Measuring '09 Predictions from Eagles Offseason Against Results

Measuring '09 Predictions from Eagles Offseason Against Results

Although it always manages to arrive much too soon, the offseason can be a fun time for fantasy general managers. We like to suggest what players the team should sign and draft, and occasionally offer some whimsical trade proposals.

And of course, we like to prognosticate about the real guy's decisions too. The Eagles had one of the more wild offseasons on record in 2009, leading to an abundance of second-guessing, as well as plenty of intrigue. Looking back on the events from last spring and summer, how well did our expectations match the final product?

The Draft

Prediction: Rookies usually don't get much playing time here; Jeremy Maclin won't, but LeSean McCoy will.

 It's probably fair to say the draft turned out better than initially hoped. After a holdout that lasted a week into training camp, it was thought Jeremy Maclin couldn't have much of an impact this season, especially early on. Wrong. Maclin burst onto the scene in Week 5 with 142 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Moving forward, he had at least 40 yards in nine of the remaining 12 games, plus 146 yards and a TD in the Wild Card loss. Not bad at all for a rookie.

McCoy's contribution was also a bit of a surprise. We knew he would have to be a factor in the offense somehow, but he exceeded most expectations with 945 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. With Westbrook in and out of the lineup for most of the season, McCoy's role increased and he answered the challenge. We are very confident knowing he is the running back of the future.

The rest of the draft was a wash. The only other player who was supposed to make an impact was Cornelius Ingram, but apparently his knee is a mess. Macho Harris was awful down the stretch, but nobody suspected he would play such a key part in the defense. Moises Fokou took some terrible penalties, but there were some positives to take away from this season.

Result: The bulk of the grade falls on the performance of the top selections, and Maclin and McCoy out-performed expectations.

Offensive Line

Prediction: Revamped O-line will be better than ever.

Beginning with the major offseason addition, Jason Peters was definitely inconsistent. He took way too many penalties, and while he's no revolving door, he needs to be more of a constant while protecting the quarterback's blind side. Let's talk about the good though. Even if Tra Thomas secretly had a better season in Jacksonville, which we don't know one way or the other, it's completely irrelevant. He couldn't be the left tackle here forever. Peters is an amazing talent. The idea that they were going to wait and be able to find somebody better is far fetched, and now they are settled at left tackle for a long time to come.

After we got over our Winston Justified initial fears, this was a change that worked out much better than ever could have been hoped. While Shawn Andrews did whatever it is he was busy doing, Justice blossomed into a decent right tackle. Meanwhile, Jon Runyan finally got some play in San Diego toward the end of the season, but the Eagles somehow successfully replaced both of their offensive tackles in the same offseason.

The Stacy Andrews signing went quite a bit less swimmingly. His knee was a concern when they signed him, and we all know how that story ended. Before we go ahead and label this a complete bust though, he deserves the benefit of the doubt for one more year. Knee injuries are difficult for any athlete to come back from, especially linemen. All the pushing and driving those players do begins at their base. If the knee isn't strong enough, that lessens the force the upper body can distribute. You should be rooting for his return to form, because Jamaal Jackson will have the same issues, and it just so happens Stacy can also play center.

Result: Not without its issues, but injuries plagued them all season. The jury is still out on the unit as a whole.

Stewart Bradley

Prediction: Huge loss, but they have good reserves and strong interior defensive linemen.

The assumption the Eagles would be fine without Bradley was based on two ideas that both proved false. First we imagined Joe Mays to be far better than he actually is. In retrospect, he's not a starting caliber linebacker in the NFL, not at all. What can I really say? Occasionally you fall in love with a player who it turns out isn't very good.

No big deal, because we still have Omar Gaither. Well then Gaither went and had a season ending injury of his own, and suddenly there isn't a single quality linebacker on the roster who also has the distinction of being experienced in the middle. There really wasn't any way to predict that would happen.

There wasn't an injury that had a bigger negative impact on the Eagles season. While Sean McDermott desperately plugged one body after another in that spot, the play never improved. Patterson and Bunkley looked a lot more ordinary without a decent player behind them to clean up their handiwork, and Gocong's production fell off as offenses paid less attention to one particular linebacker. The defense never got right without him.

Result: It was a total failure. Stewart Bradley was the loss this team never overcame.

Brian Dawkins

Prediction: His departure graded anywhere from "Won't be a problem," to "Everything will fall apart."

If I had my way, Dawkins would have been back this season. I still won't blame the organization for letting him walk, but that's for another discussion. The fact of the matter is, there was a steep drop off in the quality of play at the safety position, and that's not even limited to his replacements. Quintin Mikell didn't have what anybody would call a good season either.

That being said, safety typically isn't an impact position. Dawkins proved it can be, but it's not a necessity. To say not having him in the secondary was a serious problem might be stretching it. Hey, they missed him in more ways than one, but was that the difference between winning or losing against Dallas? Not seeing it, not the way they were completely destroyed.

At least one person will question the leadership and point to his influence in the locker room. Nobody can deny that about Dawkins, but bring something to the table we can actually quantify. We have no way of knowing leadership was or was not a problem, and even if it were, how can you even begin to measure what, if any, effect that has.

Result: They would have been far better off with Dawkins, but how significant his loss was depends on where you stand.

Snap counts: Nelson Agholor plays whole game vs. Bengals

Snap counts: Nelson Agholor plays whole game vs. Bengals

CINCINNATI -- Just six days after being a healthy scratch against the Packers, Nelson Agholor didn't just play against the Bengals. He didn't just start either. 

He played all 80 snaps on Sunday afternoon in the 32-14 loss at Paul Brown Stadium. 

