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Bleeding Green Nation - All Posts Philadelphia Eagles rumors, news, analysis, roster updates, depth charts and more.

  • Eagles Rookie Profile: Six things to know about DeAndre Thompkins
    by Brandon Lee Gowton on May 24, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Get to know one of Philadelphia’s UDFA signings. The Philadelphia Eagles signed Penn State wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins as an undrafted free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft. The odds are stacked against Thompkins making the final roster but he’s a player to watch this summer. After all, the Eagles reportedly gave him the third highest amount of guaranteed money out of all their UDFA signings. Philly also has an opening at punt returner that Thompkins could fill. In order to learn more about Thompkins, I reached out to SB Nation’s Penn State blog: Black Shoe Diaries. Nittany Lions writer Jared Slanina was kind enough to answer my questions. 1) Can you sum up what his college career was like? Thompkins became Penn State’s punt returner as a freshman, but ultimately lost his job after a few mishandled catches. he was able to fix that issue, and would go on to become an electrifying return man later in his career. By his sophomore season, he was seeing plenty of time at receiver where he was became known for his big-play potential as a deep threat. His numbers were solid but not eye-popping as there were only so many passes to go around for him and several other pass catchers who are now in the NFL, including Chris Godwin, DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki. The 2018 season was supposed to be the year where Thompkins became a primary weapon in the Penn State offense, but it just didn’t quite work out. Thompkins had the opportunities, but was plagued by a bad case of “the drops” that he just wasn’t able to work through throughout his senior year. 2) What are his strengths? Thompkins has all the physical tools you would want in a receiver who is a smidge under 6’0’’. He’s explosive, an excellent route-runner and knows how to get open. He also was a dangerous punt returner with outstanding explosiveness and vision. It was very common for him to pick up 10-15 yards with no room to run, and when he had some space, he could make one cute and be gone. 3) What are his weaknesses? If Thompkins was able to hang on to the ball, there’s no doubt he would have been drafted. He’s an outstanding athlete can also provide value as a returner. He just dropped too many balls his senior year. It’s not so much that he has poor hands- he’s proved otherwise earlier in his career. It seemed to be a case of the yips he just couldn’t overcome. He dropped a couple passes right off the bat and couldn’t get out of his own head. Fortunately, it’s a fixable problem, and if he is able to overcome it, could end up sticking around the NFL for a while as he has a broad skillset. 4) Are you surprised he went undrafted? No. There were too many drops last season for any NFL team to feel comfortable using a draft pick on him, despite his upside. 5) How do you see his NFL career playing out? Not to sound like a broken record, but it will come down to his hands. If he continues to drop passes on a regular basis, he won’t make the first round of cuts. If he can fix it, I could see him making the roster and even becoming an explosive return man in the NFL. 6) Anything to know about him off the field? He’s an easy guy to cheer for. Known as a hard worker and excellent teammate who would do anything he can to help the younger guys in his position group. Highlights: Relative athletic score: DeAndre Thompkins went undrafted in the 2019 draft class.DeAndre Thompkins posted a Good #RAS with Poor size, Elite speed, Good explosiveness, Okay agility at the WR position.#Eagles— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 30, 2019 […]

  • The Linc - Donovan McNabb says he belongs in the Hall of Fame
    by Brandon Lee Gowton on May 24, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 5/24/19. Let’s get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ... Donovan McNabb Says He’s A Hall Of Famer, ‘My Nos. Are Better Than Aikman’ - TMZ SporsDonovan McNabb says he’s “absolutely” a Hall of Fame player ... telling TMZ Sports his career yards AND touchdowns should make him a shoo-in for Canton. ”My numbers are better than Troy Aikman,” the ex-Eagles superstar says. McNabb joined the guys on the “TMZ Sports” TV show -- airing weeknights on FS1 -- and said he unequivocally expects to be wearing a gold jacket at some point in his future. ”I’m not hesitating on that. I am a Hall of Famer,” McNabb says ... “My numbers speak for themselves.” How much does EDGE depth matter to the Eagles? - BGNWe first should ask ourselves: “How often is EDGE4 on the field for Philly?” Fortunately, that’s a pretty routine question. Jim Schwartz has been the defensive coordinator in Philadelphia for three years, and has