More Sunday Stuff

Posted: July 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 39 Comments »

The Seahawks cut MLB Lofa Tatupu when he refused to take a pay cut.  I watched a couple of game tapes to check him out as a potential Eagles target.  I was not impressed.  I went back and looked at his numbers out of curiosity.  You can see a huge drop off after his first 3 years to the next 3.

2005-2007:   336 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, 5 FFs, 17 TFLs, and 8 INTs

2008-2010:   214 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 FFs, 6 TFLs, and 2 INTs

Tatupu did miss 10 games in 2009, but his numbers are still way down.  The game tape wasn’t impressive.  He really struggles to shed blocks.  When he does get free, he lacks the burst to get to the ball as much as you want from a MLB.  He didn’t tackle as well in space as I expected.  Tatupu is only 28 (29 in November), but he’s showing lots of wear and tear.

I wouldn’t be against the Eagles bringing him in to compete with Casey Matthews, but I don’t know that the team will have much interest.  I’d prefer the Eagles get someone who is a clear upgrade over Casey if they’re going to add a veteran.  I do think Tatupu would be able to help groom Casey for the role of MLB.

The market for MLBs is clearing out.  I’m not sure who is left that the team would be likely to have interest in.  I’m not hearing any good rumors at this point.

Casey Matthews was on Eagles Live earlier today.  He said he’s up to 245 pounds.  He was down in the 230 range for the Combine, but then went about bulking up to get ready to be able to handle MLB.   I can’t wait to see him in a preseason game to get a feel for where he is.

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I watched some more tape of Cullen Jenkins.  He will be a big help to our pass rush.  Jenkins is quick off the ball.  He can get upfield or take a hard inside move.  One thing I liked is that he runs well for a big guy.  We see mobile QBs sliding around in the pocket.  Jenkins can adjust and run after the QB if he moves to the opposite side.  My guess right now is that Jenkins replaced Mike Patterson in the starting lineup.

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Follow-up notes on OG Evan Mathis, signed by the Eagles on Sunday.  He had a great workout at the Combine back in 2005.  That athleticism didn’t show up on game tape.  Good college player, but never played as athletic as he tested.  Mathis said in an interview that most of his experience is at LG.  He played well for the Bengals, but they prefer bigger guys for their physical running game.  Mathis should fit what we do well.  Dave Spadaro wondered on Eagles Live if the move was possibly done so that we could move Todd Herremans from LG to RT.  Mathis could immediately step in at LG.  It would be helpful to have a good update on Winston Justice’s knee and how its coming along.

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Some practice / roster thoughts.  I’m not at Lehigh so this is based on clips I’ve seen and what I’ve read from reliable sources.

* Victor Abiamiri is seeing time at DT, something I suggested a few times.   He looks like a good inside rusher.

* DE Phillip Hunt has one heck of a burst.  If he continues to fly off the ball it will be hard for the Eagles to let him go.

* I’m not impressed with LB Rashad Jeanty.  He looks slow in the limited clips I’ve seen.

* Jamar Chaney is impressive.  Love his speed.

* DRC is the real deal.  His potential is through the roof.

* Part of me isn’ t bothered by Plax going to the Jets.  Riley Cooper looks good.  He could be breakout player.

* Sinorice Moss looks re-born.  PS games will be critical for him.  He caught one pass last summer.  Needs to show he can play in games.

* Spadaro said the Eagles like LB Brandon Peguese.  He’s probably a Practice Squad target at best, but interesting to know the team is high on him.

* MLB Greg Lloyd looked slow in coverage.

* I’m impressed with RB Dion Lewis so far.  He showed good effort as a blocker, but I still need to see how he does at that in game action.

* WR DeAndre Brown has very good potential.  I sure hope he works hard on and off the field.  He could be a player to watch.

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The Eagles did have interest in Plaxico coming here, but I’m not sure they are dead set on adding a veteran wideout.  They wanted Plax because he’s a unique guy.  He’s not just a big WR.  He’s one of the best big WRs in NFL history.  It will be interesting to see if the team pursues any other receivers.  Someone asked me about Malcolm Floyd.  If the team does want a big guy, Floyd could be of interest.

The Eagles may want to see what Moss and Johnnie Lee Higgins do at Lehigh for a few more days.  They’re small, but have the kind of speed the Eagles have preferred in recent years.

