1 Move Every NFL Team Should Make Right Now
In past years, midseason NFL shakeups have laid the foundation for future Super Bowl wins.
Take the Seattle Seahawks, who traded for running back Marshawn Lynch in Oct. 2010. Three years later, they were Super Bowl champions. The same goes for the Philadelphia Eagles, who acquired running back Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins last October and went on to win their first-ever Super Bowl title a few months later.
A change at a key position can also catapult a team to greater success. In 2012, the San Francisco 49ers made a midseason transition at quarterback, shifting from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick. The then-25-year-old proceeded to lead his team to an NFC title and a near-Super Bowl win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Some teams have gotten a jump-start on midseason overhauls, such as the Oakland Raiders trading wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants trading cornerback Eli Apple to the New Orleans Saints. With the NFL's Oct. 30 trade deadline rapidly approaching, more activity should be on the horizon.
Below, go around the league and take a look at one move each team should make at the midway point of the 2018 season.
Arizona Cardinals: Conduct a Fire Sale
Following their blowout 45-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, the Arizona Cardinals fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and promoted quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich to take his place.
The 1-6 Cardinals shouldn't stop there, as they have no realistic chance at the postseason.
Future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is perhaps in the final year of his career, and seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson wants to play elsewhere, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The Cardinals should oblige Peterson and build around a core of quarterback Josh Rosen, running back David Johnson, wide receiver Christian Kirk, edge-rusher Chandler Jones and safety Budda Baker. Arizona could expedite its rebuild by flipping Peterson for draft compensation (ideally a first-round pick, if not more).
Arizona also needs to use Johnson more efficiently, as the NFL's leader in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns in 2016 is averaging a paltry 3.2 yards per carry. However, that short-term issue pales in comparison to the team's long-term concerns.
Atlanta Falcons: Bench S Jordan Richards for S Keith Tandy
The Atlanta Falcons are allowing an average of 30.3 points per game, the NFL's third-worst mark. They've lost safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal to season-ending injuries, while linebacker Deion Jones was placed on injured reserve after Week 1.
The offense is good enough to hang with any team, but the defense needs to get better for the Falcons to have any chance of returning to the playoffs.
One possible solution is a safety shakeup.
Tandy is a seven-year veteran who was a spot starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for six years. He might be the better pick of the two, as Neasman has played only 17 NFL games to date.
Injuries put Richards in a tough spot, but the Falcons may need to make a swap on the back end.
Baltimore Ravens: Feature RB Gus Edwards and QB Lamar Jackson More
The Baltimore Ravens' rushing attack remains dormant. The team has the league's third-fewest running back yards per carry, according to Football Outsiders.
Baltimore's best runner this year has been quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has rushed for 5.2 yards per attempt on 20 attempts. It couldn't hurt to give him a few more carries per game to get the ground game going.
The Ravens should consider giving Gus Edwards more opportunities, too. No. 1 back Alex Collins has not fared well this year (3.6 yards per carry, two fumbles), while Buck Allen averaged only 2.6 yards per carry.
The Ravens gave Edwards a shot in their 21-0 win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 6, and he responded with 42 yards on 10 carries. He had two carries for zero yards against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, but Baltimore should consider giving Edwards 10 or so carries again to see what he can do.
Buffalo Bills: Trade WR Kelvin Benjamin
The Buffalo Bills have some serious issues on offense. They're last in the league in points per game, and rookie quarterback Josh Allen is nursing an elbow injury that will force him to miss at least one more game.
At 2-5, Buffalo is out of the playoff picture despite touting a defense that ranks third in Football Outsiders' DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average). Since the postseason is a pipe dream this year, the Bills should turn their focus toward trading away offensive players who aren't long-term fits.
Wideout Kelvin Benjamin could be one such example.
Benjamin's stock has fallen dramatically this season, as he's caught only 14 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown in seven games. The Cowboys were "monitoring" him, per ESPN.com's Dan Graziano, but that was before they traded for Amari Cooper.
If the Bills can find a taker for the 6'5", 245-pound wideout, they should cut a deal.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Bills also were willing to listen to trade offers for running back LeSean McCoy, but they "want to keep him." McCoy suffered a head injury Sunday and is currently in the concussion protocol, which may further complicate any trade negotiations.
