Some Jason Peters Love

Posted: June 26th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Jason Peters began his career with the Buffalo Bills. That seems almost hard to believe since he’s about to begin his 11th season with the Eagles. How time flies…

Ross Tucker told a good story about seeing Peters move to OT when they were both with the Bills. (nsfw)

This story got me to thinking about Peters and what an amazing career he has had. The Eagles were lucky to get him. So how exactly did that happen?

Peters wanted a new contract, but he was coming off a down season in 2008. Believe it or not, Peters was credited with allowing 11.5 sacks for the year. How on earth did that happen?

There were a mixture of issues. First, Peters held out in the spring and summer of 2008. He didn’t report until just before the season began. Peters wasn’t ready for the season and it showed. He gave up five sacks in the first four games. He settled down and played better after that, but still wasn’t up to his previous level of play.

The other issue is that not all of the 11.5 sacks were entirely on Peters. Still, even if you take out some of them, he didn’t have the kind of season you want to when you’re looking for a big raise.

Luckily, the Eagles weren’t scared by the 2008 showing. They saw a player with special ability and someone who played the second most important position to QB. The Eagles traded for Peters and gave him the contract he wanted.

Here is part of what I wrote back then.

This move has tremendous upside. It also does involve some risk. Jason was 6’4, 336 and very athletic coming out of Arkansas. He did play TE in college, but you could see his talent. For some reason, he went unpicked. Teams either had character questions or intelligence questions in regard to him. Guys that big and athletic don’t go unpicked just because they need coaching.

You also wonder if Jason will stay motivated. We’ve seen plenty of guys over the years who got their big payday and let up. That’s just human nature. Can Peters maintain his edge and work as hard as he needs to in order to be a true Pro Bowl player (like he was in 2007).

On the plus side, Jason no longer has to worry about his contract. He can focus on just playing. That has to be a big relief to him. He also is entering a winning environment. Jason isn’t used to playing with guys like McNabb and Westbrook. He’s never been on a playoff team and a legit Super Bowl contender (feel free to insert joke at this point). Reid is an infinitely better coach than Jauron. There is good structure in Philly. That can help players.

Let’s move back to the field. Jason isn’t the polished pass blocker that Tra Thomas was (in his heyday). Jason is a much better run blocker than Tra ever was. Nothing against the big man, but he wasn’t a good run blocker, even at FSU. Jason gives us a powerful presence on the left side. He and Todd Herremans form a really good 1-2 punch. That should make us that much more effective running to that side.

Tra struggled as a run blocker against 3-4 DEs and when he was in space. Peters should will be an upgrade in both areas. There were several games last year when Tra was out in space and didn’t get a hand on anyone. Westy got to the 2nd level, but couldn’t break the run into a big play. With Peters out there, Westy will have one less defender to worry about. Tra’s height worked against him in those situations. He was too upright and missed blocks on DBs and some LBs. Jason’s more compact build will help him.

3-4 DEs gave Tra problems because they normally go in the 300-pound range. He just didn’t have the kind of power needed to move those guys off the ball with any consistency. Jason has plenty of experience against the 3-4 defense and is better suited to take on those DEs. We don’t face a ton of 3-4 defenses, but it is becoming more prevalent.

Tra Thomas had a great career, starting at LT for 10 years. Jason Peters is an even better player and has been a dominant force since coming to Philly. It would be great if he could close out his career with a chance to play in the Super Bowl.

I have my doubts on Peters being able to make it to the Hall of Fame, but he’s been the best LT in Eagles history and an amazing player to watch. JP is truly one of a kind.

*****

Here were some pre-draft notes on Jason. As a reminder, he was a TE at Arkansas.

* Jason Peters, TE – ARK – Jason is mammoth. 6’4, 336. He is a good athlete. Light on his feet. Soft hands. I watched him in a game vs. South Carolina. He caught a few balls. On one catch, he made the grab and then juked a LB and got upfield to gain extra yards. On another catch he tip-toed down the sideline. He won’t be a great TE, but could be a real specialized weapon. Has the potential to be a good OT. He’s a good pass blocker, but isn’t as good a drive blocker as I expected.