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Brian Baldinger was a guest on Eagles Live.  One topic he touched on was where the 3 CBs would line up if they stay together.  He thought Asante would be in the slot.  I think DRC would go in there.  The slot is where quick passes go.  You don’t want Asante in there.  He plays off and tries to bait QBs.  That works outside where he’s got enough time to break on the ball.  Baldinger did raise on relevant point.  There are more tipped balls in the middle and that is where Asante and his hands could make a difference.  He has elite ball skills.

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There is a lot of action in the RB market, but the Eagles aren’t getting mentioned with anyone.  Adam Caplan is adamant that the team wants speed.  That would make sense based on the UDFAs we brought in.  I want size, but the Eagles and I don’t always agree when it comes to RBs.

Noel Devine was cut.  No word on what happened.  Super talent, but he’s always been a strange person.  I’m still shocked he showed up at the Senior Bowl at 160 pounds.  That sent off alarm bells to NFL teams.  I have no idea what he weighed when he reported to Lehigh.


Sunday Stuff

Posted: July 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 52 Comments »

My new column for SB Nation Philly is up.  I wrote about Andy Reid and free agents.  In recent years he’s really become a guy that players want to play for.  It gives me great pleasure to see just the opposite going on with the Skins and Mike Shanahan.  I’ve said he’s overrated for years and been in all kinds of arguments.  The guy did win 2 Super Bowls, but had John friggin’ Elway, one of the 10 greatest QBs in the history of the NFL.  Without Elway, Shanny has one playoff win.  One.  Ouch.

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The Eagles lost out on Plaxico, who they did want.  It will be interesting to see if they go after another veteran receiver.  The absence of Maclin and DeSean isn’t good.  I do think DeSean will report soon.  Not sure what’s up with Mac.  Doesn’t sound good based on Andy’s comments from Saturday, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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The Eagles did sign OG Evan Mathis.  He’s got 22 career starts in his time with Carolina, Miami, and Cincy.  He’s the kind of OG that Howard Mudd wants.  Mathis goes 6’5, 302.  I liked him coming out of college.  So did the Eagles.  They brought him to the NovaCare Complex for a pre-draft visit.  I had him rated as a 3rd round prospect.  Not a great athlete, but smart, tough, and aggressive.  Good pass and run blocker.  Overachiever type.

Mathis has NFL experience at LG and RG.  Some wonder if he’s here to fill in for Danny Watkins.  Could be.  Not sure if anything else is happening.  We haven’t heard a good update on Winston Justice’s knee.  King Dunlap is the starting RT, but hasn’t exactly shined from what we hear.  Backup RT Fenuki Tupou is really struggling.  Could be some shifting going on at some point.  Still early so we’ve gotta let these guys play a bit.

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Good article on the Eagles and the signing of Nnamdi Asomugha.

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More on Cullen Jenkins.  Some wondered why deal Bunkley and go with Jenkins.  Bunk might fit the new scheme.  He’s still young and could have a bright future.  This stat is a good explanation.  Jenkins had 7 sacks last year.  Bunk has 6 in his career.  I’ll be the first to tell you that Bunk doesn’t get to rush the passer very much, but that’s part of the point.  Can you re-train him and get him to do that well?  Huge question.  With Jenkins, he’s already good at it.

Getting pressure up the middle is critical these days.  You never see Drew Brees get sacked.  The ball is out before DEs have a chance to get there.  Pressure up the middle is a whole other story.  And this isn’t 260-pound Darren Howard doing it.  This is a 300-pound DT.  Draw plays aren’t going to be as effective with him in there.  I haven’t had a chance yet to study him thoroughly, but I know Jenkins is a good pass rusher.  We needed help in that area.  Good signing.

Someone made a great point in regard to the deal.  We traded Bunk for a 2012 5th round pick.  The Skins dealt Big Al for a 2013 5th round pick.  Because of the year difference, we got better value for Bunk than they did for a guy with dominant potential.  Appreciate how good the Eagles front office is from time to time.

