The Philadelphia Eagles and their fanbase have two weeks to stew over the latest results that have the Eagles at a disappointing 3-3 record, mired in second place in the NFC East.
Yesterday’s debacle against the Detroit Lions was one of the more frustrating games under the Andy Reid era, and it intensified much of the disparagement felt against the coaching staff. There’s no denying the talent on the football team; the Eagles have an offense with the ability to play with any team in the league when it’s clicking.
The defense is stocked full of should-be playmakers on the line, two talented new linebackers, and a secondary that can cause trouble for even the best quarterbacks in the game, and the bottom line is that a 10-point lead with five minutes to go should never evaporate like it did in Sunday’s contest.
It’s time for the Eagles to make some changes, and while it’s doubtful that stubborn Reid will fire either offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, or special teams coach Bobby April midseason, all three are unofficially on the hot seat.
The Eagles also need to look internally within their 53-man roster to see which players do belong and which players just aren’t getting the job done. Trades aren’t too common in the NFL, and there are just a few weeks remaining before the Week 8 trade deadline, but here are five potential trades the Eagles could do with other teams around the league.
The Philadelphia Eagles had no luck with fellow Buffalo Bills lineman Demetress Bell, so it may be a touch of irony that I would propose a trade for another lineman on the Bills.
But the Eagles have been getting extremely sub-par results from Bell as well as fifth-year backup King Dunlap, who has limited playing time since being drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL draft. As a result, the left tackle position hasn’t been much more than a turnstile this season.
Chad Rinehart is a fourth-year backup in Buffalo and fifth-year NFL player, and while he hasn’t officially played tackle at the National Football League level, he has played it before in college. Rinehart isn’t going to make the Eagles an instant Super Bowl contender, but it could be a little move to get the team going in the right direction.
The Eagles could try Rinehart at left tackle or they could stick with Dunlap/Bell and hope one of them pans out (or maybe it’s time to see what fifth-round rookie Dennis Kelly can do when pressed into action). What Rinehart will do though is provide valuable depth on the offensive line.
The Eagles literally don’t have a backup guard that they have been dressing for games—Steve Vallos can play center and guard but he’s been inactive as of late, Mike Gibson is on injured reserve, Julian Vandervelde went to Tampa Bay (although now he’s back on the practice squad), and promising sixth round rookie Brandon Washington was released in training camp.
Rinehart has filled in admirably for Andy Levitre and Kraig Urbik when he’s been needed, but the Bills drafted second round tackle Cordy Glenn this year and fourth round tackle Zebrie Sanders. It might be worth unloading Rinehart to get an experienced defensive end in Darryl Tapp.
Tapp hasn’t done much in Philadelphia this year to warrant his paycheck, and he’s blocking rookie Vinny Curry from even seeing the field. Tapp was thought by many to be a potential veteran cut in training camp but he agreed to a pay reduction to remain with the Eagles. Tapp is getting 20-25 snaps per game but he’s not generating much pressure on the opposing quarterback (just two hurries and 0.5 sacks in 139 snaps), and the Eagles don’t need him this season.
The Bills, meanwhile, thought they had the NFL’s best front four when they acquired $100 million star Mario Williams from the Houston Texans and reigning 12-sack man Mark Anderson from the division rival New England Patriots. Add those two to a line that already included Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, and you should have a front four that punishes opposing quarterbacks.
That hasn’t been the case though, and the Bills’ defense has been a constant weak spot all season, surrendering at least 45 points in three separate games. M. Williams has dealt with a left wrist injury and Anderson has just one sack and seven hurries, and little to no help in the running game. Tapp would be a solid veteran pass rusher the Bills could rotate in to keep the rest of their line fresh, and they wouldn’t have to part with much.
The Philadelphia Eagles obviously see something in Chris Polk, because they’re keeping four halfbacks on their roster (and fullback Stanley Havili). But they’re barely even giving the ball to backup Bryce Brown, and forget about Dion Lewis or Polk.
Lewis has been inactive for the last several games, and Polk—who was initially seen as a potential first or second round pick in last year’s draft—hasn’t even gotten to dress yet, let alone step out on the football field.
