Some Backup OL Talk

Posted: August 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 20 Comments »

For SB Nation Philly, I wrote about the Eagles search for depth on the OL.  We love the starters (fingers crossed on Demetress Bell), but backups on the inside are not set at all.

Evan Mathis is dealing with vertigo right now, which I didn’t address in the column.  I wasn’t sure of the details when I wrote the piece.  Mathis has an inner ear infection which is causing the vertigo.  When the infection goes away, so should the vertigo.

Interestingly, Dallas Reynolds has gotten the snaps for the last 2 days in place of Mathis.  I don’t think this is an endorsement of him so much as a test to see how he’ll handle it.

* * * * *

Bo Wulf wrote a terrific piece for on the backup Center position.  He has some good quotes and a few nuggets that I didn’t have in my piece.  The biggest scoop he got on me is in reference to Steve Vallos.  I had forgotten that Vallos started some games for Seattle.  This isn’t a huge deal since it is only a few, but the fact he’s got some starting experience in the NFL has to help his cause.

Really good piece by Bo.  This is the kind of thing that I think sets apart.  How many other team sites have someone sit down and churn out 3,000 words on the backup C spot?  Having studied some other team sites this summer, I can tell the answer is not many, if any.

* * * * *

Fake WIP Caller is at it again.  His take on the Phillies is good, as you would expect.  My favorite part:

For years, us fans demanded certain things of the Phillies organization. We wanted them to spend money, trade for superstars, exchange players we’ve never heard of for ones we have, and behave as an aggressive, powerful large-market team. Ruben Amaro has done all of those things, and look where it got us. Shame on him for listening to us.

It’s like Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Joe Six-Pack had a love child and gave him his own column.

* * * * *

Former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah visited Lehigh and offered his thoughts on the Eagles.  I shared the Twitter snippets earlier.  Here is the full column.  Man, I hope he’s right about Fletcher Cox.

* * * * *

What do I think of the tough, physical camp by Andy?  I like it.

Some coaches run soft camps.  Some have winning teams.  I still think the way to go is to have a hard camp.  You want to be tough on the players to bring the best out in them.  I also think it helps them to form a bond as a team.  Last year Reid had to run a soft camp and the team was more individualistic than in some other seasons.  Getting beaten down physically and mentally can be a good bonding experience.

Is Andy too tough?  I can’t answer that since I’ve never been to another team’s camp.  I like the way he runs things and it has been pretty successful over the years.

Do the tough camps cause the Eagles to lose some games in September and October that they shouldn’t?  Good question that is worth discussing.  I’m not sure.  Would need time to study that.  Last year the team went through a soft camp and started 1-4 so I don’t know if that means anything.

* * * * *

Someone asked me to talk about the 2008 defense and why it was so good.  I haven’t forgotten the question.  I just need time to sit down and write out some thoughts.  As austinfan wrote in the comments section, a weak set of opposing QBs and offenses certainly helped.  It is more than that, though.  I’ll get to that this weekend.


20 Comments on “Some Backup OL Talk”

  1. 1 T_S_O_P said at 1:43 AM on August 4th, 2012:

    Bo also had an excellent 1-1 interview with VanderNerd on PE. Hard not to like the guy (Julian)… A LOT. Great insights on why the switch is so difficult. I love PE too, and Bo is stato of quirky knowledge about the players. It is clear why you get on well.

    I agree that Mudd has to know whether Dallas can handle playing against the starters, because at the start of camp (or just before), he said that if he assembled his line that day Reynolds would be his back up.

    It was hard to watch from the cam how well he did. I saw LeSean break a nice run through a gap he helped create. They (OL) also had the no#2 DL offsides quite a bit.

    Mudd must have got to like him over last year when he was on the Practice Squad, as I quote, never undersell that fact, despite the fact that he seems less than the ideal of a ‘Mudd Lineman’.

    I think Vandervelde should be ready as a swing G-C soon, I think it will be Reynolds this year.

