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July 06, 2020

What they're saying: Can Eagles afford to keep Ertz and Goedert? Where does their O-line rank?

Plus, people need to realize Sudfeld is the No. 2 QB (not Hurts), and a look at the upgraded WR room

Eagles NFL
5_11032019_EaglesvsBears_Zach_Ertz_Dallas_Goedert_KateFrese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

There can be only one!

Welcome to a Monday edition of What They're Saying about the Eagles, where we'll take a look at what the local and national media are saying about the hometown football club. With the rest of the sports world currently reacting to Patrick Mahomes monster 10-year extension with the Kansas City Chiefs, we promise to keep it locked on the Eagles. 

Let's not waste any time and dive right in... 

Offensive line slides down rankings

Steve Palazzolo | Pro Football Focus

One of the strengths of the Eagles in recent years has been dominant play from their offensive line, a unit that's had some serious consistency with four of their five starters — LT Jason Peters, C Jason Kelce, RG Brandon Brooks and RT Lane Johnson — playing together in each of the last three seasons. 

But with Peters still exploring his options in free agency as the Birds appear ready to turn the reins over to second-year tackle Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks tearing his other Achilles' during the offseason, the one iron-clad unit is suddenly starting to reveal some cracks. Of course, Peters is still an option if the Eagles want to push Dillard's development back a year, and they seeming have some options to replace Brooks, although they're never really going to "replace" a guy who was arguably the best in the NFL at his position over recent years. And if Peters does come back, he'll still be a year older, and there's no guarantee that he'll be able to make it through an entire season. 

Because of this, the Eagles are on the cusp of falling out of the Top 10 of Pro Football Focus's offensive line rankings, a list they topped both at the start and end of the 2019 season. Steve Palazzolo revealed his rankings this week, and here's a look at what he had to say about the Birds' current 

10. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

The Eagles annually boast one of the best offensive lines in the league, and they finished No. 1 at the conclusion of the 2019 regular season. It will be difficult to repeat that feat without star left tackle Jason Peters and PFF All-Pro guard Brandon Brooks. The Eagles anticipated the Peters move by drafting Andre Dillard in the first round in 2019, and he’s locked in as the starter after grading out at 59.7 on 337 snaps as a rookie. For perspective, Peters allowed just 25 pressures on 602 pass-blocking attempts, while Dillard allowed 25 on 183 attempts — so it could be an adjustment for Philadelphia. The good news is Dillard’s track record at Washington State, where his pass-blocking grade on true pass sets is the fifth-best we’ve seen from any college player moving to the NFL.

At right tackle, Lane Johnson finished with an 88.8 overall grade last season, good for fourth in the league. He’s one of the NFL's best run-blocking tackles, and his 87.6 overall grade ranks fourth at the position since 2017. Center Jason Kelce is the class of the position, leading the way with a 92.8 grade over the past three years. Kelce does his best work in the run game, where his athleticism allows him to execute a wide array of blocks. Plus, he is also one of the better pass protectors in the league. At left guard, Isaac Seumalo took a step forward in his development last season, posting a career-high 70.6 overall grade. He did allow 42 pressures, the fourth-most among guards — but that was on 763 pass-blocking snaps, the second-most in the league including the playoffs.

Replacing Brooks at right guard will be a big task, as he’s among the top two or three guards in the league. 2018 sixth-round pick Matt Pryor will be in the mix in addition to rookie fourth-rounder Jack Driscoll. Pryor graded out at 60.9 on 143 snaps as a rookie, while Driscoll was one of our favorite developmental tackle options in the draft — though he’s a much better pass protector than run blocker. The Eagles should be strong again up front, but with Peters and Brooks out of the equation, it will be difficult to achieve another top-five ranking.  [pff.com]

Howie's Choice

Ed Kracz | SI.com

Currently, the Eagles have a good problem at tight end. They have two of the better tight ends in the game, giving them a matchup advantage in the middle of the field against most teams. But that good problem is eventually going to turn sour, as both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are slated to become free agents after the 2021 season — and it's going to be quite difficult for Howie Roseman and Co. to keep both on the roster beyond that season. 

Ed Kracz of SI.com took a look at this very issue in his latest column...

Can Roseman and the Eagles afford to keep both or, will they eventually detach from the hip following the 2020 season?

Yes, both are signed through 2021, so maybe the decision gets pushed back until then.

Roseman doesn’t want that.

Remember, the Eagles are expected to be about $51 million over the salary cap next year and that is before a likely decrease in the cap as the impact of the global pandemic is factored into the equation.  [si.com]

Currently, Ertz, 29, will cost the Birds about $12.4 million against the cap in each of his two remaining years. Meanwhile Goedert, 25 and still on his rookie deal, has a base salary under $1 million in 2019 and $1.2 million in 2021.

