Should Alex Smith be Benched?

Not long ago, Alex Smith was drawing all sorts of praise for the Kansas City Chiefs’ 5-0 start. But since then, the Chiefs have lost five of their past six games to drop to 6-5. And many believe that Smith is a big part of the problem and needs to be benched.

Head coach Andy Reid isn’t ready to go this route, though. And he said that he never considered benching Smith in favor of rookie Patrick Mahomes during the team’s 16-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

“No,” Reid told the press. “That’s not where I’m at right now. There were a couple other things I’ve got to take care of.”

Reid may not be ready to bench the incumbent starter yet. But should he reconsider in the near future? Let’s cover the matter by discussing both Smith’s recent dismal performances along with what Mahomes brings to the table.

Playing the Unknown

Mahomes came to Kansas City with a high pedigree after a strong career at Texas Tech. He played so well that the Chiefs made him the 10th overall pick of the 2017 draft.

This obviously says something about whom Kansas City thinks will be under center in the future. But the problem is that Mahomes is still an unknown right now.

What we do know about Smith is that he’s normally a solid quarterback. Obviously we haven’t seen this in the past two games, as he’s thrown 3 interceptions against just one touchdown.

But looking at the 13-year veteran’s complete season, he has thrown for 19 touchdowns against just four interceptions. It’s easy to see why Reid doesn’t want to rock the boat, especially with the team still in first place in the AFC West.

But the problem is that Smith has played poorly during the recent three-game losing streak. He’s been so bad, in fact, that Kansas City Star columinst Sam Mellinger has labeled him the “worst player” on the team right now. If this type of play continues, the Chiefs might not even make the playoffs.

Smith Has been Benched Before

This situation in Kansas City isn’t entirely new for Smith. In fact, he dealt with a similar scenario in 2012 when he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

Smith suffered a concussion in the ninth game of the season. Colin Kaepernick, who was a raw but talented quarterback, took over the position. And Kaepernick played well enough to lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl. If not for a pass completed just the short of the goal line, they could’ve been Super Bowl champions.

Mahomes is slightly different than Kaepernick because the latter was in his second season. Furthermore, some around the league believe that the 22-year-old needs more time to develop. But with the team now spiraling downward after their perfect start, it doesn’t seem ridiculous to give the rookie a chance.

Has Kansas City Peaked with Smith?

The Chiefs currently hold a one game lead over the LA Chargers and Oakland Raiders in the AFC West. It’s not unfathomable to think that if Smith plays better, they can hold onto this lead and make the playoffs.

But even if this happens, how far can they go in the postseason with Smith? It’s highly unlikely that they do anything better than winning a Wild Card game. Their next opponent would probably be either the New England Patriots for Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom would crush them.

The obvious risk is that Kansas City inserts Mahomes and he’s totally unready for the challenge. This would cause the Chiefs to lose their division lead and subsequently be pushed out of the playoff picture.

However, it must be asked if Smith’s efficiency is really worth keeping him on the field. After all, the Bills – a team that had previously given up 135 points in its past three games to the Jets, Saints, and Chargers – held Kansas City to 10 points.

Mahomes is the Future – Why Not Start Him Now?

Given Smith’s age and the high draft pick that Kansas City spent on Mahomes, it’s almost a given that the latter will start in 2018.

Smith would need a monster finish to this season to remain the starter next year. And it doesn’t help Smith’s cause that the Chiefs can save $17 million in cap space by cutting him in the offseason.

This is all very likely to happen before the start of next season. And if this is indeed the case, why not simply start playing Mahomes now?

alex-smith-benched-chiefsThe ultimate fear is that this blows up and becomes another Nathan Peterman situation. However, it’s hard to see Mahomes failing this badly. He is, after all, a 10th overall pick; Peterman was only a fifth-rounder.

Kansas City has been a solid playoff team in recent years. But they want more, and Smith is unlikely to get them to the next level.

It’s also possible that Mahomes doesn’t push them to this point either. However, we’ll never know until he actually takes the field.

Smith deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done with the Chiefs. He was instrumental in helping Reid turn the franchise around after Romeo Crennel’s disastrous 2-14 season.

