One of the hardest things to do is evaluate your football team. That’s true whether you’re a fan, the media or even the team itself. You don’t want to overrate your own players. That can lead to disaster. You also don’t want to underrate your talent. That can lead you to waste resources instead of trusting your current players.
As we’ve talked about, it can be really hard to figure out what a player really is. You have to focus on his specific skills and then figure out how much circumstances hurt/help him. You also have to ask if he’s going to get better or worse. You also need to ask if the guy is on a roll or is this sustainable success.
I love to pick on Brian Baldinger for his Jamar Chaney comments from 2010, but he was right about the fact that Chaney looked great initially. Baldy was ready to marry him. I didn’t buy in that hard. For whatever reason, Chaney never matched that level of play again. DeSean Jackson was a star right away. Then think about a guys like Evan Mathis and Jason Babin that were castoffs from multiple teams before finding a home down the road.
If you tried to evaluate all those guys at the end of their rookie year, Chaney would be 2nd only to DeSean. In reality, he’s the 4th best of the group, and by a wide margin.
Player evaluation is very tricky.
Jeff McLane spoke to a couple of NFL scouts to get their thoughts on the Eagles young talent. Here are a couple of the reports.
Zach Ertz, TE. “Athletic tight end that runs good routes and knows how to get open. Will never be a dominant blocker at the point of attack, but is a mismatch in coverage vs. linebackers. Will excel in his role in that offense due to all of the movable pieces.”
Bennie Logan, DL. “Long-armed and quick off the snap, first step and fast hands can jolt offensive linemen. Has struggled in scheme and getting off blocks because of lack of pass rushing moves. Not very instinctive against the run, either. Loses leverage easily and will have to improve base strength to become nose tackle.”
McLane also has a funny note on Vinny Curry.
After being inactive the first two games of the season, Vinny Curry’s snaps have increased each week – 12, 13, 14, 25 and 26 plays against the Cowboys on Sunday.
The Eagles defensive end has gotten pressure in each game, and that’s partly why he has seen his time increase. But less noticeable has been his improvement as a two-gap lineman.
It’s supposed to be that way. When Eagles ends play two gaps or the four-technique (lined up directly over a tackle), they’re not supposed to try and get around the offensive lineman, but push him back.
“You’re definitely not trying to get around him,” Curry said. “That will get you on the bench.”
Despite having 67 pass rush opportunities to Trent Cole’s 220, Curry has two sacks to Cole’s zero and as many hurries (four). Still, he said he’s most proud of the strides he’s made playing as a two-gap end.
“I think I’m doing pretty good,” Curry said. “As long as I ain’t getting drove back.”
There are good bits on Jeremy Maclin, Nate Allen and more.
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McLane also wrote a very good piece on Evan Mathis, hero to PFF and sexy women everywhere. Katy Perry ignores his tweets only because she knows that she can’t control herself around Big E.
The opening to the piece is terrific.
There’s been a joke among the Eagles offensive linemen that Evan Mathis has a personal stake in Pro Football Focus, the website that compiles advanced statistics and ranks players.
For the last three years, Mathis has been rated the best left guard and among the best linemen in the NFL by the site’s amateur evaluators. The Eagles line could struggle in pass protection and fail to open holes in the run game, as they did earlier this month against the New York Giants, and Mathis would still receive a positive rating.
Mathis is good, his teammates tease, but that good?
Whether or not much stock can be put in PFF’s rankings, Mathis has been the Eagles’ most consistent linemen the last three seasons.
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If you like OL play, check out this piece by Ben Muth. He covers the Eagles in the Dallas game. Some comments on the OL…
It wasn’t all negative for the Eagles on offense. I thought both Mathis and Peters played pretty well overall. (I should note that “pretty well” is below Mathis’ standard, though.) I also think that Johnson is getting better week to week, which is what you want from a young guy. The big thing with Johnson right now is that he seems to have only one pass set. It doesn’t matter what the quarterback drop is, who the rusher is, or what the down-and-distance is: Johnson is going to set the exact same on every dropback.
On the other side of the line, Peters will mix in a couple of different things to keep pass rushers off balance. He’ll jump set guys right at the line of scrimmage, he’ll set really wide if he knows he has inside help, he’ll set completely vertical at times. He’ll change up his punch timing as well. With Johnson it’s a not-quite vertical set, with a punch on the third kickslide every time. His set looks pretty good and his punch has improved a lot, but he really does need to add a little variety as the season goes along.
Muth is an excellent OL analyst.