Roster Talk, Vick, & More

Posted: November 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 48 Comments »

A few of you have wondered just how talented the Eagles roster is.  Some have asked about the future.  I decided to combine those thoughts and do an analysis of the roster for my SB Nation Philly column.

There really are 2 key problems.  One of them I touched on in the column…no players (aside from first year guys) are having breakout years.  Nate Allen has been solid, but hasn’t taken the next step.  Danny Watkins has only made slight progress.  Brian Rolle has already been cut.  Jamar Chaney hasn’t progressed.  Demetress Bell isn’t playing as well as Demetrious Bell.  Derek Landri has been slowed by nagging injuries.  Darryl Tapp is just Darryl Tapp.  Phillip Hunt is barely playing.  And so on.

The other key problem, as pointed out by AC Viking, is the failure of the Eagles to turn 1st round picks into star players.  Fletcher Cox looks like he could be the exception, but the group prior to him is lacking.  Watkins might not get his job back (I’ll do a post on that after the Saints game). Brandon Graham was derailed by an ACL, but is on the way back. Just don’t know that he’ll ever become the star pass rusher we hoped for.  Jeremy Maclin is an above average player, but hasn’t become the star WR we hoped for.  We traded picks in 2007 and 2008.  Go back to 2006 and Brodrick Bunkley was a good starting DT, but not a difference maker.

These players aren’t busts.  A bust is a player that can’t get on the field.  These guys are solid starters or even good.  The problem is that they aren’t great.  And you do need some 1st rounders to be great.  Look at the impact of DeMarcus Ware, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ryan Kerrigan for our division rivals.

I don’t know why players aren’t becoming stars.  There is no specific pattern.  They aren’t all small.  They aren’t all workout warriors.  They aren’t all from a particular region or type of school.  I wish there was an obvious pattern.  You would then know what to do/not do.

* * * * *

Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports reported that Michael Vick thought he would be benched by Andy Reid and then Reid/Vick had a long discussion to clear the air and figure things out.

I’m not going to write a lot about this.  Jimmy Bama and I did a podcast and covered the subject at length.

I don’t doubt that Vick was worried about his job.  He denied the report, but his body language in the ATL game looked like a QB who was playing with less than full confidence.  Let’s hope whatever came of the talk between Reid and Vick worked.  He needs to come up big in New Orleans.

The report said that Vick thought some assistant coaches might be pushing for him to get benched.  In the podcast, Jimmy and I speculated.  The obvious name is Marty Mornhinweg.  I also wondered about Howard Mudd.  He’s catching a lot of flak right now for the O-line not playing well, but that isn’t helped by the fact that Vick holds the ball longer than any QB in the NFL.  There are also reportedly some questions about Vick not checking into different run plays when the defense is lined up to the area where the original play is set to go.

The report also brought up the point that Reid feared losing the locker room if he did make a change to rookie Nick Foles.  I’m sure Reid has considered this angle and it will factor into his thinking.  When you bench a well-liked veteran QB for a rookie, not all veteran players are going to be thrilled.  You need to be able to sell them that this truly is the best move for the team.

* * * * *

A couple of links for the draftniks…

David Syvertsen has some Overrated/Underrated prospects.

David also has thoughts on some bit time prospects.


  • Iskar36

    I have to disagree with you on two points about our first round picks. First off, as much as I have liked what Cox has done this season, I don’t think he is making anyone think of him as a pro bowler right now. He is a quality player that should only improve and very possibly could develop into a pro bowler in a year or two, but that’s the point of your article, our first round picks have not developed into those players, so until Cox does, you can’t say he is an exception. He is just the next potential hope as a pro bowl caliber first round pick. I should also point out, that I am not trying to say anything negative about Cox, just pointing out that he still take some big steps forward before he becomes an exception to our lack of star first round picks.

    My second disagreement is on the fact that none of those guys were busts. I think it is clear as day that Watkins right now is a flat out bust. Just because he has started so far in his career doesn’t make him a “non-bust” player. He has started because we have had a lack of competition at the position, not because he has earned it. If he does in fact lose his job for the rest of the season, which I do not think is an unrealistic possibility, he arguably among the biggest first round busts in ARs tenure.

    • TommyLawlor

      Didn’t say Cox was a star player. Said he’s on the track to be a star. Compare his rookie season to Patterson, Bunk, or Graham and Cox is well ahead of them.

      Watkins is 20 games into his career. I don’t think you can label him a bust. Is he a major disappointment? Yes.

