Friday, December 29, 2017

Eagles Aim for Most Wins in Franchise History

Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows I am an Eagles' homer that would rival Merrill Reese as the longtime radio voice for the Birds. When he is calling an Eagles game along with famed wide receiver Mike Quick, every penalty flag thrown is against the opposing team, every turnover is recovered by Philadelphia and if a close call goes in the Eagles' favor it was right and obviously wrong if it goes the other way. That is why I love listening to the radio broadcast of the games. If you are going to be a homer, go big and bold or go home!

In a previous post on Eagles Lincs in early November, I made the big and bold prediction that Philadelphia would earn the top seed in the NFC at 13-3 or possibly 14-2, which would be the best record in franchise history. Getting that 14th victory against bitter rival Dallas at home on New Year's Eve would be the icing on the cake.

As much as I would love to say that Sunday's win is a lock, I actually went with Dallas in this game as a slight favorite on the road. My main rational for this pick is the uncertainty surrounding head coach Doug Pederson's game plan when it comes to playing his starters. While I do not expect the bulk of the first team on either side of the ball to sit this one out, there will come a point on Sunday when he does start to send his best players to the bench for good.

Flash back to last season's finale at the Linc when Dallas was 13-2 with the top seed in the NFC in hand and the Eagles were trying to close things out with back-to-back division wins coming off a brutal five-game losing streak. Philly walked away with a rather easy 27-13 victory as part of a 7-9 record overall.

There is a small chance that Pederson does play to win as opposed to playing it safe given how sketchy his team has looked the last few weeks on both sides of the ball. While it is great to have that bye next week, it would be even better if the Eagles looked sharp going into it.

For what it is worth, the link below to is my full game preview and pick for Sunday's divisional tilt.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Eagles' Title Hopes Now Rest on Foles' Shoulders

Anyone who follows my EaglesLincs blog even on a casual basis already knows that I am one of the biggest homers among the Bleeding Green knuckleheads that consider themselves die-hard Eagles' fans. I was truly stunned and saddened when Carson Wentz went down with a torn ACL in a season where he was on tract to be named the NFL's 'Most Valuable Player' in just his second year in the league.

My main concern for our franchise quarterback is the full recovery of that knee in what has the potential to be a Hall of Fame career given what we have seen from Wentz this season. I may be getting way ahead of myself with that one and I am about to get way ahead of myself with the bold prediction that Philadelphia returns to its first Super Bowl since 2004 under the guidance of backup quarterback Nick Foles. The path to Minnesota for Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 is rather manageable even without Wentz under center in light of all the other teams the Eagles might have to get past to make their third Super Bowl appearance in team history.

Given that my father was a season-ticket holder from 1961 until the last year at Veterans Stadium in 2002, my entire family grew up big Eagles fans. This undying devotion to the home team has been extended to the next generation with many of my relatives still residing in the Philadelphia area.

Below is an example of that passion in an email that was sent out to my entire family by my nephew (and godson) Kevin in response to Wentz going down and Foles stepping up.

Hi All,

There's no denying it's been a bittersweet 24 hours in Eagles' Country. We won the division but lost our field marshal . . .

Alas, all hope is not lost - a familiar face from the not so distant past is aiming to finish what Wentz started.

I will be the first to admit I am not crazy about Foles and not so much for who he is but for who he was not. He had moments of brilliance with us leading some to believe he was our next franchise quarterback.

Instead his star faded and after a season-ending injury in 2014, he was traded to St. Louis for Sam Bradford (another false pre-season savior). One year with the Rams, which involved a benching in favor of a current NFC foe (Case Keenum), was all there would be to that story. During the 2016 off-season, Foles requested a release when the Rams drafted their QB of the future, Jared Goff.

Foles went on to spend 1 year with Big Red in Kansas City before quietly returning to Philadelphia to play essentially the same supporting role he turned down with the Rams - backup for his old franchise's new franchise QB, Carson Wentz.

Now, reunited with his rookie year QBs coach (Doug Pederson) and paired with the QB responsible for the largest playoff comeback in NFL history (Frank Reich) - Foles is out to make a comeback for himself. He will likely need to slay some dragons from his past (a la Case Keenum and/or Jared Goff again) but if this team is anything, it's resilient - so don't count them out.

This may not be how we imagined the end playing out after our storybook beginning but that's life - seldom picture-perfect and often unexpected. Over the next few weeks, though, I want you to keep these three thoughts in mind:

Be thankful for the amazing and fun season we have had so far

Seek not for our load to be lighter but for our backs to be stronger

"You gotta have a positive atty-tude and a good sense a humor to make it in life" - Gramps

K.O. Kelly

The following is a copy of my response to his email. I decided to share it will all the Philly Phaithful as the journey continues to the Super Bowl glory that has eluded this team since my Dad was sitting in the bleachers at Franklin Field.