Agholor, 23, had an awful game in Seattle a couple weeks ago and then said he was in his own head as the pressure of the NFL was seemingly crushing him. So head coach Doug Pederson gave him a day off. 

On Sunday, Agholor tied a career-high with four catches that went for just 23 yards. 

With Jordan Matthews out with an ankle injury, undrafted rookie Paul Turner got significant playing time. Turner played a career-high 41 snaps (51 percent), while Bryce Treggs got just two snaps. With Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham playing most of the game, there wasn't much left for Treggs. 

Zach Ertz played 70 snaps and had nine catches on 15 targets. Trey Burton played 53 snaps, which was likely a result of not having Matthews. 

In the running back rotation, Darren Sproles led the way with 44 snaps, while Wendell Smallwood had 24 and Kenjon Barner had 13. Ryan Mathews missed his second straight game with an MCL sprain. 

On defense, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod played the entire game, which has been customary. 

In somewhat of a surprise, Leodis McKelvin led corners with 55 snaps (86 percent). Nolan Carroll had 51 and rookie Jalen Mills, who had been playing significant time, got just 23. 

The Eagles weren't in nickel all game, so Mychal Kendricks played 26 snaps, while Jaylen Watkins played 39. 

Here are full snap counts from Sunday afternoon: 

Offense
Brandon Brooks: 80 snaps (100 percent)
Allen Barbre: 80 (100)
Jason Kelce: 80 (100)
Stefen Wisniewski: 80 (100)
Jason Peters: 80 (100)
Carson Wentz: 80 (100)
Nelson Agholor: 80 (100)
Zach Ertz: 70 (88)
Trey Burton: 53 (66)
Dorial Green-Beckham: 50 (62)
Darren Sproles: 44 (55)
Paul Turner: 41 (51)
Wendell Smallwood: 24 (30)
Brent Celek: 19 (24)
Kenjon Barner: 13 (16)
Isaac Seumalo: 4 (5)
Bryce Treggs: 2 (2)

Defense
Malcolm Jenkins: 64 snaps (100 percent)
Rodney McLeod: 64 (100)
Jordan Hicks: 63 (98)
Nigel Bradham: 61 (95)
Leodis McKelvin: 55 (86)
Nolan Carroll: 51 (80)
Brandon Graham: 49 (77)
Fletcher Cox: 47 (73)
Connor Barwin: 42 (66)
Jaylen Watkins: 39 (61)
Bennie Logan: 37 (58)
Vinny Curry: 26 (41)
Mychal Kendricks: 26 (41)
Jalen Mills: 23 (36)
Beau Allen: 22 (34)
Marcus Smith: 18 (28)
Destiny Vaeao: 16 (25)
Stephen Tulloch: 1 (2)

Nelson Agholor takes step in right direction in return to action

Nelson Agholor takes step in right direction in return to action

CINCINNATI — Nelson Agholor took a step forward on Sunday afternoon.

It was a baby step, but it was still a step.

The Eagles’ first-round pick from a year ago started in Sunday’s 32-14 loss to the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium six days after being a healthy scratch — call it a mental health day — against the Packers.

Two weeks ago, Agholor, 23, had an awful day in Seattle, after which he admitted that he was in his own head. It appeared the pressure of being in the NFL had become overwhelming.

Head coach Doug Pederson elected to sit Agholor in the Packers game, but he didn’t have much of a choice on Sunday with Jordan Matthews’ ankle injury.

“I felt good competing again, just getting the chance to lace it up and go out there felt great,” Agholor said. “I had fun doing it and now I just have to build on it.”

It wasn’t a great day for Agholor, but it wasn’t an awful one either. He tied a career-high with four catches that went for just 23 yards. He was the Eagles’ sixth-leading receiver on a day when the offense struggled mightily.

But he caught the football, didn’t have a drop and didn’t have any major mental blunders. Yes, the bar is low.

“I thought it was a great time to get out there, got to touch the ball a bit, caught some passes, caught some contested ones,” Agholor said. “And now it's just about finding a way to take the next step for myself. Watch the game with a critical eye and continue to grow as a football player.”

Since the Eagles drafted Agholor with the 20th overall pick in 2015, he’s been a colossal disappointment. During Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the Bengals, Agholor quietly surpassed his receiving yards total from his rookie season. In 2016, he has 287 yards on 31 catches.

Perhaps that means there’s been improvement, but not really. The Eagles were counting on Agholor to become a viable option for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and that hasn’t happened. In fact, at times, Agholor has made a negative impact.

Undrafted rookie Paul Turner, in his second career game on Sunday, caught six passes for 80 yards, both surpassing career highs for Agholor, who has been a starter since he joined the Eagles.

“The most important thing for me is to focus on me right now,” Agholor said when asked if the Eagles are giving maximum effort. “And I want to give unmatched effort and have great focus in the classroom and let it translate to football games.”

Agholor said there wasn’t some grand announcement from Pederson telling him that he was going to be active for Sunday. More or less, that announcement was inferred thanks to Matthews' injury status and Agholor’s practice load during the week.

No, it wasn’t Pro Bowl stuff from Agholor on Sunday. Four catches for 23 yards isn’t going to ever be good enough. But he was at least able to take a baby step forward.

He wasn’t too nervous either.

“I was blessed, to be honest with you,” he said. “Put the shoulder pads on, the helmet on again. The lesson that I truly thought I learned from last week was something that I loved so much, I didn't have an opportunity to do. So now, I didn't care if I just ran go-routes every play and the ball didn't come my way. As long as I got to put my cleats on and play with my teammates and play the game that I've loved for so long, I was happy about it.”