But the problem is that this year is quickly spinning out of control. Both the Chargers and Raiders are playing better than Kansas City right now. So it’s entirely possible that they’ll pass the Chiefs at some point, given the current circumstances.

If this is going to be a lost season, why not give it meaning by getting Mahomes some experience?

Will Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett be Fired?

jason-garrett-cowboysThe Dallas Cowboys came into the 2017 NFL season with Super Bowl aspirations. But this team is now wondering if they can even grab an NFC Wild Card slot after stumbling to a 5-6 record.

Dallas is currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak, where they’ve been outscored by a combined 92 to 22. The season is definitely on the brink right now. And head coach Jason Garrett could be fighting for his job with how dismal the Cowboys are playing.

Can Dallas turn things around? Will Garrett’s team play well enough to save his job? Let’s discuss these matters along with what Garrett must do to avoid being fired.

Why is Dallas Playing so Badly?

The Cowboys can’t pin all of their struggles on the coach. After all, several factors have caused them to go from a 13-3 finish last season to a below-.500 team this year.

jason-garrett-dallas-job-statusThe suspension of Pro-Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott has definitely put a dent in the run game. They also have significant injuries, including linebacker Sean Lee.

The recent schedule hasn’t been kind to the Cowboys either. They’ve been destroyed by the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, and a resurgent LA Chargers team over the past three contests.

Owner Jerry Jones has been fielding a lot of questions about his team’s struggles and the coaching staff’s future. Jones, who has supported Garrett over the years, says that he “feels good” about the coaches. But how good will he feel if the losing streak continues any longer?

This is especially the case when considering that Dallas has two winnable games coming up. They face the Washington Redskins at home, and the New York Giants on the road.

The Redskins have been inconsistent throughout this year. And the Giants have been a non factor in the NFC East. I’m not saying that these are both must-win games. But Garrett’s job status will be far more comfortable if he can win these contests.

Of course, for Dallas to get back to playing good football, they need to show some fight on both sides of the ball. Neither offensive coordinator Scott Linehan nor defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli have their units playing as well as last year. And both coordinators will face job security issues if this team doesn’t grab a playoff spot.

The Roster can’t be Changed Much, but the Coaches can

Dallas isn’t a serious contender for the Super Bowl title right now. This means that they’ll be trying to improve their team for a stronger run in 2018.

Of course, this is going to be hard because there’s little salary cap room if the team gives defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence a big pay raise as expected.

dez-bryantThe team has few options to restructure their main core. But one possibility includes trading some veteran pieces to free up cap room. Another could include cutting wide receiver Dez Bryant, who’s starting to show his age.

Even if Dallas does any of these things, it won’t solve some their main issues.

One problem is that quarterback Dak Prescott hasn’t thrown very well this season. He’s missing open receivers and relies on play-action too much.

Another issue is that Bryant hasn’t gotten much separation on routes. He’s also failing to win most contested balls.

The offensive line, often considered a big strength of this team, doesn’t have much depth. And the fact that Elliott drew a 6-game suspension has really slowed the running game.

Moving to the defense, the secondary is full of young players who’ve made plenty of mistakes. And the linebacking core has done a poor job of covering pass-catching running backs without Lee in the lineup.

This is mostly the same team that was last year’s NFC darling en route to compiling a 13-3 record. But all the problems have made a repeat campaign nearly impossible. In fact, this is bordering on being a lost season for the Cowboys.

If the team wants to make a change, the most likely route will be the coaching staff. Maybe Garrett, Linehan, Marinelli, or all three need to go.

Garrett could be Losing the Lockerroom

One of the most disturbing things about the Cowboys’ descent is that the players are getting frustrated. Ian Rappaport reported on NFL GameDay that players are becoming disengaged. Here’s a look at his report:

jason-garrett-dallas-fired-job“Owner Jerry Jones has been outspoken in his support of Jason Garrett and his coaching staff. However, inside the locker room, a little bit of a different story. I’m told there’s growing frustration from the Cowboys players about their coaching staff.

“And it really stems from two things. One, just the lack of adjustments that has gone on over the last couple of weeks. The Chaz Green disaster at tackle when Tyron Smith was out was just one example (where) the team did not help him and really didn’t alter their game plan when it was clear that he needed some help.

