Panthers Preview

Posted: August 15th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 58 Comments »

Game #2 is finally here. This is going to be a key game for many players. Some guys are looking to rebound from a slow start. Others are looking to build on a hot start. How you perform in one game is just that…one game. Two games becomes a trend, whether good or bad. And that starts to give the coaching staff some definitive answers.

The focus will be on the QB battle. Nick Foles gets the start tonight. Foles played well last week and needs to do that again. He had the fumble last week and needs to avoid turnovers tonight. I hope we get a chance to see him stretch the field with a pass to DeSean Jackson. Foles is throwing the ball better this year, but the deep ball was a major weakness last year.

Vick will take over in the 2nd quarter, but still be with the starters. He led the offense on an explosive TD drive last week. I’m hoping to see Vick show that he can lead a more sustained drive this week. It will also be interesting to see how he does running the offense up-tempo. Kelly started things slowly last week so the players could shake off the rust and get going. That meant things were slow in Vick’s 2 drives. That should change this week.

Matt Barkley started very slow, but got better. He’ll play the 3rd quarter tonight and now has an idea of what an NFL game is like. I’m hoping he’s more consistent tonight. I’d love to see GJ Kinne get a couple of drives in the 4th quarter, but he still might be behind Dixon.

At RB, I’m hoping to see Chris Polk look quicker. He’s had a great summer, but wasn’t impressive last week as a runner. He blocked well, which is important, but I want to see the quickness that he’s shown in camp. Is he just getting the best of a bad Eagles defense in practice? That’s a fair question to ask. At the same time, the Pats played good run defense early last week. Polk needs to show us something. Bryce Brown was terrific. We just need more of the same from him.

I want TE Brent Celek to hold onto the ball. I want Zach Ertz to do a better job of blocking.

The top WRs are fine. I’m more interested in Damaris Johnson, Russell Shepard, Ifeanyi Momah and Greg Salas. They need good passes coming their way so we can evaluate their hands and then playmaking ability. Salas needs to build on last week’s strong showing.

Another good game by Allen Barbre would make me feel pretty good about the OL and depth. Lane Johnson looked like the real deal last week. More please. I do hope Todd Herremans wakes up and plays well. He was sloppy last week. Danny Watkins got better as the game went along. He needs to build on that (Update – apparently he’s not playing due to the concussion). Backup C is still wide open. I like Dallas Reynolds, but the coaches seem to favor Julian Vandervelde.

There is a lot to look at on defense.

Fletcher Cox must play better. I don’t need him to suddenly be J.J. Watt or Reggie White, but Cox played poorly last week. That’s not good, new defense or not. Isaac Sopoaga and Cedric Thornton were okay, but need to play better. The young DL drew a lot of praise. I hope they don’t get big heads. We need them to have another good game. Bennie Logan might see some time with the starters. Damion Square continues his push to win a roster spot. I hope Vinny Curry plays a lot at 3-4 DE tonight so we can judge him on that. Antonio Dixon makes his debut. I figured he was a shoo-in for the backup NT job, but that’s not the case anymore. He’s fighting for a roster spot.

OLB is  mixed bag. Trent Cole just needs to show that he’s getting the hang of the spot. Last week he looked lost. I don’t want to make too much of that, but I’d be lying if I said I was completely comfortable with him. Connor Barwin is a player I am comfortable with. Brandon Graham did a good job of rushing the passer last week. The challenge now is to show he can play OLB. Chris McCoy impressed last week. Another good game will help him in his bid to win a roster spot. Phillip Hunt flashed, but he’s got to really stand out. The new coaches just don’t like small guys. Hunt has to blow them away. Rookie Travis Long didn’t get much of a chance to rush the passer last week. I’m hoping that changes tonight.

The starting ILBs, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks, did not impress in the opener. They need to be smarter and more physical. We got the worst of both worlds last week. They weren’t gap sound. They weren’t blowing up blockers and being disruptive. As I re-watched the game yesterday, it was frustrating to see how they struggled with blocks while the Pats ILBs would punish OL that came at them. Gotta be more physical. The backups are definitely worth watching. Jake Knott an Emmanuel Acho were the 3rd stringers last week and played well. I’d love to see them play with the 2’s.

