Should The Eagles Pursue Richard Sherman?

For the past few years Richard Sherman has been one of the most recognizable names in professional football. Whether it’s him being a part of one of the best Superbowl winning defenses in recent memory or his fiery, charged up controversial interviews, Sherman has been as prevalent a face as there’s been in the NFL. For perhaps a few reasons, the Seahawks seem relatively open to trading the cornerback who this past season was named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl. I’m not here to discuss those reasons. There’s one thing and one thing only that matters in my eyes. How does this affect the Eagles. I feel that despite the Seahawks open willingness to discuss a deal for him, nobody seems to be taking it too seriously. At least as of now. But I bring this to light for a few reasons, the most fundamental being that Eagles could actually really benefit from a player like Sherman. For the heck of it, let’s break this down the simple way…

 

Pros

The Eagles desperately need a cornerback. Last year their secondary woes were too dire to ignore. As bad as their cornerback situation was, where we stand now, it’s worse. The Eagles have cut Leodis Mckelvin. Nolan Carroll is gone too and while those will ultimately probably be good moves for the birds, they still have to find someone to fill the void. The Eagles play in a division where they have to face Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall twice. It’s imperative to find at least one player that has either elite production or potential. The Eagles are probably considering a corner in the first (as well as other positions) so it might make sense to get one that’s established.

He never gets hurt. Seriously, by some freakish chance, one of the most aggressive players in the league has not missed a game yet. He’s started in every one since he became the starter his rookie year. Having a player that doesn’t get hurt often is such a valuable asset to a team, especially one that is trying to win and figures to be in the mix for a playoff berth down the stretch. Not only would the Eagles be able to fill a void, they would be able to do it with someone they can rely on week in and week out.

His intensity is a match for Philly. Richard Sherman is one of those guys you love to hate…unless he’s on your team. Say what you want about his personality but there is absolutely no denying the mans passion for the game. Philly fans would eat that up like cheesesteaks and crab fries. A few big plays on D combined with some wins and Sherman could have the city in the palm of his hands.

His price is going down. The reason I started to ponder this was because I read that the Seahawks could be dropping his asking price. First they wanted a player and a high pick. Now they apparently want a first round pick and a conditional mid round pick later (which could be OK if that means he’s on the team for at least a couple of years). Profootballtalk suggested it could eventually drop to just a first. Instead of using a pick to draft someone who might be good the Eagles could get one who’s already proven he’s elite.

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Cons

He makes too much money. One of the reasons Seattle is likely open to trading him is because of his expensive price. The Eagles as they stand now wouldn’t have enough to take on his salary without cutting or trading additional players. Still, for a team that was supposed to be cash strapped the Eagles seemed to manage pretty well in free agency. Howie Roseman and his guys have a remarkable ability to work around the parameters of the league’s salary cap. So while as of now it would seem pretty unlikely they could afford him, if there’s anyone who could make it work it’s Howie Roseman.

He’s 29. As I mentioned before Sherman has made the Pro Bowl the past four years. But everyone knows the day comes eventually where a player loses that elite step. You don’t want to mortgage a part of your future if you think that day is sooner rather than later. Does Sherman probably have at least a few good years left in him? That’s very reasonable to believe. But let’s be honest this team is built around Carson Wentz and his future. It may be foolish to acquire too many veterans for stopgap roles instead of grooming young players who could be a core part of this team for years to come.

The Eagles could lose valuable players. If the Seahawks end up being firm and demand additional players with a first round pick then would it be worth it? What if that meant not having Jason Peters protecting Wentz’s blindside? There are certainly expendable players on the Eagles roster but there are also a lot of players I wouldn’t be excited about parting with either, especially if it means adding the 14th overall pick too.

His personality could pose some problems. Sherman is known to be a fierce competitor and quite outspoken on a number of issues. He’s played in Seattle his whole career where he’s quite familiar with his teammates and coaches. It’s fair to question how he would handle a situation he didn’t approve of in Philadelphia. What if he doesn’t agree with a scheme or assignment or decision? Could that potentially cause distractions? Issues in the locker room? That could be a risky proposition to gamble on for a 29 year old corner.

