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May 23, 2019

What they're saying: Could the Eagles trade for Jadeveon Clowney?

Plus, Doug Pederson snubbed in head coach rankings and the latest on some players on the roster bubble

Eagles NFL
jadeveon-clowney_052319_usat Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Houston Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney celebrates after recovering fumble against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Just how good of a coach is Doug Pederson? The answer to that likely depends on a number of factors and varies from person to person. But, regardless of your own opinion, facts are facts — he is only one season removed from leading an injury-ravaged Eagles team to its first Super Bowl victory after losing his MVP candidate quarterback in mid-December. 

Last year, that was good enough to earn him the No. 2 spot on The Sporting News' rankings of the top NFL coaches, behind only Bill Belichick, who Pederson beat in the Super Bowl just a few months earlier. That makes sense, given the Hoodie's track record compared to Pederson's much shorter list of accomplishments. 

This year, however, after another playoff season — one that again involved the Eagles losing Carson Wentz to a season-ending injury — Pederson has fallen five spots in the rankings.

Here's more from Bill Bender of The Sporting News:

Pederson was No. 2 on this list last year after the Eagles' Super Bowl run. He avoided a full-fledged Super Bowl hangover by taking Philadelphia back to the divisional round of the playoffs. Nick Foles is gone, so the Eagles must finally prove they can do it with Carson Wentz.  [sportingnews.com]

Interestingly enough, the reason for the overly negative reaction from Eagles fans seems to be because Rams' coach Sean McVay is so high rather than that Pederson has dropped five spots. 

And that's probably due to the fact that they are both relatively new head coaches with a quarterback situation that will be linked until someone other than Wentz and Jared Goff is under center for either the Eagles or Rams. We'll let Brandon Gowton from Bleeding Green sum it up...

[McVay's] done a good job so far. But it’s also not like he’s had to face a lot of adversity. In terms of Adjusted Games Lost (AGL), the Rams finished as THE healthiest team in 2017 and fourth healthiest in 2018. Contrast that with Pederson’s Eagles, who finished 13th and 31st, respectively. And those Eagles injuries including losing a starting quarterback — an NFL MVP caliber player in Carson Wentz — and still winning a Super Bowl title with a backup signal caller.

The fact of the matter is that McVay just doesn’t stack up to Pederson. This shouldn’t be so difficult to see. Pederson is 2-0 against McVay. Pederson’s offense scored 41 points in a Super Bowl WIN over the Patriots while McVay’s offense scored 3 points in a Super Bowl LOSS to the Patriots.

The world would be a better place if people could stop overrating McVay and underrating Dougie P.  [bleedinggreennation.com]

As our own Jimmy Kempski tweeted, "Sean McVay is becoming one of the most comically overrated figures in sports."

And now, a look at what else they're saying about the Eagles... 

That's a Clowney question, bro

Sheil Kapadia | The Athletic

Over at The Athletic, they took a look at five potential trade partners for the Texans should they decide to deal Jadeveon Clowney, who was hit with the franchise tag earlier this offseason, rather than give him a lucrative extension. Clowney is currently skipping OTAs while hoping the two sides can come to terms on a new contract, and they have until July 15 to do so, or else Clowney will be stuck playing under the franchise tag this season.

Each of the five beat writers examined whether or not a deal would make sense for the teams they cover. Here's what Sheil Kapadia had to say about the prospect of the Birds adding Clowney.

The chances that the Eagles will land Clowney are very low, but they’re not zero. The big issue that the Eagles — and many other teams — face would be finding the money to sign Clowney to a lucrative extension. That’s an especially tall task in Philadelphia, where the team is going to be building around a high-priced quarterback pretty soon in Carson Wentz.

That said, Howie Roseman is not afraid to take big swings. And he views the defensive line as a premium position. Clowney would be a disruptive player who could line up in multiple spots in the Eagles’ scheme. That he’s only 26 has to be appealing to Roseman. A core up front of Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett and Clowney would create issues for opposing offenses for years to come.