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No word on anything at LB.  Barrett Ruud and Stephen Tulloch are off the market.  Both guys had to settle for 1-year deals.  That tells you there isn’t as much of a market for MLBs as you would think.  I’m not a big fan of Kirk Morrison’s.  I’d rather go with Nick Barnett or possibly Lofa Tatupu.  He’s likely going to be cut today.  His knees aren’t great and he’s reportedly slowed down, but he could be a good short term answer to give Casey Matthews a year to develop.  Casey is the long term answer at MLB.  We’re not committing to another guy for a long deal.  Castillo wants Matthews to be his guy.  As for anything at WLB…no idea what might happen.

I think one of the keys for us at MLB, if we go for a vet, is finding someone who is a solid pass defender.  We play with the lead a lot.  Teams want to throw on us.  The outside lanes will be taken away by Nnamdi, DRC, and/or Asante.  That means more throws over the middle.  We don’t need a huge run stuffer.  We need someone who can play the passing lanes, as well as being a solid run defender.  Tatupu is very instinctive and a gifted cover LB, when 100%.  I don’t know what kind of shape his knees/legs are in now.

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A few people asked about Cap casualties on the roster.  No one is getting cut purely for cost.  If the guys can still play well, they’ll keep jobs.  Juqua Parker will or won’t be an Eagle because of how he plays, not his salary.  If he can be a good backup LDE, it would be dumb to cut him to save money.  We know the value of pass rushers.  I don’t think we have any “fat cats” on the roster right now.  The guys earning big bucks are still important players.

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Someone asked about the addition of big corners and how that helps the Red Zone defense.  Big time.  Asante liked to play off in the RZ.  You can’t do that.  You can’t bait QBs when you’re at the 5-yard line.  You’ve got to press and stick right on the receiver.  DRC and Nnamdi will be a major improvement for us in the RZ.  They can be physical with receivers.  They also jump well and can’t be thrown over (unless going against Plaxico types).


Eagles Add DL Cullen Jenkins

Posted: July 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 95 Comments »

On Saturday afternoon the Eagles announced that they’d agreed to terms with DT/DE Cullen Jenkins.  He racked up 29 sacks in his 7 years with the Green Bay Packers.  Jenkins has played in a 4-3 and 3-4.  Crazy enough, he was the RDE when the Eagles played the Packers in the 2007 season opener.  Jenkins beat Tra Thomas with a speed rush and created a sack for someone else.  He used a couple of spin moves to beat Tra and get pressure.

The Packers switched to the 3-4 in 2009.  Jenkins played DE in that system, but also slid into DT in some passing situations.  Jenkins played a lot of LDT against us in the playoff game.  Sometimes he was used to rush, other times as a decoy.  A few times it looked like the Packers had him spying on Vick.  That should tell you that he’s pretty athletic.

The concern with Jenkins is durability.  Here is something former Packers beat writer Greg Bedard said on Twitter:  “Absolutely love Cullen Jenkins, but he gets hurt. A lot. Constant knee and ankle dings that sap him of his pass rush at times.”

I certainly like the move, but I’m curious about what it means for the current group of DTs.  Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon have been the starters so far.  Patt reported slimmer than last year, but I’m not sure exactly what his weight is.  Dixon is still big, but has the frame Jim Washburn likes in DTs.  He’s tall at 6’3.  Trevor Laws should thrive in the new scheme.  Brodrick Bunkley is a guy people are down on, but Juan Castillo had legitimate high hopes for him.  No idea how Bunk has looked so far.  He’s the guy I think should be most concerned.

UPDATED:  Eagles trade Bunk to Cleveland for 5th round pick.

Will Jenkins start?  His deal is 5 years for $25M, but Mike Lombardi reports that it is a one-year deal for $4M that the Eagles can walk away from at the end of 2011.

Greg Cosell from NFL Films wrote this on Twitter:  ” Jenkins great fit for DL coach Washburn. Versatility to play DE + DT; an excellent pass rusher from DT, which the Eagles lacked. Great move.”

Jenkins at NFL.com

Jenkins at Espn.com

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NFL Network is reporting that Ike Reese says the Eagles will sign Plaxico Burress.  At this point, nothing surprises me.

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Eagles re-signed LB Akeem Jordan.  Add him to the mix at WLB, I’m guessing.

 

 


Opening Presents

Posted: July 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 68 Comments »

Getting a bunch of new players is like opening presents on your birthday or Christmas…or whatever other occasion you might get them. You’ve got something new and shiny. It’s exciting. Life is good. With that in mind, Happy Free Agency Day!  Let’s talk about the presents we got.

