Friday, March 14, 2014

Darren Sproles Is An Eagle

The Shiny New Weapon
In another one of those small ball moves that the faithful like, the Philadelphia Eagles picked up Darren Sproles from the Saints for a fifth round pick. (The same one, I believe, that they got from the Patriots for nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga. So, um, for nothing.) Combine this with the pick up of FA CB Nolan Carroll from the Dolphins, and the team has clearly upped their special teams game, while also putting boots to the lie that coach Chip Kelly only likes players who are bigger and biggest.

Now, Sproles probably isn't at the peak of his game any more, and your first thought about a 5'-6" speed guy who just turned 30 is that he's going to be out of the league pretty soon. But his yards per catch last year was 8.5, right in the wheelhouse of his entire winning tenure in New Orleans, and the 4.2 yards per carry is not shabby, and pretty much subject to skewed data, since one big carry can more or less change that number for the year when you only get a handful of carries per game as a change of pace guy. His return work was fine, while being limited by the fact that kickoff returns are very rare for dome teams. And while I'm probably cursing him with this fact, he's fumbled just three times in 122 games, because he's an ungodly tough smurf. The only real reason why the Saints wanted to move him was their contract cap.

Sproles is not exactly an upgrade on third down from Shady McCoy, because there might not be a guy in the NFL who is an upgrade from McCoy right now. Also, the team would not be well served with him as RB1 in the event of Shady injury, since he's not the kind of guy that could handle a big mess of carries... and if this means the end of Bryce Brown or Chris Polk's time in the laundry, that's also not a great thing. (I like both guys, and they are still on rookie deals.) You are also forgiven for thinking that the money spent on him would have been better added to get a better safety than Malcolm Jenkins.

But if this means that Damaris Johnson and Brad Smith can't return kicks without performance, or that McCoy lasts a little longer from not getting worn down to a nub, or that Brown and Polk work even harder to raise their game in the off-season? That's all kinds of win. And so is the end of the bullsquat notion that Kelly cares more about the height and weight of his players than he does about their production. Sproles has done nothing but produce in his roles in San Diego and New Orleans, and having him on board makes one of the best offenses in the NFL last year... just maybe a hair better.

Oh, and there's also this. Just how much fun do you think it's going to be when Kelly is able to spread the field with McCoy, Sproles and DeSean Jackson?

(Steepling fingers)

Let's just say that Nick Foles' agent could have a serious batch of numbers in a couple of years to work with in his next contract negotiation...

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