Eagles Notebook

Posted: July 30th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 63 Comments »

Many of you are worried about the Wall Street Journal article involving Chip Kelly and how quickly NFL officials will let him run plays. I don’t see this as a big deal. Chip knows the NFL is not the Pac-12. He is smart enough to know he’ll have to adjust to the logistics of NFL officiating.

My good buddy Jimmy Bama wrote about this. He used the 2012 Patriots as an example of how the Eagles can run an up-tempo offense in the NFL and get the ball snapped pretty quickly.  Jimmy also has the link to the WSJ piece for those who haven’t read it.

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Derek put up a new post at Iggles Blog. He shows some zone read plays from last year and compares them to Oregon plays. Great stuff, as you’d expect from Derek (the Eagles own version of JD Salinger).

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Now we come to the Jordan Raanan section of the show. Here are the QB stats that he’s tallied so far.

Pretty even battle, huh? The preseason games will be a huge part of figuring out who the starting QB should be.

Jordan also wrote a good piece on Matt Barkley. He followed him around for an entire practice and took all kinds of notes.

1:04 pm - Barkley starts strong. He hits Jason Avant on a perfectly-timed out pattern for about 10 yards. He then looks off the wideout and nails tight end Will Shaw down the middle for a big play. Both passes hit the receivers in the hands.

1:06 pm - Second time up. Barkley slips a pass between two defenders to Clay Harbor. He then hits LeSean McCoy in stride in the flat.

1:08 pm - Third and final time up in this drill. Running Chris Polk is well covered. So Barkley puts the ball low and away in a perfect spot. Polk makes the catch on the ground. It was the only spot where the ball could be completed. On his last play of the drill, Barkley hits Emil Igwenagu down the middle. The Eagles were keeping a cumulative offense vs. defense score on the drill. Barkley earned points for the offense on all six of his reps.

Good stuff.

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The Eagles put Jeremy Maclin on IR and re-signed WR Nick Miller. Nick knows the offense and will serve as a good camp body.

Losing Mac hurts, but it is encouraging that Russell Shepard, Damaris Johnson and Greg Salas are all having good camps. Johnson is fighting for playing time. The other two are fighting for roster spots.

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One national writer noted that the most physical camp he’s been to so far is KC’s. Andy likes it rough in the summer.

The trend across the NFL over the last 5 years has been to make camp less physical. Coaches are scared to have their players beating  on each other for several weeks. I don’t see this as a big deal. If the NFL becomes a finesse league, I’ll complain. There is still plenty of physical play in the game. The fact coaches don’t their guys beating on each other…I can see where they are coming from.

Has this affected hitting, blocking and tackling? Rules have changed hitting. Blocking is fine, overall. Bad tackling has been an NFL problem for more than a decade. It pre-dates the less physical camps. Young players all want to make highlight hits. That leads to poor form. The other factor is that the faster players get (both offense and defense), the harder it is to get into good tackling position.

The winningest college coach of all time, D3 legend John Gagliardi, never had his team practice tackling. He focused on scheme. He didn’t want injuries and thought the combination of his players being good athletes and knowing the scheme would lead to them being good tacklers. If they were executing the scheme correctly, that would allow them to play more aggressively. One of the keys to tackling is going forward. Be on your toes, not your heels. Be able to see your target clearly and attack it.

You don’t have to tackle day after day to get good at it. You must practice the fundamental parts of it. Getting to the ball and making the initial wrap cleanly can be enough to teach players what you’re looking for.

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RE: Vinny Curry

I mentioned earlier today that we hadn’t heard anything about him. Some mentioned a couple of notes that had been posted. That’s not what I’m talking about. My point is that we don’t know how he’s looked as a 280-pound DE in terms of rushing the passer. We don’t know how he’s done at playing 2-gap and being a run defender. This is the kind of stuff that will dictate how good of a season he has.

No one should expect Vinny to be a starter this year. Fletcher Cox will be one of the starting DEs. Cedric Thornton should be the other. He’s bigger at 6-3, 310. He’s more physical and a better run stuffer. Curry needs time to adjust to the scheme. He can be a good backup this year. And we’ll see if anything more than that happens.

RE: Brandon Boykin

It is possible that Boykin could steal a starting job. The coaches could then pair him with either Cary Williams or Bradley Fletcher in the base defense. When the team went to the Nickel, Boykin would slide inside. The Rams did this last year, by having a starting corner move to the slot and then putting Fletcher in his place outside.

RE:  Backup SAM

Right now Brandon Graham is the backup SAM. If Chris McCoy continues to play well, he could become the backup SAM. Graham could then shift over behind Cole and those two could compete for that role.

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  • SteveH

    If Boykin(s) were to take one of the 2 starting corner spots, who do you think the other would be? Cary Williams or Fletcher? I kinda feel like Fletcher is probably the better corner, but I can’t see Williams being too thrilled about being a backup.

