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Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz’s performance should reassure Eagles fans

Louie DiBiase

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Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Penalties on penalties, an under performing offensive line, a secondary giving up big play after big play, a defensive coordinator who is bullish on making adjustments, injuries that seem to be consistent yet different every week. The Eagles 2-2 start has been a roller coaster to say the least with all these factors putting fans on edge about the outlook on the 2018 Birds.

Even the wins have come down to red zone heroics by the defense which will lead to nerves that knock years off a fans life. It has been a rocky start to the season for the Eagles but one factor should outweigh all those fears, in hopes that this season can still include championship aspirations.

That factor is the play of Carson Wentz.

Since returning to the lineup against the Colts two weeks ago, Wentz has made the same jaw dropping, highlight reel plays that nearly won him an MVP award last season before the torn ACL ended his season.

It doesn’t look like the injury is holding back Wentz from extending plays with his legs, or standing tall in a muddy pocket and driving the ball down the field, which were key abilities that made the Eagles fall in love with the North Dakota product back in 2016. Wentz has completed 75% of his passes under pressure.

Sometimes when a player returns from such a serious injury, it takes some time to knock off the rust, regain confidence in their leg, and a conservative style of play forms.

That hasn’t been the case with Wentz. He is throwing with tremendous confidence and he was more accurate against the Titans than we may have seen in his career.

Wentz is completing almost 67% of his throws for 603 yards and 2 touchdowns. His 348 passing yards against Tennessee tied his season high last year that came against Seattle in week twelve. It only took him two games to put up those numbers this year.

If it wasn’t for penalties and drops around the offense, the numbers would be even more impressive.

Receivers accounted for six drops against the Titans, four of which came from Nelson Agholor who had opportunities to make big plays through the air off some spectacular throws from Wentz.

Agholor also had a chance to take one to the house on the first pass of the game from Wentz who hit him in stride off a play-action pass but he couldn’t bring it down.

Wentz hasn’t only had to overcome missed opportunities but he has been hit the third most of any quarterback throwing this year despite only playing two games.

If the Eagles were going to struggle early this season, how it is happening would be the preferred way. The entire offensive line that outside of Wisniewski (benched for Issac Seaumalo) still features an elite unit from 2017. They haven’t pass protected well at all, struggling to pick up blitzes and stunts. But that line is too talented to play the way they have for the rest of the season. The pass protection already got better from the first half to the second last Sunday.

One game of the drops shouldn’t lead to a regression for Agholor. There still have been a lot of opportunities for the fourth year receiver to make big plays down the field. Moving back to the slot on a more permanent basis should bode well for Agholor.

The secondary has given up a lot of plays down the field but even that unit is too talented to play this poorly all season.

Even with all these issues biting the Eagles this year, all of it is more preferred than an alternative situation where Wentz returned from injury and did not look like the player that set the single season passing touchdowns record just a year ago.

Wentz playing as well as he has will keep the team in every game. If the rest of the team figures it out, this team is right back to being a favorite to win it all this season.

If the offensive line was dominating, and the secondary was locking down the opposing passing games, this team still would only go as far as Wentz can take them.

Be thankful the Eagles don’t have a Raiders situation on their hand. Derek Carr has not been the same since his elite 2016 season. In just four games Carr has thrown seven interceptions this year.

Wentz, in back to back weeks drove down the field late in the game to either take the lead or tie the game. The offense couldn’t get a touchdown in overtime against the Titans but Wentz went off the field with the lead.

The way this team is struggling at 2-2 is a much easier situation to get out of than the scary alternative of a struggling franchise quarterback.

 

Louie, an Eagles, and NFL enthusiast all his life has finally found his home to share his thousands of takes on the Philadelphia Eagles with Locked on Eagles. Louie also works in Buffalo sports radio as a producer for WGR Sports Radio 550 the official home of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres, in addition to working as the Sports Director for 91.3 FM WBNY Buffalo. He may be far from the nest, but Louie bleeds green just like the rest of Eagles Nation. Fly Eagles Fly.

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Philadelphia Eagles

Bell over Brown is an obvious choice for the Eagles

Louie DiBiase

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Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost fishing season in the NFL as all 32 teams look to catch some nice pieces for their roster through free agency, the draft, and the trade market. While the biggest fish don’t always tend to swim in those waters, every year a few big names suddenly become available for a team looking to spend.

This year, it just so happens two of the best at their position are up for grabs, and they both are coming from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Star offensive weapons in RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown will both be in different jerseys next year for the first time in their careers. Bell is set to become a free agent, while Pittsburgh and Brown agreed a trade is in the best interest for both sides.