Carolina Panthers: More Snaps for WR Curtis Samuel
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel has five offensive touches in his last three games. Two of those turned into touchdowns.
In an eventual 33-31 win over the New York Giants in Week 5, Samuel bulldozed his way to a 25-yard touchdown on a catch-and-run. On Sunday, he kick-started a 17-point comeback over the Philadelphia Eagles with a 14-yard touchdown run.
Samuel is quick, strong and versatile. He's capable of taking handoffs to the house and can also be a threat deep. He showcased his running and receiving talents at Ohio State, as he ran for 7.5 yards per carry on 172 attempts and also caught 107 passes for 1,249 yards and nine touchdowns in three years.
An injury-marred 2017 campaign stunted his growth, and a heart procedure sidelined him for the first few weeks of this season. However, Samuel is now good to go and has proved to be a game-changer. He should get more opportunities moving forward.
Chicago Bears: More Snaps for WR Kevin White
Although the Chicago Bears' quarterback situation has been unsettled for what seems like decades, wide receiver Josh Bellamy has not fared particularly well in a Chicago uniform. In 53 games, he's caught only 65 passes for 910 yards and five scores.
Bellamy is coming off a particularly rough game against the New England Patriots, as he went catchless on four targets.
Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly called for Kevin White to begin siphoning snaps from Bellamy, which could be a good option moving forward.
White likewise hasn't fared all that well in a Bears uniform, although injuries have limited him to only 11 games since the Bears drafted him seventh overall in 2015. He had two catches for 64 yards against New England, which may put him in line for additional targets.
Cincinnati Bengals: Start OG Christian Westerman
The Cincinnati Bengals have issues on the right side of their offensive line and in their linebacker unit. They'll soon need to make changes to address both, one of which could be a swap at right guard.
Alex Redmond has allowed the most pressures of any guard in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, and he's 34th in PFF's run-blocking grade. He's also first leaguewide with five offensive holding calls.
Cincinnati should consider making Redmond a backup and inserting Christian Westerman into the lineup. He's played only seven games (with two starts) since the Bengals snagged him with a fifth-round pick in 2016, but with the team on a two-game skid and fading in the AFC North, he may be worth a shot as a starter.
Cleveland Browns: Give Ball to RB Duke Johnson Jr. Now, Coaching Change Soon
Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson Jr. has only 38 touches through seven games. That's a blatant misuse of his talent.
Johnson is an excellent dual threat who can run efficiently (career average of 4.3 yards per carry) and catch passes (he averaged 62.7 receptions per season from 2015 through 2017).
The fourth-year pro didn't get many early-season opportunities, as Carlos Hyde toted the rock far more often. The Browns traded Hyde to the Jacksonville Jaguars before their Week 7 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Johnson received only five touches in his absence.
It's unclear why Johnson isn't factoring more into the game plan, but it's one reason why the Browns need to shake up their coaching staff.
Head coach Hue Jackson is now 3-35-1 during his Browns career and is headed toward another last-place finish in the AFC North. Cleveland is facing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday before hosting the 6-1 Kansas City Chiefs. A 2-6-1 record is likely.
Jackson was a tremendous offensive coordinator in Cincinnati and deserves a shot with another team in that capacity, but his head coaching career has not gone well. The Browns should consider making Todd Haley the interim head coach after the Steelers or Chiefs game and look for other options in the offseason.
Dallas Cowboys: Stand Pat Following Amari Cooper Trade
The Dallas Cowboys filled their glaring hole at wide receiver Monday by trading for Amari Cooper.
Cooper has been inconsistent during his four-year career. He has a propensity for alternating monster games—he had 11 catches, 210 yards and two scores versus the Kansas City Chiefs last season—with quiet ones (he's had no more than one catch in seven games since the beginning of 2017).
The Cowboys needed an outside receiver to help boost their anemic offense, and the 24-year-old Cooper can do that. The fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft does have two 1,000-yard campaigns to his name.
But did Dallas give up too much, and does that preclude the team from making any other deadline deals?
The Cowboys sent a first-round pick Oakland's way, which leaves them without their first- and sixth-rounders for 2019. Sending another selection to another team for more help (perhaps at tight end?) would leave Dallas in a terrible long-term spot.
Cooper could break out in a Dallas uniform, but the Cowboys aren't one player away from a Super Bowl. This could push them over the top for the division, but Dallas needs to think long term here and go forth with its current roster in 2018.
