Q&A

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 63 Comments »

Rather than writing a new post, I’m going to answer some questions you guys have had over the last few days.

Could the Eagles have a surprise candidate for DC, like Teryl Austin or Don Martindale?  You know what I know.  I wish I had a scoop on the DC situation, but I’m flying blind just like you (apologies to any blind pilots who read IB).  The names mentioned in the media are Ed Donatell and Ted Monachino.  I mentioned Jim Leavitt for the simple fact he’s a veteran coach who Chip has dealt with in college.  They might not be friends, but Chip knows who he is.  Also, Chip may want someone that is a former HC on the staff.  He’s got Shurmur on offense.  Leavitt could be that guy on defense.

I haven’t mentioned Teryl Austin or Don Martindale because neither guy is a compelling candidate.  That doesn’t mean Chip Kelly won’t surprise me and hire them.  Anything is possible.  Both guys are veteran coaches with some good qualities.  I just don’t see anything special about them and they aren’t getting mentioned in the media.

As I wrote the other day, I expect we’ll hear something about DC early this week.  Assuming the coach is on one of the Super Bowl staffs, there’s no reason for anymore delays.

What kind of pedigree do I like in draft prospects?  Tough question.  There is no perfect answer.  Every now and then I’ll look for trends.  Last spring I wrote that most of the Eagles good LBs in the last 25 years had come from the Southwest (Seth Joyner – UTEP, William Thomas – Texas A&M, Byron Evans – Arizona, Jeremiah Trotter – Stephen F Austin, Carlos Emmons – Arkansas State).  That’s no hard and fast rule. Just something odd that occurred to me one day.

I don’t think players have to come from great teams or great programs.  Reggie White went to Tennessee.  Clyde Simmons went to Western Carolina.  Hugh Douglas went to Central State.  Trent Cole went to Cincinnati.  Those programs couldn’t be more different and diverse.

It is easier to judge players that go to a big school.  You get to see them play great competition.  You can see how they stack up.  There is less projection.  At the same time, there is no guarantee that going to a football factory means squat.  The Eagles have had better luck with players from Cincinnati than USC.

QB is the one spot where I do have serious concerns.  A truly special QB can usually put a team on his back and get them to play at a high level.  Ben Roethlisberger led Miami OH to a 13-1 record in his final year.  Aaron Rodgers led Cal to a 10-2 record in his final year.  Tom Brady had Michigan at 10-2, with a big bowl win and 2 narrow losses.  You don’t have to win the title or the Heisman Trophy, but a QB must have a serious level of accomplishment.  If not, I think you question how good he truly is and have to downgrade him.

There are some schools that make me nervous.  Kids from Texas, Ohio State, and Clemson have a very mixed record in the last decade.  Texas players are worshiped.  Mack Brown runs a good program, but it’s known to be soft.  Those players don’t always handle the grind of the NFL well.  Think about how few Texas stars pan out.  Vince Young, Cedric Benson, Michael Huff, Roy Williams, Mike Williams, and Marcus Tubbs are a few of the guys who clearly had NFL talent, but underachieved for character/personality reasons.  The guys who have done well tended to be kids that overachieved at Texas and already have a grinder mentality…Brian Orakpo, Aaron Ross, Justin Blalock, Brian Robison, and Henry Melton.  I don’t think Ohio State guys are quite the same. I don’t get the sense that they’re feeling entitled to success.  I think the problem there is maybe that they play with such talent that we get false positives on how good they truly are, especially when factoring in the marginal Big Ten competition they go against.  Ted Ginn and AJ Hawk were great college players. Both are solid at what they do in the NFL, but nowhere close to being worth Top 10 picks.  As for Clemson…that is Texas Jr.  The players there are worshiped and I think come out with the sense of entitlement.  This may be changing.  Dabo Swinney took over in 2008 and since then players seem to be doing better.

