Big Night

Posted: August 28th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 134 Comments »

First things first. Many of you want to know who made the roster with a good game tonight. Still too early for that. I need to check the tape to see who played well from an overall standpoint. The naked eye can only see so much. And remember…this isn’t about stats or results. Big plays against the Jets scrubs can be deceiving. You need to find NFL talent. You want guys whose skills translate well to real NFL games.

The big story of the night is the emergence of Cody Parkey, the rookie the Eagles traded for the other day. He kicked 2 field goals of more than 50 yards. He had pretty good depth on his kickoffs. Look beyond the numbers. Parkey looked good in doing that. He struck the ball firmly and cleanly. Those long FGs weren’t moving all over the place. They were fairly straight. I also liked the fact that Parkey handled the pressure of the moment well. A bad kick could have gotten him a pink slip.

Was that enough for Parkey to win the PK job? I’m no expert on kickers, mechanics and exactly what it takes to succeed in the NFL, but I really liked what I saw. I think I would go take the chance and go with Parkey. This kid is unproven, but he showed special potential tonight. While there is something to be said for Henery, he’s never shown anything special.

The Eagles piled up 568 yards of offense and scored 37 points. The skill players had a good night, but the real stars were the O-linemen. They controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the game. They gave Barkley good protection and opened some gaping holes for the runners.

Damaris Johnson helped his case for a roster spot quite a bit. He was 5-69 as a runner, including a 46-yd TD. He caught 2 passes for 19 yards. He also averaged 17 yards per punt return. He did everything the coaches asked of him. And you know how Chip Kelly loves versatility.

I still might go with Arrelious Benn for the final roster spot at WR. He was 2-55 as a receiver, including a 43-yd TD. He almost came up with another TD. He looked good as a receiver. I was disappointed not to see a WR screen go his way. I wanted to see his RAC skills.

Matt Barkley started slow. He was very pedestrian for a while, but then seemed to get into the flow of the game and he played better. I guess you would say there was more good than bad, but he’s just not playing at the level he needs to be. I think his biggest issue is that he’s trying to be too good…going for big plays rather than just moving the ball.

Barkley did finish 21-33-253, with 1 TD and 1 INT. Those numbers are solid, but the tape is more uneven.

I do not think G.J. Kinne has a legit shot at the roster.

TE Trey Burton helped himself in a big way. He led the team with 6 catches. Burton is a gifted pass catcher. He has good hands and is effective on short and intermediate routes. I thought his blocking was much better. Burton just might have earned a spot tonight. He’s at least in the mix.

I remain totally confused about RB. Chris Polk did not play. I have no idea what to make of his situation. Matt Tucker was 6-39 on the ground, but he looked to be cutting slowly as he went wide and then up the field. Henry Josey was terrific, going 22-121 on the ground. He looked fast and quick. I just get nervous about RBs who look fast vs backup defenders. Speed doesn’t always work against starters. Kenjon Barner was 5-21 on the ground before he left with an injury.

The overall defense played well. I don’t think anyone really jumped out. ILB Emmanuel Acho helped himself, from what I could tell. Would have been even better if he held onto a ball that he almost picked off. Bryan Braman looked good rushing off the edge. He has a very good dip move. Earl Wolff had a nice FF. Ed Reynolds had a couple of nice tackles, but missed an INT that would have really made him look good. Jaylen Watkins was physical as a hitter and tackler, but he did give up the TD pass.

It was good to see the Eagles go out and whip somebody, 37-7. They played well on both sides of the ball and for the second week in a row looked like a much better team than the opponent. The team is headed in the right direction and seems to get better each week.

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Have any questions about who is eligible for the practice squad? Sam has your answers and all the details here.

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PHI 13, NYJ 0 – 2nd half

Posted: August 28th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 133 Comments »

Lots of interesting storylines in this game so far. Hope for a good 2nd half.

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Previewing the Preseason Finale

Posted: August 28th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 145 Comments »

The Eagles take on the Jets tonight in the preseason finale. Originally this looked like an interesting game because it would put Mark Sanchez up against Michael Vick…the former Jet against the former Eagle. But Chip Kelly ruined that by sitting Sanchez. Actually, Kelly may have done us a favor. The Sanchez/Vick angle would have been good for some casual fans, but would have annoyed other fans who are more interested in the young players that need tonight’s game to win a job.

Let’s talk about some of the guys who have a lot on the line tonght.

Matt Barkley – He will play most of the game. The Eagles want to see how he plays in an extended showing. Will this bring out the best in Barkley or will it expose him as being a mediocre player? Barkley can help himself if he just runs the offense and doesn’t try to force things. It will be a good sign if he’s willing to check the ball down to underneath receivers. Barkley can also help his reputation with some good intermediate or downfield throws that show some arm strength.

Arrelious Benn – On the bubble. Benn is a good STer. He can be a good blocker. But Benn has yet to show much as a receiver this preseason. He needs the ball to come his way tonight. I’d love to see some WR screens thrown to him so we can see his RAC skills. The Eagles will probably keep Brad Smith as the #5 WR, but things are wide open after that. Benn would make the most sense, but he’s got to play well tonight.

Ifeanyi Momah – I’m not real sure if Momah has much of a chance for the roster. He can catch. He can block. But we haven’t seen Momah do much on STs and that’s critical for a role player. Momah does have a real chance to make the practice squad. If he has a big game on offense and can show up on STs, maybe he does get roster discussion.

Trey Burton – Talented player with good potential, but not sure where he fits in for this year. Isn’t a functional blocker right now so couldn’t play in a real game as a true in-line TE. That said, Burton is an intriguing athlete who has shown serious potential as a pass catcher. If you value Burton’s potential enough, you might carry him on the roster as a project. A strong performance in Jets game could make the Eagles decision complicated.

Chris Polk – Will he play? Can he play well? Polk needs to do something to help his cause. I could write about all of the RBs since any of them could really help themselves. Polk is the biggest name and has the most on the line tonight.

Dennis Kelly – Kelly has played a good amount of reps already so I’m not sure how much he can help himself in one game. That said, with Lane Johnson going away for 4 games, Kelly could get that roster spot. Must play well enough to make the Eagles comfortable with him as an option on Sundays.

Marcus Smith – Get after the QB. Simple as that.

Travis Long – Will play ILB and OLB. A good game from him could be enough to make the Eagles want to keep him on the roster. Biggest thing is to play well on STs and to look comfortable and effective as an ILB.

Emmanuel Acho – After a great summer in 2013, Acho has been somewhat quiet this year. Not bad, but quiet. A big game from him tonight would go a long way to helping his cause. Biggest thing is to play smart and be active. Be in the right spots and make plays when the ball comes his way.

Ed Reynolds – Reynolds will be on the field a lot tonight. I’m curious to see how he looks. The Eagles will carry 4 Safeties for sure (Jenkins, Allen, Wolff, Maragos). They might keep 5, but only if the team feels Reynolds can either contribute this year or is too good to risk losing if cut. I don’t think he’s shown anything to make the Eagles fear losing him so his best bet is to shine tonight.

Jaylen Watkins – There is no question about Watkins making the team. He is trying to win playing time. Watkins has had some impressive moments this summer. Unfortunately he has had some rough moments and missed time due to injuries as well. More than anything, this game will be a measuring stick for where Watkins is. The better he plays, the more the coaches might look past the previous mistakes and see a player who is developing at a good pace.

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The Bottom of the Roster

Posted: August 27th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 95 Comments »

Julian Vandervelde was the player the Eagles let go on Tuesday to get down to 75. He is currently injured so the Eagles simply reached an injury settlement with him. That means David Molk will be the backup Center this year.

Molk was added to the roster back in January after sitting out all of 2013. He played for the Chargers in 2012, but got hurt late and that caused him to not make the team last year. Molk has limited experience, but he is a good fit for the Eagles. He’s got the athleticism that Kelly wants in a C.

Molk wasn’t given the job…he earned it. Molk played well this summer. He showed that he could be effective blocking at the point of attack or 20 yards downfield on a screen pass. I don’t know Molk is ever going to be a player that a team wants as a starter, but he looks like he could be an effective player if needed. And that’s okay in a backup.

Teams love competition for spots at the bottom of the roster for a couple of reasons. First, competition can bring out the best in players. Just look at the Eagles RB situation right now. Those guys are all battling for a spot or two. We’ve seen other years when a spot was there for the taking and no player would step up.

The other benefit to competition is that it is okay for someone to fail because someone else is there to win the job. If a team tries to give a job to a rookie or developmental player and that guy fails…uh oh. We all thought Joe Kruger would win a roster spot or at least be part of the practice squad. Instead, he’s gone. Luckily the Eagles had quality players in Brandon Bair and Taylor Hart there to take his place.

Let’s talk about some positions and players who have stepped up or not done so.

WR

The Eagles love Mac, Coop and Matthews. Josh Huff looks like a standard rookie. Beyond that, things are open. Brad Smith had a good camp, but injuries have limited him in the preseason. It sounds like Kelly is still high on him, but it would be nice to have seen more out of him in games. Arrelious Benn shows up on STs and as a blocker, but hasn’t caught many passes. Is the STs play enough for him to win a spot? Ifeanyi Momah stepped up in a big way. I think he’s more practice squad than roster material, but he’s at least made the conversation a possibility.

It would have been nice for some UDFA or unheralded player to really shine this summer. Didn’t happen. The guys will get a lot of reps vs the Jets. That is going to be a huge game for them.

OL

Remember when this was a huge question mark? Andrew Gardner and Matt Tobin stepped up in a big way. Kudos to them. Molk played well and earned his spot. Dennis Kelly could make it. Michael Bamiro regressed. None of the rookies has stood out in a big way. Kevin Graf is the most intriguing player.

ILB

I went back to re-watch the PIT game again, focused only on ILBs. There just aren’t enough plays that jump out at you. The good news is that there aren’t a lot of mistakes. Najee Goode is the best of the bunch. He’s played okay, but is a victim of the way he looked in real games in 2013. I thought he’d eat up backup players. Emmanuel Acho has played well enough to make the roster, but he’s not been good enough to sit back and feel confident that he’s got a job.