Hey Kev,

Great job at summing up the collective thoughts of the Eagles faithful in light of such a bittersweet victory in a must-win game. The bottom line in my book is that the Eagles are good enough to win the NFC with Foles at the helm with the lack of another truly dominant team to get past in the playoffs. Can they win Super Bowl with Foles?....that remains to be seen, but the tape of how Miami made New England look pretty average on Monday night along with the tapes from three very shaky Pittsburgh wins in the past three weeks could be enough of a blueprint to get the job done.

A solid running game and a shutdown defense wins games this time of the year and the Eagles have both of these weapons in their arsenal. Add in the motivation of winning one for the Gipper, or in this case the Wentz could be a very powerful factor in this postseason run. One of the main reasons why Philly is 11-2 right now is every player's understanding that there is no I in team. In the infamous words of Bill Belichick..."Know Your Role, Do Your Job"

I personally am expecting a fun ride all the way to Super Bowl LII with you and your Dad the Deacon high-fiving each other at the Linc on Jan. 21 in the NFC Championship win against Minnesota (or maybe New Orleans). I am going to stop just short of predicting a win in Super Bowl LII until I have a better chance to evaluate the actual matchup.

Nick Foles might just end up front and center on the lead float in the Eagle's parade down Broad Street in early February, but this is still Carson Wentz's team now and hopefully for many years to come.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Wentz vs. Goff Tale of the Tape

Sunday’s Eagles at Rams game is a huge showdown with each team in pursuit of both a division title and a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. The big subplot in this game is the first head-to-head meeting between the top two picks of the 2016 NFL Draft. Former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz went to Philadelphia with the second overall pick of the opening round just minutes after the Rams used the first pick in that draft to select Jared Goff from the University of California.

Wentz had the edge in their rookie campaign as the Eagles starting QB from Week 1, but this season each of these young gunslingers have come into their own as two of the most exciting and productive players in the NFL. The best part of this budding rivalry that should hopefully continue to evolve into one of the NFL’s best in years to come is that both teams have dramatically turned things around from a losing 2016 season to become two of the top teams in the league this year.

Breaking down each player’s stats in ‘tale of the tape’ fashion only highlights just how much each one has meant to their respective team’s sudden success this year.

Wentz vs. Goff
Total Passing Yards: 3,005 vs. 3,184
Total Passing Touchdowns: *29 vs. 20
*Leads NFL
Attempts/Completions Percentage: 60.7 vs. 62.2
Attempts/Completions: 242/399 vs. 244/392
Interceptions: 6 vs. 6
Sacks: 27 vs. 20
Passer Rating: 102.0 vs. 98.4
Team Wins-Losses: 10/2 vs. 9/3

When you add it all up, Wentz and Goff have basically mirrored each other’s performance through the first 12 games on the season. However, it is this Sunday’s game that will define this rivalry heading into the postseason. There is a good chance that these two teams meet again in the playoffs, which would only add more fuel to the fire between two budding superstars that will linked to one another throughout their entire NFL career

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Eagles Look to Stay Hot on West Coast Swing

The Eagles will face their toughest back-to-back test of the season with a pair of road games against 7-4 Seattle this Sunday night followed by next Sunday's late afternoon start against the 8-3 Los Angeles Rams. A 2-0 run through these two games would cement the Birds as legitimate Super Bowl favorites. A 1-1 mark would still keep them on track for the top seed in the NFC. A stumble to 0-2 could raise some question marks as to just how good this team really is this season.

As a true homer, I am going with the 2-0 West Coast swing starting with a hard-fought victory against the Seahawks in prime time on Sunday night. This will not be the Eagles usual romp that has created a NFL-best +160 point differential against their opponents over the first 11 games. Seattle is a desperate team fighting for a spot in the playoffs and it has the added benefit of playing this game in one of the toughest places for road teams to come away with a win. None the less, the Seahawks remain a wounded bird especially when it comes to their defensive secondary which is just waiting to be exploited by Carson Wentz and Co.

For my complete preview and pick for Sunday night's game, please check out the link below to


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Eagles Close In on NFC East Crown Against Chicago

The 5-6 Dallas Cowboys' current three-game free-fall including Thursday's 29-6 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers has set the stage for the 9-1 Philadelphia Eagles to inch all that much closer to the NFC East Division title with a win at home against the 3-7 Chicago Bears this Sunday afternoon. If the Eagles can nail down their 10th victory of the season as heavy home favorites, they would clinch the division with one more Dallas loss. This could come as quickly as next Thursday with the Cowboys playing host to the 5-6 Washington Redskins on Thursday Night Football.

Even if Philly stumbles against Chicago and Dallas stays alive by beating the Redskins, it is still a foregone conclusion that the Eagles will lay claim to their first NFC East title since 2013. Clinching the East in Week 13 would be great but this team wants more! The loyal, die-hard fans in Philly want more! All the new faces on the 'standing room only' Philadelphia bandwagon want more!

