Guard Duty

Posted: May 7th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 55 Comments »

The big news that came out today is that LG Evan Mathis is having minor surgery to clean up his ankle. He will miss the upcoming mini-camp and might be out until Training Camp. He’s expected to make a full recovery.

On its own, this isn’t a big deal. But as Jimmy Bama pointed out on Twitter, this now means the Eagles OL is 4 injured guys and a rookie. That sounds depressing. The good news is that Jason Peters seems to be all the way back from his injury. Todd Herremans was a full participant in the pre-draft camp and seems to be okay. Mathis participated in the pre-draft camp so his ankle was functional. Jason Kelce is actually the biggest question mark at this point.

Mathis absence will provide a great opportunity for Danny Watkins. There was a bizarre post on Philly.com this weekend that questioned whether Watkins would get cut and go to the CFL. It was pure speculation, but way off base even for that. Watkins hasn’t turned into the high quality starter the Eagles hoped for, but he’s far getting cut. Chip Kelly and Jeff Stoutland will want to see him up close this summer. Watkins wouldn’t be cut before September. And if he is let go, I tend to think some other NFL team would claim him and see if they couldn’t turn his career around. Watkins had a very good career at Baylor and showed serious potential in 2011.

I think Watkins would have to look awful this summer to get cut. You need backup offensive linemen. Watkins has experience, size, strength, and ability. He could be a good backup.

I’m not ready to give up on Watkins turning into a quality starter. He had 2 huge issues in the past. First, he didn’t take well to Howard Mudd’s coaching style. That brought out the worst in Watkins. Second, Danny is a much, much better run blocker than pass blocker. So naturally he didn’t thrive when pass blocking 40 times a game. If Kelly does run the ball as much as we expect, that will allow Danny to do something he’s good at and should help build up his confidence.

Danny has plenty of skeptics and he might end up failing, but we’ve seen plenty of times over the years when a coaching change completely turned a player’s career around. Look at what Pete Carroll did for Red Bryant. Red went from role player to impact run defender. Ask Alex Smith if Jim Harbaugh was good for him. Smith became a good starter and winning QB for the first time in his career. Go back in Eagles history and Jermane Mayberry went from underachieving former 1st rounder under Ray Rhodes to very good RG under Andy Reid.

We really don’t know who the backup OL will be this year. It looks like Dennis Kelly will be the primary backup OT and Dallas Reynolds the backup C. Nate Menkin and Julian Vandervelde could be backups at OG. UDFA Matt Austin is more of a longshot, but will get his chance. There are other guys in the mix and as Kelly likes to say, he’ll give jobs to the players who play the best. There will be no favorites.  Any of these guys can win a job or roster spot.

I know it may seem cheesy, but I really like the fact that all the players have a clean slate with Kelly. The fun part will be seeing who takes advantage of it.

* * * * *

Jimmy put together an excellent post on Jordan Poyer.  He added some great stuff on Twitter. Poyer went to high school in Astoria, OR, which is where the Goonies were. Poyer was -6 when that took place so he’s not one of the Goonies. I think that nugget officially makes Jimmy the bizarro version of AC Viking.

* * * * *

NFL Gimpy posted some good reflections on the draft in his new MAQB column. He focused on how money changed the positions that teams went for in the Top 10. Really interesting stuff.

I posted some draft nuggets the other day. Just general observations.

_


  • scott_mather

    Does Watkins have the ability to be a swing OL, the 6th man, as it were? Is he too limited to play tackle in a pinch in Kelly’s scheme?

    *Kyle Quinn played C at Arizona.

    • ICDogg

      One would hope that he could at least prove he can play even one position well before branching out to others.

      Although he may get a chance to try the LG spot with Mathis temporarily out of commission.

      • Mac

        And we may find out that he is more natural on the left side.

        • Sb2bowl

          He’s Canadian, so that means things are backwards for him, right? Or is it left?

          • ACViking

            No, that’s a Middle-Eastern issue.

          • Sb2bowl

            you mean they use the metric system too?

          • theycallmerob

            Metric isn’t backwards, it’s appropriate.

          • Mac

            No i mean the left side might be the right side for Danny.

    • TommyLawlor

      I’m an idiot. Got Quinn and Austin mixed up. Fixed that. Thank you.

