Mailbag: Where do the Eagles’ top three passing game skill position players rank in the NFL?

On Wednesday, I solicited mailbag questions on Twitter for a mailbag post. I received so many good questions that we’ll probably do two mailbags to cover them. Thanks for doing helped the work for me, friends. Anyway, here’s Mailbag, Part I.

Question from MassEagle: Who are the Eagles’ top 5 receiving options and how would that compare to the other NFC East teams top 5?

For the Eagles, It’s DeVonta Smith, AJ Brown, Dallas Goedert, Quez Watkins and then either Zach Pascal or Kenny Gainwell. I’ll go out on a limb a bit and say Gainwell.

I think that when you look at it from that perspective, the only team close to the Eagles is the Cowboys, but I’d still give Philly the edge. The Commanders and Giants are both way behind in terms of offensive playmakers in the passing game. I’d rank them in the order they appear above.

If we’re looking just at the top three of Smith, Brown, and Goedert, here’s a list of teams that I think are definitely better than the Eagles’ top three:

  1. Bengals (Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd)
  2. Raiders (Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow)
  3. Dolphins (Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki)

I might put a few other teams ahead of the Eagles as well, but I only have three teams clearly ahead of them.

Question from Adam: After White, who plays more snaps this year: TJ Edwards, Davion Taylor, or Nakobe Dean?

Linebacker is my top camp battle to watch this year, and I’m not sure that White is the top guy. As we’ve seen for more than a half decade now, the Eagles have whiffed badly on like a half-dozen free agent linebackers. While I think White has a chance to be much better than those guys, I’m not yet assuming that he’ll be an answer. So we’ll see.

But the top three guys heading into camp are White, Dean and Edwards, in whatever order you prefer. I think the team would love to see White and Dean outperform Edwards, who has shown that he can play but has a limited ceiling. I think the Eagles’ moves at linebacker show that they are perhaps disappointed by Taylor’s progression.

Question from ‘The Real Dream Team’: Do you like that Nick Sirianni gave over play calling duties? Or do you think it’s a bad sign for him long term?

I think it’s sometimes forgotten how much the head coach has on his plate both throughout the week of preparation and on game day. Sirianni is a very hands-on coach who wants to be involved in every facet of the game, not just his offense, whereas Doug Pederson and Chip Kelly, for example, just ran their offenses and left the defense almost completely to their defensive coordinators.

As a rookie head coach, I think that Sirianni probably felt that he simply had too much on his plate, so he delegated in-game play calling to Shane Steichen. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Sirianni isn’t still heavily involved in what is called. Sirianni is the lead person in formulating what is on the call sheet to begin with, and what the calls will be in certain in-game situations.

I think it shows a certain level of self-awareness and lack of ego to delegate play calling to his offensive coordinator, and I respect it.

Question from Old Chester: What do you make of the Eagles front office losing so many people over the last few months? Signs of success within the organization? Or time to crack open each other’s heads and feast on the goo inside?

On the one hand, they mostly left for better jobs in other organizations, and as you noted, that’s perhaps a sign that other teams around the league think the Eagles’ front office is doing something right.

On the other hand, maybe the Eagles could have retained some of them if they offered them promotions. If they did offer them promotions and they left anyway, then I think that would be somewhat concerning.

Analyzing front office staff isn’t like analyzing players, obviously. We can look at stats and watch players play and determine their worth. It’s all out in the open. When you’re analyzing front office staff, there’s so much ambiguity when trying to determine job performance. It’s almost totally reliant on inside information and sourcing, which may or may not always be fair or objective. In other words, there’s always some guess work in evaluating non-GM front office staff.

Question from PlayinPossum: If there were a label you would use for the Birds this season in relation to their status, what would it be: Buying, Selling, Contending, or Rebuilding?

I think of buying/selling as trade deadline terms, so we’ll see when we get to that point in the season. But as far as contending vs. rebuilding, the metaphorical foot is on the gas right now.

Question from Bill: Who is in line for in-season extensions and what do they have to do to earn them? Miles Sanders? Darius Slay? Jalen Hurts??

I wrote an article about this last month, and settled on Hargrave as the most likely option. I’ve been meaning to write a Miles Sanders piece on this topic, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. The likely conclusion of that article, whenever I get to it, will likely be that bringing back Sanders is fine, as long as it’s a very team friendly deal, which he is unlikely to sign.

Slay’s contract is up after 2023. He’ll turn 31.5 on July 1. There’s no need to extend him at this time.

As for Hurts, he’s ineligible for an extension until after his third season is over. If he plays well in 2022, that’ll be an interesting debate for the 2023 offseason, in terms of whether to extend, and for how much.

Question from The Notorious SEB: How much do you trust the Eagles when they have indicated that they believe Marcus Epps is legit?

They tried to sign Marcus Williams and they had interest in Justin Reid this offseason, but it just didn’t work out. They’ve said nice things both about Epps and Anthony Harris, but the reality is that they tried to upgrade on at least one of them.

