9 Offseason Moves the Philadelphia Eagles Don't Want to See Happen
You’ve heard it before folks, “don’t focus on the things you can’t control, but rather the ones you can”…or at least something along the lines of that.
It’s true that the Eagles had and still have some difficult decisions to make of their own—like whether or not to keep Castillo for Juan more year, but watching your divisional rivals catch fire at the end of the season to make the Super Bowl, while winning the division by only one game doesn’t exactly put your mind at ease.
The Eagles have been on vacation for nearly a month now and I’m sure everyone within the organization has wondered “what if?” at some point. But instead of focusing on a past that can’t be re-lived, let’s direct our attention to a future that can’t be controlled.
Here are some offseason moves that the Eagles and their fans do not want to see.
Number 9: New York Giants Re-Sign WR Mario Manningham
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The Giants boast the best receiving corps in the NFC East and it’s the best group by far.
Manningham finds himself behind Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks on the depth chart, but by no means is he any less dangerous.
Even with a trio of Pro Bowlers at cornerback this year, Eli Manning went 16-of-23 (69.6 percent) for 254 yards and four passing touchdowns in a Week 3 meeting against the Eagles—a game that Manningham sat out because of injury.
Although Manning struggled in the second meeting between the two teams, the last thing that the Eagles want to see is a Packer-esque group of wide receivers twice a year, especially with the expected departure of cornerback Asante Samuel.
Wide receiver James Jones found himself in a similar situation last year as a free agent. Similar to Mario, Jones was behind Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and Jordy Nelson on the Green Bay depth chart but decided to stay and signed a three-year deal.
Number 8: Dallas Cowboys Sign QB Donovan McNabb
McNabb spent 11 years in Philadelphia
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I know this sounds crazy, but think about it for a moment.
Instead of signing a veteran quarterback, the Bears decided to start backup Caleb Haine—which clearly didn’t end well.
The next quarterback on the Dallas depth chart is Stephen McGee—whose only regular season action was against the Eagles in Week 16.
McGee threw 38 times for 182 yards (an average of 4.79 yards per attempt), which is needless to say unimpressive—especially considering that a large chunk of his yardage and his lone touchdown came on the final drive, after the game had already been decided.
Now imagine if those broken ribs were serious, or for real. Could Dallas salvage a season with McGee at the helm?
You don’t think McNabb could’ve fared better against a team that he spent 11 years with?
McNabb has spent a dozen years competing in the NFC East and has to have some sort of smarts behind his aging body.
Considering that the Cowboys only managed to beat the Redskins within their division, McNabb could provide the answer in more ways than one.
Number 7: Boston College’s MLB Luke Kuechly Gets Drafted Before the 15th Pick
The gaping hole on the Eagles’ defense has been the linebackers. Casey Mathews, Jamar Chaney, Moise Fokou, Keenan Clayton, and Brian Rolle all took turns riding the carousel and none came out looking like the solution.
Andy Reid already has a reputation for avoiding linebackers with high picks, but if anyone were to break that trend, it’s Kuechly.
This middle linebacker would be an immediate upgrade over anyone on the roster and would start immediately.
Kuechly was a 3-year starter at BC and simply put: he is a tackling machine. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner (given to the nation’s top college defensive player) set the all-time record at Boston College for tackles in only three years.
The Eagles have a tendency to move up and down the draft board and will be pressured to select him. Whether they chose to or not is completely reliant on him being available.
Number 6: New York Giants Draft Arizona State’s MLB Vontaze Burfict
Although the Giants have issues along the offensive line and secondary, they’ve been getting by with starting a defensive lineman, Mathias Kiwanuka, at outside linebacker all year long.
Michael Boley, Chase Blackburn (signed before the Green Bay playoff game), Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger, and rookie Jacquian Williams round out the rest of the group of linebackers and appear just average.
By reaching the Super Bowl, Tom Coughlin has bought himself some time off the hot-seat and has the freedom to take a risk on an elite prospect—while giving him the time to develop.
Coughlin is a strict coach who doesn’t put up with immaturity (see Plaxico Burress and Antonio Pierce). On a defense full of winners and vocal leaders like Justin Tuck and Antrel Rolle, Burfict just might watch his actions a little more carefully.
Number 5: Marty Mornhinweg Leaves as Offensive Coordinator
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“Marty the Wizard” is the mastermind behind the Eagles offense and is undoubtedly deserving of a chance to coach a team.
During his five years as offensive coordinator, the Eagles have consistently featured one of the most dangerous and high-scoring offenses in the league.
