Okay, let’s talk about some of the moves.
Why was Chris McCoy cut? Like you, I felt he was a sure thing. My guess is that the Eagles were worried about his physicality. The first job for an OLB in the 3-4 is to be able to play the run. He must be able to set the edge, whether taking on an OT or TE. There was a play vs the Jags where a WR moved McCoy off the ball. That was a red flag moment for me. A 6-4, 261 OLB cannot be blocked by a WR, especially not moved off the LOS.
McCoy was terrific vs the Jets, but what did we see? You always need context in the preseason. McCoy beat the LT and LG to get pressure on pass plays. He should always beat the LG due to athleticism. The LT was Jason Smith, one of the biggest draft busts in the history of the NFL. Beating him doesn’t mean much.
I’m not ripping McCoy, but we need to understand what he can really do right now. If you were to put him in vs a good starting LT, could he be a functional run defender? It doesn’t seem like it. The good news is that this part of his game might be the easiest to fix. McCoy has shown pass rush ability and some cover skills. Those things require athleticism that you either have or don’t. He does.
If McCoy passes through waivers, he is perfect for the practice squad. He can get stronger. The coaches can work with him on being more physical in practice. He isn’t shy about contact. McCoy just needs to learn to play up to his size. He’s a big LB. He needs to play like one.
The cut leaves the Eagles light at just 3 OLBs. I’m sure this is a spot they’ll look to address. Howie Roseman talked about Vinny Curry and Casey Matthews being guys that could help out in emergency situations.
Speaking of Matthews, many of you really can’t believe he made it. I saw several people on Twitter speculate that he’s only here because Chip Kelly wants to keep an Oregon guy around? Really? Gimme a break.
Matthews earned a spot on the team. He played well in the preseason games. He didn’t make the same kind of standout plays as Jake Knott, but put on the tape and watch closely. Knott was running around blocks on a regular basis. When the DL kept Knott clean, he was terrific. Casey was more physical and did a much better job of taking on blockers and playing the run. I would also give him a slight edge in coverage and STs play right now.
Knott has more upside and is further along as a rookie than Matthews was, but I would have serious concerns about putting Knott in a game right now on defense. He must learn to use his hands better. He must improve at shedding blocks.
Chip Kelly wants to win. He’s not keeping anyone unless he is convinced that player can help him win.
What happened at WR? Roseman said the Eagles kept Jeff Maehl because of his versatility. He play the slot or outside. They like him on STs. Russell Shepard just wasn’t ready for the NFL. He needs time to develop. Greg Salas had a great summer, but he just didn’t show the speed to beat CBs on the outside. Making tough, contested catches against 2nd and 3rd stringers doesn’t always bode well for your chances to get open against starting DBs.
I think the Eagles will look to find another #5 WR as they scan the waiver wire. I’m sure they’d rather have someone that has more upside. On his best day, Maehl is going to be a #4 or #5 WR. He is safe in the sense he knows the offense, will play hard, has some size, some athleticism and some ability. He’s just not above average in any area.
The Eagles kept 6 CBs. They have the starters, Boykin and then Marsh, Hughes and Poyer. Say what? Do not take this as an endorsement for Marsh or Hughes. My guess is that they are only here until the Eagles find other players. Hughes could stick, but Marsh did not do anything to really impress this summer.
Poyer is harder to read. He started slow, but I do think much of that was due to missing the spring. Poyer got better and better. I still wonder if they really want him on the roster. Poyer seems more like a practice squad guy. The Eagles must fear that he would be claimed if cut and that’s why they’re holding onto him. He’s definitely someone they like for the future.
Why Emil Igwenagu over Clay Harbor? Roseman said due to versatility. A few writers took this to mean blocking. Kind of. Harbor was actually a solid blocker. Iggy is versatile because he can play FB, H-back, in-line TE or the slot. He is a good blocker from all of those spots. Harbor has never been a FB on a regular basis. Iggy showed in games last year that he could be a lead blocker. Chip Kelly doesn’t like FBs, but there are some plays where you may want a lead blocker. Iggy can be that guy. Plus, his nickname is Iggy. Much cooler than Clay.
The Eagles will be on the lookout for OLBs, CBs and a WR as the cuts come down. The roster as it stands now won’t last long. There will be changes.
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I’ll write about Danny Watkins when things quiet down. Boring topic on a busy day.