Denver Broncos: Sell Off Veteran Pieces
The Denver Broncos are 3-4 after a dominant 45-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday, but they seem light-years away from a potential playoff berth, let alone a Super Bowl run.
The defense has struggled at times, most notably allowing consecutive 200-yard rushing days to Isaiah Crowell of the New York Jets and Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams. The offense hasn't been consistent, as the team ranks a mediocre 19th in points scored per game.
Denver isn't in the same class as the top three AFC teams—the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. The latter two are in the Broncos' division, which makes a playoff berth nearly impossible for them.
As a result, the Broncos should undergo a fire sale and look to rebuild. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported teams are looking into numerous Denver players as possible trade targets, and the Broncos should go that route and get as many draft picks back as possible.
Detroit Lions: Give RB Kerryon Johnson 20 Touches Every Week
Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson has 533 yards from scrimmage on only 84 touches. He's also rushed for a mind-boggling 6.4 yards per carry.
Across his first five games, Johnson averaged only 12.6 touches. That number ballooned to 21 on Sunday as he gained 179 yards from scrimmage in a 32-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
It likely isn't a coincidence that Johnson has averaged far more touches in Lions wins (17.7) than Lions losses (10.3). Detroit should aim to give Johnson the ball 20 times every week as LeGarrette Blount handles short-yardage situations and Theo Riddick or Ameer Abdullah moonlights as a pass-catcher.
The Lions sit only one win behind the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North race. They can't afford to have a Johnson-Blount-Riddick timeshare anymore.
Green Bay Packers: Make RB Aaron Jones the Featured Back
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones is the league's fifth-most efficient rusher among players who have rushed between 11 and 55 times, according to Football Outsiders' DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement) metric.
Jones is the best runner in the Green Bay backfield, but he's currently sharing time with Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery. Both bring something to the table, but Jones shouldn't be capped at around 10 rushes per game. He's deserving of at least 15-20 carries going forward.
For the season, Jones is averaging 5.9 yards per carry. That isn't a fluke, as he had 5.5 yards per attempt on 81 rushes last season. Meanwhile, Williams is averaging only 3.7 yards per carry over his two-year career, while Montgomery is more of a running back/wideout hybrid who can't be called upon to carry the load.
As such, Jones should be the man moving forward. The 3-2-1 Packers can't keep waiting to give him more chances, as the NFC North is developing into a four-team dogfight.
Houston Texans: Sit QB Deshaun Watson for Next Game (and Maybe 2)
The Houston Texans should strongly consider sitting quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is battling a chest injury that has prevented him from flying to road games.
Watson is one of the NFL's most exciting players, and his efforts in leading Houston to a 4-3 record and first-place standing in the AFC South after an 0-3 start are remarkable.
However, Watson is playing through pain, and there are still nine more games in the season. He's facing a short turnaround with the team playing Thursday against the Miami Dolphins, who will be without their starting quarterback and two starting wide receivers.
A three-day turnaround is tough for any player, but it's a Herculean task for someone with a chest injury. Watson has also taken a league-high 26 sacks this year.
After facing Miami on Thursday, the Texans will face the Denver Broncos on the road in Week 9 and then have their bye week. Houston should consider sitting Watson against Miami and Denver—which would give him a three-week respite—before he heads into the team's final seven contests, three of which are against divisional opponents.
Indianapolis Colts: Trade for Oakland Raiders CB Gareon Conley
The Indianapolis Colts should take advantage of the Oakland Raiders' fire sale and trade for 23-year-old cornerback Gareon Conley, who Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports is available.
The Colts have an extra second-round pick in 2019 as a result of their trade with the New York Jets to move down three spots from third to sixth overall this past spring. That gives them some wiggle room to offer a draft pick to the Raiders to see if they'll bite.
Offering that second-rounder for Conley would be a bit steep, but something in the middle of the draft—perhaps a third- or fourth-rounder—could work.
Conley was out for most of last year with a shin injury and has played only eight career games, but the 2017 first-round pick has significant upside. The Colts should buy into Conley's upside and hope he can eventually help a pass defense that ranks 21st in efficiency, per Football Outsiders.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Start QB Cody Kessler
The Jacksonville Jaguars are in crisis mode. Three straight losses by a combined score of 90-28 has dropped the team to 3-4 on the season.
