More on the DL Situation

Posted: August 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 43 Comments »

We got into a good discussion today about production vs potential. There is no right answer. Even having a general philosophy only goes so far. You really have to study specific details to come up with the best answer.

In the hotly contested Bair vs Kruger debate, there is something that must be considered…the overall DL. Cox, Thornton and Logan are all young. You don’t need to develop young guys behind them right away. That trio could be the Eagles DL for the next 3 to 5 years. Beyond that, the Eagles have Beau Allen and Taylor Hart as a pair of guys they expect to be valuable role players. The Eagles can afford to think about “now” vs “down the road” with the Bair vs Kruger situation.

Another consideration here is just how much talent Kruger has. I was a big fan of his coming out of Utah. I was thrilled when the Eagles took him because I saw a player who could become a good 3-4 DE. We are now in Year 2 and Kruger has yet to show anything on the field that makes you go “Look at that guy!”.

Right now Bair is light years ahead of Kruger. The comeback to that is “So what. Bair is just doing this against 2nd and 3rd stringers.” First response to that is…and Kruger is playing the same guys and not looking nearly as good. What does that say about him?

And Bair did get on the field this week against starters and he held his own.

There seems to be this notion that Bair is some scrub from Pleasantville, USA. As a Senior at Oregon, he had 16 TFLs and 8 pass deflections. He went to the Combine. Check out his numbers vs Kruger.

BAIR – 6-6, 276

40 – 4.93
BP – 26 reps
VJ – 28 inches
BJ – 114 inches
SS – 4.37
3C – 7.07

KRUGER – 6-6, 269

40 – 4.81
BP – 24 reps
VJ – 34 inches
BJ – 117 inches
SS – 4.46
3C – 7.17

Bair is stronger and more agile. Kruger is faster and more explosive. But overall, very similar guys.

I don’t want this to turn into a Bair lovefest. I’m not trying to over-hype the guy. I don’t think he’s some hidden version of JJ Watt or anything insane. I see a backup DL who is playing very well. Right now I think he would be the Eagles top backup DE should something happen to Cox or Thornton.

Here is one of the simplest ways I can break this down…right now we are waiting for Kruger to get to the level where Bair already is. If we knew for a fact Kruger would get there, I’d completely say the Eagles should keep him, even if it took another year.

But we don’t know that Kruger will ever get to where Bair is, let alone better. What has he shown you so far that makes you think he will get to that level?

Years ago, I was totally on the Potential Bandwagon. Over time, I’ve been burned by so many guys that I just knew were going to pan out that I no longer automatically jump to that side of the debate. Coaches will tell you that they have to reward production. How can you call a guy into your office and tell him that even though he’s clearly better you are going with the other guy? Obviously if the competition is close, potential becomes a huge factor. That’s when you do go with the guy with upside. But Bair vs Kruger isn’t close. Kruger isn’t even playing as well as rookie Taylor Hart.

The good news about Kruger’s mediocre showing to this point is that he’s got a very good chance to be on the Eagles practice squad. I would love to see him on there. I still think he could pan out, but I’m not seeing enough to give him a roster spot right now. A year of practice could do him a world of good. Next summer he might win the Bair vs Kruger debate.

* * * * *

The NFL is set to expand practice squad rosters to 10 this year. That’s great news. It helps with player development, but also with practices during the season.

_


  • Media Mike

    Wow, nobody in here yet?

    Tommy:

    Do you see any chance of a Curry trade that could allow for both Bair and Kruger to be on the roster?

    • TommyLawlor

      I think the Eagles value Curry as a role player. My guess is that a team would need to really pony up for him to get the Eagles to deal him.

      • Media Mike

        Gotcha. It seems like he’s totally stuck in systemic limbo with the limited snaps he receives vs. his value as a pass rush guy.

        • GEAGLE

          I think this is a bit over rated… Even if Vinny was a scheme fit! you aren’t taking thornton or Cox out of the starting. Lineup…

          As much as I’d like to see him get more snaps, I want Cox and Thornton in the game when the opponent is running the ball.,, what are we really missing out on? Having Currys pass rush when teams pass on 1st and 2nd down?

          When it’s a clear pass rushing situation we are in a 4 man line, which is EXACTLY WHAT CURRY IS SUITED TO PLAY… Doubt there will be many 3rd down passing situations where we leave curry on the bench…. As long as Vinny is 1st team Nickel defense this year, I am happy..