With the Eagles getting quite a bit of national attention behind the play of second-year phenom Carson Wentz at quarterback, the Oddsmakers in Las Vegas expect much more from our beloved Birds than a division title with the them penciled in as favorites at most of the books in town to face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Standing in their way are teams such as the 9-2 Minnesota Vikings, who ran all over Detroit on Thanksgiving Day to remain a half game off the pace in the NFC. The 8-2 New Orleans Saints are riding an eight-game winning streak into this Sunday's showdown against the 7-3 Los Angeles Rams. It is pretty safe to assume that two of the top four teams in the conference heading into the stretch run of the regular season will eventually tee it up against one another on Sunday. Jan. 21 in the NFC Championship Game.

I am banking on Philadelphia hosting that game against the Saints, but for now all my energy is going into this Sunday's home game against the Bears.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Eagles Favored to Fly High in Big D

The 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles come off last week's bye with the best record in the NFL and a three-game lead in the NFC East. They have a golden opportunity to extend that lead over one of their most bitter rivals this Sunday night with a trip to Dallas to tangle with the 5-4 Cowboys. This will be the first meeting this season with Round 2 set for the final Sunday of the NFL regular season.

The Eagles are considered to be the best all-round team in the league in any number of NFL power rankings behind an offense that is ranked fourth in the league in yards gained and second in scoring with an average of 31.4 points per game. On the other side of the ball, Philly is 10th in the NFL in yards allowed and first against the run. This defense is also tied for fourth in interceptions (11) as part of its 16 takeaways in its first nine games.

Dallas is coming off a stunning 27-7 loss to Atlanta on the road last Sunday in the first of its six games without All Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup due to his current league suspension. His absence against the Falcons directly impacted second-year quarterback Dak Prescott, who was sacked eight times in that game after getting taken to the turf a total of 10 times in his first eight starts this year. Adding to the Cowboys' injury woes heading into this crucial division showdown is the loss of linebacker Sean Lee, who has been a thorn in the side of the Eagles on a number of occasions.

The general consensus among NFL fans in this matchup leans heavily towards the Eagles running their current winning streak to eight games while putting a serious dent in the Cowboys' chances for a return trip to the playoffs. You know that I am also leaning heavily towards the Birds flying high in prime time on Sunday night. If you want to see my complete game preview and official NFL prediction for Sunday night's tilt, please check out the link below at


Saturday, November 11, 2017

How Far Can the Philadelphia Eagles Go this Season?

Sitting at 8-1 through their first nine games while taking in some much needed rest during their bye week, the Philadelphia Eagles have not only captured the full attention of their rabid fan base in the City of Brotherly Love, they are now playing to a national stage as the top -ranked team in the league according to numerous NFL power ranking polls.

On one hand, some could feel that this early and unexpected success might be a case of too much, too soon. There are some actual concerns among a few NFL so-called experts (that shall remain nameless) that Philly is peaking too early in the season. In the famous words of former Eagles’ cornerback Herm Edwards “You play to win the game”! I guess these same football geniuses would feel better if the Birds would have dropped a few more of those first nine games so they would have more to shoot for in the second half of the season. Yea, I would much rather be in the 5-3 Cowboys or the 4-4 Redskins’ shoes of being a few games back in the chase for this season’s NFC East title.

Moving on, I am already giving Philly the division title at 13-3 or possibly even 14-2. Looking at the current standings in the NFC, this should also give the Birds a first round bye in the playoffs. Dallas went 13-3 last season as the top seed in the conference and then promptly lost to Green Bay at home in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. This only goes to prove that an impressive record in the regular season only gets you a primo spot in the dance. It does not guarantee that you are going home with the trophy.

Right now it looks like Philadelphia might have to face a team like Seattle, Minnesota or New Orleans in this season’s second round. All three games are winnable on its home field, although I would be a bit leery about facing the Saints given their current form.

Being the home-town fan that I am, I will go ahead and advance the Eagles to the NFC Championship either at home or on the road. The other big surprise in the NFC this season has been the Los Angeles Rams at 6-2 through their first eight games. There is a chance that we could see a rematch of the 2001 NFC title game in which the Rams squeaked out a 29-24 victory on their way to a Super Bowl title with our buddy Dick Vermeil at the helm as head coach.

The current standings in the NFC heading into Week 10 are filled with any number of playoff scenarios given the fact that there are seven teams with a winning record and four more at an even .500 at 4-4. Regardless of which of these teams the Eagles face in the conference title game, I am putting on my homer mask again to predict that they will get to the Super Bowl in Doug Pederson’s first playoff run as head coach. It took his mentor five tries in the postseason to get to the big game, but Andy Reid did not have Carson Wentz as his quarterback.

The Eagles have gone to two Super Bowls in franchise history with losses to Oakland in the 1980 season and to New England following a 13-3 run through the 2004 season. While there is a very good chance that Philly could draw the Patriots again in Super Bowl LII this February, I am going with a flair for the dramatic by predicting an in-state showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It would be cool to see the Eagles get another shot at Reid’s Chiefs in the biggest game of the year, but I do not see Kansas City advancing out of the gauntlet that both New England and Pittsburgh present in the AFC.