Safety remains a mystery, outside of Patrick Chung. Nate Allen must play well tonight if he wants to be a starter. We don’t know the full rotation. There has been speculation that Earl Wolff might start tonight. I’m all for it. Allen didn’t play well last week. The Eagles need someone to step up. Kenny Phillips has to show that he can run. I’m curious to see if David Sims plays more. Was he on the bench last week due to the rotation or because he’s behind the others?

Cary Williams is slated to make his Eagles debut. To the fans and media, he absolutely cannot afford a poor game. The coaches will be patient, but Cary’s talking has already worn down some in Philly. Brandon Boykin is likely to start in the slot. He should play on the outside with the 2’s. Brandon Hughes looked pretty good last week. He needs another good game. Curtis Marsh needs a good game if he wants to have a chance to make the team.

Reuben Frank pointed  out the other day that the starting defense didn’t do anything special at all last week. No sacks. No TFLs. No fumbles. No pass deflections. Nothing. They didn’t play extensively, but that will change tonight. The starters should play close to a half. They need to show progress.

If the defense is awful again tonight, I’ll begin to get worried. I think last week brought out the worst in them for a few reasons. They were facing the Pats. The scheme was very basic. It was their first chance to really play live football in the new system. The coaches have made some adjustments, in terms of scheme and personnel. The players have been able to study tape. I can’t stress how valuable that is. Players learn visually. They need to see tape to truly understand concepts and roles. I think the defense will be better this game.

I’m not looking for the ’85 Bears, but I do expect the players to be smarter and more aggressive. They’ll have a better idea of what they’re doing. The rust is gone. They know it is time to show what they can do or there will be changes. That should bring an sense of urgency to things that was completely lacking last week.


58 Comments on “Panthers Preview”

  1. 1 Media Mike said at 12:39 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    100% you heard it here first:
    Cary Williams and Steve Smith are fighting tonight!

  2. 2 Anthony Hart said at 12:52 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Ha, don’t have to stretch the imagination to picture that one.

  3. 3 SteveH said at 6:15 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Good call. If it doesn’t happen I’ll be disappointed.

  4. 4 Anthony Hart said at 7:43 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Called it!

  5. 5 Iskar36 said at 12:43 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Good preview Tommy. I do disagree with you in one area. I need to see Riley Cooper play well. To me, he was a guy that was likely to make the team, but close to the back of the rotation with Jackson, Maclin, Benn, and Damaris ahead of him. He has now effectively been handed the starting role. He has performed well in TC from everything I have read (obviously not including his off the field issues), but I don’t know that he has done enough that we can say “The top WRs are fine.”

  6. 6 James said at 12:49 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    heh, Benn made me laugh.

  7. 7 DelsinRowe said at 12:49 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    How did Benn and Damaris get ahead of Riley? I always saw him as the 3rd guy behind Jackson and Maclin.

  8. 8 Iskar36 said at 1:51 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    I’ve never been a huge fan of Riley. I just don’t see what others see in him. But to put some numbers behind it:

    Arrelious Benn:

    YR….GMS……REC..TGTS..YDS……AVG…TDS…..First Downs

    Riley Cooper:

    YR….GMS……REC..TGTS..YDS……AVG…TDS…..First Downs
    Total..40……….46…. 99…….679……14.8….5……….32

    I just don’t see where Cooper is clearly better than Benn. I’m not saying Benn is spectacular by any means, but I definitely think if healthy, Benn would have pushed Riley a ton for his spot.

    As for Damaris, he isn’t going to be an outside WR, so he doesn’t compare directly to Riley, but he has shown me a lot more in his rookie season than anything I have seen from Cooper. For comparison sake, here are his stats:

    Damaris Johnson:

    YR….GMS……REC..TGTS..YDS……AVG…TDS…..First Downs

  9. 9 DelsinRowe said at 2:58 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Just curious, really.

  10. 10 Neil said at 3:14 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Benn put up those numbers with more playing time, I believe and more faith in him from the coaching staff considering he was a former 2nd round pick. Riley was 5th I think? Basically at the place where it’s like OK, we’re fine if he’s just a backup, which is what Riley has always been, while our starters may have been nicked for a few games a season but nothing like what happened to Maclin now. Arrelious Benn has been the starter for large stretches of his career; though he has been injured. The key is Benn put up the same numbers underachieving (by all means, physically, he is superior to Cooper in just about every way) as a starter while Cooper met and at times exceeded expectations as a backup. Considering what we have on the team, Cooper being basically the starter by default over D Johnson and the firstyear guys seems pretty reasonable to me. If you’re just looking at stats, Cooper was clearly superior to D Johnson last season; then you factor in Riley’s circus catches. Yeah, Riley dropped some balls, but so did Johnson.

