2018 Season Recap: Philadelphia Eagles

2018 SEASON RECAP: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Division: NFC East | 2nd in NFC East (4-2 in Division - Clinched 6th seed in playoffs)

  1. Dallas Cowboys (10-6 Overall | 5-1 in Division)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7 Overall | 4-2 in Division)
  3. Washington Redskins (7-9 Overall | 2-4 in Division)
  4. New York Giants (5-11 Overall | 1-5 in Division) (STILL THE SAME LAUGHING STOCK)

Head Coach: Doug Pederson

Offensive Coordinator: Mike Groh

Defensive Coordinator: Jim Schwartz

We tried?

I still don't quite know what happened last year but it was a complete mess and we won a playoff game anyway. Coming off our first Super Bowl victory in franchise history, I expected the team to start slow and take a step back from their brilliant 2017 campaign. That's just a natural expectation for teams not named the Patriots. Most importantly, the core of this team was still in their prime, the roster was still deep, and we still had Doug Pederson.

Injuries from 2017 leaked their way into 2018 all while accumulating new injuries along the way to pair with several coaching changes. These coaching changes included major losses in Frank Reich and John DeFilippo. That was a lot of brain power and experience to lose in one offseason and it took until the latter point of 2018 to find our groove. We could never quite figure out how to get the offense going all season. Wentz was good but wasn't MVP level good despite the prevailing narrative here after spending all of his offseason rehabbing only to get hurt again. The coaches didn't understand what they had fully in rookie Dallas Goedert until they were nearly eliminated from playoff contention. The offensive game plans were unimaginative and stagnant failing to cater to the strengths of the team. The overall offensive execution was erratic from the players. And the defense did their best not to fall completely apart.

In the end the Eagles were able to piece together several wins with Nick Foles in relief getting some much needed help from the perennial chokers themselves... the Minnesota Vikings. They didn't play well in all phases of the game for most of the year but they were able to come together and fight until the bitter end. The coaches played a big role in the early season struggles but also showed their true colors in righting the ship. While the team ultimately fell short of lofty expectations they should have for themselves, they showed they are a team that is willing to fight until there is no more time left to fight and they do it together. This is a team that has all the ability in the world to come back strong in 2019.

2018 Statistics

Offensive Statistic Total Avg/Gm Rank
Total Yds 5845 365.3 14
Net Passing Yds 4275 267.2 7
Passes Attempted 599 37.4 7
Passing TDs 29 1.8 11
Net Rushing Yds 1570 98.3 28
Rushes Attempted 398 24.9 20
Rushing TDs 12 .75 20
Sacks Allowed 40 2.5 17
First Downs 346 21.6 11
Pass First Downs 221 13.8 7
Rush First Downs 94 5.875 18
Total Points 367 22.9 18
Time of Possession N/A 32:39 2
Defensive Statistic Total Avg/Gm Rank
Total Yds Allowed 5859 366.2 23
Passing Yds Allowed 4308 269.3 30
Pass Attempts Allowed 626 39.1 30
Opp. Completion Percentage N/A 66.6% 24 (Sort By %)
Passing TDs Allowed 22 1.375 8
Rushing Yds Allowed 1551 96.9 7
Rush Attempts Allowed 332 20.75 1
Rush Yards Per Attempt N/A 4.7 YPC 21
Rush TDs Allowed 14 .875 19
Sacks 44 2.75 8
First Downs 308 19.25 8
Pass First Downs 215 13.4 27
Rush First Downs 71 4.4 2
Total Points Allowed 348 21.7 12
Time of Possession N/A 28:29 2
Turnover Statistic Total Avg/Gm Rank
Interceptions Thrown 11 .68 10
Fumbles Lost 12 .75 29
Giveaways 23 1.4 20
Defensive Interceptions 10 .625 25
Defensive Fumble Recoveries 7 .43 19
Turnover Differential -6 N/A 25
Point Differential +19 N/A T12

2019 Draft Picks and Future Picks Review

2019 Draft Picks

Round Pick Overall/Notes
1 25 Eagles' own pick.
2 53 via Ravens.
2 57 Eagles’ own pick.
4 127 Eagles’ own pick.
4 138 Compensatory selection.
5 163 Eagles' own pick.
6 197 Eagles' own pick.

Pick Explanation

Ravens-Eagles Trade (April 26, 2018)

  • Raven Received: 32nd overall pick (2018) + 4th Round Pick (132)
  • Eagles Received: 2018 2nd Round Pick (52) + 2018 4th Round Pick (125) + 2019 2nd Round Pick (53).

The Eagles entered the 2018 draft with limited draft picks, notably 1 selection in the first 3 rounds of the draft at pick 32. This is typically where the Super Bowl Champions pick and the Eagles won Super Bowl 52. One of the goals the Eagles had for the draft was to select a player they had high on their board but do so after acquiring additional draft capital in a trade back. While on the clock, the Eagles were able to trade down with a familiar partner in the Ravens, who were looking to jump back into the 1st round for Lamar Jackson. Reports stated the Eagles were fielding a numbers for the pick but there were no additional details on potential trade packages. This trade made a lot of sense for the Eagles despite the relative lack of picks acquired in 2018; having two 2nd round picks, and 3 picks in the top 60 of a draft, is incredible draft capital for any team. The Eagles are in position to add quality players with the additional asset they picked up. Furthermore, additional picks give the team more flexibility in moving around in the draft. Great value and an obvious move for the team.

Lions-Eagles Trade (October 30, 201)

  • Lions Receive: 2018 3rd Round Pick (88)
  • Eagles Receive: Golden Tate.

The Eagles traded their 3rd Round Pick (88) for Golden Tate at the trade deadline as a way to spark the offense. There was a lot wrong with the Eagles offense at the time and they did have a glaring need at Wide Receiver. While I will always appreciate the organizations aggressiveness, they didn't get the best value for their pick. I'm a big Golden Tate fan and thought this move would work out pretty well but they didn't get nearly the production they were hoping for. In fact, the offense sputtered worse in 11 personnel with Tate than it did prior to the trade. The coaching staff even admitted into having difficultly integrating him into the offense. The truth is the Eagles needed another WR that had the ability to line up outside consistently since Nelson Agholor is a very limited outside receiver. Instead, they used two slot receivers and had trouble fitting him in mid-season. It also caused he coaches to ignore what was actually working - 12 personnel. Tate did end up catching the winning TD against the Bears making me not hate the trade. He's a good player; the fit just wasn't right for what the offense needed. I'm glad the organization recognizes their windows to win and isn't afraid to be aggressive. Not every move will pay dividends and this is no exception. Although, thanks for the compensatory 4th round pick, Gettleman.

Patriots-Eagles Trade (April 28, 2018)

  • Patriots Receive: Eagles 2018 7th Round Pick (250) + 2019 7th Round Pick (239)
  • Eagles Receive: 2018 7th Round Pick (233).

The Eagles had the hots for the young Australian rugby sensation, Jordan Mailata, and traded their 7th round selection and their 2019 7th round pick for the developmental prospect. The Eagles believed there were a few teams looking to add him in this round and took no chances in securing the unit.

Bears-Eagles Trade (September 1, 2018)

  • Bears Receive: 2019 7th Round Pick (222)
  • Eagles Receive: Deiondre' Hall

At the end of the preseason, the Eagles traded a conditional late round pick to the Bears for Safety Deiondre' Hall. At the time, the conditions of the trade were not made available. It has since came out that whatever conditions were set for the trade gave the Bears the Eagles 7th round pick acquired from Denver for Allen Barbre in August 2017. Hall barely saw the field on defense for the Eagles this season despite all of the injuries. He played special teams almost exclusively. I'm not sure what the point of the trade was if they were never going to give him a shot.

Buccaneers-Eagles Trade (March 13, 2019)

  • Buccaneers Receive: 2019 6th Round Pick (208)
  • Eagles Receive: Desean Jackson + 2020 7th Round Pick

The Eagles had a big hole at receiver, specifically an outside deep threat. Who better than to fill that role that Desean Jackson. Jackson was entering the final year of his contract on the cap-strapped Bucs and expressed his desire for a while that he wanted to move on from the team. Rather than cut him for nothing, the Eagles gave up pick 208 in the draft for Jackson's services while getting a 7th round selection in return next year. Jackson ultimately signed a new contract with the Eagles. I don't think I need to review what Jackson can do for the Eagles - right Giants fans? The Eagles needed a vertical threat that can line up outside. It's a role they've valued highly under Doug Pederson. Torrey Smith had that role; while Smith wasn't a good receiver, his presence kept Agholor in the slot where he is more effective. This move will help Agholor do that again while actually having a good receiver outside. Jackson may be in his 30s, but he can still fly.


2020 Draft Picks

Round Pick Overall/Notes
1 ??? Eagles' own pick.
2 ??? Eagles' own pick.
3 ??? Eagles' own pick.
4 ??? Eagles’ own pick.
5 ??? Eagles’ own pick.
5 ??? via Patriots for Michael Bennett.
6 ??? Eagles’ own pick.
7 ??? via Buccaneers for Desean Jackson.

Pick Explanation

Patriots-Eagles Trade (March 13, 2019)

  • Patriots Receive: Michael Bennett + 2020 Eagles 7th Round Pick.
  • Eagles Receive: 2020 5th Round Pick.

In an effort to save cap, the Eagles dealt Bennett for peanuts on the dollar to the Patriots. This is essentially the same haul the Eagles paid for Bennett last year when they acquired him from the Seahawks - which was a steal for the Eagles. There have been minor rumblings that Bennett wasn't the best locker room presence for the Eagles but it never derailed the team nor did it become loud and obnoxious like it did when his time ended in Seattle. Bennett was a force for the Eagles in 2018. He finished the season among the league leaders in pressures per PFF; ironically, he had the same amount of pressures as Trey Flowers did for the Patriots last year. Bennett is versatile and a complete edge rusher. He can line up everywhere along the line and plays the run as well as he rushes the passer. It's a hell of a pickup by the Patriots. The Eagles are still very deep along the defensive front but losing a quality rusher like Bennett stings. At least they were made whole with the trade value while benefiting from Bennett's tremendous ability as a rusher. The Eagles did need to save cap but it still bothers me slightly.

Potential Compensatory Selections

As of this writing, the Eagles are set to receive 3 compensatory selections in the 2020 NFL Draft:

  • Nick Foles: Nick Foles signed a contract with the Jaguars that will net him $22 million APY making him their starting QB. This will be the largest contract by APY signed this offseason and will net the Eagles pick 97 in the 2020 3rd round.
  • Golden Tate: It was fun to root for him and I'm excited to boo him. Moreover, he caught the winning TD against the Bears and will net us a 4th round comp pick assuming no other major moves for the Eagles.
  • Jordan Hicks: Hicks is a very good coverage LB. He's spent significant time injured. The Eagles weren't in position to match this contract and wisely let him walk. It should net us a 4th round comp pick.

Updated pick chart from Jimmy Kempski

Round Pick Overall/Notes
1 ??? Eagles' own pick.
2 ??? Eagles' own pick.
3 ??? Eagles' own pick.
3 ??? Compensatory selection for Nick Foles
4 ??? Eagles’ own pick.
4 ??? Compensatory selection for Golden Tate
4 ??? Compensatory selection for Jordan Hicks
5 ??? Eagles’ own pick.
5 ??? via Patriots for Michael Bennett.
6 ??? Eagles’ own pick.
7 ??? via Buccaneers for Desean Jackson.

Assuming everything holds, which it likely will, the Eagles should have 11 draft picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Moreover, 4 of those selections will be in the Top 100 of the draft since Nick Foles will net the Eagles the top compensatory selection in the draft - pick 97.

Well done, Howie.


As always, it's worth keeping an eye on the future with regards to the Eagles and the draft since Howie Roseman is one of the most aggressive GMs in the NFL. The Eagles value compensatory selections. Extra draft picks not only allow teams to add more quality players on rookie deals, it allows teams the flexibility to make more trades. Those trades can be to move up in the draft for a coveted player or using picks to acquire impact veterans without having to work for their services as unrestricted free agents.