    • TommyLawlor

      Williams is a mystery now. Only 1/2 day of TC so far.

      • SteveH

        True true, but if you had a hunch, which of the two would you say would start opposite Boykin(s)?

        • TommyLawlor

          I need to see them both play for us. I liked Fletcher more last year, but I didn’t study him for 10 games or anything like that.

          • DanJ3645

            It would be somewhat ironic if Fletcher only plays outside in nickel for us after having the same, fairly unique, situation last year for the Rams.

          • GEagle

            Cary would start opposite Boykin, with Fletcher moving into the slot where he has experience

          • aub32

            Not that this is the likely outcome, but if Boykin were to win the job outside could this benefit Jordan Poyer and free up the nickle corner spot for him to step in and take over? He seems to lack the ideal measurables to play outside based on his combine performance and has experience in the nickle. I’m not saying he would be better than Fletcher in the nickle, but perhaps the combination of Boykin and Fletcher on the outside is significantly better than Boykin and Williams.

          • Mitchell

            I wouldn’t worry too much about Poyer’s measurables no matter how crappy they are. I truly believe the NFL training program will increase all of his stats. Furthermore i hope Poyer is getting a chance on the outside. I haven’t heard anything about him.

          • GEagle

            Good point!!! Poyers Nickle ability certain gives us flexabilit to play any combination of the 3 on the outside,..it’s not that big of a deal early in the season, but later in the season when guys start getting hurt, this becomes very important…good point

          • Dominik

            Boykin played 50 % of the snaps last year, so Fletcher or Williams could see 50 % of the snaps if Boykin switches to the outside. That’s not great, but 50 % of the snaps isn’t nothing.

            I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but Fletcher didn’t play 50 % of the snaps for the Rams last year, did he?

  • Sean Scheinfeld

    The fact that we’re now hoping Vinny Curry turns into a viable BACKUP is quite sad. The guy was a second round pick just last year and not a Jaiquawn Jarrett-type pick either. I don’t like to play the what-if game because its largely pointless and almost entirely dependent on hindsight, but with the report from Daniel Jeremiah today about Russell Wilson, I can’t help but think he would’ve been a better pick at 59 than Curry. I don’t even think this requires all that much hindsight, though. The Eagles clearly wanted to draft a backup quarterback to develop at some point after the first round and with their additional second rounder near the bottom of the round, that would have been a perfectly acceptable time to get that developmental QB. Wilson had just come off the most statistically efficient passing season in FBS history and the guy they ended up taking around 20 picks later had had an aggressively average career at Arizona. Now, I actually agree with you, Tommy, that Russell Wilson the NFL quarterback is overrated and a significant portion of his rookie success is owed to the favorable circumstances he had on his side, and Foles had some inpressive flashes, but, like I said, the irrational fan in me still feels like the Eagles should’ve taken Wilson, especially knowing now that they had a great deal of interest in him

    • TommyLawlor

      You’re confusing the issue. Curry can be a good starter down the road. He’s transitioning to a new scheme and he’s changed his body. 2013 Curry will likely be a role player.

      In the future…who knows. Might turn out to be a good 3-4 DE. We need to see him play before we know.

      Let’s not get too down on Curry or how that’s a wasted pick right now. Let’s see what happens over the course of the next 2 years.

      • Sean Scheinfeld

        I don’t think it was a wasted pick, I actually liked the pick at the time and I did say my feeling was a bit irrational, but your point that he might turn out to be a good 3-4 DE is the crux of the issue I have. He has very little chance of becoming an impact or much above-average player in those 2 years you mentioned, especially with the switch to the 3-4. I don’t think that’s an indictment of his talent necessarily, but simply speaks to his situation. Looking at that Eagles pick (59 overall), almost anyone they could’ve selected there would’ve been somewhat of a luxury pick, considering the Eagles roster was then viewed as pretty stacked, hard as that may be to believe now. Given the choice between the luxury of having backup, developmental 4-3 DE Vinny Curry and backup, developmental QB Russell Wilson, I still think there’s a fairly strong argument to be made that Wilson is the better pick there, even with just the information we had then.

        • GEagle

          I watched Curry at the Linc practice on Sunday…he was impressive in his hand use(but we already knew that)…

          Sopo will be more useful than people think. So Strong…was ally pushing our Oline

          I think Ced Thorton is going to be a serious player!

