Tis the season…well, the remaining portion of the season is all about examining and scoping talent (or in the Philadelphia Eagles’ case, the lack thereof) for next season. Currently, the Eagles sit at 3-9 in the midst of an eight game losing streak, two fired coordinators, and a partridge in a pear tree. Not all is bad however, and yes I am an eternal optimist despite the current pessimism felt in Philadelphia.
Bryce Brown : Prior to the regular season I was bullish that Brown could make a difference on this roster, albeit no one expected the amazing run he has had over the past two games in the absence of LeSean McCoy. Brown has already rushed for the 10th highest single game total in Eagles’ history, has eclipsed 160 yards rushing in both games (which is more than Bo Jackson had in his entire career), rushed for four touchdowns in two games (LeSean McCoy had five TOTAL touchdowns this season), and is averaging an unbelievable 8.07 yards per carry in the past two games. Coming up for Brown is his first true test against a stout run defense. Tampa Bay has the best rushing defense in the NFL, allowing 82.3 yards per game. Additionally, Brown has to learn to hold onto the football, or all his accomplishments will be overlooked. Turnovers are not acceptable in any level of football, and in particular against an NFL defense.
Nick Foles: Well, I think Eagles fans will wait with baited breath about anointing Foles as the next starting quarterback of the franchise. But they won’t disagree that he has shown marked improvement. The game against Dallas was Foles’ best performance of his rookie season, and he made good reads at the line as well as going through progressions when there was nothing available down field. Andy Reid named Nick the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season, and for good cause. Michael Vick is owed $15.5 million next season and barring a restructure of his contract, will be a free agent or potential trade bait to a willing team (Arizona, Buffalo?). For Foles, he is playing behind a make-shift offensive line that has suddenly found the ability to run-block and can find solace in the fact that the job is his regardless of poor performance. The pressure has been alleviated for the rookie and this can (hopefully) only mean that Foles will play with poise and a sense of calmness.
Brandon Graham: With one and a half sacks against the Dallas Cowboys, Graham quickly showed that Jason Babin was expendable. Now, whether Graham has shown that he was deserving of the 13th overall pick in 2010 is debatable. Against Dallas, Graham played 31 snaps, second-most among the defensive ends. He has already equaled the career high in sacks with three and has a few games remaining, of course against good quarterbacks and teams in contention for the playoffs. Brandon Graham has a relatively low cap hit next season, at around $2.95 million. If Graham is able to show the ability that he had in Michigan as well as what he showed in Dallas, he can make a difference for the next coaching staff.
Top Five Draft Pick:
Yeah…that’s about it right now. The Eagles would currently be in the top five for the draft. For a team that was the self-declared “Dream Team” a season ago, there are several needs on a bad team with limited leadership. For me, the biggest area of need is defensively. Manti Te’o and Jarvis Jones are the two biggest defensive players that can make a difference instantaneously. Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Patrick Willis, Jerod Mayo, Luke Kuechly. All have made their respective defenses more compatible and more aggressive. Each team has found a bedrock in the middle of the defense for many years. The Eagles have not had a middle linebacker since Jeremiah Trotter, and even the axe-man did not play the pass very well. While the Eagles will more than likely cut Nnamdi Asomugha at the end of the season, drafting a cornerback in the top five seems like a reach, as Xavier Rhodes of Florida State and Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State are lottery picks but not top five.
So in closing, Eagles fans have the younger talent to observe, Damaris Johnson is certainly a receiver to watch as well, and the knowledge that the new coaching staff (Sorry Andy…but it’s inevitable) will have great draft position to get players in here to make a difference. And if you can no longer bear to watch any more of this tragic season, you can watch the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Cleveland Browns and cheer against each and every one of them in hopes that the Eagles potentially acquire the number one overall draft position.