          I could understand if our starts were crappy players who need to be replaced, but I adore our starting DE’s
          .,,
          The only reason this curry situation is even an issue for me is because of not being able to keep him long term. We can’t pay him to play 3rd down what a 4-3 team can offer him to play 3 downs…. If it weren’t for losing him Longterm, I wouldn’t even care about this…

          I mean does anyone really want Thornton or Cox to go the bench? The only issue this year is if we don’t use curry as our 1st team nickel defense which I doubt is going to be a problem…as long as he is rushing the passer on 3rd down, I’m happy

    • bubqr

      Considering the biggest issue by far on this team is the pass-rush, I’d be pissed if we let Vinny Curry, our most disruptive player after an aging Trent Cole, go. I’d even say that we have to find a way to get Brandon Graham on the field, despite the issues he brings in coverage and/or run support, in order to get that missing pass rush.

    • GEAGLE

      The earliest we can trade Vinny is next offseason…. Can’t afford to trade him this season

  • GENETiC-FREAK

    Bair has the advantage of knowing how to 2 gap already.. Hes shown to be a good run stopper but this teams doesnt have a problem stopping the run its getting to the QB on base formations thats the problem.. Kruger hasnt been playing bad hes just not what Bair is now.. What are the chances Kruger gets picked up by another team if he is cut or put on PS.. If Kruger was llike Momah last year where he looked raw then yeah understandable.. But you can see he can play now n will get better.. Bair played 2 gap in Oregon.. Kruger never played it in his life.. Took all mental reps last year.. Now hes into game 3 of the preseason.. I would go with youth n upside with the body catching up with the mind

    • GEAGLE

      A lot of teams transitioning to 3-4 two GAP… Wouldn’t be surprised if the after Thursdays game the steelers have their eyes on our two gappers that we may cut

      Bair is playing better today with a significant advantage in two gap experience, he is playing with his grown man strength that Kruger does not yet have yet, and Bair is used to playing at this size where as Kruger has a few offseason months worth of experience playing carrying those extra 20lbs to his frame…after factoring all that into the equation how is Bair playing a little better than Kruger that much of a big deal? Kruger has the ceiling of a nice NFL player, but I can’t possibly know how much of his potential he goes on realize… But I don’t think it will be very hard or very long before we see Kruger get to the level Bair is playing at now,,,

      Think Bair officially has the Na Brown award on lock

      This Bair love is ridiculously short sited…

  • AGrimGrim

    Tommy: during the Eagles Almanac AMA on Reddit I asked the writers the following question:

    “Do you think Tommy Lawlor would prefer to bathe in a pool of PBR or a vat of chocolate pudding? Follow-up: would you scrub his back?”

    I’ll give you a chance to respond in kind. PBR or pudding, and which of those miscreants would you like to provide scrubbing?

    • TommyLawlor

      PBR is better for bathing. Pudding better for wrestling.

      Is Ashley Fox a choice? If not…go with Jimmy. He has little to no dignity so the experience wouldn’t permanently ruin him the way it would the others.

  • Dragon_Eagle

    Was happy to read earlier about the expansion to 10 on the practice squad. Seems an obvious thing to do, in fact, it should probably be a bit higher until the Commish completely eliminates contact during the games.

    Anyway, random question: What is the origin of the roster size of 53? Its a prime number, which makes it extra cool, but why 53?

    • TommyLawlor

      They were 40 man rosters for a long time.

      Here’s a note on expansion back in 1993.

      http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/24/sports/pro-football-nfl-roster-now-53-45-on-game-day.html

      • Dragon_Eagle

        Thanks. Was internet searching for the answer. Found the following link with a chart showing the history.

        http://www.profootballhof.com/history/changing-the-rules.aspx

        In 1925 the active player limit was 16. Try running Kelly’s fast paced offense with 16 total players for O, D, and STs.

        • ICDogg

          Also interesting that from 1982-84, a team could have up to 49 active on the roster.

          • ICDogg

            (cont.) I think the high roster limit then was probably because of competition for bottom-of-the-roster-level players from the USFL, but I’m not sure. The reduction a few years later was, of course, to save money, as was establishing the 90 man roster limit for off-season to keep teams like Dallas from signing over 100 guys every year.

          • Dragon_Eagle

            That makes sense. I think its quite interesting to think about how the roster limit influences the style of the game. The larger the roster the more specialization – a punter and a placekicker rather than 1 guy doing both. More 3rd down specialists on D, special teams aces, etc.