        • aub32

          I think you are allowing yourself to use more revisionist history than you care to admit. Curry was projected to be a late first early 2nd round player. I think a lot of people were, especially the Eagles, were suprised to see him there at 59. We groan about the 2011 draft because the team clearly seemed to be reaching for players rather than picking the best guy on the board. If Curry was the BOA, why would they go elsewhere? There was as much a need for a developmental DE as there was for a QB last year. Washburn’s system involved a lot of rotation. Even if things went well last year, I doubt Tapp was going to be resigned and there’s a chance that Babin could have been a cap casualty. Plus Cole isn’t getting any younger, nor did we all have the confidence that there seems to be in Graham (as a 4-3 DE). The Eagles weren’t too far off with their projection of Wilson. He only went a handful of picks before we would have presumably got him in the 3rd. We got scooped. That’s part of the draft. And I sometimes play the “what if” game and think how perfect the 2012 draft would have been had we gotten Wilson instead of Foles (not to knock Foles) I would much rather stay true to our draft boards as we have seemingly done the past 2 years.

          • Sean Scheinfeld

            I support BPA drafting as much as the next guy, but no team truly drafts BPA regardless of position, no matter how many times team officials might use that refrain. Nor should they draft this way. Not only do teams have needs, but the relative values of different positions need to be taken into account. Positions hold both inherent value and team-specific value based on the construction and schemes of the team in question. The Eagles coming into that draft had what seemed like a deep and talented group along the DL. They had one QB (Vick) coming off of an underwhelming season in which he struggled to stay on the field as usual. Wilson had more inherent value as a QB and more team-specific value to the Eagles, who had an injury-prone QB and whose coach, let’s just say, emphasized the passing game. We love to talk about BPA as this infallible principle, but what most people really mean when they do so is that their team should draft good players that will help the team win. If Danny Watkins had played even decently in his rookie season or even if the team had just held a few of those fourth quarter leads and made it to the playoffs, barely anyone would be bemoaning the Eagles’ abandonment of BPA. No one talked about the 49ers drafting AJ Jenkins 30th overall, even though he was clearly not BPA, because the team had come off a winning season and had one the next year as well. The Eagles obviously liked Russell Wilson enough to draft him near the top of the third round, when we take into account the aforementioned value propositions I support BPA drafting as much as the next guy, but no team truly drafts BPA regardless of position, no matter how many times team officials might use that refrain. Nor should they draft this way. Not only do teams have needs, but the relative values of different positions need to be taken into account. Positions hold both inherent value and team-specific value based on the construction and schemes of the team in question. The Eagles coming into that draft had what seemed like a deep and talented group along the DL.On the other hand, they had one QB (Vick) coming off of an underwhelming season in which he struggled to stay on the field as usual. Wilson had more inherent value as a QB and more team-specific value to the Eagles, who had an injury-prone QB and whose coach, let’s just say, emphasized the passing game.The Eagles obviously liked Russell Wilson enough to draft him near the top of the third round, and when we take into account the aforementioned value propositions I maintain there is at least a reasonably strong case to be made that Wilson should have been the pick there

          • aub32

            Again you’re using hindsight. The Eagles needed a project QB behind their aging starter. You get those in the 3rd and 4th round. You say Curry was a luxury pick. Well what do you call a QB you intend to sit the next 2-4 years that was picked in the 2nd? Now that we know Wilson could’ve stepped in and played, the value is indeed there. However, every other team passed on him at least twice because there were legitimate concerns. Also Howie and the gang weren’t just drafting for 2012. As I pointed out, all the supposed D line talent was going to be gone in a year or two. Then we would be trying to force the issue of finding a DE.

          • Sean Scheinfeld

            I’ve already noted that both were luxury picks, as any player selected there most likely would’ve been. My point is that Wilson’s position afforded him more value to the Eagles and a much clearer path to playing time. As Chip Kelly is fond of saying, a QB is only a chinstrap away from seeing the field. How is saying that project QBs are only taken in the 3rd-4th round adhering to the BPA strategy? Also, for the last time, I’m not saying the Curry pick was terrible or that the Eagles made some unjustifiable blunder. All I’m saying is that a convincing case can easily be made that Wilson would’ve been a better pick there without referring to what he’s since done with Seattle. A case can also be made that Curry was a fine pick there knowing what we did then (like the one you’ve made), but I think the one for Wilson is stronger. Obviously there were legitimate concerns, but he did more things well than any QB in that draft after the first two picks

  • GEagle

    I’m I the only one excited about our scouts being made available to the media today? Were scouts ever able to talk during the last Regime(I can’t recall that ever being the case).

    • eagleyankfan

      why? LOL.

      • GEagle

        If you need me to tell you, then it’s not for you

  • eagleyankfan

    Wow. Great stuff right there watching the Duck video. Shame none of the other video’s worked for me. Hopefully the Eagles OL is better coached this year. Or, hopefully the OL is smarter? Or is it both? Either way, execution. People are worried about that WSJ article? Silly.