* TE Jason Peters is a guy I’ve mentioned before. Goes 6’4 , 336. Could very well be a LT. The previous game I took in left me with the impression that he was a bit on the passive side. Glad I watched some more tape. He was a good aggressive blocker vs LSU. He drove SLB Eric Alexander about 8 yds downfield. Eric had to spin to get off the block (and to his credit made the tackle). On a passing play Jason was lined up beside the LT. The LSU DE took an inside slant on the LT. Peters stepped forward and shoved him from the side. The DE went down and also took out the DT beside him. They looked like bowling pins. Would’ve taken out the other DT, but he was just out of the way. Hilarious play. One block and half the pass rush was gone.

Don’t be fooled by Jason’s size. He is very light on his feet and looks pretty agile for a guy with that size body. Could be a backup TE for a year or two before moving to OT.

That Arkansas offense provided the Eagles with Shawn Andrews and Peters. That’s pretty darn good.

_


Miles Sanders

Posted: June 26th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Miles Sanders missed the spring so it feels like he’s flying under the radar right now. Sanders is very talented and can be an impact player for the Eagles, even if he’s not the starter.

Watch some Wendell Smallwood clips.

Smallwood is tough. He runs hard. He’s got some burst. But he doesn’t have great vision and he doesn’t make guys miss.

Now take a look at Sanders. This is college tape vs NFL tape, but you can still see the traits.

Sanders has good vision and is elusive on the second level. That helps him to break long runs. I think those traits will be keys to his success in the NFL.

Smallwood is the superior receiver and blocker right now. Those are areas where Sanders must develop. With Duce Staley’s coaching, I think he’s got a good chance in both areas.

If Sanders does pan out as hoped, he will add a new dimension to the Eagles offense. He has the kind of big play ability that the running game hasn’t had on a consistent basis in recent years. The Eagles were 29th in the league last year in runs of 20 or more yards. They only had seven.

For the sake of comparison, Jordan Howard had five on his own. Howard is not exactly known as a speedster. The combination of Howard and Sanders should move the Eagles up considerably when it comes to runs of 20 or more yards.

The Eagles did lead the league in runs of 20 or more yards in 2017. They were back down at 21st in 2016. The potential is there. The O-line will open holes and get things started. It is up to the RBs to get the job done and make plays.

Adding a talent like Sanders to the backfield will go a long way to boosting the run game.

_


Young OL

Posted: June 24th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles have a really talented offensive line. Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson are as good a trio as you’ll find in the league. The Eagles are lucky that they also have good backups and some interesting rookies.

Here is an interesting practice video from PE.com.

You can’t tell a lot from that, but it is fun to see Jeff Stoutland in action. OL coaches are always entertaining. He seemed excited by three players, Big V and rookies Nate Herbig and Casey Tucker. These were isolated moments, but they were still interesting.

Big V moved to OG this spring so I’m sure Stoutland has paid very close attention to him. If Brandon Brooks is delayed in coming back from his injury, Big V could be in line to start. Stefen Wisniewski could also start. The coaches would likely let them battle for the job. Big V is bigger and stronger so don’t rule him out. He could win the job.

Vaitai has started 17 regular season games, but none of them at OG. He has plenty to learn. The spring practices were critical for him, giving V a chance to adjust to his new position and get constant feedback on the spot.

As for the rookies, Herbig is a guy I had mixed feelings about, but he is a Pederson/Stoutland type of OL. They like big, thick, powerful blockers. Check, check and check. Herbig is 6-4, 334. The question is whether he’s athletic enough to do all the movement blocking the Eagles like in the run game and if he can be a consistent pass protector.

I don’t think Herbig has a great chance to make the team, but that’s due more to good OL depth than anything he’s done. If Herbig plays well this summer, the Eagles will have to figure out what to do with him.

Tucker was signed when Chris Long retired and a roster spot opened up. Tucker played at Stanford and then transferred to Arizona State for his final season. Tucker is 6-6, 315 and has the kind of nasty disposition the Eagles love in their blockers. He’s got some fun highlights.

