Q & A

Posted: February 15th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 97 Comments »

I’ve gotten quite a few questions in recent days and haven’t had a chance to answer them. So let’s do that here.

* Someone in the Safety post asked my thoughts on the play on Malcolm Jenkins. They thought ripped on Jenkins in a recent podcast. So what are my true thoughts on him?

I don’t recall my exact words in the podcast, but I think I was trying to point out that Jenkins had not been a Pro Bowl player in 2014. Early in the year Jimmy Bama had listed him as a possible Pro Bowler. Jenkins had several INTs at that point and was playing very well. He did have a good year for the Eagles, but did not play at a Pro Bowl level. There were too many dropped INTs that came in crucial moments. Jenkins hit and tackled well all year. He struggled in man coverage against WRs, as most Safeties do. I thought he was up and down as a centerfielder, although he didn’t do that a lot.

Jenkins gave the Eagles their first legitimately good Safety play in a while. I never expected him to come in and be Dawk Jr. Jenkins is a good player, but there is nothing special about him. I’m very happy with him and hope he’s here for the next few years.

* Did your post on the Safeties mean that the Eagles need a great player to go with Jenkins?

No. Great Safeties are hard to find. The Eagles need a good starter to pair with Jenkins, who is also a good starter. I’d love for the Eagles to find a great S, but that’s a heck of a lot easier said than done.

* In my post on Brett Hundley I talked about how he hadn’t done anything special in college (big wins, key comebacks, Jan 1 bowls, etc). Someone pointed out Mariota was similar to Hundley in this regard.

I strongly disagree. Mariota led Oregon to the Fiesta Bowl as a Redshirt Freshman and they beat #12 Kansas State 35-17. The Ducks finished the year #2 overall. This year Mariota got Oregon to the national title game. He won the Heisman Trophy. This year Oregon hosted #7 Michigan State. The Spartans got out to a 27-18 lead in the 3rd Qtr. The Ducks scored 28 straight points and won 46-27. MSU finished the season as the #8 defense in the nation.

Mariota had better coaching and better talent around him. That has to be factored into the accomplishments. But that also affects the kind of player someone becomes. Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler were talented SEC QBs. Manning was surrounded by NFL talent while Cutler carried Vandy on his back. Cutler took a beating as he played behind a mediocre OL. You can see pocket awareness issues to this day. Manning had a great OL. He learned to be comfortable in the pocket. You still see that to this day.

Mariota was placed in a favorable situation and delivered great results. Oregon did amazing things on offense. They won big games in the conference, out of conference and went 3-0 in bowls. At his best, Mariota was a dominant player.

There are still questions about how Mariota will translate to the NFL. No one will dispute there are concerns with that, and that some of those concerns are similar to the ones with Hundley. I do think Mariota was a better college player and is more likely to pan out in the NFL.

* Several of you asked about Safety Ron Parker as a potential free agent target.

I have not studied Parker’s tape. He will turn 28 this year and is coming off a breakout season. Guys like that do make me nervous. Here is a KC article pointing out his strengths and flaws.

If the Eagles go FA, Rahim Moore from Denver would make a lot of sense. He is a natural FS. He also played for Cory Undlin last year, who is now the Eagles DB coach.

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Needed: One Safety

Posted: February 14th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 178 Comments »

Tim Hauck. Damon Moore. Blaine Bishop. Michael Lewis. Quintin Mikell. Those are the men who played opposite of Brian Dawkins from 1999-2008. None of them was great, but they played on some great defenses (2001, 2002, 2004, 2008).

As great as it would be to have a dynamic duo like Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor or Wes Hopkins and Andre Waters, you can have a good defense with one good Safety and one solid starter.

Part of the problem in recent years is that you had Quintin Demps, Macho Harris, Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Jarrad Page and Patrick Chung trying to help each other succeed. They had no one to lean on. That’s why it was so important for the Eagles to sign Malcolm Jenkins last year and see him play well. He finally gives the Eagles a Safety they can build around.

Clearly he’s not in the same class as Dawkins, but Jenkins is a reliable veteran player. He’s going to do the right things on the court and can help the other Safety off the field. Knowing how to train and study is important for young players trying to develop.

Here are some Jenkins highlights from last year.

