Four Things the Eagles Can Figure Out Down the Meaningless Home Stretch

Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Barring a miraculous Philly comeback and simultaneous Cowboy collapse, the Eagles’ playoff hopes are pretty much shot.

The Birds will likely fall to 6-8 this coming weekend as the Rams return home to make up for a crappy and somewhat shocking loss in Chicago. That means the Texans and Redskins games will be utterly meaningless outside of a few things I think the Eagles can try to figure out as we head into next season:

1) Is Rasul Douglas a safety?

Rasul had a hell of a game yesterday. Nine tackles, one for a loss, and an interception at the goal line all played a role of keeping the Eagles in the game when the offense was really struggling.

Douglas is a ball hawk with good instincts. He’s a solid tackler. He’s not great in coverage, though he did make a nice play on the game’s final sequence when he got a hand on the pass intended for Amari Cooper, only for the ball to pop up in the air anyway.

Rasul looks like a safety. He’s got the size to do it and he comes from a college system that played five defensive backs in numerous zone and drop-eight schemes, so there should be some familiarity there. He himself said he’s played the position before, and at 6’2″ and 209 pounds, he’s built more like a strong safety and less like an NFL corner.

This I think was his best tackle in the Dallas game:

Yeah, they play soft on third and long, but that’s a nice job of filling the gap, skirting the lineman, and squaring up for the tackle. Dallas had blockers out there on that play.

I could see Douglas being the third safety next year behind Malcolm Jenkins and/or Rodney McLeod, depending on the latter’s health. I’m not sure if Rasul has the lateral quickness to play in single-high sets as a free man, but he seems to break well on the ball.

2) Can Josh Adams carry the load?

You have to spend the last three weeks finding out what you have in Adams.

I personally don’t see him as a #1 guy on an NFL team, but if you wanna roll with some kind of 1-2 punch next season and flesh out offensive snaps with a third down back who can pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield, then maybe he has a future here.

Think Chris Johnson and LenDale White on the 2008 Titans. “Smash and dash,” right? That was a thunder and lightning type of combo, with a bigger downhill guy blasting his way into the end zone while the smaller and shiftier guy did the majority of the work between the twenties.

Also, for the love of God, can the Eagles stop running outside zone and sweep plays with Adams? He is clearly at his best when running between the tackles from under center formations. No, you can’t do that on every hand off, or else you’re just telegraphing the offense, but enough with the slow-developing sideways designs. It looks like Chip Kelly trying to get DeMarco Murray involved in the offense.

No more of this:

He’s a downhill guy. Let him run downhill.

3) Get Jordan Mailata some reps

I know Jason Peters wants to go out on top, but for the sake of the franchise, you have to move on and see what you’ve got in Jordan Mailata. Peters has nothing left to give this franchise (he gave us everything) and Mailata needs meaningful in-game snaps, or else we’re just sitting here all summer wondering whether he has the chops to play in the NFL or not.

Howie Roseman got it wrong by bringing back Peters for one more season, and if he’s gone next year, you’re looking at Big V as your starting left tackle unless you want to go LT in the draft. The Eagles will pick somewhere in the middle of the first round, so Alabama’s Jonah Williams will be off the board but you might be able to snag Greg Little or Yodny Cajuste if those guys slide. Do you go tackle in round one without getting Mailata a game or two of real NFL action?

I’d also give Matt Pryor a start. Get these dudes some reps in week 16 and week 17 if the season is over, because you’re trying to find out what you’ve got right now instead of kicking the can down the road.

4) Use them or don’t: Golden Tate and Shelton Gibson

You have to decide if Golden worth keeping around next season. Get him targets. Run different sets where you interchange him and Nelson Agholor. If it doesn’t mesh, the guy walks and you wasted a third round draft pick on nothing.

Tate only played 20 snaps on Sunday afternoon:

They only mustered 52 total snaps because of the lopsided time of possession number. And then they played a large majority of those snaps in 12 personnel (two tight ends), leaving Tate and Jordan Matthews on the outside and looking in.

Speaking of Matthews, he’s an unrestricted free agent after this season. Agholor is owed $9 million next year before he becomes a UFA and Alshon Jeffery’s cap hit sky rockets by ten million dollars. There is very little wiggle room with the receiving corps to begin with.

As for Gibson, you didn’t have a deep threat on the squad this entire season. Mike Wallace went down in week two. Matthews and Jeffery aren’t exactly burners. Gibson played mostly on special teams this year while getting limited work on the outside. If you don’t believe in the guy, you move on, but he has three whole targets this entire year, which doesn’t seem like much of a sample size for assessment after a solid preseason.

The cap looks super tight for next year, but that’s another story for another time.

Right now the Eagles are so banged up that it’s really hard to find fringe guys to play and evaluate down the stretch, since most of them are already on the field. These are at least a few minor questions you can try to answer before you head into a draft that looks a lot more important than it did a few months ago.

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6 Responses

    1. Why not? They have Michael Bennett on the team,who for some reason was never suspended despite being under indictment for beating an elderly woman.

      It’ll be like when McCoy and Vick and their Herpes were on the team

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