Verdict: Surprisingly, I think the Eagles should at least be interested in trading for Sherman. They need a corner, badly. Sherman plays the position at an elite level and while his production might drop they could probably still get a few good years out of him. His veteran leadership would be of great value too, considering this is a young squad still learning how to compete and play in the NFL. He’s a SuperBowl champion and he brings that championship mentality week in and week out. While his demeanor could spark some drama I ultimately think that at the end of the day Sherman just wants to win. I would want that attitude on my team. It would be risky sending away a high pick but at least you’re getting someone reliable in return. I wouldn’t want to send additional players in the deal unless the team strongly feels they would be able to win without them on the team. He’s expensive but if Howie Roseman can figure out a way to afford him then why not? The Eagles could be targeting offense at 14 but let us not forget gems at the running back position can often be found in the second and third rounds and even beyond. I would like to get another young corner to pair with Jalen Mills but drafting one later to learn from Sherman sounds like it could be a wise move too. Overall if the Eagles couldn’t swing a deal to land Sherman it wouldn’t be the end of the world. It would be exciting to keep our first round pick and draft a promising prospect that could be on the Eagles for years to come. But if the price comes down to maybe just a first round pick or even less and the Eagles could figure out a way to afford him, then I’d do it.   It would unquestionably immediately make the defense better. It would help them as they try to make the playoffs in Doug Pederson’s second year as head coach. He’s 29 but won’t turn 30 until after next season ends. Combine that with his healthy past and veteran presence and I think the Eagles would be foolish to at least not try to make a deal work.

 

State Of The Eagles: Breaking Down The Chip Kelly Experiment And Looking Ahead

It’s finally over, thank God. The Eagles season came to a close this Sunday following a 35-30 win in a meaningless game against the just-as-hapless New York Giants in the Meadowlands. The conclusion of the game marked the end of a chapter of Eagles history and the start of a new one, hopefully one that will wipe the Chip Kelly era out of people’s minds like it was Rocky V. Let’s break down the past, present, and future of a once proud franchise, a franchise desperate for answers on how to get back to their winning ways that seem like eons ago.

The Eagles hired Chip Kelly three years ago after it was clear that it was time for the Andy Reid era to come to a close. Despite Reid leading the birds to multiple conference championship games and even a Superbowl, his inability to get over the hump followed by mediocre seasons and then a dismal 4-12 campaign was the final straw. There was no ill will, but it was clear that both parties needed a change of scenery and a fresh start. The Eagles hired Chip Kelly, who was one of the hottest names at the time because of how he transformed the Oregon Ducks into a perennial national powerhouse, with it’s prolific and unique offense that operated at breakneck speed that some believed could revolutionize the way the game is played. This isn’t an exaggeration, Kelly’s uptempo offense and unique coaching methods made some seriously believe he could literally change the game to some degree. At the time, it wasn’t a surefire bet that Kelly’s success would translate to the NFL, but above all else he was hired because of his “football mind”, someone who just really knew the game and dedicated all his time and energy to the sport. That was why he was such a hot commodity coming out of Oregon. There was a belief that even if his team wasn’t putting up 50 points a game, he would figure something out and adapt because of his deep understanding of the game and manic work and study ethic.

Despite going 4-12 the year before, Kelly didn’t inherit a bad team, at all. After starting 1-3, the Eagles finished the season 10-6, good enough to win the division. They lost to the Saints in a close first round game but hey, not a bad start at all for a coach with virtually no NFL experience. People were excited, things were looking up. The Eagles had a coach committed to bringing a winning culture (more on that in just a bit) and attitude to Philly and the results backed it up on the field.