Roseman will use all of the ammo he has for the Eagles roster construction. It is paramount to start building draft equity given the looming Wentz contract extension. The Eagles ability to build a war chest of draft picks while adding veterans to win in the short term is brilliant since adding cut players doesn't cancel out UFAs signed elsewhere in the compensatory formula. The team has the ability to win again in the short term while building a consistent winner in the future all while being flexible to the ever changing market. Just a great job by Howie so far.

Eagles Draft Review

Selections

Round Overall Selection Player Position School
2 49 Dallas Goedert Tight End South Dakota State University
4 125 Avonte Maddox Cornerback University of Pittsburgh
4 130 Josh Sweat Defensive End Florida State University
6 206 Matt Pryor Offensive Tackle/Offensive Guard Texas Christian University
7 233 Jordan Mailata Offensive Tackle None - Australia
Round 2 / Pick 49: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State University

Trade Back Details: Eagles send 2018 1st (32), 2018 4th (132) to Ravens for 2018 2nd (52), 2018 4th (125) and a 2019 2nd.

Trade Up Details: Eagles send 2018 2nd (52) and 2018 5th (169) to Colts for 2018 2nd (49).

Entering the draft with limited capital at the back of each round because they won the Super Bowl, the Eagles had to work hard to ensure that they hit on the picks that they did have. I was hesitant to commit draft resources in the first round in a weak TE class at a position where we have a top end starter set for the next several years. How highly do you value the position when you have a top end starter set for the next several years despite it being a crying need? Ideally, the Eagles would be able to trade out of the first round and get their guy which is exactly what they did. The trade back gave the Eagles some draft flexibility and the ability to save extra cash on the rookie wage scale while adding a gifted player at a position of need.

Dallas Goedert ended up exceeding my modest expectations for him entering the season despite what the stat sheet shows. I was skeptical Goedert would have an instant and prolific impact for the Eagles offense given the depth of talent on the offense and generally slow pace tight ends take to adapt to the pro game. Additionally, Goedert was playing at the football subdivision at SDSU; this isn't a knock on Goedert, it just lowered my expectations for his immediate contributions to the pro game. While his numbers weren't huge, the Eagles offense was much more dynamic and effective when Goedert was on the field with Ertz than when the Eagles went into 3 WR sets. And the kicker: the Eagles decided it was best to use Goedert less after the bye for a few weeks than more. Predictably, the offense stuggled, but that's a rant for another time.

Goedert quickly proved to be a legitimate NFL talent with the ceiling of complete, Pro Bowl caliber tight end. One of the major questions with Goedert entering the NFL was his ability to block inline. While he wasn't absolutely perfect each and every play, he was a relentless blocker that was capable of erasing players out of a play. This provided the Eagles with great flexibility since they can line up with Ertz and Goedert on the field in a variety ways to disguise what they are going. Hopefully in 2019 we see a lot more of it.

Not only was Goedert a surprisingly good blocker, he was a dynamic receiver when he did get the opportunity. He is a massive, fluid target that is great with the ball in his hand after the catch. He also has some strong hands. The Eagles took way too long to realize the impact Goedert had on their offense. Maybe it was the idea that operating out of 12 personnel on a regular basis that scared them off. The fact remains Goedert became an instant impact player for the Eagles and allowed the offense be effective. So far this selection has been very good for the Eagles affording them the luxury of having the best tight end room in the NFL.

Round 4, Pick 125: Avonte Maddox, CB, University of Pittsburgh

With their first of two 4th round selections, the Eagles selected the super athletic DB out of Pitt. Maddox is undersized but posted a Z-score of 1.5 and is an elite athlete for the position in the NFL. The Eagles have had a need in the secondary for the last several years and used 5 draft selections in the last 3 drafts to solve the position group. Maddox is a selection in a long line of players fans have had promise for and so far is the one to show the most promise.

Maddox was competing with Sidney Jones in camp for the slot corner position and lost out in the early season. Reports out of camp were that both players were playing well. Jones did play well in the early season in the slot before his season was derailed with a hamstring injury that never really went away. Maddox was thrust into immediate action in week 4 as a free safety in the Eagles first game without Rodney McLeod. Maddox had never played safety in college so the transition was an odd one but he played well. His athletic upside allows the Eagles to play with a single high look in a Cover 3 since he can cover sideline to sideline. It wasn't a seamless transition but it was the only option for the Eagles that worked. Corey Graham is booty cheeks as is Tre Sullivan.

Maddox eventually left the lineup for a few weeks with an injury of his own in the Week 11 loss to the Saints. Maddox was another injury in the mass exodus at the position for the Eagles this season. He returned to the lineup Week 15 against the Rams where he finished out the season as the left outside cornerback. Maddox was great to close out the year at CB despite some up and down moments in the playoffs. His athleticism and coverage ability translated from college to the pro game. His athletic ability allows him to make plays on passes a lot of corners can't get to. He's also a smart player in zone coverage. In his final 3 regular season games, Maddox allowed a passer rating of 36.1 on targets his way and .62 yards per coverage snap (per PFF). His aggressiveness was exposed a bit in the postseason since he is an Eagles corner and they haven't met a double move they wouldn't bite on. But he gives Eagles fans a lot of hope and the coaching staff the flexibility moving forward.

There is a lot of debate among Eagles fans and writers alike about what the future holds in the secondary for the Eagles. Malcolm Jenkins is the glue that holds the entire unit together but is getting older himself. Rodney McLeod restructured his contract to get to unrestricted free agency a year earlier. In the short term the Eagles have a need for a 3rd safety and in the long term they have a massive hole with McLeod's pending departure. McLeod's loss once he landed on IR cannot be understated. It took several weeks for the Eagles to piece together a safety situation that would stop the bleeding prior to all the injuries that were still to come.

Lots of Eagles fans think that Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, and/or Maddox can move to safety or rotate at the position now and in the future - I disagree. The coaching staff has been explicit in press conferences that Jalen Mills is a cornerback and their actions have demonstrated that since he hasn't lined up at safety in the NFL. He's also not a good player in general and should be upgraded. Rasul Douglas is an outside corner; he doesn't have the fluidity to cover in the slot and in space which is what the Eagles defensive scheme necessitates. Douglas has grown tremendously since getting extended work this year and was arguably our best CB in the playoffs. Maddox could conceivably make the switch and was given a shot there before Rasul Douglas was. However, his ability to cover in man and zone make him far more valuable as a slot corner where he has to defend the entire field without the help of the boundary. I think they waste his coverage ability playing him single high safety.

Either way, it's nice to finally have this problem.

Round 4, Pick 130: Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State University

Post draft I ranted and raved about this selection as I believed that Sweat had 1st round traits and tape but dropped in the draft due to an extensive injury history. Josh Sweat tested as the second best EDGE rusher at the combine in 2018 with a Z-score of 1.7 putting him on the 95th percentile as an athlete for the position. For comparisons sake, Sweat would have tied for 3rd in the SPARQ database if he was a prospect in the strong 2019 class.

The Eagles entered the season really deep at EDGE given their organizational philosophy of winning in the trenches. Sweat was a high upside lottery ticket that the Eagles could afford to stash on their 53 man roster. As the season progressed, the Eagles suffered a number of injuries, including injuries on the defensive line. Sweat still didn't really play for the Eagles prior to landing on injured reserve.

From what I recall in the preseason, Sweat looked pretty raw. In college, Sweat was asked to play a lot of 4i alignments and routinely two gap. When he wasn't two gapping, he was sent after the passer. In Philly, Sweat won't be asked to two gap but he'll need to be smart and sound on a consistent basis when playing the run. From what I could tell he did look lost at times as he was routinely out of position on running plays. In the regular season, the coaching staff didn't seem to trust him.

At least his physicality translated from FSU to Philly. We should be patient with his development.

Round 6, Pick 206: Matt Pryor, OT/OG, Texas Christian University

Not much to say here. Pryor was a developmental selection for the Eagles. He likely projects to Guard in the NFL but has Tackle versatility which the organization values highly. He was solid in the preseason and drew a lot of positive reviews in camp but was buried on a deep depth chart at the position. Pryor did not play an offensive snap in 2018.

This is a notable selection for the Eagles in the event the move on from any of the depth pieces they have at Guard* with Brandon Brooks recovering from Achilles surgery.

*As it turns out, the Eagles granted Stefan Wisniewski his release after requesting it and extended OG Isaac Seumalo, solidifying the LG position. Brooks is still recovering from surgery and could push for a sooner than expected return. Until we know more about his rehab, Pryor has a real chance for his first game action in early 2019.

Round 7, Pick 233: Jordan Mailata, OT, Australia

The Unit from Down Under didn't play an offensive snap for the Eagles in 2018 which is a blessing. Mailata is as big a YOLO draft pick as you'll get regardless of the round. He never knew what football was 18 months ago. The massive prospect was our final selection in the draft and played like it... which was stunning.

Mailata never played football before and looked like a 7th round draft pick at Offensive Tackle. The fact that he looked like he could even play is a minor miracle and speaks to his own talent and the coaching staffs ability to teach. While I am excited to watch his development in year 2, I would caution against expecting him to be anything more than what he is. If he develops into a capable back up so soon I'd be thrilled. Offensive Tackle doesn't just require athletic ability but proficiency in a variety of blocking moves and counter moves. Mailata is a ball of clay but far from a finished product. The Eagles should proceed as if they can't count him yet, which is a fair estimation. If he improves, then they might have something moving forward. It's just such a big projection to make a realistic bet on.

UDFAs

The UDFA class wasn't as fortuitous to this Eagles this time around as it was to them in 2017. Josh Adams is the only notable UDFA to make the roster and see playing time for the Eagles this season. Bruce Hector also played snaps for the Eagles this year but he made even less of an impact. Adams served as a reminder that sometimes UDFAs go undrafted for a reason. Maybe I am a little harsh on the player but I just don't see the hype.

Last years UDFA class netted the Eagles Corey Clement and Tre Sullivan. The latter bounced around between the active roster and the practice squad most of his time here but Sullivan saw significant play time this year, unfortunately. Clement was solid for the Eagles in their title run but had a below average season for the team this year. Clement finished the year hurt and likely played most of this one hurt. He did show to be a valuable committee back and should be fine long term. As for Josh Adams, ehh, I'm not in love. I wouldn't hate for the Eagles to roster him as an RB4 but that is really all he is. When he was given an extensive workload the final 6 games of the season he averaged 3.53 yards per carry. While he has long speed in the open field, it's getting to the open field that is the issue for him. He has the requisite vision but not the quick twice ability to hit holes on a consistent basis. Additionally, he's not much of a receiver to threaten defenses at this point in time making him an obvious tell for what is coming. He's a bottom of the roster player and showed it consistently throughout the year.

In my opinion, the Eagles need to add two RBs this offseason to pair with Corey Clement and Josh Adams, if he is on the active roster. One of these two backs has to be a good receiver already. Adams is fine to roster if the Eagles decide to carry 2 backs. Ideally, Adams doesn't see the field; if he does have to play, his ideal usage should be around 5-7 touches per game.