What do you think of QB E.J. Manuel as a prospect?  He played well in the Senior Bowl game and created a buzz with many fans.  Manuel didn’t look good in the practices though.  I need to study his tape thoroughly before making a final conclusion, but I’m not a big fan.  He has talent, but he is a project.  Guys coming from major schools that got pretty good coaching and remain projects scare me.  A 4-year player at Florida State shouldn’t have his issues.  If he came from Florida A&M or FIU…I’d feel different.  I won’t be upset if the Eagles take a flyer on him because I trust Chip Kelly right now.  If that’s who he wants, so be it.  Manuel would not be the player I want.  One of the key questions here is value.  If the Eagles took Manuel in the 4th round, that’d be okay.  Will he last that long?  Hard to say.  The knee-jerk answer is no, but Kirk Cousins did last year despite buzz that he could go as high as the late 1st or early 2nd round.

If we go 3-4, how do you value the OLB, DE, NT, and ILB positions in the draft?   I don’t know what Chip and the DC think, but I focus on OLB and NT.  You must be able to rush the passer and that means good OLBs.  Over the years we’ve seen some crappy 3-4 defenses and it usually happens when there isn’t much of a rush.  Take away Clay Matthews and the Packers become pedestrian.  Don’t skimp on OLBs.  Better to over-spend there and make do elsewhere.

NT is critical because without the right guy you will not play the run well.  The difference here is that you don’t always need to spend a high pick to find the right NT.  Sometimes you can use a late pick.  You can sign a veteran free agent.  You need someone that is tough and can handle getting double-teamed.  Functional size and strength are important, but not so much quickness or athleticism.

Good DEs can put a defense over the top.  Look at JJ Watt with Houston.  The Packers have really missed Cullen Jenkins, who was a DE for them.  Aaron Smith was a huge player for the Steelers.  Look no further than SF without Justin Smith.  He got hurt and suddenly Aldon Smith couldn’t get near the QB.

I do wonder if ILB isn’t becoming more important.  Daryl Washington, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Lawrence Timmons, Brian Cushing, and Sean Lee are key players on their defensive units.  They’re able to play the run, cover, blitz, and everything in between.  All of them run very well.  In the old days I think you could get away with a couple of 255-pound pluggers at ILB, but with the passing in today’s NFL…speed is huge for top shelf ILBs.

* * * * *

Going back to yesterday’s topic for a second…

My point wasn’t that Chip had no speed at Oregon.  I was trying to kill the notion that he had recruited a bunch of track stars and simply put a team on the field that ran by the competition due to being faster.  That is absolutely not what Chip did.

Chip schemed to get his players in favorable matchups.  He was able to get his fast players in space so he could take advantage of the speed they did have.  Think of the card game War.  If you lay down a 3, I only need a 4 to win.  Chip was able to find a way to use his players so that they often faced players or situations where they could win.  A WR who runs 4.65 won’t look great vs a 4.5 CB, but if you get him against a Safety that runs 4.7, the WR can win.

Chip was able to manipulate the game to get his guys favorable situations due to numbers (run when both Safeties back, pass vs an 8-man front), but also due to the matchups he created.  Doubters wonder if Chip will be able to do this in the NFL, but I don’t think enough of them realize that it is the same basic principle that all 32 offenses are trying to use.  Some are just better at it than others.  Chip was great at scheming at Oregon.  I think he’ll do just fine in the NFL.

The other key, as I wrote yesterday, is that Oregon played fast and was able to wear down opponents.  Oregon was able to get defenders on their heels.  At that point, doesn’t matter if you run 4.3 or 4.6.  You won’t play fast if you’re hesitant, confused, or flat out scared.  Some teams handled Oregon’s attacking style just fine.  Stanford did and beat the Ducks.  Most teams really struggled with it.  Getting an opponent out of his comfort zone can be a huge factor in a game.

* * * * *

One of our friends across the pond wanted UK Eagles fans to know about his site.

British Eagles

The lack of Rosie Jones pictures was truly disappointing, but looks like a pretty good site.

_


  • pjxii

    Tommy, I’m wondering about your option on this: if Luke is still there when the Eagles pick, would you trade back if you can get the Rams no. 16 & 22 picks? I read that OT is their biggest need this draft, and Eric Fisher seems to be rising enough not to be there at 16.

    • TommyLawlor

      I would absolutely make that trade.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamestolan23 James Tolan

    We all know that Folesanity is slow. Is there any way to project if he could be quicker with an offseason off speed conditioning? Or is he at the point where his speed is already maxed out?

