Couple of Interesting Meetings

Posted: April 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 12 Comments »

We’ve been tracking the players the Eagles have shown interest in for the past couple of months. In the last couple of days, a couple of interesting names surfaced.

Per Aaron Wilson, the Eagles met with Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has met with the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles.

He has also visited the Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions and met with the Tennessee Titans.

The wording is key here. It doesn’t sound like there was a visit. They “met” with him. That could have been at the Combine, at his Pro Day or in a private workout. I would bet for sure the Eagles met with him in Indy. And we know Chip Kelly was at the Alabama Pro Day so they could have talked to him a couple of times.

Most people don’t think Clinton-Dix will make it to pick 22.

I’m sure the Eagles would have interest in Clinton-Dix. He is an outstanding cover Safety. He is very good in downfield coverage. He has good man-to-man cover skills. Clinton-Dix is a solid hitter and tackler. He is aggressive, but doesn’t have much pop. I think Clinton-Dix makes sense in the 20 to 30 range, but there is some speculation that he could go as high as the Top 10. I just don’t see him as being that good.

Less notable, but actually more interesting is news that LB Telvin Smith visited Philly. Credit Aaron Wilson again.

Florida State linebacker Telvin Smith visited the Denver Broncos this week and has also visited the Carolina Panthers and the Philadelphia Eagles, according to league sources.

Smith has worked out privately for the Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the entire NFC South interested in the speedy all-around linebacker.

Smith is one of the fastest linebackers in the draft with a 4.52 time in the 40-yard dash with some projecting him as a strong safety candidate.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder is a projected second-round draft target.

Would Smith be an ILB or S for the Eagles? At the Senior Bowl, Smith was adamant that he was a LB and had no interest in moving to S. I thought this was dumb at the time, but the more I’ve watched him, the more I understand.

Smith doesn’t have typical LB size, but he excels as a run defender. He’s actually better between the tackles than out in space. He will use his hands to take on blockers. Smith plays bigger than he is and does a better job of shedding blocks than LBs that are bigger than him. He plays with a lot of emotion and is fun to watch.

Now for the downside…he reminds me a bit of Ernie Sims. Smith flies around the field and he will miss some tackles because he is out of control at times. There are some other plays when Smith will wrap up his target, but fail to get the guy cleanly to the ground. This doesn’t happen often, but does have to be noted.

I like Smith. He is an impressive player most of the time. He can read plays and flow to the ball under control. He is fearless. Smith would run through a brick wall if he thought that would help his team win. I love his burst. Smith can really accelerate.

Here he is in action.

I don’t think Smith is great in coverage. He might have a S/LB tweener body, but he has LB skills. In that sense, he might remind you of Thomas Davis, who has had a great career for the Panthers. Smith is taller, but not as thick as Davis.

My guess is that the Eagles would see Smith as an ILB. He does have long arms and big hands. He would add speed to the middle of the defense, which certainly needs it. And any person who watches Smith play will love the attitude he would bring to the defense.

As for value, the article refers to him as a 2nd round pick. No way I see that. I look at Smith as a 3rd round player. He could be a Nickel LB and STer or he could turn out to be a solid starter. I just think there are too many questions/concerns to take him in the 2nd round.


Anthony Barr to 22?

Posted: April 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 100 Comments »

I keep saying that there is no way LB Anthony Barr falls to 22, but there are some who believe he could be in for a slide like that. Why would he slide? Is he really that good of a player? Some of you are excited by him possibly falling, while others want to know if he’s a guy the Eagles should still be interested in.

I like Anthony Barr. A lot. Let’s start with the numbers.

6-5, 255
arm – 33 1/2
hand – 9 3/8
40 – 4.66
BP – 15 reps
VJ – 34.5
BJ – 119 inches
3-cone – 6.82
SS – 4.19

2012 – 21.5 TFLs (13.5 sacks)…5 pass deflections…4 FFs…1 blocked kick

2013 – 20 TFLs (10 sacks)…1 pass deflection…5 FFs…

As you can see, Barr is a gifted athlete and a productive player on the field.

Barr played RB for his first couple of seasons at UCLA. He is the son of former Eagles RB Tony Brooks. While Brooks didn’t have much of an NFL career, those are still good bloodlines to come from. I’m sure Barr wanted to be a RB like his dad. Coach Jim Mora had the wisdom to move Barr to OLB in 2012 and the rest is history.