  2. 2 Anders Jensen said at 4:03 AM on August 4th, 2012:

    I think have some of the best coverage of all teams in the NFL, how many can regular get there owner, GM and coach to sit down and interview them? Also how many teams have so many 1 on 1 interviews with players and give the opportunity to watch 3 hours of TC via the website?
    My only problem is that they do not archive 1v1 between the OL and DL anymore, but I 100% understand why they do not do that.

  3. 3 ICDogg said at 9:19 AM on August 4th, 2012:

    Are there even any other team sites that compare?

    Well, other than the Rams, of course, with great videos like this one

  4. 4 Alex Karklins said at 12:22 PM on August 4th, 2012:

    OH MY GOD.

  5. 5 scott_mather said at 9:39 AM on August 4th, 2012:

    I think we’re really spoiled as fans as far as our team’s self-coverage. I know Spadaro gets crapped on a lot on EMB, but he and the rest of the team (including Tommy) give us fans a great view into the team and deserve major kudos. Locally, in PHX, the Cardinals site is mediocre at best.
    And go DBacks!!!

  6. 6 ian_no_2 said at 9:52 AM on August 4th, 2012:

    Coverage of teams polarizes between people who are against the org on every count and the pro-org writers (usually more knowledgeable), with the columnists sort of in the middle. I’m glad Tommy is happy with, which provides a lot more content than other team sites. Someone should make Tommy very, very happy.

    I used to be a huge Phillies fan but I haven’t been paying attention this year. Even tho they’re spending money they’re making it back in droves. They know how to do that. They won a championship because they brought Pat Gillick in from outside the organization, and have declined because they promoted Ruben Amaro from within the organization, and they passed over Jim Leyland and other managers of that ilk for Charlie Manuel, who is a good manager for hitters because he’s not a jerk but can’t strategize a game. The emergence of Howard and Utley from the farm system was a fluke,
    because they shortened their careers by inanely refusing to play them
    early on.

    Reid/ Roseman had a very good draft in 2012, perhaps thanks to Anthony Patch, and the team won the championship ‘on paper’ or the computer chip already. But comparing Gillick and Ed Wade, I realized that Gillick was going to win a championship when, after his first year here, he said he did a terrible job. Ed Wade came out of the PR department of the Phillies bureaucracy, so he was constantly in the media managing his expectations and explaining why he won a trade of second-tier players. Whenever I see a GM in pre-season talking about how wonderful they are, I think less of them. We all want the Lombardi Trophy. We don’t want to hear about how we ripped off the Dolphins in a trade for draft picks.

  7. 7 aceandson said at 10:00 AM on August 4th, 2012:

    Not to get too off topic, but Ruben Amaro has little to do with Phillies poor season. Failure of the 2nd tier players (Victorino, Pence) and 3rd tier (Mayberry, Wigginton, etc) to step up in the absence of the big pieces, poor seasons by former Cy Young winners, and a bad bullpen -the one part of the roster which can change dramatically from year to year without prediction are the reasons the team is losing.

    Amaro has built a roster which should win. They just haven’t.

  8. 8 ian_no_2 said at 10:04 AM on August 4th, 2012:

    again, I’m not prepped to argue with Peter Gammons at the moment, but a team that brings in Juan Pierre in a hitter’s park deserves to lose, just like Raul Ibanez was a drag before him, getting Polanco instead of Adrien Beltre. If you play in a bandbox and you have dough to throw around, 1-8 in the lineup should be able to club a hanging slider.

  9. 9 aceandson said at 5:07 PM on August 4th, 2012:

    Fake WIP Caller?

    We all know winning a championship is tough and there are a lot of factors. In football, the coaches have more control than in most sports -especially baseball, which is entirely performance driven. In baseball, a GM can only assemble a team that looks good on paper and let their skills play out. A manager can’t really scheme to a club’s strengths.

    For the past two seasons the Phillies had the best record in baseball. That’s proof that they had a good club. Proof Amaro assembled winners. That includes Ibanez, who put up good numbers. And Polanco who was adequate with the bat and great with the glove. Yes, Beltre would have been preferable especially in hindsight -but he CHOSE to sign with Texas. Amaro then moved on to his #2 target.