  • aub32

    I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing Foles here, but I would be very interested on a report about him beyond the numbers. In the past few practices there have been some bloggers that credit Foles with some big plays based on their results, but then I read more detailed bloggers who mention despite the result of the play, Foles didn’t make the best throw/decision. Maybe some of the bloggers didn’t pay as close attention, but I think there’s a big difference from “Foles completes a bomb to DeSean” and “Foles nearly throws a pick but DeSean makes a great move to come down with it”. Eagles fans are smart. If they were allowed to every practice, they would be able to discern from a good throw with a bad result and a poor throw with a good result. However, as it stands fans are only allowed to attend 5 of the training camp practices, in which only 1 of the remaining 4 is on a weekend. We rely on bloggers to be our eyes during these practices. I really hope some aren’t leaving out details to make any position battle seem closer, especially the most important one. Also, before anyone jumps down my throat, I have only used the Foles example because I’ve seen the leaving out of details with him happen more than once.

    • Mitchell

      Did you read the report from Jimmy about Vick throwing a “bad” TD pass, where he was rolling to the left and fired a TD all the way across his body to the other side of the endzone. Classic Vick. I guess bot qb’s are pretty even right now.

      • aub32

        No. I didn’t see that. Thanks. I think if both QBs are even in the passing game, then Vick has to be the starter. Kelly may not need a QB who can run, but if the two choices are too close through the air, then you have to go with the guy that gives you a completely extra dynamic, especially with Maclin gone.

        • Mitchell

          I would disagree. We are starting over so if the qb battle ends in a tie you have to go with the youth. Plus, Foles is still young and improving while Vick is on the decline. Not that I’m a Vick hater I just feel that would be the way to go. Also, it has been reported Vick is holding onto the ball to long and if it were a real game situation would have given up at least a couple sacks.

          • aub32

            I said in tie in regard to throwing ability. Obiviously that’s not a tie in terms of overall ability, unless you’re suggesting that Foles can produce as well on the ground. I can see where this is starting to go with you bringing up some knock on Vick with every reply. You are taking away from my original point in favor of making this a Vick v Foles debate. I am more interested in hearing pepoples’ opinions in regard to omitting details in favor of results. We have had this Vick v Foles arguument all summer. I just want an accurate report so that I as a fan know what’s really going on and not just the number of throws and completions.

          • Mitchell

            I wasn’t trying to go there I was just conveying what I was reading. I really don’t care who wins the job. If I had to lean one way or te other I would choose Foles only because he is younger. I dnt get into arguing who should start because that is what the HC is for. Sorry if I came off as argumentative.

          • aub32

            You’re good it just seemed it was about to go that way. So I wanted to nip it in the bud. No offense given or taken. I just want accurate information. It seems to me many reports are biased one way or another. There are reports about Foles arm strength being so much better, then other that say it’s only better compared to last year. The opposite can be said of players who look good, but it’s expected so no one comments on them, like Shady. I guess it’s impossible to write about everything, but I wish the things they did write weren’t focused on moving the needle by intentionally omitting details to fuel comment wars.

        • GvilleEagleFan

          In that scenario, i.e. if they are even in the passing game then you have to go with Foles. I’d agree with you if we were a team on the brink of a huge turn around, but Tommy has said several times and I agree that the primary focus this year has to be on evaluation and learning. If Foles as a second year player is even with Vick as a 10+ year vet, then I say you cut/trade Vick and keep the cap savings of the younger player who would theoretically have more room to develop. Kelly has already said he’s fine with tailoring the offense to either player, and you could just as easily make the 2nd option on a zone read play a screen/pitch to a WR if Foles is QB. In order to justify his salary and lack of longevity, Vick needs to clearly beat Foles at least in my opinion.

          • aub32

            So does Chip saying he wants to win now mean absolutely nothing? If they are even through the air, but Vick can produce on the ground, which keep in mind will help Shady and BB, do you think Foles will be given the job? I don’t.

          • GvilleEagleFan

            I’m not saying he doesn’t want to win this season, but that doesn’t mean he’s going all-in on making the playoffs this season either. I think his message is that he’s going to try to win every game, but he should also be aware of the factors external to practice performance that effect each QB’s play. It’s unlikely that Vick is going to get any better as a passer at this point in his career. If he can only tie a second year QB drafted in the third round, then I don’t think his speed (which will only decline as he gets further into his thirties) is enough to stack up against the other advantages Foles offers.

            I also think it’s a little underestimating of Chip to say that he couldn’t figure out a way to make Foles a threat if he doesn’t hand off the ball. He could just as easily throw or hand off to a WR in motion as the 2nd option in a zone read play. The zone read doesn’t require that the QB keep the ball, and remember Chip “wants his QB to hand off.”