With Big V playing OG and Jason Peters getting plenty of time off this summer, the Eagles needed someone to help eat up reps.

Tucker is a limited athlete so he’s a major long shot, but he’s at least got Stout’s attention.

*****

It was also fun to see Jordan Mailata in action. His athleticism jumps out in videos like this.

Most OL are more football players than athletes so they are at their best with the pads on and live hitting. Mailata is still learning football so he jumps out when he’s moving in space. The challenge for Mailata will be showing he’s becoming a football player and not just an athletic project.

*****

Jimmy Bama started his dumpster fire series today. These are always fun.

_


Appreciating the Eagles, Vol. 2

Posted: June 21st, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles are one of the best run organizations in all of spots. Sometimes they earn that praise on their own. Other times, you see it by the actions or in-actions of other teams.

I’m not a huge NBA fan by any stretch, but it was frustrating to see how the Sixers handled the draft on Thursday night. Derek Bodner wrote an excellent piece for The Athletic, breaking down why the moves were bad or at the very least, highly questionable.

The Eagles take every advantage possible when trying to win. They are the most creative team in the league when it comes to salary cap management and contracts. They are very thorough when it comes to scouting. You see coaches and scouts at almost every Pro Day. The team has one of the bigger front offices in the league. There is no cap on front office spending.

When it comes to on-field decisions, the Eagles are still looking for advantages.

Doug Pederson has embraced analytics and being aggressive on fourth downs. This has given the Eagles a tactical advantage in games. It also seems to give them a psychological advantage. The coaches are aggressive. The players love that. They want the coaches to take chances. There is an enthusiasm and confidence you don’t see on every team. Fourth down is an opportunity, not something to be scared of.

Of course, you can’t be aggressive unless you have the players to make plays. Fourth down doesn’t mean a thing when Koy Detmer is throwing the ball to Darnerian McCants and Trey Darilek is doing the blocking. Luckily, the Eagles do have talent.

Gil Brandt says the Eagles have the most talented roster in the league.

What puts the Eagles in the top spot isn’t just the roster assembled by GM Howie Roseman — it’s the fact that so much core talent is locked into contracts through at least 2021. That core includes several who are considered among the best at their respective positions, like quarterback Carson Wentz (signed through 2024), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (2022), tight end Zach Ertz (2021) and center Jason Kelce (2021). The Eagles are also at the point where the NFL draft can be used to build for the future rather than being relied upon as a source of players who can provide an immediate impact. For example, Philly was able to snag offensive tackle prospect Andre Dillard, who can essentially redshirt for a year while being groomed to replace Jason Peters next season, in this year’s draft.

Gil obviously knows his stuff and is a person to be trusted.

The Eagles have good players on every unit on the field. They have speed, size and skill. They have depth. Howie Roseman and the personnel department have done a great job putting this roster together. I can’t wait to see the players in action.

The thing that I think is so impressive is how the Eagles are built. They have some impact draft picks. Guys like Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson and Carson Wentz are elite talents. The Eagles have signed key free agents. Malcolm Jenkins and Alshon Jeffery have been worth every penny. What about trades? Jason Peters cost a first round pick and you can still say that’s a steal. He’s been unbelievable for the Eagles.

The team has also found plenty of no-name talent. Kamu Grugier-Hill was cut by the Pats as a rookie. He’s been a terrific role player for the Eagles. Jake Elliott was on the Bengal practice squad. Jim Schwartz had never heard of Cre’Von LeBlanc when he was signed. A few weeks later, LeBlanc was playing in the slot and shutting receivers down.

The Eagles are relentless in their search for talent and it has paid off in a big way.

So who is number two on Gil’s list? The Cowboys.

The Cowboys‘ personnel department — fronted by Stephen Jones and Will McClay — should take a bow for building the foundation of a strong roster through the draft, headlined by running back Ezekiel Elliott, left tackle Tyron Smith, right guard Zack Martin, quarterback Dak Prescott, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith and cornerback Byron Jones, among others. They’ve also made crucial additions in the past eight months, trading for players like receiver Amari Cooper in October and defensive end Robert Quinn in March and signing players like receiver Randall Cobb and safety George Iloka. Now, the question is, how will Dallas sort out the extensions due to Elliott, Prescott and Cooper? The Cowboys already solved one part of the puzzle by inking Lawrence to a new deal in April, and I can see them working something out with Prescott before camp.