Nnamdi Asomugha – 6’2, 210

Most people consider Nnamdi the second best CB in the NFL (Darrelle Revis is top dog). Asomugha is a physical press corner. This means that he likes to line up right over the receiver and get physical with him right from the snap. Nnamdi uses his long arms to jam the receiver and keep him from getting a clean release. Plenty of big CBs do this, but Nnamdi has some skills that make him special. He runs well for a big guy. He also has great body control and change of direction ability.

A CB doesn’t know where he’ll be going on the average play. He has to react to the WR. This is where most big CBs get in trouble. They can run in a straight line, but receivers can separate from them with sharp cuts or quick moves. Nnamdi is able to turn, bend, and cut with the receiver. Nnamdi is quick and fast. He also has good coverage instincts.

Nnamdi will be the Eagles CB on the right side of the defense (Sheldon Brown/Bobby Taylor’s old side). He will lock down receivers over there. Last year poor RCB play cost the Eagles the Titans game. It almost cost us the Giants game (miracle comeback changed that). Nnamdi’s presence at RCB will force teams to look elsewhere. He’ll get challenged on occasion, but Hakeem Nicks won’t be doing to him what he did to Dimitri Patterson.

Nnamdi is an effective tackler. He’s much better than Asante, but won’t be mistaken for Antoine Winfield any time soon. He occasionally will hit. It is hard to rate his ball skills. Nnamdi only has 3 picks in the last 4 years, but he’s also one of the least targeted corners in the NFL. He did have 8 INTs back in 2006 so that shows you he can make plays when given regular chances.

Nnamdi is a great signing by the Eagles because he came at a reasonable rate. $12M per season is cheap compared to the $19M we heard about at one point a few weeks back. While $12M is still a lot, you’re paying a fair salary to a blue chip player and one of the 10 or 15 best defensive players in the whole league.

As for whether the Eagles should keep all 3 CBs…real tough question. I would be willing to trade Asante Samuel, but the price has to be right. I think a fantasy deal would be dealing him to the Jets for CB Kyle Wilson and a pick. Wilson is a player the Eagles liked very much in the 2010 draft. The Jets took him 29th overall. Wilson struggled some as a rookie, but has the potential to be a good starting CB in the NFL.

I would not give Asante away. You can keep him for 2011 and trade him next March. The question then becomes whether you can manage the egos. The Eagles did a good job of that with Bobby Taylor, Troy Vincent, and Al Harris from 1999-2002, but the circumstances were very different. Nnamdi, Asante, and DRC have no relationship. Mixing them together and keeping everyone happy would be tricky (if not impossible). The Eagles got burned by trying this in 2008 with Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard, and Asante Samuel. Lito acted like a turd and his career has been in a downward spiral ever since.

Howie Roseman can sit back and field offers for Asante. If the right one comes in, take it. If no one is offering anything decent, keep the 3 Amigos together.

Good chart from PE.com on how tough it is to throw on Nnamdi.

RS/WR Johnnie Lee Higgins – 5’11, 185

The Eagles signed Higgins to a one-year deal on Friday. I love this move. We have Chad Hall and Sinorice Moss as #5 WR/RS candidates. Higgins is here to fight for that same role. Higgins hasn’t done much as a WR for the Raiders in his 4-year career. He’s got just 57 catches. He has been a solid KOR and good PR. He had 3 PR touchdowns back in 2008.

I was a big fan of Johnnie Lee’s when he was at UTEP. Here’s part of what I wrote about him prior to the draft: “Also a RS. Returns both punts and KOs. Averaged 15 yds a PR for his career. Had 2 TDs. Catches the ball smoothly. Has good vision. Can make the first guy miss. Solid KOR. Averaged 20 yds a KOR for his career, but never had a TD. ” I also noted that he was deceptively tough as a WR. Johnnie Lee isn’t all that big, but he was willing to work the middle of the field and could break some tackles.

Higgins is here in Philly as competition. He will push Moss and Hall. We need someone to emerge for the #5 WR spot. Higgins does have a chance to make the roster if he plays well.

