Some Cupboard Talk

Posted: November 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 34 Comments »

In order to bounce back from a down year, the men in charge of the organization need to do a good job of player evaluation.  Just how bare is the cupboard?  They must figure out who can play and who can’t.  This is easier said than done.  Fans are overly-emotional.  A player who is having a down or inconsistent season suddenly “must go”.

Reality is that some of those type players are worth keeping.  They are simply having a down season.  Some are guys that are worth cutting, but not as many as the average fan would lead you to believe.

The trick here is getting a true evaluation of the player.  If you go strictly by results, then yes…a lot of Eagles should be cut.  The good coach, good GM, and good scouts will study the players carefully and figure out which guys have the talent to succeed and which ones aren’t worth keeping.  It is then up to the coaches to figure out how to get the struggling players to perform at a higher level.

Let’s talk about Nate Allen for a minute.  He’s been very up and down in the last 2 years.  No reasonable person would dispute that.  Is he good enough as is?  Not really.  The Eagles need better play from him or to replace him.

One guy I’d have interest in is a young Safety that might be available.  He has good playmaking potential.   His best season:

2 sacks
3 INTs
8 PDs
1 FF

Solid numbers, especially since they came in less than a full season.  So who is this guy?

Nate Allen, the 2010 version.

Nate looked like a very good young player in 2010.  He played the ball well down the field.  He was an effective blitzer.  His tackling was up and down, but not a major problem.  He did get hurt late in the year and that affected him in 2011, but not this season.  Nate’s inconsistent play this year is all on him.  And his coaches.

What I mean by that is that Nate has never looked “right” in the current system.  He did look that way when playing for Sean McDermott.  How much of Nate’s play is affected by the system that he’s in?

If the Eagles hire a DC who runs a different system, Nate might become a much better player.  We know he’s got the size you need.  He runs pretty well.  Has good hands.  Can be physical.  He is what  you want in an NFL Safety from a physical standpoint.  Unlike Jaiquawn Jarrett, Nate deserved to be a 2nd round pick.  He was a very good college player and pro prospect.

For those who think this sounds like I’m dreaming or making excuses or whatever, go ask Jermane Mayberry about the difference a coach can make.  Under Ray Rhodes and Juan Castillo, he was a major disappointment.  Andy Reid and Juan Castillo turned him into a Pro Bowl player.  They figured out the spot to use him (RG) and let him develop there.

Do you remember Jeremiah Trotter’s rookie year?  No one does.  Basically didn’t exist.  He played in 8 games and had 3 tackles.  Trot was sitting behind James Willis, a mediocre player, and doing so on an awful 3-13 team.  I’m sure Emmitt Thomas had no idea what to do with a MLB like Trot.  Jim Johnson took over in 1999 and unleashed Trot.  He let him attack downhill all year and the C’s and OGs of the league paid a heavy price as Trot slammed into them at full speed repeatedly.  Trot went to the Skins as a free agent in 2002.  The coaches there liked to play a lot of Cover 2 and that meant Trot needed to drop 25 yards downfield on pass plays.  He was out of place.  In 2001, Trot had 3.5 sacks and 12 TFLs for the Eagles.  In 2 years with the Skins, he had 9 TFLs and 1.5 sacks.  He went from being a star to getting cut.  Trot came back to the Eagles in 2004.  In less than a full season of starting, he had 1 sack and 10 TFLs.  Scheme vs talent.

Nate wouldn’t change positions, but Safety can be wildly different based on the scheme.  I think Nate is more of a true centerfielder type.  Play him in the box at times, but mostly put him back deep.  Castillo had other ideas.  Watching Nate play in the box against the Steelers late in the game was painful.  That’s just not his forte.  Get him in the right system and with the right coach and I do think Nate can be a good FS.

Nate could be a player that the new coaching staff won’t like and does want to get rid of.  That is absolutely possible.  Just don’t be so quick to assume that because he’s inconsistent this year.  Nate has the potential to be a good NFL player.  It isn’t happening now, but that can change with a new scheme and better coaching.

