I’m still working my way through the game. I’m getting a lot of questions that can be addressed without me finishing so I’ll address the hot topics right here.
Is Phillip Hunt a lock for the roster? You need to change the way you think about Hunt. He is no longer a fringe guy trying to play his way on the roster. Hunt is now part of the team, the same as Trent Cole, Nate Allen, or Evan Mathis. Hunt is an Eagle. At this point, he’s the #3 DE on the team. There might have been a battle between he and Darryl Tapp at one point, but that’s ancient history. It’s right there with the Battle of the Nile, the Battle of Trafalgar, and the Battle of Copenhagen. History. And Hunt is playing the role of Lord Nelson.
What happens with Tapp? The Eagles will keep him through at least next week. They’ll want him to play on Friday night. After that, I would think the Eagles would start shopping him around the league. Have to hold him in case someone gets injured. Darryl Tapp is a good player. Problem is that you want Cole/Babin/Hunt/Graham on the field. Curry is the developmental DE (who is actually pretty ready to play). Tapp is just the odd man out. If the top 5 are good to go after 3 games, I think you start shopping Tapp. I don’t think he’s good enough to start in the league, but he can be a valuable backup. Should be worth a pick.
I don’t think the Eagles will keep him as 6th DE. His only value would be if you played him. Tapp makes too much to be inactive. You could play him over Graham, but I think that would be dumb. I’d rather have Graham on the field.
What was Castillo doing last night? The Eagles blitzed a lot on 3rd downs. The Pats ran screens and had good success. Castillo was getting out-coached, right? That depends. My guess is that Castillo was working on the Eagles blitz package. If so, then you don’t blame him a bit. The defense must have a chance to work on blitzes. They can’t do them against our OL because the line has seen them over and over. The element of surprise is gone. You need to see them against another team.
Now, if Castillo thought the blitzes were the solution to the screen game, then he would be completely at fault. I doubt that is the case. The fact we kept doing very similar blitzes on 3rd/longs, but with different players on the field made it feel as though it was more of a practice plan. Let’s see which players execute the blitz the best. Let’s see what we need to work on.
I know this notion will drive some people nuts. Why do that if NE is going to burn the D? That’s why you don’t obsess on results in the preseason. You are working on elements of your game. You’re not totally focused on the opponent and what he’s doing. The preseason is all about getting ready for the regular season. Better to see what parts of the blitz work/don’t work now so you can adjust them by September.
Bryce Brown vs Chris Polk? Brown in a landslide. I love Polk’s heart and effort. He is doing everything possible to make this roster. The problem is that he’s an effort guy at RB. You can find those guys all over the place. I don’t want it to come across that Polk isn’t talented. He does have some talent. He’s just not special in any way, aside from effort. If the NFL allowed 60 man rosters, keeping a guy like Polk would be great. I just don’t think you can justify him on the Eagles roster. Andy doesn’t use his RBs very well. Having a situational player like Polk would be a waste of a spot.
Last night Paul Domowitch tweeted out that he’s heard from scouts that Polk won’t make it onto the Eagles practice squad. Some other team will claim him. That’s just a chance you have to take. Unless…if the Eagles can talk Polk into having surgery on something (shoulder?), he can go to IR. If he isn’t injured or isn’t getting surgery of some sort, can’t go to IR. I think Polk would want to try and play this year, to catch on with another team. Reason someone else would want him is injuries. We’re suddenly deep at RB. Teams like GB are scrambling to find RBs.
Update on FB spot? Stanley Havili made his move last night. He had a good lead block on Shady’s TD run. Didn’t kill the LB, but had to move to get to the right spot and then drew a stalemate. That worked. Havili had a good run up the gut to set up the score. He had a good hit on punt coverage. Had a good block (almost 2) on Boykin’s long KOR. Havili had an impressive chip block on pass play. Knocked DT to the ground. Finally, someone stepped up and showed that he deserved the job. He’s no lock, but that performance was very impressive and gives him a great chance to be the FB.
