The Bodyguard is Back

Posted: July 15th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on The Bodyguard is Back

Brian Baldinger recently told us big news was coming for the Eagles. We thought big meant the level of excitement the move would bring, not the size of the player involved.

Consider me underwhelmed.

You read that correctly. G Jason Peters.

The legendary left tackle is going to move to guard, and right guard at that.

Peters never got the LT opportunity he wanted from another team. He and the Eagles had stayed in contact. There were no hard feelings between he and the team. At some point, the move to bring in him at RG made sense to both sides.

Peters gets to stay in Philly, his preference all along. He gets to keep playing, which he wanted to do. The Eagles had a hole at RG after the injury to Brandon Brooks. They felt it was worth taking a chance on Peters.

The transition from T to G isn’t easy. Going from left to right is probably even more difficult (ask Andre Dillard about that). This is far from a slam dunk.

At the same time, Peters knows the offense. He knows the blocking scheme. He’ll be playing between Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, teammates since 2013. It should be easy for them to develop chemistry. Communication shouldn’t be an issue and they should see things the same way when teams throw blitzes and different looks at them.

Peters has the potential to be a dominant run blocker on the inside, even at 38. He is powerful, athletic and still has a nasty streak. Pulling, trapping and blocking on the move should come pretty naturally to Peters. Even at his age, he still moves well.

Pass blocking will be a bit more complicated. He is used to using space and angles when blocking an edge rusher. The battle inside involves leverage and getting your hands on the rusher as fast as possible. Instead of blocking 260-pound speed freaks  you now have to deal with 300-pound power freaks.

The Eagles spent all offseason talking about the need to get younger. I think the legitimately meant that, but Covid-19 has complicated plans. Without Peters, this was going to be the potential depth chart.

LT – Andre Dillard (4 starts) ….. Jordan Mailata (no NFL snaps)

LG – Isaac Seumalo (veteran) ….. Prince Tega Wanogho (rookie)

OC – Jason Kelce (veteran) ……… Nate Herbig (no NFL snaps)

RG – Matt Pryor (1 start) …………. Sua Opeta (no NFL snaps)

RT – Lane Johnson (veteran) …… Jack Driscoll (rookie)

That is young with a capital Y.

While the Eagles like the young talent they have on the OL, the pandemic created some issues. No minicamps. No passing camps. Limited or no preseason. Who knows what Training Camp will be like. This wasn’t the spring/summer to develop rookie blockers.

Peters is a project at RG, but he’s a proven NFL player with a ton of experience. I can see where they would rather take a chance on him than Pryor due to the practice restrictions.

There is the x-factor of Dillard at LT. The Eagles believe in their second-year blocker, but they also know he’s unproven. If things do go wrong or he gets injured, Peters now gives then a Plan B.

Had the Eagles gotten to spend the spring working with Mailata or Wanogho, they might have felt those guys were ready to backup at LT. That didn’t happen so the team has now found a creative way to get better at G and T.

The move does make a lot of sense when you really think about it.

I’m not overly excited because I really wanted to see the youth movement. The Eagles need to develop young blockers. You have to take some chances in doing that. You aren’t always going to have a stud ready to plug into a position. I do understand the pandemic totally threw the offseason into chaos. The flip side is that we don’t know what will happen this season. If there ever was a year to take chances, this is it.

Peters is an all-time Eagles great and I’m sure he’ll have some moments that will be fun to watch. His run blocking can be something else. He can just move guys and create serious holes.

The downside to his return could be the effect it has on the young players. Will his presence both Dillard at all? You don’t want Dillard looking over his shoulder after every series or game. He needs to know he has room to grow this year. Ups and downs are okay. It is important that the Eagles develop Dillard into the LT of the future.

I’m sure Pryor is disappointed. No one wants the guy in front of them to get hurt, but when it happens, you seize the opportunity to show what you can do. I’m sure Peters will miss some snaps and Pryor will get on the field here and there.

Some have speculated that this move really isn’t about RG at all and is purely to have Peters ready to take over at LT. That is possible, but I tend to take them at their word on this. They went out of their way to say he was going to play RG. I don’t think you do that unless you mean it. If anything does happen to Dillard, there is no question that Peters will slide over and reclaim his old spot.