Following that year, something strange happened in the offseason. The Eagles cut star wide receiver DeSean Jackson after having over 80 catches and 1300+ yards. Why? There was no real explanation, just speculation that his attitude and perhaps demeanor didn’t fall in line with the kind of culture Chip Kelly was trying to instill in the locker room. Sounds kind of crazy doesn’t it? Especially after a great year? No big scandal, or suspension, just “rumors”, whispers of “gang affiliations” and such. In retrospect it really was pretty crazy. At the time, Chip Kelly was perceived as a potential guru since he just lead us to the playoffs in his first year. We thought we could be even better if we did things Chip’s way. Philadelphia wasn’t crazy for buying into the hype, at the time it made sense, even if we still had our lingering reservations about the whole thing.

The next season the Eagles went 10-6 again, however this time that wasn’t good enough for a playoff spot. Nick Foles was the starting quarterback after lighting it up the previous season, but got hurt and the team wasn’t able to overcome with Mark Sanchez. This was the offseason where things got weird. 10-6 wasn’t terrible by any means, just a little disappointing after making the playoffs the previous year. During the offseason Chip Kelly met with owner Jeffrey Lurie to discuss his role and responsibilities as head coach. Kelly wasn’t satisfied with just calling the plays, he wanted to be the general manager and pick the players too, have complete control over the roster. Despite only having two years of NFL experience, Kelly was given what he wanted. People were behind it. The reasoning was that Kelly had a vision and that (then current) GM Howie Roseman was holding him back from taking that vision to the next level. Nobody knew Chip Kelly’s system like Chip Kelly, so shouldn’t he ultimately be the one who decides on player personnel? Again, hindsight is 20/20 but at the time one could justify it. Philadelphia was all in with Chip Kelly.

Then Chip Kelly traded away one of the best running backs in LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso, a former Oregon linebacker who was coming off tearing an ACL for the second time and only had one full year in the NFL prior to that. Again, in Chip we trust. It was bold, but there was an aura of confidence around the Philadelphia area. Chip being the offensive minded guy he is could certainly find a replacement to carry the rock and he got a great talent on defense in the process. Keep calm and in Chip we trust.

Then this past season happened. I’m not going to detail every move because I’d rather discuss the future than recap the past. You know what happened. Long story short, Chip signed a bunch of new players, drafted some encouraging young guys, and the whole thing just crashed and burned to the ground like it was set ablaze by a pyromaniac comic book villain. DeMarco Murray (the league’s leading rusher from the year before) was brought in to replace LeSean and couldn’t get going, at all. Byron Maxwell was brought in to help the secondary and even though they knew they probably overpaid for him, he didn’t even come close to the difference maker they needed. Poor production from draft picks (besides Jordan Hicks, who got hurt) and an aging and just out of it offensive line all were big factors in the flub. The one bright spot was Sam Bradford. The injury prone quarterback was brought in to lead the offense and while there were many questions about his durability, he took a shaky start and actually played pretty well down the stretch, despite not getting much help at all from his receivers. Still, the season was a wreck and STILL they had a chance to make the playoffs because the NFC East was dreadful but they were eliminated once again by DeSean Jackson and the Redskins in a primetime drubbing at home.

Jeffrey Lurie had enough. Kelly was fired before the Eagles even played their final game of the season. The Chip Kelly era was officially over, a massive failure. I would still defend the hiring, it was a bold move but his perceived football knowledge and passion for the game is something you want in your head coach. Apparently his people skills were hard for players to connect to. In the end it just wasn’t working, simple as that. It was the right move, once you lose control of a locker room it’s nearly impossible to get back. It’s time to start yet another chapter in Eagles history.

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Now the Eagles are back with Howie Roseman as the GM and are in need of a head coach. There are a lot of potential candidates out there and this decision will most likely have a significant long term impact on the team either way, good or bad. Let’s take a look at some of the names that are floating around out there:

Sean Payton: I think this would be a fantastic acquisition. While he’s struggled with the Saints of late I think it really comes down to him needing a change of scenery, just like Andy Reid did. He’s a great offensive mind who has shown he can really bring a quarterback along and get the most out of his skill position players. He won a Super Bowl. He’s an outside the box thinker that can rejuvenate this team and salvage some of the promising talent that remains on the roster. However, there’s two potential problems. First, he’s still under contract with the Saints and the Eagles might have to trade for him. It’s rumored that it would take a second round pick to acquire him, which is something the Eagles don’t have this year. Second, Payton could want a great deal of control over the team, similarly to Chip Kelly. Ownership might be hesitant to award that to someone seeing how that just went with Chip but this is a little different. Payton is a proven winner and has much more NFL experience and a history of successes. If it’s feasible to get him, Sean Payton would be an exciting and promising head coach for the foreseeable future.

