The Cause of the Eagles Woes

The Eagles struggles directly tie back to their unsuccessful and inept strategy at building a championship caliber team.

Patrick Causey, on Twitter @pcausey3

The Eagles season is in a tailspin right now. The loses are piling up, with each one becoming worse than the one that preceded it, fingers are being pointed, and anonymous agents for anonymous players are saying Chip Kelly lost the locker room.

It has been an unmitigated fall from grace since the Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys and pulled to 4-4 and right in the thick of the NFC East title race. The expectations of winning these last three games, which represented the soft underbelly of the Eagles schedule, seems like a lifetime ago. It has gotten so bad that Eagles fans can’t even revel in the Cowboys’ misery.

Now, the Eagles are left wondering how a season once filled with so much promise is left in ruins. As the Eagles shift through the rubble and try to regroup before this week’s anticipated beat down at the hands of the New England Patriots, let’s take a step back and look at how we got here before we come up with a plan for fixing this mess.

Our focus does not start this past offseason, nor does it start in 2013, when Chip Kelly was first hired as head coach of the Eagles.

It starts back in 2010.

The 2010/2011 NFL Drafts

Surprised we started here? You shouldn’t be.

It’s easy to use the change of guard in coaching staffs as a natural delineation point for judging Chip Kelly’s tenure as a head coach. But it would be a mistake. Because under the new structures of the CBA, with a hard salary cap and cheap rookie contracts, maximizing draft picks has become critical to the success of a franchise.

But the Eagles approached the 2010 and 2011 offseasons with reckless abandon, targeting players which filled a need that would help the Eagles “get over the hump” instead of targeting the best player available. It was a dangerous philosophical departure from a franchise that had shown good discipline in drafting during the early part of the 2000s.

The results were catastrophic:

2010:

  1. Brandon Graham, OLD/DE, Mich
  2. Nate Allen, S, USF
  3. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim DE Washington
  4. Trevard Lindley CB Kentucky
  5. Keenan Clayton LB Oklahoma
  6. Mike Kafka QB Northwestern
  7. Clay Harbor TE Missouri State
  8. Ricky Sapp DE Clemson
  9. Riley Cooper WR Florida
  10. Charles Scott RB LSU
  11. Jamar Chaney LB Mississippi State
  12. Jeff Owens DT Georgia
  13. Kurt Coleman S Ohio State

2011

  1. Danny Watkins, G, Baylor
  2. Jaiquawn Jarrett, S, Temple
  3. Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State
  4. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
  5. Alex Henery, K, Nebraska
  6. Dion Lewis, RB, Pitt
  7. Julian Vandervelde, G, Iowa
  8. Jason Kelce, C, Cinn
  9. Brian Rolle, LB, OSU
  10. Greg Lloyd, LB, UConn
  11. Stanley Havili, FB, USC

24 draft picks yielded only two above average starters (Brandon Graham and Jason Kelce). The remaining picks vacillate between league average starters (Coleman, Lewis) to serviceable backups ( Cooper, Allen, Matthews) to players no longer in the league (pretty much everyone else). In all, only three players remain from those 24 picks: Graham, Kelce and Cooper, the latter of which arguably is undeserving of his roster spot.

It’s hard to put in perspective just how bad these drafts were, but let’s give it a shot. Consider the following players that were drafted in the first round after Brandon Graham in 2010:

  • Earl Thomas, S, Seattle (4 Pro Bowls, 3 First Team All Pro)
  • Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh (4 Pro Bowls, 2 First Team All Pro)
  • Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver (3 Pro Bowls)
  • Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas (2 Pro Bowls, 1 First Team All Pro)
  • Devin McCourty, S, New England (1 Pro Bowl)

In the second round, the Eagles took Nate Allen over T.J. Ward (2 Pro Bowls), Rob Gronkowski (3 Pro Bowls, 2 First Team All Pro), and Sean Lee, to name a few.

The 2011 Draft was more of the same: the Eagles took Danny Watkins ahead of Muhammad Wilkerson, Andy Dalton, and Cameron Jordan, while they reached for Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second round ahead of Randall Cobb, Justin Houston and DeMarco Murray.

Of course, the draft is an inexact science; hitting on 50% of first round picks is considered a great average. So the Eagles could have just as likely drafted Tim Tebow or Arrelious Benn in those spots.

