Posted: April 30th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 69 Comments »
The Eagles didn’t draft an OLB or ILB. The team did sign UDFA Jake Knott. Does this mean that Howie Roseman, Chip Kelly, and Bill Davis are happy with the LB corps?
I think the first thing you need to understand is that the LBs are a mystery right now. The lack of moves doesn’t show satisfaction. The coaches need to see the players in action before evaluating them. There has been a major schematic change. Mystery doesn’t mean good or bad, simply unknown.
We might find out that Brandon Graham is perfect as the Predator in the new defense. Connor Barwin has played SAM in a similar system so there is less schematic change for him, but there is dealing with a new team, new coaches, and the pressure of knowing Sheil Kapadia will be doing All-22 breakdowns of his game tape. That’s enough to overwhelm any normal human being. Trent Cole is going to have a better year than he did in 2012. I just can’t see a proud man like him playing like that again. Still, I don’t know if he’ll get anywhere close to the old days of 11 and 12 sacks.
Beyond the big 3, I don’t know what’s going on. I think Chris McCoy is the backup at SAM. Both Phillip Hunt and Everette Brown are more likely to be backups at the Preadator spot. McCoy is a longshot to make the roster, but we’ll see how that goes. Hunt lacks the size that Kelly prefers, but might be acceptable for 2013. Brown is a longshot, but I did like him a lot coming out of college.
The x-factor here could be Vinny Curry. The Eagles loaded up on DEs. You have Fletcher Cox, Ced Thornton, Joe Kruger, Ronnie Cameron, David King, Clifton Geathers, and a couple of UDFAs. Will Curry stay at DE or possibly shift out to backup SAM? It is early enough in the offseason that he could still shed a few pounds and make the switch. Curry would want to be in the 270 range at SAM so that’s not a huge change.
Or maybe the Eagles will make a sign a free agent. I don’t know who is available. The Eagles could trade for someone. Having Barwin as the starter is the key. You can figure out what to do for his backup. There is time to solve that issue.
What about ILB? DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are the starters. Ryans is a short term player, but could play another 2 or 3 years. Kendricks is too small for Kelly to be comfortable, but if Kendricks plays well, Kelly will gladly make an exception. I do think Kendricks can play well in this scheme. I expect him to have a good year.
The backup ILBs are a total mystery. Jason Phillips was signed as a UFA and Jake Knott as a UDFA. These are players specifically chosen for the scheme. That gives them a leg up. Jamar Chaney and Casey Matthews clearly are not in good standing. They can win jobs, but will need to play well to make the coaches trust them. The team traded for Emmanuel Acho a few weeks back. He is in the mix for a spot as well.
Adam Caplan has talked about the Eagles adding a veteran ILB for a few weeks. You wonder if that will happen or if the team wants to see the current group in a mini-camp or two before making a move. The lack of tackling will limit just how much the coaches could learn, but seeing players on the move can give you an idea of what to expect from some guys.
Next January we’ll know if Graham and Barwin are the future at OLB or if we need help. We’ll know if Ryans and Kendricks are the answer at ILB. We’ll know which backups have a chance and which don’t.
Until then, don’t over-think this. Let’s see the players in action and judge them based on performance rather than projection. Moves can, and probably will be made, as the team tries to find the right mix with the backup LBs/ILBs. This 3-4 thing is new to us and trying to figure out what good depth is will be a learning experience for us.
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A few of you have asked about Fresno State LB Tristan Okpalaugo. He has a tryout deal with the Dolphins for their mini-camp.
There are some rumors about Maryland’s Kenny Tate coming to Philly. His Twitter account says nothing. The Eagles have said nothing. He would be an odd fit. The former SS moved to OLB a couple of years back, but at 6-3, 221 would need to play SS or ILB in the NFL. He isn’t a pass rusher and would be an odd fit with the Eagles at OLB. SS is the spot where he would have the best chance and would make the most sense. We’ll see what happens there.
Posted: April 30th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 82 Comments »
Let’s take a look at some things that we learned from the Eagles 2013 draft.