Quarterback Blake Bortles, who shined at times in 2017, has regressed this year. He has eight interceptions in just seven games, and his adjusted yards per pass attempt has dropped from 6.7 to 6.2.
Bortles also has five fumbles, and head coach Doug Marrone benched him after his second one during a 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday. Backup Cody Kessler came in and completed 70 percent of his passes, but he had a meager 156 yards on 21 completions and mustered only seven points.
Head coach Doug Marrone named Bortles the starter for Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported he's on a "short leash." If Bortles struggles again, the Jags should commit to Kessler moving forward, as it doesn't make sense to continue flip-flopping between the two signal-callers.
Kessler might be the better option right now, as his career interception rate (1.6 percent) is nearly half of Bortles' (2.9 percent). Turnovers have been a problem for the Jags, but Kessler has done a good job taking care of the ball over his three-year career.
Kansas City Chiefs: Trade for Arizona Cardinals S Deone Bucannon
The Kansas City Chiefs defense has shined in a few games, holding the Bengals and Jaguars to 10 and 14 points, respectively. However, Kansas City hasn't fared well on defense overall, as it has allowed 6.3 yards per play, the fourth-worst mark in football.
Kansas City is in win-now mode with a dominant offense and breakout star quarterback Patrick Mahomes locked into a cheap rookie contract. However, the Chiefs need to add some pieces on defense to help for the stretch run.
Eric Eager of Pro Football Focus made a case for why the Chiefs should go after Arizona Cardinals safety Deone Bucannon: "While Bucannon has failed to adapt to Steve Wilks' new scheme this season, he graded well as a coverage linebacker in 2015 and 2016 and would represent the dime linebacker/safety hybrid the Chiefs have been missing since Tyvon Branch and Hussain Abdullah left after the 2015 season."
Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Bucannon is on the trading block, as the fifth-year pro is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
The Chiefs have some extra Day 2 draft capital thanks to a second-rounder they acquired from the Los Angeles Rams, although they dealt a fourth-rounder to the Buffalo Bills. If a fifth-rounder can get the job done here (or maybe a fourth-rounder in 2020), then Kansas City should consider it.
Los Angeles Chargers: More Work for RB Austin Ekeler
The Los Angeles Chargers have gone 5-2 without star edge-rusher Joey Bosa, who had 23.0 combined sacks in his first two seasons. Bosa is recovering from a bone bruise in his left foot but is in line to return for the team's next game on Nov. 4 against the Seattle Seahawks, per Schefter.
The Bolts' only losses have been to the 7-0 Los Angeles Rams and the 6-1 Kansas City Chiefs, and neither was a blowout (35-23 and 38-28, respectively). Would Bosa have made a sizable difference in those games? Perhaps, and in that case, we could be talking about an undefeated Chargers team.
It's therefore tough to recommend a major change for the high-flying Chargers. With that said, they could benefit from giving running back Austin Ekeler more looks.
That isn't a slight against starting running back Melvin Gordon, who is enjoying his most efficient season on the ground at 5.1 yards per carry. However, Ekeler has run for 5.7 yards per carry during his two-year career and is an excellent pass-catcher (46 catches on 59 targets for 512 yards and six scores).
He should get a few more touches per game, and perhaps the Bolts could occasionally play Ekeler and Gordon at the same time in 21 personnel.
Los Angeles Rams: Stay the Course
There isn't much negative to say about the Los Angeles Rams, who are the league's lone undefeated team and have gone 18-6 in the Sean McVay era following a 4-12 campaign in 2016.
Their offense is arguably the NFL's best. The defense has been somewhat inconsistent and has been vulnerable against the run, but L.A. is fourth in points per game allowed. Kicker Greg Zuerlein, who's one of the NFL's best when healthy, is also back in the mix after he missed a few games with a groin injury.
L.A. has a tough schedule ahead with games against the 6-1 Kansas City Chiefs and 5-1 New Orleans Saints, but the Rams look like the favorites to win the Super Bowl. As such, they should stay the course with their current roster rather than making a move for reinforcements at the trade deadline.
Miami Dolphins: Trade WR DeVante Parker
Yes, the Miami Dolphins need wide receiver DeVante Parker for Thursday's game against the Texans as wideouts Albert Wilson (labrum) and Kenny Stills (groin) battle injuries. Wilson, the team leader in receiving yards and co-leader in touchdowns, may be done for the year.