prioritized the pass rush since he arrived. We can look at the Eagles EDGE snap counts over those three seasons (chronologically ordered, 2016 - 2018) to see just how often EDGE4 impacts the game. At the Podium: The Franchise Quarterback Speaks - BGN RadioOrganized Team Activities produced two fresh press conferences for us and this second one in our OTA series comes from the Philadelphia Eagles franchise quarterback Carson Wentz! PLUS we take a look back at what those on the outside said about the past and future of Wentz! Powered by SB Nation and Bleeding Green Nation. Mailbag: Is the Eagles’ 2019 roster better than their Super Bowl roster in 2017? - PhillyVoiceOverall (2017): So the final tally is four for 2017, five for 2019, though the 2017 roster was better at quarterback, and on both sides of the line. I’ll give the overall nod to 2017, but it’s close, which bodes well for the 2019 team’s Super Bowl aspirations. The Slot, For Now - Iggles BlitzMaddox needs to be on the field in 2019. The only question is where. They are putting him in the slot because they think he can play at a high level in that spot. Not every corner can play inside. That is a tough position. Maddox and LeBlanc will battle it out to see who wins that job. Both players have experience there and both have played well there. This is a good thing, not a bad thing. We don’t know what will happen with the outside corners. Darby is the most talented of the bunch. He will start once he’s healthy. The coaches love Mills, but they saw him get burned last year. He won’t be given anything. Douglas finished hot and he’s getting lots of work now. We’ll see how that goes. Sidney Jones is the wild card. The kid is very talented, but we haven’t seen much of that in the NFL. If he can stay healthy and play up to his potential, he should win a starting job. Jones won’t be given anything. He’ll have to earn it. (Mostly) Eagles mailbag: How the team stacks up as a Super Bowl contender, Vaitai’s future and more - The AthleticI tend to agree that the Eagles are being widely underestimated nationally. Nearly everything went wrong for the Eagles in 2018, and they still managed to win a road playoff game and fall agonizingly short of another. According to Football Outsiders, they were the second-most injured team in 2018. There are real questions about the team’s medical staff, but that should portend some better injury luck in 2019. I also agree that the Eagles have had a very good offseason. The biggest problem with last year’s team on the field was a lack of offensive firepower. They dropped from eighth in offensive DVOA in 2017 (which was dragged down by the ugly, late-season play of Nick Foles, how quickly we forget) to 16th in 2018. No offensive players of significance departed, while DeSean Jackson, Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard and JJ Arcega-Whiteside were imported. The Eagles are all of a sudden talented and deep across the board on offense with a quarterback who was leading the MVP conversation not long ago. Nothing nutty about it: Jordan Mailata not bothered at all by Eagles’ decision to draft Andre Dillard - Daily NewsMailata said he wasn’t surprised that the Eagles took Dillard, who was one of the 10 best players on their draft board. “Every year they’re going to choose the best people from the draft,” he said. “It just happened to be one of the best tackles in the draft. Obviously you want that. I want that on my team. I don’t believe it hinders my progression or where they have me on the depth chart. It’s a plus for us that we added ‘Dre. For me, it’s just going to make me work harder. He’s a great guy. I’m pretty confident in myself, and coach Stout believes in me. I know I can get the job done regardless of where they put me Why Robert Kraft Has a Good Chance at Avoiding Suspension From the NFL - MMQBWe’ll wrap it up here with Dave’s question, which references Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas. Dave, I do believe Douglas would be Adam Gase’s first choice. I also believe with each day that passes, and it’s not Douglas, there’s a greater chance that winds up being someone else. Why? Because usually when teams have a guy targeted, they move very aggressively through the process. The Jets haven’t done that, which tells me either they’re very committed to having an open process, something they’ve talked about publicly, or they can’t get Douglas to say yes. The latter is possible too, since Douglas has a great rep and will have more chances down the line. And if we’re being honest, as I wrote last week, the job’s a little bit of a tough sell right now. Five Ways the 2010 Draft Affected—and Is Still Affecting—the NFL - The RingerThe considerable number of late bloomers from 2010 show just how crucial situation can be to a player’s career. Many productive guys from this class only hit their stride after landing with a new team or regime. Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham is a perfect example. Originally drafted no. 13 overall by the Eagles as a defensive end for then-defensive coordinator Sean McDermott’s 4-3 system, Graham was relegated to backup duty in his first few seasons. In 2012, he broke out for 5.5 sacks and the highest pass rush productivity in the NFL among edge defenders who played at least 20 percent of their team’s snaps. But the following season, first-year coach Chip Kelly brought a 3-4 defense to Philadelphia and Graham was marginalized yet again. It took until the arrival of Jim Schwartz in 2016—Graham’s fifth coordinator in seven years—for him to finally reach his ceiling. That season, Graham finished with 83 disrupted dropbacks (third among edge defenders) and 17 QB hits (tied for second among edge defenders). In his three seasons under Schwartz, Graham has emerged as one of the most effective per-snap rushers in the league and became a Super Bowl hero in 2018 before earning a three-year, $40 million contract this offseason. Vinny Curry helps hometown kids look Fly, Eagles Fly for senior prom - PE.comVinny Curry understands how much senior prom means to high school kids. So, he’s doing something to make sure the young men at Neptune High School look their very best on Friday night. It was an extremely busy Thursday for Curry, who took part in the Eagles’ Organized Team Activities at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia and then hustled up to Neptune City, New Jersey to take part in his “100 Kid Haircuts” program at Meet The Barber Gentlemen’s Lounge barber shop. Curry paid for 100 young men to have their hair cut and styled for Friday night’s senior prom. ”Where I’m from, the prom is a very big deal. I just wanted to do something nice for these kids who are already paying money for a tuxedo, maybe a car, things like that. I just wanted to take the stress level off the parents and the kids just a little bit,” said Curry, part of his ongoing campaign to give back to his hometown. “It’s a great barbershop and the kids are having a great time getting ready for their prom. Ranking candidates to win Eagles’ last few skill position roster spots - NBCSPDeAndre Thompkins: The rookie from Penn State got a nice chunk of change to come to the Eagles and is intriguing because of his speed and his potential as a punt returner. But Thompkins had a problem with drops in college and might be more of a longer-term project. Maybe a practice squad guy. The seven NFL teams that had the most compelling offseasons - ESPN In$ider“You could have had Odell and Harrison from last year’s team,” an exec said. “Instead, you have Dexter Lawrence and a fifth-rounder from Detroit. That makes no sense to me.” It obviously makes sense to the Giants, but execs agreed that New York’s GM, Dave Gettleman, has not communicated the plan effectively. One exec said it looked like the Giants were building a team to stop the run in a potentially run-heavy division within a more pass-oriented league. Another questioned whether a “meat-and-potatoes” team would gain traction in New York during the current age. A third questioned how Gettleman could suggest that Jones might sit for three years, which would make it difficult for the team to decide how to proceed on a second contract. ”I don’t think you get rid of great players,” a former GM said. “They traded a pass-rushing defensive lineman [Vernon] for an interior offensive lineman [Zeitler] and drafted a quarterback I’m iffy on. You can defend every one of their moves individually, but collectively, are they building an identity that you can win with?” Minnesota Vikings Are Desperate to Escape the NFL’s Worst Quarterback Trap - B/RWelcome to the Quarterback Trap, Minnesota Vikings! You walked right into it last year when you signed Kirk Cousins to a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million deal. Now you might have to gnaw off your tight end in a flailing effort to escape. The Quarterback Trap is part Catch-22, part carnivorous plant, part kindergarten finger puzzle. Its mechanisms are simple. NFL teams cannot maintain success without excellent quarterback play. But excellent quarterback play is usually so expensive that it prevents NFL teams from maintaining success. Why should anyone trust the NFL to define what a Hail Mary is? - SB NationThe NFL’s plan to make pass interference penalties (and non-penalties) reviewable by instant replay was voted into existence at a league meeting in March. It lasted less than two months before getting its first adjustment. NFL owners gathered at their annual May to discuss rule changes and other proposals, with the complicated PI rule at the top of their to-do list. And while Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, et al. didn’t change the policy themselves, they effectively kicked it back to the rules committee for tweaking — likely giving coaches the unprecedented power to challenge interference calls and no-calls in the final two minutes of either half. The Jaguars replaced Blake Bortles with Blake Bortles minus rushing, my column:— Anthony Amico (@amicsta) May 22, 2019 ... Social Media Information: BGN Facebook Page: Click here to like our page BGN Twitter: Follow @BleedingGreen BGN Manager: Brandon Lee Gowton: Follow @BrandonGowton BGN Radio Twitter: Follow @BGN_Radio […]

