August 24, 2019
Following Thursday night's weather-shortened loss to the Ravens at the Linc, there's now just one preseason game — a short trip up I-95 to visit the Jets — standing between the Eagles and the start of the regular season.
There's also final roster cut-downs, in which Howie Roseman and Co. will need to cut nearly half the players currently suiting up for the Birds. For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, the last man on the roster is usually an afterthought, but you never know when that player might wind up making a big play in a big spot.
In the meantime, there's plenty being written about the Eagles following our first — and likely only — look at several of the starters this preseason. So, as always, let's take a look at what they're saying about the Birds, starting with the harshest thing you'll read about the Eagles this summer...
Similarly to our own Jimmy Kempski's "Dumpster Fire" series, in which he roasts each of the NFC East teams (including the Birds), Deadspin's Drew Magary writes a post for each of the 32 NFL teams outlining exactly why they'll suck this season. And, no offense to Jimmy, but Magary is way more brutal, in large part because his analysis extends beyond the field and probably leaves many Eagles fans feeling quite exposed.
It's definitely worth a read, as are all of his "Why Your Team Sucks" posts, and if you go in with the right mindset, you'll definitely get a few laughs. Magary writes about Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz specifically, but here are his uninterrupted thoughts on why the Eagles franchise has always sucked (because his section on new things that suck was actually an overwhelmingly positive endorsement of Roseman's offseason)...
What has always sucked: In the minds of Eagles fans, that Super Bowl win validated all of their needless assholery and encouraged them to be awful, awful people from here into eternity. I know that being a dickhead pays in 2019's America, but that doesn’t mean you should embrace the trend. Oh, but these people have. They couldn’t WAIT to have God grant them every excuse to beat the piss out of each other, tear down stoplights, spit on babies, and teabag the elderly. Even if the Eagles underperform this season (and they will once Wentz has his scapula forcibly removed by an opposing DT), that’s not gonna stop these dumpster people from acting like they have the God-given right to suck, and that being the worst is the only way to be the best.
Philly bros worship that slurring Jason Kelce parade speech because it apes their habit of whining incessantly anytime someone says the slightest thing against them. They are some of the most negative fans anywhere, yet they’ll enlist their grandmothers to fight you if you’re an outsider who points that out. The Linc is worse than the Vet, which shouldn’t be possible. Every vehicle in the stadium parking lot is a pickup truck with a Blue Lives Matter flag. Meanwhile, Philly is Alabama without mayonnaise barbecue. Their accent, like Boston’s, is just the result of centuries of inbreeding. They worship gas station food. That one fan who ate the horse poop would probably not even be in the 50th percentile of bad breath at an Eagles game. The city’s most famous company is the most widely despised company in America and it’s not even an arms manufacturer. The city’s most famous college gave Donald Trump a degree when Donald Trump can’t even read the buttons on a calculator.
I’m not done! Philly’s basically a turnpike rest stop between D.C. and NYC. The city’s biggest celebrities are all local news anchors. Anyone who makes it big, even the slightest bit, flees; David Morse is the only famous guy who still lives there and you don’t even know who that is. There are potholes in Philly the size of calderas. Stray cats outnumber people there. Everyone in Philly maintains a cult-like reverence for a fifth-tier snack cake brand. The two most noteworthy cheesesteak options are a choice between flag- and cop-humping racists vs. We Haven’t Cleaned The Tables Or The Grill Since Rizzo Was Mayor. The whole enterprise is repellent and the presence of the Eagles within it somehow only makes it more unappealing. These fans love being miserable and spend every day making sure the rest of us are somehow even more miserable. They have succeeded. [deadspin.com]
Over at ESPN.com this week, they broke out a new edition of NFL power rankings, and in the description for each team — the Eagles are ranked 5th, by the way — each team's beat writer was asked to list which player or coach was on the hot seat.
Eagles writer Tim McManus opted to go with a coach: offensive coordinator Mike Groh. And that actually makes perfect sense. Groh came under some serious fire early last season, with the Eagles' offense struggling as the team got off to a slow start following their Super Bowl victory. This year, with a stacked offense from the inside out, Groh won't have the same built-in excuses that he did a season ago.
Of course, with a fully healthy Carson Wentz surrounded by tons of playmakers, the Eagles' offense could return to its 2017 dominance under then-coordinator, now-Colts head coach Frank Reich, and by mid-season we could all be laughing that we ever considered Groh to be on the hot seat in the first place.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
Who's on the hot seat: Mike Groh, offensive coordinator
Why his seat is warm: The Eagles dipped from second in the NFL in points per game in 2017 (28.6) to 18th in 2018 (22.9) under Groh, who took over as offensive coordinator last season when Frank Reich departed to become the Colts' coach. There were several reasons for the offensive regression, including quarterback Carson Wentz not being himself as he returned from ACL/LCL surgery and dealt with a bad back. But that doesn't fully explain why Philly consistently had difficulty scoring early in games. This year, there's no reason why the offense shouldn't take flight now that Wentz is healthy and surrounded by playmakers. -- Tim McManus [espn.com]
Interestingly enough, there was only one other team in the Top 10 that had a coach on the hot seat rather than a player: the ninth-ranked Dallas Cowboys.