Player Acquisitions and Contract Extensions

Free Agents and Contract Extensions

Player Position Contract
Nigel Bradham LB 5 years, $40 mil, $14 mil guaranteed
Mike Wallace WR 1 year, $4 mil when factoring in bonuses and incentives.
Haloti Ngata DT 1 year, $2.6 mil with $400k in playtime incentives.
Corey Nelson LB 1 year, $1.6 million.
Darren Sproles RB 1 year, $1.45 mil. $400k signing bonus. $100k in per game incentives.
Markus Wheaton WR 1 year, $880k
Richard Rodgers TE 1 year, $880k. $200k guaranteed.
Paul Worrilow LB 1 year, $880k
Kamar Aiken WR 1 year, $790k
Joe Callahan QB 2 years, $1.35 mil.
Matt Jones RB 2 years, $1.510 mil.
Nick Foles QB Restructure deal. Max 2018 money is $23 mil. 2019 team option for $20. $2 mil player option to leave.
Corey Graham Safety 1 year, $1.6 million

Trade

Player Position Compensation
Michael Bennett DE Eagles acquired Michael Bennett and a 7rd round pick (250) from Seattle for a 5th round pick (156) and WR Marcus Johnson
LB | Nigel Bradham

Nigel Bradham was a priority re-signing for the Eagles last offseason considering the uncertain LB situation in the short and long term. The Eagles don't typically value the position in the traditional sense since the team operates in Nickel close to 70% of the time on average but they require LBs that have coverage ability. Bradham was a discount signing for the Eagles in 2016 and played out of his mind on the two year deal he received. In 2017, Pro Football Focus cited him as the 6th best coverage LB among qualifying players. Given the extensive injury history to Jordan Hicks and the unreliable Mychal Kendricks, the Eagles had to keep Bradham. They couldn't afford to keep all 3 players and Kendricks was eventually released. The writing was on the wall for Kendricks the moment Bradham signed his deal. As for this season, Bradham under-performed relative to expectations. He started off the year missing the opener after serving a one game suspension for beating up a cabana boy. Bradham never really recovered from that as the season progressed as he allowed over 500 yards in coverage this season. He made fewer plays on the ball than he had in the past and was a general liability through the air. Bradham had games where he played well (@LA Rams, @CHI) but generally hurt the defense in coverage. He was especially poor in the divisional round game against the Saints where he was abused through the air and in the run game. The Eagles can get out of Bradham's deal now effectively making it a 1 year deal but given the state of the position on the roster it is a safe bet to pencil Bradham in for 2019. After 2019, the remaining 3 years of Bradham's contract are option years the Eagles can get out of easily. Depending on how they address the position this offseason, I would expect Bradham to be cut after 2019 and at the latest 2020. It depends on how long the Eagles see the current championship windows as open prior to some roster turnover.

WR | Mike Wallace

Man, what is there to say about this move. I was pretty excited to see Wallace in green since he is a much more nuanced route runner as a speed guy than Torrey Smith. He has the ability to separate against man or zone coverage while serving as an underneath option as well as a deep threat. Wallace ended up on IR after suffering a fractured fibula during their week 2 loss to Tampa Bay. Wallace finished the season with zero receptions for a blistering zero yards and zero TDs. It's easy to lament this signing since Wallace did literally nothing for us but that's just how injury luck goes. From what I've seen when re-watching the season opener, Wallace was still the player he was before signing here; he was regularly separating but Foles and the offense were very poor the 1.5 games he played for us. Eventually, Wallace was activated from IR at the end of the season but never dressed again. I wrote more than I should have for what we ended up getting.

DT | Haloti Ngata

Ngata was another discount veteran signing for the Eagles that didn't pay huge dividends. Unlike other fans and beat writers, I don't have a lot of negative things to say about the Ngata signing despite the lackluster play. He was signed for $3 million and slated to rotate in on the interior defensive line mostly on run downs. The issue the Eagles had was losing Timmy Jernigan for several weeks due to an undisclosed offseason back injury. Philadelphia didn't have another option after Jernigan missed time thrusting Ngata into an expanded role he can't fulfill at this stage in his career. So part of the blame falls on Jernigan, the other part on the Eagles for not addressing IDL enough given the injury happened prior to the draft. As for Ngata's play on the field, he didn't offer a lot as a pass rusher but was a [solid run defender](https://twitter.com/fduffy3/status/1074752770631188482]. Like a lot of other Eagles, Ngata missed time due to injury. At this point in his career he'd be a solid run down player on the cheap and nothing more. He offers you Ngata as a pass rusher but still plays strong and anchors well in run defense. Ideally he's your 4th option in a rotation on a limited snap count. That's fine for every team we just needed more out of him than he could give which hurts the perception of signing Ngata.

LB | Corey Nelson

Corey Nelson was signed as a UFA from the Broncos and given a shot to make the roster as a 3rd LB and special teams player. It was a low risk bet given some of the flashes he showed on film in coverage but ultimately was bad in training camp and worse in the preseason. Nelson was promptly cut.

RB | Darren Sproles

Fan favorite Darren Sproles was re-signed post draft and slotted to serve as the Eagles 2nd or 3rd running back in their rotation as well as their punt returner. Part of the reason why Sproles signed so late was to let the Eagles explore other options in free agency and the draft. The Eagles weren't able to upgrade from what Sproles can provide and he decided not to retire so a reunion was easy to make. Unfortunately, Sproles suffered a hamstring injury in the opening game of the season that sidelined him until week 12. Sproles injury was somewhat significant since they didn't have another RB on the roster capable as a receiver quite like Sproles. Additionally, Sproles is still effective as an inside zone runner for the Eagles which is a key piece of the offensive game plan. Without him and the other subsequent injuries, the Eagles were hurting for bodies at running back. Sproles eventually returned late in the season and provided a useful spark as a receiver en route to clinching a Wild Card berth. He wasn't very explosive or dynamic like he once was but the role he fills as a pass catching back was something the team lacked all year.

WR | Markus Wheaton

Wheaton was brought in as a low risk try out for essentially the WR5 or WR6 position. This was entirely dependent on how many receivers the Eagles would carry on the active roster as well as the type of receiver needed for specific roles. Wheaton was performing as one of the better option for the spot in camp according many beat writers. Wheaton made the team out of camp, played 3 snaps week 1, and was cut for Kamar Aiken. That pretty much sums up how effective he was.

TE | Richard Rodgers

With the departure of Trey Burton and subsequent release and retirement of veteran Brent Celek, the Eagles had a crying need at tight end to fill in both the draft and free agency. Ultimately, Dallas Goedert became the Eagles first pick (2nd round) in the draft and looks to have a high ceiling at the position in the league. Dickrod was brought in from Green Bay to serve as a rotational 3rd TE for the team but suffered a knee injury against the Patriots in the preseason and missed the first 9 weeks of the season. His only claim to fame was sending fellow scrub Josh Perkins to the shadow realm after returning from IR. Rodgers had 1 reception for 7 yards on the season. There were no expectations regarding this signing so I don't know how anyone could have strong feelings on it. The Eagles needed a TE3 on the cheap and Dickrod was that.

LB | Paul Worrilow

Tore his ACL in mandatory mini-camp right after Mychal Kendricks was released and was placed on Injured Reserve. The first of many injuries to come.

WR | Kamar Aiken

The Eagles entered the season with Alshon Jeffery still rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery. They also lost Mike Wallace in week 2 and Jordan Matthews had not yet been signed to the team. Still, the Eagles thought "why not" when trotting out the rotting carcass that is Kamar Aiken. I know the depth at the position was very thin to start the year but I still can't understand the thought process in keeping Aiken on the roster for the first 5 weeks. He sucked and was cut after the Eagles beat the Giants as per usual.

QB | Joe Callahan

Callahan was brought in largely as a camp arm with a shot to be QB3. Nick Foles was always destined to hit free agency at the end of the 2018 season and the Eagles needed to have a new backup ready to go. Unfortunately for Callahan, he ain't it. I feel bad for any sensible Packers fans out there that had to argue against other fans wanting to keep Callahan around. He can't play. He made preseason football unwatchable. How do you do that? Look at this magical cluster fuck disaster of a play. I will admit, It is wonderfully terrible to watch on repeat.

RB | Matt Jones

As an organization, the Eagles do not value the running back position as evidenced by the no risk flier they took on Matt Jones. Hard to fathom you could suck more than Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood but here we are. SPOILERS: He didn't make it out of camp.

S | Corey Graham

Corey Graham was useful piece on the Super Bowl roster as a 3rd safety. He afforded Jim Schwartz the creative freedom to use Malcolm Jenkins in a variety of ways in Big Nickel looks. Due to our good health (relatively) in the secondary in 2017, it was hard to see how much of a disaster Corey Graham is. He was a disaster for us when we needed to count on him when everyone died. He stinks. You're fooling yourself otherwise. There were a lot of reasons for the collapse in Tennessee, but his stupidity literally cost us the game. Nice throw from Mariota, but it was Graham's job to literally not let Taywan Taylor get open like that. He vacated the one responsibility he had on that play. That's a defensive failure of biblical proportions. So yes, I do realize Mariota using his eyes to manipulate the defense; it still doesn't matter since given the coverage assignment on this play. Let him retire already I can't take it anymore.

QB | Nick Foles

Ah, the best move for last. I pounded the table - hard - to keep Foles after the Super Bowl run unless a "too good to be true" offer came along which it predictably didn't. If you believe Mike Silver, which you shouldn't since he is a Hue Jackson fan girl, then he would have you believe the Eagles turned down a second round pick for Foles in the offseason. It's possible there were serious offers for Foles out there but I'm skeptical of that one. I understood the desire from fans to recoup draft picks by selling high on Nick Foles but windows to win championships are hard to get and the Eagles have one. Keeping Foles was important in the event they needed to lean on the tripod a second time. And he proved his worth again. While he didn't light the world on fire with his play this past season, he was good enough to help push the Eagles into the playoffs while winning a playoff game on the road. There is value in having a back up capable of that. It'll be difficult for the Eagles to have that kind of player again as Wentz gets more expensive but they were prudent to cash in when they had a winning lottery ticket.

Thanks, Nick!

Notable Mid-season Acquisitions

Trades

Player Position Details
Golden Tate WR Golden Tate for 2019 3rd Round Pick to Detroit
Deiondre' Hall SAF 2019 Conditional 7th (via Denver for Allen Barbre)
WR | Golden Tate

The Eagles traded a 3rd round pick for Golden Tate in an attempt to add a shot of life to their floundering offense. There was a lot that went wrong with the Eagles offense for much of the season and there was reason for optimism adding this play maker. Tate was off to a hot start to the season with a 16 game pace of 101 receptions, 1182 yards, and 7 TDs prior to the trade. His role was primarily as a slot receiver with the Lions and one of the most explosive play makers with the ball in his hands in the NFL. The downside to the trade was his pending UFA status given the resources used to acquire him. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Tate did not prove to be the addition they hope he would be as the offense did nothing but struggle with him in the line up. I don't think it is fair to place the blame at Tate's feet since he has to learn a new offense with new coaches and teammates on the fly. Furthermore, it's not Tate's responsibility to recognize what they have in rookie tight end Dallas Goedert and put the most effective personnel grouping you run on the field more often. The mid-season trade, changes in coaching, and lack of chemistry made this a difficult move to make successful. The coaches couldn't figure out a way to integrate Tate into the offense naturally and were open about that fact. The offense with 3 WRs on the field was less effective than it was pre-trade when it was already pretty limited. This is likely due to the fact the Tate and Agholor's best roles are in the slot. When the Eagles used Tate less as the season went on, the offense performed better. I think Tate is still a very good WR and he came up big for us against Chicago. The cost to make the move was a tough pill to swallow since it didn't make us any better. I'm all for aggressiveness when you have a chance to win but the Eagles would have been better served adding a receiver that can play outside. However, the market was probably limited on that front.

S | Deiondre' Hall

At the end of the preseason during final cuts the Eagles and Bears made a milquetoast trade. The Eagles shipped off a conditional draft pick (became 2019 7th via Denver for Allen Barbre) for safety Deiondre' Hall. I honestly have no idea what to say about this move other than why bother? Watching the sheer amount of injuries to the seconday this year had me feeling like I was watching the Battle of the Bastards. Yet, Hall only played 6 defensive snaps all season while playing 175 on special teams! I have no idea what he did to add much more. He wasn't a better option than Corey Graham? And if not, then why is he here? I am excited to close out the Allen Barbre trade though.

WR | Jordan Matthews

After flaming out in Buffalo and New England, the Eagles re-signed a familiar face in Jordan Matthews. The Eagles were desperate for Wide Receiver help in the early part of the season and JMatt was a logical addition given his familiarity with the Eagles. Matthews served as our WR4 for the bulk of the season as the WR room was able to return some familiar faces from injury. He only finished the season with 20 receptions, 300 yards, and 2 TDs but shown a little more as a downfield receiver than I remember from his first stint here. Matthews is slated to become a UFA again. He was solid and unspectacular which is about as much as you can expect from a mid-season signing.

