ajayi as the lead back and Corey Clement proved he can play at the next level. We might even see long-time veteran Darren Sproles using his soon-to-be 35-year old legs to make some more plays for the Birds.

The addition of Guise would make an already potent running game that much better considering that Philly was ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards per game last season. Building a team from the inside out on both sides of the ball and churning up the clock with the run are two of the main reasons why Philadelphia is the current NFL Super Bowl Champion. From what I have seen from Guise during his playing days for LSU, he could go a long way towards helping the Eagles stay at the top of the heap in their title defense.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Eagles Tweak Roster for Another Super Bowl Run

The good news about winning a Super Bowl is being world champs in arguably the top sports league around the globe. I am sure I would get some push back from die-hard basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer fans out there, but even people that do not follow sports have a passing interest in the NFL and more importantly the biggest single-day sports event of the year.

The bad news about winning a Super Bowl is you have nowhere to go but down unless you win another one the following season. While every Eagles' fan has a strong appreciation for what this season's group of players were able to accomplish, keeping this exact same group intact for another run in 2018 is not feasible given the complexities of the NFL's salary cap system.

Winning a Super Bowl can be a very costly proposition as evident in Philadelphia's cap situation heading into the offseason. Team vice president and the chief architect behind this team's roster, Howie Roseman will really earn his keep this year as he tries to keep the team competitive enough to make another championship run.

The Eagles were well over the current NFL salary cap heading into the league's new business year, so right off the bat there were cap casualties including wide receiver Torrey Smith, who was traded just weeks after the parade on Broad Street. Also gone are tight ends' Brent Celek and Trey Burton to free up cap space. More recently, Philly decided to part ways with Vin Curry after failing to come to terms on a restructured contract.

The biggest editions to the team were defensive end Michael Bennett, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and wide receiver Mike Wallace. Roseman was also able to work his magic in restructuring deals for a few current players to free up some more space within the cap, most notably tight end Zach Ertz.

One of the biggest reasons the Eagles were able to make that huge leap from a 7-9 record in 2016 to Super Bowl glory this past season was Roseman's decision to build this team from the inside out along with the help of head coach Doug Pederson. Philly has one of the best offensive and defensive fronts in the NFL which allow the rest of the team to excel at their positions as well.

Looking ahead to this year's draft, the Eagles have the 32nd pick in the first round followed by two picks in the fourth round and one in each of the final three rounds. They will probably go with the best available player with each selection regardless of position to add even more depth to this championship roster.

The biggest question mark heading into next season will be the health of Carson Wentz's rebuilt left knee, but if Nick Foles is still on the roster he has more than proven he is a very capable backup. The ground game will be anchored by Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement with LeGarrette Blount moving on. Wallace could fill the spot Smith vacated at wide receiver and do not be surprised if the Eagles draft a tight end with their first round pick as the new backup to Ertz. Cornerback Patrick Robinson has also found employment elsewhere, but look for second-year vet Sidney Jones to step up his game after missing most of his rookie season due to injury.

Roseman will continue to tweak Philadelphia's roster with additions and subtractions here and there. You never know what kind of future deals he is likely to pull off given his keen instinct for filling the team's most pressing needs. In the final analysis, Eagles' fans waited 51 years to see our beloved Birds win their first Super Bowl title. I am sure we can easily wait 10 months to add a second world title to the mix.