Speaking of that stacked Eagles offense, Danny Heifetz of The Ringer ranked the pass-catchers for all 32 NFL teams. The Birds did pretty well for themselves, finishing in the third tier and 10th overall. The other two teams in Tier 3 were the Chargers (9th) and the Rams (8th).
Tier 3: Talented and Deep
10. Philadelphia Eagles
WR: Alshon Jeffery
WR: DeSean Jackson
WR: Nelson Agholor
RB: Miles Sanders/Darren Sproles
TE: Zach Ertz/Dallas Goedert
A team with truly no weak spots. Ertz and Goedert are the best tight end combo in football. Jeffery’s and Jackson’s games have almost nothing in common but work with what Ertz does perfectly. Jackson’s speed adds a vertical element that Torrey Smith couldn’t provide in 2018. Agholor was a disaster in 2017 but redeemed himself last year. Darren Sproles is still kicking, and rookie running back Miles Sanders, the heir to Saquon Barkley at Penn State, could also show capable hands out of the backfield. [theringer.com]
Alshon Jeffery, entering the second year of a four-year, $52 million contract, has had his name pop up in trade rumors lately, perhaps because of all that depth the team has, especially after rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside balled out against the Ravens.
Trade talk is picking up. Keep an eye on guys like Kenny Stills and Alshon Jeffery. We also know about Jadeveon Clowney and Trent Williams.— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) August 24, 2019
Miami #Dolphins are a strong player for Clowney right now.
This report was also apparently discussed on ESPN in recent days, so there could be something to it. We all know how much Howie likes to drop bombshells on us, although in this case it doesn't seem very likely. Still, it's being talked about and this is called "What They're Saying" after all...
So if this is legit, what are the Eagles thinking?
Some people see this as an overreaction to JJ Arcega-Whiteside’s play against the Ravens. He had a terrific game and now the Eagles are running off their star receiver. Dumb, dumb and dumb. I don’t think the Eagles would do something that simple.
The Eagles would be willing to deal Jeffery for two reasons. First, they would get something good in return. Second, cap reasons. Jeffery has high cap figures each of the next three years. The Eagles do a great job of managing the salary cap and sometimes that means making tough decisions.
Would the Eagles be interested in a Jeffery for Jadeveon Clowney deal? That would really make the Eagles loaded up front. Daeshon Hall has had an impressive summer, but Clowney is a special talent. He was dominant last year when the Texans played the Eagles. Adding him would be tempting. [igglesblitz.com]
And here's an update to that report from Jimmy Kempski:
I’m told there’s nothing to rumors of Alshon Jeffery being traded.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) August 24, 2019
Josh McCown looked great in Thursday night's preseason loss, especially for a guy who was retired less than a week before, going 17-for-24 for 192 yards and tossing a pair of touchdown in just about a half of football.
Over at NJ.com, Mike Kaye took a look at several roster battles heading into the final week of the preseason, and the Eagles' backup QB battle is certainly one to keep an eye on as Howie Roseman will have some decisions to make before final roster cuts.
1. How will Josh McCown’s arrival impact Clayton Thorson and Nate Sudfeld?
McCown put forth an impressive performance on Thursday. He was poised, accurate and fearless with the football. He was exactly what the Eagles needed in a backup quarterback.
If Carson Wentz were to go down for a game or two, the Eagles would feel comfortable with McCown at the helm.
That said, McCown’s arrival surely impacts Thorson and Sudfeld. At best, Sudfeld is, once again, the third-string quarterback. At worst, Sudfeld isn’t on the Eagles’ 53-man roster this season. That first scenario is the most likely to happen, which means Thorson is likely to be bounced off the active roster.
Thorson will probably get the majority of the fourth preseason game to showcase himself as a legitimate NFL developmental quarterback. He needs to have a big game against the Jets to force the Eagles to keep four quarterbacks or make himself desirable enough to be claimed off waivers. [nj.com]
There was one name conspicuously missing from that discussion of the Eagles backup quarterbacks: Cody Kessler. That's probably because his time in Philly is nearing an end.
Finally, let's take a look on the lighter side, specifically Peter King's latest column for ProFootballTalk, in which he makes an all-interview team from his training camp tour this summer. Two of the best talkers, according to King, are Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and defensive end Brandon Graham.
No surprise there, especially on Graham. But the reason we're including this is because of how Graham perks himself up when he's having a bad day.
TE: Zach Ertz (July 27), Eagles; George Kittle (Aug. 13), 49ers. This says volumes about Ertz: When we talked, he sounded prouder of being Mr. Julie Ertz cheering on his wife and her U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team in France than of setting the NFL record for catches in a season by an NFL tight end. Kittle’s so effervescent. ...
DL: Grady Jarrett (July 29), Falcons; Cam Hayward (Aug. 2), Saints; Brandon Graham (July 27), Eagles; Calais Campbell (Aug. 1), Jaguars. Factoid of the Trip: Graham told me he has a video of him strip-sacking Tom Brady in the biggest moment of Super Bowl LII on his phone, and when he’s having a bad day, he’ll watch it. [profootballtalk.nbcsports.com]
That would probably work for almost any Eagles fan. Just sayin', Philly...
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