This epic Hollywood plot would star Big Ben as the grizzled veteran gunslinger trying to take down the new kid in the Keystone State in what could very well be the last game of his highly successful NFL career. The plot thickens in light of the fact that this new gunslinger from Wenztlvania via the great state of North Dakota is obviously stronger, sharper and quicker to the draw then his counterpart 300 miles to the west on I76.

It is far too early in the movie to reveal how everything does play out in this ultimate dream showdown, but this blog post should officially serve notice that I am ‘All In’ when it comes to the question of how far Philly can go this season.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Eagles Go All-In for a Run at a Super Bowl Title

Most football experts had Philadelphia finishing third in the NFC East this season with slight move upward to 8-8 after winning seven games last season in Doug Pederson’s first year as head coach and Carson Wentz’s rookie year as the team’s new starting quarterback.

Flash forward to this Sunday’s home game against Denver as solid favorites, the 7-1 Eagles have rapidly accelerated the program with a chance to match that projected win total in Week 9. Pederson has shown the right temperament to reach all of his players, while building a coaching staff that knows how to do their job. Philly is firing on all cylinders in every phase of the game as the most balanced team in the NFL.

How far this current ride lasts is anyone’s guess, but with the best record in the NFL the Eagles control their own destiny when it comes to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. Home field throughout the postseason is the quickest and easiest route to earn a trip to the Super Bowl, but there is still quite a bit of work to be done to turn this dream into reality.

One of the main reasons for this rapid reversal in fortunes is the Eagles’ front office led by team vice president Howie Roseman with the financial support from team owner Jeff Lurie. The fact that Carson Wentz is playing like a 10-year veteran also helps along with Jim Schwartz’s shutdown defense and some of the best special teams play in the league under the direction of Dave Fripp.

Even the best quarterback in the NFL cannot reach his potential without having the right personnel to run the ball, catch his passes and protect him in the pocket. A top-notch coaching staff can only squeeze so much out of their players. The biggest reason why teams win Super Bowls in the NFL is talent across the board. This starts with the NFL Draft to build depth through the ranks. It continues with the right free agent signings to fill the right holes and lately in the league it revolves around a few key trades here and there to push a team even further towards the ultimate goal of winning a word title.

The Eagles’ front office has excelled in all three of these categories since Philly beat Dallas in the last game of the 2016 season and it is starting to pay some huge dividends in the team’s performance through the first half of this year’s campaign.

The recent addition of running back Jay Ajayi proves the point. This guy ran for over 1,200 yards last season in Miami and he comes to the Eagles with 465 yards rushing in seven games this year. LeGarrette Blount was brought in as a free agent to get the Birds’ ground game back on track and heading into Sunday’s game against the Broncos, the offense was ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing with an average of 129.2 yards per game.

The prevailing attitude among every member of this organization that good is not good enough is another big reason why the Eagles have gone all-in to make that improbable run from the bottom of the division last year to the best team in the NFL at the halfway point of the 2017 season.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Eagles Relied on an Old Recipe to Cook Up some New Success

The Philadelphia Eagles had not won more than seven games for nine-straight seasons including a 5-9 record in 1975. The team’s owner at the time was Leonard Tose and he decided to shake things up by hiring a head coach with no prior NFL experience.

Dick Vermeil came to Philly from the West Coast as the former head coach at UCLA. After winning just four games in his first season at the helm, he decided to shake things up by trading for Ron Jaworski to be his new starting quarterback. The Eagles won five games that season before things came together in Vermeil’s third year on the job with a 9-7 record in 1978 and the team’s first trip to the postseason since it won the old NFL title back in 1960. Vermeil led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1980 before leaving the team before the 1983 season.

Flash forward to 1999 following a 3-13 record the previous season when the team’s current owner Jeffrey Lurie went back to that old formula but with a twist. Instead of dipping into the college ranks, he decided to hire an assistant coach from one of the most successful franchises in the NFL. Andy Reid worked under Mike Holmgren at Green Bay, who earned his first NFL head coaching job with the Packers under the tutelage of Bill Walsh while an assistant coach in San Francisco.

Reid made an immediate impact on the Eagles’ fortunes by using the second pick of the 1999 NFL Draft to land Donavan McNabb after a stellar career as Syracuse’s quarterback in college. Philly went from three wins to five in Reid’s first year, but things turned around dramatically from there. It started with an 11-5 record in 2000 followed by four-straight trips to the NFC title game and one trip to the Super Bowl in 2004. All told, he coached the team from 1999 to 2012 and posted nine trips to the playoffs in those 14 seasons at the helm. Reid and McNabb never could bring home that highly coveted Super Bowl title, but it was one incredible ride over all those years.

After toying with the idea that a college coach could be successful in the NFL, Lurie dug out the origial recipe from 1976 one more time to try and get his team back on top as one of the elite franchises in the NFL. After the Chip Kelly experiment failed miserably, the Eagles went back to a much more reliable recipe to turn things around by tapping Reid’s new coaching staff in Kansas City to hire Doug Pederson as their new head coach. The lineage back to Walsh continued to the next generation in hopes that lightning could strike twice in the City of Brotherly Love.