Adam Gase: Gase has grown on me immensely recently. If you look at his resume, it’s just stacked. The current offensive coordinator is young and if successful could be the Eagles head coach for a long, long time. He was able to take Jay Cutler (who has a reputation for being difficult to deal with) and have him deliver a career year. He’s worked his way up around the league and has commanded a great deal of respect around the league. TheEagles have talent on this offense and Gase could be able to get production from it. However, he’s still young and has no head coaching experience which is risky. It could be a Josh McDaniels type situation where he doesn’t cut it and goes back to being a coordinator.  Still, I guess I’d support this because his track record has been darn good and if he’s ready to take the next step then whoever gets him will get a great foundation for years to come.

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Doug Pederson: The current OC for the Chiefs is an Andy Reid guy and was actually on the Eagles coaching staff before as a quality control coach and then as the quarterbacks coach. He’s been doing a remarkable job with the Chiefs who are scalding hot right now going into the playoffs. In his one year as Eagles head coach the team amassed 6386 total yards with Mike Vick and Vince Young leading the way. He played in the league as a quarterback himself. This would be a solid move, but do you really want an Andy Reid guy after all those years? I’d support it I just think the Eagles need a fresh start and some new ideas. If he can bring back the Andy Reid esque glory days though, then it would be totally worth it, just have to consider if the risk outweighs what the other candidates can bring to the table.

Sean McDermott: Another former Eagles coach, this one was in Philly for a long time. The Eagles were his first job away from his college and he was here all the way until he was fired in 2010 as the teams D Coordinator. Since, he has been the defensive coordinator for the Panthers who have been extremely tough on defense over the past few years. Finishing up the year 15-1, the Panthers D is one of the key reasons to their historic year. Additionally, McDermott has hinted that he wants to be here. He also seems to have a lot of local support. Still, this would scare me. I don’t know exactly why but he struggled here. Sure he was younger and has probably gained a ton of knowledge since but those dark days of defense still linger in my mind. He’s young, no head coaching experience. I also wonder how much of the Panthers success on D is attributed to him and not defensive minded head coach Ron Rivera. If the Eagles reach out to McDermott, I will get on board with it. I just have a gut feeling that there are better candidates than him available this year.

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Duce Staley: A fan favorite running back for the Eagles and current coach of said position, the birds already interviewed Staley to be their head coach. It would appear to be a formality and just a respectful conversation but it’s probably not realistic to think he’ll be the head coach next year. Having said that, I’d love for him to stick around,hopefully finding a spot on next years coaching regime.

Pat Shurmur: Shurmur finished the year as the interim head coach after Chip was fired. Previously, he was the Offensive Coordinator under Chip Kelly. It was interesting to see how the team exploded for 35 points in the final game with him calling the shots. Shurmur has had a failed head coaching tenure before with the Browns and that’s tough to hold against somebody. Having said that, Shurmur doesn’t figure to be a serious candidate to take over full head coaching duties for the following season.

John Harbaugh: If John Harbaugh became available he would instantly become my number one choice to be the next head coach. The problem is that he probably won’t be available. The Ravens had a forgettable year but they don’t appear to be considering firing him, which is probably the right call. It’s wishful thinking, but as of now this is a Hail Mary, and not one being thrown by Aaron Rodgers.

