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November 11, 2022

Eagles mailbag: Midseason NFL award winners

In our Eagles chat on Wednesday, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow. (Programming note: This will be Part I of a two-part mailbag. We'll probably have the other one on Monday.)

Question from Owen: Who are your mid-season award winners?

MVP: Jalen Hurts, Eagles

Are Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes better players than Hurts? In my opinion, definitively yes. Are they playing better football this season than Hurts? In my opinion, definitively no. Let's look at their passing numbers:

 QBComp/Att Yards (YPA) TD-INT Rating 
 Jalen Hurts163/239 (68.2%) 2042 (8.5) 12-2 107.8 
Patrick Mahomes 219/331 (66.2%) 2605 (7.9) 21-6 103.6 
Josh Allen 191/298 (64.1%) 2403 (8.1) 19-8 99.2 

With 8 INTs on the season and 2 INTs in a games against the Jets that he was directly responsible for losing, Allen isn't even under consideration for me. He has not had a better season so far than Hurts, who has not yet had a bad game this season. Allen has arguably had three. Anyone who thinks Allen has been the better player this season simply hasn't been watching.

So for me, it's down to Hurts and Mahomes. I think Mahomes has a great argument. He has 9 more TD passes than Hurts and similar efficiency otherwise, even after losing Tyreek Hill this offseason. However, Hurts makes up for that TD margin to some degree with his 6 rushing TDs. He also has 28 rushing first downs, vs. 12 for Mahomes.

But most importantly, the Eagles under Hurts are, you know, 8-0. 

Mahomes is unquestionably getting MVP love partly because he is an established star. If you flipped Hurts' stats with Mahomes' stats, and the Chiefs were 8-0 but the Eagles were 6-2, Hurts wouldn't even be in the MVP conversation because he does not yet have that national gravitas. We can all recognize that, right?

Offensive Player of the Year: Tyreek Hill, Dolphins

What exactly is this award anyway? Wouldn't the MVP also be the "Offensive Player of the Year" if the MVP plays offense? I guess this just goes to the non-quarterback with the best stats? Anyway, I think Hill is a safe enough choice here with over 1100 receiving yards already.

Defensive Player of the Year: Micah Parsons, Cowboys


Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kenneth Walker, Seahawks

There's no quarterback to win this award this year just because they're a quarterback, like Kyler Murray did a few years ago. I'll take Walker, who along with a bunch of other impressive rookies have Seattle at 6-3. Walker has 424 rushing yards and 6 TDs in four games since taking over as the Seahawks' starting RB.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Sauce Gardner, Jets

Sauce might end up being first-team All-Pro as a rookie.

Comeback Player of the Year: Saquon Barkley, Giants

I've seen Geno Smith get some love here, and ha has absolutely had a great season so far, but was Geno ever good? If there were a "Breakout Player of the Year," I think he'd make sense for that. I'll take Saquon, who has his explosiveness back and is the biggest reason for the Giants' offensive improvement.

Coach of the Year: Nick Sirianni, Eagles

Sirianni hasn't even come close to losing a game yet this season. How can it be any other choice? That said, if we're projecting that a loss or two is coming down the pike for the Eagles, then Brian Daboll has a really strong argument as well, because that Giants roster stinks and he somehow has them at 6-2.

Question from Matt M: At the midway point of the season, what are your biggest surprises leaguewide? Maybe one better than expected and one worse?

I'll give you three surprises and five disappointments.

Biggest surprises:

  1. Giants: We kind of just keep on waiting for the Giants to fall off (and they still probably will), but 6-2 is 6-2.
  2. Seahawks: Seattle is starting rookies (Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas) at both offensive tackle spots, and they've gotten exceptional play from other rookies such as Walker (as noted above), CB Tariq Woolen (we'll get to him in a minute), and CB Coby Bryant. Not to mention, Geno Smith has been the second-best quarterback in the NFC.
  3. Jets: They're young and they've had some significant injuries this season, and yet they're only a half-game back of the Bills in the AFC East.

Biggest disappointments:

  1. Packers: They've won 13 games in each of the last three seasons, but they have injuries at key spots, youth at other spots, and a bitchy quarterback who has stunk.
  2. Broncos: If you watch Russell Wilson's play before he hurt his finger last season, he was the same guy he's been throughout his career, if not better. I expected him to rebound with his new team, but holy crap they've been a mess. Russ was easily my biggest miss this offseason.
  3. Colts: I picked them to win the AFC South. Oops. Obviously Matt Ryan was on the downside of his career, but I thought he might have a year or two left of at least decent quarterback play, but he's cooked. Also, the owner is crazy. They were previously the team that everyone thought was run well with a good roster, and, "Oh if they could just solve that quarterback spot they'd be great!" Now they're a laughingstock looking at a complete rebuild after firing their head coach and leaving the rest of a staff bewildered after the hiring of Jeff Saturday.
  4. Raiders: Look at the Raiders' roster, and they have some really good players. Josh McDaniels is proving for the second time that he's not an NFL head coach.  
  5. Rams: Their offensive line is in shambles, so I get it, but you'd expect the Super Bowl champs to look a little more potent than they have.