  • Weapon Y

    There are nine DL in the conversation. Cox, Thornton, Logan, Curry, and Allen should all be locks. That leaves the bubble guys as Bair, Hart, Kruger, and Square. Either one or two of those guys make the team (probably two considering DL is a stronger group than other positions). I’d be shocked if Bair didn’t make the team, considering how much action with the ones and twos he’s getting. I think the real competition is between Hart, Kruger, and Square. Hart is the guy with the most upside IMO, but looks a little raw for the NFL. Kruger looks like a disappointment if you ask me. Square is a guy we all keep forgetting and could be the kind of out-of-nowhere guy who makes the team as the #7 DL. That narrows that last roster spot to Hart and Square, and I think Chip goes with Square. Square got reps with ones in both games for a reason. Chip is seriously thinking about keeping him. Hart will probably get the phantom IR injury because he’s more valuable as a 2014 5th round pick than Kruger. Kruger probably just gets practice squad designation. If someone takes him, who cares? He’s a career backup at best.

    Hear me out on it. I don’t think Square will be as good of a player as Hart and maybe not even Kruger. He’s a steak, not sizzle player. Not great by any means, but could be passable enough to do his job. He should be better at DE than NT due to his size. He played both spots last year. With Allen and Logan here, he’ll no longer have to be the #2 NT. He can be a rotational DE and NT, inactive on gameday until someone gets hurt.

    • ICDogg

      my opinion of the chance to make roster
      Bair 60%
      Square 10%
      Hart 70%
      Kruger 20%

      If Bair does make the roster, I expect him to be active from week 1. The others, not so much.

      • eagleyankfan

        I’m not sure we can spare a square. We have no square to spare.

        • ICDogg

          You can spare a Bair but you can’t spare a Square? That’s what’s there, mon frere.

      • Weapon Y

        Personally, I’d rather keep Hart over Square. I liked him as a prospect far better than I did Square. I think Chip rates Square much higher than I do. That’s why Square got reps with the ones in each of the first two games. In his opinion, Square helps him (granted, marginally) more than Hart can right now. Chip is a win now guy. Hart is an Oregon guy and Chip will try his best to keep him around through the practice squad or a fake IR injury, but unless the DL rotation changes against the Steelers, I seriously think Square makes the roster as the #7 DL. That might not amount to much, though, because the Eagles could just pick up a guy who was cut and then cut Square.

    • GEAGLE

      Hart is a lock.., no chance in hell we practice squad him…. Most likely he makes the roster, only other option for hart is IR with a phantom injury

  • Dragon_Eagle

    In tangentially related news, Emmanuel Acho’s trade value, Dion “Fire Alarm” Lewis, caught Johnny Football’s first ever NFL TD pass.

  • Baloophi

    Forgive me if this has already been asked, but in the interest of keeping Kruger on the roster, how is he at placekicking?

  • GEAGLE

    Darnell Dockett shredded his knee… Done for the season..

    Let’s just get thru these next two weeks without any serious injury.

    Any word on when Polk is expected to return?

  • GEAGLE

    Maybe you should let Kruger get some coaching before we expect to see some jaw dropping plays….With that said, it’s not like he isn’t making plays in the preseason games..
    …Shocker, a kid who never two gapped in his life isn’t out playing a 30yr old… You don’t say? Shocker…

    Mid season, hart and Kruger would pass Bair by…
    ..
    SOOO short sited, but I’m not having the same exact discussion two days in a row… “Catch you on the flip side”-Rocco the funny man… Not to be confused with Tom the Funyan man

  • ICDogg

    When you’re talking about positions that require extraordinary strength, particularly the offensive and defensive lines, youth is not the advantage that it is in other positions on the field. Guys a few years older have grown into their bodies, have more core strength and hopefully have developed better technique with those few extra years.

    • GEAGLE

      Exactly why I doubt this decision is a simple case of keep Whoever played better. 22yr olds are going to improve significantly more than a 30yr old win… The decision comes down to how long do you think it takes for Kruger to catch Bair and surpass him? Mid season? A year? Two years?

      • ICDogg

        But it also comes down to whether they think Kruger is a strong enough prospect that he’s worth keeping around as an inactive rather than having a guy who they can, well, actually use now.

        • GEAGLE

          I mean, they IRed the kid and asked him to put on weight…came back 20lbs heavier without compromising his speed… Realistically, I don’t think anyone should have expected much more out of Kruger at this point… If I know that, then the coaches definitely know it… Why IR the kid if you are then going to lose him before he is supposed to start paying off for you? I don’t get it…

          And it’s not as if Kruger is having a bad preseason… Kid has made plays

  • GEAGLE

    Can anyone speak on the current NFL weight policy? Does every player still get weighed on Thursday and if he is heavier than a certain weight he has to pay a fine of $980.00 per pound? Or did the 980$ Per LB fine increase these past 10 years?

