Sorry for the late post. Crazy day.
P Matt McBriar is an Eagle. The team signed him on Wednesday morning. McBriar is here to challenge for the starting Punter job. McBriar has a great track record. The reason he was still available…health. He’s only at about 90 percent right now. If he gets healthy, I’d expect him to beat out Chas Henry. I just don’t know if McBriar will get back to 100 percent.
This is a smart move no matter what happens. McBriar has a really good history and is worth the risk. Henry is talented, but needs someone to push him. To make the argument as simple as possible…Chas Henry must show that he can get the job done. Matt McBriar must show that he can still get the job done. May the best man win.
* * * * *
I want to start with Jim Washburn. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love him? Maybe you don’t love the Wide-9, but can anyone say they don’t like him as a person?
Washburn has had good/interesting things to say about many of his players. The comments that really stood out to me concerned Antonio Dixon. Apparently he reported to Lehigh last year at about 360 pounds. PE.com lists him at 6-3, 322. This year he’s down in the 320-330 range, which is fine for a guy with his frame. He’ll work off 5 to 10 pounds in TC.
Wash said he wasn’t sure what to make of Dixon last year. Every night Andy Reid would have a staff meeting and ask the positional coaches to talk about their players. Wash would say over and over “I don’t know what to tell you” in regard to Dixon. It was clear that he had talent, but was out of shape and slow in adjusting to the new system.
This year should be significantly different. Dixon is in much better shape. While he only played in 3 1/2 games last year, that was enough for Dixon to get a feel for the new 1-gap attack. He now knows the scheme and the coaches. He understands what is being asked of him and how to do it.
Dixon was going to have a chance to ease his way back in, but with Mike Patterson out, the pressure is squarely on the big guy. He will be the starting NT in Training Camp. Can he keep the job? Is he ready to play up to his potential?
You guys know I love Derek Landri. He will do everything in his power to win the starting gig. Fletcher Cox isn’t a natural NT, but if he’s a good enough player, the coaches may try to push him on the field anyway. Dixon will not get the job handed to him. He’s in the top spot for now, but must earn it. Jim Washburn wants him to succeed, but he won’t be Dixon’s biggest advocate unless there is something to like. Dixon must play well. He must produce.
Dixon did show big time potential in October of 2010. He has yet to show he can be a top player for an extended period or whole season. That’s the challenge for him now.
* * * * *
the play of the DL early in 2011 – “No excuses, but they didn’t know my name when we met up here last year,” Washburn said Tuesday. “Golly, I look at the first couple games, all the plays that we screwed up last year on the run, especially the run. Golly, I looked at Atlanta and St. Louis and it’s painful to watch our technique … No excuse, it’s just life. The other teams were in the same situation … We ought to be so much better. There’s no way – we’ve got to be a lot better.”
Vinny Curry – “He’s a little bit farther behind playing where he played,’ Washburn said of Curry. ‘But he’ll be fine. Tough. He’s got some piss in his blood.”
Brandon Graham – “He doesn’t need Vinny Curry to motivate him,” Washburn said, referring to the fact that the Eagles spent a second-round pick on another defensive end. “He’s got everything to motivate him. He’s been beat down. That’s the way it goes, right? You’re a first-round draft choice. You don’t produce great the first year. The guy up north [Jason Pierre-Paul] playing his ass off. People throw that in his face all the time. Somebody said, ‘You gonna pimp him to death?’ I said uh-uh. I don’t have to. I don’t need to.”
Cedric Thornton – “Nobody ever talks about him,” said Washburn, who clearly wanted to remedy that. “He’s big, strong, tough, just raw, doesn’t know he doesn’t know. Wants to be a football player . . . He’s another great kid. That room’s just full of great kids.”
You can tell that Wash really loves his guys. He should. They are a very talented bunch. Dixon and Graham were out of shape last year, but I really thing the lockout is to blame for that. Both guys worked well with Barry Rubin in 2010 and didn’t have any issues with weight or conditioning. Overall, the DL is loaded with talent and pretty hard working guys. Should be fun to see how good they can be.
Yankees 3B Graig Nettles said the world broke down into 2 groups: those that need a kick in the butt and those that need a pat on the butt. Seems like Wash understands how to treat each guy appropriately and get the best from his players.
* * * * *
The star of Lehigh so far is CB Cliff Harris. When he is voted into Canton, I’m sure Cliff will look back fondly to the summer of 2012 when we first saw his dominance/greatness/mega-awesomeness.
Harris has a long way to go before he even makes the team, but he’s doing the right things. Harris isn’t big. He isn’t fast. He’s a playmaker. Right now he is making plays and that is exactly what the coaches need to see from him.
What role would Harris be pushing for? I’m not sure. If we truly do want to press this year, Harris isn’t a natural fit for that. He’s better playing off, so that he can attack the ball. Maybe the Eagles will look at him as a Dime CB, someone who could play in the slot opposite of the Nickel CB. Maybe the Eagles just like his talent and will figure out a way to use him.
The challenge for Harris starting on Friday is to show that he can run with DeSean Jackson and that he can tackle Riley Cooper/Jason Avant.
* * * * *
SLB Mychal Kendricks is looking good. The team is being creative with him so far. Kendricks is showing blitz ability and making coverage plays. This is just rookie competition, but it is nice to see a rookie LB doing what he’s supposed to. Kendricks looks like a gifted athlete and that’s something we’ve needed at LB for a while.
* * * * *
Juan Castillo said that Keenan Clayton is up to 236 pounds. Good news. Clayton is a long shot to make the team, but that’s the kind of size he needs. Clayton has the athleticism. He has the STs ability. He must show the potential to be a starting LB. He doesn’t have to play well enough to win a starting job, but must show enough ability that the coaches would be comfortable with him as a starter should that situation arise. In the past, Clayton has been such a poor run defender that he was limited to being a role player. He is a good role player, but the team’s upgrading at LB has put the pressure on Clayton to do even more if he wants to make the roster.
* * * * *
As for Castillo…you cannot make too much of him as a speaker. Juan just doesn’t communicate well. He is a good football coach. He’s comfortable in his environment. When he has to step out of that and deal with the media…yikes. Not pretty.
Last year this bugged me. What about now? If the defense plays well, I’ll gladly deal with press conferences that are a form of medieval torture. If/when the defense struggles, the PCs are a whole new level on Dante’s chart.
* * * * *