We’re in that section of the NFL offseason where teams like the Eagles look good on paper leading up to the Draft. It’s partly the natural optimism over expecting that key pieces from last year’s effort will continue to improve, and partly the rose-colored glasses which are gazing upon recent free-agent and trade acquisitions.
This is no time to reflect upon how many times we’ve been down this road and ended up holding our hats in hand at the end of the season, wondering what went wrong. (That sentence is dedicated to the Miles Austin Foundation…)
Being a life-long Eagles fan, I get a little nervous when big-name NFL pundits like Adam Caplan of ESPN are already touting the Eagles’ new edition of their offense as “one that is going to fly”.
“The Eagles downfield passing offense was not existent last season. But now, they’ve got Torrey Smith, still one of the better deep threats in the National Football League… and Alshon Jeffery is so physical,” Caplan said. “That is a big difference from last season.”
Caplan is blatantly using past performance on other teams to predict near-future performance with the Eagles. As he points out, over the last four years, both Jeffery and Smith rank in the top 20 among all pass catchers for most catches of at least 25 yards. Jeffery is tied for fifth with Julio Jones with 43, while Smith is tied for 18th with 30.
I say none of that is relevant until the new guys are fully blended within a complete Eagles offensive unit and a competent game plan. Sometimes that blend never reaches fruition. You never know until they actually play the games.
Caplan said he heard from defensive coaches around the league that teams didn’t respect the Eagles’ passing game last season. “Now, they’re not just going to be challenged right in front of them, but down the field as well,” Caplan said. “This is going to be fun to watch to see how Doug Pederson and Frank Reich call a game because they’ve got more options.”
No, it’s going to be nerve-wracking for me to watch—until it isn’t.
This is also the part of the offseason where the Super Bowl odds come out in Vegas.
As our friend down the road Anthony Brown reports for Redskins Hog Heaven, the gambling houses have already pegged the ‘Skins and the Eagles with the lowest odds to win of any of the NFC East teams.
The Cowboys have the best odds at 10/1, followed the by the Giants at 18/1. The Eagles and Redskins trail at 50/1.
That news is sobering to say the least.
Anthony puts a somewhat positive spin on things for all of us, however:
“The Redskins split with the Giants and swept the Eagles last year. Preseason odds tend to mirror what happened the prior year because, well, that’s how gamblers bet. Sports books are more interested in attracting equal pools of money than in actual predictions.”
“Odds” are merely the wisdom of the crowd. But if you are a believer, this could be a “make-some-money” gambling opportunity. Hog Heaven is no gambler – for gad’s sake, don’t bet the rent money on anything we say. We are more interested in Bovada’s over-under line for team wins, when it comes out.”
“Will it be 8.5 wins, where it might have been with another season of Scot McCloughan-inspired stability and roster decisions? Or, will it be mired at 6.5 wins, Washington’s perpetual line before Scot’s arrival.”
“Kyle Shanahan’s new team, the 49ers, held their SB odds at 150/1. The floor fell out of Sean McVay’s Rams team. Their SB odds dropped from 75/1 to 150/1.Kenny Britt’s departure had more to do with that than McVay’s arrival.
“Britt signed with the Browns who released RGIII. Cleveland’s SB odds dropped from 150/1 to 200/1.
“We can’t fathom why Cleveland signed Britt when they could have kept Terrelle Pryor for a similar deal. They have so much cap room that they could have signed both and had a scary receiving corps. They must have a fascination with shiny new objects. It’s not like we haven’t seen that around here. But who are we to look gift horses (Pryor, Josh Norman) in the mouth when other teams mishandle contracts?”
“DeSean Jackson and Chris Baker signed with the Tampa Bay. They are Tampa’s biggest free agent signings valued by contract dollars. Yet, the Bucs’ Super bowl odds dropped from 33/1 to 40/1. Oh my!”
See—I’m not the only one around here with mixed emotions.