One of the big concerns heading into Training Camp was the QB position. Everyone is high on starter Nick Foles, but the backups appeared to be a major question based on what we saw in the spring. Neither Mark Sanchez nor Matt Barkley stood out in their competition to see who would be the primary backup. Both struggled at times and didn’t generate much confidence.
Things have changed. Now 2 days into TC, both Sanchez and Barkley are playing much better. Each player has made multiple throws that impressed the media members watching the practices.
Matt Barkley gorgeous deep ball to Kadron Boone. Barkley bouncing back big time from his performance in OTAs.
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) July 27, 2014
Very very early but Sanchez has looked a lot better than he was in the spring.
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) July 26, 2014
Thread of the day
With great timing and some zip on the ol’ fastball, Sanchez placed one right between Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen to hit rookie Jordan Matthews in stride for a first-down along the right seam.
Matt Barkley, meanwhile, finds Damaris Johnson on a deep out, placing the ball perfectly over defenders. Barkley has looked much better in two summer practices than he did all spring.
1:17 – Barkley drops back and hits Kadron Boone in stride down the left sideline. The ball probably traveled 40 to 50 yards in the air and was on the money. Quite possibly the best pass we’ve seen Barkley throw in two years. That was a beauty.
Prevailing thought of the day: All three quarterbacks have looked really good the past two days.
This is very encouraging. Nobody is rushing to put Sanchez or Barkley in the Hall of Fame, but it is good to hear that the players are throwing the ball well and looking much improved over the spring. Chip Kelly talks all the time about how you need at least 2 QBs in the NFL. Last year the Eagles had Vick, Foles and Barkley all play significant snaps in at least 2 games. It would be great if Foles started all 16 games and only left the field in blowout victories, but you sure can’t count on that.
Sanchez playing better makes sense. He was new to the team and the scheme in the spring. Learning on the fly in the Chip Kelly offense isn’t the easiest thing in the world. By now, Sanchez has had a chance to really digest the playbook and get used to the pace of practice. He is a talented, veteran QB and should play well.
Barkley’s struggles in the spring are still a bit of a mystery. It might have been the result of his frustration with the fact the Eagles didn’t push him into the backup QB role. Or maybe it is simply the fact he’s a young player and they can be erratic. No matter the reason, his struggles were a real concern. Barkley figured things out, whether physically or mentally, and is looking better. Hopefully he’ll continue to improve and will start to look like the player that Kelly was so eager to draft in April of 2013.
* * * * *
More praise for CB Nolan Carroll.
Mix and match
Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis got creative with personnel pairings, often mixing the starting front seven with the backup secondary or vice-versa. The looks gave Brandon Boykin extra reps at outside cornerback in base defense, along with Nolan Carroll. Carroll made a nice pass breakup.
Quote of the day
“He’s a very well‑rounded talent. He’s got size, he’s got length, he’s got speed. He’s a real tenacious competitor. I love his attitude out there the way he presses and competes and puts his hands on the people, and he’s got a good knack for the ball.” — Bill Davis, on free-agent corner Nolan Carroll.
Later, Foles runs play-action, rolls to his left and looks for Ertz near the sideline, but Carroll breaks it up. I repeat myself every day, but Carroll gets his hands on more passes at practice than any other defensive back, and it’s not even close.
Carroll has been a terrific free agent pickup to this point. He is pushing the starters and seems to stand out in every practice. Carroll can steal a starting job if he continues to shine. The Eagles like starters Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, but don’t love them.
Several of you wonder why the common thought is that Carroll is challenging Fletcher and not Williams. Since Williams is older and more expensive, shouldn’t he be the guy Carroll replaces? The Eagles want the best players on the field. They seem to like Williams better. One of the simple differences between he and Fletcher is reliability. Williams started all 16 games. Fletcher started 13. Beyond that, Fletcher missed time in games. Williams played 1067 snaps. Fletcher played 850.
The Eagles will put the best CBs on the field. We don’t know what combination of Williams, Fletcher and Carroll that will be. It is up to the players to decide that.
* * * * *
Trent Cole and LeSean McCoy got into a fight today. McCoy was ticked off that Cole and other defenders were being too physical with him on pass routes. This makes for a nice story for the media, but it isn’t a big deal. McCoy and Cole have played together since 2009. This was just an emotional flare-up during a summer practice session.
McCoy on scuffle: "The whole camp so far, it’s been touching a little too much. I’m trying to let them know, it’s OK if you can’t cover me.”
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) July 27, 2014
* * * * *
• In the kicker competition, both Alex Henery and Murderleg went 4/5 on field goal attempts. Murderleg was 4/4 until his final kick, and he had a chance to win the day… but he pushed it right.
I also watched them on kickoffs. Henery kicked off three times during one portion of the practice, and his kickoffs were as follows: 4 yards deep in the end zone, 7 yards deep, 2 yards deep. Murderleg on the other hand, had two kickoffs that I observed. One was fielded at about the one yard line, the other at the 14 on a wobbly line drive. It’s not a good sign when Alex Henery is clearly better than you on kickoffs.
• Staying with special teams, Damaris Johnson fumbled in a non-contract drill and Josh Huff muffed an ugly looking line drive kickoff.
• Damaris Johnson had his second muff in as many days. Jordan Matthews also had a punt eat him up. On a short punt, he wasn’t able to run up and field it in the air. Then when he tried to catch it on the bounce, it deflected off of him, and bounced further down the field. Then instead of jumping on it, he tried to pick it up and run, but missed it again. That all happened right in front of the Chippah, who likely reminded Matthews that that sequence was ugly.
• This is something that was already known, but Brent Celek is the emergency long snapper. He got some long snap reps today. No offense to Brent, but Jon Dorenbos is better at long snapping than Brent Celek.
Go read the whole posts to see Jimmy profess his love for Donnie Jones.