“That was one issue that certainly has left the players grumbling. Another one is just how simple they are. I had one person tell me that Philip Rivers, out on the field on Thursday night, was actually calling out the Cowboys blitzes before they happened on the field.

“Not a good sign for the Cowboys. And obviously a huge game this Thursday (vs. Redskins) where they really need to bounce back for.”

Jerry Jones Expresses Support for Garrett

Garrett can feel some relief because Jones still sounds supportive of him.

“Jason Garrett was named Coach of the Year of the whole NFL last year,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “That was yesterday. This is today. The point is, I like this coaching staff.”

Garrett dodged reporters’ questions about his job security last weekend.

jerry-jones-cowboys“The biggest thing we’re focusing on is cleaning up this game and trying to get better as a football team,” Garrett said. “That’s really where all of our attention is.”

This isn’t the first time that Jones has had to answer questions about Garrett’s job status. The latter has remained the Dallas coach for the past seven seasons, with some years being more tumultuous than others.

Another good sign for Garrett’s job security is that he doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight or personnel decisions with Jones. But if things keep up like they are, including the 70-point disparity over the past three games, it’s hard to see Garrett keeping his job.

“We haven’t played as well as we need to in the second half of these ballgames,” said the embattled coach. “We’re looking at that as a coaching staff, how we can do that better and how we can sustain consistent execution for an entire ballgame.”

The best thing that Garrett can do is go out and win a few games to end the season. Maybe Dallas will get hot and win enough to finish with a 9-7 or 10-6 record. This would be enough to keep his job for sure.

But the way the team is playing now, they simply need to focus on winning the very next game against the Redskins.

Buffalo Bills in Major Trouble after Nathan Peterman Disaster

sean-mcdermott-billsBuffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott made a controversial move when he benched starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor in favor of fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman. And McDermott justified the move by saying, “We are made for more than 5-4. And I’ve come here to be more than 5-4.”

The first-year coach’s “calculated risk” backfired in the worst way possible as Peterman played terribly in his first-career start. The University of Pittsburgh product completed 6-of-11 passes for 66 yards and five interceptions.

This is the most interceptions ever thrown by a quarterback in one half since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. And McDermott mercifully yanked Peterman at halftime and instilled Taylor back into place. The end result was a 54-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Obviously this was a bad decision in hindsight, and it gave Buffalo no chance to compete against LA. But the unfortunate thing for the Bills is that this dilemma could cause an even bigger downward spiral.

Bills’ Schedule Only Gets Tougher

doug-peterman-billsIt would be one thing if the Buffalo Bills’ schedule got easier from here. But the reality is that it gets far more difficult over the last several games this season.

The Bills, who’ve been dominated during their three-game losing streak, face the Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) and the New England Patriots next (8-2). Based on the way things have been going lately, Buffalo is going to be big underdogs in both games.

They’ve been outscored 135-55 over the past three losses. This is the most points ever allowed in a three-game span in franchise history. Additionally, this is the fourth-most points allowed within three games since the merger.

McDermott’s Message Falls Flat

tyrod-taylor-billsIt seems like forever ago when the Bills were 5-2 and being talked about as one of the AFC’s top teams. Now they sit at 5-5, and it’s questionable if they can even finish the season at .500.

McDermott was calm after the team lost 34-21 to the New York Jets in Week 9. But he showed far more urgency after the Bills lost 47-10 to the New Orleans Saints.

Still qualified for an AFC Wild Card berth at 5-4, McDermott made the baffling decision to bench his starter in favor of an unproven rookie.The coach wanted to show that this wasn’t last year’s regime, and Buffalo would no longer settle for mediocrity. But this team might wish for mediocrity by the end of the season.

Sign of Things to Come?

Much of McDermott’s focus has been put on the quarterback in recent weeks. But it’s the Bills’ defense that has been falling flat.

They gave up 37 points to the Chargers in the first half, which is the most for the team in 40 years. The devastating loss not only puts the Bills at .500, but it also pushes them out of a Wild Card spot after Baltimore’s victory over Green Bay.

McDermott tried spinning the situation favorably by saying that “all teams go through this.” But it’s hard to write this losing skid off so easily when they’ve been historically bad.