Pederson’s first move as head coach along with team vice president Howie Roseman was to trade up to the second pick of the 2016 draft to select former North Dakota State standout Carson Wentz as their new franchise quarterback. The first season of Pederson and Wentz as the new coach and quarterback tandem in Philly went pretty much as expected with a record of 7-9. Pederson made some questionable calls at times and Wentz sprinkled in some excellent play while looking like a rookie quarterback in the NFL for much of the year. The big takeaway from last season was that two of the biggest pieces for success in this league appeared to be in place.

While even with this year’s fantastic 6-1 start, it is far too soon to make any direct comparisons to Reid and McNabb’s success over all of the years. That being said, you still cannot help from getting excited over the prospect of what the next decade or so of pro football in Philly might hold.

It has quickly become apparent that Pederson learned what he needed to learn from Reid, who learned from Holmgren after his mentor payed close attention to what Walsh had to say all those years ago. Some of the best recipes around are the ones handed down from generation to generation.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Redskins Invade the Linc in a Monday Night Football Matchup

In what will be an excellent chance to open up some real breathing room in the NFC East Division title race, the 5-1 Eagles play host to the 3-2 Washington Redskins this Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Their current winning streak stands at four games following a big victory in prime time on the road against Carolina back Oct. 19. With home games against San Francisco next Sunday followed by a inter-conference matchup against Denver before a Week 10 bye, Philadelphia has positioned it self as the clear front-runner to claim its first division title since 2013.

The Eagles opened this season on the road against Washington and they were able to end a five-game skid against their division rivals with a 30-17 victory. Their only loss of the season was the following week at Kansas City and through the first six games they have outscored their opponents 165-122. The Redskins went onto to beat the Los Angles Rams at home and the Oakland Raiders on the road before they also came up short against the Chiefs. Last Sunday, Washington held on to beat the 49ers by two points to post its third win in five games.

In a divisional clash between two evenly matched teams, Monday night's game will probably come down to a couple of big plays just like it did in Week 1 when Fletcher Cox scooped up a Kirk Cousins' fumble and ran it in for a score to put things out of reach late in the fourth quarter. The Eagles probably have the over all edge in this game because of their highly opportunistic defense, but you still cannot ignore Washington's dominance in this series over the past few years.

Please check out the link below at for my complete game preview & free game pick.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Eagles Face Panthers in a Thursday Night Battle of NFC Frontrunners

Given the early Thursday deadline of this week's Eagles game against Carolina, I decided to bypass my normal keys to victory. In its place, I have added the link below to my full game preview and official game prediction as part of my ongoing coverage of Thursday Night Football for

The obvious key to the Eagles winning their fifth game in six tries is to maintain the form that led to last Sunday's lopsided 34-7 victory against Arizona. They played relatively mistake-free football in every phase of the game while taking full advantage of any Cardinals' miscue. Carson Wentz finally connected on the deep ball on a consistent basis and the defense stepped up its game to make Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer a non-factor
in one of Philadelphia's most dominant performance under the guidance of second-year head coach Doug Pederson.

Wentz will need another strong game on the road this Thursday night against a much better defense and the Birds will also need to limit the damage that Carolina quarterback Cam Newton can inflict with both his arm and his legs. Accomplish these two things and finish the game with a positive give/take ratio and Birds are flying back to Philly on the wings of another victory.

This should be a good matchup between two of the hottest teams in the NFC this season. The winner will take their place as one of the early favorites to win the conference title, while the loser will fall back into the ranks of being just another contender try to jockey for position in the crowded pack.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

NFL Week 5 Keys to an Eagles Victory against Arizona

The Eagles moved to 3-1 on the year with last Sunday’s 26-24 victory against the Los Angeles Chargers. Carson Wentz threw for 242 yards and a touchdown while the combination of Wendell Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount added another 170 yards on the ground as part of the team’s 214 total rushing yards.

One of my keys to victory last week was establishing the run game right out of the gate, but even more important was Philadelphia’s ability to effectively run the ball at the end of the game while sitting on a slim lead. Through the first four weeks of the season, the Birds are averaging 143 rushing yards a game, which is ranked third in the league.

This week, Philly returns home to host the 2-2 Arizona Cardinals to renew an old-school NFC East rivalry when the team was still in St. Louis. As with every game, I have come up with my three keys to victory for this Sunday’s contest.


The obvious key on offense is to keep the Eagles’ highly productive running game churning. They may need to rely heavily on Blount’s power game on Sunday with Smallwood nursing a bad knee. You may see more of Corey Clement as the team’s only other healthy running threat along with Kenjon Barner, but whichever back is running the ball will have his work cut out for him against a Cardinals’ defense that is ranked 10th in the NFL against the run. My top key this week is Wentz’s ability to connect on the deep ball. If there has been one glaring weakness in his game this season it would be his 33 percent conversion rate on passes of 15 yards or deeper. With Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith in the starting lineup, he has to do a better job utilizing their deep threat ability.