One concern with Barr is his offensive background. Does he have the right mentality for defense? People watch his game tape and don’t see a player that tries to physically dominate on every snap. That turns off some coaches and scouts. Barr isn’t the kind of player who will just take over a game. If you watch Khalil Mack vs Ohio State, you see a guy who put his team on his back and did everything he could in that game. Barr isn’t that same kind of guy.

I do wonder if coaching and scheme isn’t partially a factor. Watch Barr play and you’ll see him play under control most of the time. Watch Dee Ford for contrast. On most snaps, Ford flies off the edge, semi-out of control. Barr picks and chooses the spots where he’s going to really fly off the edge. You wonder if some of this was by design. With the read option and mobile QBs being so prevalent these days, Barr might have been told to slow down, read plays and keep things to the inside.

When you do see Barr fly off the edge, he is really hard to block. He gave OTs fits with his speed and explosion. You would think he could do this play after play if he wanted or the coaches told him to.

One of the reasons I like Barr so much is that he can bend and turn. Many DEs/LBs have a quick first step. They can get off the ball and up the field in a hurry. Special players can get low to get under the block of the OT and then turn to the inside to get to the QB. Even though Barr is 6-5, he does this well. That translates to the NFL.

I also love the fact that he has 9 FFs in 2 years. Strip-sacks are impact plays. Getting to the QB is one thing. Getting there and knocking the ball out is ideal. That generally means the rusher is catching the QB by surprise and the ball is still exposed. This is another part of Barr’s game that bodes well for NFL success.

Barr isn’t a great run defender. He needs to learn to use his hands better. Barr tends to do things with his shoulder. That’s the natural instinct, but it has to be coached out of him. You want defenders to engage blockers with their hands. You don’t want blockers getting into the defender’s body. There  needs to be separation so that the defender can disengage from the block and get in on the play.

People who don’t like Barr will see him as a finesse player. I see a guy who needs coaching. I don’t see a player who avoids contact. Barr simply needs to work on how to take on blockers and then shed them.

Barr would be an ideal fit for the Eagles. He has the size that Chip Kelly covets. Barr would be perfect to slide in at ROLB. He has the kind of explosive athleticism that would help him to beat LTs on a consistent basis. If something happened to Connor Barwin, the Eagles could slide Barr to LOLB and play him opposite of Trent Cole. Barr is big enough and athletic enough for the left side.

The Eagles could move him around if they wanted. Barr can line up over a slot receiver. He can line up as an ILB and rush up the middle or twist to the outside. He can drop back into coverage. Barr is a gifted pass rusher, but he’s athletic enough to play in space and do a solid job on those plays when you want to mix things up to confuse the opposing offense.

You can bet that Jerry Azzinaro and Bill McGovern would have a lot of work to do. They would have Barr hitting the sled every day and working on his hand use. They would drill into him how they wanted him to take on blocks. The raw potential is there, Barr simply needs work.

I will be shocked if Barr slides to 22. I just can’t see that happening. I sure hope it does. The Eagles better run to the podium in record time if he’s there. Barr is the kind of LB who can make plays in the NFL. The Eagles need an impact rusher and Barr could be that guy.

You see impact plays vs Oregon.

Here he is against Stanford. This isn’t an ideal matchup for Barr because he’s more pass rusher than run defender, but he still impacts the game.

I would be ecstatic if the Eagles could get Barr at 22.


2014 Schedule

Posted: April 23rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 82 Comments »

The schedule is out tonight. Some of you get really fired up for this. I’m a bit more ambivalent, but it is fun to take a look and see who the Eagles play and when they play them.

Here goes…

The game that jumps out…Thanksgiving at Dallas. I don’t know what to make of that game. My family aren’t very big football fans. Normally we eat a lot and goof off. I get them to watch a few minutes of football, but not much. This year is going to be very different. It will be kinda fun to play on Thanksgiving. There is something cool about playing on that day.

There are 4 primetime games:

Week 2 – at IND – MNF

Week 6 – NYG – SNF

Week 10 – CAR – MNF

Week 15 – DAL – SNF

It is interesting that 3 of them are at home. I’m not sure if that is good or bad.

I can’t say opening the season with JAX is compelling, but that should be a favorable matchup for the Eagles.

My biggest complaint is playing Dallas twice in the span of 3 weeks. That’s too good a rivalry to treat it like that.