Perhaps this would be understandable if Buffalo were a rebuilding team like the Cleveland Browns. But they fired head coach Rex Ryan in the offseason last year because he failed to make the playoffs in two seasons. Now, it doesn’t look like McDermott is moving the team any closer to this goal in 2017.

How can Buffalo Fix their Issues?

tyrod-taylor-lesean-mccoyGoing back to Taylor at quarterback isn’t going to fix the Bills’ problems. After all, the defense hasn’t been able to stop anybody lately.

In fact, Buffalo was unable to force a punt from the fourth quarter of the Jets’ loss to the third quarter of the San Diego game. Adding this up, the Jets, Saints, and Chargers went 22 consecutive possessions without having to punt. And in these possessions, the three opponents scored 10 touchdowns, made seven field goals, missed one field goal, fumbled one time, and took knees to end the half three times.

The defense’s biggest problem has been stopping the run game. They’re allowing 212 yards on the ground over the past three contests.

Buffalo was hoping that Peterman would help the team get into a rhythm with short passes. And by moving the chains consistently on each drive, the defense would be more rested and able to stop the run. However, what really happened is that Peterman threw some really terrible passes that put the defense in even worse spots.

What’s Ahead for Buffalo?

Not long ago, McDermott was guiding a 5-2 team and included in talks for coach of the year. Now he’s stuck answering questions about why he made such a baffling quarterback move. What’s more is that he’s got to find a way to fix this defense as the schedule heats up.

Odds are that Buffalo can win at least two more games this season with Taylor at quarterback. But any hopes of making the playoffs are long gone after this recent losing streak.

Everybody in Buffalo wanted to avoid another lost season. But as it looks right now, the Bills will simply be playing for pride over the last six games of the year.

Jameis Winston Under Investigation for Groping Uber Driver – How Does It Affect Bucs?

jameis-winston-bucs-injuryThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t had a good season. They’re in last place in the NFC South with a 3-6 record, and starting quarterback Jameis Winston is out with an ailing shoulder.

As bad as things have been for Winston and the Bucs, they might get worse now that he’s accused of groping a female Uber driver.

The NFL is currently investigating the 23-year-old over an alleged incident that happened in March 2016. ESPN reports that NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the “allegation was shared with the NFL and we have reached out to Uber to request any information they may have.”

NFL executive Lisa Friel interviewed the Uber driver to get more information on this matter.

“The League has been informed that you may have been the victim of such a violation perpetrated by Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Jameis Winston,” Friel wrote. “The league takes allegations of this nature very seriously and has opened an investigation into this matter.”

Winston Denies Allegations

Jameis Winston claims that the “accusation is false” through a statement. Here’s what he had to say:

“A news organization has published a story about me regarding an alleged incident involving a female Uber driver from approximately two years ago. The story falsely accuses me of making inappropriate contact with this driver. I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her.

jameis-winston-uber-driver“The accusation is false, and given the nature of the allegation and increased awareness and consideration of these types of matters, I am addressing this false report immediately. At the time of the alleged incident, I denied the allegations to Uber, yet they still decided to suspend my account.

“I am supportive of the national movement to raise awareness and develop better responses to the concerns of parties who find themselves in these types of situations, but this accusation is false. While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way.”

Uber Driver Explains Alleged Incident

The Uber driver declined to give her name. But she did speak with BuzzFeed News about the alleged incident.

She said that she picked Winston up around 2am on March 13, 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Winston then asked her to go through a fast-food drive-thru on the way to the destination.

The driver said that Winston reached over and grabbed her crotch for 3-5 seconds in the drive-thru. He took his hand off after she verbally objected.

She reported the incident to Uber afterward. And an Uber spokesman told ESPN that the “behavior the driver reported is disturbing and wrong. The rider was permanently removed from the app shortly after we learned of the incident.”

jameis-winston-tampa-bayWinston was in Scottsdale for Kurt Warner’s “Ultimate Football Experience” to help out with the camp. And Winston’s rep, Russ Spielman, reiterated that his client is innocent.

“We categorically deny this allegation,” Spielman told his client. “It is our understanding the Uber driver was unable to identify the specific individual who allegedly touched this driver inappropriately. The only reason his name is being dragged into this is that his Uber account was used to call the ride.”

