Philadelphia Eagles: Pros and Cons of Offseason Acquisitions
Most fans expected that after trading for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and signing Jason Babin to a five year contract, the Eagles would stand pat and "see how things go" as the great Andy Reid likes to put it.
Instead, Howie Roseman, who is garnering respect as one of the better general managers in the NFL, managed to steal Nnamdi Asomugha and sign him and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins for a 'bargain' price.
Tired of waiting, the front office is expecting Super Bowl or bust for this Eagle team.
So, what are some of the positives and negatives of handful of free agents the Eagles signed?
Note: I did not include undrafted free agents or players signed before the lockout (Phillip Hunt, Sinorice Moss, etc.)
DE Jason Babin
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1. Babin fits in and is familiar with the scheme the defensive line will run known as the wide-9 scheme, where the ends line up outside the tackle. With an explosive first step and a great motor, Babin will succeed opposite of star Trent Cole.
2. Though he is 30 years-old, Babin has less wear and tear on his body than most that age. Babin played mostly as a backup after starting his career in Houston.
1. Though he did have 58 tackles, Babin struggled against the run. The wide-9 scheme does not really call for the ends to be great run stoppers, but he will have a bigger role on the defensive line than last year in Tennessee when he played a little over half the defensive snaps.
OG Evan Mathis
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1. Mathis is an athletic guard who did not fit in the Cincinnati offensive line scheme which calls for bigger offensive lineman. Howard Mudd favors more athletic lineman and the 6'5'' 302 pound Mathis fits the scheme.
2. The 29 year-old Mathis will provide insurance on the offensive line and could be a valuable backup for a team lacking dependable backups lineman.
3. Since the start of '09 season, Mathis has not allowed a sack in the 724 snaps he has played according to Pro Football Focus
4. Pro Football Focus also graded him as the second best overall lineman last year.
I cannot find a con in this signing; it was a fantastic underrated move by the Eagles.
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
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1. At 6'2'', 182 pounds, Rodgers-Cromartie is a legitimate 4.3 guy and can stick to every receiver in the league.
2. Though he is not a physical player, Rodgers-Cromartie is a solid cover corner. Naysayers point out the fact that he struggled mightily last year, but he also played across from Greg Toler and suffered from an almost non-existent pass rush.
3. He has 13 interceptions in his three season qualifying him as a solid playmaker.
1. Rodgers-Cromartie will not stick his nose in the running game and was a major liability against the run. He needs a massive reform of his tackling technique.
2. He struggles in press coverage , something the Eagles may expect him to do across from Nnamdi Asomugha.
WR/KR Johnny Lee Higgins
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1. The Eagles have a lacked a kick returner for seemingly forever and Higgins could fill that role. In 2008 he scored three return touchdowns
2. Higgins has elite speed and though he will never be a #1, 2, or 3 starter, he can fit in as a role player that can take the top off the defense when inserted into the lineup.
1. At only 5'11'' 185 pounds, Higgins falls into the mold of smaller receivers the Eagles throw out.
2. He has not had a kick return touchdown the past two years.
DE Cullen Jenkins
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1. The Eagles have lacked a legitimate inside pass rusher for years. Former Brodrick Bunkley was supposed to be the presence, but he never worked out here in Philadelphia. Cullen Jenkins played in a 3-4 as a defensive end, but should smoothly transition to playing the 4-3 and getting up field. Jenkins had seven sacks in 11 games last season and is a premier inside pass rusher. The reason why the Packers could be so unique with their schemes on defense was because of a player like Jenkins.
2. It is rare to find a defensive tackle that can pass rush as well as be a run stopper, but Jenkins is exactly that. He can clog up lanes and stuff the run.
3. Jenkins came very cheap for an elite player like himself; his base salary for next year will only be $4 million.
1. Jenkins is thirty years old and has been injury prone. He missed time last season and two seasons prior to last.
2. Though I am sure Jenkins can transition to playing in the 4-3, there may be some hurdles along the way, diminishing some of his talents.
