Making the Call on Philadelphia Eagles' Toughest Offseason Decisions
None of the three coordinators (offense, defense and special teams) are expected to return in 2013. The organization will have difficult situations as to which defensive starters should be back next year. After all, the Eagles under interim coordinator Todd Bowles allowed 20 or more points in every single game.
The Eagles also have the fourth overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft, which gives them an opportunity at picking one of college football’s most talented players.
The Eagles were nowhere near a postseason berth at just 4-12 this past year. But given another successful draft and steady improvement from young quarterback Nick Foles, Philly could make a run at a division title.
Who Coaches the Team in 2013?
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First and foremost, the Philadelphia Eagles need to find their head coach. Andy Reid was a relative unknown when he was hired 14 years ago, and the organization may look to go the same way.
They’ve interviewed a slew of the league’s most intriguing coordinators, notably Denver’s Mike McCoy and Seattle’s Gus Bradley. The Eagles have also been linked to big-name coaches such as Jon Gruden, Brian Billick and Bill Cowher, all of whom have a Super Bowl ring. And there’s always the possibility of a retread like Lovie Smith, who spent nearly a decade coaching Chicago.
Penn State’s Bill O’Brien would have been a phenomenal addition to this coaching staff. He worked wonders in State College last year, and he’s proven he can run an NFL offense (see: 2011 New England Patriots). But O’Brien isn’t going anywhere.
At this point, the Eagles are probably best off going with a coordinator like McCoy. McCoy coaxed successful seasons out of limited quarterbacks like Jake Delhomme, Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow. That bodes very well for Nick Foles, who has a lot of potential but needs a good coach to hone his skills.
Who’s the Best Fit as Offensive Coordinator?
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Norv Turner spent the past six seasons as San Diego’s head coach, turning Philip Rivers into one of the finest quarterbacks in the league. Before bottoming out in 2012, Turner’s Chargers ranked in the top five in points scored for five consecutive seasons
The Eagles have the weapons offensively to succeed. LeSean McCoy is arguably a top-three running back in the NFL. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are a terrific wide receiver combination, and the offensive line should be much improved. Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce will all return from injuries in 2013.
Turner will be a highly sought-after coordinator for 2013. But if the Eagles can land him, that bodes very well for their offense.
Who’s the Best Fit as Defensive Coordinator?
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Expecting to get a guy like Lovie Smith as defensive coordinator is probably unrealistic. Smith led the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl following the 2006 season and the NFC Championship Game in 2010.
It’s doubtful he will have to settle for a coordinator position next season. Strong candidates for the Philadelphia Eagles include positional coaches such as Jim Tomsula (San Francisco 49ers defensive line), Kris Richard (Seattle Seahawks secondary), Kris Kocurek (Detroit Lions defensive line) or Ted Monachino (Baltimore Ravens linebackers).
Can Danny Watkins Really Be Counted On?
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It’s only two seasons in, but Danny Watkins is already looking like a colossal bust. The Philadelphia Eagles selected the former firefighter with the 26th pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Watkins was benched in training camp of his rookie season and then again midway through 2012 as he battled a chronic “ankle injury.” Watkins is a poor pass-blocker and he’s not fundamentally sound. The Eagles were better off with veteran Jake Scott than Watkins last year.
The Eagles are on the hook to pay Watkins $2.17 million next season. That’s really not that much if they want to cut him early. That would allow the team to move Todd Herremans back inside and get a big-name right tackle.
Should the Team Re-Sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie?
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The Philadelphia Eagles have a major decision to make with Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. DRC has underachieved since the team acquired him two seasons ago in the Kevin Kolb trade.
But he’s still just 26 years old and he has a Pro Bowl on his resume. DRC has excellent size, and he’s a shutdown corner when he wants to be one. The key is coaxing 100 percent effort out of him all the time.
DRC will probably command a hefty contract in free agency. Brandon Carr got five years, $50 million from the Dallas Cowboys. It’s likely that DRC will be worth about the same price. That’s just too much to pay for a corner that plays well in some stretches but disappears in others.
Is Nnamdi Asomugha Worth Releasing?
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Perhaps no player in the history of the franchise has been as much of a free-agent bust as Nnamdi Asomugha. He was advertised as a pure shutdown corner if there ever was one, allowing one touchdown pass in his final three seasons in Oakland.
In 2012 alone, Asomugha was beat for five touchdowns. He looked old and slow, and he was often put against the team’s second-best receiver. Still, Asomugha allowed a passer rating of 120.6, the sixth-worst in the NFL among more than 120 qualifying cornerbacks.
He’s set to make $15 million in 2013, an outrageous amount to pay for a corner whose best days are clearly behind him. A new defensive coordinator may be able to work a better season out of him, but unless Asomugha agrees to take a substantial pay cut, there’s no reason to bring him back.
Bring Back Cullen Jenkins or Mike Patterson?
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The Philadelphia Eagles have gotten very positive results since they drafted Mike Patterson in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft. He’s been a terrific interior lineman, excelling as a pass-rusher and run-stopper.
Patterson has struggled with off-the-field issues as of late, as he underwent offseason brain surgery. Patterson is set to make $4.06 million in 2013 and the team would not face a penalty if he’s cut.
Meanwhile, Cullen Jenkins has been one of the better interior defensive tackles since the team signed him before 2011. He’s going to make $5.5 million in 2013 with a $1.5 million penalty if he’s released. It doesn’t make sense to retain both Patterson and Jenkins, given the standout play from rookie first-rounder Fletcher Cox.
That means it’s probably logical for the Eagles to part ways with Patterson.
Entertain Trade Offers for Jeremy Maclin?
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Like DeSean Jackson a year ago, the Philadelphia Eagles will soon have a difficult decision to make about Jeremy Maclin.
The former first-round pick hasn’t yet had a breakout campaign since he was drafted in 2009. But he’s put up consistent numbers in his four NFL seasons. Maclin has averaged nearly 900 yards and six touchdowns.
He becomes a free agent after 2013, and it’s still unsure as to whether or not the Eagles will re-sign him. The team could always listen to trade offers for Maclin now, but it makes sense to keep him and try to bring him back for the future.
Who Should Be Selected Fourth Overall?
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The Philadelphia Eagles have a major decision to make with the fourth overall selection in the upcoming draft. They haven’t picked this high since Donovan McNabb second overall in 1999.
The logical move for the Eagles is offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, the stud left tackle from Texas A&M. Joeckel would allow the team to move Todd Herremans back inside to guard, giving the Eagles one of the game’s finest offensive lines.