But the simple fact remains that these were historically bad drafts that created a void of players aged 26-30 — i.e., in their prime and capable of carrying this current team. Those misses have forced the Eagles — Chip Kelly included — to spend the last four offseasons looking to fill holes on this roster via free agency.

Perhaps if the Eagles drafted Earl Thomas instead of Brandon Graham, they wouldn’t have needed to splurge on Byron Maxwell to help shore up the secondary (and yes,I know they play different positions). Rob Gronkowski’s presence would have mitigated the loss of Jeremy Maclin. And of course, the 43 sacks Justin Houston has tallied over the last four seasons (22 last year alone) would have helped an otherwise underwhelming Eagles pass rush.

Danny Watkins is a pick still hurting the Eagles franchise.

Chip Kelly’s Mistakes as a GM

To their credit, the Eagles refocused their approach and committed to drafting the best players available in 2012 and 2013. By almost any measure, these drafts were a resounding success: Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Nick Foles and Brandon Boykin in 2012, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz and Bennie Logan in 2013.

Six legitimate starters (not including Foles) — four of which, Cox, Logan, Kendricks and Johnson — that have Pro Bowl talent. They were foundational drafts. Drafts which could have set the Eagles up for years to come, infusing the team with young talent that already included the likes of LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis and Jason Peters.

Obviously, the 2013 Eagles team was not without holes, most importantly at the quarterback position. Foles 27/2 turned out to be a mirage, and if the Eagles didn’t figure out that position, it would take creating a defensive juggernaut that could mitigate his limitations to carry this team to a Super Bowl. In other words, they would be the exception to the rule, hoping to replicate the one off successes of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens or 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But it is easy to see that with some shrewd free agency signings, another good draft, and a little bit of luck, the Eagles could have found a quarterback and been on their way to competing for Super Bowls.

All that changed this past offseason when Chip Kelly sought to rebuild this team in his image. Kelly’s radical, and some would say foolish, approach to rebuilding this roster would have been viewed with incredible skepticism but for the capital he built up by having two good seasons as a head coach.

Let’s examine the chief problems with his approach.

Questionable Personnel Moves

There are certain truisms to building an NFL roster. One of the principle tenants is that you build through the draft and supplement through free agency. That is the approach advocated by smart organizations like the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

During Chip Kelly’s first two years, the Eagles largely adhered to this approach, eschewing large free agent signings and finding good fits at reasonable prices. Instead of overpaying for Jairus Byrd — who signed a massive six year, $54 million contract — the Eagles signed Malcolm Jenkins to a three year $16.5 million deal. Byrd has been a colossal disappointment, appearing in only 12 of 27 games, while Jenkins has developed into one of the best safeties in the league.

Connor Barwin was another smart signing, inking a six year, $36 million deal in 2013, a bargain price for a quality OLB in a league starving for such versatile playmakers. They flipped a fifth round pick for Darren Sproles and locked him up to a team friendly three year, $10.5 million contract.

These shrewd signings had Howie Roseman’s fingerprints all over them, who was quick to remind us that the contrary approach led to the disastrous 2011 and 2012 regular seasons.

In other words, winners of free agency rarely win when it matters most. If Malcolm Jenkins didn’t pan out, his contract would not hinder the Eagles long term. It’s a low risk, high reward approach that is best given the relative unknowns that are inherent in signing free agents.

Large money free agent contracts, on the other hand, are a risky proposition. In a league governed by a strict salary cap, teams have only so much money to spread around. If you’re going to contribute a significant percentage of your salary cap towards a handful of players, you better be sure they are going to validate their worth. When they don’t, it can set a franchise back for years, since they are robbed of that valuable capital to invest and improve their team.