      • RC5000

        There is no Austin either, it’s Tobin I think you are talking about?

    • TommyLawlor

      I don’t see Watkins ever playing OT in the NFL. He’s got the physical ability to play C, but I’m not sure he’d be able to make line calls and adjustments. No idea how good he is with that stuff.

    • A_T_G

      If he could back up the 5 spots, and Shepard has basically volunteered to back up the other 17, it would give us a lot of roster spots to devote to special teams.

      • TommyLawlor

        Let’s sign Bert Campaneris. He once played all 9 positions in a single baseball game. Surely he can play 4 or 5 spots in a football game.

        • ACViking

          And Cesar Tovar, too. He played all 9 positions in ’68.

          Then he spent a season with the Phillies in ’73 (acquired for Sommerville NJ product Joe Lis).

          But GM Paul Owens couldn’t get rid of Tovar fast enough after the ’73 season ended. Tovar was worse than a clubhouse lawyer. He was a cancer among the young players Owens was looking to build around like Schmidt, Luzinski, Bowa, Montanez, Boone, Anderson, Ruthven, Christensen, and Scarce.

          So, as the Sarge said every day, “let’s be careful out there.”

          • ICDogg

            I think Cookie Rojas did it first

          • ACViking

            Damn good catch.

            Although Cookie never played all nine positions in the same game or in the same season.

            Also, Bert Campaneris was the first player in baseball history to play all 9 positions in the same game — in September 1965 for the then-Kansas City Athletics under the ownership of Charlie Finley.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jakwaggoner Jack Waggoner

            I think when Rojas played all the positions, it wasn’t a publicity stunt. He just was willing to play wherever they asked him to.

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

    Best thing about hopping on board the Danny Watkins bandwagon? Not having to stop for traffic lights.

    http://instantrimshot.com/

    • TommyLawlor

      So very bad, and yet so very good.

  • Iskar36

    I posted this on Jimmy’s site, but I can ask a similar question here. Jimmy pointed out that while Poyer had a terrible combine, he posted very similar numbers to Brandon Flowers who was picked at 35 in the draft in 2008. He also pointed put that Poyer may have had better stats as well in college and that most scouts had Poyer as a 2nd-4th round pick. To me, that leads to the natural question of if similar combine numbers still translates to being a high second round pick in the case of Flowers, does that suggest that there has to be something more than just the poor combine that lead to Poyers fall to the 7th round? The combine must have played a role, and apparently he had a seemingly minor off field issue that led to some of the fall but I don’t know that those two things translates to such a fall. Seems to me that NFL teams see something on tape or know something about Poyer off the field (whether it is an additional legal issue or a character concern such as not being fully motivated) that also contributed to his fall. Since we can’t really find out about off the field issues as easily, is there anything about his play that maybe scouts overlooked or somehow caused them to overrate Poyer that may explain his fall in the draft?

    • ICDogg

      “… does that suggest that there has to be something more than just the poor combine that lead to Poyers fall to the 7th round?”

      Yes, it does suggest something like that. But exactly what, we have yet to hear.

      • http://twitter.com/sjampendk Patrick

        Well, he was arrested which is always a bad thing for a prospect. It might not be a serious charge but how does a supposedly high character guy end up getting himself arrested for not leaving a bar?
        Then there is the obvious Combine. Poyer was supposedly a guy who loved working out and going to the gym, well why wasn’t he 1. In a better physical state for the combine and more importantly 2. Better prepared for the combine? Did he think he could do it by natural ability, did he not take the biggest interview of his life serious or was he simply not interested in working out? Maybe he didn’t have good answers for those questions.
        It’s really not very difficult to go into a major fall. Think about a college friend who you know is very smart, but lazy. You wouldn’t do a major project with him, because you knew he wouldn’t do anything.

        • A_T_G

          All possibilities. There is also the possibility that there is an undisclosed medical issue that led to the poor performance, from the flu to a hernia to, well, anything.