If this were a year or two ago, and the Eagles had Wentz on his rookie contract, I could see Roseman making an aggressive push for Clowney. Now? The Eagles will likely kick around the idea internally and might even call. But given what it will take in terms of draft pick compensation and financial commitment, a deal seems highly unlikely.  [theathletic.com]

Eagles running out of room

Dave Zangaro | NBC Sports Philadelphia

One of the big offensive roster battles to watch this summer, especially on the offensive side of the ball, will revolve around the Eagles' fourth running back spot. Presumably, that's how many the Birds will carry again this season, and if that's the case, at least one of the Eagles' top two rushers from last season will be sent packing. 

Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders and Corey Clement, assuming he's healthy, are all locks. That would leave just one open spot for Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams. 

The candidates, ranked

Wendell Smallwood: Go ahead and count out Smallwood at your own peril. This guy has been cut by fans and media members for a couple years now and it still hasn’t happened. No, he’s never thrived in the feature role, but he’s been fairly productive in three years after being taken in the fifth round. In fact, 2018 was his most productive year yet. He had 364 yards on the ground with three touchdowns and an average of 4.2 yards per carry. He also caught 28 balls and had two receiving touchdowns. He can do a little bit of everything, including returning kicks. I’d list him as the favorite for now. 

Josh Adams: Pretty strange rookie season for Josh Adams. He didn’t make the initial 53-man roster but then ended up leading the team in rushing before basically getting benched in the playoffs. We found out he had a shoulder injury and had offseason surgery, so maybe that was part of the reason. He isn’t practicing yet. The problem with Adams might be his lack of versatility. He caught just seven passes last year and is probably better suited for first and second downs, which is when Howard or Sanders will be on the field. He also hasn’t been a return man.  [nbcsports.com]

Which ever one makes the team, it's safe to say they'll be playing a smaller role than last season, when the Birds lost Jay Ajayi and Clement for the season. 

The mystery of Mack Hollins

Brandon Lee Gowton | Bleeding Green Nation

Before deciding you use Brandon's comments on Pederson vs. McVay, I already had this story picked out, because I've been wondering the exact same thing. What the hell happened to Mack Hollins? You remember him, right?

Right?

So, why does it seem like nobody is talking about Hollins, who had a promising rookie season before mysteriously landing on IR after the first preseason game last year? And, what will be his role in 2019?

We do know that Hollins is in the Philly area. We also know he was healthy enough to ride 15 miles on his bike as part of the Eagles Autism Challenge...

But we don’t know when Hollins will be ready to return to the football field.

And, further, we don’t know exactly how Hollins fits on the Eagles’ 2019 roster ... if at all.

Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Nelson Agholor (barring trade) are all locks to make Philadelphia’s 53-man roster. The same goes for 2019 second-round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside.

Beyond those four, it’s unclear. If healthy, Hollins seems like a good bet as a fifth receiver due to his special teams ability. But it’s just unclear what’s been going on with him.  [bleedinggreennation.com]

Another side of Arcega-Whiteside

Tim McManus | ESPN

Finally, Tim McManus has a great profile on JJ Arcega-Whiteside's path to the NFL. The whole thing is great, but this part was especially moving... 

When JJ left South Carolina to attend and play football at Stanford, [his grandmother Lonnie] Means would stay up late to watch his games. She had a tradition of calling JJ pregame to give him a last-minute pep talk.

Dealing with leg issues, she called him from the hospital this past September before Stanford's game against Oregon. JJ was in pregame prep and did not answer, so she and Valorie sent him a video message.

JJ received the message before kickoff and, as requested in the video, scored two touchdowns in a 38-31 Stanford win in overtime. Means unexpectedly died that day of congestive heart failure, hours after sending the video.

"That was very difficult," JJ said. "I didn't find out until after the game, and I got to score two touchdowns for her. So that was like -- I was like, 'Dang, Grandma, that would happen to us.'"  [espn.com]

I'm not crying, you're crying.

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