  • Eagles need to do the right thing and make Malcolm Jenkins happy
    by Brandon Lee Gowton on May 23, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Pay that man his money. There’s no need to beat around the bush. The headline says it all: The Eagles need to do the right thing and do what it takes to make Malcolm Jenkins happy. Though Jenkins himself hasn’t explicitly voiced displeasure, there’s obviously evidence to suggest he’s not satisfied with his current contract situation. After all, he is not attending voluntarily OTAs for the first time in his entire career. The possibility he could skip June’s mandatory minicamp — which would incur an $80,000ish fine — also hasn’t been ruled out. And it’s probably not just a coincidence that Jenkins is posting Twitter videos that demonstrate his value to the team. Jenkins isn’t wrong to believe he’s undervalued. He’s currently the league’s ninth highest paid safety in terms of annual value at $8.75 million. The final two years on his current contract contain base salaries of $8.1 million and $7.6 million with zero dollars in guaranteed salary (per Over The Cap). One can only speculate what Jenkins is looking for in terms of compensation. Whatever the case, though, he’s worth it. The Eagles MUST pay him. Those reluctant for the Eagles to pay Jenkins will trot out the “honor the contract!” line. That’s a bad justification to not pay Jenkins because every single NFL team fails to honor contracts every offseason. Teams cutting players in order to clear cap space is an extremely common occurrence. There are also those who will say paying a player with two years left on his deal sets a bad precedent. In a vacuum, I can understand that argument. As a team, you don’t want to have to keep giving guys even more money just a couple years into their long-term extensions. In the specific case of Jenkins, though, I don’t think the bad precedent is rewarding a player who’s already under contract for two more seasons. Rather, the bad precedent would be the Eagles failing to reward a player who has gone so far above and beyond the call of duty. You don’t need me to tell you how valuable Jenkins is to the Eagles ... but I’ll do it anyway. Jenkins is a two-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Pro Bowl selection, and a one-time second-team All-Pro safety. Jenkins is the Eagles’ heart and soul of the team as their defensive captain and most vocal locker room leader. He’s the kind of player who can help turn a season around. We just saw this in 2018 when Jenkins called on defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to simplify the team’s defense in a Week 12 win over the Giants. The Eagles were down 19-3 to New York and it was looking like their season might be over until Jenkins intercepted Eli Manning. That pick was a turning point for a team that came up just short of advancing to a second straight NFC Championship Game appearance. Jenkins is an incredibly versatile player. During the Eagles’ Super Bowl season, for example, Jenkins played 42% of his snaps at linebacker, 30% at nickel cornerback, 24% at safety, and 4% at outside cornerback. Jenkins is arguably the toughest and most durable son of a gun on the entire Eagles roster. He didn’t miss a single defensive snap last season. Here’s a breakdown of Jenkins’ snap counts since first signing with the Eagles: 2014 — 1,1642015 — 1,2042016 — 1,0182017 — 1,1512018 — 1,177 All of this doesn’t even include the outstanding work Jenkins does off the field. He won the Byron “Whizzer” White Community MVP award in 2017, which is the highest honor the NFLPA can bestow upon a player. If paying Jenkins now means the Eagles are setting a precedent where they have to reward players who are similar to Jenkins in the future, that’s a great “problem” to have. As a team, you should want your young players to emulate this role model who majorly contributed to the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl victory. With Jenkins missing OTAs and Rodney McLeod still recovering from ACL/MCL injuries, the Eagles are currently running with Andrew Sendejo and Tre Sullivan as their first team safeties. That’s just not going to cut it when September gets here. It’s my belief the Eagles will do the right thing and reward Jenkins at some point. Maybe it’s something like what they did with Brandon Graham’s contract back in 2017. Maybe it’s something even more lucrative than that. The bottom line is: the Eagles need to pay that man his money. […]

  • Doug Pederson underrated, Sean McVay overrated in NFL head coach rankings