    • Anders

      Agree with this. I complained about it after the first practice where everybody was praising Foles, but I remember tweets and Jordan Raanan also mentioned it that Foles had several near interceptions that day and also had several underthrown balls, but most of the reporters dont report that at all in their articles later on

      • GEagle

        Foles plays like he has a horse shoe stuck up his ass…he is always getting lucky by someone not coming down with his INTs…Eagles could use some luck. sometimes it’s better to be lucky then good lol?..Foles hasn’t had a single INT reported since 2012…not once has there been a reporter around to witness an INT from him…and he has yet to hit a fly Swatter or fumble a snap to my knowledge

        • aub32

          He has indeed thrown multiple interceptions. I don’t know what reports you’re reading. Also, he wasn’t all that lucky having thrown quite a few INTs and having 8 fumbles. Wasn’t his very first INT returned for a TD that put a game out of reach? I’ve seen good arguments for Foles and bad arguments for Foles. I will let you decide which category the argument that we should go with him because he will lead the league in dropped interceptions goes in.

          • GEagle

            What? You actually don’t think that whoever the defense drops more of the QBs interceptions, will win the job? Shocking…..I thought that was the obvious criteria…thanks for setting me straight. Learning something new every day lol

  • bdbd20

    Hey Tommy,

    What was the knock on Shepard? Hands, attitude? It seems that he has the physical to play at this level?

    • TommyLawlor

      Underachiever at LSU. Started off as QB, but didn’t last long. Then got moved to WR. Shepard would flash talent, then disappear. LSU finished 107, 106 and 92nd in passing in his last 3 years. That makes it tough for a guy like him to transition to WR. Limited chances.

  • barneygoogle

    I worry about this lack of tackling with so many young players. It seems that it will be harder to judge who has the mental toughness to fight through a whole season.
    Imagine 11 Todd Pinkstons out there, covered by 11 D. Rodgers-Cromarties ! They’d look like all-pros until someone got the wind knocked out of him.

    • Tom33

      Maybe I’m crazy, but I think practicing wrapping up at full speed (as opposed to just banging guys to the ground) will actually improve the tackling and not hurt it.

    • BlindChow

      Rodgers-Cromartie was in last year’s “physical” camp, right? How’d that work out for his mental toughness?

      • Iskar36

        This line of logic is faulty though. To me, this line of logic falls under the “True, True, and unrelated” category. In other words, it is true that we had a physical camp last year. It is also true that DRC was not a physical player last year. But the two things are unrelated events. I don’t think having camp designed differently would have changed how physical a player DRC would have been. As hard as it is to believe, it is possible that our team would have even been softer without the physical camp (I’m not saying that’s necessarily the case, just pointing out the fact that it is a possibility, and that going with the logic of “physical camp did not lead to physical play, therefore we should have a less physical camp for more physical play” by no means is necessarily true).

        • Jernst

          I disagree slightly with your assertion. First, you state that you are worried that a less physical camp might have a causative effect in creating a less physical and less mentally tough team. Clearly stating that you feel there is at least some connection between the two. Otherwise, there’d be no need to worry.

          But, when it’s pointed out that a more physical camp, as we saw last year, did not cause a more physical or mentally tough team, and someone shows you that there really isn’t a correlation between a physical camp and a physical team, you immediately state that you don’t think there’s any correlation between the physicalness of the camp and the physicalness of the player, in effect contradicting yourself.

          Only, it seems you only think there’s no correlation when the outcome does not fit your preconceived notion. When a physical camp produces weak teams – no correlation, however, when a less physical camp produces a weak team – there’s a causative association. Poor argument all around.

          Andy Reid ran one the toughest camps around and there was some benefit and some downside. His teams usually were mentally tough, but tackling as long been an issue that hasn’t been resolved, however, his teams, battered by long hard training camps routinely started off the season extremely slowly. On the flip side they seemed to have the endurance to outlast teams towards the end of the year. It’s definitely an interesting question about how much benefit do you gain and how much do you lose or risk in the form of injury and fatigue. I don’t think there’s a clear cut answer.

          One point that has been made above, is that practicing approaching a player, hitting with good technique and wrapping up, albeit without tackling to the ground, may actually improve tackling. Heck, the Steelers, for years now, have allowed no tackling in their camps…no one worries that their defense is soft.

          I think you said it right at the beginning of your rebuttal. The two are most likely unrelated. DRC was going to be a wuss regardless of the physicality of the camp. At the same time Dawkins and Trotter were going to be hard asses regardless of Reids physical camps. As you said it really is about the players innate makeup. Your mistake is that the lack of correlation probably goes more both ways (physical camps don’t necessarily create tough teams and less physical camps don’t create weak teams) than you’re willing to admit.

          • Andy124

            Did you and Iskar talk about this elsewhere? Because the post you’re directly replying to says very little of what you seem to think it does.

          • Jernst

            Whoops…thought the original poster (Barneygoogle), who wrote about a soft camp creating 11 pinkstons and 11 DRCs was Iskar too…my bad.

