Every week my e-mail ([email protected]), gets flooded with readers from our site asking me questions about various Philadelphia sports topics. Normally they are topics that I either already am planning to answer in one of my daily pieces, or I try to work into our sites’ content. Unfortunately, some questions go unanswered, which lead me to the idea of doing a weekly mailbag, where I answer some of the best questions that I get sent over the course of the week. And now that football season has come to a close, and the only big Sunday sporting event until baseball season will be the Sunday NBA Showcase (which we won’t be seeing the Sixers on anytime soon), I figured Sunday would be as good as any day to do the mailbag.
Christian from Norristown: Can you explain to me why so many fans aren’t happy with the off-season approach so far? I believe management locked up their own, and are trying to actually building a team through free-agency and the draft, rather than trying to use those to sign and draft two players to fill five holes. I just don’t get it.
Tim: It didn’t take a Jairus Byrd or Darrelle Revis signing, but the Eagles appear to be one of the biggest winners early this off-season. Re-signing both Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, while locking up two offensive-line stalwarts in Jason Peters and Jason Kelce, had the Eagles looking pretty solid heading into free-agency.
Through the first five days in the free-agency period, the Eagles haven’t followed the 2011 blueprint that led them to be infamously be dubbed ‘the dream team’ by Vince Young. There wasn’t a Nnamdi Asomugha signing. Nor did they acquire Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a big-trade. Perhaps best out of all, is that a cancer like Jason Babin won’t be coming to Philadelphia in 2014. Instead, general manager Howie Roseman began to address some of the biggest issues on the team–specifically defensively and on special teams. But the key word in that last sentence, is began. Roseman isn’t trying to unrealistically fill every hole on both sides of the ball in one off-season, like he, Andy Reid and then president Joe Banner (mostly Reid and Banner), tried to do with a free-agent splurge prior to the 2011 season. They are making shorter-term signings of good character guys, and looking to build through the draft. And yet, the route of taking the lower-key approach to the off-season seems more satisfying to me.
It isn’t that I’m scared of taking the chance and signing another big-free agent after the Asomugha signing. Frankly, I would have been a major advocate of giving Darrelle Revis the one-year/$12 million deal he ultimately ended up signing with the Patriots. The Eagles on the otherhand, elected not to sign Revis for very similar reasons that they didn’t sign T.J. Ward or Jairus Byrd–he didn’t fit the Eagles defense.
Not making any drastic moves, allowed the Eagles to build on their special teams unit early in free-agency, with the signings of both Chris Maragos (a former Seattle Seahawk) and Bryan Braman (a former Houston Texan). The Eagles also were able to land a leader in Malcolm Jenkins (formerly of the Saints), who shouldn’t be expected to be an All-Pro safety, but will probably end up being the best safety that the team has had since Brian Dawkins. Chip Kelly loves competition, and every team strives to build depth, and the Eagles got both in the Nolan Carroll signing. Carroll can start at corner if needed, and if not, is still a good depth press-corner, and comes off as a good guy in the locker room.
The only “sexy” move that the Eagles made was adding Darren Sproles in a trade late last week, and signing him to a two-year extension. The difference between this move and the 2011 off-season “sexy moves”, is that the Eagles didn’t do this just to make a splash. They acquired “the lightning bug” because he adds another weapon (mostly as a receiver) into an already insanely dynamic offense, which is a scary when you have Chip Kelly running your offense.
I can’t answer why fans aren’t happy with the off-season plan so far. Obviously this can’t be declared a great off-season until you see how the draft goes and how all the new additions fit into the team in 2014 and beyond, but so far so good. If the Eagles can add a good safety in the draft (I’m looking at you Calvin Pryor) and continue to take the best players on the board throughout the rest of the draft, I’ll call this a successful off-season. I understand that you can have a really good off-season, even if the team isn’t considered to be the outright “winner” of free-agency or the draft. The Eagles might not end up being winners of either of those, but if they continue to build through successful drafting and adding players that fit the team through free-agency, they might be the winners of a Superbowl pretty soon.
If you wish to have your sports questions answered in the Section 215 Sunday mailbag, e-mail me at [email protected], leaving your first name, where you are from and your question.