Eagles' Team Chemistry Not Like 2017

Ed Kracz

The Eagles’ roster hasn’t been a very safe place to be so far this season, as receiver Mack Hollins learned on Tuesday when he was released.

Evidently the Eagles valued offensive lineman Sua Opeta more than Hollins, because Opeta was about to be snatched up from the Eagles’ practice squad by the Miami Dolphins. So the Eagles promoted Opeta to the 53-man roster and cut Hollins, who was then claimed by, you guessed it, the Dolphins.

Head coach Doug Pederson didn’t reveal that reason when he spoke on Thursday morning, but the coach said that every roster decision, from the 53 to the practice squad, is discussed with general manager Howie Roseman and that the decision was made to give players such as rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward, promoted from the practice squad on Nov. 23, more opportunity to play.

They have earned or at least deserved an opportunity, and, again, you have to make some tough decisions,” said Pederson, “but it’s because of some discussions that we've had here in the past few weeks.”

If it feels like there has been more roster churn than most years it is because, well, there has been.

Just about every week since the end of September there has been some sort of major adjustment to the roster, with a player who had a big role a day or two earlier getting released for reasons that always aren’t injury motivated.

Here is the rundown:

Sept. 27: Released linebacker L.J. Fort, signed cornerback Orlando Scandrick

Oct. 4: Promoted cornerback Ryan Lewis, waived/injured tight end Alex Ellis

Oct. 14: Released linebacker Zach Brown

Oct. 21: Released Scandrick and defensive tackle Akeem Spence

Oct. 28: Released defensive tackle Bruce Hector after trading for defensive end Genard Avery

Nov. 5: Released safety Andrew Sendejo, two days later claimed safety Marcus Epps after being released by Vikings

Nov. 28: Released receiver Jordan Matthews after signing him on Nov. 11

Nov. 30: Released defensive tackle Albert Huggins

Dec. 3: Released receiver Mack Hollins

Asked if there was any sort of disconnect between the coaching staff and the front office, Pederson said: “No, no. I don't feel that way at all. Again, we're making decisions in the best interest of the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Inside the locker room, though, the instability could eventually take its toll, though Pederson didn’t believe that was happening.

“I think from the locker room standpoint, players know what type of business that we're in; coaches the same way,” said Pederson. “I think that, again, if I stand in front of the team and keep constantly saying that we're going to make decisions in the best interest of the Philadelphia Eagles and the players that are in the room, then we move on from it. We understand that sometimes tough decisions have to be made.”

During the Eagles’ Super Bowl winning season of 2017, the team hardly made any significant moves other than practice squad shuffling for injury. There were only really two moves made to the active roster all season long for anything other than injury.

Those moves were releasing cornerback Dexter McDougle and replacing him with linebacker Dannell Ellerbe on Nov. 13 and, a day later, releasing offensive lineman Taylor Hart for tackle Will Beatty.

Strong locker room chemistry was a big reason cited for the Eagles’ run to the Super Bowl LII title.

With so many moving parts this year, it could be argued that the chemistry has not been allowed to develop.

Quarterback Carson Wentz said he didn’t believe the constant roster churn this year has affected the locker room in any adverse way.

“I think those guys upstairs have tough decisions to make every week,” said Wentz. “We have a lot of injuries this year. That’s just part of the game. Guys come back, and guys are coming off injury and recovering. There’s always a lot of things that are up in the air week by week. You just trust those guys to make the best decisions upstairs, and keep going full speed ahead.

“It’s the unfortunate part of this business, knowing when you gotta let guys go, and some guys are closer to other guys. From a friendship and relational level, it’s always a tough part of the business, but we just keep going to work.”