No Police Report Filed

A spokesperson for the Scottsdale Police Department said that the driver “did not call us or file a report with us.” The Phoenix Police Department was also asked about the incident and said that they weren’t contacted by the Uber driver.

The Buccaneers organization is investigating the incident. Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter said that he “just found out” about the story.

“We take these matters seriously and are fully supportive of the investigation that is being conducted by the NFL,” read a team statement.

Second Time Winston Has Dealt with Sexual Assault Allegations

jameis-winston-week-7-injuryWinston famously dealt with a sexual assault situation while quarterbacking Florida State in 2012. A student there claimed that Winston forced himself on her, but he said it was consensual.

The Tallahassee police investigated the matter despite charges never being filed. And they ultimately closed the case in December 2013, right before Winston won the Heisman Trophy.

The accuser, Erica Kinsman, filed a civil suit against Winston in 2015. He countersued, and the matter was settled out of court in 2016.

Kinsman sued Florida State in January 2016 over how they handled the complaint. The school paid her $950,000 and began holding five years’ worth of sexual assault awareness programs. In exchange, the university didn’t have to admit wrongdoing in the case.

Will Winston be Suspended by the NFL Over the Uber Driver Complaint?

Winston isn’t currently practicing due to his shoulder injury (AC joint). This leaves Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter for yet another week.

Fitzpatrick was uninspiring in his first start against the New York Jets last week, completing 17-of-34 passes for 187 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. But he did enough to help get a 15-10 win over New York.

The 34-year-old veteran thinks that Tampa Bay has the talent to go on a long winning streak. But this will be hard if Winston continues to sit since he’s the franchise quarterback. And it’ll only be tougher if he gets suspended.

It’s difficult to say whether or not Winston will ultimately be suspended. After all, the NFL just started investigating the matter. But it’s certainly not unfathomable when considering that the league suspended Ezekiel Elliott for a domestic violence incident when the Columbus Police Department didn’t find any substantial evidence.

Winston hasn’t been a lot better than Fitzpatrick this season. But part of this is because he tried playing three games with his AC joint problem. That said, downgrade Tampa Bay’s chances of winning if Winston gets suspended and/or continues to remain sidelined with an injury.

Philadelphia Eagles Show They’re NFL’s Best Team in Broncos Rout

If you bet on the Philadelphia Eagles in our NFL futures, then you’re looking pretty good right now. The Eagles improved to 8-1 after dismantling the Denver Broncos (3-5) by a score of 51-23.

What’s impressive is that the Eagles looked unstoppable against the league’s top-ranked defense. Second-year quarterback Carson Wentz tossed four touchdown passes as the Eagles scored on possession after possession. Philly fans chanted “We Want Dallas” in the closing minutes, with the Cowboys (5-3) being their closest competition in the NFC East.

There are plenty of reasons why the Eagles have the NFL’s best record heading into their bye week. But none appear more obvious than the improvement of Wentz.

“I saw it as soon as I came here,” Eagles receiver Torrey Smith said about his quarterback. “He’s taking more control of everything. He’s playing lights out.”

Denver felt like they’d hit rock-bottom after the game based on how Philadelphia scored so easily. However, it could be more a case that the Eagles offense is so good that nobody can stop them.

eagles-offense-2017Philly had four different players carry the ball (not including quarterbacks) effectively on Sunday. And coach Doug Pederson did a good job of using roll outs and sprint outs to keep Wentz away from Denver’s front seven.

One touchdown included a 15-yard screen pass to Corey Clement, who ran through the center of Denver’s defense thanks to great timing and blocking. Clement scored another TD on a two-yard option pitch – a rare play in the NFL. Then there was new addition Jay Ajayi rushing for 77 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown.

“We do feel we can keep spreading the ball around,” Wentz said after the game. “It makes us really tough to defend.”

The 24-year-old said that there were some plays he’d like to have back in the first half. However, it’s difficult to know what these plays would’ve been, given the Eagles’ 31-9 halftime lead.

Eagles Defense Also Dominated

On the defensive side, Philadelphia had an obvious game plan to take away the Broncos’ run and forced Brock Osweiler to beat them. The team recently turned to Osweiler after starter Trevor Siemian threw three interceptions against Kansas City last week.