I think the Eagles like Harris and Epps on some level. I also think they’d rather have better safeties than Harris and Epps. But certainly, it doesn’t serve their purposes in any way not to talk up the current players on their team when they’re asked directly about them.

Question from Dan: Rank Cox/Hargrave/Davis/Williams in order of most to fewest sacks in 2022.

  1. Hargrave
  2. cox
  3. Davis
  4. Williams

Question from Ross Levitt: Why do you think there hasn’t been punting competition brought in for Arryn Siposs? Do you think that will be the case throughout camp?

Michael Clay was asked a version of that question. Here’s what he said:

“Well, Howie, myself and Nick, we try and have as much communication on what’s going on in terms of the whole roster. It’s a very tough game of, all right, there’s a 90-man roster, who’s out there, is it going to really help our team get better in that sense.

“I know, as I probably pointed out a couple times, everything is pointed out to the punter, to the returner, and the kicker. It doesn’t always have to do with Arryn. Arryn started out the year very well and you guys probably saw that, as well. Just like everything else in life, there are ebbs and flows, there are peaks and valleys, and yes, it’s a production-based business. I understand that. We all understand that in the NFL.

“He didn’t have the greatest production the last four games of the year. Some of it is situationally where the numbers don’t show right, but we still have immense confidence in Arryn not only from his punting standpoint because we still think he has a lot of talent in that leg and it’s just him unlocking it not for a three-game stretch, but for an entire season stretch right there.

“But also, he does a lot in terms of the holding and the confidence that helps Jake. Punters aren’t just here to punt the ball; they actually have to hold and help bring that confidence from both Rick and Jake.

“So, there is a lot that goes into — you don’t want to have a wholesale change because now it affects not just one guy but also affects three other guys.

“We still have confidence in Arryn to get the job done, and we’ve done some things in the off-season, and he’s changed his body to be stronger through the core and everything. We’re going to still work with Arryn. He’s still very raw, so we’re going to still work with him, and hopefully get him more consistent and more confident as the season goes on to where he can be an asset like he is in the plus 50 area pretty dangerous in the plus 50 area, now let’s make it consistent from the 20 to the 40 to help flip the field for our defense.”

Elliott had a stellar year in 2021, so I can buy the notion that they don’t want to mess with that success. I don’t totally buy that Siposs is likely to improve substantially as a punter. He punted two years at Auburn, he was on Detroit’s practice squad for a full season in 2020, and he punted all season for the Eagles in 2022. And he turns 30 this season.

If I’m the Eagles, I couldn’t justify having no competition for Siposs. If you bring in another punter and Siposs beats him out — or if Siposs’ competition is slightly better than him as a punter, but they don’t want to mess with the field goal operation — then fine. But, I mean, you have 90 roster spots. Let’s stop pretending that those spots are so precious that you’re willing to have your near-league-worst punter go unchallenged in camp.

Question from Joe: Do you think speedster WR Devon Allen makes the roster? Possibly KR or PR?

Allen last had a productive season in football in 2014, so I think he’s a longshot. That said, holy crap:

I’ll be curious to see what he can do in training camp.

Question from Matt Mullin: Would you rather fight one Jordan Mailata-sized eagle or 25 eagle-sized Mailatas?

Given that very few humans would have any chance against the Mailata-sized eagle, I would take my chances with the 25 eagle-sized Mailatas. My strategy would be rapid-fire kicks to hurt them and initially keep them at bay. Then once they’re incapacitated, am I declared the winner? I wouldn’t want to kill them because they’d probably be pretty cute.

Question from Yoshke Zoidberg: Best season of the Simpsons and best episode of said season?

I think the meaty part of their best stuff was roughly Seasons 4 through 8. My top three bangers from each of those five seasons:

• Season 4

  1. Marge vs the Monorail
  2. Last Exit To Springfield (Dental Plan)
  3. Duffless (“Thanks giant beer!”)

• Season 5

  1. Bart Gets an Elephant (one of the most underrated episodes ever)
  2. Homer Goes To College
  3. Cape Feare

• Season 6

  1. Homie the Clown
  2. Two Dozen and One Greyhounds
  3. Bart vs Australia

• Season 7

  1. Lisa the Vegetarian (“Go back to Russia!”)
  2. 22 Short Films About Springfield
  3. King-Size Homer (“Hey, ‘Miss Doesn’t-Find-Me-Attractive-Sexually-Anymore,’ I just tripled my productivity!”)

• Season 8

  1. You Only Move Twice (Hank Scorpio)
  2. The Twisted World of Marge Simpson (“And heeeere come the pretzels.”)
  3. A Milhouse Divided (Can I borrow a feeling?)

I’m going with Season 5, with a difficult choice between Bart Gets an Elephant and Homer Goes To College. I’ll take Homer Goes To College.

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