However, the Dolphins should look at the bigger picture and trade Parker before the Oct. 30 deadline. Miami has spoken with multiple teams about the ex-Louisville star, per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.
Parker was a first-round pick in 2015, but his time in Miami has not been as successful as hoped. The 25-year-old has gutted through numerous injuries during his career, but he's now at a career crossroads.
The Dolphins are stuck in the middle of the AFC—good enough to stay afloat, but not nearly good enough to compete for a conference title. They should look to trade some players, including Parker, for picks that can be beneficial down the line.
Minnesota Vikings: Trade for Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald
The Minnesota Vikings don't necessarily need another wide receiver with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs in the fold. However, adding Larry Fitzgerald would immediately give the Vikings the best trio of wide receivers in the league.
The Vikings pass game is already difficult to defend, but with Fitzgerald in the mix, it would become nearly unstoppable.
The 35-year-old Fitzgerald had only 26 catches for 255 yards this season, but in fairness, Arizona's offense has been largely incompetent. The team is currently averaging the second-fewest points in the league.
Fitzgerald could thrive in a fantastic Minnesota offense. He may not return to the form that has made him an 11-time Pro Bowler and a future Hall of Famer, but his going back home to Minnesota could help put the Vikings over the top.
New England Patriots: Trade for Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson
The New England Patriots look poised to steamroll the league after four straight victories, including one over the 6-1 Kansas City Chiefs. But they could use more help on defense, as they're allowing 5.9 yards per play, which is a bottom-10 mark.
One obvious solution would be to trade for Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks told reporters Monday that Peterson isn't going anywhere, but the team is 1-6 and headed nowhere fast. Arizona's best bet is to rebuild through the draft and grab as many picks as possible.
The Pats have extra second- and third-round picks for 2019 and can afford to part with one of them for Peterson, although they would likely have to include their first-rounder for someone of Peterson's caliber.
According to Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus, Peterson has allowed a passer rating of only 39.9 this season, "which is basically the same as an incomplete pass." The 28-year-old is worthy of a lofty trade package.
New Orleans Saints: Stand Pat Following Eli Apple Trade
On Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints traded a 2019 fourth-round pick and a 2020 seventh-round selection for New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple, according to Schefter. ESPN.com's Mike Clay expects Apple to start alongside top corner Marshon Lattimore, which should bump Ken Crawley down to No. 3 on the depth chart.
The Saints needed some secondary help given their issues with pass defense, as they've allowed the second-most adjusted yards per attempt in the league (9.5).
The roster is likely set moving forward, especially considering that the offense is nearly unstoppable and the Saints are now without their first-, third- and fourth-rounders in the 2019 draft. That likely puts them out of contention for anyone else on the trade market unless they're willing to roll the dice and send out their second-rounder as well.
That would mean New Orleans wouldn't select until the fifth round in 2019, which isn't great. Instead, the Saints should forge ahead with their current roster.
New York Giants: Start QB Kyle Lauletta
This move is less a commentary on New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning's 2018 play and more based on the fact that Big Blue is now 1-6 and seems destined to miss the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
Although the Giants are still mathematically alive, they're now tied with the Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers for the NFL's worst record. Miracles happen, but this team is a long way from a Lombardi Trophy.
Why trot out Manning when the team isn't going anywhere? The Giants need a long-term answer at quarterback, so rookie Kyle Lauletta should get a long look before the season ends.
The Giants made a mistake in not letting rookie quarterback Davis Webb take the reins for some games last year with the season long over. That put the team in a bind during the 2018 offseason, as it wasn't sure what it had in the 23-year-old.
The Giants can't afford to make the same error again. Lauletta should get his shot no later than New York's Monday Night Football matchup with the 49ers in Week 10.
New York Jets: Sign S J.J. Wilcox or Tyvon Branch
The New York Jets need help at wide receiver and secondary largely due to injuries, but they aren't in a position to spend draft capital in year one of the Sam Darnold era. The team is also without its second-rounder next season as part of its trade to move up three spots for Darnold this past spring.
The Jets do have an extra third-rounder, but their best bet is to hang on to their draft picks and sign free agents.
