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May 28, 2023

Mailbag: Could the Eagles use rookie DT Jalen Carter at times on offense?

Eagles NFL
052623JalenCarter Jordan Prather/USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Carter

On Wednesday, we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter. Thank you as always for doing half the work for me. This is Part II of a two-part mailbag. Part I here.

Question from @GoJax_: Which player(s) would transition best to being on the opposite side of the ball, and where would they play?

Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis would often play on offense in goal line situations at Georgia. Watch this block by Carter while playing fullback against Arkansas:

And the big man has hands, too: 

Can we get Carter and Davis in on offense during a blowout, please?

Question from @nzect24: How concerned were you with Carter’s “character concerns” before the draft and has anything he’s said/done since then changed your view on him?

The incident in January that caused Carter to slide from a potential No. 1 overall pick to ninth overall showed a severe lack of judgment and maturity, in my opinion. Staying out of trouble in the leadup to the draft and immediately thereafter is fine and good, but it'll take years of consistent behavior to change perceptions, and rightfully so.

However, there was one knock on him during the pre-draft process that was probably a bit overblown. At Georgia's pro day, Carter weighed nine pounds heavier than he did at the Combine, and a clip of him looking gassed while running through drills began circulating on social media:

His workout that day lacked context. To begin, he did the same workout as 238-pound Nolan Smith and 247-pound Robert Beal. Carter did not have the same level of stamina as those two guys, which should be expected of a player who is nearly 100 pounds heavier.

The above clip was also taken at the tail end of what was essentially a conditioning drill, which are, you know, designed to make you tired. As a standalone clip, the perception might be that he walked out onto the field and was immediately gassed, like Kevin Malone giving his "Don't Just Dream It, Do It, YES!" speech:

"When you have guys who have concerns off the field, one of the things that I think is a good indicator if they have a shot at staying on the straight and narrow and being a hit is whether or not they really love football," Daniel Jeremiah said on his Move the Sticks podcast. "When you have the threat that football can go away in your life, that matters more to some than to others. And I think with him, one of the things that I would point to — and what he did off the field was awful, with a situation with two people losing their lives, I don't ever want to minimize that — but on the field I didn't see issues with effort.

"I heard some stuff about practice. I'm not at practice. I'm just going off of what we see on the game field. I didn't see effort being an issue. The other thing I would say is, he hurts his ankle Week 1. He came back. He hurts his knee in the middle of the season. He came back. Like, if you don't like football, especially with none of the off-field stuff that had surfaced at that point in time, he could've said 'I'm a top five pick, I could shut this thing down.' He had a couple of opportunities to be like, 'I'm done. I don't want to do this anymore. Let me just go wait and I'll go get all my money.' He came back twice. I think he does like football and I think the fact that that was in jeopardy I think hopefully gets him in the right space going forward."

To be clear, it's not ideal that Carter came in heavier than expected at his Pro Day, and that he cramped up and got tired, but I also don't think that a seven second clip should define his desire (or lack thereof) to be a great player in the NFL.

Question from @KingpinLionO: Would it be crazy if Jalen Hurts had a Carson Wentz 2018-like regression from his MVP caliber season? Or is that an unfair comparison because the teams are so different?

I think it's less that the teams are different, and more that the players themselves are different.

To begin, Hurts is healthy. Wentz was still recovering from multiple tears in his knee, and did not play until Week 3 of the 2018 season. And then if you'll recall he missed the last three games of the regular season as well as the Eagles' two playoff games that year with a fractured vertebra.

But also, what we didn't know at the time was just how flawed Wentz was mentally, while Hurts has maximized his talents and has become the unquestioned leader of the team.

Hurts has a high floor. Barring injury, he can always lean on his running ability, if need be. But more importantly, he showed in 2022 that he has a much deeper understanding of what opposing defenses are trying to do, and he got so much better at knowing where to go with the football.

Question from @tweetbit: What are your thoughts regarding the new NFL rule that every fair catch start at the 25 yard line? Is the NFL going to outright ban kickoffs at some point?

I was listening to the the New Heights podcast with the Kelce brothers, and I thought they hit on all the major points in an entertaining way.