There is a gaping hole in the defensive line with Fletcher Cox ruled out for the second-straight game with a calf injury. The Eagles gave up 347 yards passing against the Chargers partially because they could not keep consistent pressure on Philip Rivers. This Sunday they face another veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer, who also has the ability to carve up the secondary if he has all day to throw the ball. This week’s key is Jim Schwartz dialing up a few new stunts and blitzes that he did not employ in the first four games. If the defense can keep Palmer running for his life, it will help to minimize the deep threat that Larry Fitzgerald brings to the table.

Special Teams

With Darren Sproles done for the season and Smallwood hobbled with a knee injury, the Eagles are going to need someone to step up their game returning both kicks and punts. Barner is the likely suspect since he is listed at the top of the depth chart in both categories, but Clement is also available if the need arises. The Eagles thrived on special teams last season because of big plays in the return game and it may take one or two on Sunday to help cement that fourth win.

Friday, September 29, 2017

NFL Week 4 Keys to an Eagles Victory at Los Angeles

The Eagles needed a near-miracle 61-yard field goal as time ran out to get past the New York Giants last week, but a win is a win in the NFL. One of the main reasons why this game remained so close was Philadelphia’s inability to put constant pressure on Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning. He sliced up the defensive secondary for 366 yards and three touchdown throws including two to Odell Beckham Jr.

This week out on the West Coast, the Eagles face a Chargers’ team that also knows how to move the ball through the air behind veteran quarterback Philip Rivers. He has already thrown for 760 yards and four touchdowns in his first three games. It becomes rather obvious that Philly’s front four will have their work cut out for them this Sunday afternoon if they want to avoid another rough outing against the pass.

Often times, there are one or two key factors in each of the three phases of the game that will have a major impact on the actual outcome. Below are this week’s three keys for the Birds getting out of Los Angeles with a big W against the Bolts.


I might be getting a bit redundant with this painfully obvious key, but the Eagles need to find a way to establish their run game right out of the gate. The offense is actually ranked eighth in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 119.3 yards per game, but that stat is a bit deceiving when you go back and watch the first quarter of Philadelphia’s first three games. The run game did pile up 193 yards on the ground against the Giants last week, but it took some time to get things rolling. Darren Sproles is done for the season, so it will be up to Wendell Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount to pick up the slack from the initial running play in the Eagles' first offensive possession of this Sunday’s game.


Along with pressure on Rivers as an obvious key, this Sunday’s game could come down to the Eagles' ability to contain wide receiver Keenan Allen. He has been targeted 28 times in three games and his 19 receptions have added up to 196 yards. Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams have also been a big part of the mix with a combined 20 receptions for 282 yards. By bottling up the Chargers’ top outlets in the passing game, Rivers is likely to put a few balls up for grabs considering that he has also thrown four interceptions this season.

Special Teams

After showing some tremendous leg strength in his 61-yard game-winning boot last week, rookie kicker Jake Elliott adds a whole new dimension to the Eagles’ ability to put points on the board. Head coach Doug Pederson has developed a bad habit of going for it on fourth down in very low percentage conversion situations. Maybe now, he will turn to Elliott when a drive stalls inside his impressive field goal range.

Friday, September 22, 2017

NFL Week 3 Keys to an Eagles' Victory against New York

The Eagles will play their second division game of the season when the New York Giants head into town this Sunday afternoon in a 1 p.m. kickoff at the Linc in Philadelphia’s home opener. The Birds upended Washington 31-17 at FedEx Field in Week 1 before a late-game rally came up short against Kansas City on the road last week in a 27-20 loss.

Each week of the season, I will be posting my keys to victory on offense, defense and special teams and below is this week’s to-do list to keep the Giants winless on the year.


The Eagles are going to have to find a way to run the ball against New York. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Giants are ranked 28th in the league against the run with an average of 133.5 rushing yards allowed. As far as the Eagles’ ground game, they have racked up an average of 82.5 yards per game, which is ranked 20th. LeGarrette Blount was a no-show against the Chiefs last week and Carson Wentz was the team’s leading rusher with 55 yards. Look for Darren Sproles to be the lead back against New York, but do not be surprised if Wendell Smallwood plays a bigger role in the ground game this Sunday afternoon.


My Week 1 key against the Redskins on defense was to keep constant pressure on quarterback Kirk Cousins with just the front four and the Eagles executed the plan to near perfection. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham combined for three sacks and Cox’s touchdown on a forced fumble by Cousins late in the fourth quarter sealed the win. The Giants have no running game to speak of with a total of just 97 yards on the ground in two games, so making life miserable for Eli Manning all day long should be a very achievable goal.