The 49-year-old coach hasn’t been an NFL head coach in the past decade but fits these criteria perfectly.
Number 4: Philadelphia Eagles Use the Franchise Tag on DeSean Jackson
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The contract dispute between both parties has been well-documented throughout the season.
DeSean Jackson began his holdout at the start of training camp and returned after 11 days only because it threatened his free agency rights under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
Since then, Jackson has missed a team meeting, which subsequently led to a one-game suspension by head coach Andy Reid.
While it’s no argument that “Jackpot” is a threat to score every time he touches the ball, it’s the matter of getting it to him. According to Pro Football Focus, the Eagles wideout dropped 9 of the 67 catchable passes thrown his way this season and 12 of the 61 in the previous year. To sum it up, Jackson dropped 21 of 128 catchable balls in the past two years – bad enough for a 16.4% drop rate.
To make things worse, if you take his two previous seasons’ average of 19.55 yards per catch into consideration, Jackson left over 410 yards of offense on the field.
This is very alarming when you consider he might be earning the average salary of the top 5 players at his position, when he clearly isn’t producing in a similar fashion.
The best bet for the Eagles is to commit to him with a multi-year contract or let him head towards free agency.
Number 3: Dallas Cowboys Sign OLB/DE Mario Williams
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This would be terrible news for the Eagles and the rest of the NFC East for that matter.
The weakness of the 3-4 linebackers in Dallas isn’t creating quarterback pressure, but rather in coverage.
While Anthony Spencer is set to leave as a free agent, Bradie James and Keith Brooking are running on their last fumes. In order to mask the deficiencies in the secondary, the Cowboys must find a way to bring pressure on a more consistent basis.
If Mario Williams changed Texas area codes, Dallas would boast two of the best pass-rushing linebackers under the age of 30 (Ware is 29 and Williams is 26).
Before a season-ending injury limited Williams to five games, he was averaging a sack per game at his new position.
Spending his first five years in Houston as a defensive end, Williams wouldn’t even need to come off the field in nickel or dime situations. Also, with Sean Lee developing into a star, Williams wouldn’t be relegated to coverage duty as much as one would think.
Number 2: Evan Mathis Leaves During Free Agency
Mathis has been a leader on the offensive line
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Philadelphia has a plethora of stars on the offensive side of the ball so it’s hard to get recognition.
Even on his own line, Evan Mathis might be the fourth most-known name for the Eagles, but don’t let his anonymity fool you. His presence and consistency were imperative to the success LeSean McCoy had this season.
Entering this season, offensive line coach Howard Mudd separated what was arguably the best left-side in the NFL by moving left guard, Todd Herremans, to protect Michael Vick’s blindside.
The seven-year journeyman flourished this season and was ranked Pro Football Focus’s best guard.
Mathis started all 15 games he played, while giving up zero sacks in 1,024 snaps of action.
He gave up a total of 15 pressures for the entire season and scored a +20.4 run-blocking grade.
With all the uncertainties that surround the Eagles right now, it would be wise to bring back Mathis to ensure some form of continuity.
Number 1: Washington Redskins Draft Oklahoma State's WR Justin Blackmon
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The Washington Redskins are owners of the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and are expected to package that selection in order to jump to number two (in a trade with the St. Louis Rams)—where they would select Baylor’s Heisman-trophy winning quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
The Redskins averaged 18 points last season—good enough for seventh worst in the league.
With Rex Grossman and John Beck splitting the quarterback duties, the team still averaged 235.8 passing yards per game.
Head coach Mike Shanahan will be entering the third year of his five-year plan to turn the Redskins into contenders. Although Andy Dalton and Cam Newton had successful rookie campaigns, there is still a large risk that comes with each pro-bound quarterback—and Griffin is no exception.
The two elite offensive players in this year's draft are Blackmon and Alabama's running back, Trent Richardson.
After starter Tim Hightower tore his ACL, backups, Roy Helu, Ryan Torain, and Evan Royster filled in admirably at running back—giving Washington quality depth heading into next season.
Without any glaring issues in the backfield, Washington should look to upgrade their receiving corps.
The Skins' number one receiver last year was Jabar Gaffney—someone that no opposing corner is afraid to line up against.
If the Redskins select Blackmon, he would immediately be the best receiver on the team and would force defensive coordinators to play one half of the outside legitimately.
Blackmon's speed, toughness, and leadership were on full display against Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. He has the ability to shrug off press coverage, run smooth routes, and break tackles after the catch. It would be very scary for the Eagles to see this former-OSU Cowboy in a Redskins' jersey.