The issue this particular producer feared most has manifested itself within the first six quarters of the Eagles’ season: the secondary is not particularly talented.
Last season, the defensive backs room was emptier than a school on Saturday after a rash of injuries left the team picking cornerbacks off the scrap heap. That depleted group allowed five passing touchdowns of 30 or more yards over 18 games. Two of them came in the second week of the season; Now-Eagles DeSean Jackson torched the secondary on the first play of the game, and tight end O.J. howard scored from 75-yards out, in Tampa Bay. I’m not a mathematician, but that means the secondary, for the most part, battened down the hatches, allowing just three touchdown passes of 30-yards or more in the final 15 weeks of the season.
This year’s rendition, through just 120 minutes of play, has already allowed four such touchdowns. In week one, the Redskins scored twice from more than 40-yards out. The ageless Vernon Davis scored from 48-yards, and rookie Terry McLaurin scored on a 69-yard pass from case Keenum. Tonight, Calvin Ridley beat Ronald Darby for a 34-yard score. The second score tonight wasn’t a deep ball, but, instead, was a bubble screen to Julio Jones, who outran the entire secondary for 54-yards.Again, let’s do some simple math: If you take the Eagles four long touchdown surrendered through two weeks, and average that throughout the entire season, the secondary will allow 32 scores of 30-yards of more. Last year, the Eagles’ opponent tonight, the Atlanta Falcons, led the league in those such plays. They gave up seven throughout the season.
There were a lot of numbers thrown at you over the course of two paragraphs. Simplified into concise words: the secondary has been worse than bad over the last season and two games.
A quick fix is often not manageable, and sometimes not even attainable if it were, but this is one particular patch this particular NFL season that would fix the Eagles’ biggest defensive deficiency. The Dolphins are the midst of an open tank, admitting to the rest of the league that the team is willing to lose this year to accumulate picks for the future. Think “Trust the Process” of the NFL. Miami seems willing to part ways with its top talent, as evident by trading left tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Texans prior to the start of the season. The Dolphins already have $160 million in cap and 12 draft picks next season. A 102-10 point differential, a reeling team and a desire for stockpiling draft picks all add up to a quick fix: making a trade for defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick was drafted by the Dolphins with 11th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The second year defensive back intercepted two passes last season, taking one back for a touchdown. But the cornerback has become disgruntled over the last month, requesting a trade because he feels his playing out of position and wants to play for a winner.
Fitzpatrick wants a winner. The Eagles, despite tonight’s game, are a winning team.
The Dolphins have stated the team wants a first round pick for Fitzpatrick, but would likely settle for an early second round pick. The Eagles, in theory, will not have an early second round pick, so the trade would have to require a first round pick. While giving up a first round pick as a team that will be strapped for salary cap cash next season is not ideal, this Eagles team is within a tight window of “win now”. And when you’re a franchise in that mode, next season means very little. In fact, one could say next season means nothing. By “one” I mean me. 2020 doesn’t mean much to me for a deep playoff run that ends in a Super Bowl appearance. If that translates to the 31st or 32nd pick, then the deal should have already been made.
While the team came up with three interception tonight, and the defense certainly kept the team in the game for a majority of the contest, this deal with Miami should be inevitable. It will immediately shore-up a shaky secondary.