Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles Mailbag: Alshon Jeffery, running backs, offensive struggles

Eagles Mailbag: Alshon Jeffery, running backs, offensive struggles

We're less than a month away from the start of free agency — March 9 at 4 p.m. So we're really getting closer to the time of year where things get really interesting. 

From there, we're right into the draft and then after that, spring workouts won't be far behind. 

What offseason? 

Once again, we asked for your questions and you came through. Let's hop into this edition of the mailbag:

I'm not exactly sure if you're looking for a percentage, but I think there's a small chance. Now, Jeffery is going to be expensive and I understand why some folks are terrified about that PED suspension after what happened with Lane Johnson last year. 

But despite that, Jeffery is going to get paid. He's pretty darn good and a change of scenery could do wonders for his career. The price might force the Eagles out of the bidding, but I'd expect them to at least be in the running. 

Jeffery will turn 27 on Tuesday and the 6-foot-3, 218-pounder has been productive during his career. He actually uses that frame the way he's supposed to, unlike Dorial Green-Beckham. In Jeffery's two 16-game seasons (2013 and 2014), he caught 174 passes for 2,554 yards and 17 touchdowns. If he had done that in the last two years, his price tag would be even higher. 

In the last two years, he played nine games in 2015 and 12 in 2016 and hasn't eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier in either. But we all know he's more than capable and he would be a great weapon for Carson Wentz. 

So how likely is it? Well, there's probably not a great chance because of the price tag that will be attached to him. A cheaper, mid-tier option seems more feasible, but don't completely rule the Eagles out. 

I tend to think the Eagles will try to find a running back in the draft, but that doesn't necessarily mean Dalvin Cook at No. 14 or 15. (Sorry!) The thing with running backs is it's a position in which teams can find guys, draft them, and save money by using young players instead of veterans. 

Signing a veteran running back to an expensive contract just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. 

With that said, I'm not sure how much the Eagles actually value the running back position when it comes to the draft. Last year, Howie Roseman made it a point to praise Ezekiel Elliott and talk about how he would be a possibility with their first pick (that was before they moved up again), but this offseason he admitted everything he said last year was nonsense. That rings true with my belief that his comments on a first-round running back were nonsense. 

OK, here's an option. This year there are clearly two top guys in Leonard Fournette and Cook. They're likely both going to be first-rounders. After that, there are a few guys in the second tier. Christian McCaffrey, D'Onta Foreman, Curtis Samuel, Kareem Hunt and even Jamaal Williams or local product Corey Clement. 

Samuel is certainly in that group and the last Ohio State running back to come out has done alright. But Samuel isn't really a running back and he isn't really a receiver. He does both. Do you have faith that the Eagles' coaching staff will be able to get the most out of a player like this?

This year is a lot like what we saw in the draft last year. Wendell Smallwood was among a group of running backs that came off the board around the same time. He went three picks after Jordan Howard went to the Bears. Howard became a Pro Bowler as a rookie. 

The Eagles have always claimed Smallwood was the guy they wanted, but it's fair to wonder if that's the truth. This year, it's up to the Eagles to pinpoint their mid-round guy and try to get him. It's not always easy when trying to draft for value too. 

Interesting question. Sort of a chicken or the egg thing in my view. The receivers were horrible. There's really no debating that. 

But you're right. At times the play-calling was questionable, especially the lack of downfield attack. But if the receivers were better, perhaps Doug Pederson would have dialed up more plays to go downfield. 

The only reason I question that, is Green-Beckham. Now, obviously, he didn't have a full offseason with the team, so he was playing catch-up. But in his rookie season with the Titans, he averaged over 17 yards per reception. That was down to under 11 with the Eagles. 

So probably a bit of both. 

I'm not going to blame Wentz, though. While he certainly had his bad moments in 2016, at times he had to overcome bad receiver play and questionable play-calling. 

There's a Chance a change could be coming for Eagles at left guard

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AP Images

There's a Chance a change could be coming for Eagles at left guard

On Monday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said he didn't want to "push any panic buttons" because of his offensive line. 

Turns out, he might be ready to. 

During the portion of Wednesday's practice that is open to reporters, Chance Warmack took first-team left guard reps between Jason Peters and Jason Kelce during individual drills. Isaac Seumalo was no longer working with the first team. It could possibly be a sign of things to come. 

The team portion of practice is closed to media members. 

Seumalo, the second-year offensive lineman out of Oregon State, had a terrible game against the Chiefs on Sunday. He gave up four of the six sacks the Eagles allowed and three of them went to defensive end Chris Jones, who was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. 

Seumalo, 23, admitted after the 27-20 loss Sunday that he needed to play better (see story). Meanwhile, Pederson pointed out some of Seumalo's issues — dropping his head, late hands, getting off the ball late — but said they were correctable. 

"So we'll evaluate the whole thing," Pederson continued Wednesday after saying he didn't want to push panic buttons. "It's not — again, it's not just one guy. If you're going to point the finger too, you can point it at me; I'm part of the pie, too. We'll evaluate it and we'll keep evaluating it."

Seumalo was handed the starting left guard job at the start of this training camp. The team decided that and was set to release veteran, and previous starter, Allen Barbre until they were able to get a conditional seventh-round pick for him. Looking back, they might have made that move too hastily. 

For the first two games of the season, Warmack has been inactive. It's the first time in his NFL career that he's been healthy and hasn't played. The former 10th overall pick joined the Eagles this offseason on a one-year deal but has since signed an extension to keep him under contract through the 2018 season. Warmack, after the first game of the season, said he was trying not to read into anything (see story)

In Philadelphia, Warmack has been reunited with his college position coach Jeff Stoutland. That was a big part of the reason he decided to join the Eagles. 

In addition to Warmack, the Eagles also have veteran Stefen Wisniewski available to play guard. 

Eagles Injury Update: 3 more defensive backs miss practice

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Eagles Injury Update: 3 more defensive backs miss practice

The Eagles are pretty light at defensive back Wednesday.

Rodney McLeod and Jaylen Watkins, who both suffered hamstring injuries during Sunday's 27-20 loss to Kansas City, didn't practice Wednesday. 

"Right now, day to day," Pederson said. "Keep evaluating, keep monitoring both of those guys."

Defensive back Corey Graham also didn't practice Wednesday with a hamstring injury of his own. He was on the field wearing a baseball cap, chatting with McLeod, Watkins and Sidney Jones.

The Eagles are down to just six healthy defensive backs without McLeod, Watkins, Graham and Ronald Darby, who is out for at least another few weeks with a dislocated ankle. 

Despite the numbers in the secondary, the Eagles still haven't filled the empty spot on their roster. The Eagles have had the 53rd spot empty since they placed Donnel Pumphrey on IR with a torn hamstring Friday.

Pederson said the Eagles are going to "keep [their] eyes open" but haven't made a decision on how to fill the empty roster spot yet. They have just one defensive back on their practice squad. They signed former Chiefs corner De'Vante Bausby last week.

The Eagles tried to sign safety DeAndre Houston-Carson off the Bears' practice squad, according to Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune, but the Bears were able to keep him by promoting him to their active roster.

The Eagles were so light at safety in Sunday's game that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz admitted the team started to prepare linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill to go into the game. On Wednesday, the Eagles had just two healthy safeties: Malcolm Jenkins and the seldom-used Chris Maragos. 

DT Destiny Vaeao (wrist) also missed Wednesday's practice. He missed the game on Sunday.