          • GEagle

            I think it was a case of This guy should not have performed THIS BAD at the combine..I think when you are capable of more, and you have such a poor showing, it’s a red flag…Teo had a bad showing, but it was expected. his limitations were always documented yet he showed on tape that he could overcome then..seeing a guy like Poyer, who is capable of doing much better perform so poorly, is going o be a reed flag especially in a deep CB draft class…I can’t recall too many CBs chosen over Poyer that he dwarfed in terms of ability and potential…it was a good, and deep draft class. I remember watching the 6th round disgusted seeing such intriguing names getting drafted, and us not having a pick..I had to constantly remind myself that we acquired a kid with ridiculous amount I potential in Arelious Benn just to keep my sanity…teams not only have different needs and draft strategies, but they also value different things in each position..so while I think Poyer had absolutely NO BUSINESS whatsoever falling past the 5th round, it’s not exactly shocking that he did…I’m just happy we we the ones that took the chance on him..I’m expecting the NFl strength regimen to have a very good impact on that kid…Rather have Poyer anyday over guys like Marsh,Hughes,Lindley and Whitley…I will be shocked if Poyer doesn’t make the team…and I don’t call saying that about too many 7th round picks in the past

    • TommyLawlor

      We’re all flying blind. NFL teams don’t come out and discuss why prospects fall. Maybe Poyer failed drug tests. Maybe he’s dumb. Maybe he interviewed terribly at the Senior Bowl and Combine. And so on.

      Or maybe he’s a victim of circumstances. This was a deep group of CBs and it is possible he just got lost in the shuffle. The Pats had a mid-round grade on Tom Brady. Somehow he fell and fell and fell and they got super lucky in getting him in the 6th round.

      I posted a note that Poyer had no private workouts or visits. None. Teams were so busy checking out underclassmen, small school guys, and sleeper types that maybe Poyer simply got overlooked.

      We might find out when he plays. If Poyer struggles and is clearly over-matched, then teams could have just had bad grades on him. If Poyer looks good and plays well, then there is some strange reason behind his fall.

  • Toby_yboT

    According to eagles cap, Watkins cap number is about 2.17 mil and if he’s cut the dead money is 2.15 mil. He’d have to be more than worthless to be cut, the article is flat out wrong

    • GEagle

      Not surprising coming from Philly.com

  • Sifter

    I always wondered about Watkins as a potential center. The knock on him coming out was he was too short to play tackle, and his arms were too short to play guard. That leaves center! Additionally…to me Kelce is/was a bit overrated and could use some competition. Surprisingly good for a 6th rounder definitely, but that doesn’t mean he’s actually good ie. I thought his unlikely success inflated his true value. Anyway I’m glad Lane Johnson is there to add any extra (healthy) body to the mix.

    • GEagle

      man, I would not want Danny Watkins making the protection calls for the Oline…That’s a Freightening thought lol

      • http://twitter.com/MFlicker Mike Flick

        But think of the articles about him calling the protection is similar to calling fire fighting commands.

  • Mac

    6th and 7th round picks have major “lottery ticket” factors. The value on Poyer is great even if he only become a back up CB/special teamer. I think his potential is greater than that, but he comes across as an absolute steal in the 7th round (for reasons posted in a previous article).

  • Rage114

    I agree that the biggest question mark appears to be Kelce (in terms of returning from injury).
    However, considering they didn’t draft a center, I would then venture the conclusion that at least the Eagles think he will be ready.

    • GEagle

      Or are comfortable with Dallas as a backup

  • http://twitter.com/KeeepSwinging Anthony Hart

    Mathis actually already had the procedure done, and is apparently feeling noticeably better already. This really sounds like a simple procedure to relieve swelling and pain and should in theory improve his game for next season.

    • ACViking

      For AnthonyHart:

      I’m jumping over here from a comment AH made over at Birds 24/7.

      I’ve read the string and rethought my opinion.

      Mathis did shuffle around the NFL for 6 years.

      But he’s much better than mediocre.

      My compliments.

      • http://twitter.com/KeeepSwinging Anthony Hart

        All good my man!

    • A_T_G

      Is there a reason he didn’t have this done in January?

      • A_T_G

        Actually, answering my own question, I bet this hurt him at the end of every season for a long time and just didn’t get better this time.

        • http://twitter.com/KeeepSwinging Anthony Hart

          Yeah, my guess is that he thought it might just heal on its own. Plus the team was transitioning to a new staff and there’s a period during the offseason where the team can’t talk with players, maybe he wanted to wait until the new staff could get a good look and suggest a course of action.