          • Iskar36

            I think you misread my comment, or at least I was not clear enough with what I was trying to say. I was not arguing the point that a less physical camp necessarily leads to a less physical team, but instead that the example of last year and DRC does not prove or disprove that as a possibility. (I tried to make that clear with the comment in parentheses, but I probably needed to make that point more clearly). Ultimately though, I agree with you. Clearly there are some benefits and some downsides with a physical camp. Using last years team as an example to “prove” that a physical camp doesn’t work though is faulty logic to me though. Just to provide further evidence of that, if I remember correctly, AR has always had relatively physical camps (some more so than others, but still…), and over his tenure as coach, we have had some teams that were fairly physical while we have also had some teams that were fairly soft.

          • GEagle

            Physical nature is part of the game…the most physical teams, have physical leaders that don’t allow the team to be soft…You see Bernard Pollard barking at Titans rookie Justin Tucker, not allowing him to be soft, demanding that he contributes…man I’m jealous!!!

            Last year the team was a group of soft defensive mutts…does anyone actually think Dawkins would have allowed the, to play like that? Leadership is crucial

          • Jernst

            Agreed…a defense with Dawkins and Trotter is not going to be ALLOWED to be soft, regardless of who the other players are. This is where on the field leadership is so important. A coach can’t really get on players for being soft the same way another player, who is putting his nose in there all game long, can.

          • Jernst

            Completely agree…I confused you with the OP…good points all around

          • Jernst

            Oh yea…and I also misread your comment too. I should stop internetting while drinking…things get so confusing, haha

  • GEagle

    NOthing will pump up an eagles fan more then Duece staleys comments on the csn article…Man, that guy just gave me goosebumps…Duuuuueeeeccce!!!

  • Jernst

    I went to training camp on the 29th this past weekend and here is what I saw:

    I’ll start off with the thing on everybody’s mind: The QB Competition.
    – I’ll preface this by saying that I am an Eagles fan and have been for 30 years, I’ve routed for many different QBs, some worlds better than others…I still have nightmares about Bubby Brister. However, I’ve always routed for the Eagles to win and have always wanted nothing more than the QB who gives us the best chance of winning to play. I have no horse in this race, I route for Nick Foles and Michael Vick equally, and don’t care which one wins. In fact, if anything, I’d prefer Foles, the younger of the two, would establish himself as a premier NFL QB and lead us for the next 15 years. That being said here’s my analysis.
    – On Sunday, 5 QBs took the field. Purely based on skills, 4 were nearly indistinguishable from one another and one was Michael Vick. That being said, none of the QBs looked particularly good, let alone elite. However, one clearly had elite skills and the other 4 looked barely passable by NFL standards.
    – Vick was clearly more accurate that Nick Foles on the day. Even in running the plays against air, the majority of Vicks throws were on target and hit his receivers in stride with a perfect spiral. A fair number of Foles throws were completed, but the WR had to slow down, or turn around to grab a slightly off target pass or came out like wobbly wounded ducks.
    – Deep throws were even more drastically different. I will again give a disclaimer: I’ve watched Randall, McNabb and Vick for the majority of my football life. Each of those guys had or has one of the strongest arms in history. It is very possible that I am biased from watching cannons fire passes around the field and have unrealistic expectations. But, Foles’ passes seem to take an eternity to get to their target (same with Barkely and Kinne and to a lesser extent Dixon). The deep 15-20 yard come back or out pattern is a pick six waiting to happen with Foles. The vast majority of his deep passes were under thrown. One actually hit the defender in the head who was trailing the WR by a few yards trying to catch up. On purely a skills level, there’s no comparison, the ball explodes off of Vick’s hands and gets to it’s target in a hurry, and as long as he has time to step into his throw it’s routinely on target. Or, at least it was in most of this practice.
    – If Chip Kelly calls a single read option with Foles in the game he should be shot at half time. Foles running the read option looks absurd. He cannot run it and should not be asked to…ever.
    - That being said, the Eagles spent over 50% of the training camp practice practicing Read Option plays and plays built off of it. This offense is being installed to look a lot more like Oregon than many people are admitting. Listen to the Off Cord. this offense, or at least Chips vision of this offense, is much closer to what he ran at Oregon than many people believe. If Foles wins the QB spot, I have no doubt that Kelly would be smart enough to adjust fire and adjust his offense to Foles skill set, or Barkley’s for that matter, but don’t be fooled, Chip wants to run the read option. You don’t spend 50-60% of practice time on something that you do not plan on having as a major part of your offense.
    – The eagles spent a good 10 min practicing a variation off of the read option that involves receiving a shotgun snap, faking the outside zone read and throwing back to a WR on the opposite side (this should sound familiar to anyone that has watched those fishduck videos). Again, there was one QB who ran this play smoothly and 4 others that bobbled the ball, threw off target passes, one hopped the ball, ect. I was extremely impressed by the smoothness with which vick caught the shotgun, spun the ball in his hand prior to executing the play action and casually stepped to the side and towards the WR delivering a consistently catchable ball. Even Dixon, who I imagine ran this play often in college had trouble consistently executing this difficult ball handling. He was still worlds better than Foles and/or Barkley who looked awkward trying to execute this play. Foles tried this play again during the semi live 11-11 portion and again essentially one hopped the ball to DJax who may or may not have saved him with an excellent catch/trap of the ball.
    – Vick continues to hold the ball too long and try to wait for things to happen. This is the part of his game that makes most people, myself included, feel like he’ll never be a serviceable pro QB. Even in 7 on 7 drills he’s running around waiting for 5-6 seconds and then eventually throwing a ball to an open WR. I wish he would actually practice throwing the ball away. I was surprised that for all Chip Kelly preaches these things, there seemed to be very little if any correction of this behavior during practice. Perhaps he really does save it for the classroom. My only question though is, if this was drilled into Vicks head all off season, how come he’s still doing it during practice? Vick can look like a golden god out there athletically and show off incredible skills, but if he continues to try to extend plays and throwing the ball up for grabs he’ll never be anything more than an athletic freak that turns the ball over.
    – My prediction at this point is that Vick will win the job and start game 1. He is just too much more talented, heads and shoulders, above the rest, to not be named the starter initially. Also, I don’t think you give someone like him $7million (or essentially an extra $3.5mil) to come back and compete if you don’t think that he’s the front runner to win the job. That feeling might change in the preseason, but you have to think he has probably started out as the front runner, he’s clearly more talented and he gives Chip a chance to try some of his college play book that he can’t seriously install with Foles or Barkely. However, as Tommy said earlier the more interesting question is who ends the year as the starting QB. And, at this point my money is on Foles. For all of Vick’s skills, I’m afraid it might be fools gold. If he continues to recklessly try to extend plays, with his declining physical skills and continues to commit turnovers at his current rate, Chip will pull him for Foles before mid season.