I’m focusing on him in this particular case, but you have to use this same mentality when judging the whole Eagles roster.  One commenter said the other day that “bad players play badly”.  That isn’t necessarily true at all.  You need to identify who is talented and worth keeping and who isn’t.  You can’t simply look at results.  That can give you a false positive or a false negative.  You must study the players natural talent and skills to see if there is the potential for him to thrive in a different system.

I still see a lot of talent on this team, but you don’t fall apart like this by accident.  There are going to be changes and it might involve some popular players.  It will be up to the new staff to look at the 2012 Eagles and to figure out who should stay and who should go.  Andy Reid and Tom Modrak did a great job of this in 1999 and it helped them to keep some good players and lose very little.  I think the job is tougher this time around.  I sure hope the new staff can come close to what the guys in ’99 did.  That will be key to the turnaround.

* * * * *

For PE.com I wrote about the game and state of the team.  I should have the DGR posted tonight.

_


  • TheRogerPodacter

    my thinking would be to not cut any player until you absolutely have to.
    bring in as much competition as you can letting everyone know that they are all fighting for their jobs… and may the best man win.

    • eagles2zc

      A battle royale! I’ll bring the popcorns

    • Cafone

      I agree completely, and let’s start by bringing 8-10 FA DBs from the SEC and other smaller southern schools and see if we can find a diamond or two in the rough.

      Even if Allen and Coleman were turning in best case scenario seasons, the lack of safety depth was really irresponsible.

      • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.verhoog Matthew Verhoog

        We had 2 second round picks at saftey in camp, that is already overkill. Too bad one of them was not up to the task. I don’t think you can blame the FO for lack of effort in addressing saftey

  • A_T_G

    “There are going to be changes and it might involve some popular players.”

    I think it is telling that there are very few players I could see the fanbase getting up in arms if they were sent away. Shady, a few young guys, who else?

    This is telling in that you are correct, fans are not in a position to evaluate the best interest of the team going forward. It goes with being a fan to be reactionary.

    The much harder job of our next leaders will be to evaluate what these guys will do, not what they have done.

    It must be tiring to be the voice of reason trying to be heard over the din of pitchforks and torches.

    • TommyLawlor

      Great way of putting it…”what they will do vs what they have done”.

      Some day the Eagles will do something so over the top that I’ll grab my pitchfork and lead an assault on the NovaCare Complex. Naming Marty as HC would do that. Or bringing back TE Matt Schobel, my least favorite Eagle ever.

      • Mac

        Any chance of the new Regime bringing back Seth Joyner in a coaching capacity? Dude really seems like he understood how to play the game as a player, and I have a hard time imagining him not being an amazing LB coach helping to organize our back 7.

        • TommyLawlor

          I don’t get the feeling Seth would be a good coach. You need patience. You need to teach. I think Seth would yell a lot and get frustrated a bit too much.

          • Mac

            That makes a lot of sense. Thanks

  • Ark87

    I threw a comment in the last post to something of this effect. I’m looking for who is going to stick around and play their hearts out for all 16 games. If you check out, don’t need you on this team. Some will excuse players in favor of blaming coaches for this. Not me.
    I’m wouldn’t evaluate performance at this point to determine who stays and goes. Let the new coaches figure out who fits their systems.

    I enjoyed the PE article. Pisses me off that Babin had a fine game, though. Can’t he just roll over so I can hate him fully??

    • TommyLawlor

      Last lines are so true. Let me hate you or not, but quit confusing my feelings. I’m like that with a few players. Drives me nuts.

  • Mac

    How many top tier players come out each year in the draft? Guys who are truly special and there is a distinct drop off after they’re off the board…

    Fletcher Cox is a beast. I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t find a home in any defensive scheme. Would he have fun playing 2 gap DT? Well… according to interviews he wouldn’t, but on a team running that system you would hope coaches would be smart enough to give him playing time at DE.

