In Philly, Talk is Cheap

During an interview with the team's resident yes-man, Dave Spadaro, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman did an awesome Bill Russell impression — and not in a good way — when he said, discussing the team's wide receiver woes, "We need better play from that position" (Russell, covering a Celtics game for CBS in which Boston was behind by 15 points or thereabouts at halftime, when asked by fellow commentator Dick Stockton what the team needed to do to get back in the game, responded, "they just have to play better").

Well, in the first 10 days of free agency, the Eagles made several moves designed to improve a defense that posted mostly respectable numbers in 2019 — 15th in points allowed, 10th in total yards allowed, third against the run, 19th against the pass.

Yet not one move to improve a wide receiving corps that was not only far and away the worst in the NFL in 2019, but one of the worst in the NFL in the chuck-rule era.

True, signing Amari Cooper would have been way above Roseman's pay grade in these matters (Cooper could have really made it rain if that was style from the five-year, $100 million deal he inked to remain with the Cowboys), but signing Robby Anderson (which the Panthers did, for $20 million over two years) or Breshad Perriman (who the Jets agreed to a one-year deal worth $8 million after Anderson flew their coop) would not have blown the Eagle salary cap (which had $40 million worth of space when the league year began March 18) sky-high.

But would signing Tavon Austin, Taylor Gabriel, Chester Rogers, Ted Ginn, Jr., Demaryius Thomas, or Jaron Brown — in every case for the veteran minimum or very close to it (and all are still available at this writing) — have been too much to ask? All of them have the speed to make defenses think twice about blitzing Carson Wentz, who has not had an injury-free season since his junior year at North Dakota State.

None of the aforementioned players, of course, could moonlight as NBA power forwards — which is probably why neither Roseman nor Doug Pederson has expressed the slightest interest in any of them.

And perhaps Roseman has forgotten that Jordan Howard now wears a Dolphin uniform, courtesy of free agency. Maybe if he hadn't forgotten he would have, by now, signed Carlos Hyde for relative peanuts, or Alfred Blue for the veteran minimum? The fewer injury-risking quarterback sneaks Wentz needs to make, the better.

Even some of Roseman's moves on defense are at best questionable: The trade that brought Darius Slay on board was hard to fault, and safety Will Parks started seven games for the Broncos last year — but signing a 5-foot-8, 180-pound cornerback with 4.53 "speed" (Nickell Robey-Coleman) who started just three games last year for the Rams was hardly worth the effort, even if it was only for one year. And signing a 5-foot-11 linebacker (Jatavis Brown) and holding onto the awful Jalen Mills (albeit moving him to safety), were totally inexcusable (at least they did let Ronald Darby depart — which he did, for NFC East rival Washington) — and paying $39 million over three years (with $26 million guaranteed) for a 3-4 nose tackle (Javon Hargrave) when Jim Schwartz uses a base 4-3?

This of course has been the curse of the Eagles for decades: being big and slow where they would be better off if they were small and fast (as at wide receiver) while being small and fast (and sometimes small and not even fast) where they would be better off if they were big and slow (as at running back and along the defensive front).

Oh, but there is always the draft, you say. But the draft has never been Roseman's forte, where he has produced more busts than one would see on a typical Saturday night at Hooters. Indeed, Roseman has never aced a draft in his life.

Ideally, Roseman will take Penn State wide receiver K.J. Hamler (an ex-teammate and close friend of Eagles RB Miles Sanders, and who patterns his game on another current Eagle, the oft-injured WR DeSean Jackson, who Hamler has stated he would like to mentor him), who has reportedly run a 4.22 (he did not run at the combine) at #53 in the second round — for as Diane Keaton famously said to Al Pacino in "Godfather 2," there would be no way, Michael, no way will Henry Ruggs III still be on the board when the Eagles pick in the first round, at #21. But since this would constitute a "reach" because Hamler is projected (by who?) to be more like an early third-rounder, Roseman would be doing something "unethical" by not letting some bad team take Hamler with an early third-round pick.

No NFC East champion has repeated since 2004, the last of the four years in a row that the Eagles won the division.

That's 15 consecutive years that an NFC East winner hasn't repeated.

Barring a massive form reversal in the draft, you can pretty much pencil in #16 in 2020.

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