    • aub32

      Thank you, thank you, and again I say thank you. These are the kinds of observations I am looking for. Too many bloggers ignore, dismiss, or omit how the QBs look from a physical and delivery standpoint. They take for granted the physical gifts of Vick and his ability to get the ball there quickly. What’s the point of being accurate if by the time the ball gets there the defender is in better position than the receiver. Yet you did not omit what I still think will be Vick’s biggest hurdle and my biggest fear of him starting. I wish more practice observations could focus on the details and not just the end results/stats. This goes for other positions as well, like when you mentioned (in a seperate post) how Polk’s big runs were more offensive line than him making moves.

      • Andy124

        You might try getting on twitter, or if you don’t want to, just follow the twitter feed imbedded in the bleedinggreennation open practice threads.

        They’ve been really good about pointing out when a good result came from a bad decision/pass as it happens live.

        • aub32

          Yea I refuse to join twitter but will try checking that out if I don’t have to get on it.

      • Jernst

        Hey, thanks a lot! I really mean it…thanks for reading all that and having good things to say afterwards. Granted it was just one practice, and this is assuming a non catastrophic preseason performance, but based on what went down on July 29th at the Linc, I don’t see how Mike Vick is not named the starter. I’d bet my bank account on it. One other thing I didn’t mention, because my own observations were contradicted by many of the bloggers who were up close and taking snap counts, but it appeared to me and the guys I was sitting with that Vick took the vast majority of first team reps. In every single drill, 7on7, 11on11, 1on1, against air…didn’t matter…Vick was the first QB up and started with the 1′s. As the drills continue on at a frantic pace, it’s a lot more difficult to tell who is with the 1′s, because the skill players all rotate constantly so that there’s no downtime. Eventually on the 4th or 5th run through, you’ll see Vick, Desean and Ertz lined up with Felix Jones behind them and then Foles, Cooper, Celek and McCoy come up next, because every single grouping is seemingly different. Next you’ll see Vick, Casey, Sheppard and McCoy followed by Foles, DeSean, Celek, Ertz and Bryce Brown. Now you tell me…which QB was getting the first team reps in those scenarios? I have no clue…

        • aub32

          I definitely see the confusion and wish that would have been pointed out as well instead of this 1st team second team stuff. I’m not saying they should assume that Vick is always 1st, but that everyone is playing with everyone.

  • Jernst

    My last comment went way long talking about the QB competition so I decided to split it up. Here’s some other bullet points from training camp.