Teryl Austin: This is my secret underdog that I’m rooting for. Currently the D Coordinator for the Lions, Austin has impressed recently. The reason I like this guy is that he had a tough job this season, being in charge of a defense that lost its best player in Ndamakong Suh. They still faired alright this year, despite missing the post season. They almost beat the Packers twice and the most impressive part to me was how they played hard even though they were already eliminated from the playoffs. That says a lot. Austin would bring a tough, defensive mind to Philly with no former ties to the Birds. His resume is impressive and has been a part of Super Bowl winning units. I’m not saying this is definitely the guy the Eagles should hire, I’m saying he is an intriguing candidate worthy of the teams due diligence.

Dirk Koetter: The Eagles are reported to have interviewed or plan on interviewing Koetter. He spent this past season as the Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator. His work with rookie Jameis Winston was impressive, especially their demolishing of the Eagles this year. He has a lot of experience in football at different levels of play but I just don’t think his resume stacks up to the other available candidates.

Hue Jackson: Jackson has been the Offensive Coordinator in Cincinnati since Jay Gruden left to torment the Eagles. He’s done great in that role and has a wealth of football experience under his belt. He even did well as the Raiders OC and was promoted to their head coach and went 8-8, not terrible for Oakland standards. He was still fired and eventually made his way to Cincinnati. He’s definitely worth interviewing and investigating, although right now he seems totally focused on his teams playoff game.

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John Gruden/ Bill Cowher/ Brian Billick/ Mike Shanahan: All these guys have rings and all these guys are long shots. Shanahan has been linked to some openings but the Eagles do not appear to be one of them. I’d love to see the Eagles throw a fat bag of money at John Gruden. I just want to see some passion back in Philadelphia football and you know Gruden brings that. It’s unlikely he walks away from his current dream gig at ESPN though. Brian Billick called the Eagles vacancy the most attractive but I’m not sure if he’s a candidate to return to coaching. Bill Cowher? Who knows.

What does it all mean? While it’s frustrating to be back to square one, I must say I’m excited for a new chapter. There are some great names on this list that have a lot of potential for continued success as an NFL head coach. Once a coach is hired, then we can start evaluating the roster, seeing who stays and who goes. When a coach is picked, we’ll have a better idea of the direction this team is headed and the steps it will take to get there. There is a lot of pressure to hire the right guy, and even with the failed experiment with Chip Kelly I have enough confidence in Eagles management to make a sound decision this time around.

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 1

I’ve been waiting for the return of NFL football like a fat kid waiting for a hot pocket to cool off. It’s been excruciating, and at times painful, but when it arrived last Thursday it was all worth it. The annoying part sometimes is reading the tweets or watching the analysis the next day and seeing all the overreactions from one game. “They’re going to the Superbowl!”. “He’s a bust!”. “Fire him!”. That’s why Gratz’s Grumblings exists, to give you some perspective on things that happened around the league, one week at a time. Such as:

The Patriots didn’t appear to skip a beat as Tom Brady was sharp as usual and Gronk was beastly, collectively shredding the Steelers’ secondary to bits. In classic Patriots fashion, they chose their running back seemingly out of a hat, opening the season with Dion Lewis who missed the entire 2014 season with a broken leg. In his return to NFL action he racked up 69 yards on 15 carries and 51 yards receiving on 4 catches. As always, if the Patriots are healthy they figure to be a team playing deep into January and possibly even February.

It’s too early to begin evaluating the Steelers. Yes their defense was inept against Brady and the Pats but their bread and butter is really their offense and they’re without star running back Le’Veon Bell for another week and wide receiver Martavis Bryant for another three weeks. Once they get their full arsenal of weapons back they should start to click and be a tough team to outscore, assuming their defense improves enough at least to slow opponents down.

It’s also way too early to jump to conclusions about the Indianapolis Colts. Their performance against the Bills was ugly but when a team has so many new pieces it takes time to gel and come together. Many of their new players are older too so they didn’t exactly receive the most reps during the preseason. Although I don’t exactly agree with them being the trendy Superbowl pick just yet (mainly because of their defense), they should win their division handily and look like a different team than what was on the field week one.