    LeSean McCoy is a uniquely gifted RB. His most amazing attribute is his ability to change direction and take advantage of cut backs. I’ve heard folks saying that some of the plays where McCoy gets the ball have little to no cut back opportunity and they way the play his designed limits his field of vision to find them. Why on earth would the Eagles utilize him in plays like that any more than maybe 10% of the time? I’m not sure how often it happens, but really it seems it should be rare.

    Andy Reid says over and over… I have to put the players in a position to succeed. I definitely believe it’s true. I just happen to think (especially on offense) that there are too many times where Andy/Marty have some great idea and try to make it happen even if we don’t have the right personnel.

    I hope we get a strong leader for our defense this offseason. A coach who understands fundamentals and makes sure our guys understand the importance of sound tackling. That players are aware of where they are on the field and how crucial it is to make plays like Ryans does stopping a guy short on 3rd down. To me it looks like our defense is playing like 11 individuals, not a cohesive unit. I could be off base, but I would like to see our guys trust each other to take care of business… I’m not sure I’ve seen any of these traits on a consistent basis since the days of Jim Johnson (may he rest in peace).

    • Mac

      Haha got sidetracked and didn’t wrap things up properly. We can’t scrap this whole team and start over. We do have some amazing players, and we have some guys who are merely functional and some who really don’t belong. Let the coaches sift through, and hopefully HOPEFULLY bring in some new coordinators who can make maximum use of the resources at their disposal.

      • eagles2zc

        Agreed. I think the talents are there but the next coaches need to whip some discipline into the players. Way too many mental mistakes happening on the field

  • Cal Setar

    Really good stuff here, Tommy. People tend to over-react when players play well, and just as much if not more so when players perform poorly. Personally, I think Nate can absolutely be a player in this league. The fact that players across the board are having down years speaks volumes about where the heart of all this suck-itude lies.

    What’s interesting to me is I think this same line of reasoning can be applied to Jeremy Maclin.

    It seems like a lot of the fan base, Tommy included, just don’t like him. And I get it. He plays soft when we need him to play tough. He does nothing for 3 quarters then throws his hands up begging for a flag after an incompletion, then get’s in the DB’s face if the flag actually is thrown. His blocking has left a lot to be desired this season (Although I give him something of a pass on this. I think any receiver in the league needs to be kept happy through passes coming their way. You consistently feed them, they’ll feel like they’re part of something, they’re more apt to contribute in different ways. And DeSean’s not exactly blocking anyone into the stands this year).

    But I think a big part of what’s gone wrong for him is poor circumstances (the health scare before last season) and poor quarterbacking (Vick/Kolb/V Young) compounded by a poor offensive scheme. I think he’s got more than enough talent to be the “possession” receiver people want him to be, but he needs an offense that asks him to run route’s that are conducive to that, with a QB who’s willing to take what the defense gives him.

    The Andy Reid/Vick combo want(ed) the big play all the time. And let’s face it, if you’re gonna bomb it, why would you throw it to anyone but DeSean?

    • TommyLawlor

      The only reason I haven’t totally gone anti-Mac is that I know how talented he is and that he’s got the potential to be a real good player. The new coach needs to light a fire under him and get Mac to play up to his potential.

      • Anders

        I really think AR biggest problem has been that he transformed from a tough coach, but still protective to a players coach.

    • shah8

      Maclin’s issues doesn’t have much to do quarterbacking. Hasn’t been fully healthy for big stretches of time. The biggest issue is that he’s not really good in the short zone–Djax is actually better at finding and exploiting holes short. Djax is a better receiver than people give him credit for. Maclin seems to require a nice big soft spot in zones. I think that does have something to do with that Reid is asking of him. To the extent that Maclin is ill-served, I think it’s fundamentally about Reid not fully going over to the dark side and implement a full Coryell base offense in the face of perpetual bend-don’t-break cover-2 or more schemes. The schemes always bring the action to the safeties, and way too much is expected of the sentiment that you could flow the safeties the wrong way while delivering the ball elsewheres. Too soft and finesse-based. A better run game would force defenses up close to the line. Even when we had Peters last year, that OL was pretty inconsistent on the run game. We really needed Maurice Pouncey rather than Brandon Graham.