DT | Treyvon Hester

Hester was signed to our practice squad back in September and officially promoted to the active roster mid-season. His claim to fame was blocking the Cody Parkey FG in Chicago that allowed the Eagles to advance to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Also PFF loved him and has him as the Eagles 3rd best defensive player of 2018. So he must be good.

CB | Cre'von LeBlanc

LeBlanc was claimed of waivers from Detroit and turned out to be quite a find for the Eagles and has a real shot to stick with the team in 2019. I lost count at the amount of injuries the Eagles had this season, especially in the secondary, as they were literally signing free agents to play in the same week; LeBlanc was one of these moves. All told I believe the Eagles played at least 10 different cornerbacks this season to say nothing of the fact that the Eagles lost Rodney McLeod to injury in the early season. LeBlanc manned the slot for the Eagles down the stretch and was a very smart player with an ability to play the ball in the air. He's not the fastest guy but he plays smart. His best role moving forward in the slot. However, I believe his limited athletic ability with force him to be a sub package player in heavy DB sets. At worst he is quality depth. He earned a job this season and really bailed the Eagles out when they need it the most.

RB | Boston Scott

Scott was signed off the Saints practice squad in mid-December. He didn't play much for the Eagles in 2018 but is a notable signing since he project as a potential Sproles replacement - in both role and stature. Someone to keep an eye on in the summer.

Weekly Game Recaps

This section was written by /u/belisaurius


Schedule Prediction from Offseason Review Posted Here

The 2018 Eagles season began with a Thursday Night rematch of the 2017 Divisional Round. Around we go again. The Falcons opened the game with a ten play, 78 yard drive from the ATL 25 all the way down to the PHL 2 yard line. The Fourth and Goal rushing attempt by Freeman was stuffed by Eagles’ Linebackers Grugier-Hill and Hicks. The Falcons would go on to score a field goal on their next first quarter possession. The score would stand at Eagles 3, Falcons 6, at the end of the first half, with each team putting up a long field goal drive in the second quarter.

The second half would see two quick punts, followed by a 63 yard Eagles touchdown drive, which included a replay of Philly Philly. Jay Ajayi would pick up the TD on a 1 yard run. Three more quick punts would lead to a muffed catch by Eagles returner Sullivan, setting up a short field for the Falcons. Unfortunately for the Birds in Red, Mr. Ryan would be intercepted in the Red Zone by Rasul Douglas. The gods of football play no favors, and on the ensuing drive, Nick Foles would be intercepted by Jones who would again set up the Falcons for a go-ahead touchdown drive. With a missed extra point, the score now stood at Eagles 10, Falcons 12 with 9:53 left in the Fourth.

Two quick three-and-outs later, the Eagles would drive 54 yards over eight plays to set up another Ajayi rushing TD. With 2:19 left, the Falcons began the final drive of the game. Over the next 4 plays, they would get down to the red zone and were completely stood up eight plays in a row by the PHL defense. For five trips to the red zone in this opening night showdown, the Falcons converted only one touchdown.

For a more complete picture of this matchup, please check out this helpful matchup preview over in the Eagles subreddit.

Record so far: 1-0

Week Two got off to a very uninspiring start with a 75 yard bomb from Fitzpatrick to former Eagle D. Jackson. “Every game we play against DJax is a reminder of the mistake that was Chip Kelly.” Shout-out to /u/nmd809 for that gem of a take. Some very unfortunate football would follow, with four traded punts, two traded turnovers, and two more punts before a mid second quarter Eagles touchdown drive. 13 plays over 69 yards would lead to a 15 yard TD run by Clement.

Fitzmagic struck again on the next play, with yet another 75 yard TD pass to Howard. After a quick Eagles three-and-out, the Bucs put together another touchdown drive to push their lead to 21-7. An Elliot missed field goal would end the half in more disappointment for the Birds. A failed fourth down conversion in the opening drive of the second half would set up another Fitzpatrick TD pass, his fourth on the day.

Through the end of the game, the Eagles dominated on offense and defense. They would score two more touchdowns and force three punts and a fumble. But alas, the Bucs would ice the game with their final possession, aided by another DJax catch for a first down and an untimely penalty. In what would become a standard recipe for the Eagles, poor first half performance could not be overcome by second half adjustments.

For a more complete picture of this matchup, please check out this helpful matchup previewover in the Eagles subreddit.

Record so far: 1-1

The Week 3 return of Carson Wentz to the Eagles roster began with a three-and-out by the Eagles Defense and a quick, seven play drive for an Eagles touchdown! Wentz’ first TD of the season and rookie Dallas Goedert’s first NFL TD. A missed field goal and a significant DPI call on the Eagles would set up the only Colts TD of the game. A slow second quarter, with an Eagles Field Goal after a clock eating drive set up a 10-7 score going into the half.

The third quarter involved some back and forth mediocre football and only one Eagles Field Goal. Two Eagles turn overs contributed to three Colts Field Goals. Fortunately for the Birds, an 11 minute drive in the fourth, ending in a Smallwood rushing TD, put them ahead with three minutes on the clock. The Colts successfully drove down the field to retake the lead, but a timely sack by Barnett forced a turnover on downs. General Luck pounds the turf in frustration. Despite an Eagles turnover on the final drive of the game, the Colts were unable to finish the comeback. Truly a messy game from the Eagles in all phases; but the fans were excited to see Wentz back in action.

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Record so far: 2-1

Despite an opening drive Field Goal by the Titans, the Eagles played a tight defensive game in the first half. Four forced punts and an interception helped set up the Eagles offense to pick up a 56 yard TD bomb to Matthews and a half ending Field Goal. Matthews showed off his deep speed for the first Eagles score of the game. The Eagles and Titans would trade opening second half touchdowns. The Eagles with a 12 play, 7 minute drive culminating in Jeffery’s first TD of the year. Mariota lead the Titans back down the field, aided by a long DPI, and then took it in himself for a 2 yard TD run.

A fumble from Wentz in the closing minutes of the third set up a Titans Field Goal. They would follow up with a 75 yard TD drive, initiated by a 51 yard pass from Mariota to Davis and finished by a short Mariota TD pass. Two traded punts later, the Eagles tied the game at 20-20 with a Field Goal with 16 seconds left in regulation. Having won the overtime coin flip, the Eagles drove down the field on the opening possession. Excellent coverage by the Titans secondary in the red zone forced a 37 yard Elliott field goal to put the Eagles up with one possession left.

The ensuing 16 play, 71 yard TD drive by the Titans is… worthy of grudging respect for the dogged determination of the Titans football club. No less than three defensive penalties did the Eagles in on three separate third down plays. Despite 4 incompletions in 11 plays, and five positive runs, the Titans elected to go for a pass on a fourth and two at the Eagles 32, well within range of the tying field goal. This conversion would set up the game ending Mariota to Davis TD in the closing seconds of the overtime period. Caps off to the Titans for playing to win, doing it in style, and taking full advantage of the Birds’ mistakes.

For a more complete picture of this matchup, please check out this helpful matchup preview over in the Eagles subreddit.

Record so far: 2-2

A replay of the 2017 NFC Championship game was again marred by the Eagle’s first half woes: three punts, a fumble with a 67 return by the thiccness of Linval Joseph, and a Field Goal. The Vikings were able to drive down the field on four of their five possessions, resulting in a TD, a Field Goal, and fortunately for the Eagles, two missed Field Goals.

The opening of the second half gave the Eagles the hope of reeling the game back in, but an Ajayi fumble after a 68 yard drive lead to a return 91 yard Minnesota drive and a Field Goal. This 17 point deficit proved to be too steep for the Eagles to overcome. Despite a Field Goal, a nice three-and-out stop, and a 66 yard TD drive to end the Third Quarter, the Eagles were unable to put together enough offensive production in the Fourth to win the game. In particular, the Vikings successfully executed a time killing 11 play, 55 yard drive that set up the game cinching field goal. A fast TD from Wentz to Ertz was not quick enough to secure another potential scoring possession.

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Record so far: 2-3

The first divisional game of the Eagles’ 2018 schedule got started with a bang. This NFCE Thursday Night matchup is guaranteed to be filled with good ol’ fashioned football. A interception by Grugier-Hill on the second play of the game set up a 13 yard Wentz to Jeffery TD. Barkley would respond with his first (of many) big runs of the night, 46 yards and 46 missed tackles setting up a Giants Field Goal.

Traded punts at the end of the First Quarter set up another Eagles TD on a 1 yard run by Clement. Four more traded punts and this massive run by Barkley set up another Giants Field Goal. The Eagles answered back quickly with a huge reception by Agholor leading to another Eagles TD. The final four possessions of the first half involved three Field Goal attempts, but only one made one by Elliott for the Eagles, putting the Birds up 6-24.

The second half opened on traded TDs. The Eagles marched down the field in 12 plays, setting up a short 1 yard TD toss from Wentz to Jeffrey. The New York Giants Barkleys scored again on this beautiful TD run The Eagles would wrap up the scoring in the Third Quarter with a long Field Goal drive, setting up a Fourth quarter of traded punts. Saquon Barkley ended up out-gaining the entirety of the rest of the Giant’s offense by himself. The Eagles give thanks to the Giants organization for not building around him.

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Record so far: 3-3

In an upsetting return to form, the Eagles let this game get away from them. The defense made two excellent stops on the Panther’s offense in the First Quarter, alongside two offensive drives into the red zone. One drive resulted in a missed Field Goal, and the other in an 11 yard Wentz to Jeffery TD throw. The defensive performance in the second quarter was equally strong with two Carolina punts to round out the half. The Eagles also put up a Field Goal after a nice pair of bombs from Wentz to Jeffery and Ertz.

Leading 10-0 at the half, the Eagles came out strong in the Third as well. Building off a good defensive stop short of Field Goal range, the Eagles offense fought the full 99 yards back up the field over 17 plays. The drive was capped by rookie TE Dallas Goedert’s second TD reception of the year. From here, the Panthers would score 21 answered points to take the game. An 11 play, 89 yard drive and a missed extra point got the ball rolling. Carolina came right back after an Eagles punt to go 87 yards in 7 plays to score again, and convert on the two point try. Now behind by 6, the Eagles offense went three-and-out on a 2 yard pass, a -2 yard pass, and an incompletion, returning the ball to the Panthers with a hair over two minutes left on the clock. Cam Newton and his unbelievably strong QB voice lead the boys in blue back down the field in 55 seconds, 10 plays and 69 yards, to score a third TD in less than 15 minutes.

With the Panthers on top with 1:17 left in the game, the Eagles have possession at the 30. Luck seems to have come over from Indianapolis and served the game up for the Eagles. A 48 yard DPI penalty on Bradberry brings the Birds to the Carolina 22. An incomplete pass, an 8 yard run, an incomplete pass and then a sack fumble drive the final nail into this game’s coffin. This is peak Eagles football.

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Record so far: 3-4

This overseas game was full of fun moments and wacky hijinks. We start off with Wentz converting the first down by catching his own deflected pass and diving for the line to gain. Without reinjuring all my fellow Eagles fans, suffice it to say that the fumble that ended this drive was unfortunate. Jacksonville was able to convert the turn over for a Field Goal. The next Eagles drive also ended in a turn over. Jalen Ramsey is a very good football player. Fortunately, this turnover did not end in points for the Jags. The second quarter was the same as the first, but in reverse. After traded Field Goals, Jacksonville fumbled on their own 44, setting the Eagles up for a 32 yard TD pass from Wentz to Goedert, pushing the Birds ahead by 10-6. Goedert’s third of the season.

