Camp Stuff

Posted: July 30th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles have had a few practices. Two of them were full practices, one was a light day and one was a conditioning day. As you might expect, the play has been up and down. The offense really struggled on Friday, after playing pretty well on Wednesday. That brings us to the age old Training Camp question…did the offense get worse or the defense better?

Here are the guys who were at practice and whose notes we’ll be dissecting.

Jimmy Bama

Zach Berman

PE.com

Dave Zangaro

Jeff McLane

BLG

*****

Dave Zangaro on the highlight of the day:

The best defensive play of the day came during 11-on-11s, when Avonte Maddox made a leaping interception on a underthrown pass from Hurts attempted for Dallas Goedert. The throw wasn’t great but don’t take anything away from the play on defense.

“I know he’s only 5-9 but he jumped like he was 6-5,” Goedert said of his good friend Maddox. “He got up there. It was a great play by him. He kind of baited the quarterback, took a couple steps up. I think he was guessing that I was going to be running a corner and he just made a good play on the ball.”

Another nice play from a DB came from James Bradberry, who broke up a pass intended for Jalen Reagor.

Maddox had his best year in 2021. He is back in the same spot (the slot) and could be even better this year. It would be great to see him become more of a playmaker. The slot has a lot of opportunities because he plays closer to the formation and that means he’s got more of a chance to be involved in the action.

Last year Maddox had 1 INT, 0.5 sacks and 2 FF. He’s got the potential to be a lot more productive than that.

*****

Miles Sanders was noteworthy for a couple of reasons.

Zach Berman:

Miles Sanders stuck with the second-team offense on Friday, which was a departure from his typical role as the top running back. My inclination is not to overstate this — I expect Sanders to be the lead running back this season, and I think he’s shown an impressive burst through the first two days — but I wouldn’t totally dismiss the shift. The Eagles are getting Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott time with the top offense early in camp. Whether that suggests more of a timeshare this season remains to be seen, but it’s atypical to see Sanders with the second unit. If you want a Sanders update: he looks healthy and explosive, which the Eagles need entering Sanders’ fourth season.

Jimmy Bama

Miles Sanders looks explosive. He had some juice of several of his runs, making sharp cuts and flashing acceleration. Sanders is a bit of a polarizing figure among Eagles fans, but there’s little question that he is the most talented back on the roster, and it’s not even close. Also, his thighs look thicker this year. Is that weird to say? #ThickerThighAnalysis.

Sanders not being with the first team isn’t necessarily a huge deal. Coaches like to mix things up in camp. Sometimes they are sending a message to a player. Other times they might be trying to reward the backups. This only becomes important if it goes on for a while.

I’m more focused on Jimmy’s note about Sanders looking explosive. He (Sanders, not Jimmy) had a career high in runs of 20 or more yards last year. Nick Sirianni loves chunk plays and you can bet he wants Sanders getting the ball on a regular basis. It would be great if Sanders had his best season in a contract year. That would hurt negotiations for the future, but I’m more focused on winning games this year.

*****

Now for the struggling offense, and Jalen Hurts.

Jimmy:

Jalen Hurts and the first-team offense in general had a rough day. There were a lot of incompletions, some broken plays that led to scrambles, and some missed throws.

The lowlight of the day was a Hurts pass into a mess of defenders that was picked off by Avonte Maddox, who made a leaping grab. If I’m being honest, from my vantage point it wasn’t really even clear who the pass was intended for. After practice, Jason Kelce, who did not participate in team drills, was asked what he thought of the offense’s performance as a bystander. “Didn’t look good,” he acknowledged. He then noted that he felt that the offense got the best of the defense yesterday, and so the defense came out with more intensity today.

As a reminder, Hurts started 2021 camp very slowly and picked up steam as the summer progressed. We’ve only seen a total of 133 practice minutes so far, so it’s way too soon to sound any alarm bells, but if you’re the Eagles you probably would have preferred to see Hurts come out hot.

Day 2 verdict: Stock down.