The Eagles were interested in players, not positions. Chip Kelly made it clear the Eagles had serious interest in Dion Jordan. Peter King mentioned today in a casual blurb the Eagles weren’t going to pick him, but it is impossible to know if that’s true or exactly what King was told. Since Chip went on the record as saying the Eagles liked Jordan, I’m assuming the interest was legit. When the Eagles didn’t get the dynamic edge rushing LB, you would think they would feel the need to find another one somewhere else. Never happened. They didn’t even add a UDFA LB.
The Eagles have LBs in Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, and Trent Cole. What they were interested in was a player with big time ability and athleticism. When they didn’t get Jordan, they passed on LBs altogether.
Versatility is a crucial trait. Lane Johnson can play RT or LT. Zach Ertz can line up all over the place. Bennie Logan too. Earl Wolff can play FS or SS. David King can move around. Joe Kruger lined up all over at Utah. Kelly isn’t looking for static players that will sit in one spot and do the same thing over and over. He wants to be multiple on offense and defense. That means he needs players who can line up in multiple spots and fill a variety of roles.
The Eagles will run the 4-3 Under. I don’t think you draft Bennie Logan in the early 3rd round if you want to run a 3-4 with guys playing 2-gap. That’s just not an ideal fit for a high pick. Logan is ideal for NT in the 4-3 Under. That role requires a player that can anchor against the run at times and shoot gaps on other plays. Logan is that kind of a player. The Eagles have already talked to him about playing in the 315 to 320 pound range. Logan does have 34-inch arms and could slide out to DE if needed, but he’s a limited athlete that is meant to be a 1-tech NT. Over time he’ll develop the ability to be a 3-4 NT, but he’s not a guy that is meant to be a block-eater.
Joe Kruger can play in any scheme. David King is best suited for the 4-3 Under. He lacks the size to be a 2-gap player, but could be a solid 5-tech in the 4-3 U. Heck, it would not shock me if he bulked up enough that he could even be a backup NT, playing the 1-gap technique. King is in the 6-4, 280 range. Bill Davis’ NT in Arizona was Bryan Robinson, who was about 6-4, 305. Damion Square is another player that is best suited for the 4-3 U. He could be a backup DE or NT.
Character mattered. Kelly said that the two most impressive interviews the Eagles had at the Combine were Matt Barkley and Bennie Logan. Those were players that those of us on the outside didn’t expect the team to take, but clearly the Eagles liked what they saw on tape, but also felt were the kind of guys they wanted on the team.
Earl Wolff, Jordan Poyer, and David King were also considered major team leaders.
Chip Kelly likes Cajun food. Kelly went to Georgia’s Pro Day. No Dawgs ended up being drafted or signed. Kelly went to LSU’s Pro Day. The team drafted Bennie Logan and then signed UDFAs Brad Wing and Russell Shepard all from LSU.
Plans can change. For a long time, I thought the Eagles wanted a QB in the draft. My hope was for a mid-round pick, but there was lots of chatter about Geno Smith at #4 and EJ Manuel in the 2nd round. The day before and the day of the draft Dave Spadaro and Adam Caplan started laying hints that the Eagles might not take a QB at all.
My guess…and it is strictly a guess…is that the Eagles were going to take a QB late or not at all. The Eagles passed on Geno at 4 and 35. They passed on Manuel at 4. Think about the other QBs that the Eagles showed the most interest in. Matt Scott was a UDFA. Zac Dysert went in the 7th round. Ryan Griffin and Jeff Tuel were UDFAs.
So what happened? Matt Barkley happened. He was simply too good to pass up. The Eagles had him rated as a Top 50 player. They probably figured he would go in the 3rd round. When Barkley was sitting there on the board to open the 4th round, the was just too good not to go get. Barkley can be a starting QB in the NFL. Worst case scenario he’s a backup. Think about this…Matt Barkley was a 4th round pick. So was Mike Kafka. Which guy would you rather have?
I don’t want to get into a “what does this mean” discussion in this post. Let’s save that for strictly a Barkley discussion. The point is that good QBs are too important to pass on. Barkley has the potential to be a good QB. There is no guarantee that Barkley will pan out, but he was absolutely worth the risk of a 4th round pick.