The second half began with a touchdown drive by each team. Wentz orchestrated a 9 play, 95 yard drive culminating in a [36 yard TD pass to Smallwood}(http://a.video.nfl.com/films/vodzilla/150212/Carson_Wentz_with_a_36_yard_touchdown_pa-dcSygjM9-20181028_082101614_5000k.mp4). Bortles answered with a 9 play, 75 yard drive with an 11 yard TD pass to Westbrook. From here, however, the Philadelphia defense took its toll. The next two drives for the Jags resulted in two Field Goals, but that was not enough to overcome the TD the Eagles added to the board in the Fourth Quarter. Overall, the Eagles were able to push through a rocky first half and seal the win with excellent clock management in the closing stretch.; a strong rebound to week 7, and a good place to be going into the bye, although very short of the expectations the league and fanbase had for the defending champs.

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Record so far: 4-4

The bye week was not able to snap the Eagles out of their first half woes and second half defensive collapsing. There are literally no highlight clips worth playing for either side from this game. In order, the drives in the first quarter went like this:

  1. Eagles –Punt
  2. Cowboys –Punt
  3. Eagles – Int
  4. Cowboys – Field Goal
  5. Eagles – Punt

From this first quarter performance, the Eagles were only able to rustle up a very long Elliott Field Goal in the Second Quarter, opposed by a Dallas TD right before the half. The second half would see some more consistent Eagles offensive production. The Eagles would put up a Field Goal and two TDs off short passes from Wentz to Ertz. In reply, the Cowboys put up two TDs of their own, with Elliott leading the way for both. Unfortunately the Eagles were unable to convert their final two drives to points, with the penultimate drive fizzling out on a barely short forth down conversion, and the final running out of clock on the Dallas 9 yard line. There were many opportunities throughout this game for individual playmaking , but outside of E. Elliott’s 151 rushing yards, no players had a standout game and the Eagles slid into a disappointing fifth loss.

For a more complete picture of this matchup, please check out [this helpful matchup previewhttps://www.reddit.com/r/eagles/comments/9vm85e/game_preview_week_10_philadelphia_eagles44_vs/) over in the Eagles subreddit.

Record so far: 4-5

Hats off to the Saints for putting together the ultimate reply to Dougie Fresh’s golf victories over Sean Payton. The Eagles walked onto that field and then back off of it without representing themselves, the team, the organization, or the city. Everyone knows what losses like this can do to the psyche of a team; and as a fan, I am more concerned with how to bounce back from something like this than I am in examining the specific elements of what went wrong. Some key take aways are that the Eagles offense often gets in its own way and struggles to complete clean drives; while the injury ridden defensive secondary needs to be shaken up and refocused on their strengths.

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Record so far: 4-6

I sound like a broken record when I say that this game was, again, a representative example of the two-half night/day personality of the 2018 Eagles. The Giants drove down the field on their first four drives to score two Field Goals and two TDs. Credit where credit is due, {Barkley again handed us a 50+ yard TD run]( https://streamable.com/7i213) putting the giants up 19-3 with four minutes left in the half. In response, the Eagles offense was able to pick up a Field Goal and a late second quarter TD with this contested catch and run by Ertz. We won’t mention the deeply unfortunate penalty that brought back this excellent run by Adams..

Fortunately, the Eagles defense flipped a switch right at the end of the Second Quarter, with a Malcom Jenkins interception of a deep Manning pass to Beckham. After this, the Giants’ offensive production would result in a Punt, Punt, Punt, Field Goal, and End of Regulation. Alongside this defensive playmaking, the Eagles offense found its stride in the Fourth Quarter, putting up a TD and a Field Goal to bring the score to 25-22, securing a win and beginning what would be a 5 out of 6 win streak to sneak into the playoffs as NFC sixth seed. In true Eagles/Giants fashion, the game ended with an amusing double tackle by Grugier-Hill.

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Record so far: 5-6

It is not generally normal for an Eagles fan to generate excused for an NFC opponent; but I would like to start by simply saying that Colt McCoy was an innocent man and the results of this game do not reflect on the strength of the Washington team. I’d also like to highlight one more Washington play from the day before I move on to the Birds: Damn, Adrian Peterson can run. The Eagles opened on a 7:30 drive, across 80 yards in 12 plays, ending with Golden Tate’s first receiving TD. This excellent sustained Eagles offensive rhythm would be displayed again in the second quarter, although the Washington Defense would end up with an excellent goal-line stand. The following Eagles drive would also put up a TD, bringing the score after the first half to 17-10, with traded Field Goals for each side.

The second half included excellent play from all three phases of the Eagles team. Three more scoring drives (a TD and two Field Goals), alongside four forced punts and a turnover sealed the game and pushed the Eagles back to .500.

For a more complete picture of this matchup, please check out this helpful matchup preview over in the Eagles subreddit.

Record so far: 6-6

I want to get this out of the way before I talk about how close the game was played by both sides: This is why any given Sunday is a meaningful phrase. Rasul Douglas played the ball appropriately and sheer luck (plus, grudgingly, Cooper’s skill) sealed the game for Dallas.

Overall, however, the game was exceedingly close. Wentz put up 228 yards and 3 TDs, while Dakota Rayne put up 455 yards and 3 TDs as well (217 yards and 3 TDs to Cooper, good lord). An unfortunate rules circumstance on the opening kickoff set the tone of the game. Traded turnovers in the first half and a missed Field Goal kept it close going into the second half. A series of scoring drives from both teams in the late Third and Fourth Quarter paved the way into overtime where Dallas held the ball for eight minutes before scoring, handing the Eagles their last regular season loss and locking them out of becoming NFCE division champs.

For a more complete picture of this matchup, please check out this helpful matchup preview over in the Eagles subreddit.

Record so far: 6-7

Once again, the Eagles’ road to the playoffs went through Sean McVay and his Rams. This game also saw the return of Nick Foles, as Wentz was sidelined with a back injury. Suffice it to say, the 11-2 Rams had some shocking surprises handed to them this game. The Eagles came out strong offensively and put up a Field Goal on their first two possessions. On their third, the offense failed to convert a Fourth and 1 attempt; but came right back in their fourth possession to score a TD after a pair of beautiful long passes from Wentz to Jeffrey. In reply, the Rams were able to muster up a TD and two Field Goals of their own; but they would be cruelly handled by the Eagles defense and special teams in the second half.

Two TDs, both red zone runs by Smallwood in the Third Quarter, and another Elliott Field Goal sealed the Eagles lead. The defense forced two punts, a fumble and a turnover on downs to put the Rams in an unwinnable position. Despite a Field Goal and a TD in the Fourth Quarter, the Rams were finished by a flubbed special teams play late in the fourth: a long Johnston punt was fumbled by Rams returned Natson to set the Eagles up in the Ram’s end of the field. The Eagles ran the clock down to a hair over one minute, wrapping up the game. This game was an excellent example of complete team play, and was a necessary win for the Eagles’ playoff chances.

For a more complete picture of this matchup, please check out this helpful matchup preview over in the Eagles subreddit.

Record so far: 7-7

This must-win game at home saw one of the most impressive quarterback performances in Eagles history. Foles threw for a franchise record 471 yards and 4 TDs on 35-49 passing hitting 10 receivers in the process. Both teams showed up to play in all three phases; and in the most classic form, the victory was secured in the final seconds by the last drive of the game. The Eagles opening possession was textbook. 7 minutes, 13 plays, 77 yards, with a gorgeous 37 yard TD pass to Sproles on a fourth down and two. A second quarter fumble by the Birds set up a Texans TD, but the Eagles hammered back down the field on the following drive to score again. The Texans would run a hurry-up drive to push the score to 14-17 Texans at the half.

While the opening Eagles drive of the second half lead to an interception, the Eagles would score a Field Goal and two TDs on the following three drives, including this long bomb beauty to Agholor. Despite being forced to punt twice, and turning the ball over twice, the Texans came back at the end of the Fourth to put up two quick TDs and take the lead. This left Nick Foles at the head of the Eagles offense, with exactly 2 minutes left to play. On a third and 10 from the Philadelphia 11, Nick took a punishing hit to the chest while delivering a 34 yard strike to Jeffrey. Foles was out for a single play, and returned to hit Ertz for another 20 yard pass, bringing the birds into Field Goal range. Three runs in a row drained the clock, and Jake Elliott popped the game winner through from 35 yards. With the Eagles at positive W/L for the first time since week 3, playoffs were increasingly possible.

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Record so far: 8-7

In the interests of respect, there’s no need to really dig into this one sided performance. The Eagles first team came out to play, the Washington first and second teams were injured, and the game was wrapped up after the Eagles took twelve minutes to go 92 yards in 19 plays to score the first TD of the game late in the second quarter. Another two TDs in the third and fourth, including Nate Sudfeld’s first NFL TD pass, concluded the game. Before Foles came out, however, he was able to rack up enough consecutive completions to the tie overall NFL single game record. With this win, and the fortuitous loss of the Vikings at the paws of the Bears, locked the Philadelphia Eagles into the NFC sixth seed and a playoff berth as a wild card team.

For a more complete picture of this matchup, please check out this helpful matchup preview over in the Eagles subreddit.

Record so far: 9-7

As predicted by fans and pundits, this game ended up being a defensive battle akin to the Eagle’s Divisional Playoff game versus the Falcons a year prior. In particular, the Bears secondary did an excellent job containing the Eagles passing attack while their front 7 was able to keep the Philadelphia running-back-by-committee contained almost entirely in the backfield. True to playoff form, the Eagles defense did almost the same thing to the Bears offense. This resulted in a very low scoring first half, with both teams struggling to find consistency and avoid forced errors. An opening drive Field Goal for the Birds put them up by 3, but the following four first half possessions went extremely poorly, with two punts and two interceptions. After punting twice in the First, the Bears were able to tack on two Field Goals in the Second to give themselves the lead going into the second half.

An excellent defensive stand on the opening Bears drive, including a timely sack by Jernigan and Graham, gave the Eagles the ball back for their first TD drive of the game. Two defensive penalties, DPI and holding, set up the Birds for a 10 yard pass from Foles to Goedert. A pair of traded punts later, the Bears were able to add another Field Goal to the board in the final seconds of the Third. A Bears TD on their opening drive of the Fourth put them ahead with less than five minutes to play. Fortunately, Foles lead a 60 yard drive down the field, hitting five different receivers including Jeffrey, Agholor, Tate, Ertz and Goedert. The resulting TD put the Eagles ahead, but a failed two point conversion left the door open for the Bears to extend their playoff hopes.

This sets up one of the more iconic playoff games in Eagles history. Down by 1, with 48 seconds on the clock, the Bears have the opportunity to drive down the field and cinch the win. A short kickoff by Elliott lets Tarik Cohen return the ball to the Chicago 42 yard line, barely outside of Field Goal range. A 25 yard bullet from Trubisky to Robinson moves the Bears to the Philadelphia 33, well within range. Cody Parkey, having made three successful kicks already this evening, was escorted out to the field for the game winner. Which he made. Approximately a half second after Eagles Head Coach, Swagmaster, and Icing King took the Eagles’ final timeout. With ten seconds left in the game, down by 1, 22 men returned to the field to retry the kick. The snap, the hold, the kick was away, and it was drifting. In a feat of extreme accuracy, Parkey hit both the left upright and the crossbar but not the actual kick itself, resulting in the immortal ‘Double Doink’ field goal attempt and ending the Bears’ season. Fortunately for Parkey and the city of Chicago, it turns out that the kick was actually blocked by Eagles special teamer Hester.

This defensive battle, framed by a slugfest in the trenches and hard hits all over the field, was an excellent game of situational football and individual playmaking. Though the Birds came out the winner, the contest was close, and the ending was a true testament to why the players and fans love this game; an effective icing of a kicker, an unseen but hugely impactful special teams play, an iconic broadcast call, but also the gunslinging of Trubisky and Foles to eek some points out of airtight world class defenses.

For a more complete picture of this matchup, please check out this helpful matchup preview over in the Eagles subreddit.

Record so far: 10-7

I would be remiss if I did not first mention that the Cowboys lost miserably the day before this game, and failed to advance out of the Divisional round yet again. Long live The Clapper.

