Philadelphia Eagles

Despite what they say, Eagles are building to win now

Despite what they say, Eagles are building to win now

What they're saying is not what they're doing.

They're saying patience. They're building for today.

They're saying grow through the draft. They're adding big-name free agents.

They're saying they have a long way to go. They're actually closer than you think.

"You feel like you're doing the right thing when you don't have a lot of Band-Aids," Howie Roseman said earlier this offseason.

Meaning build with young guys and not quick-fix free agents.

Then they go out and sign Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Chris Long and now LeGarrette Blount.

This is a team built for 2017. The Eagles just haven't admitted it yet.

They want you to be patient in case they don't win in 2017, but make no mistake about it. This is a football team that can win in 2017. That should win in 2017. That needs to win in 2017. 

If you really believe in building for 2018, 2019 and 2020, you go with Jordan Matthews, see what you can get out of Nelson Agholor and play the rookie receivers as much as possible. You don't sign Jeffery and Smith.

If you really believe that 2017 is a bridge year, you give Marcus Smith and whatever defensive end you draft — it turned out to be Derek Barnett — as much playing time as possible. You don't add 32-year-old Long.

If you really believe 2017 is a total rebuild, you give Wendell Smallwood 12 to 15 carries and see what Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement can give you. You don't sign Blount.

Not that I don't like the moves. I do like the moves. A lot.

The Eagles got better when they signed Jeffery, they got better when they signed Long, they got better when they signed Blount.

There's no question the Eagles should be dramatically improved in 2017. Their secondary will be better with a couple young, hungry corners instead of Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll. Their defensive line will be better with Barnett and Long. Their linebacking corps will be better just because those guys are now in their second year under Jim Schwartz.

They're obviously better at receiver and clearly better at running back with Blount replacing brittle Ryan Mathews. They'll be better on the offensive line just with Lane Johnson back for the season at right tackle (presumably) and somebody more athletic and talented than Allen Barbre at left guard.

And they're going to be drastically better at quarterback, as Carson Wentz enjoys a full offseason and preseason as the No. 1.

When I look at this roster, I see a team that should be fighting for a playoff spot, not a team that's mired in a rebuild.

The Eagles are actually one of the oldest teams in the NFL. They had the oldest roster in the NFL when 2016 ended, and they've added a number of veterans since (and shed several as well). 

This is not a three-year plan or a five-year plan. The Eagles are building for today, and with an elite young quarterback that is absolutely the correct way to go.

Surround Wentz with as much talent as possible and go win some football games.

Is this a finished product? Of course not. But it's a team headed in the right direction around a quarterback with superstar potential.

I give Roseman a lot of credit for this offseason. The Eagles went into it with very limited cap space, and he's managed to add several important pieces without having to shed the roster of anybody who really was going to play a part in the future (although in a perfect world you'd like to keep Bennie Logan).

The Eagles came out of 2016 with questions at receiver, running back, cornerback, pass rusher and offensive line, and they addressed every one of them either with draft picks or inexpensive free agents.

It's been nine years now since the Eagles' last playoff win and four years since their last winning record, and it's time for those droughts to end. 

The Eagles are building the right way with a roster that's nicely balanced with young homegrown players who should keep improving and veteran acquisitions who didn't break the bank who should contribute from Day 1.

That's a winning formula.

In fact, I agree with just about everything Howie's done. 

Just not everything he's said.

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Six seniors to keep an eye on

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2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Six seniors to keep an eye on

It wasn't the intention of the author to profile all seniors, but here we are.

On Saturday, there will be six seniors in action during three of college football's biggest games. All six are worthy of NFL draft consideration. And all of them could possibly help the Eagles in 2018 and beyond.

Let's take a look at a few players to keep your eye on Saturday.

No. 16 TCU at No. 6 Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

►James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State, senior (6-1/205)

Washington could've skipped his senior year after two extremely productive seasons for the Cowboys, but opted to return. And so far the results have been prolific. Through three games, Washington has 13 catches for 367 yards and three touchdowns. He's averaging 28.5 yards per catch, good for fifth in the country. Washington isn't a polished route runner, but his quick feet indicate he could become one. He has a second gear when the ball is in the air and is excellent at tracking it.

►Travin Howard, LB, TCU, senior (6-1/213)
Howard is a tackling machine. The senior 'backer is coming off back to back 100-tackle seasons. His disruptive plays were down a bit from his sophomore to junior year, but he's already notched 2 ½ tackles for a loss and a pick six in three games this season. He's undersized, though he looks bigger than his listed weight. Still, the NFL is trending toward small, quicker linebackers. With Nigel Bradham on the final year of his deal and Mychal Kendricks perpetually on the trade block, linebacker is a sneaky need for the Eagles.