  • ACViking

    Re: T-Law’s Roster Analysis . . . a 3-4 defense waiting to happen?

    One other thought I had after reading T-Law’s SBN article is that the Eagles’ defensive roster may actually be pretty well suited to a 3-4 defense . . . which would of course mean that Andy Reid leaves after this season.

    Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton look like very promising D-linemen. Line them up in a 3-4. Move them around the way Wade Phillips does with JJ Watt in Houston. And the way Cards’ Calais Campbell moved around in their game against the Eagles. (The Birds would need a traditional nose tackle . . . at least for 1st down — like an Antonio Dixon-type to eat space.)

    Fletcher Cox, especially, could be the kind of weapon in a 3-4 that Belicheck made Richard Seymour in the early ’00s. And that Watt is now.

    B-Graham, coming out of college, was projected by some (Mike Mayock) as a rush OLB. Maybe Philip Hunt could be more productive in that role, too. Right now, Graham — as T-Law wrote — is disruptive, but he’s not a playmaker.

    DeMR and MK, playing at inside LB, would — I think — be give the Eagles high-impact LBs . . . like the 49ers with Willis and Bowman. (DeR’s problem, as others have said, in the Texans’ 3-4 was that he was recovering from an achillies injury, not a problem with the 3-4 per se. Ravens ILB Ray Lewis thrived in the 3-4, especially after the Ravens drafted Ngota.)

    Maybe Kendrick moves over to the other side from Graham and the Eagles plug someone else in at ILB with DeR. Whatever gets Kendrick to exploit the blitzing skills he showed in college and TC is something I’m all for.

    The 3-4 defense today seems to get played as a hybrid by the best teams. Given the rules favoring the pass, that seems like no surprise.
    ___________

    T-Law’s analysis suggests to me at least that the Eagles could actually make the switch to a 3-4 next season and, especially if they can add a quality NT, be fairly successful.

    By necessity, a switch to the 3-4 would require the Eagles to return to the kind of fire-zone blitzing defense we had w/ Jim Johnson. That’s something I wouldn’t mind at all.

    All of this is just musing, obviously. But I thought T-Law’s breakdown flashed a light on something that just a year ago seemed impossible given the players on the roster.

    • TommyLawlor

      There are some 3-4 pieces, but it would freak me out. I’ve not cheered for a team running the 3-4 since PSU in the 1980s. I’m very much a 4-3 guy and would prefer to keep that.

      • Steag209

        I very much prefer the 4-3 but I wouldn’t be opposed to a hybrid scheme to utilize the players’ skill sets.

      • ACViking

        T-Law:

        We’re a generation apart.

        I suffered at Franklin Field and the early Vet years with the Eagles running a 4-3 defense.

        Then along came Coach Vermeil’s secret weapon . . . the Swamp Fox Marion Campbell, who was a 3-4 master.

        The Eagles became relevant again and played in the 1980 SB.

        That said, if the Eagles had the likes of a Clyde Simmons and J-Brown (Reggie will never be duplicated) . . . then a 4-3 is it.
        ______________

        PS — I love the response, though. The sheer terror in it is something I’ve never seen from you.

        • TommyLawlor

          The 3-4 does frighten me. Might need therapy to deal with that.

          It is funny to see our perspectives on it.

          • ACViking

            Where’s Lou Saban when you need him?

  • TommyLawlor

    Skins QB was RG3.

    Now it is RG3and6. Stolen from someone on Twitter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565087931 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee

    Even though I would love our 1st round picks to be stars, I think it’s fair to mention that DeSean and McCoy were 2nd round picks. For instance, if we’d picked McCoy in the 1st and Maclin in the 2nd, that would’ve been ok.

    I don’t know what Im talking about, hitting on your 2nd round picks does not excuse failing to find premier talent in the 1st.

    I want Hankins, Milliner or Joeckel in the 1st in 2013…

    • TommyLawlor

      I didn’t get into the 2nd round angle because I was trying to keep the post short and simplistic, but you are right to point out the fact we have hit on the 2nd rounders. They’ve exceeded expectations.