As I am sure you are now tired of hearing, the Eagles played many of their games this season in a particular two-half night/day way. But never call the Birds boring, this time they did it in reverse. The game began with an opening play interception by Eagles third stringer LeBlanc. This pick set up an opening drive Eagles TD to Jordan Matthews! A quick Saints three-and-out lead to another Eagles TD drive, this time with a QB sneak for the score. With the Eagles up 14-0 with barely 10 minutes passed, there was some hope that this would be the complete inverse of the previous Saints-Eagles game. T’was not to be, as those 14 points are all that the Birds would put up on this Sunday in January. Combined, the Eagles offense would run 29 more plays, and would gain 99 more yard through the rest of the game, resulting in two interceptions and five punts. Though the offense certainly tried a variety of schemes through the final 50 minutes of the game, the Saints were able to adjust and address all elements of the Eagles ground and air game. Well played, New Orleans.

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles defense fought their best. Long drives in the second, third, and fourth, a masterclass in time of possession and drive management by Brees and company, exhausted the defense. The Saints would have scored on their final four drives if they didn’t miss a 52 yard field goal with three minutes left in the Fourth. It was clear that the Saints were prepared to handle the Eagles in all three phases, and were able to grind out the victory after some unfortunate luck in the First. Overall, this game was the classic Eagles watching experience, hope until the final minute where a fluke-y bobble by Jeffrey was snatched out of the air for a game ending turnover.

As we know now, this game would mark the last game helmed by Superbowl 52 Most Valuable Player Nicholas Foles in midnight green. Hats off to him for his dedication to the fans of this great team, and a huge thank you to everyone in the entirety of the Eagles family, from our beloved owner El Jefe Lurie on down to horse-poop eating fan. For a team that struggled with injury, in nearly every position, this 2018 Eagles squad showed incredible resiliency as they battled back from two games under .500 to put themselves in a position to make a playoff run. Both post-season games were full of heart and effort in all three phases and I guarantee that this kind of loss will only invigorate the whole locker room and organization to return better than ever next year, with franchise QB Wentz, with a new crop of rookies and Howie magic signings in tow.

For a more complete picture of this matchup, please check out this helpful matchup preview over in the Eagles subreddit.

Final 2018 record: 10-8

Upcoming Free Agents and Possible Cuts - Offensive Edition

Pending UFAs

  • Nick Foles: Earlier in the offseason, the Eagles picked up the team option to retain Nick Foles to try and trade him after which he promptly bought his way to free agency. All of this was expected as of last offseason and inevitable given the salary cap structure which all teams operate in. I don't want to disparage The Sultan of Dick but Wentz is the better QB with a much higher ceiling. He's the kind of talent teams dream of having. Foles is also a good QB in his own right but is very scheme specific. So when people - such as myself - argued against his value in a trade given his total body of work, it isn't mean to be insulting. The fact is Nick Foles has only thrived in a system that makes his post snap reads easier in a quick strike offense just like what Chip Kelly had in Philadelphia that Doug Pederson uses regularly in Philly. Foles didn't have this structure with the Rams nor did he have the strong supporting cast to help elevate him. Even with the favorable circumstances in Philly, Foles played very well at times and was flat out ridiculous in the 2017 NFCCG and Super Bowl 52. He also helped save our season this year. His best game came against the Texans where we won on a last second field goal. Otherwise he was pretty average against the Rams and Redskins. Foles was pretty erratic against the Bears but was clutch at the end when we needed it. He was also pretty poor against the Saints but was on his way to another game winning drive when Alshon dropped it. The organization values the back up QB and Foles was a great one. The only way the Eagles can trade him now is to franchise tag him. That's too risky. Foles will also have a limited market since most teams won't have the desire to add him. Expect the Eagles to let him walk. In the meantime, thank you, Nick. Update: he walked... to Jacksonville.
  • Golden Tate: Tate was a mid-season acquisition to help correct a struggling passing offense. It turned out to be a pretty poor investment outside of the game winning TD reception against the Bears. Tate is a great slot receiver and lethal after the catch in the open field. We never really got to see that in Philadelphia as the coaching staff couldn't figure out how to best incorporate him into the offense. While Tate is a better slot receiver than Agholor and wins in a different way, neither are effective on the field together since neither thrive on the outside. Tate was supposed to be a shot of life for the offense; he ended up being an injection of Lunesta. I don't think this is Tate's fault since he isn't on the decline. The Eagles were just not in a place where they could handle this kind of acquisition mid-season with the number of changes the team went through in the last year. Furthermore, the Eagles needed an outside WR that could win deep. Tate isn't that. There was likely no market for that at the trade deadline. The Eagles were aggressive anyway and it didn't work out that well. I appreciate the push though. I would like to have him back since he is a better receiver than Agholor but don't want to over pay. Update: Giants it is.
  • Mike Wallace: Wallace can win underneath and over the top as a down field threat. It's a shame we never got to see him operate with Wentz, Agholor, Ertz, and Alshon prior to his injury. Wallace should be cheap to re-sign given his age and limited production due to injury. Update: Eagles traded for Desean Jackson likely making a Wallace reunion unlikely. As much as I would like to have him back we don't really need him now. Desean fills a huge need for us and is better fit for that role than Wallace.
  • Jordan Matthews: JMatt will always be a fan favorite and I am not an exception. He's just an all around great guy and a hard worker. He's very easy to root for. Despite the love for JMatt, he's not a very good receiver. JMatt can play well as a big slot receiver but Ertz and Goedert can replicate this role just as well with more consistency and explosiveness. Agholor is a better vertical option from the slot than JMatt too making him replaceable. JMatt played well in a limited role this season. If he were to return as a WR4 I won't complain but I don't want him seeing starter snaps unless there are key injuries. Otherwise, I think Mack Hollins can easily replace his production from this season. Update: Signed with the Niners.
  • Chance Warmack: Warmack may get a shot to compete for a roster spot but it shouldn't be in Philadelphia. The former Titans 1st round pick is still the poor offensive guard he was when he joined the Eagles. Even after reuniting with his former collegiate OL coach, Warmack never righted the ship of his disappointing pro career. Time to move on and find other depth players.
  • Jay Ajayi: Personally, I would love to see Ajayi re-sign with the Eagles as he is a good RB. Ajayi isn't a home run hitter but is he is a quick twitch runner with plenty of power and tackle breaking ability. He is able to run both inside zone and outside zone which are staples of the Eagles ground attack. Ajayi is easily the best running back the Eagles had in 2018 and it crushed the Eagles offense when he left the lineup from a torn ACL. No one could run as consistently well as he could and it hurt the team at times. Ajayi comes with significant injury concerns due to his reported bad knees. Now he'll start 2019 somewhere coming off an ACL injury on top of those concerns. The Eagles don't value the RB position much but they do need to add two back to the rotation. If they feel like Ajayi can contribute well in the short term they should bring him back since he'll be cheap. It will also help the Eagles not force a pick at the position. If Ajayi is looking for multiple years in a contract I'd let him walk. I think the injury concerns are too risky for the value of the position.
  • Darren Sproles: I would place Sproles in a similar camp to Ajayi if Sproles decides he wants to play another year and not retire. Sproles has missed significant time each of the last two seasons. His skill set is a perfect fit for the offense and something the Eagles must add this offseason - either Sproles or someone else. Sproles is the best pass blocking back on the roster, the best receiving back on the roster, and our best punt returner. The lack of a reliable pass blocker and receiver is a huge need for the Eagles and one they must fill this offseason. I'd re-sign Sproles after the draft if we don't solve the hole by then. I love Sproles but it would be nice to fill his roles with a young player than can grow with Wentz and company for the next several years.
  • Richard Rodgers: If we could have Dickrod back as a TE3 for under $1 million again I'd do it. Otherwise I don't really care if he is here or not. As a TE3, Dickrod is a depth player and should only see time for us if absolutely necessary. He is completely replaceable. So if he is back or if the role goes to someone else, I only care that it is cheap.

Possible Cuts

  • Stefan Wisniewski: I'm only writing this as I was able to add this move to the list prior to submitting this review. Wis was a good OG for the Eagles and the worst for the 5 starters on the OL. "Worst" is deceiving as it means out OL is excellent if he is the worst starter. Wis can play all 3 spots along the interior and primarily played as LG for the Eagles when he was a starter. Wis is more of a power blocker at this point in his career and is solid in pass protection. While he can pull and block in space, it is not his strong suit. Seumalo is a more fluid mover in space than Wis. The Eagles decided to bench Wis in the early season when the coaching staff determined that Seumalo could at least perform at a similar level as Wis - and they were right. This isn't a slight to Wis, just a credit to the coaching staff for allowing their young talent to play. Wis asked the organization to decline his player option so he could get a shot to start elsewhere. It was puzzling that the Eagles would grant the request given the Brandon Brooks injury but they must feel good about his recovery and the presence of Matt Pryor. Either way, Wis was a solid contributor for us and should start wherever he lands. Cap Savings: $3 million.
  • Jason Peters: Another year, another spot on this list for Jason Peters. 2018 was an eventual season for Peters and one of the worst of his career. He returned from an ACL and MCL injury in 2017 and started the year as his normal self against the Falcons. Peters reportedly hurt his other quad in practice in the run up to the week 2 outing in Tampa and never really recovered from there. Peters played in every game for the Eagles but missed time in nearly two thirds of his starts. In addition to his injured quad, Peters suffered a torn right bicep against the Giants that he continued to play with. At times this season, Peters looked like he lost a step. He is still a good Left Tackle for the Eagles but he likely isn't the elite player he once was. That's not a huge issue for the Eagles but it pushes up the need to find a solution for when Peters is done. I think Peters cap hit is perfectly fine for where he is at this point in his career and see no need to move on from him. It would be nice to rework his deal for additional savings but if that's not possible I wouldn't mind seeing him play out the final year of his deal then letting him retire. Solution: restructured contract for $3-5 million in cap savings.
  • Nelson Agholor: Agholor is a complicated evaluation for me. I think he is a good receiver that hasn't played to value of his draft selection. Agholor is due $9 million in fully guaranteed money this season if he is on the roster at the start of the league year. The Eagles can get out of this contract with zero dead money by moving him prior to the start of the league year. They cannot cut Agholor since he is a good receiver and they need the depth right now. But paying him $9 million is less than ideal. Furthermore, Agholor has no incentive to restructure his contract for less money given his pending UFA status and what his peers make on the open market. Agholor's 2018 season was disappointing despite the similar statistical output to 2017. He's an easy guy to root for but he's not a great receiver or cornerstone piece to ensure you have for many years. I think the Eagles need to add another starting receiver to keep Agholor in the slot while fielding offers to make better use of his cap space. Agholor saw a 20% decline in slot snaps from 2017 to 2018 and it clearly hurt his effectiveness. If you can't trade Agholor for anything of value, keep him on the roster on the option and let him ball hard in a contract year in the slot where he succeeds. After the season you let him walk and cash in on that sweet, sweet comp pick. This isn't a hard evaluation. He's a good receiver, not a great one. We need to stop pretending he is better than he is.