The ILB situation is wide open enough that OLB Travis Long played on the inside last week. The Eagles might keep him on the roster as an OLB and emergency ILB player. Long has played well this summer and done whatever the coaches asked of him. We’ve seen him at DE, OLB and ILB, as well as all over on STs. If he were a better athlete, he’d be a lock to make the team. At the very least, Long has done everything in his power. Kudos to him.

S

Nate Allen stepped up and earned his starting spot. Earl Wolff has been solid and will be the #3 guy. Chris Maragos looks terrific on STs. He is always around the ball and looks like the real deal. On defense, he just doesn’t stand out. He can attack what is in front of him, but I don’t see anything special in terms of cover skills or range. Ed Reynolds flashed in the opener, but has been quiet since then. He might get a roster spot, but I bet the Eagles look around at other cuts for possible S help. Reynolds could be practice squad material and might have a good future, but he’s not stood out much this summer. Keelan Johnson has been a major disappointment.

CB

Nolan Carroll has played well enough to challenge for a starting job. He’s been ideal for what you want out of a new guy. Rookie Jaylen Watkins has looked okay, but hasn’t played well enough that you feel the coaches will aggressively push to get him on the field. Watkins has shown enough to absolutely make the team. Roc Carmichael is a player I’m not sure about. I don’t think he’ll ever be good enough to start, but he can play slot or outside and is a solid STer. It wouldn’t shock me to see him make the team.

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The Jets game will be crucial to many of these players. One game doesn’t define a player or a career, but it can be just enough to get a player on the roster.

Priest Holmes was on the roster bubble in his rookie season with the Ravens. He was great in the preseason finale and secured a roster spot. The rest is NFL history.

That’s the exception, obviously, but Thursday is going to be a huge moment in the lives of many of these players.

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PS DGR – PHI 31, PIT 21

Posted: August 26th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 184 Comments »

The battle for the Keystone State is complete. The heroic Eagles defeated the evil Steelers. Men, women, children, puppies and baby unicorns can now all rest easy and go about living their lives. There is no reason to worry, for at least the next 360 or so days.

That final score is deceptive. If not for a tough holding call on a WR, the game would have been 38-7 at one point. The Eagles dominated the game. Part of that is on them for playing well, but we can’t ignore the fact that the Steelers were dreadful. I mean truly awful. It was shocking to see them play so poorly, August or not.

OFFENSE

* Is it me or does there seem to be more outside running this summer? The Eagles have used a toss play several times with McCoy.

* One read-option play worked very well in the late 2nd Qtr. Polamalu and OLB both focused on Foles. Sproles took the handoff and went up the field for 14 easy yards.

* The offense moved at a rapid pace. There was a good flow and the starters played their best football of the preseason.

Players

QB 

FOLES - Up and down early on. Failed to connect with Matthews on opening drive. Looked like a poor throw. Made a good throw to Coop over the middle on 3rd/long, but the ball was dropped. Had some pressure, but stayed focused downfield and handled the situation very well. Handled pressure well on another play. Got hit by 2 guys, but made a good throw to Maclin on a skinny post. Incomplete, but good throw in tight coverage. Tried to hit Celek on corner route, but the throw was a bit off. Was a tough one because Celek was close to the sideline. Sold fake well, then hit Shady with screen pass that went for 27-yd TD. Made a very good throw to Coop in the end zone in the late 1st. OPI was called, but still impressive to see Coop and Foles almost connect on that play. Hit Ertz for gain of 12 on 3rd/8 to open the 2nd Qtr. Just missed hitting Sproles for a TD late in the half. The ball was too far out in front by a foot or so. A bit more air and that’s a score. 19-29-179. TD. INT. Looked his best of the preseason. Still isn’t in midseason form, but I thought he handled pressure better than the last 2 weeks and he seemed to play faster as well.

SANCHEZ - Another strong showing. 7-9-85. Led 2 TD drives, both against PIT starters in the 3rd Qtr. Had one goofy moment in the early 3rd. Team was in the RZ. Sanchez dropped back. Couldn’t find anyone open. While trying to move around, tripped himself and gave the Steelers a sack. PIT was called for holding on the play so it wiped out the sack. Also helps to explain why no one was open. Threw the ball well. Made good decisions. Wasn’t just feeding Ertz and Matthews. Hit Damaris Johnson for a couple of nice plays. Has that same look that AJ Feeley did later in his career. Might be a backup, but carries himself with the confidence and presence of a starter.

BARKLEY - Didn’t play much. I think Kelly was saving Matt for the preseason finale, when he’ll play most of the game. Barkley went 4-4-37. Didn’t make any impressive throws. Had a TD pass wiped out by penalty. Also had a near interception wiped out by penalty. Tried to hit WR on an out route and the ball took too long to get there. CB undercut it and made the pick. That is the one throw Barkley will really struggle to make in the NFL. Can’t drive the ball.

KINNE - WRs and RBs must hate when he comes in. There will be lots of running plays and Kinne will keep the ball half the time. Hasn’t shown any real progress from last year. Disappointing. I was hoping Kinne would look more like an NFL QB.   Read the rest of this entry »