The Eagles can stay put. Over the years, the Eagles did a lot of wheeling and dealing in the draft. This year the team stayed put, with the exception of moving up a couple of spots for Barkley. Can we take any lesson from this? Not really. We need to see at least one more draft before we can start to see if there is going to be a change in terms of moving up/down in the draft.
I know many people think that all the moving in previous years was not a good sign. The Eagles were trying to be too smart. Or too cute. Or something else.
I am a believer that sitting still in the draft is every bit as crazy as moving too much. I think you identify the players you want and you go get them. That can mean moving around. There is no absolute way of doing things that is better than the other. The Eagles traded up for Fletcher Cox, Shawn Andrews, and Todd Herremans. Good moves. Trading up for Jerome McDougle was a major failure. Brandon Graham remains a mystery.
The Eagles have made some mistakes in the past when they didn’t appreciate the impact of a key player. Having extra picks is nice, but don’t get caught up in the numbers game. Value isn’t as important as good players.
That said, there are times when you need a lot of picks. When Jimmy Johnson rebuilt the Cowboys, he loaded up on picks. The draft was 12 rounds back then.
1989 – 15 picks
1991 – 18 picks
1992 – 15 picks
48 picks in 3 years…that is like 4 drafts. Obviously the Herschel Walker trade is where a lot of the extra picks came from, but trust me…Johnson moved up and down quite a bit. He wanted volume.
Johnson did the same thing in Miami in 1996 and 1997 and the volume drafting delivered strong results. It needed to be done since Johnson was trying to re-make the roster.
If Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly hadn’t been so active in free agency, the Eagles would have needed to do something similar in the draft. Since the Eagles did bring in a lot of new bodies, they were free to sit tight in the draft and take the players they wanted.
The real key to drafting…identify good players, draft them and have a good coaching staff that can develop them. It doesn’t really matter whether you move up, sit tight, or move back. Choose wisely.
Posted: April 29th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 69 Comments »
DL Isaac Remington – Oregon – 6-6, 298
* Classic camp body. Has good size and has played for Chip Kelly for 2 years. Racked up 25 solo tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 3 batted passes. Didn’t stand out when I watched tape on him. Think of him as the DL version of Evan Mathis. Remington is a DL with long hair and a good personality. If only he had the athleticism and talent that Mathis does. Longshot even for the practice squad
OL Matt Tobin – Iowa – 6-6, 300
* Played LG in 2011. Started off at LG in 2012 and then shifted to LT. Didn’t particularly stand out at either spot. Has a good build, but isn’t all that athletic. Didn’t get much movement in the run game. Good interior pass blocker. Excellent effort. Lacks the footwork to handle edge rushers in the NFL. Must get stronger. Can get moved back in pass pro at times. Limited upside, but is an experienced blocker coming from an NFL system. Longshot.
WR Russell Shepard – LSU – 6-1, 196
* Really interesting addition. Shepard went to LSU as a big time football star. He was going to be a 2-way QB for them and make the Tiger offense explosive. Didn’t exactly pan out as hoped. Shepard never came close to living up to the hype, but I was impressed by the fact he stuck it out there and carved out a role for himself as a WR/RB/STer. You see some star QBs get to a school and then leave to chase their dreams elsewhere, but most fail at the new school just like the old one. Shepard made something of himself. Finished his LSU career 104-716-5 as runner. 58-570-5 as receiver. He even helped on STs. Shepard covered KOs and punts.
Shepard is a good fit for the Chip Kelly offense. If he can develop his receiver skills, he could be a slot receiver and offensive weapon. Shepard is very good on end arounds and gadget running plays. Kelly loves to do that type of stuff with receivers. I assume Shepard will bust his butt on STs in the NFL since he did that in college. If he can become a backup RS as well, that could help. Shepard is ideal for the practice squad. I don’t think it is likely he makes a strong run at the roster this year, but never say never. The guy has NFL athleticism (4.46 in the 40 and a 38.5 inch VJ).
DL Damion Square – Alabama – 6-2, 293
* Square is an interesting prospect. He started 31 games for Alabama. That tells you that Nick Saban thinks he can play and trusts him on the field. Square has average size and is maybe an average athlete. He has short arms for a DL. Those factors won’t help his transition to the NFL. If you watch his 2012 tape, Square isn’t all that impressive. I need to go back and study 2010 & 2011. Square racked up 7 TFLs in each of those years, showing him to be more of a playmaker. What changed (only 4 as a Senior)?