  • ACViking

    Re: Future Comments

    Please note, I will continue to post as ACViking.

    I’ve decided not to change to Grandpa.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jakwaggoner Jack Waggoner

      Heh

    • Sb2bowl

      Will you at least wear your glasses while commenting?

      • ACViking

        fair enough.

        • Sb2bowl

          How else would you be able to see what everyone else was saying? :-)

  • ACViking

    Re: Moving the O-linemen around . . . and getting 5 TEs

    Assuming a full recovery by the 4 wounded Eagles O-linemen and a starting-level performance by the new kid . . . the Eagles may have the most versatile O-line, including TEs in that group.

    At least in the Red Zone.

    On draft day, Commenter Baloophi made the great point that by selecting LJ, the Eagles now could run a 4-TE offense at the goal-line: Celek, Ertz, Casey, and Johnson.

    I suggested that the Eagles actually could run a 5-TE offense: Celek, Ertz, Casey, Johnson . . . and Peters. Every one of those guys played TE in college.

    Herremanns would be the backup to the backups.

    The formation is “Heavy Jumbo” (Redskins’ Joe Gibbs used that name when he went to 3 TEs at the goal line. Oh how the game’s changed — whe can have 5 TEs.)

    And in place of Maclin and D-Jax, you put in Kelly at OT and Watkins (or whomever the 3rd guard is) at guard and slide Herremans or Mathis to OT.

    Then you have Johnson and Peters slide out to TE. Celek and Ertz move a step back from the LOS to the wing position. And you put Casey somewhere.

    So how do you deal with the empty backfield?

    Casey’s had 2 career carries for 17 yards. So maybe he’s lined up behind the QB.

    You could run a Casey into the line on a “Heavy Jumbo Y-reverse left” with Ertz taking the ball on TE reverse.

    That play was last seen in Philadelphia when TE Charlie Young ran it against the Vikings in 1973 . . . for a 17-yard TD.

    Or you line-up Casey as part of an empty-double-wing formation, put him in motion in classic H-Back tradition, fake the hand-off, and his LJ or JP for the TD.

    Of give Casey the ball as passes by the QB, pull Peters out in front to seal the corner.

    Or do something else.

    Anyway Baloophi seemed to like the who scheme. It’s possible of course that because it was draft day, neither Baloophi nor I were thinking entirely clearly.

    • CrackSammich

      You’re forgetting that Lane also played QB in high school. Put him in there and bring out your #4 TE in his spot. 6 tight ends, 5 Linemen.

      A jumbo wildcat. The Jumbocat formation.

      • ACViking

        That’s beautiful.

        I put nothing past Chip at this point.

  • ACViking

    Re: The Fall of Jordan Poyer

    T-Law responded to Iskar36’s comment about JP’s drop to Rd 7 by noting (among other things):

    “maybe he’s a victim of circumstance[ ]”

    I think we have no choice, from this point forward, but to call Jordan Poyer by the moniker “Curly Poyer.” Since he was a “victim of circumstance.”

    It’s all explained here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxAk3B_zS5k

    • TommyLawlor

      Funny stuff.

  • Apogee

    Has anyone discussed the possibility that drafting Lane Johnson could mean Todd Herremans loses his starting position rather than Danny Watkins(not that he exactly has one right now)? Like Tommy says, Watkins is a much better run defender than pass protector and maybe Kelly prefers his skill set. The Mathis situation only gives Danny a chance to shine. What if he performs well and Kelly likes Danny’s positives over Todd’s?

    • Neil

      I’ve considered this too. If Danny had his head on straight and played with confidence he would just be the more talented player. That’s really all it comes down to.

      • Apogee

        ” If Danny had his head on straight and played with confidence he would just be the more talented player. ” Couldn’t agree more. Todd has been good for us considering he has played decently at many different positions, but he certainly hasn’t been anything special. Todd could essentially become the super backup OL filling in everywhere except center. What’s his cap hit these days?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mr.Boomy Boomy Wongwan

    Is it fair to compare Matt Barkley to Chad Pennington?

    • TommyLawlor

      I think so. Similar size. Neither special as an athlete. Similar arms. Chad suffered shoulder injuries and his arm strength went from average to bad.

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