For whatever reason, Kelly decided drastic change was needed to the Eagles roster. A quick review of his moves shows a worse batting average than Ryan Howard on a breaking ball low and away:

  • Signed Byron Maxwell to a 6 year, $63 million deal, making him a top five paid corner in the league. Maxwell ranks 92nd overall according to PFF.com (8 spots behind Cary Williams), with quarterbacks completing 69% of their passes throwing at Maxwell, good for a 105.1 quarterback rating.
  • Signing DeMarco Murray to a five year, $40 million deal: also making him one of the five highest paid running backs in the league.  Murray is 22nd in the league with 545 yards on 155 carries and four touchdowns. And his 3.5 yards per carry ranks 43rd in the league out of only 48 qualified running backs.
  • Trading LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso: Do I even need to address this? Let’s just move on.
  • Letting Jeremy Maclin walk: The common narrative is that the Chiefs simply blew Maclin away with a huge contract that the Eagles could not match. However, according to at least one report, Maclin left because Kelly wouldn’t take his calls during free agency while the Chiefs made Maclin feel “like he’s the greatest thing on earth.” Obviously, Maclin’s departure has been a significant issue, with the Eagles having to rely on the likes of Miles Austin and Riley Cooper, two of the worst receivers in the NFL.
  • Failing to Address the Offensive Line: You already know the story here. The Eagles failed to draft a single offensive lineman in the last two seasons, and are relying on two guards that have been career backups.
  • Signing Miles Austin, Playing Miles Austin, Not Cutting Miles Austin: The Eagles compounded their mistake signing Miles Austin by still playing him and relying on him in key situations. His presence on the Eagles roster can only be described as dumbfounding.

Outside of the smart signing of Walter Thurmond, has any move that Kelly made this offseason panned out? That was a rhetorical question, of course, because the answer is obviously no.

Not Finding a Quarterback

No, I didn’t forget about trading Sam Bradford when discussing the questionable offseason moves Kelly has made. But before I get to that, riddle me this: what is the Eagles record since Donovan McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins?

46-45.

Let that set in for a moment.

The following cast of characters have been called on to solve the Eagles quarterback position since McNabb was unceremoniously traded on Easter, 2009: Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Mark Sanchez, and Sam Bradford.

Six quarterbacks in five seasons. That’s Cleveland Browns territory folks.

Chip Kelly thought he found the diamond in the rough this offseason when he traded Nick Foles, a 2nd and a 5th round pick to the Rams for Sam Bradford and a conditional 4th. But so far, this trade has not yielded the type of return which Kelly had hoped.

The real kickers here are the 2nd round pick and $12.95 million difference in salary between Foles and Bradford that could have been used to fill a hole on this team. Jeremy Maclin, for example, could have been paid the $11 million he received from the Chiefs with room to spare.

I understand why Kelly moved on from Foles, but he still vastly overpaid for Bradford. Consider that the Arizona Cardinals acquired Carson Palmer for essentially two 7th round picks. Palmer is 25-8 with the Cardinals.

And just to stir up a little bit of controversy, it’s interesting to note that Foles subpar 2014 season was, by almost any statistical measure, superior to what we have seen from Bradford so far in 2015:

Name

QBR

DVOA

DYAR

TD INT

Yards

Cmp%

Foles 2013 3rd 5th 2nd 27 2 2,891 64.0%
Foles 2014 12th 19th 20th 13 10 2,163 59.8%
Bradford 2015 29th 27th 27th 11 10 2,297 63.9%

But I digress.

The Eagles have tried to take the bandaid approach to the quarterback position since 2009, and it hasn’t worked. Kelly has certainly contributed to the situation. It was Kelly who opted to start Michael Vick in 2013. Kelly who has failed to draft a single quarterback outside Matt Barkley since arriving in Philadelphia. Kelly who signed — and resigned — Mark Sanchez to contracts which he has not come close to validating. And Kelly who overpaid to acquire Sam Bradford.

As I will discuss later this week, the only viable way for them to solve this position is to go back to the draft.

Sam Bradford has not solved the Eagles quarterback riddle

Injured Players

Kelly acquired multiple players with significant injury history this offseason. He gambled that his sports science program would limit their exposure to injury, thus providing the Eagles with a distinct advantage over the rest of the league who shied away from these talented players simply because of the inherent injury risk.

In other words, Kelly thought he had identified a market inefficiency. But so far, the results have been luke warm at best:

Name

Games Played

Games Missed

Sam Bradford 9 2
DeMarco Murray 10 1
Ryan Mathews 9 2
Walter Thurmond 11 0
Kiko Alonso 6 5
Jordan Hicks 8 3 (on injured reserve)

Only Walter Thurmond has played every game this year, which is somewhat shocking given that he played in only 36 of 80 career games prior to signing with Philadelphia. Bradford, Mathews, Murray, Alonso and Hicks all came with significant injury histories, and all have missed some time this season. The loss of Hicks has proved especially problematic to a team that has been unable to stop the run since his departure. And it is easy to wonder if the Eagles would have won any of the last three games if Sam Bradford was healthy, which actually says more about how bad Mark Sanchez played than how good Bradford was playing.