  11. 11 Iskar36 said at 3:41 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    That’s fair, but I guess my point is, when you watch Riley Cooper play, have you seen enough from him to be comfortable with him as a starter? Personally, I have not. Others seem to disagree, but either way, in my opinion, Cooper is a guy worth watching and a guy I think needs to play well as a starter in the preseason.

  12. 12 GEagle said at 4:24 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    I like that he stepped up for Foles last year when a veteran like Celek Folded. Starting QB goes down, I expect the troops to rally and all step up… Avant and Cooper showed something, and it put Celek on my Ish list, and he hasn’t shaken that stigma so far this offseason..

    Cooper is young. rookie offseason was the lockout, last year was the collarbone. Came back from the injury and played decent in a horrible situation…Not a finished product yet…curious to see what kind of steps his game takes in his 3rd year. graham finally got some continuity and then was able to show something….I’m really hoping Riley is healthy so that he has a chance o do the same

  13. 13 Media Mike said at 4:25 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Ugghh. Celek’s fade.

  14. 14 TommyLawlor said at 1:07 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Riley has been outstanding in camp. He caught the one pass that came his way last week. I am comfortable with him. I’d love to see him catch 4 or 5 passes so I can study him close, but don’t feel that I need that.

    Understand that when I say I’m comfortable with Cooper, that doesn’t mean I think he’s going to be great this year. I trust him to be an effective starter as the complementary receiver to DJax. I’ll hope for more, but can’t count on it.

  15. 15 Media Mike said at 4:13 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    And wouldn’t Riley also be a guy with experience in playing in a system that has the QB make some reads that alter the route/play call?

  16. 16 GvilleEagleFan said at 4:17 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Florida ran option-type run plays when Riley was in college, but nothing as sophisticated as the run/pass package plays Kelly is installing. Take it from a guy who spent his freshman year yelling at Tebow to hand it off to ANY of the 4.2 40 Olympic track stars we had as running backs instead of bull moosing up the middle for 3.5 yards every play. Jump pass be damned, I’ve always hated Tebow as a quarterback. What Riley does have experience with is running a fly route down the sideline and adjusting to Timmy’s pathetic deep passes like they were punts (probably why he’s been a good ST’er for us).

  17. 17 Media Mike said at 5:10 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Good context, thank you.

  18. 18 GvilleEagleFan said at 2:10 AM on August 16th, 2013:

    Watching the 2009 Gators was worse than watching the 2012 Eagles. We had SO much talent on defense and such potentially talented skill players on offense that if Tebow had been a halfway decent distributor we could have repeated titles. I know he doesn’t get much publicity because he plays in Cleveland, but watch Joe Haden in any game you have to watch the Browns. He’s like super-glue. He was even more dominant in college, and that was against the likes of Julio Jones. Ugh, bitter memories of watching a team playing not to lose instead of trying to bash every opponent the way they should have.

  19. 19 Iskar36 said at 4:26 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    I guess I am not as comfortable with him in the sense that he can be an effective starter. He has played well in a few select games as a starter, but this is Riley Coopers first season as a full time starter. Maybe he manages to play well, but until he does it on a regular basis, I don’t think you can say he will be an effective starter. On top of that, if he can’t hold his own, that puts more pressure on DeSean. So to me, Cooper still needs to come out and play well.

  20. 20 Media Mike said at 4:28 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    I hear what you’re saying Iskar, but the pressure has always all been on DeSean in the passing game as is. Maclin, although he has some nice stats, never did anything to garner the kind of respect to shake coverage loose from Jackson’s constant double teams. Cooper can be any worse in that regard.

  21. 21 GEagle said at 4:29 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    The more we run the ball, the more we can count on him to be an effective starter. Blocking is an area I feel like we can be comfortable with him..I would hope after a great offseason, a young man would be better then he has ever been in his previous two years…certainly nothing we can just assume, but I wouldn’t rule it out either

  22. 22 Iskar36 said at 4:37 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Certainly not trying to rule it out. My point isn’t that Riley Cooper can’t be good by any means. I was disagreeing with Tommy in the sense that he wrote “The top WRs are fine.” I think DeSean has proven himself. Riley Cooper has not yet. Thus, I am not ready to say that Cooper is fine.

