Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

18-game schedule could be beneficial for Eagles

Eliot Shorr-Parks
July 13, 2019 - 8:11 am

On Friday Wall Street Journal reporter Andrew Beaton released a report that in an attempt to get to an 18-game schedule the NFL has proposed an idea to the players that involves an 18-game season, but each player only playing 16 games. 

Here is a breakdown of the report, via CBS Sports:

According to Beaton, the NFL owners proposed having an 18-game schedule with a 16-game limit for all players, meaning that backup quarterbacks would be forced to play in at least two games and superstar quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady would be forced to sit at least two games per season. It goes beyond quarterbacks, of course. Every player would sit at least two games. That means coaches would be tasked with playing more of their backups more than usual. 

The idea is at the very least an interesting one, although it is already being met with plenty of backlash. NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith has already come out and said that an 18-game schedule, under any circumstance, is not in the best interest of the players. 

Overall, the chances of the NFL and NFLPA agreeing to the proposed 18-game schedule, with a 16-game cap on each player, seem slim. 

In a fictional world where the rule would go through and is somehow forced upon the teams, however, there is no denying the Eagles organization would be one of only a handful of teams to that could benefit from it. 

To start, the Eagles are maybe the deepest team in the league. Their backups aren’t great at each-and-every spot, but overall they are better equipped to play backups than other teams. That much has been clear over the last two seasons, as they have suffered tons of injuries at different spots, but have still gone on to win four playoff games — including a Super Bowl — in that timeframe. 

Part of the reason they have been so successful despite the injuries, and why they would likely be able to navigate swapping players in-and-out each week while other teams wouldn’t, is the coaching staff. Head coach Doug Pederson has proven to be one of the best play callers in the NFL, capable of designing and calling plays to fit the players on the field, not just run his offense. In a world where the personnel is different each week, the pressure would be on the head coach to adjust. Pederson is equipped to do that while other head coaches around the league most certainly are not — some can barely score points with the same starters each week. 

Another reason the Eagles would be one of the teams that would benefit from an 18-game schedule is a simple one — the front office is very smart. General manager Howie Roseman has built one of the smartest front offices in the league, one that has been able to build a winning football program by finding edges and advantages that other front offices don’t. The Eagles were among the first teams to truly embrace analytics. They have one of the deepest scouting staffs in the league. They have been at the forefront of letting the compensatory pick formula impact free agency decisions. They are great at taking the NFL rule book (especially the salary cap) and finding advantages that other teams don’t. 

A rule limiting players to 16-games in an 18-game season would flat-out ruin some teams. Ones that aren’t even capable of creating a winning program now would be completely thrown for a loop. Imagine a world where the Giants, one of the worst organizations in the league, now had to deal figuring out when to sit-or-start players. They would be an even bigger mess than usual by Week 10. The longer a season is (kind of like baseball), and the more complicated the rules are, the quicker the bad teams will be weeded out and the good ones will rise. The rule, if implemented, would create an even further gap between the well-run, smart organizations and the dumb ones. 

The Eagles, outside of the Patriots, are arguably the smartest and best-run organization in the NFL. If they had to adapt to a new rule, they would, and are better suited to do it than most other teams — giving them yet another competitive advantage going forward simply because of how smart their front office is. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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