    - The eagles had a 5-6 min portion of practice dedicated solely to presnap offensive motion. The offensive skill players would come to the LOS without the lineman there and run complicated motions with the coaches yelling out orders. And, then they’d snap the ball, take two steps and not run a play. The next group would come in and do the same thing. There will be a lot more presnap motion and confusion for opposing defenses facing the Eagles this year. This is one of the reasons I think Chip likes TEs so much. Even if the defense is given the chance to substitute, the Offense can come out with TE in line, the D will substitute heavy and then the TE motions out wide and we’re in a spread look.
    - Ertz will play outside as a giant WR quite often. Having him out there block CBs and S is a win on running plays for sure.
    - Ertz made a few impressive catches and looked to be, not only the biggest TE but the most athletically gifted TE out there. He routinely ran through drills and pass patterns faster than all the others.
    - Celek continues to have stone hands and dropped a few passes. One received audible growns from the corwd.
    - Desean is going to be featured heavily in this offense, both deep down the field and on screen passes. The screen game is actually what I’m most excited for. With Peters, who looked indistinguishable from his pre-injury form and the rest of our athletic line able to get out there so fast, we essentially have DeSean out in space like a punt returner with a couple of athletic monsters forming a wall in front of him and knocking over CBs, safeties and LBs. One’s we iron out the execution this is going to be scary to watch.
    - LeSean simply breaks peoples ankles everytime he touches the ball.
    - Bryce Brown looked sharp
    - Polk looked faster than I remembered him, but still got caught from behind on every long run he had. Don’t be fooled by the blog articles talking about his long runs, most were simply the oline opening up a huge hole, him running straight through it past defenders that weren’t allowed to tackle him and then getting caught from behind after about 15 yards.
    - Felix didn’t do anything of note, but did look fast and healthy.
    - The most impressive DB on the field is Boykin. Man amongst boys in our secondary. Even stayed in DeSean’s hip pocket on more than one occasion and got his hand on a number of passes.
    - Watching Avant during 1 on 1 drills is amazing. He puts on a route running clinic. Simply uncoverable. Unfortunately, he still runs like he’s trudging through a foot of snow so he doesn’t go anywhere after he catches the ball, but impressive nonetheless.
    - LBs dropping back in coverage: Connor Barwin is the only one that looks good at it, but Trent Cole definitely looks more than adequate. Graham on the other hands, yeesh…he needs to rush the passer and rush the passer only. He looks downright foolish dropping in coverage. Even against air, where they drop back at a 45 degree angle and then the coach points in the opposite direction and they have to swivel their hips and go the other way at a 45…Graham just can’t do it. His hips make that 90 degree swivel at the same rate that you’d expect from an ocean liner.
    - Greg Salas had a number of impressive catches, including a diving grab down the far sideline that made everyone in my section check their program to see who made that catch.
    - Dawkins looked resplendent in his black pinstriped suit and fedora. McNabb looked goofy with a lime shirt on and a wet towel over his head. I don’t like to get in to the whole McNabb is socially awkward argument, because he was such an amazing QB that brought so much fun to watching the Eagles, but that stuff his real, he is one awkward dude. He was walking off the field at the end of practice and all the fans were waving and cheering his name and he gave them a half hearted wave and then put a towel over his head and face, Dawkins was walking a few yards behind and came running over to the fans high fiving and shaking hands and signing autographs and making a big deal out of everyone there and Donovan just stood back and kept peering over from underneath a towel. It was legitimately strange. And, after all the fans calling his name and cheering for him, every interview he gives he talks about how hard the fans are on him, how hard it was to play here, how they booed him at the draft and on the field, and on and on and how it was a difficult strained relationship (all the while telling everyone how none of that stuff ever bothered him…even though he cant shut up about it years and years later). I really wish for Donnie’s sake that he’d embrace the fans more and stop playing the victim and bringing up all these things that clearly bother him only to point out how much they don’t bother him at all. It’s really sad.

  • Bighouse1

    I’m surprised we haven’t heard more yet on the offensive line and on how Lane Johnson is doing at RT. Haven’t seen many reports on that yet with the focus on the QBs, the defense and Maclin’s injury.

    Also there haven’t been many reports in general on whether any of the rookies are looking like they will contribute other than the various mentions of Barkley and his potential. I’d be interested to hear how Ertz, Logan, etc. look in camp so far and which of these guys are pushing for playing time. Most importantly, though, what does Johnson look like and how does the OL as a unit look with everyone back from injury?

    • Jernst

      From what I saw at camp….it’s really tough to evaluate the Oline during practice. For the majority of the day they are not going up against other humans. Instead they are throwing blocking sleds around and learning technique in slow motion. I can tell you this though, Logan freaking hated that blocking sled. There was a couple times he showed freakish strength and violent hands in throwing that thing to the side. How much you can gain from that I’m not sure. Johnson looks the part, but again he was mostly practicing shuffle side steps and hitting a blocking sled, not sure what else I can say. However, I was a WR and CB…I’m sure you can get much better analysis from former lineman.

  • Jernst

    One other note of interest…we practiced the fade pattern at the goaline! Thank you sweet baby jesus!! Never understood why a staple of red zone offense was always lacking from Big Reds playbook, despite us not being very good in the RZ anyways.

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