Between the salary and age difference, Kracz thinks the Eagles will ultimately make the tough decision and part with arguably the best tight end in franchise history. 

That’s a big discrepancy between tight ends capable of putting up big offensive numbers. ...

Something has to give, and there’s probably a better than 50-50 shot that what will give is Ertz being traded following the season and Goedert given a new deal.

Much can happen between now and March of 2021, of course, but right now, it seems to make financial sense that only one can stay and that would Goedert because age cannot be overlooked and Goedert is four years younger than Ertz.  [si.com]

No. 2 nonsense

Tommy Lawlor | Iggles Blitz

There seems to still be a belief out there that Jalen Hurts, selected 53rd-overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, is the Eagles No. 2 quarterback.

And Marcus is hardly the only one who feels this way, but Tommy Lawlor explained in simple terms why that's just not the case (although it might have been in a normal offseason)...

Hurts will still have a chance to win the backup role, but the odds will be against him. The Eagles had online meetings, but that is hardly a replacement for minicamps and passing camps. Hurts has never called a play, taken a snap or thrown a pass on an NFL practice field. He will have Training Camp, but the preseason will be cut in half, or cancelled entirely.

Hurts has to learn how to play at the NFL level while competing for a job at the same time. That’s tough for a QB. He has to deal with more than any other player. The QB has to call the play. Then he has to make a pre-snap read of the defense and decide if any adjustments are necessary. The QB must have a full understanding of the protection scheme for that particular play. He needs to know if the receivers are going to adjust their routes at all. And then the QB must have good timing/chemistry with his receivers once the play is underway.

Sudfeld doesn’t have a lot of regular season experience. He has been part of the Eagles for three years, though. That is a lot of practice reps. He knows the playbook inside out. Hurts may have more raw talent, but experience is a huge factor at QB.

The Eagles do like Sudfeld. They talked to him about a long-term deal, but Sudfeld made it clear he wants a chance to start. He knows that won’t happen in Philly so he’ll wait until next offseason to see what his options are.  [igglesblitz.com]

Nowhere to go but up

Reuben Frank | NBC Sports Philadelphia

Reuben Frank recently posted his look at whether or not the Eagles did enough to upgrade the wide receiver position this offseason, and while that's the bulk of what his post is about, it's also not the most striking thing from his post. No, that was this recap of the Eagles wideouts performance last season... 

Conventional wisdom says the Eagles upgraded the wide receiver position this offseason.

Not like they had any choice.

Their wide receiver production was the worst in modern Eagles history.

• So bad that for the first time since 1966 they didn’t have a wide receiver with 500 yards.

• So bad that they didn’t have any WRs ranked in the top 65 in the NFL in yards.

• So bad that they didn’t have a receiver all year record consecutive games with at least 65 yards. 

• So bad that the five receivers that suited up for the playoff game against the Seahawks had a combined 55 career receptions.

• So bad that Doug Pederson fired Carson Walch and hired Aaron Moorehead as the team's sixth WRs coach in six years.

It was time for a total rebuild, and that’s what Howie Roseman did.  [nbcsports.com]

For the more positive in-depth breakdown of the current receivers, click over.

Safety dance

Eliot Shorr-Parks | 94 WIP

The Eagles might've gotten a good one when they took a safety from Clemson in the draft. Where have we heard that before? 

Oh, that's right, Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins. And, as it turns out, Eagles rookie K'Von Wallace has already been getting some advice from the Philly legend. Beyond the toughness he brings, he also has the kind of versatility the Eagles seem to prize in their secondary players. Do they see him as the eventual replacement for Malcolm Jenkins?

Here's more from Eliot Shorr-Parks... 

Wallace, 5-foot-11, 206 pounds, comes into the NFL with an extremely impressive resume. He was a team captain on a two-time national champion. He lined up all over the field at Clemson, spending time at both safety spots, at nickel cornerback and playing a linebacker-type role as well at times. 

Wallace consistently playing so many roles on defense shows not only that the coaches trusted him, but that he was able to get the job done going despite playing against some of the best competition in college football.

“If you watch every game, especially every game from last year, you’ll see I was following the best players, I was following the most competition and I was excelling very, very well at doing so,” Wallace said. “Anywhere you can put me to go out and compete, that is going to bring out the best in me, and that will help me best help the defense.”

How the Eagles use Wallace will be interesting to see. It is possible he ends up at either safety position, but so far this offseason, the role the Eagles have been teaching him seems to very similar to the one Jenkins played.  [94wip.radio.com]


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