    by Brandon Lee Gowton on May 23, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Laughable. We’re currently in one of the slower news cycles of the NFL offseason but, admittedly, the #content must go on. As such, Sporting News recently put out head coach rankings ahead of the 2019 offseason. I could’ve opted to ignore these rankings that were likely created to stir up conversation and generate #clicks. But here I am, feeding the machine. I’ve failed you all. In fairness to myself, I was basically baited into writing a post about these rankings. “Doug Pederson > Sean McVay” is part of my brand. So it’s hard for me not to react when I see McVay ranked as THE SECOND BEST HEAD COACH IN THE LEAGUE (?!) while Pederson finishes SEVENTH overall. 1⃣ Bill Belichick2⃣ Sean McVay3⃣ Sean Payton4⃣ Andy Reid5⃣ Pete Carroll6⃣ John Harbaugh7⃣ Doug Pederson8⃣ Mike Tomlin9⃣ Anthony Lynn Frank Reich SN's 2019 NFL coach rankings— Sporting News (@sportingnews) May 21, 2019 To be clear, I’m not trying to say McVay is a horrible coach. The 33-year-old is 26-10 with a Super Bowl appearance in his first two years on the job. He deserves to be in the top 10. Ranking him No. 2 overall is laughable, though. And it’s not like this Sporting News post represents a minority opinion. Just look at the NFL’s head coach hiring cycle earlier this year. Teams were doing anything they could to hire a coach who had some kind of connection to McVay. The Cardinals literally bragged about how new Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury is friends with McVay. And the Cards coined McVay — the coach of a divison rival — a “genius”! The Cardinals press release announcing Kingsbury made sure to include that he’s friends with Sean McVay.— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) January 8, 2019 That’s pathetic. The McVay love-fest only intensified with the Rams making it to the Super Bowl this year. National NFL writers spent a lot of time slobbering over their favorite boy genius. Of course, it didn’t take long for those columns anointing McVay as the next best thing to look silly. I enjoyed being able to write this after the Rams’ embarrassing Super Bowl loss: Sean McVay is a fraud. Offensive genius my ass. No other team in Super Bowl history has only managed to score three points. I’ve been saying forever now that it was such a joke that he won Coach of the Year over Doug Pederson in 2017. The voters continue to look really, really foolish on that one. Pederson is 2-0 against McVay. Pederson also scored 41 points in a Super Bowl WIN over the Patriots. A big reason why the Eagles were able to beat the Pats is because Pederson was truly fearless. McVay, on the other hand, was a coward in this game. He opted to punt on 4th-and-3 in Patriots territory. He ran a coward’s draw on a 3rd-and-long before punting the ball to the Patriots, who then scored their only touchdown of the game. The truth is McVay didn’t even deserve to be in the Super Bowl. His incredibly weak decision to kick a red zone field goal against the Saints in the 2019 NFC Championship Game was bailed out by one of the worst missed calls in the history of the NFL playoffs. Thankfully, the Football Gods decided it was time to stop rewarding McVay’s cowardice on the biggest stage of the season. And yet, as Sporting News’ rankings indicate, McVay’s horrible Super Bowl showing somehow isn’t being held against him. The national media let him off easy. Some good points here by friend of BGN, Noah Becker: Rams were one of the NFL's healthiest teams for the 3rd straight season and I truly believe that if the Super Bowl had gone on for another quarter or two, they would've gotten to 300 yards of total offense.— Noah Becker (@Noah_Becker) March 8, 2019 Brady was 21/35 262-0-1 and the Rams still lost by 2 scores. That's amazing offensive incompetence. Will it ever be discussed? If Doug had put up that performance in Super Bowl LII, Mike Lombardi would've thrown himself a parade down Broad Street.— Noah Becker (@Noah_Becker) March 8, 2019 That last point is one of the biggest things that bothers me with the McVay hype. There’s a double standard here and I really feel like McVay’s unwarranted praise comes at the expense of Pederson. Again, I’m not trying to sell McVay short. He’s done a good job so far. But it’s also not like he’s had to face a lot of adversity. In terms of Adjusted Games Lost (AGL), the Rams finished as THE healthiest team in 2017 and fourth healthiest in 2018. Contrast that with Pederson’s Eagles, who finished 13th and 31st, respectively. And those Eagles injuries including losing a starting quarterback — an NFL MVP caliber player in Carson Wentz — and still winning a Super Bowl title with a backup signal caller. The fact of the matter is that McVay just doesn’t stack up to Pederson. This shouldn’t be so difficult to see. Pederson is 2-0 against McVay. Pederson’s offense scored 41 points in a Super Bowl WIN over the Patriots while McVay’s offense scored 3 points in a Super Bowl LOSS to the Patriots. The world would be a better place if people could stop overrating McVay and underrating Dougie P. At least Eagles fans know what’s up: […]

  • How much does EDGE depth matter to the Eagles?