    Pierre was a non-roster invite to camp and played his way on to the club. He’s hitting above .300 and running the bases like a 22 year old. He was supposed to be a bench player. A guy who could make contact, bunt, pinch run. Mayberry and Nix’s failure to step pushed him to a more active role. And frankly, it shows that Amaro knows how to build a roster pretty well.

  10. 10 Matthew Donaldson said at 6:01 PM on August 4th, 2012:

    The Phillies roster was not constructed to be successful this year. It relied far to much upon aging veterans. They have no depth due in part to a fairly bad farm system at this point. Had they stayed 100% healthy which was not to be expected they might have been more successful. Either way expecting Polanco, Wiggington, Peirre and the other scrubs they had in their lineup to do anything useful was a pipe dream at best.

  11. 11 Mikko Koikkalainen said at 9:53 AM on August 4th, 2012:

    Thanks Tommy for aswering the physical camp question both here and then talking about it on the podcast.

  12. 12 P_P_K said at 9:59 AM on August 4th, 2012:

    WIP Faker got me thinking. A buddy of mine and I have been in a fierce debate the last couple years about whether Philly is a baseball or football town. He argues that the Phillies are the #1 team, I say the Eagles. The success of the Fightins’ and the struggles of the Birds may, perhaps, have tilted the balance towards baseball in recent years. But with the collapse of the Phillies, can you imagine what would happen if the Eagles actually win the SB? I think the Eagles would reign supreme for the next century.

  13. 13 ICDogg said at 10:45 AM on August 4th, 2012:

    I know lately on talk radio it’s been all Phillies, but I think that’s because there is more to complain about.

  14. 14 austinfan said at 10:45 AM on August 4th, 2012:

    One thing you have to remember about camp is that a team is a work in progress during camp, “hell week” is the weeding out process (get rid of talented athletes without heart early), then the exhibition games expose the “gamers” and the “pratice stars” (some guys look great in drills but don’t have “it,” others don’t shine in controlled practices but thrive in the chaos of game day). Meanwhile the experienced guys who know the system look better early, but the rookies and newcomers get their feet under them after a couple weeks and often move ahead (when they stop thinking and just feel the force, or be the force).

    One reason the fourth exhibition game is so important is at that point everyone is pretty much a “finished product” for the season, players don’t get a chance to practice or refine after that point, it’s all about game day preparation and the backups and PS guys are on scout team duty – so what coaches are looking for in that last game is who is game ready this season,

    The tough training camp can be exaggerated, it’s basically a little more than two weeks (excluding rest day Tuesdays), then they’re in normal game day practice and preparation mode back at the complex. For those weeks the players are pushed physically, but the point is really to see how they do once the adrenalin is gone, they’re tired and sore, and their bed is more enticing than the prospect of bling. Can they focus, do they start taking plays off, are they still hungry, are they intimidated by the hitting? The point is to weed out the guys who look good in the first quarter in September but not in the 3rd quarter in November, and to build boot camp camaraderie among the rest.

    I think tough training camps have always been part of AR’s MO, and it balances his player coach personality. You push them to the limit, then you pat them on the back and tell ’em how great they are, after they’ve made onto the Eagle special forces unit. These guys have had a sense of entitlement their whole lives and you need to break that down so they’re receptive to coaching and to a team first attitude – the stars will make money in any case – you just want another team to pay it to the “me first” stars. The backups have to play for love of the game and their teammates, because it’s too freakin’ tough to excel for a couple good paychecks and then good bye.

  15. 15 the guy said at 1:49 PM on August 4th, 2012:

    Tommy, can I recommend you update the links on the side of the page to include the new podca-… webcast?

    I had to go to for the location. Surely you don’t want that to ever happen again

  16. 16 TommyLawlor said at 2:13 PM on August 4th, 2012:

    I just assumed it was already your home page.

  17. 17 Arby1 said at 5:53 PM on August 4th, 2012:

    It’s like Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Joe Six-Pack had a love child..”

    Just curious, and all science-related questions aside, but would “Y-M-C-A” be playing in the background?