At the very least, I am thankful we actually had some football news. More of that and less social drama please.

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Jalen Reagor

Posted: July 13th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Eagles Training Camp is scheduled to start in 15 days. The player I think we’re all most excited about seeing is first round pick Jalen Reagor. Usually we have seen some practice clips by this point in the summer, but this year we are still going off college highlights. It will be fun to see him doing his thing in an Eagles uniform.

Fran Duffy quit tanning and working on his abs long enough to put together this piece on Reagor.

As you would expect, that is fantastic work. Detailed and thorough, but still fun and interesting. Fran shows you Reagor’s raw ability as an athlete as well as his positional skills.

We aren’t expecting Reagor to start this year, but he’s got enough ability that he should find a role as a rookie. I know the struggles of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside have made many people nervous about counting on a rookie, but Reagor is a different dude. He plays with a lot more attitude than JJAW ever did. I don’t expect Reagor to be Jerry Rice, but he’ll make his presence known.

Reagor is cocky and that’s good. The best wide receivers usually play with some attitude. When the ball is in the air, he goes and gets it. Part of that is due to his explosive leaping ability, but just as important is his mindset.

That’s my ball.

He goes up and fights for the ball. He’s not winning due to size and strength. That mindset and attitude will serve him well in the NFL.

I can’t wait to see Reagor in action. He is a good fit for the Eagles offense and it sure sounds like he’s ready for the NFL from a mental standpoint. He doesn’t have the pressure to have to start right away, but the coaches will get him on the field if they think he’s ready and can contribute.

*****

Brian Rolle is coming out of retirement?

Derek Landri?

Okay, it probably isn’t something that big. But what is Baldy hinting at? It might be this.

John Clayton isn’t a huge name anymore, but he was one of the original NFL information guys. He still has sources. Clayton just isn’t as connected as Adam Schefter and Jay Glazer and guys like that.

But Clayton does know Seattle. That’s where he lives. There could be something to this.

Clayton has brought us good news before. I remember back in the summer of 2004 listening to sports radio one weekend. Clayton reported that Jeremiah Trotter was going to be released and would have interest in coming back to the Eagles. Both happened and the team went to the Super Bowl.

As for Clowney, I know some people hate him for the hit on Wentz. That was a bad moment. Wentz said himself that he was in favor of anything that helped the team. If that means signing Clowney, so be it.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens here, but Clowney at the right price is definitely worth the risk. He is inconsistent, but the Eagles have seen him dominate against them over the past two seasons. When he’s on, Clowney is a difference-maker.

There are games when Clowney just takes over. It would be fun to see him doing that for the Eagles instead of against the Eagles.

Stay tuned.

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Doug and the Numbers

Posted: July 10th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

That sounds like the name of an awful band, but it is actually a good thing. Doug Pederson embraces analytics and uses them to help the Eagles win games. There will always be a mixture of feel and facts when it comes to coaching decisions, but Pederson handles that balance well. He trusts smart people.

Rotoworld recently ranked NFL offenses by analytics usage.

6. Eagles (HC Doug Pederson)

4th Down Aggressiveness: 2nd

Pass Rate on Early Downs: 10th

Pass Rate While Trailing: 31st

Play-Action Rate: 7th

Downfield Pass Rate: 23rd

Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 21st

Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 26th

Outside Run Rate: 3rd

Shotgun Run Rate: 8th

Offensive Pace: 17th

Pederson does a lot of things right. He’s aggressive on fourth downs (2nd), uses play action at a high rate (7th), and lets his running backs find space by rushing to the outside (3rd) and from shotgun (8th). Still, there’s some room for improvement. Of course, the Eagles’ receiver injuries affected this last season, but Philly shouldn’t have been 31st in pass rate while trailing in 2019, nor should they be using pre-snap motion at the 26th-highest rate. With more speed at receiver, Pederson could increase the Eagles’ rankings in both metrics, which would vault them into Tier 1 next offseason.

The Eagles obviously noticed some of these weaknesses.

