Examining The Eagles Offensive Free Agent Signings

Changes and additions to the Eagles’ defense have certainly overshadowed additions to the Eagles offense but make no mistake, they’re going to be just as important to the Eagles.

We’ve all heard rival fans say it over and over again “Vick is going to get hurt”, “I don’t think Vick can stay healthy” or “(Insert team’s best pass rusher) is going to knock Vick out for the season”. As an Eagles fan, I hate this argument because there is actually a hint of truth to it, Vick takes a beating. Does anyone know how many times Vick has played a complete season? The answer is once.

The Eagles are all in and they’ve put a bunch of faith in Michael Vick and his ability to win the big one for the Eagles. It’s risky, by going all in they needed to protect Vick and keep him healthy while also preparing for the worst. The Eagles have effectively done this by signing Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, Evan Mathis and Ryan Harris.

The Eagles covered their ass by signing Vince Young. Vince Young isn’t a franchise QB at this point but he is a QB that can do similar things on the field that Vick does. What makes Vick special? It’s his supreme athleticism and his arm strength. Well, meet Vince Young.

Vince was the best downfield passer in the NFL last year. He had the highest completion percentage of all quarterbacks in the NFL on passes 20 yards or longer which is even more impressive considering that 45.71% of his passes deep pass attempts. His stat line over the past two seasons looks like this:

245 completions in 415 pass attempts (that’s a 59.03 completion percentage), 3134 yards, 7.55 yards per attempt, 20 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 80 rushing attempts, 406 rushing yards, a 5.075 yards per carry average and 2 rushing touchdowns. And in his entire career he is 30-17 as a starter, that means that he wins 63% of his games.

Those are pretty darn good numbers considering the circumstances. He was playing on a terrible team that was extremely run heavy under a coaching staff that didn’t adequately utilize the talent they had. His supporting cast outside of Chris Johnson was terrible and he never had the complete support of his coaching staff.

People get on him for being a diva at QB because of his tantrums in Tennessee but try and look at it from his perspective. He led the Titans team to victories time after time but the coaching still didn’t support him. How many times did the Titans bench him for Kerry Collins when Vince Young was clearly the superior player? Wouldn’t you be frustrated if you were doing your job well and you kept being benched and second guessed? Wouldn’t you get frustrated if you were supposed to be a leader but the coaching staff kept undermining you? Wouldn’t you be frustrated if you were being grilled by the media and didn’t even have the support of the Titans organization? The Titans were a bad situation for Vince Young.

And for those who say “He could’ve been a starter but he chose to be a back-up, why?”, the motivation behind his decision is clear as day: Michael Vick and Andy Reid.  Yeah, he could’ve went to a bad small market team and competed for a starting job but he chose the best long term option for him. He signs a one year deal with a team that has a history of developing quarterbacks, specifically mobile quarterbacks. You get to learn from Michael Vick who was in a somewhat comparable situation a few years ago, needing to learn how to become an NFL passer and rehabilitate his image. So long as he stays out of trouble he could get a big payday next season. If Michael Vick were to go down he would get to play with the best supporting cast in the NFL under a coaching staff that does a great job designing plays, calling plays and putting players in the position to succeed. If he succeeds he gets paid next offseason. Looks like a great situation to me. Perform, don’t do anything stupid, and he gets a lucrative contract from a team of his choice in 7 months.

This move benefits everyone, the Eagles get a proven winner as a back-up at the QB spot who can do all the things that the Eagles like to do on offense (deep passes and move the QB around) while Vince Young gets the perfect chance to learn and redeem himself.

The addition of Ronnie Brown is one that most will pan and say that Brown is ‘washed up’. But I think those people need to be reminded that Ronnie Brown is not coming to the Eagles to be a feature back. Ronnie Brown is here to become the #2 running back.

But how does the addition of a running back protect Michael Vick? Well… I’m glad you asked. Ronnie Brown is a big running back, he is listed at 6’ tall and 233 pounds. That size gives him a natural edge in pass blocking. Ronnie Brown’s size and strength combined with his technique have made him one of the best pass blocking running backs in the NFL today. Last year Ronnie Brown was asked to pass block 135 times and he only allowed 7 pressures. That means the Eagles have a #2 running back that they can trust in pass protection (they most certainly did not trust Jerome Harrison) and Ronnie Brown will help keep Michael Vick on his feet and healthy.

Ronnie Brown isn’t the dynamic talent he once was but he is still a good NFL running back. He has good hands and is a weapon in the passing game and he is a tough inside runner that can fight for the tough yards.

And people are going to point to last year and say that he is on the decline but remember that he was playing on a team that as a whole went downhill as the season went on. Ronnie Brown most certainly wore down as the year progressed but remember that he won’t be asked to shoulder the workload here in Philadelphia.

Look at Ronnie Brown’s numbers in the first half of the season: 101 carries, 433 yards, 4.28 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns.

Because he won’t be the feature back he’ll have fresh legs and we won’t have to worry about him wearing down as the season progresses. He’ll be a nice compliment to LeSean McCoy.

And the additions on the offensive line are highly underrated, both Ryan Harris and Evan Mathis are starting caliber players. Unlike Max Jean-Gilles, Winston Justice and Nick Cole, these guys can actually pass block. Ryan Harris has only allowed 6.75 sacks on his career, Winston Justice allowed more than that last year alone. According to ProFootballFocus, Evan Mathis has played 724 snaps the past two years and has not allowed 1 sack. Ryan Harris isn’t much of a run blocker but Evan Mathis is. In the 7 games that Evan Mathis has started over the past two seasons, Cedric Benson put up 177 carries, 761 yards, 4.2 yards per carry and 5 touchdowns. In games where Evan Mathis did not start, Cedric Benson put up 445 carries, 1601 yards, 3.5 yards per carry and 8 touchdowns.

These moves aren’t quite as highly publicized as the Nnamdi, DRC, Jenkins and Babin moves but make no mistake, they’ll affect the outcome of the Eagles season and probably more than you initially thought.

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