Other Pieces

Posted: May 8th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 133 Comments »

We’re all excited by what the Eagles did in the draft and free agency, but what about the development of players already on the roster? That can be a big X-factor for a team trying to get over the hump.

Howie Roseman recently noted that DE Alex McCalister looked great. That meant he looked bigger and stronger. We’ll have to see how that translates to the playing field. McCalister was a talented pass rusher from Florida. He has NFL ability. He just needs to be able to handle the physicality of the NFL. Imagine if this guy has things start to come together for him.

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We’re mostly down on Dorial Green-Beckham right now. There was a time when we saw this and really got our hopes up.

The Eagles dramatically changed the WR position in the offseason. There will be serious competition for roster spots, let alone playing time. This will either bring out the best in DGB or he will be looking for a job.

The talent is there. We’ll find out just how competitive he is this spring and summer.

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I’m curious to see if any of the holdover CBs can challenge for playing time. C.J. Smith was impressive last summer. He was never good enough to get on the field during the season, but that’s not shocking for a UDFA rookie at corner. He has to take another step forward this year if he wants to keep a job. He has to show that he can contribute.

Aaron Grymes looked great at times last summer. I would love to see him challenge for the slot corner spot in this defense. Grymes has some experience from his days in the CFL. He showed ability last summer and seemed to be a guy with a chance at getting playing time before he got hurt.

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OL Dillon Gordon is one of the players I’m most curious about. When I watched him as a TE at LSU, I wasn’t impressed with his blocking. The Eagles signed him and bulked him up to OL size. I was blown away at how good he looked in the preseason. He showed LT potential. He was a natural pass protector with good feet and agility. He was raw, but talented.

The Eagles liked what they saw enough to keep him on the roster. This was a player they didn’t want to risk losing.

I’ve been around long enough to know that players can flash in one summer and then disappear. Gordon has to build on what he did last year. He can’t looked talented, but raw anymore. He’s not a rookie this time out. He’s been part of an NFL team for a year now and knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t have experience, but he’s been at practice and been getting coached enough that we should see real growth from him.

I’m excited to see what this young man can do.

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Built to Win

Posted: May 6th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 128 Comments »

Free agency is over. The draft is over. We can now look at the roster and the personnel decisions that were made and give them some thought. What was the plan for the offseason?

I covered that topic in my PE.com column.

The NFL is a passing league and the Eagles didn’t do a good job in 2016 with the passing game on offense or stopping the passing game on defense.

PHI QB rating – 79.2
OPP QB rating – 85.7

PHI TD passes – 16
OPP TD passes – 25

Those are simple stats and lack context, but do show the problems.

The front office decided to get Carson Wentz help. They kept the OL intact and added depth. They signed free agent receivers and drafted a pair of home run threats. They added good backup QBs. The coaching staff returns, with the exception of Greg Lewis, who the Eagles wanted to upgrade.

The defense got a couple of pass rushers, a couple of talented rookie CBs and some interesting LB depth.

The Eagles should be able to throw the ball better and defend the pass better. That’s what it takes to win in the NFL today.

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It does help that the Eagles played a couple of crappy teams in that span, but Domo’s point is accurate. The Eagles were playing effective pass defense at the time. Brooks wasn’t anything special, but was a veteran who provided stability and allowed the other DBs to stay in their spots as he manned the slot. His absence created a domino effect.

Losing a player can hurt the best secondary. Think how much Seattle struggled when Kam Chancellor held out a couple of years ago. Think about how they struggled without Earl Thomas last year.

i love the fact the Eagles added a pair of CBs in the draft. I do with they had added a Safety with good cover skills as well, but I do think Randall Goforth and Tre Sullivan have some potential. I also hope Terrence Brooks can be more of a factor this year. He was a late addition last summer and was behind everyone else when it came to learning the scheme and carving out a role.

*****

This guy can be a big help to the secondary, no matter who is out there.

https://twitter.com/Eagles/status/860162928846262273

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Answering Your Questions

Posted: May 5th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 99 Comments »

I’ve gotten quite a few questions recently so let me share some answers.

Douglas played in a system at West Virginia that had him playing off and then reacting to the ball most of the time. They did mix in some press, but it wasn’t a huge part of their scheme. At the Senior Bowl, Douglas showed the ability to play up on receivers and be very physical with them. He was then able to turn and run as they released down the field.

I think he can play in any scheme. He’s most dangerous when he can face the ball and go attack it. That’s zone. And the Eagles do play a mixture of man and zone. The Eagles will ask Douglas to use his size/length to be disruptive with receivers and keep them from getting a clean release. They will also have him play off at times because they want INTs and Douglas has great instincts and ball skills. You need to give him chances to go get the ball.

5-11, 201
40 – 4.47
VJ – 38 inches
3-cone – 6.70
BP – 22 reps

That really is a great Combine showing. Gratz started 25 games for the Jaguars before they let him go. He didn’t play much last year for the Rams. I have yet to go back and study his tape. I don’t know what has worked and what hasn’t. Now that the draft is over I do have the time to check him out.

The fact he is so athletic and has some experience means he has a chance to compete for a job and win it. The Eagles will give him a clean slate and clearly CB is wide open right now. Whoever wants a job just has to go win it. All that said, I wouldn’t count on Gratz doing much. He doesn’t have a great track record and seems to be declining. He is getting a fresh start in Philly and maybe that will bring out the best in him.