  23. 23 Andy124 said at 12:45 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    “Danny Watkins got better as the game went along. He needs to build on that.”

    He’s not playing tonight is he?

  24. 24 TommyLawlor said at 1:08 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Just found that out. My mistake.

  25. 25 Andy124 said at 1:53 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Darn. I was hoping I was wrong.

  26. 26 CAR at PHI Preview | Eagles Blog said at 12:56 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    […] Here is my game preview. […]

  27. 27 Anders said at 1:22 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Little off topic, but what was the biggest reason Jason Kelce fell too the 6th round? was it his size?

  28. 28 Anthony Hart said at 1:26 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    I believe it was size and strength issues, never really stood out too much at Cinci and centers seemed to hold a pretty small amount of value in the draft compared to other positions. That’s really just going off memory though so don’t take that to the bank.

  29. 29 Ben Hert said at 1:38 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Unless you’re the Cowboys!

  30. 30 TommyLawlor said at 1:46 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    He only played OL for 2 years at Cincy. Started as a LB.

    Was small. 284 or so. Mike Mayock suggested he could move to Fullback or H-back pre-draft.

  31. 31 Michael Winter Cho said at 1:55 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Some radio guy thinks that Chip Kelly is actually trying to bring the “2-quarterback system” to the NFL. In other words, this isn’t really a competition to see who will be the starting quarterback, but who will be the 2 starting quarterbacks. Interesting take.

  32. 32 ACViking said at 2:27 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Re: 2 QB System?

    No chance. No evidence of that in Kelly’s background.

    He’s been a 1-QB guy back to New Hampshire.

    It has been done before, though.

    In fact, the Eagles used THREE quarterbacks per game in 1966.

    Former Eagles head coach Joe Kuharich alternated Norm Snead, Jack Concannon, and King Hill . . . based on his gut.

    What’s ironic is that in 1966, the Eagles went 9-5 . . . Kuharich’s only winning season. But in ’67, he went back to the 1 QB system with Snead. Go figure.

    The most recent example was probably the Cowboys’ Tom Landry — as T-Law has recounted elsewhere — alternating Staubach and Craig Morton on every other play back in a 1971 game against the Bears. Landry went with Staubach the next week and won the SB that year.

    One last example. The 1958 NYGiants — who lost the championship to John Unitas’ Colts in the only sudden-death title game — also alternated QBs. Sort of. Head coach Jim Lee Howell, along with then-OC Vince Lombardi, started a QB named Don Heinrich in 6 games, including the title game, letting him play about a quarter — before turning to HOF QB Charlie Connerly.

  33. 33 Jamie Parker said at 7:07 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Buddy Ryan tried it with 3 QB’s in his first year in 1986. It was 1st and Jaworski, 2nd and Cavanaugh and 3rd and Cunningham. Of course eventually it was all Randall as the O-line gave up 104 sacks, with Randall taking 72 of them.

  34. 34 ACViking said at 7:20 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Jamie . . .

    Great catch. I’d forgotten that Randall was Buddy’s “3rd-and-long” specialist.

    That said, Buddy didn’t seriously think he’d win the NFC East . . . kind of explaining the unorthodox use of Randall.

    I think, on the other hand, Chipper’s shooting to win.

  35. 35 T_S_O_P said at 2:26 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Backup C is still wide open. I like Dallas Reynolds, but the coaches seem to favor Julian Vandervelde.
    How things have reversed 180 degrees in one year.

  36. 36 Andy124 said at 2:49 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    How can Tommy like somebody with a name like “Dallas”? I feel a little queasy now. Could my hero worship of Tommy been misplaced?

  37. 37 ACViking said at 3:06 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    T-Law admired the great Cowboys coach Tom Landry, who predated the start of our hosts’ falling for Buddy Ryan and his defense. [Note: Ryan came to the Eagles in the twilight of Landry’s run in Dallas.]

    Landry was one of the NFL’s greatest innovators — and, it bears noting, believed wholeheartedly in the “Big Guys Beat Up Little Guys” philosophy. Just look at any of Landry’s defenses during his great run from ’66-’85. Big D-lineman always. And good sized DBs for the most part.

