Even the most optimistic Philadelphia Eagles fan couldn’t have predicted in August that the Eagles would go into Monday night’s game against NFC East rival Washington with a chance to essentially put the division away before November.
With a win, the Eagles would sweep their division series and take a three-game lead over Washington. They already enter the weekend with a four-game lead over the Giants and 2.5-game lead over the Cowboys and play the next three games at home.
It’s a good time to look back at the five best personnel moves made by Howie Roseman, the team’s vice president of football operations.
1. Traded for Raven tackle Tim Jernigan
This might be the best of Roseman’s offseason moves. He flipped places in the third round with Baltimore to acquire the fourth-year defensive tackle, and while that limited the team’s running back options in the draft, Jernigan has more than compensated. He’s been a key piece to the Eagles’ top-ranked run defense. He took Fletcher Cox’s role for two games on the top pass-rushing line when Cox sat with an injured calf. It’ll be tough to keep Jernigan, a free agent at the end of the season, but the draft trade was well worth the move.
2. Signed Pro Bowl wideout Alshon Jeffery
Although he hasn’t yet produced a breakout game – 92 yards against the Chiefs are his most this season – Jeffery has given second-year quarterback Carson Wentz an outside target he didn’t have last season. It’s also likely that Jeffery’s best days are ahead. It cost Roseman only $9.5 million for one season. Jeffery made one of the biggest catches of the year when his 17-yarder with just a few seconds on the clock against the Giants set up the game-winning field goal. The beauty of the one-year deal, and the Eagles winning games without relying heavily on Jeffery, is that it gives Roseman leverage at the negotiation table.
3. Acquired kicker Jake Elliott
Kickers aren’t given much thought, until they get injured and your team needs a replacement. Most teams prefer veteran “street free-agent” signings when seeking a kicker in-season. Roseman and personnel chief Joe Douglas gambled on signing Elliott off the Bengals’ practice squad after losing Calib Strugis in the opener to a hip injury.
Elliott, a fifth-round pick from Memphis, kicked the 61-yard game winner against the Giants. He’s 12-of-12 since missing an attempt earlier against the Giants, including makes of 53 and 50. Legendary Eagle kicker David Akers, who will be honored at halftime Monday, never made three kicks of 50 or more yards in a season. Elliott has done it in five games.
4. Gave one-year deals to Chris Long and Patrick Robinson
Long and Robinson were deviations from Roseman’s past approach of inking veterans to long-term deals for the purpose of starting. One-year deals for Long and Robinson meant they could start, if needed, but would also be comfortable in specific roles. Long is an essential piece of the third-down defense. Robinson, since moving to the slot in training camp, has excelled on the inside and become an invaluable piece of the secondary.
5. Waited on signing LeGarrette Blount to a one-year deal
Blount, coming off an 18-touchdown season with the Super Bowl champion Patriots, wasn’t a hot commodity early in free agency. His age (30) and prior workload (299 carries) likely factored into that. Roseman needed a bigger running back to complete his stable but didn’t overspend on a veteran or chase any bigger names through free agency or trades. The longer he waited, the more Blount’s price tag came down — eventually Blount signed for the veteran minimum. After a bad preseason and two tough first weeks, the Eagles have found the right formula for working Blount into their running game.
— Geoff Mosher, a longtime Philadelphia sports reporter, is also a host on @975TheFanatic in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffMosherNFL.
- Why doesn’t LeGarrette Blount get more carries?
- Jason Peters continues to defy odds in HOF caliber career
- Examining key behind Philly’s thriving 3rd down defense