The Eagles must find someone to play opposite of him. This could be in free agency or the draft. But the good news is that the Eagles do have one starting spot set and that player can help the new guy.

Last year at this time the Eagles had Earl Wolff and Nate Allen atop the depth chart. That wasn’t awesome. Seeing Jenkins in place makes the task of improving the Safety position seem a heck of a lot easier.

Could this be the year the Eagles get back to having a pair of Safeties they like? Seems like forever since that has been the case.

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More On Hundley

Posted: February 12th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 225 Comments »

I hope everyone enjoyed Tyler Aston’s take on UCLA QB Brett Hundley. Very good stuff.

I have very mixed feelings on Brett Hundley. He has the potential to be a good NFL starter, but I can also see him struggling to ever play well. I think he made a huge mistake by not going to the Senior Bowl. He could have helped himself a lot, on and off the field.

Hundley certainly looks the part of an NFL QB. He’s big and strong. He runs well and has a good arm. The problem is that I have questions in the 2 most important categories – accuracy and decision-making. UCLA ran a really simple pass offense that had Hundley throwing to his primary target most of the time. And many of those plays were at or behind the line of scrimmage. We don’t have enough information to know that Hundley can consistently understand coverages and read through his progressions.

There are times when Hundley makes great throws and really looks the part. He will also throw some poor passes and look awkward at times. His pocket awareness ranges from mediocre to awful. He had poor blocking at UCLA, but didn’t help matters. There were many times when he seemed oblivious to the rushers closing in on him. You love a QB that can stay focused on his receivers and not the rusher, but this went beyond that. Hundley seemed clueless that he was about to be hit a lot of the time. That’s not good.

I can see where some teams will have a 1st round grade on Hundley, while others won’t have him on their draft boards at all.

Aside from skills, it is hard for me to make a compelling case for Hundley. Tom Brady was 20-5 as a starter. I watched him lead Michigan to a late come-from-behind win over Penn State in 1999. I saw him beat Alabama 35-34 in OT in the 2000 Orange Bowl. I saw Drew Brees lead Purdue to the Rose Bowl and play some epic games against Big Ten powers. I saw Cam Newton carry Auburn on his back to a national title. I saw RG3 do some great things at Baylor and really put that program on the map. I watched Colin Kaepernick lead Nevada to upsets over Top 10 Boise State teams in consecutive years. And on and on and on.

Hundley? He helped UCLA win games and go to bowls, but didn’t do anything special. I’m not saying the guy had to play in a BCS game or win the Heisman, but I don’t know if there was ever a really compelling game or part of a game for Hundley. He was a good player on a good team. UCLA went 29-11 in his 3 years. They swept USC, but never beat Oregon or Stanford. They played 3 so-so bowl games and went 2-1.

Simply put, I never watched Hundley play and said “That guy is definitely an NFL starter.”

I do like Hundley more than EJ Manuel, who went in the mid-1st. Hundley reminds me of a better passing version of Kaepernick, who went in the early 2nd. Hundley has a chance to go early. But I still struggle to say that I think he’ll succeed in the NFL.

Does Hundley fit the Eagles? Maybe. He would be the kind of running threat Chip Kelly would like in this offense. I like his downfield accuracy, which is helpful in keeping the defense honest and opening up the running game. Hundley is comfortable with the short, quick throws that Kelly likes to use. My question is how he’ll handle 3rd/8 in the 4th Qtr when the Eagles are down a TD. Can he sit in the pocket, read the defense, find the correct receiver and then get him the ball? I have very serious doubts about that.

Interviews are going to be critical for Hundley. He’s got to convince NFL teams that he can run an NFL offense and be a consistently good passer.

I keep going back and forth on Hundley. As of right now, I’d prefer the Eagles not draft him. If you could invest a 3rd round pick in him and try to develop Hundley, that would be one thing. Pick 20? No thanks.

Kelly might feel differently. He used a 4th round pick to draft a Senior QB from a team that used a pro style offense. Matt Barkley has not panned out so far. Hundley is the anti-Barkley. Hundley has the size and skills of an NFL starter. Kelly wouldn’t have to worry about his raw tools. Kelly would simply have to coach the bad habits out of Hundley and develop him as a passer.