    • ICDogg

      There is no such league policy. Some teams have weight policies.

      • GEAGLE

        So they did away with it?
        .lol James Farrior and Larry foote used to split Casey Hamptons $5000 weight fine every week lol… Used to be that you were fined 980$ for every pound you weighed over on Thursday

        • ICDogg

          The individual teams have weight policies. Article 42 of the 2011 CBA prevents the fines from being assessed more than twice a week or less than 3 days apart. I read something about the Giants fining $500 per pound this year.

          • GEAGLE

            Oh ok…. Wouldn’t be surprised if our players get weighed every day

          • RobNE

            are you guys joking?

          • GEAGLE

            No…dead serious…

            Steelers players used to be fined $980 for every pound they weighed over on thursdays… They should be paying their NT $980 for every pound he weighed over instead of fining him lol

  • GEAGLE

    22 personell for us this year should be called our “checkmate” package….

    Forget the 3 WRs we saw all last year, chips magic formation will be 22 personel. This year we will see chips vision really start to take shape..

    When offenses put 2 RB, 2 TE and 1WR in the game, defenses have to honor that as a heavy run formation… Typically when offense goes heavy run formation like that a defense is supposed to take a safety out and play an extra linebacker…

    Chip has the personel to crucify defenses with his checkmate formation…
    ….
    Chip puts BIG Riley Cooper on the field as the only WR, Sproles and Shady…Ertz and Celek… The plan was always to get offensive players who can be very diverse.. Sproles and Ertz can easily go from RB/TE to split out Wide as a WR or play as a slot WR…
    .
    So Chip will put 22 on the field and cause a lot of headaches this year. Do defense follow tradition and honor our 22 package as a run heavy set? If you take out a safety and put a LB in. We will flex Sproles and Ertz out to the WR spots, and throw to whoever has a LB matched up on it, speed up the tempo, don’t let teams sub, and just abuse them with our checkmate package.

    If teams get frustrated and put their nickel on the field, we will bring the TE’s on the line of scrimmage and smash mouth run game you to smithereens…

    Basically what Chip can do is have a personel package that can just as easily be a heavy run formation, or flex out our versatile weapons and use our 3 WR set plays even tho we have 22 personel on the field… This is what chips tempo is really all about..l getting you in a bad defense that can’t match up with our versatile players, and then speed it up so you can’t substitue…

    Cliche, DCs will study how to stop Chip all summer… Have fun watching film of our 3 WR offense from last year, see how good that does you when we toy with teams out of our 22 check mate package

    • ICDogg

      If the Eagles put the 22 on the field an opposing defense will treat Sproles as if he were a receiver and use the appropriate defense for that case.

      • GEAGLE

        What’s the appropriate defense? Base with 2 CBs? Nickel with 3 CBs… Even if you can put a CB on Sproles, without getting run over by our run game, you still are going to have to put LBs and safeties on Ertz and Celeck…

        And if you get sick out of your LBs getting shredded in the pass game and go nickel, we will give you traditional 22 sets and just run the ball down your throat…. It’s hard to deal with a mismatch weapon like Sproles and Ertz…. When teams have multiple of these types of matchup headaches on the field, I like our chances at one exploiting a big mismatch

        • RobNE

          I hear you, but say in the nickel, aren’t you just saying there is one faster, lighter DB on the field rather than a LB. Is running the ball that much easier, b/c one of 11 defensive players is different?

          I get it when it’s a LB covering Sproles, that is easier to see. But I don’t see as easily when it’s nickel. Is Sproles blocking that DB (where’s the advantage there?)? It just seems like the advantage is really on the margins.

  • Dominik

    First of all: Thanks Tommy. You react to the discussion on the comment section and give your input. Very user friendly.

    What I miss with your take is the Hart situation. Obv., you prefer him to be inactive on game day since you want Bair on the roster and he would make no sense as inactive. But why is Hart not ready to be active on gameday? That’s what I don’t get, I guess. For me, it’s not as much Kruger v Bair, it’s why give Bair a roster spot if Hart could easily take that role? Plus the upside etc, but even if Bair is slightly better now, Hart is ready to play, imho.

  • CrackSammich

    We’re talking about an UDFA, a 5th round pick, and a 7th round pick from last year. While one of these guys could end up being a monster, the odds are not in their favour that any of them end up being anything close to what this discussion assumes they will be. Bair is probably already at his ceiling, but you have to put someone on the field week 1 that can play, and Kruger and Hart don’t look ready. If they eventually take the job from Bair, perfect. If they don’t,they’re just another on the long list of 5th and 7th rounders that didn’t work out.