Question from Buck: Do you think there's a chance the Eagles bring Frank Reich in as a special adviser of some sort? Would that kind of move rock the boat?

I'll let Sirianni handle that one, since he was asked about it on Thursday.

"We'll see how that goes," he said. "I don't know yet. That's not something that's been -- that happened, when, Monday? My focus has been completely on Washington. Again, you know how I feel about Frank; I'm always going to use him as a consultant, whether he's in the building or whether he's not in the building. But I haven't really thought about that to be quite honest with you. We’re just really focused on today to get ready for Washington."

You can be certain Nick will lob in a call or five to Frank on Tuesday when they begin preparing for the Colts.

Question from Hinkie: With Herbert's rookie season and now Hurts, Shane Steichen has a track record of developing young QBs. I'd imagine he'll be a hot HC candidate this offseason?

I think he'll get some interviews, at a minimum, but buzz typically needs to build for a bit before a guy like Steichen gets a head coaching job, especially as an offensive coordinator working under an offensive head coach. He would have to be exceedingly impressive in his interviews to get a head coaching gig next offseason, in my opinion. 

Question from Hmm: Have you decided to stop including QBs in your college prospects to watch series? It's hard to envision a scenario where they decide to upgrade at that position.

Very early in the season — before the Eagles had even played their Week 1 game, actually — I profiled Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud. I had also planned on getting to players like Will Levis and Anthony Richardson, who were considered likely first-round picks, at least at the time in Richardson's case. I very quickly scrapped Levis and Richardson from my list once Hurts came out of the gate hot.

I do think the Eagles could be in the market for a quarterback in the draft, but certainly no longer in the first round. They could be looking for a backup with Gardner Minshew highly likely to be on another team in 2023.

Question from greenwithenvy: Did you profile Tariq Woolen last year? How could everyone — including Seattle who waited till the 5th round — miss on him?

I did not profile Woolen during the college football season. I can't remember if I had ever even heard of him before the 2022 Combine, when he measured in at 6'4 and he ran a 4.26. Once he did that, I'm sure most teams went back and did more work on him. 

Before the start of Day 3 of the draft, I published a post of 20 players who I thought made sense for the Eagles. Woolen was the first player listed. I thought he should have gone Round 2, maybe Round 3. From the Eagles' perspective, Nakobe Dean was an overwhelmingly popular pick in the third round, so I think that passing on Woolen when they took Dean was fine. 

Unfortunately for the Eagles, they didn't have a fourth-round pick. I do wonder if the Eagles would have taken Woolen if he lasted until their pick in the fifth round at 154th overall. Instead, he went one pick before them at 153rd overall to Seattle, and then the Eagles then traded out of their pick.

As for why he lasted until the fifth round... I don't know 🤷‍♂️. Obviously, he shouldn't have.

Question from TTT: How did all those offenses from January regress so much all at the same time? Watching the playoffs one could almost expect scoring records to be smashed this season (at least in the AFC, anyway), and it's clearly not happening

There's a never-ending cycle in the NFL in which rules are made to help offenses, and defenses have to find a way over time to adapt and even the playing field. I think we're seeing defenses beginning to catch up, as they always (eventually) do.

Question from cormeagles: Lord Jimmy, would you bring in Johnathan Abram for a look? Any downside?

Abram has since been claimed by the Packers. I only answer this question to note that at 8-0 the Eagles are last in the waiver order process, meaning that 31 other teams have to pass on a player before the Eagles would ever get a shot at claiming him. DT Jerry Tillery, who was selected one pick after Abram in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, was also waived this week, by the Chargers. I imagine some other team will claim him as well.

Question from Seymour Hiney: Jimmy, Are you exploring alternatives to Twitter in the event it collapses?

Yeah, on the one hand Twitter is hateful and generally awful, so if it ceased to exist that maybe wouldn't be the worst thing for society as a whole. On the other hand, it has become essential for me in building readership. It's really going to suck to have to try to build a following on a new social media platform if this moron runs it into the ground. 

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