Jason wondered, "When is somebody not going to fair catch it and take the ball at the 25?" My guess is that unless you employ Cordarrelle Patterson or Keisean Nixon, most teams will do exactly that. Certainly, that's what the Eagles will do, seeing as they don't have a threatening kick returner and are confident that their high octane offense can consistently drive 75 yards for scores.

Jason was also correct to point out that for the teams that have zero intention of returning kicks when they can just take the ball at the 25, the opening kickoff will basically be a ceremonial waste of time, so why even bother having kickoffs at all? 

We're probably moving in that direction.

Question from @seantgreen: Any chance Kelee Ringo ends up as the kick returner? 4.36 40 and showed some return skills as a CB, but never returned kicks in college?

They'll sent Boston Scott out there to collect fair catches.

Question from @KramerPoker: How much credit do you give Nick Sirianni's less intense practices in the Eagles' lack of injuries over the past two seasons?

I think there were some columnist types who couldn't wait to crush Sirianni, Howie Roseman, and the Eagles' analytics nerds for running shorter practices with limited hitting while also resting starters in the preseason games. But... the Eagles are 2-0 so far in Week 1 games during the Sirianni era, so those columnists never got that chance.

I don't think that the less intense practices have much of an effect on whether guys get hurt or not during regular season games, but it no doubt helps in keeping guys fresh and healthy at least for Week 1.

The Eagles were one of the healthiest teams in the NFL the last two seasons. Their light camps weren't the only reason why, but they were part of the puzzle.

Question from @mattpd03: Chances on Eagles being a late season Thursday night flex?

The league can flex Sunday games into Thursday nights from Weeks 13-17, so let's look at those games:

Week 13: 49ers at Eagles: Teams cannot play two Thursday road games in one season. The 49ers have a road Thursday game Week 12 in Seattle. This game won't get flexed to Thursday night.

Week 14: Eagles at Cowboys: This is the Sunday Night Football Game, and it's between a pair of big market teams that always get monster ratings, even when they aren't good. This game isn't getting flexed to Thursday night.

Week 15: Eagles at Seahawks: The NFL can't rightfully make the Eagles play in Dallas on a Sunday night, arrive home on Monday, and then fly right back out to the west coast for a game in Seattle with pretty much no preparation at all. It's pretty safe to say that this game won't get flexed.

Week 16: Giants at Eagles: This is a Monday game on Christmas. It is not eligible to get flexed to Thursday.

Week 17: Cardinals at Eagles: The Thursday night game Week 17 is Jets-Browns. Those teams' seasons could go either way, so there is some potential for it to be moved out of primetime. However, the Cardinals are expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, and it is unlikely that Amazon will be pining for Jonathan Gannon. 

You can probably go ahead and plan your travel for those games with confidence that the Eagles won't get flexed.

Question from @nick_field90: Which game do you think they'll break out the Kelly Green uniforms for?

It'll be a home game, obviously, and I don't think they'll wait long to break them out. In my mind it'll be a day game, mainly because the last time they wore them it was a day game, and that's just kind of how I've always remembered them, though that could be totally wrong. But I think October 1, Week 4 vs. Washington makes sense. Or if my day game theory is wrong, Week 2 against the Vikings is a possibility.

Question from @GoodhartJustin: What are the top 5 worst jersey numbers to have given to you as a rookie trying to make the team?

Ha, how about if I just name the five worst numbers on the team currently? Cool? Well, whatever...

P Arryn Siposs (10): It's interesting that the Eagles gave rookie QB Tanner McKee the No. 10 as well. McKee is more likely to make the team than not, in my opinion. If McKee wins his camp battle over Ian Book and Siposs wins his over UDFA Ty Zentner, who gets to keep 10? Maybe Siposs, because of seniority? Still, I'd be worried about my spot on the roster if they gave my number to a sixth-round pick.

WR Charleston Rambo (43): 43 on a receiver? Ew.

CB Greedy Williams (38): Williams was 26 in Cleveland, 29 at LSU, and 2 in high school. This is probably the first time he has ever had a crappy number.

OT Fred Johnson (50): 50 is a bad number for an OT. That's a center or a linebacker number. You want to be in the 70's, or at least the 60's. 

OT Roderick Johnson and Matt Leo (66): You never want to have to share a number with another guy, but in this case it's especially bad because Johnson and Leo might have to face off against each other in some "who cares" 66 vs. 66 1-on-1s that'll never make anyone's practice notes.

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