    by Benjamin Solak on May 23, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    *smashes calculator* a lot! We first should ask ourselves: “How often is EDGE4 on the field for Philly?” Fortunately, that’s a pretty routine question. Jim Schwartz has been the defensive coordinator in Philadelphia for three years, and has prioritized the pass rush since he arrived. We can look at the Eagles EDGE snap counts over those three seasons (chronologically ordered, 2016 - 2018) to see just how often EDGE4 impacts the game. I used snaps/game, instead of pure snap counts over the course of a season, to control for injury — specifically, the Derek Barnett injury in 2018, which left the Eagles with basically three EDGEs for the remainder of the season. But more on that later. We can see that, over the past three seasons, EDGE3 has steadily climbed in usage — without much sacrificing of EDGE1 or EDGE2 snaps, either. This can be explained by the 3DE sets that Jim Schwartz has increasingly employed during his time in Philadelphia. On long and late downs, Schwartz might bench one of his defensive tackles to line up Brandon Graham or Michael Bennett on the inside and get his best four rushers on the field. Now, we do have to be careful with our number for 2018, which is shockingly high: 38.25 snaps/game for Chris Long, just underneath Derek Barnett’s 39 snaps/game. Long may have been the season EDGE4, but once Derek Barnett officially went on IR before Week 8, he became the EDGE3, and his numbers accordingly ballooned. We can see the effect of the Derek Barnett injury on this chart, which breaks down the Eagles’ EDGE4 snaps/game for the 2018 season, by individual game — it may have been Chris Long one week, Derek Barnett another week, and Josh Sweat a third week. It isn’t hard to see when Derek Barnett went on IR, and how that affected the snaps of EDGE4 — it’s even easier still to find the one game before Barnett went on IR that he was inactive for. Stats via Pro Football FocusIt’s a tale of two halves here. On average, the EDGE4 took 48.74% of the snaps in the six games Derek Barnett was active and 10.91% of the snaps when Barnett was inactive, for a season-long average of 23.53%. It would seem that, once Derek Barnett went down, Jim Schwartz didn’t feel that he had an EDGE4. Yes, at least 4 EDGEs played in 11 of the 12 games without Barnett — but only once did that player take more than 20% of the snaps on defense. In other words, that EDGE4 — namely, Josh Sweat — wasn’t so much a player Schwartz wanted to get on the field, as he was a placeholder in dire circumstances on long, tiring drives. When Schwartz did have Barnett healthy, it seems that Philadelphia was willing to deploy as true of a four-man rotation at EDGE as we’ve seen in the league: again, with Barnett healthy, the EDGE4 averaged almost 50% of the snaps/game. Looking at only those first six games in which Barnett was active, the Eagles’ DE snap counts looked like this: This is a blistering pace of EDGE4 play — over half of the snaps! It’s highly unlikely that any other team was getting this much play out of their EDGE4 — which is as we should expect, as no other team in the league had four EDGEs as talented as Philly did. The reality of the Eagles’ 2018 season with Derek Barnett active is that their EDGEs were essentially interchangeable. Each of the four had the fewest snaps/game in one of the six weeks in which all were active. There was no EDGE4 — there were just the four EDGEs. Incidentally: if there was an EDGE4 during this time, it was Chris Long, as we can see above. Of course, Long retired this offseason, citing the expectation that his role in Philadelphia in 2019 wasn’t going to be as significant as he wanted it to be. While the EDGEs were relatively comparable in playing time across this small sample size, it may have alluded to things to come, from Long’s perspective. Could we reasonably have expected these percentages to remain consistent across the course of a season? It’s difficult to say — but if we compare 2017’s EDGE4 snaps with 2018’s EDGE4 snaps, we see that Philadelphia’s rotation remains deep when everyone is healthy — even into the playoffs. Data via Pro Football FocusThe outlier data here (Weeks 15 and 16) are actually Wk 16 (v. OAK) and the divisional round of the playoffs (v. ATL). In both games, Barnett saw markedly fewer snaps than usual — but let’s not forget, Barnett did have surgery for a sports hernia in the offseason, so there’s a chance they were just managing his reps. We do have to wonder: why bother going out and acquiring the necessary players to be 4-deep at EDGE? Why construct your team such that your fourth EDGE is taking over 40% of the snaps in the Super Bowl? What is the value of this approach? Anecdotally, we say that a strong EDGE4 — generally, strong EDGE depth — ensures the freshness of your pass rushers relative to the opponent’s offensive tackles, as we get later in the season. If there’s data that exists to prove/disprove that claim, I don’t have access to it. I couldn’t find pressure