Remember when the Eagles assembled the greatest cornerback trio in the NFL with Asante Samuel, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, and Nnamdi Asomugha? A straight-up trade of Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Roy Lewis for those three Eagles would be a joke at this point. Samuel and Asomugha are both 30. All three cost a small fortune. Browner now checks in with 16 passes defensed on the year. Only one player in the NFL, Brandon Flowers, has more on the year. Browner now has four interceptions, only three corners (Kyle Arrington, Charles Woodson, and Carlos Rogers) have more. Samuel and Asomugha have five interceptions, combined. Sherman checks in with a 21st-ranked 10 passes defensed and has two picks in 6.5 games.
DeSean Jackson is surely a keeper. Or not. Doug Baldwin is younger, cheaper, more reliable and produces explosive plays at a similar clip. Jackson had an insane 2010 with a 22.5 yards per catch average, which helps his career average up to 17.8 YPC. He is pouting his way to a 16.2 average this season. Baldwin checks in at 16.4 YPC this season with a crippled quarterback and an offense that is still trying to find itself. People may look back in four years and be surprised to see which of these two receivers becomes more valuable.
Given the choice of Eagles or the Seahawks quarterback situation, I would take the Seahawks every time. Michael Vick is clearly the most talented player, but he’s locked into a massive contract and has yet to prove he can stay healthy or raise his passing game to the level of precision needed to win a Super Bowl. Jackson remains a decent starter, and will not block the Seahawks from drafting a player who can eventually be a champion. Eagles fans are stuck with Vick for the next 4-5 years. Good luck with that.
McCoy may be the best running back in football. Even he was vastly outplayed tonight. He turned in a nice game, but Marshawn Lynch was special. Lynch is averaging 118 rushing yards/game with a total of 591 rushing yards in the last five games after averaging 44 yards/game and totaling 263 in his first SIX games. He’s nearly tripled his production. Tons of credit goes to Tom Cable and Pat Ruel for making this running game take shape, but Lynch has been fantastic. Lynch has quietly pulled within 20 yards of Adrian Peterson and 50 yards of Frank Gore. He is 8th in the NFL in rushing yards. If he maintains his 118 yards/game pace the last four games of the year, he will end up with 1,327 yards rushing and merit Pro Bowl consideration. He is also tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns with 8. Everyone is rushing to re-sign Lynch after this year. That needs careful consideration given the history of free agent running backs in this league. Five weeks ago, it merited no consideration.
Seattle’s defense played an okay game. The four turnovers were great. The big holes in the line and the lack of contain on change of direction runs by the linebackers and safeties were not. This defense prides itself on stopping the run, and it is not doing that right now. It hasn’t done it outside of the Rams game since Week 7 at Cleveland. Teams are getting their yards on the ground, even if some teams like Baltimore chose to eschew the run for the pass. The health of David Hawthorne is playing a role. How big is hard to tell. Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas have been playing more off the line than earlier in the year. It’s hard to remember the last time one of Chancellor’s big collisions came against a running back in the hole than against a wide receiver 30 yards down-field. That was flipped the first few weeks of the year. The Eagles attempted to implement some of the Redskins gameplan with a few delayed middle screens to the tight end and to McCoy. The Seahawks handled the middle screens much better than they did on Sunday, but still struggles with the wide screens. This defense is relying more now on stellar secondary play than the stout run defense fans have come to expect. Even with the identity crisis, the Eagles very easily could have left this game with seven points as their first touchdown was gifted on a broken play.
The pressure on the quarterback was far better last night. Gus Bradley called some nice blitzes, including the safety blitz with Earl Thomas that directly led to the first of Browner’s interception. K.J. Wright had a nice game with a sack and a couple tackles for loss. Both Wright and Thomas were at their best making open-field tackles.
News came out late that Russell Okung may have a serious pec injury. Brace yourselves for that, but don’t let it taint what continues to be an encouraging growth season for a team on the rise. Wouldn’t it suck to be an Eagles fan?