Buzz around the league today has focused on the NFL and NFLPA reportedly making progress towards a new collective bargaining agreement.
How optimistic should we be? Well, that depends on who you ask. But Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post did a good job today of detailing the top 10 issues still being resolved.
As has been the case since this whole thing began, we are still in wait-and-see mode.
Getting back to the non-labor side of things, I've come across a few articles recently about offensive linemen, and specifically Jason Peters.
If you read my Man Up pieces during last season, you know that I was high on Peters. I thought he really stood out as the Eagles' best lineman, playing at a pretty consistent level in his second season with the Birds.
But where does he rank league-wide? That's a tough question for me to answer, considering I didn't watch the league's other 31 left tackles on a weekly basis. But some national writers have tried to rank them.
The crew at ESPN.com has Peters at No. 7. Individual writers had him as high as No. 3 and as low as unranked (out of the top 10, that is).
Meanwhile, Pat Kirwan of NFL.com put out his list of the league's top 25 offensive linemen, grouping them into five categories. He had Peters (the only Eagle on the list) in his fifth category, meaning he ranks him between No. 21 and No. 25. Here's Kirwan's writeup:
Peters had a bad 2008 season for the Bills, giving up close to 12 sacks, and was shipped off to the Eagles. In two years as an Eagle in a heavy passing attack he has given up just eight sacks (two in 2010). The Eagles, under new offensive line coach Howard Mudd, can get even more out of Peters, and he will be pushed.
I'm working on a project where I go back and look at every sack the Eagles gave up last season, but good job by Kirwan noting that Peters only allowed two in 2010. And the Mudd point is a good one. That's one reason why I'm hoping the lockout is resolved in the next few weeks. This year's training camp should be particularly interesting with so many new coaches on the field.
The one aspect of Peters' game that is constantly brought up is penalties. But is he really more prone to drawing flags than the Eagles' other linemen? I took a look at Football Outsiders' numbers, and here's the penalty breakdown from 2010:
|Games Started||Penalties||Penalty Yds.|
It should be noted that while Dunlap only started five games, he appeared in 14 of them.
Peters, Herremans and Justice all had similar penalty numbers. Herremans started two more games than the two tackles.
In his first season with the Eagles, Peters had 11 penalties for 78 yards, both of which were worst on the team.
Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders ranks the 10 most disappointing playoff teams of the last 25 years. Buddy Ryan's Eagles teams between 1988 and 1990 came in at No. 7:
The 1988 Fog Bowl was certainly a disappointment to anyone who tuned in on television and hoped to see the action, but it wasn't a crippling loss for the Eagles, a young team that played well against an established powerhouse. The other two losses, though, set the pattern that doomed Ryan and the Eagles. The Rams used a three-man rush and eight-man zone defense to keep Cunningham from scrambling, so the baffled passer spent the game throwing short passes for minimal gains to his backs. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs knew how to handle Ryan's blitzes, dialing up a mixture of screen passes and max-protect bombs that made a great defense look silly.
Most of my reading nowadays comes in the form of articles, columns, blog posts, etc. But while I was on vacation, I was able to page through some books and am currently in the middle of one that many of you are probably familiar with: Bringing the Heat by Mark Bowden, which takes a detailed look at the 1992 Eagles.
While everyone is obviously still waiting on that Lombardi Trophy, it's interesting to look back at that era. While they provided some great memories to the fan base, the Eagles failed to make the playoffs for a six-year span before 1988. And they went 10 full years without a playoff win before that '92 season when they came back to beat the Saints in New Orleans.
Getting back to Tanier's list, I think most here would agree that those Ryan-led Eagles teams deserve the mention among the most disappointing playoff squads.