I think the Eagles have done a good job of creating competition. The roster isn’t filled with household names, but that’s doesn’t mean a thing. Last year the Eagles brought in a trio of veteran receivers to compete for a job. All 3 struggled (makes you wonder if Greg Lewis had some blame in that). None of them emerged. UDFA Paul Turner played his ass off and won a spot. The big names and former high draft picks were useless.

Reputations don’t mean much, if anything, in a roster battle. You want guys that have some talent and who will really compete. The Eagles are stocking the roster this year with players who will battle. You think Steven Means is just going to let the Eagles cut him without a fight? I think CB Aaron Grymes will do everything he can to earn a roster spot. There is a ton of competition on the OL. There will be some good roster battles.

This really is a good question. Gibson didn’t run as fast in Indy as expected. He was a 4.50 guy. He ran 4.42 at his Pro Day. Put on the game tape and he looks like a 4.38 type guy. He runs by CBs who do play off. Just flies by them.

I think the fact he caught so few passes hurt him. Gibson played a full season and caught 43 passes. He was the #1 offensive player for WV. They didn’t have good QB play and that hurt his numbers. He’s not a very polished receiver. He can do more than just go deep, but that’s his specialty right now and he’s got a lot of learning to do.

I think the Eagles got a major steal. I’ll be writing a full post on him.

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The Rookie CBs

Posted: May 4th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 141 Comments »

Sidney Jones is the hotter topic, but Rasul Douglas is a good player in his own right. And he is more likely to help out this season.

If you want to get a better feel for his game, watch this video. You aren’t going to see an elite athlete or dynamic cover guy. You will see a big CB who has a good skill set and who can play in the NFL. Douglas shows his ability to break on the ball. You can see his physicality. He has a couple of good tackles in the game, something you need in Jim Schwartz’s scheme. Douglas gives up some catches, but he makes the receivers work for them.

He’s not going to be a shutdown corner in the NFL, but he can cover well, make plays on the ball and tackle when there is a runner/receiver in his area. And he’s got the potential to get better. More reps and NFL coaching will help his game develop.

*****

Here is an SI story on Sidney Jones’ draft day(s) experience.

He’s got a chip on his shoulder and will want to prove all the doubters and teams that passed him over to be wrong. Can’t wait to see what this young man can do, whether that is in 6 months or a year from now. The Eagles have needed a big time talent at CB. Jones is that guy.

The article references a great play vs USC from 2015. Here’s that game. You do love a CB who anticipates a screen play, jumps it and picks off the pass in heavy traffic. We know he can run and cover. The fact he’s smart and works his butt off in the film room is a huge bonus. That’s NFL type stuff.

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Eagles Find a Thumper

Posted: May 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 94 Comments »

Teams around the NFL are fine tuning their rosters. The Skins cut ILB Steven Daniels, their 7th round pick from 2016. And then boom.

I love this move.

Before you get too excited or accuse me of being nuts, this is a depth move. Before Daniels can change the game of football and go to the Hall of Fame with a handful of Super Bowl rings, he has to show he can get healthy and play at the NFL level. The Skins took a chance on him last year, but must have thought he wasn’t going to be healthy since they let him go so quickly.

At his best, Daniels is a very physical MLB. He will knock the crap out of blockers, runners, receivers and any other biological entities that come near him. I called him the most physical player in the 2016 draft.

Daniels is the most physical player in the draft. He hits everything he can. Hard. Daniels only ran 4.86 at the Combine. That’s not good for a LB. But he is smart and instinctive. He makes plays by getting into the right position. The Wide 9 can put pressure on LBs to defeat blockers. Daniels has no problems with that. He will take on and shed blockers.

That first clip is simply glorious. I’m fanning myself off right now.

The Eagles brought Daniels to Philly for a visit last spring. They also had a private workout with him. This is a player they had serious interest in. If he can’t get healthy and doesn’t pan out, so be it. But this guy is an ideal MLB for the Wide-9. He can sit in there all by himself and destroy whatever is closest to him.

If he is healthy and able to earn a roster spot as a STer and backup MLB, Joe Walker could move outside. Walker is the better athlete and could play WLB or SAM. Of course, we need Walker to get healthy as well.

*****

Dave Spadaro interviewed Howie Roseman for PE.com and got some good nuggets.

The Eagles had Top 10 grades on Derek Barnett and Sidney Jones.

The Eagles looked at the Jones picks in the sense of “Would we trade pick 43 for a Top 10 pick next year?”. The answer was a resounding yes.

Howie mentioned that DE Alex McCalister looks very good. He was a 7th round pick last year. How can he look good in these OTAs? McCalister needed to get bigger and stronger more than anything else. You don’t have to see players with their pads on to know who bulked up and looks bigger/better than last year.

Mack Hollins is a player that Joe Douglas and Andy Weidl loved. One of the things that stood out was his attitude and personality. Alpha dog type guy. Howie shared an interesting note. Hollins ran 4.53 at the Combine, but pulled up for the final 10 yards because of an injury. In Howie’s words, “He is 220 pounds and is a 4.4 guy all day long.” Sounds like the Eagles really like this guy.

Howie mentioned that he’s the one who first got excited about Donnel Humphrey. Just kept watching this little guy find ways to produce big numbers every week. No one could stop him. Howie said the coaching staff has a plan for how to use him, but wouldn’t elaborate.

The Eagles feel Nate Gerry could eventually develop into a starting LB, but the key to taking him was a commitment to Dave Fipp to keep giving him good players for the STs units. They think Gerry can be a terrific STer.

Howie mentioned the Eagles liked Elijah Qualls quite a bit and were nervous about whether he would still be on the board when they picked.

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