New York just inked ex-Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews to help the pass-catching crew, per Schefter. Some defensive backs should also be in the mix, especially with safety Doug Middleton now out for the year with a torn pectoral.
As MacGregor Wells of Gang Green Nation noted, the team could consider re-signing safety J.J. Wilcox, who was released earlier in October. Wilcox is "familiar with the system and could step right in without a learning curve," Wells wrote.
That should help stem the bleeding, but the Jets should consider the best free-agent safety remaining, Tyvon Branch. The 31-year-old enjoyed a dominant nine-game stretch with the Cardinals last year (66 tackles) before a torn ACL ended his season. If he's good to go now, the Jets should give him a call.
Oakland Raiders: Continue Fire Sale
The Oakland Raiders traded wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys for a 2019 first-round pick, giving them three first-rounders next year. That leaves the Raiders with plenty of options as they look to rebuild their 1-5 team, but the Silver and Black shouldn't stop there.
Oakland's goal should be to acquire as much draft capital as possible over the next two years to give itself a litany of options.
In other words, if teams are inquiring about certain players (Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports mentioned cornerback Gareon Conley and safety Karl Joseph as two others who could be on the move before the trade deadline), then Oakland should deal them.
Oakland is bottom five in points per game and points allowed per game, and the roster as currently constructed isn't a playoff contender. A full rebuild is necessary.
Philadelphia Eagles: Trade for Broncos CB Chris Harris
The Philadelphia Eagles have reportedly inquired about numerous Broncos players, including cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, according to La Canfora (via Jeff Kerr of 247 Sports).
If the Broncos make Harris available, then the Eagles have to strike a deal.
Kerr explained why Tuesday: "Harris has allowed 22 catches for 179 yards (8.1 yards per catch) and five pass breakups on the season as opposing quarterbacks have a 54.8 passer rating when targeting him. If the Eagles were to acquire Harris, he would play the slot...which is a position the Eagles desperately need."
The Eagles need some help with their pass defense. They're around the league average in adjusted passing yards allowed per attempt after being top six in that category during their Super Bowl run last year. They won't get back to the postseason without improving significantly in that regard.
There has also been some chatter about the Eagles pursing Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell or Bills running back LeSean McCoy, according to La Canfora, as starting running back Jay Ajayi is out for the season with a torn ACL. However, the team has two solid running backs in Wendell Smallwood (4.5 yards per carry) and Corey Clement, who had 4.1 yards per carry before a rough game versus the Carolina Panthers (six yards on eight rushes).
Clement has run for 4.0 yards per carry for his career, so the Smallwood-Clement duo should be given more of a chance, especially since the pass defense is a far bigger problem for Philly right now.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Trade RB Le'Veon Bell
The ongoing contract dispute between the Pittsburgh Steelers and star running back Le'Veon Bell has long been discussed.
The bottom line is this: Bell still hasn't reported to the team six games into the season. According to Jim Trotter of NFL Network, that number is about to hit seven.
With James Conner excelling in Bell's absence—the second-year pro has averaged 4.4 yards per carry and has 710 yards from scrimmage alongside seven touchdowns—the Steelers should look to trade Bell before the deadline. Otherwise, they risk losing him for nothing when he becomes a free agent.
Bell returning and playing out the stretch run could help the Steelers in the short term, as a Bell-Conner backfield may dominate. However, the potential short-term gain is not worth losing Bell for nothing, so the Steelers should look to make a deal.
Not only are the Eagles interested in Bell, but ESPN.com's Dan Graziano speculated that the Vikings and Washington Redskins (among a few other teams) could be good fits.
San Francisco 49ers: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What can the 1-6 San Francisco 49ers realistically do?
The team was supposed to make a leap this season, but starting running back Jerick McKinnon suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the preseason and starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 3.
Other important players—namely cornerback Richard Sherman, wideout Marquise Goodwin and running back Matt Breida—have also fought through various ailments all season.
The Niners have had horrible luck all season on the injury front, to the point where they can only shrug their shoulders and begin looking ahead to 2019.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has felt some pressure, as his defense is giving up the NFL's second-most points per game. But again, injuries haven't helped—aside from Sherman, safety Jaquiski Tartt, linebacker Reuben Foster and defensive back Jimmie Ward have missed two games each. He should get another chance next season.
At this point, the 49ers just have to ride out the year, hope for the best and take the top defensive player available in the 2019 draft.
