In the last 24 hours the Philadelphia Eagles have played a preseason game, rookies Mack Hollins and Derek Barnett became Hall of Famers, Howie Roseman traded for Lito Sheppard 2.0 and Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for 6 games by the league.
First let’s get to the Zeke suspension. The league loves the Dallas Cowboys. They draw in crazy ratings and owner Jerry Jones has a major influence over other owners. Roger Goodell works for the owners and this isn’t a decision he made lightly. Ezekiel Elliott probably deserved an even bigger punishment and the Cowboys front office should probably just let this go.
Right now Zeke is threatening to appeal, which could lead to a long legal process, but delay the suspension. The problem appealing and possibly suing the league that all the evidence could be made public and it could turn into a PR nightmare for the team.
The league didn’t come to this decision because of just testimony from one witness. Elliott and Jones really need to let this one go, deal with the suspension and learn from it, but we all know that isn’t happening.
The Eagles got aggressive Friday morning and got a proven starting cornerback to pair with Jalen Mills. They sent their 2018 3rd round pick and slot receiver Jordan Matthews for Buffalo Bills corner Ronald Darby.
Two things lead to this trade. One, Patrick Robinson has looked awful in practice and two, Rasul Douglas isn’t ready to be a starter and may not be until year two at the earliest.
Pro Football Focus ranked Darby as the 8th best corner in 2015 and 66th last year. He’s a pure speed corner who has shown outstanding growth in run support. He’s still a little raw jamming at the line and with his footwork, but he’s definitely a capable starter. The Eagles are still incredibly young, but they have four corners with a ton of potential, and all are on cheaper rookie contracts through at least 2018(2019 for Mills, 2020 for Douglas and Jones).
Now onto the actual preseason game. Carson Wentz was outstanding on his only series. He marched the Eagles down the field, despite getting very little protection and help from his run game. He was also missing his top three receivers, starting right guard and all-everything back Darren Sproles.
Mack Hollins looks like the real deal. He caught the ball naturally, something he didn’t do much in college, and he was dangerous after each catch. He has 4.4 speed and the strength to shove defenders off him as he did on his touchdown.
Derek Barnett was dominant against 2016 second round draft pick Jason Spriggs at left tackle. He bent, used his hands well and blew him away with natural speed. He’s going to do a ton of damage off the edge with more space in sub-packages.
Jalen Mills was also outstanding against the Packers. He looks the part and if Darby picks up the defense quickly over the next 4 weeks then we can stop worrying about the secondary.
I wouldn’t take away much else from the first preseason game. The Packers went blitz heavy, which is super rare for a preseason game. My guess is the offense wasn’t prepared for that and it totally disrupted the game plan. Most defenses are pretty vanilla before the regular season. If the offensive line struggles again against Buffalo(yeah that’s right, they face Jordan Matthews 6 days after the trade) then I would start to panic a little bit.