Practice Roundup

Posted: June 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 112 Comments »

Here is a roundup of notes from the Eagles practice on Tuesday.

We’ll get started with Jimmy Bama driving the hype train for Jordan Matthews.

• Jordan Matthews has looked really good so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had double the number of catches of any other WR here in camp, at least in the practices that have been open to the media. That caused me to tweet the following during practice.

I then tried to give it proper perspective.

Look at the difference in the number of retweets in those two tweets above. Crap…. I’m contributing to the hype train. To add even more perspective, practices in shorts means no press coverage, no real pass rush, and no fear of being popped after a catch. Frankly, wide receivers should do really well in OTAs.

Still… Matthews is passing the eye test early, and then some.

Everyone has raved about Matthews so far. But Jimmy’s overall point does need the context he tried to provide. A rookie like Matthews will be playing his butt off in the OTAs as he tried to impress the coaches and earn playing time. Veterans like Cooper and Maclin aren’t going to give minimal effort or anything to that extent, but they will have more of a calm, confident look.

Jimmy did have some good stuff on Mark Sanchez.

• The overwhelming feeling here among the media is that Mark Sanchez has looked bad so far, and I don’t disagree. However, he has also occasionally looked pretty good. For example, on Monday, he completed a really sharp out route in traffic. He also hit a nice seam route into a tight window down the seam. Those are the plays where you can see why the Eagles brought him in.

And then there are moments where his passes are nowhere near anyone. Sometimes he’s clearly throwing the ball away toward the sidelines, which is fine, and then there are other times he’s throwing to empty spaces in the middle of the field, where it’s difficult to figure out what he’s trying to do. When you see passes that don’t make any sense, more than likely they’re miscommunications. Sanchez is still learning the offense. If he continues to make a high number of weird throws in August, it’ll be more concerning. But in June, on a new team, his erratic play so far is probably to be expected no matter what anyone’s preconceived notion of the player may be.

This isn’t the time to make definitive judgments on Sanchez. We’ll do that after seeing him in Training Camp and preseason action. That’s when we’ll have a better idea of whether he can be a solid veteran backup or simply isn’t a good fit for this system.

* * * * *

Sheil Kapadia offered some good stuff on Nick Foles and Jeremy Maclin.

12:13 - Foles looks sharp during 7-on-7s, completing a deep out to Arrelious Benn in front ofCary Williams and then connecting with Zach Ertz in front of Earl WolffMark Sanchez, meanwhile, loves him some Jordan Matthews. He goes to the rookie wide receiver on four consecutive passes with the second team.

I’m not sure we’ll know much about Jeremy Maclin until he gets into game action, but he’s certainly been sure-handed. I can only remember one drop in the practices we’ve watched.

Foles delivers the ball of the day. He fakes a handoff and rolls to his right. On the run, he delivers a beauty to Maclin down the right sideline. Williams has good coverage, but the throw is perfect.

12:43 - More 7-on-7 drills. Foles finds Brent Celek for a touchdown, and the veteran tight end spikes the ball. Celek played really well last year, but the poor guy couldn’t do his signature first-down signal because the Eagles always wanted to hurry up and spot the ball.

Foles later hits Darren Sproles for a score, and Barkley connects with Matthews.

12:54 - Sanchez finds James Casey for a score. His celebration of choice? Casey flexes, but holds the ball straight-up in his hand so it looks like a really, really big biceps.

1:10 - One more team drill to close out practice. Foles keeps the ball on a zone read and is “tackled” by Connor Barwin. He then hits Brad Smith for a big gain on a crosser, but the defense “stops” Chris Polk on third down and gets off the field.

Maclin is going to need to show he can be a good deep threat this year. He’s not nearly as explosive or dangerous as DeSean Jackson, but that’s okay. You don’t need 4.35 speed to stretch the defense. You need a WR that is fast enough to beat single coverage or draw double coverage and make the occasional play.

Maclin has 13 career catches of 40 or more yards. He’s got the speed to make plays downfield. In the past that was less important and he was more of a possession type receiver. This year the Eagles need him to make plays.

* * * * *

Jeff McLane has an updated look at the kicking battle.

– The Eagles once again worked a lot on special teams and the kickers, in particular, were busy. Alex Henery and Carey Spear took turns kicking field goals from distances in between about 40-50 yards. Henery was 6 of 6 as far as I could tell and Spear made 5 of 6, pushing one wide right. On kickoffs, Henery was stronger and more consistent, although the Eagles could have been working on directional kicks in Spear’s case. The undrafted rookie did shank one of his kicks out of bounds. Henery booted one of his kickoffs through the end zone and two were deep into the end zone.

– Henery recently told me that he spent more time this offseason trying to improve his strength. His kickoffs weren’t as deep as the Eagles would have probably liked late last season. I asked Kelly if Henery’s leg has looked stronger this spring. “Yeah, I think he’s gotten a little bit stronger in terms of the distance he’s kicking the ball and in terms of where we are placing the ball during kickoff drill,” Kelly said. “Excited to see where it is, especially when we get into some real live situations. The tough thing with the kickers is we can’t rush them, we can’t do anything. A lot of times right now it’s like they are going out on the driving range and hitting balls. It’s not real live action for them.”