    • D-von

      I think he’s pretty quick in the pocket while avoiding rushers

    • TommyLawlor

      Has okay quickness. Speed is his issue. Can maybe get a little faster, but not much. Just doesn’t run well.

  • D-von

    So Tommy, if you’re Roseman and you have Star Lotulelei sitting there would draft him or try to get Damontre Moore, Dion Jordan or Ziggy Ansah?

    • TommyLawlor

      Depends on who we sign in FA. If we add a NT, no “need” to take Star. If you think he’s too good to pass up, take him anyway.

      Ansah is the most fascinating player in that group.

      Jordan won’t go that high, but I am a big fan of his.

  • deg0ey

    As a Buckeyes fan, I actually find myself agreeing with you about OSU. The next guy I think that will really show that off is Ryan Shazier. He was an absolute beast this season (17.5 TFLs, 5 sacks, 10 PBUs, 4 FFs, 1 INT and 115 total tackles; better than Te’o in every category except INTs and on a much worse D). His big drawback is that he’s listed at 6’2, 226 lbs and I think that’s being generous, which makes him pretty damn small to be an NFL ILB.

    Having said that, with his 4.44 speed and 38 inch vert, he could make a helluva strong safety. But it’s difficult to get a read on how much of his playmaking was on him and how much was on (legitimate NFL NT) Hankins meaning he pretty much never had to deal with OL.

    • TommyLawlor

      Shazier was good this year. Didn’t study him at all since only a Soph. Will do that next year.

  • mark_in_jax

    RE: 3-4 defense
    So we “may” switch to a 3-4 base and dallas is probably switching to a 4-3 base. Guessing other teams may be switching one way or the other. Sounds like “change for sake of change” to me. Maybe we should be thankful that dallas is going to make the best 3-4 olb in the nfl a 4-3 de. he “might” become the best de but he “already is” the best olb.

    • TommyLawlor

      Ware is a great OLB. Probably will be a great DE, but could wear down if teams run at him on a regular basis.

      Funny thing is that both teams are switching and one key reason is the lack of turnovers. “Let’s try something new”.

      • deg0ey

        I wonder how much of it is the DCs that were available. MK was probably the best guy out there regardless of scheme so Dallas snapped him up early. After that, pretty much all of the obvious DC candidates have been 3-4 guys, so unless we go for Spags there isn’t really any other option.

        • TommyLawlor

          You could be right.

  • CTAZPA

    Yuck! Byron Evans went to Arizona, not Arizona State. People in the east often don’t recognize the difference, but the two schools are arch rivals an hour and a half apart. Phoenix’s Arizona State Sun Devils – they’re evil incarnate. You see it in their name. The University of Arizona Wildcats are the good guys from Tucson. Nick Foles and Andre Iguodala are two Phllly connections.

    Here’s my Byron Evans story. He was a great LB for AZ, but in HS in Phoenix he played QB. U of A has a beautiful, wide-open mall, like in Washington DC. My friends and I would play frisbee or throw a football after class. On Fridays before a game, the football players would eat at the student union and walk over to the practice field for final preparations. All the LBs were hanging together and laughing and talking. Byron Evans saw our football and called for it. I figured it looked like trouble with the way they were all carrying on, but I tossed him the ball. He told me to go deep. So off I went. my buddy played along and played defense. After we ran a bit, we wondered if it was all a big joke. I looked back and Byron was far away. He let loose a giant bomb, easily the farthest throw I’ve ever caught. The ball hit me perfectly in stride. Byron jumped around giving high fives to all his pals. A little sandlot moment, but if you remember Byron Evans, I figured you enjoy the story.

    • TommyLawlor

      Fixed the error. I’ve watched clips of Byron at Arizona. Just had a brain fart.

      Good story.

  • Midnight_Greenville

    I think one of the most interesting aspects of this draft, and free agency for that matter, is that it is the first time in years when we didn’t have the perception going into the offseason that we were maybe just a player or two away from being super bowl contenders. I think that allows a somewhat different approach that will likely play dividends in a year or two. No need to overdraft. No need to compromise team chemistry to bring in that hot free agent to put us over the top. If Chip guides Howie, and they “let things come to them” so to speak, then in the next couple of years, we may have some dominant players on defense. And, with next year’s QB crop coming out, a bad record this year will actually put is in a good position to solidify the future next year. Especially if we can find a partner this year to trade down and parlay this year’s #4 into a #1 next year that we can combine to trade up if necessary. I’m hoping the Bills are desperate to get Geno Smith and trade up if he’s still there when it’s our turn.