Now the team is in a tough spot with regard to whether they play Osweiler or Siemian moving forward. The third option is Paxton Lynch, however, the second-year player still isn’t ready to go after an off-season shoulder injury. Even if Lynch can play, he doesn’t have much experience and hasn’t provided any indication that he can lead this offense better than Siemian or Osweiler.

Coach Vance Joseph didn’t immediately commit to whom he’ll start next week against the New England Patriots.

“We’ll see,” said Joseph. “I have to go back and watch the tape and see how the game was played from that position before I make any decisions.”

Given Denver’s quarterback woes, it’s no surprise that the Eagles easily stopped them. Most of the Broncos’ production came in garbage time with the outcome already determined long before.

Philadelphia’s Offense is Crushing the NFL

While many picked the Eagles to win this home game, few thought their offense would be as dominate as it was. They shredded the Broncos for 419 total yards, including 197 yards on the ground.

carson-wentz-eaglesThe league doesn’t have an overwhelming Super Bowl favorite now. But if Philly keeps up this offensive production, then they’ll easily be favored to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. They’re averaging 31.4 points per game and haven’t scored less than 26 in the past seven games.

Philadelphia will be on bye in Week 10. They’ll then have a Sunday night contest against the Dallas Cowboys in what could be a defining game in the NFC East. If they win, they’ll take a commanding lead in the division and improve to 9-1. If they lose, they’ll fall to 8-2 and let Dallas back in the race.

Overall, it’s definitely a game that Philly will be preparing for and hoping to win. A victory moves them one step closer to the all-important playoff bye.

Philadelphia Eagles Betting Futures

We still have NFL futures open at GTBets. Here’s a look at where everybody is right now in the NFC East (NY Giants not listed):

Philadelphia (8-1) -2500
Dallas Cowboys (5-3) +1000
Washington Redskins (4-4) +2500

Where do the Denver Broncos Go from Here?

Some analysts wondered if the Denver Broncos were the best team in the league earlier in the season. The team was 3-1 heading into their bye week and looking good on both offense and defense. However, this seems like forever ago when looking at the current situation.

Denver has lost four straight games and have been outscored 124-52 in the process. Joseph isn’t too happy with the matter either and spoke to his team about it following Sunday’s contest.

“I told the team after the football game that every man has to do a self check,” Joseph explained. “Only each man would know what his heart said to him in the fourth quarter there, so that’s where I’ll leave that.

“We knew that their offense would go through the tight ends, so that part did not surprise me. It surprised me that we couldn’t stop the run game, and that was a bigger issue to me. They had a great plan in the run and pass game alike, and they exposed us.”

Despite the poor showing against Philadelphia, the defense still looks like a strong suit. It’s the offense, though, that needs to move the ball and give this team a chance to score.

Joseph announced that Osweiler will start against the Patriots despite the blowout loss this weekend. And he should have an easier time against New England’s subpar secondary. But then again, points haven’t come easy over the last few weeks for the Broncos.

Denver Broncos Betting Futures.

Denver currently has the second-worst odds of winning the AFC West. Here’s a full look at our GTBets odds:

Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) -700
Oakland Raiders (4-5) +950
Denver Broncos (3-5) +1200
LA Chargers (3-5) +1800

Eagles Odds: Impact of Adding Jay Ajayi

jay-ajayi-dolphinsThe Philadelphia Eagles made one of the biggest trades of the season by acquiring Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins. Now the big question is what Ajayi will bring to the NFC East leaders.

The cost was relatively cheap for Ajayi because Philadelphia gave up a fourth-round pick. The 24-year-old rushed for 1,272 yards (fourth in NFL) on 4.9 yards per carry last season. He also has a cost-effective contract that runs through 2018.

This looks like a good trade on paper, and Ajayi’s high profile adds excitement from a fan standpoint. But the Eagles bear some risk because Ajayi had some locker room problems in Miami, hence the fact that the Dolphins gave him up for a mid-round draft pick.

That said, let’s discuss the concerns behind this trade for the Eagles and if this will ultimately be a good fit.

Ajayi Has Never been Consistent

jay-ajayi-eaglesLast season, Ajayi became one of just four running backs to rush for 200 yards in back-to-back games. And he had three different contests with over 200 rushing yards.