Avoiding Large Roster Turnover 

A study done by NFL.com back in 2013 suggests that the most successful teams in the NFL value roster continuinty. Teams like the Packers, Seahawks, and Patriots avoided roster turnover like the plague, while perennial laughing stocks like the Jaguars, Rams and Bucs had the most roster volatility.

As we just laid out, the Eagles have experienced considerable roster turnover this past offseason. Put aside whether you agree with these roster moves in isolation, because the net effect of all of the moves taken in totality is the real issue here.

FiveThirtyEight.com foreshadowed the problem to start the season, finding that the Eagles had the fourth highest rate of roster turnover in the league, losing 32% of its Approximate Value. This roster volatility led to a half game drop in the Eagles projected win total of 9.4 games.

Kelly made the fundamental miscalculation that the Eagles would be able to come together as a team despite the heavy roster turnover. In hindsight, it was foolish. Chemistry takes time to develop, and whenever a team turns over 32% of its roster, growing pains are to be expected.

Losing the Game of Inches

About 3,000 words in and a clear picture should finally be starting to emerge: the Eagles are losing because of their departure from well-settled principles on team building, an issue that stems back to the tail end of the Andy Reid era.

These issues matter because, as Al Pacino once famously told us, the margins for error in football are so small that success or failure can hinge on a few inches:

The NFL is, unquestionably, a game of inches. Each game turns on a handful of plays, which in turn has a drastic impact on the outcome of a team’s season. Or as Pacino said, “One half a step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast and you don’t quite catch it.”  The little things — those inches — add up, and as we have seen all year, make the “fucking difference between winning and losing.”

Or, as Jimmy Johnson said it best before the game Thursday:

Go back over almost any loss this season save for the Lions game, and you can point to a handful of plays that decided the outcome of the game:

  • Atlanta: the Jordan Matthews drop leading to a pick;
  • Cowboys: the bad interception to Ertz in the end zone;
  • Redskins: the dropped pass from Ryan Mathews on the wheel route and the dropped pass from Matthews down the stretch;
  • Bucs: 5 chances for turnovers the Eagles missed; 3 of which directly led to touchdowns.

All the penalties at inopportune times. All the dropped passes. All the plays where Bradford throws to one spot while the receiver is running to another. These all tie back to a lack of chemistry, which directly ties back to the Eagles high roster turnover, which was only required because the Eagles failed to build through the draft since 2010.

There are some ways out of this — which I can address later this week — but these are the fundamental issues with the Eagles. And like I said at the start, it goes way beyond just dropped passes or missed tackles. It’s an organizational issue that starts at the top, and won’t change until the Eagles leadership recognizes the problem and fixes it.

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7 thoughts on “The Cause of the Eagles Woes

    • I fought that fight for a while. I think people have surprisingly selective memory when it comes to Foles. Is he a franchise guy? No. But so far, he is the only QB that has won in this offense. And if you go back and look at his performance last year when Mathis and Kelce were healthy, he had about a 94 QB rating and 7 TD to just 4 int. If the Eagles kept Foles, addressed the oline, kept Maclin this offseason, and made some of the investments in the D (Thurmond, Hicks), this team would be in a much better position.

  1. Excellent post! I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. I think some good additions to the analysis would cover the cutting, trading and failing to resign the few top players entering or within their prime that the previous regime DID give us and the misallocation of resources at different positions.

    When Chip took over this team, the offense had great WRs, a great, but aging offensive line with little depth, a decent TE, a great RB with little depth and a big fat question mark at QB. As far as needs were concerned, we needed a QB first and foremost, we needed to replace Avant with a younger playmaker in the slot, we needed to groom a playmaking/matchup problem at #2 TE behind Celek, we needed to invest in oline depth to prepare for our aging oline’s imminent decline and we needed a back up running back.

    In the first draft we took Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz and after his first year here Chip traded up to get Matthews and traded a 5th round pick for Sproles. Check, Check, Check and Check. That accomplished much of what we set out to do. WR should have been a huge strength, TE was now a huge strength, RB was a huge strength and only really needed a downhill back to spell Shady which are a dime a dozen, and we had invested a premium resource in Oline.