Zach:

It’s one practice in July, so it should be kept in perspective. But if we’re offering daily practice reports, the story of Friday’s practice cannot be told without noting how poorly the offense appeared. (Or how well how the defense played?) This wasn’t egregious — there was a session last summer when it was as if the offense couldn’t complete a pass — but I thought they’d be crisper early in the summer considering there’s continuity with this group. Jalen Hurts is the one who’s naturally in the spotlight because he’s the quarterback, and the Eagles need him to practice better than he did Friday. But the lackluster play extended to the pass-catchers on Friday, too. As Kelce said, the defense deserves credit. They were swarming in coverage. The Eagles are back on the field Saturday morning, so that could serve as a first-week rubber match.

Jeff McLane:

More on Hurts. The third-year quarterback’s every move is under a microscope. Both the good and bad can be overstated, especially here in Philadelphia. A.J. Brown got a taste of what Hurts had to endure earlier this summer, and felt compelled to come to his friend’s defense. I’m sure Hurts’ shaky start — he was OK on Day 1, not good on Day 2 — will throw some into panic mode, but it’s far too early to suggest that he has regressed, especially when there’s a season’s worth of evidence that he’s a competent enough starter.

That said, he had some forgettable moments on Friday. The worst came on an intermediate pass to tight end Dallas Goedert that was either underthrown, late, or shouldn’t have been tossed in the first place. Cornerback Avonte Maddox dropped into a zone and read the ball all the way into his leaping arms for an interception. On the next play, Hurts was errant on a short out route by receiver DeVonta Smith.

I’ll get to the other incompletions below, because some were on the money and a receiver either couldn’t hang on or there was a pass breakup. But the first team offense was out of rhythm most of the session and a lot of that falls on the quarterback’s timing or lack thereof.

Hurts had his plus moments, too. While Brown slipped before a first pass came his way, he caught back-to-back attempts a set later — a second-level haul after Hurts rolled to his right and a shortie he took into the defensive backfield – that highlighted his size and strength. Brown did drop a throw during 7 on 7s with cornerback Darius Slay draped on his back.

Brandon Lee Gowton:

Just not a good day for Hurts and the offense as a whole.

Hurts threw too high on a short pass intended for Watkins in 7-on-7.

11-on-11 did not go much better. Hurts was also inaccurate on an out route to Dallas Goedert; the tight end only managed to get one outstretched hand on the ball. Hurts threw another pass to a crossing Goedert that was off target wide and low.

There was a rep where Hurts ended up checking down to Kenneth Gainwell in the flat after seemingly having A.J. Brown streaking open deep down the field. Perhaps Brown was not as easily available to Hurts in his progression … but not seeing the entire field has previously been an issue for him.

Hurts’ worst throw came when he got picked off by Avonte Maddox. It was unclear what he was even going for on that play; he threw into a crowded area.

Hurts’ best throw came when he connected with Brown on a post down the right sideline for a 25-yard gain or so.

There isn’t much to add to all of this. A bad day for Hurts and the offense. Learn from it and move on.

Or maybe the Eagles are headed to 0-17.

*****

Zach on the LBs:

Haason Reddick rushed the quarterback a bit more on Friday, but he still dropped back into coverage enough to make you believe this is going to be part of the way the Eagles use him. This is the time of year when the Eagles work on everything, so it’s sensible to at least prepare him for that role. The Athletic’s Bo Wulf wrote on Wednesday why he believes this will be a season-long discussion point — “The Eagles gave Reddick $30 million guaranteed to boost a pass rush that finished 31st in the league last year, not to run with tight ends” — and I agree with Bo on that one. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon offered his explanation for when it would be advantageous for the Eagles to drop Reddick into coverage.

“He’s a really good cover guy, so sometimes that’s a matchup-driven thing,” Gannon said. “He knows that when he would be dropping, like all our overhang players, there is a reason why we do that — flexibility within the defense. Depending on what the offense does that’s the kind of spacing we want to play, and it helps his teammates win some one-on-one battles. So, that’s a process with all those guys that we are figuring out now.”

Look for more later this summer on how the Eagles plan to use Reddick. But stash this nugget away: Reddick said he is now 247 pounds, which is seven pounds heavier than how the Eagles list him and 10 pounds heavier than when he came into the NFL in 2017. Reddick likes this new weight and believes it can add power to his arsenal.

And

When discussing the defensive upgrades this offseason, Kyzir White can sometimes be shortchanged. But the former Charger was added to help stabilize weakside linebacker and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen so far. White shot through the line on a blitz to “sack” Hurts on one play, and his quickness is apparent. It’s almost like White is what the Eagles hoped Davion Taylor would become. (Perhaps Taylor still becomes that player. He continues to make strides.)