I wrote this last week and will again: I have a hard time seeing Henery not winning the job this season, unless they bring in more competition.

Casey Spear, aka Murderleg, has been disappointing. You wonder if the Eagles will cut him and add a veteran PK to challenge Alex Henery in Training Camp. The coaches might still feel that Spear can be coached up quite a bit, but it sure doesn’t sound like he’s ready to push Henery in any kind of meaningful way.

If Henery can make progress on his own, that’s fine. The goal is for better production from the PK position, whether that is Henery or someone else.

* * * * *

PE.com has talk from some linemen.

While all eyes in the spring remain on the quarterbacks or outside players like Matthews, the offensive and defensive linemen have been hard at work too. But as Kelly explained, the relative gains to be had for linemen in the spring are unlikely to come to the forefront so quickly.

“I think it’s difficult (to evaluate both the offense and defense during spring), especially for the lines,” Kelly said. “You look at some of the young guys, ‘Is he a good drive-blocker?’ Well we can’t drive-block each other. The biggest cooperation has to go on between the offensive and defensive lines and our guys understand that. I think more importantly we tell that as a coaching staff, we understand that. There are a lot of times out there where I’ll tell them, ‘I know you would have made the play.’”

To hear it from the players, though, these practices are still essential building blocks for the season to come.

“Just work on the fundamentals, the technique, basically,” defensive lineman Cedric Thornton said on his unit’s main focus. “For us, it’s all about strike and seeing the second key and then just going … We’re working with our hands and with our feet, make sure our strike is on point.

“It’s just like in baseball. They do batting practice so we do strike drills. Any time you can get better in your technique or in your fundamentals, you’re definitely getting better.”

Offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde also staunchly defended the importance of OTAs and minicamp for his position group.

“I think this is actually more crucial than any other time in terms of your technique and your fundamentals,” he said. “Everything starts from somewhere. We’ve all got a basis and especially for the offensive line, your base work is your hand placement and your footwork. When that’s your basis, this is the perfect time to work on all of that. We can place our hands exactly where they need to be. We can take exactly the right steps all without really – when the intensity starts to ramp up sometimes you have a tendency to get a little sloppy in those details. So sometimes this is the perfect time to really get better at those fundamentals.”

Obviously linemen can’t practice the rugged, physical side of things, but working on fundamentals now helps them to hone good technique so that they can use that when the hitting does go live.

Thornton’s comparison to batting practice in baseball is dead on the money. Hitters work on their swing when facing 50-60 mph pitches. They figure things out and that helps them when they swing for real against 90 mph pitches.

_


  • SteveH

    Don’t sleep on Murderleg… or at least sleep with one eye open.

    • Jack Waggoner

      Misdemeanor Assault Leg

  • D3FB

    Besides the fact that he isn’t very good, I think people drastically overhype Spear’s hitting ability. Going all out and trying to decleat a return man at Vandy was one thing. College football teams have 2 or 3 kickers on the roster. The punters were probably all placekickers in high school. Even some of the position players were probably the kickers in high school simply because they were just so much more talented than anybody else in their school. Compare that to the NFL, Donnie Jones probably hasn’t kicked field goals or PATs other than just goofing around for a decade or more, some of your positions players can probably hit a PAT, but thats it. It’s all fun and good to act like Spear’s hitting ability is so cool, until he gets concussed doing it and we lose because we didn’t have anyone to hit the 30 yard chip shot.

  • Iskar36

    In terms if Spear, I wonder if he was there first choice of PKers or not. In the draft, after our last pick, two PKs were drafted back to back. It would be interesting I know if the Eagles were hoping one of those guys would have been available as an UDFA. In addition, you wonder if Spear was the Eagles first choice among the UDFA PKs also. There just doesn’t seem to be much that is compelling about him (albeit that is coming from limited knowledge about scouting kickers)

    • Sean

      He’s little more than token “competition” for Henery. The team really wants him to keep the job, but doesn’t want to be seen as handing it to him. There were far better options out there than Spear, but for whatever reason they still like him apparently and have faith in him to be a good kicker.

      • anon

        Seems crazy given his performance and the way the espouse competition at all positions.

        • Dominik

          Amen. Still hope (what else to do?) that T-Law is right and they bring in a vet for TC.

          The thing is: having no competition is a privilege is this league. You must earn privileges. Why would you even bring in a punter on the 90 roster if you have Donnie Football, who was great last year?

          Now, in what universe has Henery earned the privilege of not having competion? I just don’t get it.

          And no, Murderleg doesn’t seem like real competion to me.

          • GEAGLE

            Murderleg isn’t competition… Let’s be honest, he is just another leg for practice,,.

    • Dominik

      Great questions, I asked myself the same things.

      “In addition, you wonder if Spear was the Eagles first choice among the UDFA PKs also.”

      We don’t know, of course, but I don’t think that there would be too many kickers UDFA who’d choose another team. Think about him: the Eagles have a 82 % kicker, who’s 32nd on kickoffs and has a career long of 51. If you’re the agent of an UDFA kicker, wouldn’t you recommend the Eagles to your client as a team he should have a good shot at making the 53?

      Now, of course, money could be an issue. If the Eagles don’t value the position (and it sure looks like it, at the moment) they won’t give you a solid signing bonus – remember, they can only spent a limited amount of signing bonuses to UDFA. They spend good on two players, if I remember correctly (I think Josey and one of the TE). There are other ways of doing business, like Roseman did with Bamiro last year.

      http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/shutdown-corner/eagles-guarantee-nearly-250-000-undrafted-rookie-tackle-210830910.html

      But again, you only do that if you value the player.

    • GEAGLE

      Meh… Think they aren’t ready to give up on Alex.. Kicking is the most high pressure situation in football, I’m not sure that it matters having someone to “push our kicker in practice”…
      ..
      Looks like we have no intention on giving up on Alex.. If that’s the case! I think finding someone to push him is BS,, now if it’s an open competition then I prefer bringing in a quality kicker to try and take Alex spot…but of we aren’t giving up on Alex yet, this needing a kicker to push him is overblown IMO

      • Dominik

        We don’t need a kicker to push him, we need a kicker who can be our kicker if Henery doesn’t improve – A LOT. For me (and I think for many others) that’s the reason I want at least competition.

        We better hope that the FO doesn’t think that last season was good enough from that position, or even close to it. Really, I don’t think you can think this way, but maybe it is the blind spot for Chip and he really doesn’t care. You have to get that impression at the moment, if you let a scrub like Henery uncontested on your roster.

        • GEAGLE

          Trust me, I’m not some Alex supporter..l I actually tried to think about it the other day, and I can’t even remember who the kickers were on the teams I played on lol… I despise Alex…but simpleassulatleg isn’t real competition..l this tells me, they think they can “fix” Alex… Hopefully they are right, or it’s going to be a very frustrating year…..

          Two types of players are added this time of year: 1) legit competition that’s here to possibly take someone’s spots and 2) Camp bodies,,,, murderidiot falls under 2) IMO, so I’m assuming they think they can turn Alex into the kicker he was supposed to be,..l I don’t like it, I have no faith In it, but I also don’t think a kicker needs to be “pushed” to improve

          • Dominik

            “so I’m assuming they think they can turn Alex into the kicker he was
            supposed to be,..l I don’t like it, I have no faith In it, but I also
            don’t think a kicker needs to be “pushed” to improve”

            If they don’t bring in a vet for TC you’ll be right with that one. I just don’t understand the thinking. Does someone actually think a guy like Bironas would be expensive? At this time of the year?

            Re: pushing: I don’t know what your definition of that would be. I think that Henery has to know (should know) that he has to improve vastly to make this team. I don’t think he needs a camp battle just for the sake of the camp battle, but if he doesn’t feel a sense of urgency, we’re screwed.

          • GEAGLE

            I dunno… FG kicker is such a high pressure situation. You are the runt of the locker room and many of the time, 50 players who been busting their buts destroying their bodies all year will be living or dying by your ability to make a kick… It’s such a high stress/pressure situation that I guess I’m not sure bringing Bironas here will make him kick any harder or any more accurate…
            ….
            I would have NEVER predicted that Alex would be getting a free pass like this… I was hoping the would be someone capable of really threatening his spot on the team, but if they have no intention of giving up on Alex at this point, I don’t think pushing him or giving him a free pass on the roster, will change the quality of kicking we get out of him this year…

            I honestly didn’t want someone to push him, I want some one to flat out take his job…doesn’t look like I’m going to get my wish, so hopefully our brilliantly thorough coach who values ST more than most coaches I have seen, knows something about Alex that we don’t…

          • Dominik

            Funny thing is that Chip loves ST (at least he says it and acts like it during practice). He sees this unit with a great punter being effective and a joke of a kicker having huge problems. Answer is: let’s keep the kicker.

            With Chip, we can hope that there’s reason behind it. But then again, Andy didn’t know who will be our return man a few seasons ago, so never say never.

          • GEAGLE

            I never seen another coach designate an entire free agency to improving ST, which is why this is so damn odd…word is that Alex was screwing up on his steps last year, and where he was hitting the ball… I’m hoping Chip sees correctable mistakes that if adressed will provide us with a quality NFL kicker,. That’s my best guess, because I damn sure never thought we would be seeing a coach who is a ST freak and preaches competition would be giving Alex a free pass after the Vikings DEBACKLE and the playoff loss. We really didn’t have to lose that playoff game.. Our young QB answered the bell, and brought us back and gave us the lead… The thing that hurts most about that playoff loss is taking it away from our young QB, who battled and earned that win

          • Dominik

            “word is that Alex was screwing up on his steps last year, and where he
            was hitting the ball… I’m hoping Chip sees correctable mistakes that
            if adressed will provide us with a quality NFL kicker”

            Possible. But: if Chip sees that mistake and sees that this mistake are responsible for bad kicking, why didn’t he correct it in the first place? Why wait for the offseason to correct a mistake that can cost your season (and maybe did)?

          • GEAGLE

            No clue man… Like I sad, I’m with you… Normally I would say this is the time when you really fix your technique and you don’t really have time to be correcting an Olinemens hand placement and small technical aspects of his game during an NFL week where you are busy recovering and putting a game plan In. But what else does a kicker do throughout the week? What else does he have to do during the game week besides work on that technique? ..

            This is all very frustrating… Hopefully as fans, we are missing a piece of the puzzle… Personally, at no point since Alex arrived in philly did I ever trust him. I remember how Andy wouldn’t even let him attempt 50yard FGs…
            ..
            I share your frustration, nothing to do but hope for a pleasant surprise like a vet being added for camp or Alex being another one of the many players Chip managed to help improve

          • Buge Halls

            “…screwing up on his steps last year…” I wonder what excuse he used in 2012. Maybe he blamed it on the coaching situation!

  • JakFTW

    T-Law: does this mean you’ll be blogging about a different team?

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/06/11/report-owner-of-pabst-brewing-may-bid-on-bills/

  • http://www.emwiworld.com Kushmir Powers

    the “jordan matthews is elite” thing is hilarious. SURE HE IS *cue eyeroll* to me its a defense mechanism use by rationalizers knowing this team basically gave away an integral part of the offense/ a first tier WR. talk to me in 3 years when he’s reggie brown/freddie mitchell. the “maclin better step” up crowd are funny too. u want him to turn into a legitimate #1 coming off an ACL year? good luck with that one.

    • Insomniac

      The only thing that we know that Matthews is good at right now is working hard. It’s a 60/40 crowd. Those that watched his tape either liked him or hated him for being overrated. Sadly Philly fans overhype everyone.

      • GEAGLE

        Still don’t get how the leading SEC WR who was the focal point on his team and set records against SEC defenses can be over rated, but whatever… Think drafting him in round 2 was the right value…not a reach, not a steal… Just right

        • Insomniac

          College stats mean nothing when you get to the NFL.

          • GEAGLE

            Agreed… But I can’t diminish the fact that SEC defenses all game planned to stop him, having little help around him, and he still managed to set SEC records… I don’t know you diminish that?

            And I also don’t get why being good at screens is a bad thing? Last I checked we have a screen option built into almost every play we call

          • Insomniac

            To be fair, not many SEC CBs have had success in the NFL recently. Some are overrated and just college guys,

            There’s nothing wrong with him being utilized in screens. I wouldn’t use him in it since it’d be extremely obvious and there’s plenty of tape of him doing it. There were cases that Matthews needed perfect blocking to excel in the screen and vice versa. Nothing will change the fact that Matthews broke records in college.

            Time will tell. Those guys have higher ceilings than Matthews just because of physical attributes alone. There are guys like Sidney Rice/ that need a good QB and then there’s guys like Josh Gordon/Fitz that just needs to have the ball in the air.

            Watkins will probably be either a trade target in 3 years or a stud. He’s the total package. Our WRs can take some notes on how to play with some violence.

          • GEAGLE

            I doubt Sammy Watkins stays up late at night trying to find the cure for cancer like saint Jordan Mathews :)

            On a serious note, IMO all Jordan Mathews lacks is some “wiggle”…all his other attributes IMO are first round quality

        • anon

          4 year starter. Lots of guys have 2-3 years of real production. He’s also the only guy they had. I think he’s good but you think he’s better than sammy? better than ODB? Cooks? They have fewer yards.

    • Always Hopeful

      No, not FredEx! Yes, there’s a bunch of hype for Matthews now, but we know it means nothing if he doesn’t produce come September and beyond. It will be interesting to see how this offense does without Jackson. I think they’ll adapt and perform well. Maclin doesn”t have to become Megatron, but he needs to be a consistent threat. Yup a lot to ask for from a guy coming off of an ACL, but it’s 2014 not 2004. Medicine has advanced enough for us to realistically expect Maclin to do well…he’s done it before. I’m a sucker though, I always think the Eagles will finally put it all together every year

      • Buge Halls

        Exactly regarding injury – we all just need to look at AP and what he did last year after coming off of injury! Granted, he is a freak of nature, but sports medicine has improved a lot in the last decade.

    • A_T_G

      I agree the “Jordan Mathews is elite” thing is hilarious. I also find these things funny:
      The “Alex Henery is going to make them leave the field goal net up when he kicks off” thing,
      The “Mark Sanchez can’t get the ball across the line of scrimmage without running forward and pushing it with both hands” thing, and
      The “I take reasonably objective observations, exaggerate them to hyperbolic proportions, then dismiss them as absurd” thing.

    • Buge Halls

      Is that you Shah?

      • Ark87

        There would be an obligatory “talent is talent is talent” somewhere in all that condescension. While the “*cue eyeroll*” roused my suspicions as well (and made me roll my eyes ironically), shah is more “/me rollseyes”, or “/rollseyes” or some silliness. Somehow Michael Vick would get pigeonholed into the argument as well.

        • shah8

          Sometimes condescension is pretty warranted.

          • Ark87

            When and why? Cui bono?

          • Neil

            Yeah, like when you’re trying to feel superior to people rather than engage and convince people.

          • Andy124

            Or when replying to shah.

    • eagleyankfan

      Agreed with all of that but let’s not act like DJ was not(is not) a cancer to teams. Not my words, just repeating what’s been reported. “He drove AR nuts” … “He’s a coach killer” … so in 3 years .. which your gauging this WR — let’s gauge DJ/Coach in Wash as well. What we know for 100% as a fact right now — AR and CK are two of the most liked, well respected people in the NFL. Neither of them could stomach DJ.

  • GEAGLE

    Just because people are high on Jordan, doesn’t mean they think he will come in and have a monster rookie year. I think Jordan will grow to be excellent, but I don’t know that it will happen his rookie year, and if it doesn’t that’s fine…

    But the kid has a ton of talent and insane drive and work ethic. In the hands of quality coaches, I wouldn’t bet on him turning into a bust..
    ..
    It’s fine to Rave about Jordan, but I rave about the player he will eventually become, not about what he will be as a rookie..

    • eagleyankfan

      Never let a rookie fool you in April. I think Billy Martin said that….

      • Dan

        You mean Billy McMullen

      • GEAGLE

        Yeah? Well ODB said “Oooh baby I like it RAW”

        • Andy124

          Yeah, but Rakim said to “Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em”.

          Wait, what are we talking about?

          • GEAGLE

            “Momma said knock you out” :)

    • Anders

      “doesn’t mean they think he will come in and have a monster rookie year.”

      Actually A LOT of people have really hyped up to have a great rookie year. I mean some people are already comparing him to TO in terms of skills

      • GEAGLE

        I know…I’m speaking about me personally(bad wording I guess). For example, you will never see me try and project his rookie year numbers like so many people are doing. I literally have no opinion on what I expect Jordan to be this year… My expectations are about what he will eventually grow to be, I don’t know what to think in terms of this years performance,,,it’s too hard to project. Hard enough trying to project what a rookie will give you, it’s really impossible when we are talking about a team with so many other weapons….I can’t even figure out what Riley Cooper will give us having to share balls with so many weapons, so I don’t even want to think about trying to project a rookie
        ..,
        It’s easier to try and project what Kelvin Benjamin will do, then what a rookie will do having to share balls with so many quality weapons like Jordan will have to do..

      • Andy124

        Comparing his skills to TO is not the same thing as predicting ridiculous rookie production. Just sayin’.

  • GEAGLE

    If the Bucs call Chip today and offer Mike Evans straight up for Jordan, what do you think Chip would do?

    • anon

      unclear b/c we don’t know about their mental make ups. But evans obviously has size, hands big play, and he’s a great blocker. i’d do it. however funny we don’t hear about any other wr in tc, even sammy.

      • GEAGLE

        I really don’t think we would do it… Why would we? Cause Evans is 2 inches taller? Evans ran 3 routes in college and only lined up on one side….I know he is a much higher rated WR, but I have a hard time seeing Chip like him, when we run an offense that we want our players to be able to line up all over…

        Kelvin Benjamin is making a lot of noise.. They are really raving about him in Carolina..

        I need Jordan and the Eagles to be better then ODB and the Giants

        • anon

          50% of matthews’ catches came on screens, but we’ve gone through this whole thing before.

          on kb, i mean they’ve only got 1 receiver, not shocked they’re hyping him. can’t believe they screwed cam like that.

          agree it’ll be interesting to see what odb does.

          • GEAGLE

            We cried over the loss of the awesome Avant, but did that dude ever land on his feet? He went to a team that runs the ball a lot, so they will value his blocking, and a team that doesn’t have WRs… Friggn Avant is going to mess around an end up starting for playoff team Carolina.. Good for hIm… Doubt he could have ever landed in a better situation.. I’m sure Avant is great for KB, yesterday I was thinking about how great it would be to have Avant working with Jordan these days…

            Btw, I’d rather take a guy who catches screens ver a guy who lined up on one side, never moved around, and ran 3 routes all year…. Like you said, Old discussion… I can see us thinking about trading Jordan for ODB, but I don’t think Chip ever loved Evans as much as we thought…but whatever

    • http://twitter.com/ezgreene ezgreene

      Of course he would. Is this a joke. Wouldn’t take 10 seconds, unless there were salary or legal issues.

  • eagleyankfan

    For comparison sake — were Vick n Foles throwing to “empty space in the middle of the field” last year at this time?

  • GEAGLE

    Something I wish was added in this article is Jordan Mathews response to all the hooplah about him.. Saint Jordan basically said, not to be overblown by what he is doing because OTAs are built for WRs to look good. He said if we were allowed to hit right now, that some of the other rookies might be looking as impressive….

    Instead of running with the attention the media is giving him, he kept it real and put the media in check basically Tlelling the media they are making too much of his OTA performance…..Saint Jordan strikes again

    • ChaosOnion

      At this point, Matthews is just the leading candidate for the Annual Na Brown award.

  • Johnny_P

    You could make a legit argument that Alex Henerey was the reason the Eagles lost the Saints playoff game. This is the NFL. If any kicker in today’s game can’t boot the ball OUT to the back of the endzone on a kickoff should not be making an NFL roster, ESPECIALLY when you’re drafted in the 4th round of a draft. Special teams are one of the most undervalued part of a team. Having a quality kicker in December/January is essential to playoff success. We saw it first hand last season. If Alex boots the final kickoff into the back of the endzone, Sproles doesn’t return the kick and he does not draw a Cary Williams horse collar.

    • Dominik

      I agree with you. But I think it’s unfair to bring the 4th round back up – like it happens so often. He isn’t to blame for that. And it doesn’t help this team to compare him to a 4th rounder, it helps to compare him against his competition in the league.

      He was one of the worst kickers last year, if you combine % and kickoffs. That’s what matters and that’s why the guy should at least beat some serious competition if he wants to be on this roster.

    • Neil

      Uh, if booting the ball that far most of the time is the bare minimum to make a roster, that means there’re 32 kickers who can do it, right? Not only 32 kickers who can do it but 32 who aren’t David Buehler hitting FGs as well. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that’s not reality.

      • Dominik

        If you have a bad QB, do you just think: “hey, that’s the way it is, let’s die here on the field?” No, you try to improve.

        There are big leg kickers and there are accurate kickers. There are kickers who have both and therefore are elite, there are kickers who have none of those attributes. If you have one of those, and we have one, you should at least try to replace him. Not trying is the thing many fans criticize and rightfully so, imho.

        • GEAGLE

          Yeah but we are talking about a young kicker… If you draft a young QB high, and he struggles the first few years, you typically still give him a leash for a few years before replacing him.. See Bradford,locker
          ..
          Then again, when we draft a kicker in the 4th my expectation is he will be NFL ready and a can’t miss kicker….Alex hasn’t been that…how much longer can we wait on Alex getting his ish together?

          • Dominik

            Why are you hanging on to the QB? Because you can hardly replace him. The beauty about kickers is, if you have a bad one, you don’t risk too much replacing him. You should get a kicker that’s at least as “good” as he is. Plus kickers don’t have to learn scheme or are dependent on the Offensive Coordinator.

            For example, there’s no guarentee that if you sign Bironas and he beats out Henery that he’ll be better than Henery. Maybe we’re having this conversation the same time next year. But at least you have a chance to improve. With Henery and his noodle leg, I just don’t see the chance.

            Now, if he has to beat out Bironas in camp and beats him out, maybe he really improved. I only believe it when I see it, but it’s possible.

          • GEAGLE

            But do you really need to have Bironas as a measuring stick to know if he has improved? We don’t really need a veteran to set the barometer for how Alex should be performing… It’s not rocket science to see if he has improved. Is he kicking it further on kickoffs? Is he more accurate from long range FGs? You don’t need to see what Bironas can do, to know what type of improvement Alex needs to show…
            ..
            I don’t know how else to read this other than we think Alex will kick the ball further this year and become more accurate from long range.. He can prove that or fail, being the only kicker at camp…just think the notion of a kicker needing to be pushed is overblown… Hopefully this is a good sign that Chip sees fixable problems in his technique that we can take care of, and turn Alex into the kicker he was supposed to be…

            And at the end of the summer, if Alex is still struggling, it’s probably not hard to cut him and sign another kicker off the street….
            ….
            But I’m really not disagreeing with you, just playing devils advocate… If it were up to me, I would have signed Haushka months ago

          • Dominik

            Bironas, to me, would be more of an insurance that a measuring stick. Although I wouldn’t completely ignore the measuring.

            Other than that, we have the same opinion, you just try harder to understand why they are doing what they are doing at this position. I get your points, still don’t see a ton of logic behind it.

          • GEAGLE

            Yeah I’m really not happy about this…just hoping there is a piece oft he puzzle that we aren’t seeing as fans.. If not, I’ll be crapping my pants all year when we trot him out on the field

          • anon

            Place kicks are like free throws. Players probably make 20 consecutive in the gym. But in the moment people miss – a lot of it’s mental or at least that’s what Kelly believes. I think he trusts that Alex can get distance on FGs but doesn’t want to ruin him mentally. That said if he’s a head case hire a sports psychologist and get on w/ your day.

          • GEAGLE

            I’m sure every teams kickers talk to sports pyschs

          • Andy124

            He was that before this past year. Making 10-11 from 40-49 excuses weak kickoffs to me. Upgradeable, for sure. But a must-upgrade, nah. So I guess it comes back to if you think he can return to form in terms of accuracy or not.

        • Neil

          I think people are vastly overrating the importance of touchbacks and long field goals.

          Touchbacks are nice, but you give up the possibility of pinning the opponent within the 20 and you also make sure they don’t fumble. How deflating was it for the Bears when Hester fumbled that kickoff? I saw that and I was just like “wow, it’s just gonna be one of those days for them”. And if your coverage units don’t suck, you don’t give up long returns or touchdowns so the downside of letting the other team return it is seriously dminished.

          Even the best kickers make the 50+ yard field goals not much more than 60% of the time. With most, you have a coin flip between two outcomes “I make it, get 3 points and give the other team the ball at the 20-25″ or “I miss, get nothing and give the opponent the ball at the 50, which is actually an even worse outcome than a turnover”. Or the FG gets blocked and then all hell breaks loose. Unless it’s 4th&7+, at least, it’s not worth kicking a 50+ yard FG.

          So, you know, I don’t see why Henery’s so bad. If he projects to play as well as he did this year indefinitely into the future, look to replace him. But this was a bad year for him, and kicker is the most notoriously finnicky position in the entire sport, and it’s not even close. These guys get 25-30 shots per season. One miss swings their percentage a full 4% at 25 attempts. Can you imagine how volatile a QB’s yearly statlines would look if he attempted 25 passes a year? Yeah.

          • Dominik

            I like my punts downed at the 3 – the good old Donnie Football feat. boyKING style. But with kickoffs, give me a Touchback 100 % of the time. Eliminates the risks. And the 20 Yard line isn’t good fiel position by any means. I’d give the opponent that after I scored.

            Look at that article from Brian Solomon:

            http://mcnabborkolb.com/blog/2014/2/19/ranking-the-2013-nfl-kickers-or-why-alex-henery-doesnt-deserve-your-support

            The Eagles had one of the worst opposing start field position in the league. And to me, it makes sense. If you boot it long, even if the Returners tries to return it, his chances for a good return (means 20+) are significantly reduced. “Worst case” is the 20, maybe, with a good unit, you get them before the 20 if he decides to return it.

          • Neil

            If we can get a guy who makes 90% of his field goals and boots it out of the endzone 80% of the time, I’d be disappointed if we didn’t go get him. But I have no idea who we could have got who could have been reasonably expected to outperform Henery. Who could we have replaced him with?

            The other thing people don’t think about is what happens if Chip Kelly has logged 500 kicks Henery made in practice since April last year and the guy is just unreal in his accuracy? Are you going to kick him to the curb because he missed the one field goal out of 28 that dropped him to 82% for the season and he kicks touchbacks 7% less than average?

            Edit: Don’t get me wrong. I’ve already said I think Henery was not good enough to keep around longterm last year if that’s his ceiling, but I’ll reemphasise it. But he was coming off two years of superb performance. 22 straight field goals one year. Remember that? That streak was broken by a 58 yarder.

          • A_T_G

            Who do you suggest we bring in?

          • Dominik

            Bironas

          • A_T_G

            Really? In 2013, Bironas had 32 touch backs on 80 kickoffs, for a 40% touchback rate.

            His average distance was 61.1 vs. Henery’s 62.7.

            The point being, we are not neglecting the position despite a bounty of obvious choices.

          • Dominik

            Bironas had 80 kickoffs, but 4 of them were Onsides (Henery 90, 2). If you look at the second graphic on this great article (already quoted in the post you replied to, but can’t quote it enough ;)), you’ll see that he had a far better Adj. Avg. Starting position than Henery:

            http://mcnabborkolb.com/blog/2014/2/19/ranking-the-2013-nfl-kickers-or-why-alex-henery-doesnt-deserve-your-support

            I’m not saying that Bironas is Dan Bailey, Steven Hauschka or Justin Tucker, but he seems like an upgrade. He had a down year last season, but was way better the years before. You can’t argue that he has the stronger leg (his “shortest” longest FG in his 12 year career is 51, which is Henerys best).

            Now, if we sign him and Henery beats him in camp – fine. He at least showed us something, beating a solid vet. But bring him in, that’s all I’m saying. Spears obviously isn’t any real competiton for Henery.

          • Neil

            Henery also had a down year last year. Why do you act like only last year counts for Henery?

          • Dominik

            Henery had a down year in terms of FG%, but he always had a noodle leg (career long 51) and he was never good at kickoffs.

            And the Vikings game shows you all that you need to know. Chip didn’t trust him to kick it deep because he knew he couldn’t do it. He thought those terrible squib kicks would be the better idea. And he couldn’t even handle those.

            In Bironas case, he was a good kicker for several years. If Henery would have a CV like Bironas and had a down year you can bet that I’d be on your side.

            In my opinion, Henery didn’t show enough during his years here to earn just the slightest slice of trust.

          • Neil

            Or Chip wouldn’t have cared if Henery could kick it deep because Cordarelle Patterson will take it from 9 yards deep. We don’t know what Chip would have done if Henery had such a leg. There aren’t many guys who literally kick it out the back of the end zone a majority of the time, letalone a single one who could do it 100% of the time so Patterson doesn’t touch the ball.

            Your point about long field goals is well taken, but it sure seems like you value that way, way more than the eagles do.

            Henery has been through three years one of the most accurate young kickers in the league from 50 yards in. He was the most accurate kicker in college football history. He’s only 26, and kicker is usually a position that takes a long time to refine the skillset. There’s absolutely no reason to assume he has hit his ceiling, and that includes the distance on his kicks. However, Chip has claimed that Henery can make it from 60 yards out in practice. I think Chip is just philosophically against the gargantuan FG attempts. I’ve laid out plenty of reasoning why that would be. The only 60 yarder Chip had him attempt was as time ticked down at the end of the first half of one game, which would be one of the few appropriate times to do it.

          • Dominik

            “Henery has been through three years one of the most accurate young kickers in the league from 50 yards in.”

            He missed too many that should be easy. 24-28 from 30-39 isn’t good enough. Not if your strenght is accuracy (and it better is when your career long is 51).

            Now, I’m not saying kick long FGs all the time. I believe in going for it in the right situation. I don’t believe in Punting from the 38 Yard line, though. Donnie and Boykin can do it, but the risk-reward, generally speaking, doesn’t fit. If you can’t down the punt you gave up a chance to keep the ball or to get 3 points for 18 yards field position. Bad math in my books.

            But if it’s 4th and 8, you basically can’t go for it. If you have a strong leg kicker, you could try the 55 yarder. Imho, in this situation, that would be the best option. Not for us.

      • Johnny_P

        In looking at Sportsnation stats: On average Alex Henerey’s kickoffs for touchbacks last season were at a 42% rate, contrast that with the rest of the kickers in the NFL, their touchback rate on kickoffs was at 49%. Alex is clearly mediocre and is being outperformed by undrafted free agents.

        • GEAGLE

          Just look at his rankings compared to the rest of the kickers….it’s not good

          • Johnny_P

            Also worth noting that teams facing Alex Henerey had a starting field position at the 25.2 yard line – just unacceptable. This is a game of inches, not yards, Alex needs to go, can’t give up precious real estate like that.

          • D3FB

            Coverage teams also play a factor in that.

          • A_T_G

            Agreed. Comparing kicks into the end zone would help provide context. As would sample size. Does that 7% below average represent 2 kicks? 10 kicks? The same number as the kicks in the game where we were afraid of Patterson?

          • D3FB

            If you exclude the 7 kicks in the Vikings game his percentage would have been 46%

        • Neil

          Thing is I have a feeling Kelly is very comfortable with where Henery is at mentally. He sees a kicker who is very good at the FG game in practice who had a down year last year in the games, which isn’t too crazy considering the small sample size. I think he’ll live with 7% below average and expect his kickoff units to be good enough to handle that extra pressure.

        • D3FB

          OK so”If any kicker in today’s game can’t boot the ball OUT to the back of the endzone on a kickoff should not be making an NFL roster”.
          League average is 49%. So basically the NFL shouldn’t have kickers is what you are trying to say?

        • Maggie

          49% is less than HALF! Mediocre indeed. The whole league.

    • CrackSammich

      Can’t blame a player for where they were drafted.

    • Buge Halls

      To a point, but the way the Saints were running the ball, they could have just walked into the endzone at will on that last drive.

  • jcwhy

    Kickalicious TIME!!

  • RobNE

    Hey guys Tony Franklin isn’t walking through that door!

  • Tumtum

    On non-kicking related matters:

    The last two rookie WR I remember hearing this much gushing about this early were Desean Jackson and Damaris Johnson. Both had a great rookie years. Damaris didn’t have a ton of PT but considering he was the back up X and did contribute, I think you can call that a big ole W from being undrafted.

    I was not in love with the Mathews pick, but he is certainly growing on me. Considering the bust rate of 1st rnd WR, any real contribution this year would be great to see.

  • http://twitter.com/ezgreene ezgreene

    Question for the group. Last year, with Celek, Ertz and Casey did the Eagles go 3TE for any extended period of time other than goal line? Were all three commonly active?

    • ChaosOnion

      Casey was mostly used on special teams. Celek and Ertz kept him on the bench on offense. Celek was the best in-line blocker with Ertz being more the “move” TE.

      • GEAGLE

        Polk and Casey were both ST beasts last year. Add Brad smith, the return of Jason Phillips and the additions of Nolan,maragos Braman, Jaylen watkins, huff, Ed Reynolds and we are looking at potentially the best coverage and return units we have seen in this city since before mr. Potato head Bobby April

    • ACViking

      Eagles went with a 3-TE formation 43 times in 2013. 38 rushing attempts (for 21 yards, 1 TD, 4 1st D, 20-long), 5 passes (2 completions, 30 yards, 1 TD, 25-long, 0 sacks, 0 Ints).

      I don’t know the game-by-game breakdown.

      • GEAGLE

        Late in the season we were using it…I remember we even started a game with the 3 on the field down the stretch…

        Also why I suspect Casey’s ankle problem lingered for much of the year

  • GEAGLE

    Someone post a link to the Jordan Mathews video interview with SBnation for those that haven’t seen in… Saint Jordan is back at it!!

    • Rambler

      Its Pope Jordan the First… he hasn’t been canonized a saint just yet. Maybe after his first season.

  • RobNE

    wow the Steelers are going to pay their center a lot of money. Putting aside how good he is, just seems like a ton of money for that position.

    • anon

      We’re paying a fair amount, but the browns really ruined the market.

  • GEAGLE

    Giants MLB Jon Beason carted off the field with a foot injury…seems like Chip decided to whip out his Vodoo dolls earlier this year

  • shah8

    Sheil Kapadia sez that we’re going to hear about “contested catches” from Kelly, almost like we’re going to see the ghost of Kevin Gilbride posses the offense or something. I’m not amused. Running a deeper passing offense like that is very hard to do well on a consistent basis, and is really more suitable as a passing style in the playoffs. It also requires large receivers that are more dominant than the guys we have now. Riley Cooper is one thing, Alshon Jeffries or Vincent Jackson is entirely another.

    • shah8

      And oh god, Kevin Williams joins the Seahawks. How many Vikings players have signed with the Seahawks in the last three years or so? It was probably a close thing that Jared Allen *didn’t* sign with Seattle.

    • Sean

      So, you’d prefer that the receivers not be able to make contested catches on occasion? Plus you don’t need big receivers to go up and get it. Look at how many contested catches the Seahawks receivers made for Wilson last year. None of them are over six feet, except for Sidney Rice, who missed most of the year anyway and would not be confused for a dominant player any time soon.

    • RobNE

      Has anything the Eagles or Kelly done impressed you?

    • GENETiC-FREAK

      haha bring back the Down Vote