    However, we still needed to start replacing or at least spending resources that would eventually replace, JP, Mathis and Herremans. And, we still needed a QB. Neither of these two areas were addressed properly. But, otherwise the offense was loaded with talent. Unfortunately, we decided to weaken our strengths by cutting Jackson, letting Maclin leave in FA, and trading McCoy. Suddenly, WR and RB were weaknesses rather than strengths. That leads to locking up huge amounts of guaranteed money in Murray and Mathews, signing Miles Austin and being forced to use a 1st and 3rd, respectively, on Huff and Agholar.

    While you can justify each move individually, when taken as a whole, you see how those cuts forced us to use significant resources to fill in for those departures, while continuing to ignore the needs that required addressing from Chips first day on the job. If you don’t cut those players you have an extra 1st rounder and possibly 2 3rd rounders (if you count the one we used to trade up for Matthews because we were desperate for WR) to address Oline, back up RB, QB, defense. That has a domino effect that leads to huge wasteful contracts for people like Maxwell and Murray. Whenever you cut playmakers in their prime and then are forced to use premium resources to replace them, you’re doing so at the expense of other positions of need. This sets the entire operation back even if the people you find to replace the Jacksons, Maclins and McCoys of the world are of similar or even better ability. You still had to waste resources to make a lateral move, which is deadly when building a team with limited resources to begin with in a league geared towards parity.

    As far as positional misallocation of resources, look no further than our bloated backfield. We spend the most amount of money on RBs in the league with Murray (Cap hits of $5mil, $8mil and $9mil in his first 3 years here), Mathews ($2mil, $4mil, $5mil), and Sproles ($4.1mil, $4.5mil). That’s the 8th, 10th, and 22nd highest cap hits at the RB position in the entire league for 2015. All on one team. And, notice, their cap hits go up each successive year. In terms of cash value, Murray and Mathews have the 4th and 15th highest totals respectively when compared to all RBs in the league. That’s an insane amount of financial capital placed into one position.

    What makes that even worse is that RB is a position, in Chips scheme in particular, in which it is difficult to have more than one of these guys on the field at any given time. So every time one of our over priced backs are in the game, the other two are sitting on the sidelines giving you no value at all. When combined with the fact that RB is the most plug and play position on all of football this just seems like an insane waste of cap resources.

    Compare this to WR where we undoubtedly went very light with our cap hit. Miles Austin has a cap hit of $2.25mil (ranked #54 in the league for WRs), Riley Cooper: $4.8mil (#23), Nelson Agholar: $1.7mil (#70), Jordan Matthews: $1.125mil (#83), Huff: $663,986 (#110). On the vast majority of our plays we trot out 3 WRs and only 1 RB. Yet, we spent less on our top 5 WRs than we did on our top 3 RBs. That’s completely backwards. And, what you see is predictable. Players like Austin and Cooper are on the field far more than Mathews and Sproles and have far more impact on the games outcomes as a result, yet they are being paid less while Mathews and Sproles are being paid more, but relegated to sitting on the bench and only coming in for spot duty.

    To compound this we went extremely light on offensive line. We essentially cut 2 larger contracts for starting, but aging guards and instead of replacing them with equal quality (even if we’re talking former quality not the aging vets projected quality as they decline), replaced them with 2nd and 3rd stringers. Again, MAYBE you can justify each of these moves independently, but taken together they seem asinine. Why invest so heavily in RBs and so poorly in the oline that’s going to block for them. This is football 101. If you invest heavily in oline, RB becomes extremely easy to plug and play (see Denver teams from 1996-2006). If you invest heavily in oline, you can skimp at RB and get good production. However, if you skimp at Oline, it doesn’t matter how good your RB is or how much you invest in the position, the result will be poor production.

    So just by choosing to invest in certain positions over others you set up a situation where things are extremely inefficient when it comes to getting a return on your investment. On any given play you’re paying 2 RBs large comparative sums of money to sit on the bench. And, regardless of who you put in, the production is lacking because the line is so bad. So you’re largest relative investment on offense is giving you terrible return. You’re now in positions where you need to throw more than you’d like and you have Riley Cooper and Miles Austin to help you make up the difference with an injury prone QB, who’s coming off two consecutive ACL tears, learning a new offense and isn’t comfortable with anything (scheme or personnel yet), playing behind a shotty offensive line trying to get the ball to terrible WRs.