The downfield passing game needed serious help. The team traded for Marquise Goodwin, spent a first round pick on Jalen Reagor and used mid-round picks on a couple of other speedy receivers. DeSean Jackson will be back (assuming he can avoid saying stupid, offensive things). While the team doesn’t have any elite receivers, that is a fast group of pass-catchers.

Expect Pederson and his staff to dial up more deep shots. They will want to use their new weapons. I’d be shocked if they are still down in the 20’s in Downfield Pass Rate a year from now.

Pre-snap Motion is another area the Eagles want to address. They didn’t add players for this. Pederson hired Rich Scangarello to join the offensive staff. Scangarello rank Denver’s offense last year. They were 8th in the league in pre-snap motion. Scangarello previously worked for Kyle Shanahan, who runs the #1 pre-snap offense in the league.

The Eagles didn’t use motion enough and it sure didn’t feel like they used it very effectively last year. Scangarello should help with play design and also how to use motion. How often do you mix it in? When do you mix it in?

The Eagles banged up and ineffective receiving corps was likely the main reason for the team being 31st in Pass Rate While Trailing. With a revamped group of receivers, expect Pederson to open the playbook up and be more aggressive this year.

I’m not sure why the Eagles were so low in using the middle of the field. It will be interesting to see if they change that this season.

*****

Some other notable rankings:

1 – John Harbaugh
2 – Andy Reid
3 – Bill Belichick
4 – Sean McVay
5 – Sean Payton

14 – Kyle Shanahan
15 – Frank Reich

Reich was obiously hurt by his QB situation. It will be interesting to see how his numbers look this year.

*****

I hate to veer away from football, but…

Ugh.

I understand Farrakhan means different things to different people, but anyone who embraces him needs to be fully aware of his anti-Semitic comments made over many years. You cannot just ignore that.

The Eagles need to have a team meeting. Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman need to make it clear to players that they need to be careful with what they say. Supporting your teammates is a good thing, but if they say something controversial, do not rush to their defense on social media. Malik took down that post so someone let him know it was inappropriate, but not before a lot of people saw it.

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DeSean Takes Dumb to a New Level

Posted: July 7th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on DeSean Takes Dumb to a New Level

I have written about the Eagles in some way, shape or form for 17 years. I have seen a lot of noteworthy things. A couple of players changed their names. One player agreed to become an Eagle and then changed his mind. One guy got drunk and went on a racist tirade at a concert. The Eagles once signed a player fresh out of federal prison. Life is rarely boring in the Eagles world.

Still, I never thought I would have to write about a player apologizing for quoting Hitler. Especially a Black player.

Yikes, to put it mildly.

There are so many things wrong with this that it is hard to know where to begin.

The most disturbing thing is that DeSean posted something blatanly anti-Semitic and somehow didn’t think it was anti-Semitic. That really is mind-blowing. He somehow thought that what he read was the kind of good information you want to share via your social media.

I get that DeSean isn’t a famous historian or political science major, but how on earth do you share a quote from Hitler and think it’s a good idea?

It wasn’t even a real quote from Hitler. DeSean saw something, liked it and shared it. He has 1.4 million followers on Instagram. I get nervous about writing something that will be read by 5,000 people. I can’t imagine if I had a platform like he does. Like it or not, when you have that many followers, responsibility comes with it. What you say matters.

DeSean didn’t help himself when he tried to explain things on Monday night.

He tells us he doesn’t hate the Jewish community while somehow not understanding that he just accused them of a centuries long global conspiracy. That’s just dense.

The Eagles didn’t say anything on Monday night, but they had this to say on Tuesday.

Some don’t think this is enough and want DeSean cut. I don’t think that is necessary. His posts on Monday proved to be more stupid than anything else. He clearly didn’t understand what he was saying. I’d rather DeSean actually take the time to understand just how hurtful and ridiculous his posts were and learn from that.

I wouldn’t be upset if the Eagles did cut him or if the NFL decides to suspend him. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. Say what you want, but you might have to pay the price for it.

I don’t know if it was the Eagles or public backlash, but someone has DeSean’s attention now. He has released multiple apologies.

I’m guessing an agent and PR firm wrote at least a few of those words, but DeSean seems to now realize the gravity of the situation.