No. 4 Penn State at Iowa, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)

►Marcus Allen, S, Penn State, senior (6-2/207)

Hey, Eagles fans. Can we talk for a second? Cool. I know you all think Saquon Barkley would look fantastic in midnight green, but here's the thing: unless, the Eagles win four games or less, they likely have no shot at landing Barkley. 

Moving on, Allen is a safety prospect that would seem to fit Philly quite well. He's coming off a strong junior campaign where he recorded 110 tackles, including six for a loss. He's built more like a corner, but Allen is physical and plays with edge. He recorded his first career interception last week against Georgia Southern, so you'd like to see more production there. With that said, the Eagles could use a developmental safety to learn under Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. While he's learning, Allen could be a special teams maven with his speed and physical nature.

►Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa, senior (5-11/195)
Wadley isn't the biggest back, but boy is he fun to watch. He's coming off  a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season. He also snagged 36 passes in 2016. Wadley is an ankle breaker. Some of the cuts he makes are LeSean McCoy-esque. He's been slowed by an ankle injury, but is expected to play today. And the Hawkeyes will need him against the Nittany Lions.

No. 7 Washington at Colorado, 10 p.m. (FS1)

►Azeem Victor, LB, Washington, senior (6-3/231)

Even after losing a bunch of extremely talented players to the NFL (including two to the Eagles) the Huskies' defense is still force. Part of that is Victor. Before suffering a broken leg late season, Victor recorded 68 tackles in nine games. Even with the injury, Victor was named All Pac-12 first team. You have to love what head coach Chris Petersen is doing up at Washington. His players play a fast and physical brand of football. It's worth mentioning that Victor was suspended for the team's opener for violating team rules, but hasn't had any off-the-field issues.

►Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado, senior (5-8/190)
Another undersized back, Lindsay had a big junior season, rushing for 1,252 yards and 16 scores. He was also impressive as a receiver out of the backfield, with 53 receptions for 493 yards and a TD. He's off to another strong start, notching two games of 140-plus yards and finding pay dirt in all three games. He's more of a north-south runner for a smaller back, but if he finds daylight, he has the speed to run by defensive backs. Every once in awhile, he'll break off one of those Darren Sproles-like pinball runs as well.

NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump

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NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump

SOMERSET, N.J. - The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national anthem and that fans consider walking out in protest "when somebody disrespects our flag."

"Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players," the league commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a statement.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, tweeted: "We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports."

Trump, during a political rally in Alabama on Friday night, also blamed a drop in NFL ratings on the nation's interest in "yours truly" as well as what he contended was a decline in violence in the game.

Smith said the union won't shy away from "protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks."

Trump kept up his foray into the sports world on Saturday, when he responded to comments by Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who has made it clear that he's not interested in a traditional White House trip for the NBA champions

"Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!" Trump tweeted while spending the weekend at his golf club in New Jersey.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump was rescinding the invitation for Curry or the entire team.

Several athletes, including a handful of NFL players, have refused to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest of the treatment of blacks by police. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend last year when he played for the San Francisco 49ers, hasn't been signed by an NFL team for this season.

Trump, who once owned the New Jersey Generals of the U.S. Football League, said those players are disrespecting the American flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

"That's a total disrespect of our heritage. That's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for," Trump said, encouraging owners to act.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired," Trump said to loud applause.

Trump also predicted that any owner who followed the presidential encouragement would become "the most popular person in this country" -- at least for a week.

The players' union said in a statement that "no man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights. No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety."

The NFLPA said "the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just 'shut up and play.'"

On the issue of violence on the field, Trump said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it's "not the same game."

Over the past several seasons, the NFL and college football have increased penalties and enforcement for illegal hits to the head and for hitting defenseless players. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the "old days" -- claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn't protect their heads when pushing them into squad cars.

It's also not the first time he's raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that Kaepernick hadn't been signed.

Television ratings for the NFL have been slipping since the beginning of the 2016 season. The league and observers have blamed a combination of factors, including competing coverage of last year's presidential election, more viewers dropping cable television, fans' discomfort with the reports of head trauma and the anthem protests.

Ratings have been down even more in the early 2017 season, though broadcasters and the league have blamed the hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas. Still, the NFL remains by far the most popular televised sport in the United States.

Trump said the anthem protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned.

"You know what's hurting the game?" he asked. "When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they're playing our great national anthem," he said.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

"I guarantee things will stop," he said.