The Eagles had an excellent first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night.
They traded up, acquiring the No. 22 pick and selecting offensive tackle Andre Dillard, but they didn’t have to. They could have traded back, or they could have stayed where they were, at No. 25.
They could have done any of those things, and they’d have been fine, just fine. All Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas, Doug Pederson, and the rest of the organization’s brain trust had to do was sit back in their war-room chairs, mute Deion Sanders during those painful post-selection interviews, and let the Giants do their thing.
Of all the things the Eagles have going for them — and from a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz to a recent Super Bowl victory to a roster that should allow them to challenge for another championship this year, they have a fair number — the Giants might be the best.
What was it Napoleon is supposed to have said? Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. When it comes to the franchise that, based on history and proximity, should be considered their greatest rival, the Eagles are going on a third year of keeping their mouths shut and reaping the rewards from their silence.
Thursday was merely the latest example. The Eagles may or may not leapfrog the Cowboys this season and win the NFC East. But if they don’t, it won’t be because the Giants — particularly their principal owner, John Mara, and their general manager, Dave Gettleman — haven’t been working hard enough to make it happen.
The mistakes have been plentiful. Here are three: Last year, they remained so committed to Eli Manning, long in decline, that they passed up the chance, in a quarterback-rich draft, to choose his successor, instead using the No. 2 pick on running back Saquon Barkley — a great player at a position of less value. This offseason, they traded their most talented player, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., to the Cleveland Browns less than seven months after signing him to a five-year contract extension.
Then, with the No. 6 pick Thursday, the Giants got around to doing what they should have done: drafting a young quarterback. Except the young quarterback they drafted was Daniel Jones, who over his three seasons at Duke proved himself to be a thoroughly mediocre passer, even though he played under David Cutcliffe, generally regarded as one of the top quarterback coaches in the nation.
Cutcliffe coached Peyton Manning at Tennessee and Eli Manning at Ole Miss, and the Giants apparently drafted Jones in the hope that he carries some residue of Cutcliffe’s interactions and experiences with the First Family of Passing.
If he does, he didn’t show it during his college career. He completed just 59.9 percent of his passes, a woeful figure in this era of short, quick throws to open receivers, and averaged a meager 6.4 yards per attempt. If Jones becomes a star quarterback in the NFL, he will have bucked some major statistical indicators and trends that suggest the Giants whiffed on this pick.
If any team benefited more from the Giants’ decision to draft Jones than the Eagles did, it was the Redskins. They were able to select a more accomplished and talented quarterback, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, nine picks later, at No. 15.
But under the ownership of Daniel Snyder, the Redskins have been throwing up all over themselves for two decades now, and though the Cowboys won the division last season, you always have to wonder when owner/general manager Jerry Jones will make another football-related decision that defies not just convention but good sense.
There’s a reason Dallas hasn’t reached the playoffs in back-to-back seasons in more than a decade. Compared with these three teams, the Eagles have become a model of smarts and stability.
“If I were to say to anybody in this building that we were going to have to trade a couple of second-round picks, third-round picks, to get a franchise quarterback for the next decade, to win a world championship, to win four playoff games over the last two years, I don’t know who wouldn’t sign up for that,” Roseman told reporters recently.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve done. I watch a lot of other different team-building in other team sports, and I saw one GM being interviewed who said, ‘I would do anything to win a world championship.’ When I look at that, we haven’t sacrificed our future to do that. What we’ve done as a staff, the success that we’ve had, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”