On paper, the Eagles could make sense for both. Adding weapons around Carson Wentz will always be a priority. However if Howie Roseman and the front office decide they want to go after one of these expensive play-makers, Bell makes much more sense for a number of reasons.

 

Bell doesn’t come with the baggage Brown does

Don’t let this fool you. Talent beats culture. It is why the Steelers were consistently atop the AFC despite a chaotic locker room. Coaches like Chip Kelly flamed out because they prioritized scheme and a robotic culture.

Despite that, Brown’s antics off the field are a real concern. He quit on his team with the season on the line. Pittsburgh needed a win and a Baltimore loss to make the postseason in Week 17 but Brown was MIA.

The temper tantrums on the sidelines, ghosting your team with the season on the line, that kind of behavior despite six straight seasons of 100+ receptions is eye opening.

Bell doesn’t have that stench to him. While Steelers fans will tell you Bell was selfish and uncommitted to football, it is unfair to say he has character concerns because he didn’t want to risk his long term health in a contract year. He wanted to be paid like the star he is and Pittsburgh wanted to pay the position not the player. Can’t blame either side.

 

Brown would require trade assets AND a big contract 

Some people love to scoff at the idea of paying any significant resource for a star RB like Bell. While it wouldn’t be smart to kill the salary cap for the do-it-all weapon, it is far more reasonable to pay Bell rather than pay Brown big money and give up the trade assets it would take to get him from Pittsburgh.

What sounds better to you? $14+ million a year for Bell or $14+ million a year for Brown and perhaps a 2nd round pick + Nelson Agholor?

Bell, Agholor, and the rookie taken with that 2nd round pick sounds a lot better than just Brown.

The report Bell wants $50 million in the first two years is scary. He turned down a 5 year $70 million deal with the Steelers but perhaps when the market develops Bell will have to temper his expectations.

 

Bell’s age and position is more attractive to the Eagles

Two other major elements in deciding between Bell and Brown would be age and position.

By the start of next season, Brown will be 31. Bell will be be 27. Bell has four years on Brown.

If Bell could maintain his productivity into his early 30’s, the Eagles could be set at RB for 5-6 years.

Being a running back also makes him a more attractive option. Doug Pederson’s offense is in desperate need of a talented RB.

Having a weapon like Bell in the backfield that can be your top runner, a top receiver, and efficient pass blocker puts this Eagles offense on a level only the Saints and Rams can match in the NFC.

It also makes the offense less predictable. Using a committee with featured grinders like Ryan Mathews, LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajay, and Josh Adams to go along with the clear pass catchers in Darren Sproles and Corey Clement can be a good way to keep your backs fresh, but it is clear what the offense plans to do on 3rd and 4 when Sproles is out there.

It is easier to predict what Pederson will do on 3rd and 2 when Blount was out there. Someone like Bell keeps the defense guessing in any situation.

While the Eagles could use more speed on offense, Brown would be a luxury. A luxury that could cost high draft picks, players, a high cap hit, and potential baggage.

Is that worth it for a team that already has at least four quality receiving options? Can’t imagine Brown would be happy not seeing 13+ targets a game.

 

Conclusion

History tells us the Eagles won’t go after either Bell or Brown. However with an aggressive front office that has shown a commitment in surrounding their franchise QB with weapons, it wouldn’t be suprising to see one of these two in midnight green. Especially with Roseman’s ability to perform magic on the salary cap.

If they decide to pursue one, it should be Le’Veon Bell.

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Philadelphia Eagles

Offseason Options: Wide Receiver

Louie DiBiase

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Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles have plenty of weapons for Carson Wentz to throw to in 2019. The WR position, however, could use more speed to compliment the bigger weapons in Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert.

If Golden Tate, Mike Wallace, and/or Jordan Matthews leave the Eagles this offseason, what options does Howie Roseman have in free agency and the draft when it comes to pass catchers?

Louie and Gino give some big name options in the draft and free agency, as well as some receivers that could fly under the radar in both offseason periods.

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Philadelphia Eagles

Offseason Options: Running Back

Louie DiBiase

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Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It is time for the Eagles to add some serious talent in the backfield. What are their options if they want to add a big name free agent? What about a high draft pick?

If Howie Roseman sticks to his strategy of lower-priced free agents or draft picks, who could be a diamond in the rough?

Our “Offseason options’ series begins with RB on the Locked on Eagles podcast!

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