Polk was undrafted largely because of a lingering shoulder problem, and Andy Reid—who doesn’t even use All-Pro runner LeSean McCoy as much as he should—has no reason to just keep Polk stashed away on the roster.
Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers really haven’t had a great runner since Ahman Green. They won the Super Bowl with a backfield of Ryan Grant and James Starks, but Grant is now gone and newly-signed Cedric Benson, who was getting the bulk of the carries in that offense, is out for the season.
The Packers are 24th in the league in rushing yards and 26th in rushing touchdowns. Why not call up the Eagles and see if Reid would take Polk for a sixth round pick? Sure, Polk ended up going undrafted and the Packers would have to trade a low pick to get him, but that’s the law of supply and demand.
This would be a controversial move because Cullen Jenkins is a very talented defensive tackle, he had a great season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011, and he was supposed to help the defensive line be unstoppable this season.
Jenkins isn’t having a particularly poor year but he’s not generating quite the pass rush he was putting forth last year. Jenkins had seven sacks in 2010 for the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers and 5.5 more last year for the Eagles, but he has no sacks so far through six games in 2012.
Jenkins restructured his contract this past offseason to reduce his base salary this year to just $820,000, although his yearly figures rise to $4 million in 2013, $4.5 million in 2014, and $6 million in 2015. That’s a lot of money to pay for a 31-year old defensive tackle, but then again, do you really think Atlanta Falcons fans want to see Peria Jerry trotting out there for one more game?
The Falcons are 6-0 and receiving strong production from John Abraham at defensive end, and both Vance Walker and Jonathan Babineaux are contributing well as part of the rotation at defensive tackle. But Jerry—a 2009 first round pick—is a colossal bust, having racked up two sacks and one forced fumble in 40 games.
A defensive line of Abraham and Jenkins going against the tough NFC South quarterbacks in Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Josh Freeman would really help the Falcons. I wonder if the third round pick would be too much for Atlanta to give up but they’re probably going to be picking anywhere from 25-32 in the draft, so that’s not too unreasonable.
The Eagles probably won’t be getting veteran Mike Patterson back (maybe ever), as he recovers from offseason brain surgery. But the team does have three talented interior linemen in first round rookie Fletcher Cox, veteran Derek Landri, and Cedric Thornton. I think both teams would do this.
I want to be clear that I would not trade Darryl Tapp AND Phillip Hunt. But either one of them in the trade scenario I suggested would be a plausible option.
Hunt was supposed to make a big impact on the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles. I had high expectations of Hunt finding a way to contribute as a pass-rushing specialist and register anywhere from seven to 10 sacks.
But Hunt has largely been a disappointment, and he hasn’t even been seeing the field much anymore. The New York Jets need pass rushers to get to Tom Brady, and the Jets have to know Hunt can play because of the four straight games he turned in for the Eagles down the stretch last year when he registered two sacks and 10 hurries.
Rex Ryan is always looking for pass rushers and he was able to get a terrific season from former first round bust Aaron Maybin. What if the Eagles sent him Hunt, a former CFL start, for a fifth round pick?
Jason Babin isn’t quite as attractive an offer as he may have appeared to be this past offseason. He’s in his ninth NFL season, he can’t really do anything but rush the passer (and he’s not getting to the quarterback this year) and he’s got a big contract that goes with him.
But the Baltimore Ravens are desperate. They managed to hold off the Dallas Cowboys to move to an impressive 5-1, but they paid a hefty price. Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis are done for the season. Haloti Ngata suffered an MCL sprain and will likely miss a few weeks. And Terrell Suggs still hasn’t returned from his offseason injury.
The Ravens may be willing to pull a panic move, similar to last year when the Oakland Raiders jumped the gun and traded a ransom to the Cincinnati Bengals for Carson Palmer. But Babin—even though he’s been having a rough season in Philly—can get to the quarterback, and the Ravens need some defensive help if they want to make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles are probably ready to move on from the Babin era. He’s one dimensional, he commits too many penalties, he is a liability in run defense, and he’s taking away snaps that should be going to Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry.