Friday, March 10, 2017

The Eagles Get Actual Wideouts

2016 Eagles Wideout Storage
So my football laundry, after spending 2016 watching their prized rookie QB try to make a passing offense out of circus animals and pencil shavings, made quite the splash in free agency yesterday.

The small beer component of this is Torrey Smith from the Niners, and while Smith is something of a name from his time with Baltimore, he's probably not all that much. Smith's never really mastered more in life than the straight line deep ball, and as good as Carson Wentz looked last year, that part of his game? Not so much. At 28, Smith isn't exactly moving to the prized years of his life as a deep burner, but at least he keeps Little Nell Agholor and Bryce Treggs from failing to even stretch the defense.

No, the actual news is where the club got Alshon Jeffery from Chicago, and that's a guy who looked fairly special in his first three years in the league, with +2800 yards and 20 TDs in those halcyon days. The last two years have petered off to 1600 and 6 scores combined, with injury and suspension costing him 11 of 32 starts, but when he's on his game, Jeffery is a legitimate WR1, which is to say, the team's first since Jeremy Maclin. He's also 6'3" and 218 while still being quick; he passes the eye test and is a threat all over the field.

Which leads us to the not so hidden bummer factor here; Jeffery took a one-year prove it deal at $14mm, and all indications are that he's basically trying to break the bank with his next contract. So we might have a true ballhog kind of guy, which in theory isn't such a nice thing in the locker room, but in practice? I'll take it. Wentz isn't exactly a shrinking violet in terms of spreading the ball around, and Jeffery gets tolerable but secondary talents like Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz back to their correct place as WR2 and TE Whatever.

If you believe the hype, Philly was able to get Jeffery's name on a contract despite the presence of presumably better places like New England and Indianapolis, as well as Chicago's attempt to keep him around. So that speaks to top tier talent also believing in Wentz, and maybe even (I'm dreaming) HC Doug Pederson.

What I'm especially fond of here is that the club isn't putting Wentz's development at risk by repeating 2016's mistake of assuming he can elevate replacement level talent. There were an inordinate number of plays last year, especially as the season wore on and Wentz grew more comfortable buying time with his feet, where the wideouts just couldn't separate, no matter how much time they had to do so. Jeffery is big enough to just wall off a catch radius, and also fast enough to do that for more than marginal yardage.

So does this make the club a playoff possibility next year? Well, as nice as it will be to have actual threats on the wides again, the most important person on the offense last year was T Lane Johnson; his presence at the start and end of the year, bookended by his second suspension for a PED violation, more or less matched the time that the team was good. Jeffery also doesn't fix the problem that the team doesn't really have any good CBs -- yeah, cutting loose of Eric Rowe and Brandon Maxwell in the post-Chip Kelly purges might not have been the best move -- and in the NFL these days, you need at least three of those to compete, let alone zero.

But at least now they don't have to try to convince anyone that Agholor is a football player, that Dorial Green-Beckham will develop a working brain for something other than a slant and OPI/holding, that summer hero Paul Turner is a name you have to remember for any reason, and that Matthews is capable of being more than an acceptable slot guy with shaky hands.

Also, and this is absolutely killer?

That they can simply take the best available player in the upcoming draft, rather than going for need.

Since going for need is what led us to Agholor in the first place...

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule