Time to Get Better

Posted: May 26th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 43 Comments »

Football practice isn’t very exciting. Non-contact practice is even worse. But don’t mistake that to mean this isn’t an important time of the year. What happens in the spring and summer sets the foundation for the regular season.

I wrote my PE.com column on assistant coaches and their importance to the young and new players. We’ll talk about the players, but the men doing the teaching play a vital role. Chip Kelly chose his coaching staff very carefully. He wanted veteran coaches that would be good teachers. To this point, that is exactly what he’s gotten.

Not all players will show the progress we want, but the staff has done a good job with player development so far. This year the expectations will be even higher. The Eagles are coming off a winning season so that brings a pressure to get players to perform at a certain level. Also, this is Year 2. Simply getting players to function within the scheme isn’t good enough anymore. Players need to show progress. They need to eliminate mistakes and start making plays.

One added benefit this year…returning players can help the rookies and new guys. Last year no players knew the scheme. Everyone was learning. This time around Trent Cole and Connor Barwin can tutor Marcus Smith. Riley Cooper can teach Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. Bradley Fletcher can help Jaylen Watkins. And so on.

* * * * *

Mike Kaye wrote a story for BGN about the Eagles and some potential trades.

2 players the Eagles could be checking out…LB Dion Jordan and RB LaMichael James.

One player the Eagles could be shopping…LB/DE Brandon Graham.

Jordan is an extreme longshot at this point. There are cap issues with him. There is also the question of Miami giving up a talented young player in return for future picks. The Eagles could deal them Graham as part of the deal, but the main compensation would be a pick or picks.

While the Eagles did want Jordan, we have no idea if they have interest in James. He was a star for Kelly at Oregon and might be a good fit as a backup runner in this offense, but this is pure speculation. The Eagles may want to see Matt Tucker and the rookies in action before considering going for another veteran RB.

I was surprised that Graham didn’t get dealt during the draft. Maybe the Eagles want another chance to see him in action. Or maybe they just didn’t get good offers and are waiting to see if that changes.

Trade talk is fun, but rarely pans out.

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  • Vick or Nick

    Very curious to see how it plays out for 3 players.

    1. Brandon Graham.
    Still good pass rusher, lost in coverage.
    Problem in dealing him is that there is not a lot of depth at OLBs.

    2. Vinny Curry
    Drafting Taylor Hart does question his role. Again good pass rusher and high pick. Depth still questionable at DE behind Cox and Thornton, if he gets traded.

    Eagles invested high picks in these two players. They would have been available at the right price. But there is no harm in taking a wait and see approach. There is still the chance that after a year in learning the system, one of these guys makes the jump. Neither will be a star, but maybe a better role player.

    3. James Casey. He’s due a decent sum of money that I’m not sure Eagles will want to pay. Especially if they continue to play a lot of 11 formation. Everyone anticipates more 12, which means Casey could be a valuable 3rd tight end.

    The biggest question mark will be the depth of the O-line.
    Herremanns in particular will be under close watch for signs of decline.

    No question the schedule is much harder than last year.
    But the Eagles should also be better. The foundation has been set.

    • GEAGLE

      No need to worry about curry and Casey.. Guarantee both will be here this year,contributing to the cause…
      ..
      Btw, prepare to be surprised by Herremans level of play

      • Vick or Nick

        hope yourre right

  • Vick or Nick

    My post on Chip Kelly style WRs:

    Chip Kelly doesn’t like WRs who are “risk adverse to contact”

    His words.

    How many times we see Damaris Johnson go down/not attempt a catch cus he
    knew contact was coming. He’s a small guy. Didn’t handle contact well.

    DeSean was similar. He would go across the middle, but there wasn’t much conviction there.

    Maclin
    will really have to prove his “self-tacklin Jeremy Maclin” nickname
    deserves to be retired. I think we all remember him falling a yard short
    of the sticks in recent memory. That won’t fly anymore.

    With
    defenders getting bigger stronger and faster. You can’t count on the
    same separation. You have to make catches in tight spaces against good
    coverage.

    And you have to hang on.

    • Anders

      “I think we all remember him falling a yard short
      of the sticks in recent memory. That won’t fly anymore.”

      That was Steve Smith

      • Media Mike

        I was more upset at Smith’s volleyball style bump-set of a pass right off of his hands that turned into a red zone INT in 2011.

      • Vick or Nick

        yourre right.

        but I guess i also remember the end of the Falcons game where he alligator armed a pass from Kafka that would have kept that drive alive at the end of the game.

  • GEAGLE

    So exciting to know that you have a coaching staff that knows what it’s doing in terms of player development….. Between our player development ability, and all the depth we added that will spike the level of competition required to make this roster, I think we will see most of our players improve,,
    ,,,
    Take a guy like Coop there it is… Sure he had a monster year, but that’s really the first time he had a major role in an offense and played a 16game season for us… People act like last year was a flash in the pan, but our WR coach adores coop, and I’d bet he still has some improving to do… Philosophically I don’t believe it’s possible to ever see the best it’s going to get for a player, the first year in his new scheme….so coaching, combined with the increased level of competition at camp, should help us sharpen our players and see better players than we saw last year…

    Evan Mathis may be our best player..in terms of Elite at his position..it’s either him or Shady…but I don’t even think it’s possible that we saw the best Evan had to offer last year…another summer to get comfortable in this new blocking scheme, and even an Elite player like Mathis should improve..

    I’m a firm believer that coaching means everything in the NFL!!

  • GEAGLE

    Breakout player this year….Earl Wolff!!

    • Anders

      Cox

      • GEAGLE

        I don’t really count him…I already assume that one of these days the light will go on, and he will arrive as a terror.. I just seen him flash too much rare ability to be worrying about that kid… But obviously I don’t disagree..

        I just put him in the Ertz category….Guys where I don’t Question IF they will arrive, only WHEN will they arrive is the question for me

    • Insomniac

      Kendricks.

  • Media Mike

    The guys who I expect to really improve this year based on coaching / physical improvements:

    Joe Kruger
    Earl Wolff
    Lane Johnson
    Chris Polk
    Zach Ertz

    Young guys who I don’t really expect much improvement from:
    Vinny Curry (wrong system)
    Bennie Logan (weight gain claims are a joke, he’s still WAY too small for NT as evidenced in that basketball picture)
    Mychal Kendricks (he isn’t getting any taller and I don’t care for his instincts)

    Vets who I see as plateaued and (hopefully) in their last year here clearing out salary cap space
    Todd Herremans
    Cary Williams
    DeMeco Ryans
    Alex Henery
    Jeremy Maclin
    Brent Celek
    Trent Cole

    We’ll see what shakes out, but I think there will be a general improvement with some of the roster additions.

    • Anders

      Why are Maclin on the last list?

      • Media Mike

        Because we just significantly invested in WR in this draft, he isn’t very good, and I don’t have any room for self-tackling “unnamed sources” on the team.

        Time to move on.

        • Anders

          That is why the Eagles offered him a 5 year deal?

          • Media Mike

            That was prior to drafting the other two WRs. Also, that “5 year deal” may have been similar to the structure (although at a higher yearly salary) of the Cooper contract in that it would have really only been a two year deal in terms of difficult to eat dead money as the result of a roster cut. Without seeing the details of that contract, it really is conjecture.

          • GENETiC-FREAK

            Huh I thought Maclin was signed to a 1 year deal??

          • Anders

            The Eagles wanted a 5 year deal to buy low, but Maclin wanted more money so they agreed on a 1 year prove it deal

          • GENETiC-FREAK

            Cheers man

    • GEAGLE

      the eagles were 5th against runs up the middle with a rookie anchoring them… I just don’t get how people continuosly disrespect what Bennie was able to accomplish as a rookie NT, playing the lightest he will ever play in his career…. I really haven’t seen too many rookie NTs Do better jobs as rookies…. Not a position usually associated with effortless transitions to the NFL.. Logan looked like an All pro compared to what everyone’s favorite NT, Dontari Poe looked as a rook..

      Think Beau and Bennie will be all the NT we ever need..
      ..
      Just don’t understand why people continue to disrespect Logan…

      • Media Mike

        Because he isn’t Wilfork. I’d really prefer a nimble hippo at NT. I like Logan’s effort, but he needs more sand in his pants.

        • GEAGLE

          He knows that, the eagles know that…much of why the eagles like him is he has the frame to add the weight.. 7lbs of muscle added so far this offseason is the word,.,. I expect him to grow into a 325lber when it’s all said and done…think that’s a fine size for a NT…

          If we wanted bigger, we wouldn’t have drafted him 20 spots ahead of Jon jenkins

          But hey, hopefully the next time Dontari Poe or haolti Gnata type is available, we are able to draft him….guys like that typically don’t make it out of the top 15

          • Media Mike

            Having Ngata STOLEN by the Ravens right in front of us leaving us with that FSU underachiever (and late-arriving chicken fiend) Bunkley was horrible.

          • GEAGLE

            It’s probably better,lol rather have him stolen, than live with dumb ass Andy passing on him lol

          • Media Mike

            True, but I’d really like to find a way to have less Florida State guys on our team as a rule. F that squad and their imbecilic fans. They can’t even figure out that 409 is WAY better than anything ever achieved at their Free Shoes University.

          • GEAGLE

            I’ll be laughing at the franchise that has to worry about dealing with that idiot jameis.. Dudes a year away from 20million dollar lottery ticket, and he busy stealing sodas and crab legs,.. What a klown

          • Media Mike

            True. And he still should be in jail for rape.

          • GEAGLE

            Not to mention he sold out his teammates by not going to the hearing… Winston may be the one top QB who could Be more of a jackass than Manziel

          • Media Mike

            They’ll both have their “busts” in the bad draft pick HOF shortly.

          • Anders

            What college team are you a fan of? Clemson? Pitt?

          • Anders

            Bunkley was a great player at FSU. I think if JJ hadnt died, Bunkley would still be a monster here.

          • Media Mike

            Bunkley was lazy and missed a team flight check-in due to a chicken-run. He, along with a lot of FSU guys, lacked the toughness to compete at a high level in the NFL.

          • Anders

            How come Bunkley was a big part of the 2008 run defense and 6 years later is the starting NT for a very good saints defense?

      • austinfan

        Yep, most rookie NTs don’t even start, Logan came in and did a credible job. And he started at NT at LSU for a couple years, which meant he faced the best OLs in college football.

    • Tumtum

      Man you want to clear out 6 core guys in one season?

      • Anders

        Cole, Ryans, Williams and Herremans could all be gone.

        I cant see Celek or Maclin

        • Tumtum

          I don’t disagree that any of them, except maybe Celek, could easily be gone. Losing all of them at once though could be pretty tough. Those are all Chip type vets. If he likes the mental make up of this team, I think he will spread the loss of the lot of them over 2-3 seasons.

          Maclin I think still has to show it in this system. He could go either way at this point. At this moment I want him here long term. I could feel differently next May.

          • Anders

            Problem is the amount of money they make. Celek do not make a ton of money, but we cut Avant, a Kelly type vet because he made too much money

          • Tumtum

            I totally agree those guys could go soon, and will all probably be off the roster by 2017. Just doing it all at once would be a very poor decision in my mind. If for no other reason than the fact that it could really change the locker room dynamic.

            Most people discount that aspect because they are professionals. I just know from the teams I have been a part of (and I did play sports at a fairly high level), and of course the 2011 Eagles.

            The Ravens just made moves last off season that would equate cutting all of those guys in one season. It turned out to be an 8-8 season for them, and the dynamic seemed to keep in tact. They are a veteran laden team though. The Eagles not so much.

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  • SteveH

    Ertz, Logan and Johnson are the trendy picks, but I want to see what crazy eyes Fipp can do in a few months with Murderleg.

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