However, this also means that he only gained 600+ yards combined in the other 13 regular season games. He never had more than 79 yards in a single contest outside of his 200-yard games.

Consistency hasn’t been Ajayi’s strong point so far in his early NFL career. Case in point, he’s only averaging 3.4 yards per carry this season and has rushed for more than 100 yards twice. He’s also yet to find the end zone in seven games.

Of course, Miami’s offense hasn’t exactly been booming either. They’re ranked dead-last in the NFL in both scoring and total yards. Neither Jay Cutler nor Matt Moore have been particularly effective in their starts at quarterback. And the other running backs, Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams, haven’t done much on their 22 combined carries.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t completely absolve Ajayi from his lack of production. Head coach Adam Gase has criticized the former running back for trying to “hit home runs,” rather than taking the guaranteed shorter charts and yardage.

Knee Problem Keeps Cropping Up

ajayi-eaglesPrior to his NFL career, Jay Ajayi dealt with a knee condition so bad that some wondered if he’d even play in the pros. This caused him to drop to Miami in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Reports on Ajayi after pre-draft surgery said that his right knee was “bone on bone.”

Obviously he’s been able to dispel the doubters with his performance last season. But the Eagles have to be concerned long-term when thinking about Ajayi’s knee issue. It’s very possible that his knee could be bothering him now since he’s been off and on Miami’s injury report.

Ajayi is Bad in the Passing Game

Philadelphia was relying on Darren Sproles to help them in the passing game. However, Sproles’ injury has left them without a good receiving back.

The combination of LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Kenjon Barner, and Corey Clement have combined for just 155 yards on 19 catches.

Unfortunately, Ajayi won’t help remedy these problems from either a receiving or blocking perspective. In fact, Gase bashed Ajayi’s blocking just days prior to trading him.

The only solace here is that quarterback Carson Wentz doesn’t check down much to his running backs anyways. However, Wentz, like any QB, needs his running back to pick up blitzers. And if Ajayi can’t do this, than how will he be any different than Blount?

Does Ajayi Really Add Anything to Philly’s Backfield?

Ajayi is one of the league’s best downhill runners when he’s healthy. But does Philadelphia really need this when they already have Blount?

The latter has put in a solid season so far, rushing for 467 yards and two touchdowns with 4.7 yards per carry. It’s arguable that Ajayi could do even better when healthy and playing behind the Eagles line – rather than Miami’s. Going further, he’s also younger and faster than Blount.

But then again, he’s not that much of an upgrade as a starter. And this begs the question of whether they really needed another running back who’s good at running between the tackles, but not catching passes. A better option could’ve been to trade for a receiving running back who better complements Blount.

Maybe Ajayi will surprise me and be outstanding in Philadelphia. But on the surface, it just doesn’t seem like he offers a whole lot more than Blount. Furthermore, he doesn’t address their need for a receiving back.

Locker Room Problems

jay-ajayi-phillyAjayi didn’t have the best attitude in Miami, which is why he was traded in the first place. The Miami Herald reports that he had a bad attitude and was a me-first guy.

Here’s an excerpt from Herald reporter Armando Salguero:

“He complained bitterly about not getting the football. He stormed out of the locker room — get this, after wins — because he hadn’t gotten what he deemed to be enough carries. And, oh yes, he didn’t exactly light it up on the field.

“And here’s the thing: All this was done undercover. Ajayi complained to his position coach. And he carried around an attitude around other teammates. But he never took his concerns to the only voice that matters and that’s Gase.”

Of course, the NFL is all about second chances if you have the talent. But the question is how much Ajayi has outside of a few magical games in 2016. He’s mostly a downhill runner who has a chronic knee condition.

This being the case, don’t look for Philadelphia to put up with much crap from Ajayi if he’s not producing on the field. This is especially the case when considering that they have a 7-1 record and look like legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

Perhaps the latter is why the Eagles are willing to roll the dice on Ajayi for a fourth-round pick. He does add more depth to their backfield. Furthermore, the combination of he and Blount could wear down opposing defenses.

This trade is by no means a slam dunk for Philadelphia until proven so. But it could look good in hindsight if Ajayi regains his 2016 form behind a better offensive line.