rates on a game-to-game basis. If we simply look at QB hits/game by week over the past three seasons for the Eagles (EDGE players exclusively), we don’t see a significant trend or increase in pass rush efficacy as the season progresses. data via Pro Football ReferenceThat said, the freshness argument makes sense from a heuristic perspective: the less snaps your starters play, the less worn down they should be by the final weeks of the seasons, and the more effective they should be. Of course, if Philadelphia doesn’t change how they distribute their EDGE snaps later in the season — and it would seem that if they do, it’s only slightly — then you’re still playing the “starters’ and “depth guys” to the same proportions, and you’re not really reaping the benefits of fresher starters. The other benefit of EDGE depth is the more traditional benefit: protection from injury. With a deep pool of EDGE rushers, the Eagles shouldn’t lose pass rush efficacy on the team level in the event of an injury. They have enough rushers to stay dangerous. Again, it’s very difficult to break pressure data into in/out splits of injury timeframes, but anecdotally, this makes sense. The trio of Long, Bennett, and Graham didn’t magically get better without Derek Barnett on the field. With him, they averaged a sack every 102 pass-rush snaps and a QB hit every 21 pass-rush snaps; without him, it was a sack every 65 pass-rush snaps and a QBH every 25 (data via PFR and PFF). Yes, the sack numbers were better — but sacks are heavily situational. The QBH numbers actually got worse. Of course, we’re only looking at defense ends here — but we don’t have a strong signal that when Barnett went down, the Eagles’ healthy EDGEs benefitted from the increase of playing time by churning out more production. They weren’t more effective than Barnett was, when he was healthy: in 2018, Barnett was churning out a sack every 68 snaps and a QBH every 15 pass-rush snaps. It shouldn’t be a shocking claim: the team got worse when Derek Barnett went down. Barnett’s a good player, and losing a good player always hurts. Critically, however, it’s not like Barnett’s snaps were replaced — that is to say, Josh Sweat didn’t step up into Barnett’s role. Rather, those snaps were assumed by the preexisting rotation. The four horsemen off the EDGE became the three horsemen. This season, Philly looks to be only three horsemen deep once again: with Bennett shipped off to New England and Long kickin’ his feet up on a lawn chair (probably climbing another mountain, if we’re being honest), the Eagles EDGE room boasts of Graham, Barnett, and 2018 cast-off Vinny Curry. Now, last time Curry was here, he took 56% of the snaps — he can be a part of that four-deep group that Schwartz foreshadowed in 2018. But beyond him, Philadelphia has Sweat, rookie Shareef Miller, Daeshon Hall, and practice squad hero Joe Ostman. Slim pickin’s. If they want to go for a four-man rotation at EDGE once again — which they seemingly do — then someone needs to step into ~50% of the snaps. That’s not for the faint of heart; that’s no “role player.” That’s nearly a starter. The leader in the clubhouse is seemingly Josh Sweat, but let’s not forget: Sweat was EDGE4 for six consecutive weeks (Wk 8 - 14) last offseason and could barely break 20% of the snaps. In 2018, he wasn’t ready for 50% of the snaps — and most fourth-round rookies aren’t, so that’s okay. But most fourth-round sophomores aren’t ready for 50% of the snaps in Year 2, either. On top of that, Josh Sweat is a medical red flag. He was unable to stay healthy during his first NFL year and had his practice time closely monitored at Florida State given his history of knee issues. If Sweat goes down — which is more likely than the average player going down — the Eagles are barren behind him. From a production standpoint, it’s hard to nail down just how much EDGE4 matters to the Eagles defense — the data just isn’t there for us to sink our teeth into. But we know it matters in and of the fact that it takes a healthy amount of the snaps: 50% at its peak, closer to 30% at its floor. Jim Schwartz wants a stable of rushers to tap into, and until someone proves otherwise in camp, he doesn’t have that right now. We may look to 2016, Schwartz’s first year as DC, as a model for 2019’s snap counts. The first table shows us what it looks like: Brandon Graham (75%) and Connor Barwin (70%) were the starters, while EDGE3 (Curry) clocked in at 42% and EDGE4 (Marcus Smith, of all people) hit 21%. Considering the extension Philadelphia gave Graham, it’s clear they still view him as a starter and should be willing to play him that heavily — and considering the lofty draft investment in Barnett, he also should be able to shoulder that load (if healthy). But that distribution isn’t how Schwartz has seemingly molded this roster over the last few seasons, and it will be interesting to see if Philadelphia’s strong pass-rush — which took a step back in 2018 — returns with a new distribution of snaps. […]


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