Sunday, March 8, 2015

Eagles Signing Reactions: Maxwell the CB Hammer, Gore For More, Dirty Sanchez, And If Maclin Goes, We're DOOMED, DOOMED I TELL YOU

Apocalypse Birds
Making an immediate splash with their surplus of cap money, my Eagles are said to have inked CB Byron Maxwell, the consensus top CB available in this year's class, by outbidding the Seattle Seahawks for his services. They've also picked up RB Frank Gore from the Niners and retained the services of QB2 Mark Sanchez, which are going to be far more controversial moves for the fan base. Finally, there's word that the club won't be able to retain WR Jeremy Maclin, while still going hard to several other defensive starters.

Everyone ready? Breath. Slowly. And let's look at both in turn.

First, the unmitigated good news. In Maxwell, the Eagles get a guy who is simultaneously overrated (he will not, and can not, look as good away from the rest of that secondary) and may actually still have his best ball in front of him. At 6'1 and 207 pounds and 27 years old, he's got the right kind of numbers to make the fan base sleep a little better against the division's murderous WR1s, and as a 2-year starter, he's shown himself to be physical and able to handle undue attention from opposing QBs (20th most throws out of 73 QBs, which is even more intense considering how often Seattle got off the field quickly, and ate the clock on offense with their ground game).

By the advanced nerd metrics, he was middle of the pack (best rating in any game, the Sanchez smackdown in Philly), and while he had issues in some games (Denver got him good with Emmanuel Sanders), he's a sure tackler and not a penalty machine. He's closer to CB1 than anything the team has had in years, and as happy as I am to have him, it's not as if the franchise could have afforded *not* to get him. They are still short at least one more CB, and if it's my team, that need will be addressed with a first round pick, because Maxwell was the only guy in this year's CB FA class who is under 30.

Phew. We got him. The rest of the day won't be seen as nice, in all likelihood.

Now Gore. The tendency in town will be to look at all of the things that he's not, in comparison to LeSean McCoy. Gore has been in the league for 10 years, all in San Francisco. He turns 32 in May, compared to McCoy's 27. He's a power / plodder, as opposed to McCoy's speed / burst. Both guys are decent at blocking, though I'd give the edge to Gore there. Both guys can take a screen pass, though McCoy has better hands. Neither is very fumble prone, though McCoy always looked that way, given how he'd wave the ball around. And Gore is, of course, a hell of a lot cheaper than McCoy, though not as cheap as what most people thought the team would do in the post-McCoy age, which is just to throw a wave of low-priced hungry talent at the grinder, and maybe save Chris Polk for the goal line, ,and Darren Sproles for the had to have third down screen work. (The fact that Buffalo just re-did McCoy's deal also makes you wonder if he was going to be a problem in training camp, too. Anyway, moving on.)

My feeling about Gore is that while he is clearly on the back nine in his career, the idea that he's ready for the glue factory is overstating things. Lots of people liked Carlos Hyde as a fantasy sleeper this year, and Gore outran him, 4.3 to 4.0, though Hyde did match Gore in scores in 172 fewer carries. And Gore's last two games in the colors were his best of the year (26 for 158 and a TD in the overtime loss against the Chargers, and 25 for 144 against the Cardinals). 1,100+ yards in the NFC West isn't exactly chopped liver, and it's not as if the Niners haven't won games with Gore as their RB1 recently.

 I think the club is better for having him, and that the money spent won't be missed elsewhere. And maybe Kelly deserves a pass on signing older RBs, since the similarly suspect Sproles signing last year worked out.

On to the Sanchize. He went 4-4 with the team last year, proving once more that if you are relying on him to win games against good teams, you are betting on the wrong horse. The arm strength just isn't good enough to threaten a good secondary on the edges, leading to an over-reliance on safe throws to inside targets; it's not a coincidence that TE Zach Ertz and slot machine WR Jeremy Mathews had their best games with Sanchez under center. He's also an unforgivable and unrelenting turnover machine, but he's good at keeping things going at the preferred pace. It speaks volumes about this year's FA QB class that Sanchez was the best available guy, and that he also chose to stay in a back up role where he was comfortable. It's also not exactly a ringing endorsement of what the club sees in QB3 Matt Barkley, but the fact that Barkley didn't get the Week 17 meaningless game against the Giants also said volumes, too.

Some will see this as further evidence that the club is going to go for Marcus Mariota in a draft-day blockbuster, but some have seen evidence of that in everything the team has done for two years, so, well, whatevs. I never need to see him the laundry again, and would always rather have an unproven quantity than a certain loser at QB2, but it's QB2. The simple reality of QB2 in the NFL is that if you are playing it, the season is probably already gone to hell in a handbasket anyway.

The only thing that people in town are going to want to talk about is the probable loss of Maclin to the Chiefs, and, well, yeah. You can't just run off all of the explosive Reid Era guys (Jackson last year, McCoy this) and have Maclin think that they won't do him at the earliest possible opportunity, too. And if Kelly thinks that he can go to war with a WR corps of Jeremy Mathews, Josh Huff and Riley Cooper, even if you throw TE Zach Ertz out wide routinely, he's high. And with Randall Cobb and Brandon Marshall already off the market, there isn't exactly a simple WR1 candidate out there to supplement. Especially when the opposing defenses start loading up the box with glee, rather than worry about the WRs.

Leave it to my laundry to land the desperately needed CB1, and still have the fan base researching canned goods, bottled water and safe rooms.

Stay tuned and stay sane, somehow...

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