The Eagles close out the season with 3 straight division games. Based on recent years, that could very well decide the division title. The NFC East race tends to be pretty close.

Do you guys love or hate the schedule?

Any games really grab your attention?


Azz Men

Posted: April 23rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 35 Comments »

DL coach Jerry Azzinaro has been at several Pro Days this spring. Let’s take a look at who he has been looking at.

Jay Bromley from Syracuse. DT who would be DE/NT for the Eagles.

Kareem Martin from UNC. DE who would need to bulk up 10 pounds to play DE for the Eagles. Could also possibly switch to LB, but the fact the Eagles sent Azz to work him out shows more interest as a DE.

Shamar Stephen from UConn. DT who would be DE/NT for the Eagles. Caught my eye at the Senior Bowl.

We don’t know for a fact that Azz was the guy who worked out Kyrhi Thornton, but he probably was. He is a good DE candidate so that’s a guy you send the DL coach to check out, not just an area scout.

Coach Azz might have been at more spots. We’re learning more every day. You can see the Eagles are not focusing on big NT types, but rather tweeners that could play DE or NT. Martin is the one exception. He is a DE/OLB player. No NT in his future.

The Eagles did bring DE Taylor Hart to Philly. He had a foot issue so I’m sure that visit was more medical than anything else. Here is Hart vs Tennessee. And remember that Jeff Stoutland went to the UT Pro Day to work out their 4 OL prospects.

Here is the full list of workouts and visits info.

Is the Size Issue an Issue?

Posted: April 22nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 64 Comments »

We’ve talked quite a bit about how Chip Kelly prefers big players. This has led a few of you to wonder if he focuses too much on size and it that could hurt the Eagles in their search for players.

I do think it is fair to wonder if Kelly is too pro-size. I don’t think it has been a problem to this point, but it is a question worth considering.

Here is why I don’t think it has been a problem so far…Kelly has focused more on performance than size. The size can get you a chance to show what you can do, but you have to play well. Last spring we were all fascinated with WR Ifeanyi Momah. He was humongous and the idea of a WR with his kind of rare size had us all excited to see what he could do.

Nothing. Momah did nothing.

The Eagles cut him. He didn’t get a spot on the practice squad. Kelly saw that Momah was a failed project and let him go. The team added him this January,  which is fine with me. Momah had been out of football a while last year. To say he was a little rusty would be like calling the sun kinda warm. Momah now knows what an NFL training camp is like. The rust will be gone or Momah will be gone. He is a glorified camp body at this point. I have no problem with Chip using a roster spot like that on a guy with rare size.

Think about Clifton Geathers. The Eagles were excited to see what he could do. Geathers was huge for a DE. Geathers earned a roster spot, but never played at a consistent level during the season. He had some good moments, but failed to show enough. He left the team as a free agent this offseason. Geathers didn’t get big money. The Eagles could have easily kept him if they wanted.

Kelly wanted Momah and Geathers because of their size, but never let that mean more than the game tape.

The upcoming draft will give us another chance to see how Kelly factors size into his decisions. I don’t think he has made any bad picks or signings due to size so far. That could change. If he passes on Marqise Lee, Odell Beckham or Brandin Cooks for Kelvin Benjamin, I’ll go nuts. If Kelly passes on Jeremiah Attaochu or Marcus Smith for Trent Murphy, I’ll personally lead the attack on the NovaCare Complex. Pitchforks, pudding and PBR!!!

One thing that is hard to factor in is scheme fit vs personal preference. Aaron Donald is the best DT in this class, but he is a pure 4-3 player. He’ll be long gone by 22, but he’s the kind of guy the Eagles would pass on because of scheme. Not every small player that gets passed over will be due to Kelly’s preference. We’ll have to see what happens and then figure out why players were picked or passed on.

So far I think Kelly has been reasonable with his desire for bigger players. We’ll see if that continues or if it does become an issue.

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The schedule will be announced Wednesday night at 8pm. That’s kinda cool, but not something I go nuts over. You can’t judge teams until right before you play them. Do you think anyone was looking forward to a game vs the Texans last April? They sure were by November.

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Here is the link to the new H2H show. That is 1 hour and 20 minutes of me and Jimmy Bama discussing the Eagles, the draft and my Sesame Street blanket. Fun for the whole family.