    • deg0ey

      Ooooh! I like the sound of that! #4 for #8 and a 1st next year sounds good to me. Especially if we combined that with another trade to the 15/16 area and pick up an extra second rounder for this year.

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

        That would pretty much be a dream scenario. Then go all in next year for Bridgewater, Manziel or Mariota if they declare

        • BreakinAnklez

          Mariota is actually a true freshman

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

    If we could somehow make a deal with the Rams and get 16 and 21, I would love it if we could go out of the first round with Kenny Vaccaro and the highest rated OLB left on the board. Maybe Jones is still sitting there because of his medical situation, or maybe Dion Jordan – I can dream right?

    • http://twitter.com/Sattymike Michael Jorden

      If we get that deal I’d be looking at best CB available and Hankins, Wishful thinking time of year.

  • TommyLawlor

    So…Niners or Ravens?

    • D-von

      Niners

    • bdbd20

      Ravens. I’d really like to see John Harbaugh and Wilbert get rings.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.gleklen Brandon Gleklen

        But mostly Juan.

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

      49ers. I like their defence, and I always root for the NFC team (unless it’s division rivals)

    • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

      Doesn’t matter to me except don’t let Akers end up being the goat (the next Scott Norwood for all of eternity).

    • http://twitter.com/Sattymike Michael Jorden

      9r’s I never liked the Ravens;

  • austinfan

    Vaccaro is a grinder, he’ll succeed, but some people are overrating him, like Barron last year, a good but not great athlete who’ll be a solid safety, but not the next Dawk. Late 1st would be fine, top 10 insanity.

    NT/DE, one gap, two gap, one gap DE, two gap NT?
    Completely different skills sets, 3-4 one gap DE is a pass rushing LDE on steroids, 3-4 two gap DE is a tall run stopping DT.
    3-4 one gap NT is pretty much a tall “3” in a 4-3, 3-4 two gap NT is a big body that can’t be moved.

    Now if you get lucky you find a 6-3 320 lb NT who can anchor as a two gap NT but also has an explosive first step through a gap when he plays one gap. There actually may be a couple guys like that in this draft. Albert Haynesworth was this guy when he was motivated, about a dozen games in his career.

    As far as the really big NTs, they’re not elite players, Hampton was smaller but quicker and could anchor, the bigger guys rarely have enough stamina (see what they run in the 40) or quickness to threaten the QB other than a basic bull rush. And they’re not going to pursue the play down the LOS.

    • deg0ey

      I’ve been on the Hankins bandwagon all season. I liked him as DT in a 4-3 and I like him even more as a 3-4 NT. He’s not gonna be a premier pass-rusher, but he’s got a deceptively quick first step for a guy his size. His most underrated attribute IMO is the way that he’ll keep one eye in the backfield and change direction to follow the ball carrier along the LOS.

      Star is good, but I don’t see how it makes sense to take him at #4 when we can move down (or up from the top of the second) to the #20-25 range and get Hankins. The difference between the players doesn’t seem to be big enough to justify taking one of them 20 picks higher than the other.

      • deg0ey

        Of course, it’s possible I’m just being a massive homer, so take all of that with a pinch of salt.

      • D-von

        As an Ohio St. fan whats your thoughts on Etienne Sabino and John Simon?

        • deg0ey

          Sabino is a guy that I found really frustrating. He’s got all the physical tools, but doesn’t seem to have any football instincts to go with them. I see him as being a bit like Ernie Sims in that respect. If he’s still on the board in the 6th or 7th, then maybe you take a flyer on him and hope the light goes on somewhere down the line and that he can be a solid STer until then.

