One of the things that drove me crazy in recent years was how soft the Eagles played. Is Jeremy Maclin allergic to contact? Jimmy Bama’s nickname for him is “Self-tacklin Jeremy Maclin”. Brilliant. And so true. He goes down before getting hit. And he’s 195 pounds.
DeSean Jackson isn’t a physical player, but he’s 175 pounds and one of the smaller guys in the league. We drafted him to be fast, not physical. Part of the attraction to Maclin was his size and strength.
I’m not sure there is a softer pair of corners in the history of football than DRC and Nnamdi. Oh wait…we did use to have Asante. Call those guys the Charmin Brigade.
Half a yard, half a yard,
Half a yard onward,
All in the valley of Receivers
Ran the three corners.
“Forward, the Charmin Brigade!
“Dive for the feet!” he said:
Into the valley of Receivers
Ran the three corners.
Kurt Coleman is tough. He is physical. He’s just undersized to it doesn’t have any impact. Nate Allen does have the size, but the Eagles finesse play has infected him.
Jamar Chaney is a 240-pound LB that has good strength and power, but he prefers to run around blocks. No surprise. That was my primary concern with him coming out of college.
King Dunlap is the gentlest giant in Earth’s history. He showed more physicality in holding a pass rusher than he ever did in a run block. He showed more rage in disputing that holding call than he ever did while taking on a defender.
And on and on and on.
Last night I was watching the Senior Bowl. I saw Oregon’s Kyle Long at LT. He knocked a defensive lineman to the ground and then stayed on him. It was tough, mean, physical football. It was beautiful.
Oregon had an ILB this year named Kiko Alonso. If he was a character from Stripes, it would be Psycho. You can go watch his Fiesta Bowl performance. He’s tough, physical and at times he’s flat out dirty.
Patrick Chung was a tough DB. T.J. Ward was one of the meanest, nastiest DBs in recent history. Dion Jordan is a big, tall LB/DE. I can’t tell you how often guys like that are finesse speed rushers. Not Jordan. He’s physical.
LaMichael James was a great college player for Kelly at Oregon. He was a small back, but go watch the tape. He was a good inside runner and physical player. Listen to coaches and scouts who talk about Oregon’s WRs. The first thing they notice is how well those guys block.
Kelly ran a tougher, more physical program at Oregon than people realize. The high point totals and highlight plays got the focus, but Kelly’s teams could be more than a little nasty. And boy is that something the Eagles could use.
A decade ago, the Eagles were a tough physical team. Later on in Reid’s tenure, that started to go away. I don’t want to explore why. That’s somewhat of a guessing game and basically pointless accept to try and play the blame game. I’m more interested in fixing the issue.
Kelly has the right attitude and the right coaching staff. That leaves 2 tests. First up, is bringing in the right kind of players. Second, and tougher, is getting the current roster to change their ways. Can that even happen? Yes.
Not all players will adjust. That will lead to some getting benched and some getting cut. Others that are highly skilled will skate through okay, but won’t endear themselves to Kelly. This spring and summer will be very, very interesting. We’re going to see some lineup surprises, good and bad. Not all players embrace change. Some will, and if they were previously struggling, it could be the spark to help save them.
I think the biggest part of this is competition. In order for Kelly to get rid of the sense of entitlement, he needs to let guys know they can lose their jobs. It is mind-blowing that Reid never sat Nnamdi last year. Would Brandon Hughes have been that bad of a drop off? And if so, why was he on the team? Reid let some veterans get away with doing things their way and not the Eagle way. That must change.
If players know they can lose their jobs, it should bring out the best in them. Not all will respond favorably, but those who don’t are probably guys you want to get rid of. Obviously this way of doing things only works if you are willing to sit talented, proven players who under perform. If the threat is proven to be hollow, it will cease to be effective.
Chip dealt with new and young players all the time at Oregon. It wasn’t as if he had one amazing recruiting class with 10 4-year starters or something like that. He had multiple QBs and RBs. He never had an elite WR. His OL changed plenty. The best player on defense changed about every year. Kelly wasn’t afraid to sit anyone or play unproven guys. The program came before the player.
The Eagles need to get back to that mentality. Kelly’s just the man for that job.
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AC Viking asked yesterday about best player available vs need in regard to the draft. Here’s how that works.
Draft grades are given to players. Let’s give a C an 8.7, a SS an 8.5, and a NT an 8.4 Those grades are pretty simple to put in order. The C is the highest rated player.
But that’s when teams do something called stacking the board. They factor in the needs on their team and also depth in the draft.
The Eagles need a SS pretty bad. He’s just a notch below the C so stacking the board with the SS up top isn’t a huge deal. But wait. This draft is deep with Safeties. There are only a couple of NTs the team likes at all. You could then re-stack the board with the NT up top, then the SS, and then the C. That’s opposite of the grades, but might be the best way to go.
This is all fine. This is mixing roster reality in to the draft process.
The problem comes when you have a player rated significantly lower and he’s mixed in there. That’s when you’re taking the draft out of the hands of the scouts and going with a coach’s gut instinct (or delusional dreams).
Sometimes that stuff works. Bill Belichick took OT Sebastian Vollmer in the 2nd round despite the fact he had more of a 4th round grade. Bill wanted him and didn’t see any way that Vollmer lasted that long. He rolled the dice and Vollmer has been a solid player. Other times you roll the dice on Jaiquawn Jarrett and end up with egg on your face.
AC Viking also asked about trading down and the mindset there. My rule of thumb for pick #4 is to get a difference maker. Not a good starter, but a star. I don’t see anyone this year that I feel is a lock for that.
My attitude is that one player won’t fix the Eagles, unless he’s truly special. Since I don’t see that guy on the board, I’m open to moving back. I might add a 2nd rounder. I might just get a 3rd. Still, those picks have the potential to become starters. We need plenty of help.
I understand that some will point to the Browns trading back and giving up Julio Jones as a mistake. I don’t see Julio Jones on the board this year. And that’s the key. We won’t get a huge offer for pick #4. There just aren’t great targets. If we can slide back to 8, 10, or 12 and add another pick or 2, do it. There are plenty of targets at those spots that I like.
I feel like our 1st round pick should be an impact player. Because of the poor quality at the top of this class, there isn’t a huge difference from 4 to 10 to 12. Heck, Mike Mayock said yesterday that he doesn’t see a big difference in 5 to 25.
If you aren’t in love with a prospect at 4 and you can move back, do it. If you do love the prospect, take him. Simple as that.