Upcoming Free Agents and Possible Cuts - Defensive Edition

Pending UFAs

  • Jordan Hicks: Oh, what could be with Jordan Hicks if he could stay healthy. Hicks is one of the better coverage LBs in the NFL and easily the best LB on the Eagles. Earlier in his career he was a play-maker, forcing turnovers and tackling fools at an elite clip. Since the Eagles transitioned back to more of a 4-3 front with less blitzing, Hicks has been asked to play back in coverage more than he did his rookie season under Chip Kelly. One thing our defense prioritizes is coverage LBs despite the fact that the organization doesn't value the position highly. With Nigel Bradham under contract, the Eagles don't need to force a Hicks contract extension. Hicks is the best LB on the team but it is hard to commit significant financial resources on a player who cannot stay healthy. His injury history extends back to his college days. It would be a huge win for the Eagles to retain his services but if the price gets too high they need to walk away. It's just too risky given the value. Update: Signed with the Cardinals. Good pickup for them. Necessary for us to let him walk.
  • Ronald Darby: Darby has been the best and most consistent CB on the Eagles the last two years. Despite the obvious talent, Darby has missed significant time the last two seasons with a dislocated ankle (2017) and a torn acl (2018). When on the field, Darby has been very good in coverage but somewhat more inconsistent this season than in 2017. Darby is a good athlete for the position and a fluid mover. One thing that has hurt his growth as a player in his young career is inconsistency in route recognition and an ability to be easily be fooled by receivers. What has always made the difference for Darby is his athleticism as it allows him to recover when beat when most players can't. When things click for Darby he's great. When it doesn't he's still very good; I just want to see that inconsistency cleaned up a bit. The Eagles secondary collapsed like a dying star when he left the game week 9 and struggled for several weeks thereafter until Rasul Douglas became a consistent player the final few games. As much as I would like Darby to return, I think the Eagles have a good amount of promising yutes at the position where they don't have to overpay for Darby to return. The defense will be much better with him. I just think Darby will be paid significantly well despite injury in a weak CB market and draft. We'll probably be priced out. Update: NOPE! We got him back at 1 year, $8.5 million. Guess his market was soft after all. WOO!
  • Haloti Ngata: I want to be disappointed by the Ngata signing but I didn't have grand expectations for him when he did sign. My hope was that he would serve as a solid depth piece after Timmy Jernigan fortifying an already strong defensive line. Unfortunately, Jernigan missed most of the season hurt for God knows what. This elevated Ngata into an expanded role he just can't handle at this point in time. Ngata also suffered from injury and missed time in 2018. I would take Ngata back at the veteran minimum only after adding additional bodies on the interior defensive line. I would not want to play him outside of early down work on a limited snap count - like 20 per game. He wasn't terrible for the Eagles, he's just nearing the end of a great career. Update: Ngata retired.
  • Corey Graham: I'm tired of this dude and I hope he retires already. Corey Graham was decent as a role player in 2017 en route to a Super Bowl playing under 40% of the defensive snaps. This season, Graham was thrust into a larger role on defense thanks to the myriad of injuries in the secondary, most notably Rodney McLeod. As it turns out, 60% of the snaps was way, way too many for the elder safety. Graham literally cost the Eagles with a boneheaded play in week 4. He's slow. He can't tackle. He's a liability against the pass and run. What use does he have? It is time for the Eagles to get real with the safety position and add a player that has some upside should they need to lean on the depth. Graham stinks. I hope he retires already before I lose my damn mind.

Possible Cuts

  • Timmy Jernigan: What a fall from grace Jernigan had from 2017. Timmy was the perfect partner in crime to Fletcher Cox along the interior defensive line and a reliable defender who is rarely blown off the line of scrimmage. Jernigan signed a big money deal during the 2017 season when he proved to be a scheme and culture fit in Philadelphia. He was supposed to be counted on for constant disruption and maximum effort. That is until he injured himself in the offseason in an undisclosed incident. Whatever happened to Jernigan, it gave the Eagles just cause to re-work his contract making his remaining years team option years. After playing roughly 100 defensive snaps for the Eagles this season due to his back injury, the Eagles promptly decided not to pick up his option and letting him walk. The Eagles have to eat $6 million in dead cap space this year but the savings beyond this year will give the Eagles the option to replace his production pretty easily since they planned for his availability prior to injury anyway. Smart to cut the dead weight when you can. I'd love to know what Jernigan did to screw himself.
  • Chris Maragos: Maragos used to serve as a special teams captain as a special teams standout for the Eagles. Maragos tore is ACL and PCL against the Redskins in 2017 and hasn't seen the field since. The Eagles let Maragos stay on the roster in the event he was able to recover from injury but ultimately had to have a second surgery this year. The Eagles released him saving $2 million in cap space.
  • Rodney McLeod: I had originally planned to include McLeod in this section since he was subject to some speculation regarding his future standing with the team. The Eagles season beat me to the punch once the season ended. Philadelphia reworked McLeod’s deal in early February to ensure that he is with the team in 2019 but at a more favorable cap figure. Part of the reason there was speculation as to his future status was due to his high cap number ($9.9 million) for the production the Eagles received. While McLeod is a very good safety, he isn’t elite. Moreover, it’s difficult to judge the impact of a free safety during a game when you usually don’t see them in the picture on a snap to snap basis – which I am guilty of myself. The Eagles were tight against the cap with a good safety on a big contract a year after the market tanked at his position. The Eagles were able to adjust his deal to pay him a more modest salary with the adjusted market prior to the 2019 free agency going completely bonkers at the position. Personally, I wasn’t in favor of moving on from McLeod regardless of his contract status given how important he is to the defense. I love the fact they were able to work out a compromise; the downside of the deal is it allows McLeod to enter unrestricted free agency a year earlier than he would have making 2019 his final contract year. The Eagles had a significant need for a 3rd safety in the short term but now have a pressing long term need if they don’t plan to retain McLeod beyond this next season. New cap hit: $4.8 million. Savings: $5.06 million.

Coaching Staff Review and Changes

New Coach Title Previous Position Outgoing
Carson Walch Wide Receivers Coach Eagles Assistant Wide Receivers Coach Gunter Brewer
Matthew Harper Assistant Wide Receivers Coach Eagles Assistant Special Teams Coach Carson Walch
Phillip Daniels Defensive Line Coach Eagles Assistant Defensive Line Coach Chris Wilson
Mike Bartrum Assistant Tight Ends Coach High School Football Coach Eugene Chung
Roy Istvan Assistant Offensive Line Coach OC and OL coach, Keiser University Eugene Chung
Nathan Ollie Assistant Defensive Line Coach EKU Defensive Line Coach Phillip Daniels
TJ Paganetti Assistant RB Coach Eagles Assistant QC/Assistant OL Coach Trent Miles
Luke Thompson Assistant Special Teams Coach Lafayette College Defensive Coordinator Matthew Harper
Matt Burke Defensive Special Assistant Miami Dolphins Defensive Coordinator N/A
GJ Kinne Offensive Special Projects Offensive Analyst – Univ. of Arkansas N/A
Joe Pannunzio Director of Team Development ST Coordinator and TEs Coach, Univ. of Alabama N/A

Coaching played a major role in the success the Eagles had in 2017 and was a major role in the chaotic 2018 season that just concluded. One thing that must be addressed was the loss of both Frank Reich and John DeFilippo to other coaching opportunities after last season had ended. I believed that both coaches were very good at their respective positions for the organization but with HC Doug Pederson in place we would be fine. While that statement is true, Pederson is a great head coach, losing two assistants in key positions at once was very detrimental to the Eagles success this season. I thought there would be an impact to losing both coaches but I didn’t understand the ramifications of those changes until the first quarter of the NFL season had concluded.

It’s easy to look back now with the benefit of hindsight and see that Reich and Flip were key losses for the organization. All we need to do is look at the firing of Chip Kelly and hiring of Doug Pederson to see the impact of hiring good coaches. Good coaches are not only good game planners that are capable of being good teachers of the game, they are good leaders and communicators capable of directing an entire franchise. Luckily for the Colts, they were able to find this kind of coach in Frank Reich after Josh McDaniels pulled out of the Head Coaching position. It’s not that Frank Reich was the puppet master behind Pederson’s success as a head coach in 2017, he was just a trusted partner and great offensive voice for the Head Coach. Pederson is a smart play caller and game-planner but his most redeeming quality is his ability to recognize his own shortcomings. This is allows him to identify other coaches that can help assist him in pushing the team towards great success. Pederson’s most trusted partner was Frank Reich and his departure had a ripple effect on the team that extended well into the season.
The Offensive Coordinator position in Philly doesn’t call plays. What the OC does is act as the manager of the offensive staff and key assistant to Pederson in game planning and preparation. This coach is tasked with putting together all the ideas from the various offensive coaches into the game plan for the specific opponent on a week to week basis. If the offensive coordinator isn’t a good communicator or a good offensive mind, game plans can become stale and stagnant. This was part of the case for the Eagles throughout 2018. One of the biggest impediments to the Eagles success was their inability to score first quarter points. NFL teams are much more likely to win on a week to week basis when they can score consistently early in games. The Eagles scored 113 first quarter points in 2017 compared to the 34 first quarter points scored in 2018. Two points per quarter in the opening quarter of games in an abhorrent average that underscores how ineffective the Eagles were on offense regardless of who was at QB. The Eagles failed to score in the first quarter 10 out of 16 games this season.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, there isn’t one root cause for the offensive decline; although we can safely assume the change in coaching played a role. Much has been made about Mike Groh’s coaching chops, but he alone isn’t responsible for the putrid offensive output in 2018. There were injuries along the OL on a consistent basis. Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles missed significant chunks of time forcing the Eagles to lean on inferior talent. Alshon Jeffery missed the first 3 games due to offseason shoulder surgery. Mike Wallace got hurt immediately. Mack Hollins got hurt. Nelson Agholor regressed when leaned upon. Finally, Carson Wentz was rehabbing from torn knee ligaments with limited offseason preparation to ensure he was in the best possible football shape. While he improved and became a more efficient and accurate passer, the lack of big plays hurt the offense at time. He isn’t the only one at fault but he has a share of the blame.

We shouldn’t be so surprised with the relative lack of offensive excellence compared to 2017 with all that turnover. There is also a natural tendency for regression that must be accounted for. That doesn’t mean the coaching staff isn’t without blame; it is just difficult to place blame at the feet of Mike Groh alone. Ultimately, this is Doug Pederson’s show and he should bear the brunt of criticism. The most notable failure of the coaching staff this season was failing to integrate Golden Tate into the offense after the trade. Adding a new WR to the lineup mid-season is certainly a difficult task but the Eagles didn’t look like they knew how to do it – they even said as much. Furthermore, they did it at the expense of their wildly successful 12 personnel package limiting Dallas Goedert despite the fact the offense was more effective with him and Ertz together. Here are the numbers to illustrate my point. This isn’t to absolve Wentz of any offensive blame, but the coaching staff did not make the best use of the personnel on the roster for him until it was almost too late. That turning point was the week 14 loss at Dallas. The Eagles shifted to a more quick strike offense with extended 12 personnel use. In the least shocking development, it worked! The overall offensive output increased enough to help push the Eagles into the playoffs.

I say all of this to circle back to the main point about Mike Groh: he does deserve a second season as offensive coordinator. In the end, the coaching staff recognized the it’s failures and were able to hold the team together for a late season push. Their ability to continuously self-scout and adjust in the face of overwhelming adversity due to injury speaks to their ability as coaches. They deserved the patience afforded to them after a lackluster 2016 season that saw a lot of roster turnover, change at the QB, and new coaches coming together and they deserve it now. In their second season together, they proved their worth and won a Super Bowl. Mike Groh was a big part of that success and often credited for his work by Pederson and Reich. Is Groh the same caliber coach as Frank Reich? That’s hard to answer. He does deserve a fair shake with the benefit of continuity he didn’t have last year.

Jim Schwartz is one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL and cries for his firing were ridiculous all season. Is he without blame? No. His coverage schemes are often simple, and he tends to telegraph blitzes when he does send extra rushers to the QB. One of the reasons I am excited about the Matt Burke hire is it is a veteran coaching voice that can help aid Schwartz in his defensive game planning – I just wish it wasn’t Matt Burke. Schwartz prioritizes pass rush as it has one of the biggest impacts on a snap to snap basis out of everything you do on defense. He has an innate ability to maximize the talents of his rushers to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines. Even in the face of mounting injuries, Schwartz was able to pressure opposing QBs on a consistent basis. It’s not his fault the Eagles secondary suffered a catastrophic amount of injuries. It is his fault that he deploys minimal variety in his preferred coverage schemes. It’s difficult to build a cohesive game plan when players you signed off the street are expected to be immediate contributors at several points during the season. He was basically in a boxing match with two broken arms for much of the season.