TE Donald Lee – 6’4, 248

Veteran TE has 198 career catches. Good athlete and receiver. Had some very productive years with the Packers. He started 6 games for them last year. Lee’s only a limited blocker.

Lee is here to provide competition at TE. We have Brent Celek and Clay Harbor as the top two guys. We have Martell Webb as a blocking type TE prospect. John Nalbone and Cornelius Ingram are young guys trying to show they belong in the league. Lee can step in right away and practice at a high level. He knows how to run routes and catch the ball. There was no player to strongly push Celek and Harbor prior to Lee’s arrival. The other guys have talent, but are more projects than finished products. Lee gives us a good veteran camp body. Could make the roster if injuries happen.

UDFA – WR Gerald Jones – 5’10, 195 – Tennessee

Back in 2008 I watched Tennessee play and this young WR really caught my eye. He was the Wildcat QB and showed real good running skills. Over the next 2 years I kept waiting for that guy to emerge as a great college player. Never happened. That was Gerald Jones. He is still talented, but only developed into a so-so player at UT. He didn’t always have great QB play to help him out, but Jones never became the playmaker he should have. He does have potential. Jones is a very elusive runner. He’s athletic. Solid receiver, but not great. Has some PR experience. Realistically, he’s pushing for a Practice Squad spot. I am curious to see if the light ever goes on for him and he’s plays up to the potential I saw back in ’08.

UDFA – RB Derrick Locke – 5’9, 190 – Kentucky 

Here are some pre-draft notes I wrote on Locke: “Talented, athletic RB. Rating goes down because of durability concerns. Only played in 41 of 52 career games. Productive when he did play. Had 6 games with more than 97 yards in 2010. Ran for more than 2,000 career yards. Real good burst. Hits the hole hard. Had a real good showing at the Senior Bowl. Caught 95 career passes. Good KOR. ”

Locke was terrific in the Senior Bowl game. Here are my notes from that: “DERRICK LOCKE — Had a nice gain to the right side on early run. Defense gave him a hole and he didn’t hesitate. Good burst. Made an really nice cut on the next play. Started up the middle. Pressed the hole, then bounced a gap to the left and got upfield. Got 9 yds on the play. Made another real impressive cut a couple of plays later. Started to the right, off tackle. The defense was all over that area so Locke made a quick move and then bounced the run way out wide. Used a quick burst to turn a simple draw play into a gain of 15.”

I’m a little confused by the fact we have so many RBs and they’re all sorta similar. I do like the fact that Locke can run, catch, and be a KOR. That gives him added value. Very good college player who could challenge for a roster spot or place on the P-Squad.


Wake Up, Eagles!

Posted: July 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 117 Comments »

It is now 7:38pm and the Eagles haven’t made a move in over an hour.  When is Howie Roseman going to give us the aggressive offseason he planned???  What a bum!!!

So…how does it feel to have Nnamdi Asomugha on board?  Talk about a shocker (and I’m not referring to the kinky version either).  I can tell you that the Eagles had serious doubts about being in the running for him.  They expected a major bidding war.  I’m guessing that when the market fell a bit, they decided to jump in.

The Eagles now have the best trio of CBs in the league – Asante, Nnamdi, adn DRC.  That won’t last for long.  I’m hearing that Asante is on the trade block.  Might be headed to another team that wears green and plays in the NFL.  Somebody that planned on landing an impact corner, but had him stolen away at the last minute.

Great job by Howie and the Eagles.  My concern with Nnamdi was his age and cost.  If we move Asante, the cost and age factors aren’t so key.  We’ll have one young CB in DRC and one older one in Nnamdi.  We don’t have to worry about money if we move Asante’s salary to a new team.

I’m shocked and then some.  I was on Twitter watching the whole thing go down at 6pm.  I was caught off guard when the Jets said they were out.  I was depressed because that meant Dallas had to be the Nnamdi sweepstakes winners.  Then his agent put out that Dallas was out of the mix.  Great!  But who was the mystery team?  Couldn’t be the Eagles.

Oops.

Seeing Adam Schefter and Jay Glazer report that Nnamdi was headed to the Eagles was like Christmas in July.  Freaking awesome.

The only question now is if I come up to Philly for this year’s Super Bowl parade or wait a year and go after the second title.

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More to come on this move and the others.  Busy day, crazy night ahead.