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Spadaro: What will the coaches cook up for the newest Eagles?

Bryce Huff
Bryce Huff

There are multiple parts to this equation. The formula the Eagles are putting together – compiling a team that is going to win in 2024 – is one part acquiring talent, one part teaching the system, a heavy dose of matching the system to the skill set of the player, and then, finally, "putting the player in the right position to make plays."

And then, of course, the player has to make the play.

The Eagles are in the early stages here, and that's why it is foolish – fun, yes, but really there are so many unknowns in the process – to get too far in front of things. The NFL is a day-by-day, step-by-step football model and that is why coaches and players and general managers and everyone involved in that machine stay in the moment.

You see the lists of "Winners and Losers in NFL Free Agency" and all of that is fine to fill space and occupy time between now and the NFL Draft. But what does it really mean? Not much at all. The Eagles have been extremely aggressive fortifying the roster and brilliantly managing the salary cap and the cash spent and all of the things that add up in the 2024 balance sheet knowing that they have new coordinators on both offense and defense and that, ultimately, the coaching staff will determine just how much and actually how each of the new players will impact the team in the season ahead.

The conversations we've all had with friends and family about running back Saquon Barkley, for example, have been dynamic. He's a top-of-the-line talent who has a rare skill set in that he can run with explosiveness, win on his route-running, dissect a defense in the open field, and, when it comes time to do the dirty work and buckle down in pass protection, Barkley will execute his assignment.

So, Head Coach Nick Sirianni and Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore know that going into the preparation and planning on how to use Barkley. We don't know what the Eagles are thinking because Sirianni and Moore are knee-deep in compiling the playbook, studying the existing personnel, watching game tape of the '24 opponents, and doing their part in free agency and draft prep. Thus, we're not likely to really know what the Eagles have planned for Barkley – 25 touches per game? A heavy load catching the football? A rotation in the backfield? – until the regular season begins.

How about Bryce Huff? He had a breakout season with the New York Jets in 2023. He was very clearly at the top of the Eagles' wish list in free agency and they went out and signed him. What's next? What exactly about him does Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio want to accentuate? Does Huff play with his hand in the dirt on one side of the defensive line of scrimmage? Does he move up and down the line? Does he stand up at times?

It should not be underestimated how important it is that the coaching staff utilizes players in ways that help win plays and games. A player like Zack Baun, a core special teams player for New Orleans last season, had a bit of an uptick on defense for the Saints and played well, so what does that mean for the Eagles as they project his role this year? How about Devin White, such a dynamic playmaker for Tampa Bay in his five seasons there? What is his role in Fangio's defense?

The hit/fail rate in free agency is volatile but it can be said that the Eagles have done a good job making it work because, among many reasons, Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman and his staff put in the time and effort to gain a feel for what Sirianni and the coaches are looking for in players. This is certainly not a guarantee of anything, but it helps the coaching staff understand exactly what it is getting with new players.

Heck, for both Moore and Fangio, every player on the roster is a new player so the integration of the system, the work in the classroom and on the practice field, is especially important. The coordinators need to know what they're working with, and that is the largely unknown part of the formula: How do the players fit into the system? How does the system fit into the players?

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