The turnover on the offensive side of the ball doesn’t compare to the turnover on the defensive side of the ball. Losing McLeod really hurt Schwartz’s ability to maximize the play of his CBs with a hole in the deep middle of the field. The Eagles use a lot of Cover 3 concepts and the lack of a deep safety prohibits you from running Cover 3 with any kind of success. Additionally, 10 different CBs saw significant game action for the Eagles this season causing extreme instability in the back end. The fact that the defense was able to put together a strong stretch to finish the season is a miracle. We saw the growth of Rasul Douglas, the emergence of Avonte Maddox, and the good play from Sidney Jones prior to injury all under Schwartz’s watch. Retaining him was a no brainer despite the issues the team faced. Many of the changes on the defensive coaching staff – as well as the offensive staff – had more to do with promoting promising young coaches to larger roles.

The Eagles are lucky to have Schwartz. I don’t think there are many defensive coaches in the league that would have successfully navigated the turmoil the Eagles faced due to injury this season. Hopefully the Eagles have better injury luck with the hope that Schwartz does add some variety to his coverage schemes. They have promising youth in the secondary to expand beyond what they traditionally ask from the DBs with an elite defensive line.

2019 Eagles Draft Needs

The Eagles roster still has very few holes but I do think they have some roster needs that should be addressed in the draft and free agency. One benefit the Eagles have as they approach this offseason is they will be returning a number of starters and quality depth pieces lost last year. The Eagles have the luxury of being able to draft any position they want outside of QB in the first round given the depth of the roster. The problem is the Eagles currently lack a third round pick from the Golden Tate trade but are helped by their additional second round pick from the Ravens. Here are the following positional needs that I believe the team needs to address in the draft in order of importance:

OT, IDL, EDGE, SAF, RB, LB, WR:

  • OT: This was my top positional need for the draft last year and my thought process hasn't changed one bit since then. The need for an additional OT is amplified now with Jason Peters now on the last year of a re-worked deal. It's hard to fathom the future Hall of Fame tackle is playing beyond 2019 when he is 38 and likely gave that indication to the Eagles front office when they restructured his contract. Knowing this, the Eagles have to do their due diligence to ensure they have two starting caliber tackles when Peters moves on. The Eagles currently do not have a post-Peters solution on the roster. Fourth year tackle Vaitai hasn't proven himself to be a reliable starting NFL tackle. It's been a big benefit to the Eagles having him on the roster the last 3 season since he can play on either side of the line but he isn't capable of holding down a starting spot without being a significant burden on the offense. Jordan Mailata is an intriguing flier taken in the draft last year but counting on a former rugby player learning a new sport is not a good proposition. This is a talented tackle draft and one of the deepest in sometime. It behooves the Eagles to find another tackle for the future. Mailata and Lane Johnson are the only tackles on the roster under contract beyond 2019. The need is real and it is pressing.
  • IDL: Given the likely (not definite) departure of DT Timmy Jernigan, the Eagles have a massive hole along their interior defensive line. Fletcher Cox is a damn monster and had a DPOY type season but he can't do it on his own. Jernigan's injury left a massive hole on the roster since the Eagles depth along the interior was tenuous at best. This season showed us Cox's value in many ways. He had a career year despite the lack of help from additional DTs. Even in the face of consistent double teams and slide protections, Cox disrupts opposing offenses. He's one of the best players in the NFL and he needs a friend. This is as deep an interior defensive line class as there has ever been with a lot of talent at the top of the draft as well as intriguing scheme fits on the second day of the draft. The Eagles defensive scheme prioritizes killing the QB with minimal blitzing using a deep stable of pass rushers to move QBs off their spots and cause disruption. In the process, Schwartz demands smart players that play with discipline in run defense. It would be smart for the Eagles to look to Free Agency to find an immediate fit so they don't have to force a selection early in the draft. I would also take another DT since our depth options beyond Cox and a potential new addition is still relatively thin.
  • EDGE: The Eagles re-signed pending free agent Brandon Graham prior to the start of the league year preventing him from getting to market and potentially leaving the team. And as I finish editing this the Eagles are trading Michael Bennett to the Patriots. With Chris Long's future with the team uncertain, the Eagles have a need for youth at the EDGE position. While I am a believer in Josh Sweat, there is very little tape to go on to offer a realistic projection. Derek Barnett was well on his way to taking the next step in his young career prior to landing on injured reserve. He has a nice future. Beyond Graham, Barnett, and Sweat, the Eagles don't have a lot of depth at the position. Long has indicated that his playing days are numbered due to his desire to continue with the tremendous work he does for people around the world. If Long returns, this position group is loaded with depth in the short term and isn't pressed into taking a pass rusher early. They should be mindful of the strength of this draft - defensive line - and they've indicated as much. It wouldn't be shocking for the Eagles to add an EDGE rusher within the first 3 rounds of the draft - it is almost inevitable.
  • SAF: I've had a lot of debates about the need for youth at safety and I'm not sure I understand the logic that it isn't a need. I agree with most that it isn't the most pressing need in the short term since we still have Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod for 2019, but we don't have McLeod beyond this year anymore. Traditionally, the Eagles have struggled to draft all secondary positions and haven't had a successful draft pick at safety since Michael Lewis in 2002. There have been many notable misses in the early rounds that I don't want to recite as I drink to forget. So the Eagles have relied on free agency to solve the positions and hit two home runs recently in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. Jenk and Cloud form one of the best safety duos in the league and really allow the secondary to play fast and aggressive since McLeod is able to cover all areas of the deep middle of the field. His loss to a knee injury early in the season really screwed the Eagles over and they were barely able to put it together to make a playoff run. It was negligent of the front office to give the defense Corey Graham and Tre Sullivan as depth players. One is washed while the other barely belongs in the NFL. The Eagles rely on 3 safety looks pretty regularly. They don't have 3 safeties to execute this package now let alone after this season they only have 1 safety on the roster. I think it is better to be a year early than a year late with this need and they cannot ignore adding a quality body to the position group again. They can add a talented safety in a talented safety class to serve as the third safety when they use the grouping then allowing him to take over for Rodney McLeod after his contract expires in a year. It's smart roster planning that helps you now and in the future when the need is more pressing. It also frees you up from spending in free agency when your franchise is up for a new deal.
  • RB: I think if Eagles fans had their way they'd draft a running back with every selection in the draft. While I say that tongue in cheek, the Eagles do have a huge hole at running back they need to solve with two bodies this offseason. Presently, the Eagles have Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Josh Adams on the active roster. Clement's a capable rotational back but is coming off injury. Smallwood and Adams are poor running backs that need to be upgraded. Once Ajayi landed on IR with a torn ACL early in the season, the Eagles hopes for a functional running game fell to pieces. They don't need to invest valuable resources to solve the position but they need to re-learn how to scout the position since the players they have brought in have been marginal talents at best. With the uncertain contract status of Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles, the Eagles need to lean of free agency, trades, and the draft when solving the position. One thing they lack from the position in a big way is a capable back in the receiving game. Sproles has been the best receiving back on the roster the last two seasons and hasn't played all 16 games in either one. Running backs that succeed as receivers are necessary components to offenses and really help make an offense efficient and explosive. Sproles has also been the best running back on the Eagles roster the last two years as a pass blocker. This just isn't a reliable cast of characters which forces the Eagles to really evaluate how they address the position. Smallwood lacks any sort of patience or vision needed to be able to create on his own. Josh Adams is slow. They need a runner that is capable of executing their wide and outside zone rush schemes. Someone they can hand the ball off to that can get the yards that are blocked and create for what barely available on occasion. They need real talent.
  • LB: Linebacker is essentially the RB of the defense for the Eagles in that the organization doesn't place a premium on the position. With defenses operating with 2 LBs on the field with great regularity (Eagles included), there just isn't a need for numerous bodies at the position. The Eagles prioritize smart LBs that succeed in pass defense. The loss of Jordan Hicks to the Cardinals stings since he was the Eagles best LB. They should be well-versed in playing without Hicks since he's always hurt anyway. Nigel Bradham is coming off a down year but is a capable LB in coverage himself. The Eagles recently added LJ Fort from the Steelers; he's been a part time player for them the last few years and one of their best coverage LBs and special teams players. He's likely to get an extended shot as a starter in Philly. This is an opportunity he never really got in Pittsburgh. The Eagles haven't drafted a LB in the first round since the 70s and very likely won't this year in a very weak LB draft. It's possible the Eagles find value in the later rounds with a pick but they won't force a selection at LB despite the need when they have capable options already under contract.
  • WR: I won't dive too much into the need for a WR now since we have 3 starters under contact for 2019. Philly needs to add a WR into the mix in the mid to late rounds to brace for the pending departure of Nelson Agholor. It's an expensive WR room that will have a hole after 2019 when his contact expires. Find an intriguing option now to develop.

Closing

In the words of Ron Burgundy, the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles had me in a “glass case of emotion.”

The post-Super Bowl glaze quickly wore off as the Eagles started their title defense looking like an inept team that couldn’t get out of its own way. There were so many hurdles throughout the season that should have sent the Eagles spiraling into a top 10 draft pick yet they eventually put together a solid stretch of football to end the season. Injuries from 2017 hurt the team in 2018 while accumulating new injuries along the way. New coaches were hired in place of talented coaches that left for bigger opportunities helped prolong the lack of continuity the team had this season. The Week 11 blowout loss to the Saints doesn’t even feel like it happened in the same season as the close playoff loss in the rematch which underscores the wild ride we all felt in 2018.

My personal expectations for the team this year were simultaneously met and missed. I fully expected this team to take a slight step back from all the changes and natural regression that were to come, but I expected them to play like a contending team for most of the season. The Eagles finished as the most average team in DVOA history and I can say with a straight face that I think that’s spot on. There were points during the season where they were a below average team; there were also quite a few highs where they looked like a real playoff threat. There was just no consistency in coaching, execution, player availability, and effort on a week to week basis. It’s reflected in the stats and in their final record this season. Despite all this, they still made the playoffs and won a playoff game. While I expect a team with the talent and coaching the Eagles have to finish among the best teams in the NFL, I would be thrilled with this outcome not knowing what went into achieving it. The team met my expectations by making the playoffs and winning a playoff game. The team failed to meet my expectations as they weren’t the good team I expected them to be.

Despite all this, we saw the great talent and coaching this franchise has prevail when their backs were against the wall. The Eagles could have easily folded at 4-6 fresh off a spanking at the hands of the Saints. They basically did in the first half of their following game against the Giants. Like that game, this version of the Eagles found a way to put it together and squeak out a win. Did they have help along the way? Absolutely. Pat Shumur decided it was a good idea not to use Saquon Barkley after half time and it allowed the Eagles to stay in the game and ultimately win it. This was a microcosm for the Eagles as the Vikings late season collapse knocked them out of the drivers’ seat for the 6th seed as their season went wide left. Was it pretty? Hell no! But all you need is an invitation to the dance to get lucky. Their luck continued in the Wild Card round when they largely outplayed the Bears in the early portion of the game. They couldn’t get out of their own way at times and it cost them points. Fortunately, goal posts exist as Eagles great Cody Parkey sent the Eagles to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.

The season ended the next week in New Orleans but not without a fight. All Eagles fans felt a sense of delusional optimism heading into the rematch. We were outmanned and in a hostile environment entering our 3rd consecutive road game. The odds for victory were long. While the Saints ultimately proved to be too much to overcome, the Eagles were still in position to steal the game late. I think this game says a lot about this Eagles team. They weren’t that good for long stretches of the game but were still in position to win it late. The Philadelphia Eagles weren’t good for long stretches of 2018 but they were still in position for another title run late. We can always take pride in the leadership this team has to continue to battle until there is no fight left. We can expect this team to learn from this season and be better for it. We know they have the talent to make another run for a title as well as the coaching to put the players in the best position to win. While the 2018 version of the Eagles didn’t reach lofty heights, they showed they can never be counted out and that expectations should always be high. With an offseason to reflect and new additions to add, we should expect the 2019 Eagles to push for another title again.

Fuck Dallas

Past Reviews

Season Review Offseason Review
2016 2016
2017 2017

Shoutouts

I would like to thank /u/therealdoctorkay for allowing me to post one of these reviews again. I would also like to thank /u/Lazy_Street for allowing me to switch days. I been really busy with work the last few months. Lastly, I want to thank /u/belisaurius for writing the game reviews. Really made my life easier!