      • http://twitter.com/sjampendk Patrick

        Could this be because were willing to take a chance on greatness in the second round? We all knew DeSean was a blazing fast playmaker, but just too small. We took a chance. We all knew LeSean could be an amazing RB with his vision and cuts, but if i remember, people doubted his speed and thought he had fumbleitis. In the first round, do we too often go for the safe choice? Danny Watkins, old and mature, quick to learn, a man against boys etc. Brandon Graham the safe choice DE with production over boom or bust, athletic JPP a one season wonder, seems like examples, is that a trend for us? Should we chance that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565087931 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee

    Tommy,

    Let’s say that Reid is fired after a 9-7 season, and Vick, Jenkins and Asomugha is all let go. The new coach want young and hungry players. We have a pick in the 12-20 range – who do you pick? A QB that is not “top flight”, the 2nd/3rd best DT, OT or CB?

    • TommyLawlor

      Don’t like this QB class. Would stick with Foles. Would focus on OT or CB since I like Thornton and Cox at DT.

  • ACViking

    Re: the 3-4 or 4-3 . . . or the Amoeba Defense?

    T-Law:

    Short version: It’s all about the personnel.

    That’s what I’m driving at.

    If there’s a coaching change, the personnel may dictate a dramatic change in scheme on defense.

    Or not.

  • http://twitter.com/EaglesPride_ Aleandro green

    this has nothing to do with anything but ive always wished we would add a big/physical wr (riley cooper not withstanding) watching tb games you can see all the plays vjax is making for freeman

  • Anders

    Tommy, I remember you talked about Peanut Tillman and his crazy FF stat. It just got even more crazy against the Titans.

    • Sb2bowl

      Too bad our guys don’t look to force fumbles………

      Tommy- any idea when the last time we recovered a fumble?

      • Mac

        I remember the Babin forced Landri recovered fumble last year. Was that in the Miami game?

        • Ark87

          Isn’t that how we sealed the Giant’s game?

          • Mac

            There ya go… I couldn’t recall which game it was. Thanks!

  • eagles2zc

    Was McNabb the sole star of Reid’s first round picks? I can’t remember anyone else

    • Sb2bowl

      McNabb was a star; you could argue Shawn Andrews was great (just didn’t last long). But, as far as “stars” go, that’s all I can think of……

      I would put Lito, Mike Patterson, and Bunk all one level below the “star” position…………. and then throw Freddie in there some place.

  • phillychuck

    Eli looks totally shell-shocked against the Steelers today, and they haven’t really sacked him a lot, just gotten push on most plays. Steelers playing the G-men like the Eagles do.

    • ACViking

      I think the Steelers play a 3-4 defense.

      T-Law, thoughts?

      Just teasing. No response needed.

      For reasons that make no sense, the Eagles have beaten the Giants w/ JJ, McD, and Juan as the DCs.
      _________________

      Serious note . . . and we saw this earlier in the year when the Eagles beat the Giants.

      The G-men’s D-line appears to lack depth.

      JJP, by the 4th Q (yes, he was double teamed, too) seemed out of gas.

      The whole D-line did.

      In the Eagles game, the Birds were able to pound the ball against a weary Giants D-line.

      So did the Steelers. When Big Ben wasn’t snug in the pocket making throws downfield.

      • Gary

        “For reasons that make no sense, the Eagles have beaten the Giants w/ JJ, McD, and Juan as the DCs.”

        Let’s add Bowles to that list this season!

  • shah8

    Did you see Percy Harvin, errrr, have a serious discussion with Frazier on the sidelines in the game against Seattle? Can you guess why?

    It is simply unsupportable to assert that the players want Vick because they ‘like’ him. They may like him, but they care because he can do the job, and is the best candidate for the job. The Foles cry is entirely a fan phenomenon, for easily guessed reasons. Y’all are talking yourself to a sense of inevitability that does not exist, biting hard on Eskin, Florio, et al, as they try to keep a QB controversy spinning.

    And I have no doubt that the Viking’s current situation is presently having a big disincentive to appease any fan initiative–and that many players and coaches have been gossiping about it.

    If we had Russell Wilson, Joe Webb, Shaun Hill, Mike Moore, or some other credible backup–rather than one third round QB who isn’t particularly talented in any one direction–especially when the real problems have to do with the OL this year…then we could/might see a change absent an injury.

    By the by. Romo is done as a very good QB. He’s not really making good passes on the dot in the Atlanta game, so far. Always a pleasure to see Eli suffer, too, but I think being flooded out has made this game a road game for him…

    • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy

      I have no interest in a QB controversy. It does nothing to help the team that I spend entirely too much time following.

      Don’t know why I keep having to say this, but it’s not about Foles as much as it is Vick. I don’t think Vick is the guy. Hopefully he’ll prove me wrong tomorrow night, but even if he does I have little confidence he can do so with any consistency. Any “sense of inevitability” has to do with the way Vick has played the last 2 years, not a few Foles preseason games.

