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February 28, 2018

Mailbag: Who are the Eagles' starting corners in 2018?

In our weekly Eagles chat last 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, as well as some emails I've received.

Question from BD Nick: Who will the starting corners be Week 1?

I would lean toward Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby on the outside, with Sidney Jones in the slot. I do think Mills could eventually transition to safety, making way for Jones on the outside, but I actually think a year in the slot would serve Jones well for his long-term development.

Of course, the Eagles could also use Mills in a role in which he moves inside in nickel sets, with Jones playing outside. For the first time in years, the Eagles have good, young depth at corner, and a lot of options.

Question from Eagles Dan in JAX: Do you think Nelson Agholor can be an outside receiver or is he perfect for the slot?

I think Agholor has the skill set to play on the outside, or in the slot. He’s a very talented player. Obviously, he had by far his best year playing in the slot in 2017. I do wonder if he would have been much better anyway if he stayed on the outside.

A lot of Agholor’s problems when he stunk his first two years were mental. Will he lose confidence moving from the slot to the outside? Are the Eagles better served to just leave him where he is? I don’t know. I do think Doug Pederson did a great job putting his players in the best positions to succeed last season. Maybe that’s a question worth asking him at the Combine this week.

Question from Billy the Kid: Can you explain to me why Mike Groh is a super star? I get that he is a more qualified OC than Duce. I don’t see how he was great last year. You mention that the WR errors were down. Almost all came from DGB and Agholor. The drops are still an issue generally, though Agholor is now a rock star. But Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith were both generally disappointments, or average at best, relative to their career productivity.

To begin, I’m not sure who’s calling Groh a super star, though I do think it was a perfectly reasonable hire. I think he did a great job with the wide receivers last season. Certainly, the WR errors before Groh's arrival extended beyond DGB and Agholor. They were the biggest culprits, but the wide receiver group as a whole was atrocious.

It was clear as early as OTAs that Groh was going to be a major improvement over Greg Lewis. He didn’t let his receivers get away with anything. From stance, to releases, to running routes the proper way, to teaching what the receivers’ quarterbacks were expecting from them, Groh was a vocal teacher and technician. He got back to basics to fix a broken wide receiving corps, and the proof was on the field this season.

The progression that Groh was able to coax out of Agholor should not be understated. Under Groh, Agholor built confidence and went from a walking disaster to one of the offense’s biggest contributors.

Otherwise, Groh was a beneficiary of better personnel, for sure. Still, that group went from the worst in the league to a legitimate strength, overall. I’ll disagree that Jeffery and Smith were disappointments relative their career productivity, by the way.

Jeffery scored touchdowns. That’s a big deal. He also had to overcome a lack of work with Carson Wentz during the preseason, a quarterback change during season, and he played all season with a torn rotator cuff. In the playoffs, he caught 12 for 219 (18.2 YPC) and 3 TDs, making several highlight reel plays. He was a beast.

Meanwhile, Smith wasn’t good, clearly, but he was significantly improved from his previous two seasons in San Francisco.

From a behind the scenes perspective, Groh was a big part of the offense’s game planning for the week, specifically on third downs. He devised third down plays that the offense used regularly on game day. Carson Wentz’s numbers on third down this season? 81 of 124 (65.3%) for 1178 yards (9.5 YPA), 14 TD, 3 INT, 123.7 QB rating.

Question from Jack: I wonder if the veterans that are at the end will take less to have one more shot. JP, Celek will make a lot of money but their contributions are more likely to be leader driven rather than on the field.

Celek won’t be back at his cap number of $5 million. No way. The Eagles are probably hoping he retires. Otherwise, he’ll either be taking a pay cut for the third straight year, or the team is going to have to release him.

As for Jason Peters, every year people wonder if he will finally regress, and every year he plays at a Pro Bowl level. Obviously, his torn ACL/MCL is more reason to wonder about regression than usual, but I don’t think he’s done being an effective player. He can still be more than just a leader.

One thing I’ll also note here is that Peters’ cap price is $10,666,666. That’s not bad. In fact, he’s only the 13th-highest paid left tackle in the NFL in 2018, according to OverTheCap.

The Eagles will probably ask Peters to take a pay cut again, like they did last offseason, and the guess here is that he'll say no once again.

Comment from Robert: Eagles suck, and so do you Kempski. The Steelers rule Pennsylvania. The Eagles are a fart on a turd and the most despicable angry hateful team in the NFL. “Eagles” and “class team” will never be in the same sentence.

You just used “Eagles” and “class team” in the same sentence, Robert.

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