  38. 38 Andy124 said at 3:20 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Rub salt in the wound why don’t ya?

    I do remember Tommy confessing his Landry admiration. No worries, my T-Law admiration is in no real jeopardy.

  39. 39 ACViking said at 3:21 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    A big heart is important in this business . . .

  40. 40 Ark87 said at 5:23 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Wasn’t alive then but it seems like Landry had some class to him, the man at the helm when the team was dubbed “America’s team”. Seems they were more akin to the Steelers brand of successful than the yankees brand back then (I resent both, but at least I can respect the Steelers).

  41. 41 GEagle said at 4:18 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    I’m surprised at how everyone overlooks that second drive by Vick last week. when Vick is great, he is Great…but even in a “great” performance I saw a huge problem with his game, that he needs to fix if he is going to be our QB….Timing.
    That incomplete pass to Avant on the 2nd drive can not happen! I don’t care that he delivered the ball low to Avant(the worms started having scary flashbacks of Donovan McExterminator). I care about the reason Vick delivered the ball low. Timing. it has to improve. Vick took the snap, stared down Avant, instead of throwing with anticipation, Vick waited for Avant to stop, plant, and then turn around before Vick let the ball rip…Because he waited too late to deliver the ball, defenders had time to close in on what would have been a wide open avant, thus Vick had to deliver the ball low….That sort of bad timing will not work in this offense and it’s a microcosm of Vicks past problems…now it’s just 1 play, so it’s nothing to get crazy about, but iTs something I hope to not see tonight when he takes the field…

  42. 42 Media Mike said at 4:27 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    That is textbook Vick. I wonder if Kelly is ok with giving Vick any starts when he needs to figure out what guys are really worth keeping on this team for the next 2-5 years.

  43. 43 GEagle said at 7:03 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    I’m down voting you because it seems like the cool thing to do today

  44. 44 Joe Minx said at 4:32 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Phillip Hunt tore his ACL. Already had the surgery. He’s ACL victim #4.

    Good freakin’ grief.

  45. 45 GEagle said at 4:36 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    WTH are you talking about? when did he get injured?

  46. 46 Anders said at 4:38 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    He have been injured for some time, might have found out it was a tear in the ACL and just got him surgery

  47. 47 Joe Minx said at 4:57 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Dunno. Adam Caplan just tweeted it about an hour ago.

  48. 48 phillychuck said at 4:48 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    I still suspect something in the turf at Novcare. It’s starting to be way outside of a few standard deviations. How many ACL tears do other teams in the NFL have, in total, occuring at their practice facilities? I’d be surprised if their total is much more than 4.

  49. 49 Flyin said at 5:23 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    I read that Hunt tore his ACL @ the Linc during the game against the Pats.

  50. 50 Jack Waggoner said at 6:10 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    yep… blame this one on the Linc

  51. 51 phillychuck said at 7:19 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    I’d feel at least a little better about that. I’m really starting to worry about the turf at Novacare.

  52. 52 TheRogerPodacter said at 6:27 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    part of me wants to be a jerk and yell about all the wonderful science and nutrition stuff that doesn’t seem to be helping keep our players injury free : P

  53. 53 GEagle said at 4:35 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Tonight is exciting! A chance to see Foles against starters. How will Wolff and Logan hold up against starters?

    I really hope they sprinkle in Curry and Square just for a play or two against the starters just to see what Happens. Do they hit a Wall, or do they continue to show up on tape. Olineman don’t rotate during a game, and when you are only going to keep 6’DL, your 3 back ups have to be able to be a part of the rotation, and to get snaps in a game they will have to go up against starting Olineman…so I hope to see what happens when those two go up against Olineman. Givethem 3 snaps against starters and I will be happy

  54. 54 barneygoogle said at 4:45 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    All I want to see is somebody on that defense—make a big play! A tackle behind the line, a fumble/strip recovery, a step-in-front of the receiver interception. Turnovers. For the last two years we’ve been a “turn-under” machine.

  55. 55 Media Mike said at 5:14 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    Earl Wolff lighting up Scam Newton would be my preference.

  56. 56 SteveH said at 6:19 PM on August 15th, 2013:

    All I want is 7 consecutive Eagles touchdown drives and 4 forced turnovers by the D, in the first half.

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