I wasn’t at practice today. I’m basing my comments off what I saw on Eagles Live and what I read from the beat writers who shared some thoughts on Twitter. And I’ll make the obligatory warning that this was just guys running around in shorts. Okay, that stuff is out there so now let’s talk about the day.
We’ll start with the offense. Nick Foles was the first QB on the field for team activities and got more snaps with the 1′s than Mike Vick did. Vick had that role last week. I think this is a case of Chip Kelly mixing things up and putting guys in different situations. I don’t think this was a promotion for Foles. Matt Barkley got most of the #3 reps.
PEcom wasn’t able to show much of the QBs. They can show the players getting loose in the individual period, but not doing team stuff. You just can’t judge much off a couple of throws. Some said the QBs looked good. Some said they looked sloppy. It doesn’t sound like anyone stood out.
* New TE Will Shaw looks athletic. He cuts well and is a fluid athlete. I can see why the Eagles were interested.
* One player that I’m very curious about is WR Damaris Johnson. He’s got the potential to be a very good fit as a slot receiver for Kelly. You could see just how quick and fluid he looked on one catch today.
* Ed Wang was the starting LT today, since Jason Peters missed a flight due to weather issues. In the regular season either Todd Herremans or Lane Johnson would man that spot.
* Johnson was the backup RT. This doesn’t concern me a bit. If we’re in the second week of Training Camp and Johnson is with the 2′s, that’s when I’ll get nervous.
* Nic Purcell remains the OL I’m most fascinated by. I’d love to know if they think he has LT potential. Or RT or OG or what. I don’t mean as a starter right away, but as a developmental project.
* LeSean McCoy left practice after tweaking his knee. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but Any sentence with McCoy and knee does make you a bit nervous.
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Now for the defense. Once again the starting LBs were Connor Barwin (LOLB) and Trent Cole (ROLB). The backups were Brandon Graham and Phillip Hunt. Graham had one memorable coverage play. He tried to cover Jason Avant on a downfield pass play. Avant caught a 40-yard TD pass. The good news…Avant showed deep speed. The bad news…it was against a 265-pound LB. Joking aside, no pass rushing LB is expected to really cover WRs 40 yards downfield.
Fletcher Cox was absent due to flight problems. Clifton Geathers started at DE. I think he was at LDE with Ced Thornton at RDE. Geathers is a massive player that has some potential. It was odd how easily the Colts gave up on him, despite the fact he just played his best football for them. Will be fun to see if Geathers can play or not.
* SS Patrick Chung also had flight issues and was absent. Kurt Coleman started in his place.
* Antonio Dixon does look to be in better shape than last year or 2011. Good sign. You want him big and bulky as a NT, but last year he was too big and that hurt his play. Not getting NFL paychecks will get your attention.
* The ILB I’m most curious about is Jake Knott, the UDFA from Iowa State. There is no tackling, but I’d love to know if he’s showing good instincts or looks like a typical rookie and is highly erratic. Didn’t hear about or see Knott in action today.
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Sheil Kapadia did a great job with his practice write-up. One interesting blurb:
“A new look on defense, which we’ll write more about later this week: a 3-3-5. Geathers plays nose tackle, with Thornton and Cole on either side as defensive ends. DeMeco Ryans and Kendricks are the inside linebackers. Barwin and Brandon Graham rotate as outside linebackers, but are not on the field at the same time.”
Jim Johnson’s Okie package was a 3-3-5. The MLB was the Joker position. Bill Davis version will be different. With JJ, it was all about having a dynamic pass rusher at MLB to move around the field and blitz from anywhere. Sounds like Davis has his best rusher at OLB. I’m sure Davis will move that OLB around, but he’ll still be more likely to rush off the edge, or at least start from that point.
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Michael Vick did an interview with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic a few days ago. Sheil Kapadia (doesn’t that McManus guy ever do anything?) wrote up a post on it.
Vick didn’t like people being so critical of him, especially in regard to reading defenses and holding onto the ball.
“I’m really tempted right now to just say no comment to that because like I said a second ago, you don’t last 12 years in the NFL not being able to read the defense,” Vick said. “Those people who are talking and saying that are just ignorant, and they know nothing about football. Unless they turn on the film and watch my game and see what goes on, then they’ll replace those comments with the right comments.”
Vick is both right and wrong, as is so often the case with players. Fans do tend to go to extremes. If the guy couldn’t read defenses, coaches would have given up on him a long time ago. That said, it isn’t something he does consistently well. Part of this is due to ingrained habits. Vick has always been a playmaking QB. That often meant holding the ball and waiting for plays to develop. Going from that to getting the ball out quickly and accurately is a major change. Vick has shown progress, but it still isn’t a strength for him and likely will never be.
I’m sure the Vick detractors will want to rip the guy, but do remember that both Eli Manning (2011) and Joe Flacco (2012) did offseason interviews where they came off as defensive in regard to how good they were. Their critics ripped them. Then those guys went out and won the Super Bowl. I’m not holding my breath on Vick winning the SB this year, but the point is that we just get too extreme with QBs. Vick isn’t nearly as good as his fans think and he’s not nearly as bad as his critics think either.
My advice to Vick would be simple. Throw TDs. Win games. Don’t throw INTs, take sacks, or fumble the ball. Fans will ease up on criticisms.
Speaking of fumbles…one thing that does give me some hope for Vick is that he seems to be listening to Chip Kelly. Vick has a bad habit of running with the ball in a very loose manner. It has led to some fumbles. Kelly got on him the other day and showed Vick how he wanted the ball carried. If Vick embraces Kelly and his ideas, it will help his cause. If Vick is reluctant to make changes, that will help Nick Foles bid to win the QB job.