      I understand that you, and many others, think Foles would be a disaster behind this O-line. Many people, myself included, think Foles might actually perform better behind this line based on his college history and what we saw in the preseason. Neither result would really surprise me.

      My faith in Vick is gone. So now I want to see how the rookie plays, because I was impressed with what I saw in the preseason.

      • shah8

        But here’s the sense. What does it matter that *your* faith is gone? Have you noticed that aside from full team meltdowns against Arizona and Atlanta, he’s given the team a chance to win at the end of the game? He has more or less played better than many QBs who are far more secure in their jobs. You can talk to your buds all the time and meditate on the eternal QB question all you want, but I think the Eagles view themselves as rational and professional. As much as all those people who thought Kolb ever could “win his job back” just because he played a good game were disappointed, I think you will be as well. There will be plenty of hacks like Florio pressing your buttons for hits, but Vick actually has to play genuinely bad, more than just a turnover problem that has been receding, in order to get benched. Foles would have to be a real measure better than John Beck and Mike Kafka just to be serviceable. Moreover, there is no reason to believe that there is any real oversight on his actual level of talent, say Russell Wilson’s shortness, or Joe Webb’s lack of real video, or Tom Brady’s epic struggle with Drew Henson…

        Foles is exactly what he is, with a good Preseason. But it’s preseason, y’all.

        • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy

          I’m not interested in the sports media’s shouting heads. I doubt many of the people on this site are.

          My faith is gone because I watch the games. I assume the coaches and teammates do as well. Vick hasn’t played well, and while you can blame quite a bit on the O-line or play calling it really doesn’t change that fact. A starting QB who is inconsistent and turnover-prone *is* bad in my book. The All-22 posts showing missed opportunities and stats on how long Vick holds on to the ball just reinforce that opinion.

          Again, you seem to think I’m rooting for Foles. I’m not. I’ve just given up on Vick and to a large degree this season.

        • Ark87

          Ultimately we are all just speculating. None of us are in the locker room or coaches meeting or inside anybody’s head. Feel free to disagree with everyone, but don’t pretend you opinion is based on anything more solid-“rational and professional”. Let’s keep it classy.

          I figure everyone is right in some way. Some coaches and players would like to see Foles, others want to see Vick keep his job, most will probably be good soldiers and go with whatever Andy decides.

          The feeling of inevitability you refer to is partially journalistic sensationalism, but also based on solid reasoning. One way or another Vick won’t be a starter forever, he is aging. And to this point has been showing decline in his play. Andy can’t say: “Well Jeff I did it, I finished 10-6, missed the playoffs because we lost the tiebreaker because our conference record was awful and by the way Mike Vick is in decline so the Superbowl window is closed until we find a franchise QB, let me keep my job?”

          Mike Vick needs to play up to his MVP-type contract very soon or he won’t be wearing midnight green next season (unless he restructures AND we do the Nick Foles experiment and it goes horribly wrong, so he will be our starter until find our QB of the future).

          The real question is, who gives Andy Reid the best shot of wearing the black and midnight green next season. And we could all debate that all day and night, but the only answer that matters is the one Andy gives. Your guess is as good as mine (and vice versa). And I get the feeling he often has that question on his mind.

    • D3FB

      Did you really just list Shaun Hill, and I think you mean Matt Moore as
      “credible backups”?

      • http://twitter.com/EaglesPride_ Aleandro green

        he also said joe webb lol

    • Dan

      You also know Russel Wilson was a third round pick this year right? Seems kind of silly to be downplaying Foles when the first example you use is a 5’11 QB picked a few picks ahead of him in the same draft. Also, what particular talents do the QBs above have that would differentiate them compared to any other back up?

  • A_T_G

    Power is back, finally. If I get to celebrate by seeing a Cowboys victory, I might go down to the basement and turn it off again.

  • ceteris_paribus1776

    Wow, only second time all season Romo has been sacked on a blitz.

    • Sb2bowl

      They were saying the same thing about Manning also; he’s only been sacked like 3 times all season………….

  • BobSmith77

    How does RGIII keep getting so much hype/attention over Luck? To me it’s a no-brainer who which QB almost every GM in the league would take to build his franchise around.

