Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend. I’ve got some random thoughts to get out before they get too stale, followed by a quick look at the importance of sacks:
DRC: I would have tagged DRC, and it would have been an easy decision. In my mind, the only possible reason for not doing so is if DRC was actively undermining the coaches. I know a lot of people have resorted to calling DRC a “locker room cancer” and such, but I just don’t get the sense he was that big of a problem.
Last year the entire team fell apart. The coaches appeared to be undermining each other. Two were fired midseason and it became clear that the head coach would be let go after the season ended. Is it really a surprise that this led to a team “quitting” on itself? I’m not trying to excuse that type of play, but the fact is almost the entire team was guilty, and it’s reasonable to think that in a better atmosphere, DRC will return to somewhat consistent play.
He was very bad for a lot of last year, and clearly is not worth $10.7 million. However, the Eagles DONT NEED THE CAP SPACE. It really doesn’t matter how much you’re paying him, since it’s only a one year commitment and it doesn’t preclude the team from doing anything else. Worst case scenario: he sucks again and is gone after next year.
As it stands, it looks like the Eagles will not bring him back. That means the team is now looking for an entire starting DB corps. Maybe in a better line-up Nate Allen is acceptable. Maybe in a great line-up Kurt Coleman can be covered for. That still leaves 3 starting spots. I know Howie has claimed to be fully committed to BPA (best player available) in the draft, but it’s going to be extremely tempting to take someone like Dee Milner. If that ends up being a reach, then the Eagles have blown a huge opportunity to kick-start the next phase of the franchise.
If they don’t draft Millner (or another top prospect), where is the team going to find 2 starting CBs? I’ve mentioned before that this is not a 1 year process. Still, I was hoping the team would use its resources to band-aid a few of the holes it couldn’t fix this offseason. DRC fits this role perfectly (band-aid).
Draft Watching: It’s fun to read about all of the draft prospects and compare the “big boards”, but remember, at this point most of it’s useless. The boards are going to change, some dramatically, so don’t get too caught up in things like “Floyd has passed Star” or “no QB’s are worth 1st round picks”. We’ll probably get a very different story closer to draft day, after all the interviews are done and teams have done a lot more film work.
I do like looking at the National Football Posts rankings, though. They claim that their evaluations will not be affected by the combine, only by prospect interviews and character issues from here on in. They’ve got Nassib ranked #1 overall…(he’s the guy the Eagles likely have their eyes on in the Mike Vick-as-insurance scenario). If this ranking holds, safe to say he won’t be there for the Eagles in round 2.
When it gets closer to the draft I’ll pull together a “consensus” prospect ranking, and we can use that with our Draft Strategy Chart to look at what the Eagles should do.
Nick Foles: He will probably be traded. Again, ignore what the “Eagles sources” are saying. Given the supposed weakness in this year’s QB draft class, holding on to Foles until draft day and then auctioning him off will maximize his value. Some team will be desperate for a QB and see their top choice gone. If things fall the right way, the Eagles can definitely get a 2nd round pick for Foles. At the very least, he’s should garner a 3rd + a later round pick (and IMO he’s worth a lot more than that).
OG’s in the first round: I don’t care what Mike Mayock says. I don’t care if Chance Warmack will immediately be the best guard in football. Choosing a Guard in the first round is a dramatic misallocation of resources. The draft is not just about finding prospects who will play. It’s about maximizing the VALUE of every pick.
Sacks: This relationship will be fairly obvious, but it’s not a stat I see referenced very often (sack differential). Obviously getting sacked is bad and sacking the other QB is good, but the overall sack differential (sacks-sacks allowed) is HIGHLY correlated with winning. The only Super Bowl champion in the last 10 years with a negative regular season sack differential were the Ravens this year (-1). Here is the chart, with Sack Differential on the y-axis (and SB winners in yellow):
The correlation value is .62, a very big number. For reference, this is about the same as the value we found for TO margin (.64). However, I’d argue that sacks differential is MUCH easier to effect than TO margin. (I’ll do a persistence post as a follow-up). The idea here is to view OL and DL play as more of a continuum rather than discrete units. Overall, you want to win the LOS (line of scrimmage). That could mean EITHER allowing fewer sacks on offense or creating more on defense (I’m intentionally ignoring the run game here). Ideally you will be good at both, but it’s the net effect that we are looking for.
So for example, rather than fixate on either the OL or DL in the draft, the Eagles should take whoever will add the most to EITHER unit. Right now, NT is a bigger immediate need than anything on the OL, but if the team finds an OT that adds more than the available NT’s, it should draft the OT. Given the choice between a Great OL/Bad DL combo and a decent OL/DL combo, it may in fact be better to go with the first choice, which runs counter to popular draft strategy. Teams typically focus on improving weaknesses, when they should focus on BIGGEST IMPACT. So choosing to take an area of strength and make it dominant (say the 49ers taking an OL) may be a better strategy than trying to go from mediocre to good at another position group. This is of course all relative (and near impossible to accurately quantify), but it’s more support for taking the BPA rather than need.