  • bdbd20

    As a fan, it appears that Kurt Coleman makes quite a few big mistakes every game. Is that incorrect? I’m kinda ready to see what Sims can do. I understand he could be a disaster on the order of you-know-who, but Kurt just seems overm-atched.

    • Cal Setar

      I don’t know if I’d call them mistakes. They’re more along the lines of negative plays that result from his physical limitations. I think he has good recognition skills and is very fiery. He’s just not gifted athletically. So over-matched is pretty on point.

      I’m with you in wanting to see Sims. He seemed to do better as the game wore on against the Saints.

      • 47_Ronin

        I see the same thing. Mistakes will happen, and some of that (perhaps a lot) has to do with the Eagles scheme, which appears to be more confusing than the coverages McDermott was running. Coleman does not appear to have the physical ability to make a play or limit the damage by bringing down the ball carrier (e.g. the broken tackle on the TE touchdown play or getting out muscled by S. Moss).

  • austinfan

    Amen, I think there are a lot of players who’d benefit from different schemes and coaching.

    QB – Foles needs to be in a traditional WCO, not a vertical offense.
    RB – McCoy and Brown aren’t really stretch RBs, they’re not the Shanahan one cut types. I think MM really doesn’t know how to integrate with Mudd in the running game.
    WR – DeSean finally started running routes other than deep outs, his speed and quickness should work all over the field.
    Maclin is tough, does he fit well with DeSean if you don’t have a Kurt Warner type QB?

    Cooper needs more reps, he’s the big target they need.
    D Johnson has shown flashes as a slot WR, but they don’t really use a slot WR the way NE and other teams do, or why Amendola is in St Louis
    TE – Harbor is a good blocker who might blossom in a true two TE system
    OL – scheme will have a big impact on Mathis and Kelce, they have the most value when you get them on the second level. Peters can play any scheme and any spot but C, Herremans may be more suited to a power OG than a zone RT, same with Watkins, Kelly is still a question mark as is Menkin, but both have raw talent.
    DL – a 3-4 would be a bad fit for most of the players on this roster. A conventional 4-3 with Patterson at NT and Cox at the “3″ would work, Curry and Graham could play either side, Cole might be more effective playing off a LT’s shoulder than split wide, he’s really not a speed merchant. Thornton just needs more reps, not less.
    LB – Kendricks might be better suited to WLB and used to blitz and cover RBs, but that requires finding a SLB.

    CB – zone, man press, Aso and DRC have shown they can struggle in both. Can Marsh play zone at all, can he move to safety? Do you want to go man or more zone CB with physical corners who can help in run support and play off but close quickly?

    S – I suspect Allen and Coleman will play better behind a conventional 4-3 where they don’t have gap responsibilities off the snap and can read pass first.
    Sims has quickness to the ball.

    When you look at this roster, once you subtract the obvious cuts, there’s plenty of talent and plenty of resources, as I keep saying, it comes down to the right HC with the right philosophy that fits the current talent, or committing to a three year rebuild (i.e. 3-4 defense, back to Juan’s man blocking schemes).

    They have the personnel to run the ball, they have receivers to get deep off play action, they might need bigger WR targets.

    They have the personnel to fill out most of a 4-3 set, a 3-4 would require major surgery and serious upheaval (are Curry and Graham 3-4 OLBs?)

    in any case, they’ll have to decide the secondary philosophy, because that determines the types of players (fast tall man press, quicker, more physical zone corners, cover 1 CF free safety, cover 2 matched pair safeties).

  • SleepingDuck

    I think Kurt Coleman is the bigger problem at safety than Allen. Coleman has all the heart in the world, but he physically just isn’t meant to play safety. I would be fine if he’s the 3rd safety on the team, but not the starter. What do you guys think about T.J McDonald from USC and Matt Elam from Florida?

    Quick question about Maclin and DRC. Are both of their rookie contracts up after this season and if so should the team start negotiating now or wait until after the season?