Special Teams

I have got such a good feeling that Darren Sproles is going to have a big day against New York that I have him in my starting fantasy football lineup. As mentioned, he appears to be the primary option for running the ball on offense, but I also expect him to do some damage returning punts. Field position is always a big part of the game, but it actually becomes even more important in head-to-head division matchups given just how well each team knows one another.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

NFL Week 2 Keys to an Eagles' Victory at Kansas City

The Eagles pay a visit to our old friend Andy Reid this Sunday in a 1 p.m. start at Arrowhead against the Kansas City Chiefs. Not only will Reid face the same team that he coached for 14 years, he will be pitted against Philly's current head coach Doug Pederson, who served as his offensive coordinator for three seasons in Kansas City before taking on the top spot with the Eagles in 2016. The history between Reid and Pederson when it comes to their mutual stint in Philly actually goes back to 1999 in Reid's first year as head coach. He brought Pederson over from Green Bay as his starting quarterback while Donovan McNabb learned the ropes from the sidelines as the team's top pick in that year's draft.

Coming off last week's huge upset against New England on the road, it is no wonder that the Chiefs are favored to win again this Sunday at home. It will be a tall task for the Birds to pull off a second-straight win on the road after knocking off Washington in Week 1, but if they follow my three keys to victory, it will give the protegee a fighting chance to show up his mentor this upcoming Sunday afternoon.


Last week against Washington, my key to winning on offense was LeGarrette Blount. He did score a touchdown on a short pass play, but he still only gained 46 yards on the ground on 14 carries as part of the team's paltry 58 rushing yards on the day. Running the ball against Kansas City all day long may not be an option giving that the Eagles are probably going to need to score some points to win this game. While Nelson Agholor was able to step up his game last week with six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown, the key on offense this week is Alshon Jeffrey in the passing game as the team's No. 1 wide receiver. He was targeted seven times last week and he came up with three catches for 38 yards. He should have a chance to put up some big numbers this week with Kansas City's top pass defender Eric Berry lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles.


The Eagles followed my defensive key to a tee last week by keeping constant pressure on Redskins' quarterback Kirk Cousins without the use of multiple blitzes. The strip fumble for a touchdown to seal the win was simply icing on the cake. This week, along with keeping pressure on Alex Smith, the defensive key is to put a lid on rookie running back Kareem Hunt. He went off against New England for 148 yards and a score on just 17 carries. If he is allowed to run wild into the Eagles' secondary this week, it is going to be a long day at Arrowhead on this side of the ball.

Special Teams

Philly's special teams were dealt a major blow last week when place kicker Caleb Sturgis injured his hip. He is out for at least four weeks so in his place the Eagles signed Jake Elliott off Cincinnati's practice squad. The key to this week's special teams play is to avoid putting Elliott in a precarious position of having to win this game with his foot. Hopefully he can kick the ball deep into the end zone to force touchbacks and hopefully the Eagles can score touchdowns to avoid having to settle for field goal attempts.

Friday, September 8, 2017

NFL Week 1 Keys to an Eagles' Victory at Washington

The Philadelphia Eagles kickoff the 2017 NFL regular season with a road trip to FedEx Stadium to square off against the NFC East rival Washington Redskins in a 1 p.m. start this Sunday afternoon. Both teams are picked to finish in the bottom half of the division race behind Dallas and the New York Giants, so it will be an added plus for whichever one can come away with an opening day victory.

All season long, I will be breaking down what the Eagles need to do the most on offense, defense and special teams to come away with a win. This week they remain slight favorites on the road, but when you look at the recent history between the two, Washington has gotten the best of things lately with a five-game winning streak over their rivals to the north on Interstate 95.


The biggest key this week on offense is to get running back LeGarratte Blount involved in the game plan early and often. He was one of Philly's marquee free agent signings this past offseason after racking up 1,161 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns for New England last season. He was used sparingly in the preseason with little success moving the ball on the ground, but that performance should be heavily discounted with this Sunday's game counting in the standings.


Kirk Cousins want to get paid like a NFL elite quarterback and if he ever does come to a long-term deal with the Redskins, he should give some of the credit to the Eagles' defense. In two games against the Birds last season, Cousins threw for a combined 497 yards and four touchdowns in a pair of tight victories. If the Eagles are going to have any shot at snapping this five-game skid against the Redskins, they are going to have to put some serious pressure on Cousins with just their front four linemen. One of Washington's biggest playmakers, DeSean Jackson is now in Tampa Bay and Cousins' favorite receiver in 2016, Pierre Garcon is playing for San Francisco. This sets up a perfect opportunity to test his ability to connect with targets such as wide receiver Jamison Crowder and tight end Jordan Reed with defenders such as Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and hopefully rookie Derek Barnett in his face all game long.

Special Teams

It goes without saying that one of the keys every week on special teams is place kicker Caleb Sturgis's ability to make the field goals he is supposed to. The Eagles lost a number of tight games last season including two to the Redskins so they need to take full advantage of every scoring opportunity in Sunday's contest. Just as a side note, Sturgis did go a perfect 5-for-5 against the Redskins in two games last season.

