- Alex Hand
Eagles’ Future Shining in Loss to Baltimore + Potential Roster Moves
Yes, it was a loss. Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles have been eliminated from playoff contention. But in their 27-26 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Eagles bled their hand and showed the league what their bevy of rookies could be capable of.
Now Carson Wentz’s performance in comparison to last week’s Washington exhibition was a first half disaster. Even though Wentz showcased his ability to learn on the go and had lessened the poorer decisions right up to the failed 2-point conversion, the interceptions and his hot/cold decision-making will be tested inside the division for years to come and will most certainly have to be addresses prior to his sophomore preseason.
Grades were high for Zach Ertz, again, and for the newly formed run game featuring additions Byron Marshall and Kenjon Barner who compiled 59 yards of total offense to pair with Ryan Mathews 128 rushing yards. Ever since being asked about his anti-block against Cincinnati Bengal Vontaze Burfict and overall toughness, Ertz has responded beautifully with 271 yards, 1 TD, and good run-after-catch ability over the last 3 games.
The receiver core, sadly, has not improved. Nelson Agholor had another dropped pass, and both Dorial Green-Beckham and Jordan Matthews have seemed to disappear into nothingness. All three wideouts accounted for 47 receiving yards. The silver lining is that this season has been plenty of proof that the team is desperate at the WR position and will pursue it like they did offensive line last offseason.
The offensive line, similarly to all games spanning back to the Seattle Seahawks matchup, proved to be exceptional in run blocking but near ineffective in pass protection. Granted, the receiving core has not been self-sufficient plus the injury bug had struck Philadelphia’s O-line late this season. Still, the game would have been lost without the support of the run game, so the light is still shining bright looking into next year.
The front seven came up big with Nigel Bradham’s strip sack and the late interception via Jordan Hicks that kept the Eagles in the game. The defense looked good sans the failing secondary, again. At least three defensive backs will be on my list of roster changes below.
Cha-Cha-Changes: A Look At Hot-Seat Players and Their Potential Replacements
Nolan Carroll & Leodis McKelvin: Both DBs get burned regularly and their replacements will most likely be found in this year’s draft class. Free agency would be quite expensive, and the draft is deep at the position this season.
Dorial Green Beckham: He hasn't come close to producing what he was capable of while with Tennessee; not as if that were a shock, but Beckham also carries no dead money into next year and might serve as a bad locker room example regarding work ethic. His replacement could be any combination of DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, and/or Corey Davis of Western Michigan who will be coming to Philadelphia. I mean, the 2017 Draft is in Philly, so I’m not wrong.
Jason Peters: He is not that high up there in possibility given the fact that Lane Johnson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai have yet to work with each other on the same offensive line, but Peters does command an $11.2 million cap hit coming into next season.
Nigel Bradham: If his replacement isn’t found in a young free agent or within the first three rounds of the draft, Bradham will be back for another season. The franchise would save $2.5 million and his off-field antics had grown old even on the defensive coordinator responsible for getting him a job in Philly.
Jason Kelce: Since his Pro Bowl appearance, Kelce has never been the same. His play has varied between athletic, second-effort lineman to botched snap, ‘C’mon Man’-level highlight reels. The Eagles would save $3.8 million should they decide to move on, however, swapping centers can be a can of worms operation. There are no promises Isaac Seumalo can fully rotate at all offensive line positions, Mr. Pederson.
Marcus Smith: The Eagles are finally in the right financial position to sever the cord with Smith. He has been a textbook bust, plus Steven Means has been a much better rotational piece at a much cheaper price tag.
Doug Pederson made the right call in attempting the 2-pointer with 4 seconds on the clock. The team’s chances of making the playoffs prior to the game were 5,000,000:1, Coach kept his players healthy by deciding not to send them into overtime, and another loss pulls the franchise higher up the draft boards. Plus, unlike Chip Kelly, Pederson has shown that he understands when to pull the plug on the season and begin rotating rookies in for live-game reps.