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.

NFL Notes: Ravens OL John Urschel, 26, retires after 3 seasons

usa-john-urschel.jpg
USA Today Images

NFL Notes: Ravens OL John Urschel, 26, retires after 3 seasons

OWINGS MILLS, Md.  -- Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel has retired from the NFL after just three seasons.

Urschel, a former fifth round pick from Penn State in 2014, received notoriety for pursuing his doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the offseason. He started 13 games over the past three seasons and was expected to compete for a starting role at center or guard. Instead, he will pursue other interests outside of football.

"This morning, John Urschel informed me of his decision to retire from football," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in a statement Thursday. "We respect John and respect his decision. We appreciate his efforts over the past three years and wish him all the best in his future endeavors."

Broncos: RB Devontae Booker expected to miss 6 weeks with wrist injury
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Broncos coach Vance Joseph's first training camp got off to a rough start with word that Devontae Booker will undergo wrist surgery Friday and is expected to miss six weeks.

Booker was pushing to unseat C.J. Anderson as Denver's starting running back. He suffered a hairline fracture during organized team activities in June, marring a solid spring for the second-year pro as he bounced back from a rough rookie season that followed two knee surgeries.

The Broncos had been planning to split first-team snaps at training camp between Booker and Anderson, who is returning from a torn meniscus that sidelined him over the last half of last season.

If Booker's recovery goes well, he will be back in time for the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 11 (see full story).

Vinny Curry healthy, feeling like himself at start of training camp

Vinny Curry healthy, feeling like himself at start of training camp

After signing a huge contract extension last February, the 2016 season was a major disappointment for Vinny Curry. 

Curry finished the year with just 2½ sacks and played just 43 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps. That wasn't good enough production for a player who just signed a $46.25 million extension. 

On Wednesday, as Eagles veterans reported for training camp, Curry said he fought through injuries during the entire 2016 season. Curry sprained his MCL in the third preseason game and said the injury lingered, although he wasn't listed on the Eagles' injury report past the first few weeks of the season. Curry also claimed he dealt with a lingering hamstring injury. 

"It was just a snowball effect of different type of things," he said. "I couldn't do what I do at 100 percent. You could see a flash of it, but then I couldn't finish it. There was something just missing there. I fought through it, showed guts. This year, though, I'm feeling good, feeling healthy, feeling relaxed, feeling like myself."

Curry, 29, said he's now 100 percent healthy and expects to be the type of player the Eagles thought they were getting when they gave him a big contract extension last winter. 

After the Eagles handed out a huge contract to Curry, fans expected the type of production that saw him pick up nine sacks in a limited role in 2014. Instead, they got a part-time player who finished with the second-lowest sack total of his career. There was a lot of criticism coming Curry's way in 2016. 

"I was able to block it out," he said. "We've got a great PR team. But at the end of the day, we all know that I wasn't 100 percent, so it wasn't like I was hanging my head low. It is what it is. That's just sports. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody wants to be a GM or a reporter, or everybody wants to get ahead of the next person to report something. I could not play now and just start talking trash about you and it's not going to ruin your day. You're just going to be like 'Oh, what's Vinny's problem?'"

Last season, the Eagles tried to let Curry start at left defensive end, but eventually Brandon Graham beat him out for the job during camp. During this spring, Curry took over Connor Barwin's old spot as the right defensive end. That's the way Graham sees things staying: Graham on the left, Curry on the right. (The Eagles also have Derek Barnett and Chris Long fighting for time.) 

"I think it's set in stone," Graham said. "I like the left side. Vinny playing on the right. I think sometimes you just want to switch, sometimes it's good to give people a different look. But I think it's pretty set."

The sides defensive ends play, especially in the NFC East, is extremely important. The right defensive end will constantly go up against left tackles, normally a spot that has the best player to protect the quarterback's blind side. In the NFC East, that means going against Washington's Trent Williams for two games and Dallas' Tyron Smith for two more. That means a quarter of the schedule is against one of the best left tackles in football. 

Is Curry up for it? 

"I think he'll be fine," Graham said. "It's all about, like anything, when I had to move to the right side, and play the left tackles, you get used to that side as you take reps and then you get that signature move that you like. And then you have to study your guy and know what he's been getting beaten off of and incorporate that for that week. I think with Vinny and the coaching that we have in that room, he should be really good in Year 2 of this system."

Does Curry have something to prove this year? 

"Just have to get back to being me," he said. "That's it."