  18. 18 ACViking said at 6:22 PM on August 4th, 2012:

    Re: Tough Training

    In the past 4 decades, the Eagles have had 9 head coaches
    who’ve run a training camp.

    They are: Jerry
    Williams (’68-’71), Ed Khayat (’72), Mike McCormack (’73-’75), Dick Vermeil (’76-’82), Marion Campbell (’83-’85), Buddy Ryan (’86-’90),
    Rich Kotite (’91-94), Ray Rhodes (’95-’98) and Andy Reid (’99 – present).

    Among those 9 coaches, only four had a reputation for
    running tough training camps: Dick
    Vermeil, Buddy Ryan, Ray Rhodes and Andy Reid. The
    common denominator for all three was they transformed bad teams to playoffs teams. (Kotite also took the Eagles to the playoffs one year, but he’d inherited a talented team that had been to the playoffs 3 straight years before his elevation to HC.)

    Conversely, Williams and Khayat were called “nice
    guys” by the players. McCormack was another notorious “players
    coach.” Campbell also ran easy
    camps. And Kotite likewise ran relatively
    easy camps (plus, the defensive players he inherited from Ryan hated him).

    And Khayat, despite being a “nice guy,” lost the team when insisted
    on short hair and no mustaches or beards.
    (Back then, the Cincinnati Reds – the “Big Red Machine” – under Manager
    Sparky Anderson and GM Bob Howsom had the same rule. But the Reds had Bench, Rose, Perez, Morgan,
    Concepcion, Foster, Geronimo, Griffey, Driessen, Nolan, Billingham, Gullett, Borbon, and Carroll
    . . . a team of HOFers and All Stars. Plus, let’s face it, it was baseball.)


    When Vermeil took over in 1976, he quickly laid his marker –
    cutting Eagles’ veteran running back Ron “Po” James just two weeks into TC back
    when teams played 6 pre-season games.
    Vermeil had a rule that helmets had to be kept on at all times and chin-straps
    always buckled. James – a pretty good RB who set some college records at New Mexico – followed neither. GONE. Vermeil sent a message heard loud and
    clear. (James was promptly picked up by
    the expansion Seahawks.)


    Ryan loved to abuse players in training camp, especially in his
    first year. His favorite target was the Eagles1985
    1st-round pick OT Kevin Allen from U-Indiana, who’d held out from TC his rookie year (something many 1st-rounders did when Braman was
    the owner) and quickly proved to be overmatched in the NFC East.

    Anyway, Allen showed up to Ryan’s
    first TC in poor shape.

    When a reporter asked Ryan how Allen was doing, Ryan answered: “He’s a nice, big ol’ fat kid who
    could probably do somewhere where they want to stand around and kill the grass.”

    (Allen was later cut. And that night, he
    and a buddy went to Atlantic City, found a woman, and raped her on a
    Margate beach. Allen spent the next 15 years in prison.)


    Andy Reid also drew his line in the sand during his first TC using an O-lineman. That would be George Hegamin – a 6’7” 335 lb former 3rd pick from NC State by the
    Cowboys, where he played on a Super Bowl winner. Kotite had signed Hegamin as a “premium” free
    agent before the 1998 season.

    Reid – as he is this summer – ran a very tough TC. Hegamin, as many readers will remember,
    walked out of camp because it was too taxing.
    After a day or so, he asked Reid to let him come back to camp. Reid obliged. And he had Hegamin push
    the blocking sled – by himself – up and down the field. At the end of camp, Reid cut him.


    Vermeil, Ryan, Rhodes, and Reid turned their Eagles teams into playoff teams.

    They all ran tough camps. That seems to work for the Eagles.
    Maybe not other teams. But for the Eagles, it works.

    So I have no problem with what Reid’s doing.

  19. 19 Cliff said at 1:29 AM on August 5th, 2012:

    Awesome story about Hegamin! I actually do NOT remember that. Cool.

  20. 20 P_P_K said at 10:49 AM on August 5th, 2012:

    Andy Reid’s 29 year-old son, Garrett, was foud dead in his room at Lehigh this morning. He was the kid who was arrested on drug and gun charges. So sad, must be a kick in the gut for Andy.