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June 15, 2019

Mailbag: Where do the Eagles match up well against each of their division rivals?

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061519AlshonJeffery Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

It'll be difficult for the Giants to match up against the Eagles' size in the red zone.

In our Eagles chat this week, 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.

Question from Kephas: Across the NFC East, now that we're coming out of mini-camps, where do you think the four teams match up favorably against each other?

Well, I'd like to get to the beach at some point this weekend, so I'll skip the part about how the Giants, Cowboys, and Washington match up against each other, and we'll just focus on the Eagles:

Giants: I think the Eagles match up well against them across the board, because, well, their roster is trash. But if I were to pick one specific thing the Eagles can exploit, it's their size advantage in the red zone. The Giants' projected defensive backfield starters -- Janoris Jenkins, Deandre Baker, Jabrill Peppers, and Antoine Bethea -- are all 5'11 or shorter. It'll be difficult for them to match up with Alshon Jeffery, J.J. Argeca-Whiteside, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert.

Washington: Their skill position players in the passing game are dreadful, and the best player of the bunch, TE Jordan Reed, has been handled over the last few years by Malcolm Jenkins.

Cowboys: Connor Williams is coming off a bad rookie season as the starting LG, and C Travis Frederick is returning after a year away as he recovered from a scary disease. In 2018, Fletcher Cox saw double-teams galore. The Eagles had guys like T.Y McGill and Bruce Hector getting meaningful snaps at DT against the Cowboys, and were unable to capitalize against a shaky Dallas interior OL. This year, Cox will be joined by Malik Jackson and a healthy Timmy Jernigan, and will be in a position to create more issues up front if Williams isn't significantly better, and Frederick isn't his old self.

Question from SnailWhale: If DeSean never left Philly, would he have had an even better career than bouncing around in Washington and Tampa? He would definitely have been an all-time Eagles record holder in many stats, right?

Over his Eagles career, Harold Carmichael had 589 catches for 8978 yards and 79 TDs. He’s the all-time Eagles leader in all three of those categories. Over DeSean’s career (all teams included), DeSean has 589 catches for 10261 yards and 53 TDs. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that he would likely be leading Carmichael in receptions and yards had he never left.

Currently, DeSean has 6117 career receiving yards with the Eagles. That’s fourth all-time. If he stays healthy, he’ll pass Mike Quick (6464) this year, and Pete Retzlaff (7412) will be well within reach next year. He’d have to play at least three years in Philly to have any sort of shot at passing Carmichael, and would need to average 954 yards over that span to catch him.

Question from Joe: Did you happen to notice where the Eagles lined up DeSean? How often was he in the slot or in a minus split?

I can’t recall seeing him a ton in the slot, but he was there on occasion. All three of the teams DeSean has played for over his career have used him a lot in minus splits (a little tighter to the formation, closer to the QB), where it’s more difficult for the corner to use the sideline as an ally when in press. The cornerback has to defend against both inside and outside routes, which will often cause them to back out of press coverage. I imagine Doug will use DeSean quite a bit in those minus splits when they want to increase DeSean's odds of getting a free release at the snap.


RELATED: Eagles 53-man roster projection after spring practices


Question from Hampi: What are the chances of Marken Michel making the roster?

Both coaches and teammates were impressed by Michel during spring practices, and the media got a chance to see him make some plays as a receiver as well. He’ll have to do the following two things to have a shot:

  1. He has to continue to make plays from the start of training camp through the end of the preseason games. His performance in the spring got him noticed. He’ll have to do it consistently, now that he has demanded some attention. Plenty of guys over the years have started strong, and then faded. Those guys don’t make the team.
  2. He’ll have to carve out some kind of niche on special teams. I think that it would be a lot to ask for him to suddenly be a good returner, but if he can produce as, say, a gunner on the punt team, maybe he replaces a guy like Shelton Gibson in that role.

Very good start, but his work has only just begun.

Question from Desert Eagle: Is Rodney McLeod cooked?

Huh? That’s a little premature. McLeod was playing well when he went down last season. During spring practices, he participated in individual drills, and he thinks he should be ready to amp that up in training camp. For what it’s worth, right or wrong, the Eagles brought McLeod back on an $8 million cap number in 2019, when they could have saved some money by releasing him. That indicates to me that they think he’ll come back from his injury and be a positive contributor. We’ll see, but let the guy at least get back on the field first. Sheesh.

Question from C-Dog: Uncle Jimmy, now that you’ve been able to get creepy close to the team, who would you say year-over-year has physically improved the most, and who took the offseason “off?” In short, who’s jacked, and who’s a fatty?

Ha, this isn’t something I notice much, and I’m conflicted on whether or not it’s something I should make more of an effort to notice, large because of, as you put it, the creepy factor.

Sheil Kapadia asked this question (the jacked part, not the the fatty part) to Schwartz, and he offered up Rasul Douglas. Offensively (and I’ve mentioned this before, so sorry for the repetition), I would say that Nelson Agholor is jacked.


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