I hope something good does come of this. DeSean can use his platform in a healthy, productive way in the future. That isn’t to say he can’t have fun on social media or share something goofy, but he’s got to understand Hitler and anti-Semitism are very real. You don’t just throw around those words or ideas casually. They have a bloody past that has given them a meaning that will last forever.

DeSean doesn’t have to be an expert on history. I don’t need him to break down the Battle of Kursk or explain Operation Market Garden. But damn, you have to know Hitler. That’s just not someone you mention casually when discussing the subject of race or religion.

Words matter. Ideas matter.

I hope DeSean genuinely understands that now and remembers it in the future.

*****

A few people have brought up the Riley Cooper situation. That was very different to me. Cooper was drunk at a concert and made racist threats to someone working the show. That was a completely malicious incident. Cooper knew what he was saying and meant it.

The only reason he didn’t get cut is that Michael Vick and Jason Avant defended him. They stood up in the locker room and pushed for Cooper to stay.

It is easy to forget that Jeremy Maclin tore his ACL just a couple of days prior to the Cooper incident. If that didn’t happen, I don’t think his teammates would have been so aggressive in arguing for Cooper. That incident made the locker room a volatile place.

DeSean’s words will have little impact in the locker room. I don’t know if the Eagles have any Jewish players. If there are some, DeSean could go talk to them face-to-face and apologize. There are Jewish people in the organization, but that’s different than the locker room.

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Number Two

Posted: July 5th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Carson Wentz has been the Eagles starting QB since 2016. Chase Daniel was the primary backup in that first year. Then Nick Foles came back to town in 2017 and 2018.

Things were more complicated last season. The Eagles were set to go with Nate Sudfeld as the backup, but he got hurt in the preseason. The team then signed Josh McCown and made him the primary backup. That was fine until McCown had to play most of the Wild Card game against Seattle. You could see his limitations in that game and the Eagles only scored nine points.

Heading into 2020, Wentz is back as the starter. Sudfeld is back as well, but rookie Jalen Hurts is now part of the mix. So who is the backup?

This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who has followed the Eagles closely. The team likes Sudfeld.

But not everyone understands this.

I’m sure Marcus isn’t alone in his thinking. There are probably plenty of national writers and analysts who think Hurts is the Eagles primary backup right now. Heck, there are some Eagles fans who probably think this. You don’t spend the #53 pick on a player just to sit him, right?

In a normal offseason, there would be a legitimate competition for the backup spot. Clearly this is nothing close to a normal offseason.

Hurts will still have a chance to win the backup role, but the odds will be against him. The Eagles had online meetings, but that is hardly a replacement for minicamps and passing camps. Hurts has never called a play, taken a snap or thrown a pass on an NFL practice field. He will have Training Camp, but the preseason will be cut in half, or cancelled entirely.

Hurts has to learn how to play at the NFL level while competing for a job at the same time. That’s tough for a QB. He has to deal with more than any other player. The QB has to call the play. Then he has to make a pre-snap read of the defense and decide if any adjustments are necessary. The QB must have a full understanding of the protection scheme for that particular play. He needs to know if the receivers are going to adjust their routes at all. And then the QB must have good timing/chemistry with his receivers once the play is underway.

Sudfeld doesn’t have a lot of regular season experience. He has been part of the Eagles for three years, though. That is a lot of practice reps. He knows the playbook inside out. Hurts may have more raw talent, but experience is a huge factor at QB.

The Eagles do like Sudfeld. They talked to him about a long-term deal, but Sudfeld made it clear he wants a chance to start. He knows that won’t happen in Philly so he’ll wait until next offseason to see what his options are.

Sudfeld throws a good deep ball so having speedy receivers should be a good fit for him.

Too bad we won’t have a normal preseason this year. Could be a lot of fun watching Sudfeld throw to the new guys with all the speed.

*****

On a side note, I don’t think I remembered the other NFC East backups.

DAL – Andy Dalton
NYG – Colt McCoy
WAS – Kyle Allen

That’s the best backup Dallas has had in a while.

McCoy is a veteran backup who can help Daniel Jones. There won’t be any QB controversy in New York.

Allen played for Ron Rivera the last couple of years so that does make sense.

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