Team adds another defensive end for 7 on the roster.
At least the Philadelphia Eagles have known commodities who are proven in their system coming back into the mix soon at wide receiver (DeSean Jackson), defensive tackle (Timmy Jernigan), linebacker (Nigel Bradham) and cornerback (Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc).
But their mediocre edge rush remains in search of a fix that they just have to hope will come with the help of some new acquisition named Genard Avery. Avery comes from the Cleveland Browns midway through his second year. He had 4½ sacks as a rookie, but never seemed to fit the Browns’ new defensive scheme this year, in which he was on the field for just five snaps before being traded.
“I’m not sure why (he didn’t fit there),” coach Doug Pederson said. “I’m not in their clubhouse, obviously, but we’re excited to add him to our roster. It gives us depth, it gives us talent. He’s a young player, he’s explosive. We’re excited to get him in and start working with our defensive line ... and see where he can best fit our needs.”
Avery might not be sure why he was no longer a fit, either. Even if he is, he wasn’t saying on Wednesday.
“That was in the past, man,” Avery said. “I’m not focusing on the past this week. So it is what it is. ... They love me here, they welcomed me with open arms, so I’m happy.”
But just the very idea that general manager Howie Roseman and/or defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz felt compelled to add a seventh defensive end to the active roster is without a doubt an indictment of what they already have.
Schwartz, when asked about the roster imbalance on Tuesday, shrugged his shoulders and replied: “Yeah, I mean it’s just the way numbers work out sometimes. Just is what it is.”
Schwartz also was asked if they had enough, personnel-wise, to be a championship-caliber defense.
“We’re a week-to-week team,” he replied. “We’re not looking at anything other than this week, so we’ll see what we got this week and figure out a way to try to come out with a win. Doug is very consistent on that message. Try to go 1-0 this week and let’s not look further on down the line than that.”
In other words: Absolutely not.
They will have to coach up what they have and hope.
So what exactly do they have?
Well, defensive end Brandon Graham is by all accounts having a great season, perhaps the finest of his 10-year career. With 5.0 sacks, 35 tackles (including nine for losses) and two fumble recoveries through eight games, he is on pace for personal highs in all those categories.
Beyond him, they haven’t been getting the kind of pass rush they envisioned
Fellow end Derek Barnett is in only his second year as a starter and is coming off a season that was cut off after just six games in 2018 because of a shoulder injury. He is going in the other direction.
While playing just 424 total defensive snaps as a rookie in 2017, he hit the quarterback 32 times. This season, he’s already played 412 snaps but has just 14 hits and 3½ sacks (compared to 5.0 in 2017).
Josh Sweat, Daeshon Hall and Vinny Curry have just one sack apiece. Rookie Shareef Miller has yet to play a snap.
Now here comes Avery, who definitely is shorter than his listed height of 6 feet and almost certainly lighter than his listed weight of 250.
“Size is not on the stat sheet when you make a sack,” Avery said.
Besides, it didn’t seem to limit him as a rookie.
“I’m going to go out and play my heart out,” Avery said.
Schwartz on Tuesday said he believes Avery can be more than just a rotational pass rusher. Naturally, Avery doesn’t disagree.
“Most definitely. Most definitely,” Avery said. “They’ve already got me in the game plan this week, so I’m going to do what I can to take advantage of my opportunity.”
Whatever Avery can contribute, they’ll take.
Beggars can’t be choosers.