Seattle Seahawks: Trade for Colts TE Erik Swoope
The Seattle Seahawks made the move they needed to make when they committed to Chris Carson and Mike Davis in the backfield and starting running more often (and with greater efficiency). Since an 0-2 start, Seattle has gone 3-1, with the loss being a nail-biting 33-31 defeat to the undefeated Los Angeles Rams.
If the Seahawks are still looking for improvements elsewhere, they should perhaps consider a certain tight end making noise in Indianapolis.
The Colts cut Erik Swoope earlier this year, but he re-signed quickly thereafter and has touchdowns in each of his past three games. A former basketball player at the University of Miami, Swoope is an excellent athlete, and Stephen Holder of The Athletic praised his playmaking ability Sunday.
If Doyle returns soon—Indianapolis plays Oakland on Sunday and has off the following week, so Week 10 may be a possibility—then Swoope will be the odd man out. The Colts should thus consider trading him before his value plummets.
The Seahawks lost tight end Will Dissly to a season-ending patellar tendon injury, and free-agent acquisition Ed Dickson has missed all of 2018 with a groin injury. He practiced Monday and looks like he has a good shot to play Sunday, but what can Seattle expect from him after he's missed the entire season to date?
Nick Vannett leads all healthy Seattle tight ends with 12 catches for 110 yards, but he has what head coach Pete Carroll termed a career-long "back condition" that was bad enough to keep him off the field in Week 7.
The Seahawks could add Swoope as their third tight end on the active roster, and he could end up playing most of the snaps if he continues his productive campaign. A mid-Day 3 pick should be enough to swing a deal.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: More Snaps for TE O.J. Howard
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a strange 3-3 team, which makes it difficult to pick an obvious move. The defense is last in points allowed per game, but Tampa Bay just invested in a ton of free agents and draft picks to help fix those issues during the offseason.
That hasn't worked out yet, but perhaps the change at defensive coordinator to ex-linebackers coach Mark Duffner was the move to make? He got off to a good start Sunday in a 26-23 overtime win over the Browns.
The Buccaneers' run blocking has been poor—they're averaging only 3.6 yards per carry as a team—but what's the solution?
No obvious trade candidates exist right now. The Bucs drafted offensive lineman Alex Cappa in the third round this past offseason, but as Greg Auman of The Athletic noted, the ex-Humboldt State player is slowly being brought along and not ready to dress.
Perhaps the move is to treat tight end O.J. Howard like he's one of the NFL's best at his position and play him closer to 100 percent of the snaps.
Howard has 20 catches for 351 yards and two scores in six games despite playing only 59.14 percent of snaps. That figure should be closer to 100. He's too talented to leave off the field more than a few snaps per game.
Tennessee Titans: Trade for Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders
The Tennessee Titans are reeling after losing three consecutive contests, but the 3-4 squad is only one game behind the Texans (who they have the tiebreaker over) for the AFC South lead.
Tennessee shouldn't be packing it in just yet, but it needs an upgrade at wide receiver. Could Emmanuel Sanders of the Broncos be a possibility?
La Canfora reported teams have inquired about numerous Broncos, including Sanders. Schefter reported those inquiries have been rebuffed, but what if the Titans offer the Broncos a deal they can't refuse?
The Titans should offer the Broncos a third-round pick and see if Denver will take it. Sanders has 46 catches for 603 yards, both of which would lead Tennessee.
It's not as if Sanders has inflated numbers from a dominant offense, either, as the team's pass-offense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) is only 20th, per Football Outsiders.
The Titans need more production at wideout to take control of the division, and Sanders would help.
Washington Redskins: Trade for Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas
The 4-2 Washington Redskins are a game-and-a-half up in the NFC East over the Cowboys and Eagles. Their schedule is also manageable, as they have just one game left against a winning team (the 4-3 Texans) for the rest of the season.
Washington needs to take advantage and add to its roster before the trade deadline.
Picking up a wide receiver seems like the best bet. Starters Paul Richardson and Jameson Crowder are dealing with injuries that have forced them to miss time. Joch Doctson is nursing a heel injury.
As Mike Klis of 9News noted, Thomas has been the subject of trade rumors, and the 30-year-old suggested "my time here is coming up."
Washington should offer an early Day 3 pick (perhaps a fourth-rounder) to Denver for Thomas.