          Simon, on the other hand, is a guy I absolutely love. He’s the epitome of ‘high motor’ and it’s hard not to admire the effort he puts in for the team. Ohio use a variety of fronts, so he’s had time as a 3-4 OLB, 3-4 DE, 4-3 DE and 4-3 DT. The problem I have with him is that I don’t see a natural position for him in the NFL. At 6’2, 255 lbs, he’s already pretty jacked so I question how much more weight he can put on. He’s probably a little small to play on the line and he’s not particularly fluid in coverage so I’d question his fit at LB.

          I don’t see Simon as an Eagles target, but I think he’s got the work ethic to succeed as an undersized 4-3 DE somewhere in the league.

  • JEinOKC

    Did you decide to strike through that link in retaliation for the absence of Ms Jones?

  • Crus57

    So far so good for David Akers.

    • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

      Heck, my hands were a little sweaty there and I could barely watch that one.
      But right down the heart, plenty of distance!

  • Crus57

    Lucky, Flacco. When Vick heaves up a prayer like that, it’s usually a pick six.

  • Mac

    Oreo commercial is the best so far… also will the ravens find an answer for Davis? I see you cars.com…well played.

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

      I didn’t see all of them, but I liked the 29999 Mercedes one.

  • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

    49ers D is being EXPOSED!

    • D3Keith

      Weren’t they down 17 against Atlanta? It’s early yet. They’re moving the ball fine too.

      I don’t particularly care who wins, as I don’t mind either team. Just seems so far like one of those 14-3 games that will be 17-14 before we know it.

      • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

        No denying that the Niners can move the ball…but their D is suspect.

        • D3Keith

          Now that’s it’s 28-6, you’re looking wise.

      • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

        Also Atlanta is cream-puff soft; Ravens not exactly.

  • Crus57

    Has there ever been an ejection at the superbowl? I’m thinking there might be tonight.

  • xeynon

    How did Nnamdi get onto the 49ers roster? I thought transactions weren’t allowed during the playoffs.

  • ceteris_paribus1776

    Biggest weakness on the 9ers D is clearly Donatel’s unit…

    • D-von

      Yeah. We can end the Donatell talk after this game

      • xeynon

        On the other hand, Monachino’s star has to be rising.

    • Anders

      The secondary has always been the weak point, but it make sense when you consider the resources used compared to the front 7

  • eagles2zc

    While we’re waiting for the lights, what do you think of Kruger as an FA signing Tommy? Don’t think Ravens have the cap space to keep him

    • xeynon

      If we go to a 3-4, we need at least one OLB. He’s still young and is an up-and-coming player, and he’s not starting in Baltimore… seems like a classic Eagles target.

  • xeynon

    Man, Mike Iupati is a beast. I really think we need to spend some high picks to build an OL like the 49ers have.

    • Mac

      I really really really wanted Iupati when he came out in the draft.

  • TommyLawlor

    Congrats to the Ravens. Very happy for John Harbaugh. The Andy Reid coaching tree now has a Lombardi.

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

      Is it weird that a dysfunctional Eagles team that only won a few games managed to get the champs and the ex-champs?

    • Ark87

      Don’t forget the only Eagle to get a ring this year, Juan Castillo.

  • D-von

    Tommy, you mentioned Sean Devine as a potential Off. line coach for the Eagles with Jimmy K.. Did he coach under Chip Kelly at New Hampshire?

    • TommyLawlor

      Sean was mentioned as an Eagles candidate by CoachingSearch.com. Not sure if he and Chip are friends. Haven’t heard his name in the last week. Probably not coming here.

      • D-von

        Ok. Just checking. I actually answered my own question though as he was the OL coach at New Hampshire from 2002 to 2006.

  • BobSmith77

    5 of the last 6 Super Bowls now have came down to the last drive. Been a nice change to actually watch games that are competitive & full of late drama.

    I was generally indifferent to who won this game and thought it was kind of a snoozer until the 2nd half. Curious to see if the TV ratings generally echo that sentiment too and if ratings picked back up late in the 3rd quarter as it really became a game again.

  • BobSmith77

    Other thing I noticed was how both teams still really stuck with called running games through out the game even though neither team really was effective at running the ball in the 1st half.

    It will be a very refreshing change next year to see an offensive scheme where the coach doesn’t completely abandon the running game in the 2nd half (even if it is close game yet) and/or have his QB take a beating in the process as the called pass/run play ratio approaches 80/20.