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Brett Hundley – Yes or No?

Posted: February 11th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 321 Comments »

Tyler Aston has been writing some good scouting reports for us over at ScoutsNotebook. Tonight he wanted to share his thoughts on QB Brett Hundley, the star from UCLA.

Take a look at Hundley’s highlights, in case you aren’t familiar with him.

Tyler didn’t want to cover this with a simple scouting report. He decided to try something original.

Disclaimer/Context: 

I like Nick Foles. I think he has a chance at becoming a Rivers, Flacco, and Roethlisberger level QB. The kind of QB who gives you a punchers chance against even the best, but won’t take you to the mountain singlehandedly. However, if he stays closer to his floor, of a good backup, in the vein of a Kyle Orton type, the franchise is in trouble. Brett Hundley is an extremely gifted young QB, with some flaws. He has a ceiling to be a superior passer with very good mobility. He has mobility to put zone reads into play and has experience with packaged plays, both of which will allow the coaching staff to ease him into a full blown NFL offense. I’ve done all the film work on Hundley, and Kyle Crab’s write-up matches my thoughts on Hundley extremely closely, so instead of a write up on Hundley, I thought a flow chart, inspired by my days as an Econ major (roughly based on a prisoners dilemma) would be a better way to discuss the possibilities of drafting Hundley, and why I support it.

Assumptions:

Foles Good: Foles becomes a top 8-12 QB in the conversation with Flacco, Rivers, Roethlisberger, and Matt Ryan year to year.

Foles Bad: Nick plays closer to his 2014 form. He becomes more of a Kyle Orton or Ryan Fitzpatrick, someone who you bring in to be a Band-Aid at the QB position, while waiting to find your guy.

Hundley Good: Hundley becomes an electric young QB, his plus arm and mobility making him one of the best in the game. His inconsistencies in college turn out to be more of a gunslinger mentality and a poor supporting cast.

Hundley Bad: He doesn’t become a professional level QB. His reads are slow, and his confidence in his arm and legs get him into more trouble than they help.

Player X good: This non QB draft pick at 20th, becomes an above average starter. Not a world beater, but makes a few pro-bowls and starts in the league for a long time. Player X is not related to Dawkins.

Player X Bad: The player taken at 20 only becomes a pretty average or sub-par player.

I am aware these distinctions are black and white, but in order to put it into a flow chart, such distinctions must be made. Theoretically one could do this as an equation, but we would never reach a consensus on probabilities anyways.

 

                        Draft Hundley                                          Draft Player X at 20

Good Hundley Bad Hundley Good Player X Bad Player X
Good Foles Outcome A: Excess Value at QB – trade one of the QB’s for good ROI Outcome B: You have your franchise QB in Foles. Hundley still has some value as backup. Opportunity cost of no player X Outcome C: Foles is Franchise QB. You also have a talented player at another position Outcome D: Foles good. Blown draft pick. Hurts quality of the supporting cast (which is important to Foles)
Bad Foles Outcome E: Cheap young QB with a better skill set and ceiling. Future is bright. Outcome F: Bad things this way lie. Outcome G: You have a good positional player but are now desperate for a QB. Outcome H: City Burns. Chip moves on. Vets move on as new regime starts over.

Analysis:

Good Outcomes: A, C, E

Decent Outcomes: B, D

Bad Outcomes: F, G, H.

Drafting Player X: 1 good outcome, 1 decent outcome, 2 bad outcomes

Drafting Hundley: 2 good outcomes, 1 decent outcome, 1 bad outcome

In Outcome G or H: If Hundley becomes good, he becomes Earl Thomas times infinity. Every call from an Anthony from Manayunk, or Mike from Chestnut Hill, starts as a grown man screaming and raging against everything, and ends with a grown man weeping on the airwaves. Every WIP host, beat writer, guy at the end of the bar has an easy “The Eagles messed up; rue the day the Eagles passed on Brett Hundley” story. The rest of us collectively lobotomize ourselves. PBR, Chocolate pudding, and Funyuns are banned. Megan Fox becomes Charles Manson’s wife. Tommy cries. Karlie Kloss spontaneously combusts from being so darn amazing. I cry. ALOT. Chris Christie and Rodger Goodell become the leaders of the free world and start to openly fix games so only the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, and Patriots win Super Bowls…

Sorry, that was a weird nightmare.