Gil obviously has no idea what he’s talking about and isn’t a person to be trusted.

*****

On the negative side…

I did not write about the open practice controversy from earlier in the week. Honestly, there isn’t much to say from my perspective.

The Eagles should have more open practices.

They should not charge, even for charity, for the practices.

It feels really odd for such a smart organization to do something that makes so little sense. My guess, Sam Bradford or Eric Rowe must have come up with this idea.

_


Zach Brown

Posted: June 20th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles have one outstanding LB in Nigel Bradham. They have a player on the rise in Kamu Grugier-Hill, who is coming off a breakout season in 2018 and a strong showing in the recent OTAs. After that, things are wide open.

The team signed Zach Brown to give them a healthy, proven veteran to add to the mix. I thought Brown was a smart signing, but that does need some context. Brown will turn 30 in October. Despite a productive 2018 season, the Skins cut Brown. He missed part of the OTAs and then didn’t exactly light it up in the minicamp.

Is Brown a starter? Is he even a lock to make the roster?

One of the mysteries with Brown is where the Eagles would use him. Bradham is generally listed as the SAM. KGH is the WLB. That would push Brown to the middle.

LBs coach Ken Flajole recently talked about Bradham playing the middle. Okay. Do you move Brown over to SAM? That’s not a natural fit for him. He’s been at his best in the past when playing WLB.  Do you move KGH over to SAM? He doesn’t have the bulk you prefer, but could be interesting to use against TEs in coverage.

Brown is a talented player and I’m sure the Eagles have a plan. Football analyst Doug Farrar has been doing a breakdown of the most talented players at each position. He was very high on Brown, ranking him as the #6 LB in the NFL.

The Eagles lost star linebacker Jordan Hicks to the Cardinals in free agency in the offseason, but typical of Howie Roseman and his staff, there was a plan in place. That plan was to add Brown, the former Redskins standout who was signed to a one-year deal after Washington released him in a salary cap move. Bad news for the Redskins, who will certainly miss a guy who amassed nine pressures, 74 tackles, 17 assists and 35 catches allowed on 48 targets for 160 yards and no touchdowns. Coverage was an issue with Brown in previous years, but he really put that skill together last year, and that will serve him well in an Eagles defense requiring its linebackers to cover a ton of ground.

One of the most assignment-correct linebackers in the NFL, Brown has a great ability to tear off to either sideline and still keep his body under control to make the tackle. There are few wasted steps and movements in anything he’s doing, whether he’s blitzing up the middle or taking a receiver down in slant/flat coverage.

Farrar studies tape and does his homework. This isn’t opinion isn’t made lightly. Still, I was blown away when I saw that ranking.

Here is an interesting video from 2016, showing you just how versatile Brown is.

Even Fran Duffy said nice things about him from a couple of years ago.

If Brown gets comfortable in the scheme and plays to his potential, the Eagles could suddenly be a lot better at LB. That was an inconsistent position last year. They need improved play this season.

I still think Bradham is the key LB. He knows the scheme inside-out and can play any of the positions. If only he could catch the ball…

I was happy when the Eagles signed Brown. Seemed like a no-brainer move. After a less than inspiring spring, I’m taking a more cautious approach. Brown didn’t suddenly lose his talent, but age does catch up to players at different times. I think the new team and new scheme were bigger issues than Father Time, but this situation bears watching. As we saw with Corey Nelson last year, free agent LBs don’t always work out. Brown is more of a proven veteran and has played well for three teams in his career so he’s not the wild card Nelson was.

It will be interesting to see what the Eagles plan is. How are they going to use these LBs? And what are they going to do with Nate Gerry, L.J. Fort and Paul Worrilow? The Eagles lack definitive answers, but they do have some interesting pieces.

The more physical nature of Training Camp should help bring out the best in Brown. He seems to enjoy contact.

_