One of the ways that the Eagles can get better on offense is to be faster. There were times in 2013 when the offense moved at a blistering pace, but there were others when they almost looked conventional. Almost.
The media watching Thursday’s OTA session was impressed with the speed. It certainly got the attention of Ed Kracz.
Offensive plays came fast and furiously during seven-on-seven drills. Many times it was less than 10 seconds between snaps.
“Last year at this time we were trying to learn the offense,” quarterback Nick Foles said. “It was very vanilla. Every day was a learning curve and we had to redo the plays. Right now, we have a lot more stuff in and guys are very comfortable running what we have, and we’re adding more. I think it’s just a comfort zone with everybody. We can really go fast. It’s really helped the rookie learning curve because we have the vets who can teach them what to do and that helps a lot.”
Last year the players were learning the playbook and the style that Kelly wanted to play. Nothing was natural to them. There was a lot of thinking and that universally slows football players down. You want players playing, not thinking. It sounds like that is starting to happen this year and it could important as the offense tries to get even better.
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Marcus Smith is playing the Jack LB spot right now. That means he is backing up Connor Barwin. We got very lucky last year that nothing happened to Barwin. There was no player on the roster who could really take his spot. I think there is definite wisdom in getting Smith snaps at that spot so that he could play there if needed. The Eagles could see that as his long term spot as well, but for now it makes sense to get him used to playing there.
With Smith at LOLB, that means that Brandon Graham remains the backup at ROLB. Zach Berman spoke to him and Graham is saying the right things.
“They want me here, I’m still here, all the rumors and whatever it is, it’s just rumors,” Graham said. “I feel like if it was something they wanted to do, I’d be gone.”
This part I’m not so sure about.
The Eagles might not have been able to find a taker for Graham, who has dealt with injuries, scheme changes, and position changes. He said he had weight issues last season while transitioning from defensive end to outside linebacker, but Graham is now at 265 pounds and said he is at the ideal weight for the spot.
“I’m able to move around a lot better,” Graham said. “I know the defense, I know what [the coaches are] looking for now in practice.”
I looked up an old story and Graham was down to 255 last year. Did adding 10 pounds help him to cover better and be more comfortable in space? I’ve got my doubts. Maybe the Eagles wanted him heavier, but then don’t sell us that you’re moving around better. Or maybe he lied last year about being 255. Weird.
We’ll see how he looks on the field. That’s the key. If he plays well, the weight isn’t a big issue. I’d love for Graham to prove me wrong and end up having a future with the Eagles. He’s got to impress the coaches enough to get on the field more.
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One of the key battles in camp will be Nate Allen vs Earl Wolff.
Allen is starting for now. He is more experienced and I think Bill Davis puts real value in having a player back there who knows what he’s seeing and isn’t learning on the job. Wolff can still win the job by outplaying Allen. That won’t happen in a week or even two. Wolff has to show over time that he’s the better player and needs to be on the field.
I don’t care who wins the job. I just want one of the players to play well. Both Allen and Wolff looked good at times in 2013, but they need to be more consistent. Wolff is adjusting to the NFL. Allen is rebuilding his confidence after having major issues in 2011-12.
Safety could end up being a solid position.