Adam “Pacman” Jones should face discipline for his actions on Sunday. After a play, he ripped the helmet off rookie receiver Amari Cooper and slammed his head against it. He showed virtually zero remorse and claimed it was a “heat of the moment” incident. When you have as checkered a past as Jones does, I don’t think you get to use that excuse anymore. The officials clearly missed it as he should have been ejected from the game right then and there. He probably will receive a fine but no suspension, however I personally would support a suspension of a substantial length. What if somebody accidentally stumbled onto Coopers face with their cleats while Coopers helmet was off? Then what?

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Speaking of Pacman Jones, I’m also sick of defending Ndamukung Suh. This week after a play he “accidentally” knocked off the helmet of Redskins running back Alfred Morris with his foot while walking back after making the play. He claimed he didn’t see him. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to Suh, so that excuse is starting to wear thin as well. You’re a world class athlete, you can bench a bajillion pounds, yet you can’t lift your leg up or move your body so you avert a human body laying next to you? If that’s the case then you shouldn’t be allowed to play in the league. The NFL has said that he didn’t do anything wrong, but I think they are just toning down the discipline to players after getting embarrassed from the recent Tom Brady sanctions getting reversed. I don’t know if Suh should necessarily be punished for this instance or not, but I will say that he should be on very, very thin ice.

I don’t care who he played, Marcus Mariota’s debut performance was downright impressive. He went 13-16, while tossing 4 tds in the process, all to different players. He also didn’t even play the fourth quarter. It’s just rare for a rookie quarterback to show that kind of comfortability on the road in his first NFL game, Marcus Mariota could be really special.

LeSean McCoy still isn’t over the fact that he was cut from the Eagles. He arranged for a group photo of “Chip Kelly rejects” including himself, Trent Cole and Todd Herremans. Whatever. Get over it dude.

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The Giants/ Cowboys game was ridiculous and frustrating. As an Eagles fan I was “rooting” for the Giants because it would appear early on that we’d be battling more with the Cowboys than the Giants for a divisional title later in the season. I’ve seen better clock management from 8 year olds playing Madden than what Eli and Todd Coughlin displayed Sunday night. Coughlin is the most conservative coach and it just doesn’t make any friggen sense. It’s one thing to continually run the ball and settle for field goals but it doesn’t take Vince Lombardi to realize that if you don’t have a defense that can hold anybody then those field goals won’t do shit for you by the end of the game. That gaffe also led to Jason Witten’s second touchdown catch which was the difference maker in a brutal fantasy loss by yours truly. Fuck you Barkow.

The Eagles gave fans many things to be happy about as well as many things to be enraged about, I’m mostly enraged though. I admit I brushed off Cody Parkey’s preseason struggles and simply thought “hey, it’s only preseason, he’ll be fine”. Yet, the nearly automatic kicker from last year missed a 44 yard field goal in a dome that would have put the Eagles back in front and in good position to close out the game. Also, something that has plagued the Eagles for the past… I don’t even know how long it’s been is the secondary. This offseason we threw a boatload of money at Byron Maxwell to come in and anchor the secondary and be our shut down corner. Well, he looked bad, really bad on Monday night. Not only was he consistently torched by Julio Jones, he was also getting beat by a 33 year old Roddy White who’s best playing days are clearly behind him. Maxwell wasn’t bad in his debut, he was fucking horrendous. Another thing I took issue with was the complete lack of discipline, accumulating 10 penalties for 88 yards, many occurring at key moments. On the bright side Kiko Alonso made what was perhaps the best catch in the NFL this weekend, making a diving end zone interception to prevent a touchdown. While the offense was out of sync the entire first half, it looked razor sharp in the second half. If they’re able to consistently replicate their offense from the second half on Monday night, the birds will be a tough team to outscore.

If you didn’t stay up for the second Monday night game, just know that Carlos Hyde is the real deal. He ran all over the Vikings accumulating 168 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 carries, a total workhorse. The 9ers actually looked pretty good and while a lot of people completely wrote them off this season, they definitely still have enough talent to overachieve.