Philadelphia Eagles: Vinny Curry better be ready to rumble

The Philadelphia Eagles need Vinny Curry to suplex the competition.

When the Philadelphia Eagles announced their intentions to re-sign Vinny Curry to a one-year, $2 million deal back in August, it felt like a borderline no brainer.

Though the former second-round pick out of Marshall never quite lived up to his pre-draft pedigree, not to mention the five-year, $47.25 million deal he signed in 2016,  Curry was coming off a very strong 2019 performance and looked prime to finish out his playing career where it started on his childhood favorite team.

Could Curry have signed elsewhere? Sure, it was reported the Cleveland Browns had a very lucrative offer on the table, but after leaving to play for Dirk Koetter’s woefully underwhelming Tampa Bay Buccaneers a few months removed from winning the Super Bowl, it’s understandable that Curry would want to focus on home cooking for as long as possible.

Plus hey, if Curry were to sign elsewhere, who would do those delightful Woodbury Nissan commercials? Brandon Graham?

Despite his late addition to the roster, Curry was named a Week 1 starter over injured incumbent Derek Barnett and came out of the gates hot, racking up half a sack, a hurry, and three tackles in only 22 defensive snaps.

But do you know what else Curry tacked up in Week 1? A nasty hamstring injury that ultimately landed the 32-year-old on IR for the next four weeks of the season.

While you never want to see any top-line player miss time, especially at a position of need, the Eagles’ young reserves were able to weather Curry’s absence effortlessly, with some fans openly questioning if the team should simply keep the veteran rusher on IR indefinitely as a sort of ‘break in case of emergency’ backup plan.

Granted, that’s didn’t happen, as the Eagles officially activated Curry off IR in the lead up to a Week 6 romp against the Baltimore Ravens, but there is, and was, merit to that idea.

Whether it be Josh Sweat in Week 1, Barnett against the Bengals, or Genard Avery in San Francisco, the Eagles’ pass rusher has consistently found new ways to generate pressure from their ‘two-line’ approach to attacking the quarterback. While one could get nitpicky and argue where exactly Curry could fall in that rotation, it’s hard to argue he’s anything more than the Eagles’ fifth-best option rushing off the edge and their fourth-best from the interior over Colts castoff Hassan Ridgeway.

Was subjecting seventh-round pick Casey Toohill to waivers really worth upgrading a fourth defensive tackle position that plays an average of 32 percent of the team’s defensive snaps? It’s not like Ridgeway or even practice squad DT T.Y. McGill were playing particularly bad, as both recorded a sack through the season’s first five weeks.

Well, that’s what the team decided to do, and they got thoroughly burned in the process.

But hey, why be so negative about an unfortunate situation? Yes, it stinks to lose Connor Barwin 2.0 for an eighth-year vet whose averaged 3.3 sacks per season over the last five years, but do you know how Curry could silence said detractors? Play really well.

Remember, Curry had the third-most sacks, tackles for loss, and hurries of any player on the Eagles’ defense in 2019 despite only playing 38 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. If Curry can even just match that level of production as a moveable chess piece at all four positions across the defensive line, it’ll go a long way to making the most effective sack machine through the first five weeks of the season all the more potent.

And remember, in this weird, injury-heavy season, having a 6-foot-3, 279-pound defensive tackle who can play and even start at all four positions across the defensive line is incredibly valuable from an insurance policy standpoint alone.

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Do the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles have their priorities in the right place? Should they still be making win-now moves like activating older players on short-term contracts to play over giving playing time to younger, higher-upside players? Honestly, beats me. But what I do know is that it’s not necessarily Vinny Curry’s fault that he was activated off short-term IR at the expense of Casey Toohill. If you want to hate him for Howie Roseman’s decision, I can’t stop you, but personally, I’d rather see Curry rise up Undertaker-style than submit to the external criticism of a fanbase that thinks he’s already taken his last ride.