    • Mac

      As far as i know they both need new deals. Team seems content to see who is at the helm next year to determine if we keep em or cut ties and how much they are worth.

    • Cal Setar

      Agree wholeheartedly on Coleman. His ideal situation is special teamer/3rd safety.

      And I’m a big fan of Elam, though he’s a bit small. Physical guy so if he’s not athletic enough, could face the same issues as Coleman.

    • 47_Ronin

      DRC was drafted a year earlier than JMac (2008 vs 2009), DRC is a FA in 2013, Maclin 2014.

  • 47_Ronin

    Tommy,

    You make some good points (and I’d like to respond to some in more detail later), but I was hoping whether you could shed some light on a near throw-away sentence in the last graph of a blog post Sheil Kapadia put out the other day on Philly Mag stating that C. Thornton was getting “phased out”
    http://www.phillymag.com/eagles/2012/11/20/dl-production-cole-gets-shut-out/

    I thought it was an odd claim by SK b/c he did not give any further detail. Thornton looked good in preseason but has appeared to fade away when the games mattered. The entire Eagles DL production has suffered this season, but I thought big Ced looked like potential gem DT.

    • TommyLawlor

      My guess is that his reps are going to Patt. Ced is very talented, but still a project. His run defense is inconsistent. Needs to get better at dealing with double teams.

      • A_T_G

        Also, he is still filling out his body. He was much skinnier last year. I imagine he is going to wear down more quickly than average this year.

  • nopain23

    Just a question that’s been bugging me lately. Lose out the rest of the season and have a shot at the top tackle or DB in the 2013 draft or win out the rst of the season and maybe miss the playoffs? It would be painful to watch the eagles lose for the next six weeks come to think of it.

    • TommyLawlor

      You never intentionally lose. And there is no elite prospect to want, from what I’ve seen. May not be a big difference in pick #4 and pick #8.

      • http://twitter.com/sjampendk Patrick

        I don’t know, that Luke Joeckel looks like the real deal, whats you’re initial reaction to him(i know you’re not into total draft-grind mode yet).

        That being said, I expect the team to play for the win until 5 minutes AFTER they are mathematically eliminated, and even after that i hate the fact that we intent to loose.
        We can play younger players and there is no need to rush Jason Peters back, but to me, you just don’t play any other way than trying to win.

  • RC5000

    Ryan Nassib Syracuse QB from West Chester, Malvern Prep at Linc vs Temple and Montel Harris on Friday coming off big win against Mizzou. Could torch a bad Temple defense and both he and WR Alec Lemon are torching teams down the stretch. He’s starting to get a lot of talk by some in the second round.

  • Skeptic_Eagle

    At this point, I’m pretty confident that Nate Allen is “bad”, but I do agree that some players fit better in certain schemes more than others. We’re on the 3rd coach for Allen now, and the best he’s looked is wildly inconsistent.

    Judging a safety by statistics is tricky, it’s really about the plays he prevents rather than the ones he makes, however you can cite stats to make guys look better if that’s your intent; take a look at Tennessee’s Michael Griffin, or Carolina’s Charles Godfrey from years past. Allen’s rookie season was really up and down. Sometimes he looked competent, and other times he was absolutely horrible. People seem to willfully ignore that during that ’10 season Nate Allen was at least half responsible (maybe more) for Kenny Britt having the game of his career that year. I was jumping up and down saying Kurt Coleman should be replaced last year, and I’m jumping up and down about Allen this year. How does a “true centerfielder type” completely abandon his deep third responsibility when Aldrick Robinson runs by him? I’d like to share the optimism, but I can’t disbelieve my eyes. Last season, Allen got absolutely destroyed by Brady–I mean, he didn’t even look like a professional out there.

    Whether or not folks are willing to accept it, the Eagles have failed to identify, acquire and develop talent for the past few years. I mean, they just signed a guy off his couch that has replaced their first round draft pick from 2011! They may be able to move some guys around to try and hide them in a new scheme, but I’m really hoping there is a critical evaluation of the entire player personnel side, because the roster & weekly results are a direct result.