Reddick was brought in to play LB and Edge rusher. He’s going to do both. That means rushing and covering. The Eagles know he’s a gifted rusher. Jonathan Gannon said on Friday that the team thinks Reddick is good in coverage. Reddick needs coverage reps, though. This isn’t about just skill. He needs to master the Eagles scheme and also to build chemistry with the other coverage players. Fitting in as a pass rusher is much easier.

I’m interested in White. He is a talented LB, but teams showed little interest in him in free agency. He could turn out to be a terrific signing or he could be the nex failed LB the Eagles seem to bring in every year.

*****

Ben Fennell on Jordan Mailata:

While Fran was over watching the fancy wide receivers, I got down with the offensive line on the opposite field, and one thing stood out right away – the evolution of Jordan Mailata. For years, the former seventh-round pick was the developmental player who was clawing for every rep he could get, picking the brain of every veteran he could. Now? Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland tells the young players that Mailata is the model to follow. It’s crazy how far he has come and now he sets the example for the rookies.

Ben with the zinger of the day…Fran and his fancy receivers! Not quite Dawk hitting Crumpler over the middle, but a good shot for late July.

It really is great to see how far Mailata has come. The project has now become the example of how to do things. We all knew he had great size and potential. Not all guys are able to develop the skill set needed to become a consistently good player. Mailata has put in a ton of work to build himself into a good LT.

*****

Dave with some depth chart notes:

Isaac Seumalo is clearly the Eagles’ right guard. The first two days, he has been taking the first reps at right guard and then Sua Opeta rotates in. If this was a competition, I’d imagine we’d see Jack Driscoll get those chances. Driscoll is working as the second team right tackle.

The Eagles are still mixing and matching odd and even fronts. Without Cox, the Eagles 3-4 look had second-year DT Marlon Tuipulotu at nose, surrounded by Milton Williams and Javon Hargrave as the ends, while Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat were the top outside backers. Both of them have also been featured as standup rushers in a 4-3 alignment.

The top two linebackers on Friday were T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White. White made his first big play of training camp when he exploded into the backfield to pick up a “sack” against Hurts. Davion Taylor has been mixing in with the first team, while Nakobe Dean has been working with the second team.

I’m happy to hear Driscoll is working at RT. He got several starts at RG last year so I don’t think he needs reps there as much as he does at RT. He did start at RT for several games in 2020 so the spot isn’t completely new to him.

Ideally, Seumalo and Johnson will stay healthy. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened in a while. Driscoll might be the top backup for both spots.

*****

BLG on Mac McCain:

Spoiler alert: For today’s BGN Radio, I’m giving today’s practice MVP point to Mac McCain III. He’s my guy like Jason Huntley is my guy on offense. McCain had a pair of nice breakups. The first one happened when he closed in on a target for Jalen Reagor over the middle of the field. The tipped ball was picked off by Davion Taylor. Later in practice, McCain broke up a shorter throw. The Eagles have a number of young corners competing for backup spot(s) behind the top four of Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, and Zech McPhearson. Kary Vincent Jr. and McCain are the strongest contenders for CB5 thus far. The latter showed some special teams chops last year so that could be working in his favor.

The Eagles have an endless supply of backup CBs. They need one of two of those players to step up. Zech McPhearson impressed at times last summer. It sounds like McCain is off to a good start this summer.

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One Comment on “Camp Stuff”

  1. 1 Eagles News: Jonathan Gannon says Haason Reddick is “a really good cover guy” - Baltimore Ravens News at Ravens Rundown said at 10:13 AM on July 30th, 2022:

    […] Camp Stuff – Iggles BlitzReddick was introduced in to play LB and Edge rusher. He’s going to do each. That means speeding and overlaying. The Eagles know he’s a gifted rusher. Jonathan Gannon stated on Friday that the staff thinks Reddick is good in protection. Reddick wants protection reps, although. This isn’t about simply ability. He must grasp the Eagles scheme and in addition to construct chemistry with the opposite protection gamers. Fitting in as a go rusher is a lot simpler. I’m enthusiastic about White. He is a proficient LB, however groups confirmed little curiosity in him in free company. He might transform a terrific signing or he might be the nex failed LB the Eagles appear to usher in yearly. […]