What was going on between Reid/Jenkins? We don’t know the specific subject that set Andy off, but a few observant readers wondered if a screen pass was the issue. A few plays prior to the incident, there was a screen where Jenkins gave up pursuit very quickly. I don’t think he had any chance to affect the play, but it might have bothered Andy to see the lax effort.
One thing I do believe is that Andy is pissed at his team right now. The starters weren’t good vs PIT. They came out sloppy vs the NE 1’s/2’s. I think Andy was frustrated in part due to last year and the 1-4 start where we were plagued by sloppy mistakes. He is trying to get this team to wake up and avoid that kind of football. If we had just won one extra game in the early stretch, we’re NFC East champs. Didn’t happen, though.
My guess is that Andy is trying to push some buttons to get the team fired up. Last summer we beat the Ravens in an ugly PS opener. The Steelers then dominated our starters. In the third game we beat CLE, but it wasn’t a great showing. Our backups then got the best of the Jets backups in the finale. We were 3-1, but there were all kinds of warning signs.
Andy didn’t know that team very well (due to the lockout and all the new guys). This year he knows the team. He is more willing to push buttons and try different things. He is not going to let the team continue to be sloppy. And the team did respond well. After the shouting incident, we dominated the rest of the way.
Why didn’t Andy yell at Castillo? Some people have mistaken the fact that Andy yelled at Washburn to mean that he was looking to get on his coaches. Andy went over to get on his DL. Wash interceded on their part and that led to him getting yelled at. If Andy wanted to go after coaches, he would have done that and Castillo would have gotten some criticism.
The key point from Andy seems to have been about effort and intensity. That’s all on the players. That’s why Andy was going after his DL to start with. Again…if this was about gameplans and playcalls…Juan would have gotten yelled at.
LT update? King Dunlap played well enough to keep his job. I thought he had a good showing. Not great, but good. I have yet to really study the 2nd half, beyond a couple of drives, so I can’t talk as much about Bell. He began well, but things got sloppier as the game went on. That should not have happened. Very curious to see what happened.
Did Jai-Jar play? Yes. He played some in the 2nd half. I didn’t focus on him. Did his job on a short pass into the right flat and the ball fell incomplete. Jai-Jar was in the right spot and ready to tackle the guy for minimal gain. Sounds small (and it is), but at least he did something right. The coaches can find something positive. You’ve got to do anything you can to rebuild the young man’s confidence.
DeMeco Ryans? The thing I love is that he can actually shed blocks with his hands. He will aggressively engage blockers, but he can consistently win the battle. There were some coverage plays where you could see that he’s not a speedster anymore. I thought he was good vs inside runs.
Backup OL update? Bell-Vandy-Vallos-Reynolds-Kelly. I was surprised, but happy to see Steve Vallos as the backup C. I wrote last week that he just seems like a Mudd guy. Reynolds did not impress me last week. I only saw a bit of Vallos. Will watch him closely. I’m hoping he took advantage of his chance to win a job. Vandy was much better at LG than last week at C.
Is it okay to get excited over Nick Foles? Abso-friggin-lutely. He leads the NFL in passer rating. It is easy to get nervous after the way that Bobby Hoying or Kevin Kolb turned out not to be stud QBs. Difference is that Foles is just 2 games into his career. Neither one of them started like this. Hoying’s great games came in November of his 2nd season. Kolb had an impressive rookie preseason (QB rating of 87.7, 617 yds, 2 TDs, 0 INTs), but wasn’t nearly as impressive as Foles.
Is the 3 TE idea dead? Sure looks that way. Brett Brackett had a good camp. He’s been more up and down in the PS games. I think a year on the practice squad will help him a lot. Get bigger, stronger. Work on his blocking. Could be 3rd TE in 2013. Still like long term potential. Just doesn’t look ready right now.
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