Conclusion:

Once again, I’m not in either Nick Foles camp. I think he could very well be good enough, but there’s also a strong chance he may not be. Under this framework, drafting Hundley is the right decision. Obviously it’s not perfect. If it was, I would be making a ton of money as a GM and winning all the Super Bowls. There are too many exogenous and endogenous variables to attempt to account for. . Given the crossroads the Eagles are at I thought applying a theoretical framework to the conversation would be a unique approach.

Be sure to follow Tyler on Twitter

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What do you think of Hundley?

What do you think of Tyler’s approach to the question of whether to draft him?

I’ll reserve my thoughts for a separate post. I never took anything beyond intro to econ in college so I find this to be an interesting intellectual exercise at the very least.

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QB Craziness

Posted: February 10th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 335 Comments »

Nick Foles up and down showing in 2014 combined with his injury and the presence of Marcus Mariota in the draft means that there will be a lot of QB talk for the next few months. Just get used to it.

Let’s start with Foles. Cian Fahey wrote a lengthy piece for Bleacher Report on why Nick Foles isn’t the answer at QB. Fahey did a lot of research and made a good case. On the flip side, this isn’t the first time he’s written a piece knocking Foles.

I don’t think any of us sees Foles as a finished product or sure thing. The hope is that he might get better and develop into a consistently good QB.

Mike Mayock does not think Foles is a franchise QB and thinks the Eagles should go hard after Marcus Mariota. Sounds great. I’d love to get Mariota. But making that a reality is a lot easier said than done. Mayock loves to point out that 31 teams would be projecting Mariota to their offense, while the Eagles know what he can do since he ran such a similar scheme at Oregon. That’s great. It doesn’t mean the other 31 teams won’t have interest in Mariota.

I would love nothing more than to see Chip Kelly reunited with his protege. That would be fantastic. But the Bucs, Jets, Rams, and Texans all need QBs and pick ahead of the Eagles. Teams like the Titans, Skins, Bears, Giants, Browns and Chiefs could all be in the market for a QB, for now or the future. Just because Kelly and Mariota would make a compelling story doesn’t mean the rest of the NFL is going to let them reunite for the heck of it.

I hope Mariota does slide and the Eagles can make an aggressive move for Mariota. I just think that is an extreme long shot. Hope for it, but sure don’t count on it.

Yesterday some report broke that the Rams would cut QB Sam Bradford and that teams up high in the draft might prefer him to a rookie prospect. I get that Lovie Smith would love to “win now” with a veteran QB instead of waiting for 2016 since the Bucs were so bad last year. But…is Sam Bradford any good?

The stats aren’t encouraging. Bradford doesn’t win games. He doesn’t post gaudy numbers. He doesn’t jump out on tape. Bradford was an elite prospect coming out of Oklahoma, but that was a lifetime ago.

Could Bradford’s release benefit the Eagles?

Still a major long shot, but adding a QB to the market certainly can’t hurt the Eagles.

Eagles OC Pat Shurmur was on the Rams staff when they drafted Bradford. They spent one year together. Is it possible that Shurmur could try and sell Kelly on taking a chance on Bradford? Possible. Bradford was a good athlete coming out of OU. He’s been hurt some in the NFL so I’m not sure how athletic he is anymore.

While he might have a higher ceiling than Foles, I don’t think there is a lot of benefit to going after Bradford as a potential starter. I do think he would be interesting as a backup, but he’ll likely get offers to at least compete for a starting job elsewhere.

The veteran QB I’m most interested in is still RG3. The problem is that it seems like the Skins may keep him around for now.

This could be a pretty wild few months. Will Bradford be cut? Will RG3? Will Foles be traded? What do the Bears do with Jay Cutler? Who takes a chance on Mark Sanchez? Where do Mariota and Jameis Winston end up? You also know there could be some interesting surprise moves.

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The NFL Combine is happening next week. One bit of bad news.

We weren’t going to get any hard-hitting news from Ed Marynowitz or Chip Kelly, but they at least would have said something of interest. Disappointing that neither will speak and give us some insight into what has happened or what will happen.

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