  • BobSmith77

    In year’s past, I would have felt good about the Eagles’ chances tomorrow night but I don’t see the Eagles doing enough to stop the Saints’ offense from putting up at least 27-28 pts tomorrow. Only way the Eagles win this game is if their offense put up more than 30+ pts and they get a few turnovers.

    I see the Saints winning tomorrow night and the only question is whether it is by double digits or not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christian.therealw Christian Therealw

    Hey Tommy, just listened to your Helmet to Helmet Show from saturday. I think this was your best show so fare. Really really great. Just one point. You mentioned (or Jimmy?) that a 10-6 won´t get the job done this season. So you have to be 11-5. To tell you the truth: The Saints game is a must win game for the Eagles. We all know this. But the Eagles have to go 8-1 to reach 11-5. So you basically have must win games for the rest of the year!

    • ceteris_paribus1776

      I don’t know what they meant by “get it done”, but 10 wins will certainly get at least 1 team in as the 6th seed. GB seems to be the only real threat to win more than 10 and not win the division. Minny is 5-4, Sea is 5-4. Both of those teams will not win 10 games; one could. Neither TB nor Zona will get to the 10 win mark either. Det is a possibly, but not likely in that division. The only question with 10 wins will be do you have a better conference record than either Min or Sea, both of whom are .500 in the conference; sea at 4-4 and Min at 3-3. If the birds were to get to 10-6 with one of those losses coming in conference, their conference record would be at least 8-4, which will be really strong.

      The Saints game is basically a must win. Losing here puts them in a situation where they have to 7-1 down the stretch, and that one loss really would need to be against Cincy to keep their conference record strong enough to have a shot at the 6 seed. I don’t think 7-5 in conference will be enough.

  • Ark87

    Incredibly the entire division got swept last night….and we are right back in there in the race for the nfc east if we win this game. Unbelievable, if this doesn’t wake the birds some, ignite something, this team is toast…are the football gods toying with us creaking a door open to have them slam it shut right before we get to it? We’ll see.

  • Mac

    “Comon’ men”

    I’m looking at the schedule in front of me…

    @Saints
    Cowgirls
    @Skins
    Panthers
    @Cowgirls
    @Bucs
    Bengals
    Skins
    @Giants

    If the team can pull themselves together and start playing disciplined football (especially special teams). I see no reason we can’t run the table on this part of our schedule. A win tonight and I’m convinced we can win at least 10 games this year. A win tonight and I feel pretty good about a possible 6 game winning streak… Heck if they start playing like a team and Kelly boosts the o-line a little, they could win out (I realize that is unlikely due to ups and downs this team has) there are no unstoppable juggernauts left on our schedule.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michael.w.cho Michael Winter Cho

      I’m trying to find a team on that list that I would be comfortable betting against…

    • ceteris_paribus1776

      I see 3 good reasons why the Eagles will not run the table: 1) The Cowboys are going to be tough to score against. I certainly won’t be surprised if we falter against them. 2) TB seems to have found their offensive rhythm. Any game that could get into the 30s is a problem. 3) Lastly, the Giants in NY to close the year with playoff implications will be difficult.

      I think sadly this team may have already lost one more game than it should’ve if it wanted to get into the playoffs.

  • Ark87

    On the Mike Vick-assistant coach paranoia. Maybe it isn’t based on anything he heard, so much as what he sees. Writing on the walls per se. Would it surprise anybody to see Doug Pederson putting in A LOT of extra hours in with Nick Foles? As a good franchise the Eagles can’t bank everything on Mike Vick coming back to MVP contender form. Mike has to have noticed a lot of effort going into the plan B.

    I speculate the meeting was probably something to the effect of “Mike, yes, we have to have a plan B, we need to have one, you’re still plan A, your in the driver’s seat, your job is in your hands, we aren’t just stringing you along till we feel that plan B is ready to take your job.”

    Basically yes Nick Foles is there, and we will do our best to have him a prepared to be a starter if he needs to be. But Andy had to dispel the notion that the Nick Foles era was inevitable. It’s still Mike Vick’s job to lose. Clear the air.

  • ceteris_paribus1776

    Another question: at what point do you insert Vinny Curry for Philip Hunt? They need to be thinking about doing any and everything they can to generate some pass rush. The starters aren’t doing it, Graham is marginally doing it and playing well against the run, and what is Phillip Hunt doing? I’d like to see my 3rd round draft pick dress at some point this season. How can you justify sitting him with the lack of production coming from that position?

    • Mac

      I haven’t looked at the numbers myself, but as I understand it Hunt has been contributing on special teams.