Pat Kirwan is a former Jets assistant coach and director of player administration. He also was a scout for the Cardinals and Buccaneers.
He has a lengthy and prestigious media career that includes stints as a senior analyst at NFL.com, SiriusXM NFL Radio co-host and CBS Sports.
In 2014, he wrote an article in which he suggests examining 13 areas/characteristics/aspects of a football team to determine the club’s roster depth.
“In my opinion, there are 13 categories that have to get a positive answer for a team to qualify as having solid roster depth,” Kirwan wrote.
Kirwan believes roster depth is what separates good teams from great ones. Many agree with him. I’m not sure who wouldn’t.
The Eagles are expected to be a good team in 2022 with designs on becoming a great one. As the Eagles report to training camp Tuesday, let’s shine a light on their roster to see how they stack up in Kirwan’s exam.
DO EAGLES PASS THE TEST?
The bold-face type are Kirwan’s questions/comments. The comments below the questions are mine.
1. The first is the backup quarterback. A capable backup QB that can go at least 2-2 in a four-game stretch qualifies as a good backup.
The Eagles have Gardner Minshew, who recently was ranked in the top five of backup QBs. The Eagles’ toughest four-game stretch is from Nov. 14 to Dec. 4. The Eagles play home vs. Washington; at Indianapolis; home vs. Green Bay; home vs. Tennessee.
With three of the four at home, yes, Minshew can win you two of four games. There are other four-game stretches that appear not as difficult and Minshew definitely can win at least two of those games.
2. Does your team have a real swing offensive tackle, a guy that can play left or right tackle and has experience?
Andre Dillard has started nine games in two seasons and played in 31 games. Jordan Mailata beat him out to start at left tackle; Mailata would beat most candidates. They also have talented Jack Driscoll, who has been plagued by injuries. Gotta give the Eagles a “yes” on this, albeit a cautious one.
3. Does your team have a solid inside offensive lineman that can play guard or center?
Yes, the Eagles have two: Isaac Seumalo and Landon Dickerson, and maybe a third in rookie center Cam Jurgens.
4. Is there a quality second running back that can deliver a 100-yard rushing day if he had to start?
No, no, no. Last year, the Eagles had two 100-yard rushing games, in Week 13 and Week 15, both by Miles Sanders. Odd stat given the Eagles led the NFL in rushing.
5. Is there a good second tight end on the Eagles 2022 roster?
Another no. Dallas Goedert is Pro Bowl-quality. Behind him are veteran Richard Rodgers, Jack Stoll, rookie Grant Calcaterra, Tyree Jackson and converted wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. The Eagles need someone to play the two tight-end formations at a high level and play a capable back-up to Goedert.
6. Can the third wide receiver step up and start in the two-WR packages if a starter went down?
Quez Watkins fits this description quite nicely, along with Zach Pascal.
7. Does your team have a designated pass-rush specialist who could play the early downs if need be?
The Eagles have Josh Sweat along with linebacker/edge rusher Haason Reddick. The Eagles like to rotate along the defensive line but, in a pinch, I could see Sweat getting the majority of the snaps.
8. Is there a third defensive tackle that not only plays in a rotation but could play the whole game if need be?
Behind starters Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave are rookie Jordan Davis and second-year player Milton Williams.
Play the whole game? No, for now, but the youngsters could step up.
9. Is there a quality nickel corner on the roster, since most teams are at least 50 percent [speciality] defenses?
Yes, Avonte Maddox. There is uncertainty behind him. This is a potential area of concern for the Eagles.
10. Is there a fourth corner for dime packages?
Maybe Tay Gowan, acquired in the Zach Ertz trade with Arizona. Maybe 2021 draft pick Zech McPhearson. Back-up cornerbacks are not an area of strength for the Eagles. But I think they can handle this.
11. Is there a third safety for big nickel defenses?
Yes, newly acquired Jaquiski Tartt, a 30-year-old veteran who played 80 games with San Francisco.
12. Is there a return specialist that can either handle both punt and kick returns or contribute as a real position player?
Well, this is a dicey question, isn’t it? The Eagles have a first-round draft pick on the roster who can handle all three of these positions — Jalen Reagor. So far in his two seasons, he hasn’t accomplished much and without a strong camp, he could be cut or traded.
13. Does your team have a special-teams linebacker that leads the specials and can play inside linebacker in a pinch?
The Eagles have two, Shaun Bradley and T.J. Edwards. Bradley has excelled on special teams and Edwards has played well on special teams and has played solid enough linebacker.
The Eagles get passing grades in nine of Kirwan’s 13 categories — that’s a blah 69.2 percent.
The exam is interesting in that it takes direct aim at several of the Eagles’ weak links — tight end, secondary depth, running back depth.
Every training camp develops an unexpected contributor or two. If that happens, in the right positions, the Eagles could shore up a weakness or two.
The overall assessment is the Eagles have a solid roster, perhaps in the top-10. Roster construction and tinkering can be decimated by injuries — for the Eagles and any team.
If the Eagles sustain injuries in the wrong places, the season could be more of a challenge than everyone thinks it should be.