Trust the Process? It’s now time to Watch the Eagles Progress!

Brad Weaver

Beers and Birds

We’re approaching a very interesting time in Philadelphia sports, especially for a 4-for-4 fan.  Make that 3-for-4, let’s mention the elephant the room.  Barring some major development from their minor league system and a bit (and by a bit, I mean a shitload) of luck, the Phillies appear to be stuck in the doldrums for the time being.  The Flyers, despite missing the playoffs, were fortunate enough to move up in the lottery from 13th to 2nd in a 2 person draft.  Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier will soon be wearing black and orange, and along with Ghost and Provorov, should lead the Flyers back to the playoffs.  In acquiring the 1st pick in the 2017 draft, the Sixers now have an uber talented core with a solid bench, and barring injuries, the future has championship contention upside (thanks Hinkie).  Likewise, Howie Roseman’s masterful maneuvering from 13 to 8 (by trading Maxwell and Alonso to the Dolphins) and taking a net of a second and a third (with the Sam Bradford trade making up for the other lost 1st round pick) in acquiring Carson Wentz have set put themselves in position for the most interesting time in Eagles football since the McNabb peak years in ’99-’04.

When talking about the Eagles, the playoff and Super Bowl aspirations the team has can be tied directly to Wentz.  We witnessed the ebb and flow of a rookie quarterback last season.  Someone who couldn’t be stopped and didn’t throw an interception over the first three weeks is the same player that produced inconsistently throughout the remainder of the season.  There’s not any earth shattering information here, his production is to be as expected for a rookie QB in the NFL.  Waiting to see what he can become is the frustrating point, as we may not see a finished product for a few years.  Carson has more weapons offensively, and the natural inclination is to extrapolate after this season on what the future holds.  Let’s reflect on some of the memorable 2nd year’s QB stats, and see how it projected their career.

Dante CulpepperSeason Stats: 11-5 record (1-1 postseason), lost NFC Championship, 297-of-474 (62.7 percent) for 3,937 yards, 33 TD, 16 INT, 98.0 passer rating, 470 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns.

Great season, but after losing Randy Moss and sustaining a knee injury, Culpepper was never the same.

Season Score 8/10, how it predicted his career 2/10.

Tom BradySeason Stats: 11-3 as a starter (3-0 postseason), won Super Bowl XXXVI, 264-of-413 (63.9 percent) for 2,843 yards, 18 TD, 12 INT, 86.5 passer rating.

9/10 season, 10/10 predictor.  Hard to argue he’s not the GOAT.

Colin Kaepernick – Season Stats: 5-2 as a starter (2-1 postseason), lost Super Bowl XLVII, 136-of-218 (62.4 percent) for 1,814 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT, 98.3 passer rating,, 415 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns.

Fantastic season supported by a great defense.  Accuracy issues plagued him moving forward.

8.5/10 season, 3/10 for his career.

Ben RoethlisbergerSeason Stats: 9-3 record (4-0 postseason), won Super Bowl XL, 168-of-268 (62.7 percent) for 2,385 yards, 17 TD, 9 INT, 98.6 passer rating.

Another great year for a 2nd year QB, and barring Brady, may be the toughest to face in the playoffs.

9/10 season, 10/10 career.

What conclusion can you draw from this?  Not very much.  Even if Wentz were to have a promising year, it’s still too early to project how good (or bad) his career will be.  It could be as good as a Super Bowl winner, or as poor as someone searching for a job in the middle of his playable years.  We can hope that the improved weapons along with a full training camp as a starter can lead to a step forward in his career progression, but its impact on Wentz’s career will take a few years to shape itself.

 

 

 

 

Seattle Seahawks-Rebound or Rebuild?

Author: Scoop Dougherty
NFC Correspondent

While not as dominant as they were during their back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 2014 and 2015, the Seattle Seahawks remain the team to beat in the NFC West.

Offensively, Russell Wilson remains the unquestioned leader of the team and the one whose arm and legs will play a critical role in any success the team will have in 2017. However, 2016 was an uneven year for him. While he had his best yardage year ever (4219 yards), he had a near career low 21 TD passes. Much of this could be attributed to multiple ankle injuries which severely impacted his usually dynamic mobility. Other factors were the handicap of working behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and a knee injury to Ty Lockett, the team’s best deep threat.

There is barely anywhere to go but up for the Seattle running game. With no more Beast Mode (Marshawn Lynch) and the aforementioned woeful offensive line, the Seahawks finished 25th (out of 32) in league rushing with a meager 99.4 yards per game.

With all of that in mind, Seattle signed Eddie Lacy as a free agent from Green Bay. Lacy is a physical bruiser who underachieved in GB and has ongoing problems with his weight. However, if he can replicate the success of Lynch (who didn’t sparkle prior to his Seattle tenure), the Seahawk ground game may rebound. Backing up Lacy will be Thomas Rawls who, with a contrasting running style to Lacy, can contribute if he can avoid the injury bug which has plagued him in his first two seasons in the league.

Seattle’s receiving corps is a strength of the team. Doug Baldwin firmly established himself as one of the best receivers in the league last year with his 94 catch, 1128 yard season. Baldwin, a superb route runner, will be joined by Jimmy Graham, who has regained his aura as one of the league’s top tight ends. Graham seems fully recovered from a serious knee injury and pulled in 65 receptions in 2016.

While the defense is not as stellar as it was during the Super Bowl years, it still suffices as the foundation of the team. Earl Thomas returns from a broken leg and will join Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman to form the core of, arguably, the best secondary in the NFL. Sherman remains a lockdown corner that he has always been since entering the league from Stanford, but his inability to control his emotions led the team to consider trading him in the offseason. He will have to regain their trust.

Elsewhere on defense, the linebacking corps is solid being led by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Wagner led the NFL in tackles last season with a career-best 167 and is in his prime. Wright also had a career-best 126 tackles and is being counted on to be as productive this year.

The defensive line is more than adequately manned, in part, by Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Bennett is generally considered to be one of the league’s most dominant offensive lineman while Avril, usually getting less ink than his more publicized teammates, has a first step that is one of the best in the league.

So, summing up, expect the Seahawks to have a similar record to last year (10-5-1), win the NFC West, and secure a playoff berth. The key to that expected level of success will remain the performance of the offensive line in protecting Wilson and opening holes for Lacy and Rawls.

Next up: Preview of Arizona Cardinals