10 Things I Think I Think About the Philadelphia Eagles — Early August Edition
Welcome to the second edition of 10 Things I Think I Think.
When we do next week’s version, we’ll have an actual preseason football game to talk about as opposed to just practice.
Let’s hit it.
1. Can we find a spot for Marcus Johnson on the team? I don’t know if we can, but I like him and want him.
The second year undrafted receive out of Texas is the training camp darling so far and Shelton Gibson’s reported struggles with drops might just open up a spot for him. I’m not really about cutting fifth round picks before giving them a real opportunity, especially one who can potentially bring value on special teams, but I’m not opposed if Johnson is the best man for the job.
Jeffery. Smith. Matthews. Agholor. Hollins. Johnson.
It looks a lot better than last year.
2. There is a chance that Brent Celek plays his entire career, which is now more than a decade old, with the Eagles. That’s really cool.
I think about a lot of recent and long tenured Eagles who ended up finishing their careers elsewhere. Dawk. Tra Thomas. Todd Herremans. Trent Cole. It so rarely works out that a player gets to spend his full career with one team in today’s NFL, and Celek, a 5th round pick himself, has a real chance to do it. He’s entering his 11th season and is currently signed through 2018. Hell, maybe it doesn’t end up working out, but what a story it would be.
3. Nick Foles is the best backup quarterback in the NFL, and it’s not particularly close. Hi DadSelfie 👋, Hi Slap Bet 😘
Tony Romo retiring in April made this all but official. Yeah, there’s some other guys with interesting accomplishments (Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates, A.J. McCarron, hell Mark Sanchez has two playoff victories). I’m taking Foles over all of them.
I know someone is gonna come back with Jimmy Garoppolo. Talk to me in three years when he wins his division and outplays Drew Brees in a primetime playoff game.
Back to the Eagles though, last season was the first time since 2008 that they had a quarterback start all 16 games. In a perfect world it will happen again with Carson Wentz, but the general football odds suggest it might not. When Alex Smith went down for a brief period last season, Foles stepped in and went 2–0, including a road win over Andrew Luck that went a long way in helping the Chiefs nail down a first round bye.
He is a very valuable asset who we are lucky to have and should appreciate, and if the Eagles need him at any point, he’ll be ready.
4. Yoooo @nelsonagholor, as long as the Eagles faithful knows that you give a damn, we’ve got your back. 👊
We’re going to go deeper on this in a separate post because it warrants it, but let’s recap briefly below in the meantime.
After a painful overtime loss in Dallas last season that changed the course of the division, Agholor did one of the most egregious things possible, saying “I don’t give a damn, man” when asked about his persistent drops, one of which cost the Eagles a chance to put the game away in the fourth quarter.
The soundbite was taken out of context as part of a larger quote, but the worst thing you can do is tell fans who give a damn that you don’t give a damn. This summer, fans have rallied behind Agholor. Part of that has to do with having better receivers to take pressure off him, but a large part of it is wanting a guy with immense potential to succeed.
I expect Alshon Jeffery to receive one of the loudest ovations during the home opener against the Giants in Week 3. If Agholor puts on a double move and burns Eli Apple for a touchdown like he did in the Week 16 victory last year, I expect the cheers to be even louder than Jeffery.
5. I hope we can at the very least get Darren Sproles a playoff berth before he calls it a career. He deserves it.
Sprolesy was responsible for 865 yards from scrimmage last season, his most since 2012. He’ll be 34 on Opening Day and has made his intentions to retire after the 2017 season clear. I’m surprised because he clearly still has something left in the tank but gotta respect wanting to go out on his terms.
Sproles has been on some average to below average Eagles teams the past couple years and as a result likely hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves. How cool would it be if he took a punt return to the house in January for the entire country to see?
6. If Brandon Graham wants to be paid like Von Miller, then he should put up Von Miller numbers.
My haters often call me out for being hard on Graham. Even if he isn’t Earl Thomas, he’s become a damn good player. That said, he has 12 sacks over the past two seasons. Miller had 13.5 just last year. I’ve written before that the success of Jim Schwartz’ defense is incredibly dependent on front four pressure to free up the linebackers and make the cornerbacks’ jobs easier. Get double digit sacks, and I’m sure Howie will be happy to talk money at the negotiating table from there.
7. Sometimes I feel like we don’t appreciate Malcolm Jenkins enough. What a great free agent signing he has been, on and off the field.
I remember on Day 1 of free agency in 2014 when the Eagles signed Jenkins and racist, misogynistic, blowhard, asshole, Josh Innes went on WIP and opened his show by declaring him “Patrick Chung 2.0.”
Holy shit was he hilariously wrong. Eight interceptions (four of them for touchdowns. Five forced fumbles. Three fumble recoveries. Jenkins has become not just a great player, but a great leader for this Eagles team, and he and Rodney McLeod have given the Birds their best safety pairing since the Dawkins-Mikell days.
8. Patrick Robinson covering Terrelle Pryor in a close 4th quarter of a must-win Week 1? Please excuse me while I don’t sleep for a month.
Pryor was actually my top free agent wide receiver choice even over Jeffery at the start of free agency. Jeffery has the track record, but Pryor has a lot less milage on him and tallied 1000+ receiving yards in the wasteland that was Cleveland’s offense. Dealing with him twice a year won’t be fun. Dealing with him while breaking in two new starting quarterbacks could be even less fun.
Let’s hope that aforementioned front four pressure can help out.
9. How long can the Eagles keep Dave Fipp before he takes a defensive coordinator job somewhere and has anyone launched the Kickstarter yet?
Special teams coaches can be an interesting breed. Some love their job and don’t have a desire to do anything else. I get the sense that the soon to be 43-year old is more cut from the John Harbaugh type of wanting to do more. In fact, Harbs was 44 when he stepped out of his role to move to defensive backs coach that began his ascent to being hired by the Ravens only a year later to run his own team.
I hope Fipp stays forever, but I’m just not sure how realistic that is.
10. Two rookies who I’ll have a close eye on this Thursday at Lambeau? Rasul Douglas and Mack Hollins.
Games are won and lost on the edges, and these are two rookies who can help immediately. One of my buddies on the eve of camp texted me asking the rookie I was most excited to see. My response was Douglas. His was Hollins.
Douglas in theory should have more of an opportunity to make an impact right away from a playing time standpoint, but the offense will find ways to get Hollins involved if he shows them he can play.