TE Donald Lee
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1. Lee is a better receiver than his statistics last year indicated. He has soft hands and can run routes well.
2. He spent last year mostly blocking in Green Bay and was a decent enough blocker to stick here in Philadelphia.
1. The Eagles are content with Brent Celek and Clay Harbor has looked impressive in camp, so Lee may be a camp body unless the Eagles decide to go with three tight ends.
RB Ronnie Brown
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1. Brown is a talented pass catcher, something he will be asked to do a lot backing up LeSean McCoy. He has 184 receptions in 76 games played.
2. At close to 230 pounds, Brown can be a short yardage weapon which for years has haunted the Eagles offense.
3. Reportedly, Brown will make only $1 million which is an obvious steal for still a talented player.
1. I could not find any negatives with the signing other than the fact Brown is 29 years-old and is known to have the injury bug.
S Jarrad Page
1. The Eagles are youthful at the back end of the defense with second year pros Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman and rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett. Page will be a veteran safety the younger players can learn from.
2. At 220 pounds, Page is intimidating, hard hitting safety, who is also a playmaker with 12 interceptions and four forced fumbles in 63 games played.
1. Page like a few players on this list has not had good luck when it comes to injuries.
2. Though he can run well for his size, Page constantly bites on double moves and leaves the corner one on one.
OT Ryan Harris
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1. The 26 year-old Harris is one of the better tackles in the league when healthy. His athletic 300 pound frame will fit in perfectly in Howard Mudd's scheme. Harris is athletic and can move his feet well.
2. In 2008, Harris was named to Peter King's All-Pro team. This is a great underrated move for the Eagles and I would not be surprised to see Harris starting at right tackle.
1. Again, when healthy, Harris plays like a Pro Bowl player, but he has struggled with inconsistency and injury the past few years.
QB Vince Young
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1. Vince Young has a great arm and has the tools to be a great quarterback; now Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg will try to showcase his potential.
2. Since his mobility is key to his game, Young can learn from the best mobile quarterback in the game with Michael Vick.
3. Though Mike Kafka has looked good at training camp, depending on him to assume the #2 role would be a lot to ask for only a second year player.
4. His career record is 31-17 proving that he just finds ways to win.
1. Young has no experience in the West Coast system and he will have to learn a complicated playbook devised by Reid.
2. The Eagles only signed Young to a one year deal, so if he has to play during the year and does exceedingly well, he will probably bolt to be another team's starting quarterback. A two year deal would have further refined his game and maximize trade value.
3. Young has major red flags in his character and a coach like Jeff Fisher could not deal with him.
CB Nnamdi Asomugha
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1. Do you throw at the best shutdown corner in the league? Or do you throw at the best play-making cornerback in the league in Samuel.
2. Nnamdi Asomugha not only would eliminate one side of the field on pass plays, but on run plays as well. Teams would run to the opposite side of Asomugha because of his great run-supporting skills. At 6-2, 210, Asomugha can lay the wood and hit like a linebacker or safety.
3. Asante Samuel had seven interceptions in just 11 games last season with Dmitri Patterson starting opposite him. Teams would target Samuel more, but Samuel is the smartest corner in the league. Unlike the Eagles coaching staff, Samuel knows how to adjust and will be able to read the quarterback's mind, to get into the spot to make an interception.
4. Asomugha was only targeted 29 times in 14 games last season, an astoundingly low number. Teams know the capabilities of Asomugha and are smart not to test him because most of the time the ball would not be completed. Asomugha can also play press coverage.
1. When a player hits the age of 30, they are expected to decline and break down.
2. Asante Samuel had one of the best seasons of his career last season, but he is a gambler who can be beat.Teams would also run at Samuel, who is a below-average tackler at the cornerback position. He is not the guy you want to rely on to make a one-on-one tackle in the open field.