The biggest key on special teams this week is Wendell Smallwood in the return game. While most kickoffs are touched back to the 25, he should still get a chance to break off a big return at some point in this game. When two teams are as closely matched as these two, winning the battle of field position can mean the difference between winning and losing the game. Big plays on special teams have a way creating a huge swing in momentum and I think Smallwood is in the perfect position to make something big happen this Sunday afternoon.

Friday, September 1, 2017

My Top Takeaways from the Eagles' Preseason

The Eagles wrapped up their four-game preseason schedule with a listless 16-10 loss to the New York Jets on Thursday night in advance of next Sunday's regular season opener against the NFC East rival Washington Redskins in a 1 p.m. start at FedEx Field.

My biggest takeaway from this year's 2-2 preseason was that the team, as a whole, comes into the regular season in relatively good health. Some marquee NFL players such as New England wide receiver Julian Edelman and Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill are already done for the season due to injury, so anytime you can get through a meaningless round of exhibition games without any major injuries that should be considered a huge success.

Carson Wentz firmly established himself as Philly's franchise quarterback last season as a rookie. One of his early highlights in his sophomore campaign was a pair of touchdown throws against Miami in Week 3 of the preseason. The fact that he completed passes to Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith to post those scores makes things all that much better considering that they were both brought in as a major upgrade to the Eagles' receiving corps.

A recent trade that sent Philadelphia's former No. 1 receiver Jordan Matthews to Buffalo for cornerback Ronald Darby was already validated to a certain extent with Darby's 48-yard interception return against his old team in the Eagles' 20-16 victory against the Bills in a Week 2 preseason contest.

While I was happy to see both Jeffrey and Smith make a solid contribution in limited preseason action, I am a bit concerned with the team's other big free agent acquisition LeGarrette Blount as a quick fix for the Eagles' running game. I was a big Wendell Smallwood fan as a rookie last year, but I still do not see him as an every down running back in the NFL. Blount had a monster season with New England last year in the Patriots' run to a Super Bowl title, but he was still viewed as expendable by a head coach that understands the true value of his players. While you cannot make all that much from what Blount did or did not do in the preseason, he needs to hit the ground running (literally) against the Redskins on opening day.

I have been impressed with the Eagles' willingness to keep wheeling and dealing with minor trades here and there. They are obviously committed to heading into a new season with the best roster possible. Most of the moves (as in the trade for Darby) have be focused on improving the team's biggest weakness; the defensive secondary. One of their latest moves was a trade with the New York Jets for defensive back Dexter McDougle in exchange for another defensive back Terrence Brooks. While I really do know whether this is an actual upgrade in depth or just a wash, I do like the fact that Howie Roseman continues to work the phones while Philly works to finalize its 53-man roster.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Wentz is Ready to Fly with Jeffrey and Smith in the Lineup

Philadelphia paid a small fortune to move up to the second spot in first round the 2016 NFL Draft to select former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. First year head coach Doug Pederson had every intention of letting his quarterback of the future sit back and learn the various nuances of the position he once played for the Eagles while another No. 2 pick Donovan McNabb studied the game as a backup way back in 1999.

Wentz's time as a backup quickly came to an end when Philly was handed a golden opportunity to trade then-starter Sam Bradford to Minnesota for the first round pick it gave up to land Wentz in the first place. His first season at the helm as the Eagles' latest starting quarterback proved to be a much more valuable experience than carrying a clip board on the sidelines. Wentz started all 16 games as a rookie and ended the season with 3,782 passing yards and 16 touchdown throws. He was also picked off 14 times while suffering 33 sacks in that baptism by fire. The Eagles went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the third-straight season.

Tight end Zach Ertz was the team' leading receiver in 2016 with 78 receptions for 816 yards and four touchdowns. Jordan Matthews caught 73 balls for 804 yards and three touchdowns as the No.1 receiver and Nelson Agholor struggled in the No. 2 spot with 36 catches for 365 yards and two scores. Phiily's offense ended the year ranked 24th in the NFL in passing yards.

Flash forward to Thursday night's Week 3 preseason matchup against Miami. The highlights came early and often starting with Wentz hooking up with his new No. 2 receiver Torrey Smith for a 50-yard touchdown pass. These are the type of big play scores that have been missing from this offense ever since former head coach Chip Kelly decided to part ways with DeSean Jackson before the 2014 regular season. Wentz was not done for the night just yet and later in the first quarter he threw a 14-yard scoring strike to his new No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffrey. Pederson had saw enough and decided to give this trio a seat on the bench for the rest of the night.

Jeffrey, from Chicago and Smith, from San Francisco were two of the Eagles' biggest offseason free agent additions along with former New England running back LeGarrette Blount. While this group of skill players may not be as formidable as ones that teams like the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers boast in their starting lineup, they have the potential to make Philadelphia's offense much better than it was in Wentz's rookie year.

You should never take too much away from preseason games, but the second-year vet did look dialed-in with his new duo of receivers in what was his final tune-up before the games start counting for real in the standings.

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 and 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 the 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 in his first stint in the NFL at that same position. 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.