    Furthermore, all the playmakers you have are essentially relegated to the same role. Your best WR is a slot WR that excels at working the middle of the field, your next best receiving target is a TE that excels at working the middle of the field, your best RB in the pass game is a 5’6″ scat back that excels at attacking mismatches against LBs in the middle of the field with option routes and screens, and the only other potential playmakers you have in the passing game are Huff (more of a slot type half RB/half WR slot guy) who excels at working the middle of the field, taking screen passes and breaking tackles, and a rookie who’s not ready to play.

    They all can’t attack the middle of the field at once, which leaves you with Cooper and Austin on the outside, and a situation where defenses know whats coming when certain players sub in. When Ertz comes in (especially early in the year), it’s a pass, same with Sproles. Since we have an over abundance of speciality skill players that all either play the same position as other starters or excel in similar areas of the field, we can only play them so many snaps a game. And, since we’re paying them a good amount of money we want those snaps to count. So when they come in, it’s because they’re about to do what they excel at. Problem is, the defense knows this. They know where to place their defenses and where they need to be strong and where they can afford to go weak.

    The results are a stagnant offense that can’t run, can’t pass, is constantly playing behind the sticks, is asking a skiddish QB to make downfield plays to Miles Austin and Riley Cooper behind an offensive line that never gives him enough time to let them get open down field and a predictable offense the can only really attack a very limited part of the field and tips it’s hand far too often based on the personnel that it puts onto the field. And, this all comes back to how the roster is constructed.

    • Fantastic post and I agree with everything you said. I covered the 2013 roster and how we only needed to improve QB and the secondary. I also touched on the Maclin contract situation. But I agree with your overall point: the Eagles turned positions of strength into weaknesses, which then required them to readdress those positions instead of addressing the true holes on this team (QB, O line, CB).

      I wrote about the misallocation of resources in the RB position earlier this year. The Eagles actually spend the 3rd most on RBs (behind the Vikings and the Chiefs), but they still invested too much. To make matters worse, Kelly compounded that mistake by getting away from the run early in the season.

      Your comment about the playmakers excelling at attacking the middle of the field is also spot on. The Eagles just lack playmakers on the outside. And under Chip’s offense, it’s hard to get Matthews, Sproles, and Ertz on the field at the same time. The Eagles should use Ertz and Sproles lined up in the slot more often, but it means taking Matthews — their best WR — off the field. It’s a catch 22. Something has to give. Whether it is moving Matthews outside on certain plays or running more 4 WR sets, the Eagles need to start going to their playmakers more instead of relying on the likes of Miles Austin and Riley Cooper.

      Great insight and thanks for commenting.

      • Yea, Chip seems to get stuck on things that he has a logical reason for, but then ignores the seemingly obvious negative side effect involved.

        I get why he likes the matchup problems that Matthews causes in the slot. And, that’s great! Matthews excels there. But, the side effect when you only trot out one slot WR per play is that all your other best weapons who are best used in the slot don’t get any opportunities.

        So why is it so hard to put Matthews outside for a handful of plays every game and put Ertz or Sproles in the spot. Ertz and Sproles both present interesting matchup problems too. Ertz is far too large for a NB to cover and is fast enough to present some problems to a linebacker as well. Sproles is far too quick for a LB. You literally would have to put a CB on him and then you could do all sorts of things like motioning him into the backfield for a handoff against a nickel defense, end arounds, screens, option patterns, ect, that could all pick you up some easy yards.

        So theres not much matchup-wise that you’re losing put Sproles or Ertz in for Matthews in the slot. And, you couldn’t convince me that we’d be losing anything substantial by putting Matthews outside on those plays in place of Austin.

        But, whenever he’s asked why Matthews never takes outside snaps, Chip just repeats that he likes the matchup of him in the slot. Ok. But, come on, Chip…do you really like the subsequent matchup of Austin against a teams #1 CB too. Because you apparently can’t have one without the other.

  2. The answer to the Eagles’ future is in the building…..and his name is Howie Roseman. Of course, no Eagles fan will admit they were dead wrong in hating the guy simply because he isn’t “a football guy.” The facts are he did a great job as GM.

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