Square is more than a camp body, but he has an uphill battle. He uses his hands pretty well. He’s got some quickness off the ball, but nothing special. You just don’t see anything special from him on tape. Solid college player, but limited pro prospect. The Eagles want guys that are versatile and Square can play 5-tech, 1-tech, or 3-tech. He’s got experience in a hybrid defense from his time at Bama.
P Brad Wing – LSU – 6-2, 205
* Let’s start with the punting first. Wing is a gifted Punter. He finished 11th in the nation with 44.8 yards per punt this year. LSU was 8th in net punting, and consider that Wing was 2nd in the nation with 11 touchbacks. Returners averaged just over 3 yards per return. Wing has a very strong leg. He can boom the ball. He has the 2 longest punts in the history of the SEC Championship Game. The longest was 67 yards and he had a total of 6 punts go more than 50 yards in that game. Wing easily could have been worth a mid-round pick based on his punting ability.
But Wing isn’t a typical Punter. Rather than tell you the story, go read this great piece from Bob McGinn and you’ll understand that Wing is a handful, on and off the field. If Wing can get his act together, he is talented enough to be the Eagles Punter for the next decade.
ILB Jake Knott – Iowa State – 6-2, 243
* Knott is sorta like the Iowa State version of Dan Connor. He’s the guy who was a star LB in college and did all kinds of amazing things and then the NFL picked apart his game and said “you really weren’t that good”. I see Knott as the ultimate tweener LB. He isn’t physical enough to be the thumper inside. He’s not fast/athletic enough to be the playmaker. Make him just a tad faster and he’d have a chance. I think he could make it in the NFL, but only if he adjusts his game. In college Knott didn’t use good form in dealing with blockers. He would go around them. Or he’s use his shoulder to try and scrape off them. Some players can get away with that, but he lacks the athleticism to be that guy in the NFL. Knott must learn to use his hands. He must stay square and aggressively engage blockers. No more trying to get by. Take them on, defeat the block, and go get the ball.
Knott was a big time playmaker at ISU. He picked off 8 passes and had 10 career FFs. He broke up 15 passes. He had 224 solo tackles and 18 TFLs. Knott has good instincts. He is a wrap-up tackler. He has moments where he is a very impressive player. I just don’t know how he’ll adjust to the NFL game.
RB Miguel Maysonet – Stony Brook – 5-9, 209
* Highly productive I-AA runner. Ran for 4,725 yards and 48 TDs in college. Unfortunately, has average size and average speed. Limited athlete. And he only caught 18 career passes. These factors made him a lesser NFL prospect. I do think Maysonet has NFL potential. He is a downhill runner. He shows a good feel for how to run. There are plays when he attacks upfield. Other times he is patient and lets his blockers do their job. Maysonet might not be big, but he runs strong. He doesn’t go down on first contact. He has good balance, allowing him to take hits and continue going. Maysonet isn’t a dancer. He is always moving forward. He’s not a daylight runner. He goes where the play is supposed to. I have no idea how good a blocker or receiver Maysonet is.
I do think Maysonet is a good fit in Kelly’s offense. Kelly loves his RBs to get upfield. His goal is to spread the defense and attack seams with quick hitters. Maysonet has the style of running to fit this. He lacks the speed that Kelly prefers, but at least runs hard. You know that Maysonte will maximize every run he can. And he does have some big play ability. Against Syracuse, Maysonet hurdled a tackler and then raced 60 yards down the sideline for a TD.
RB Matthew Tucker – TCU – 6-0, 221
* Tucker is bigger than Maysonet. He is faster, stronger, and more athletic. I don’t think Tucker has as good a feel for being a RB as Maysonet. I didn’t see anything special in terms of vision or instincts. Tucker is a N-S runner with good burst. Runs with good strength. He’s definitely not going down on first contact. TCU believes in using a group of RBs and that was true in Tucker’s time there. Only twice in his 4-year career did he have 20 or more carries in a game. Tucker finished with 2,602 yards and 33 TDs. He caught 29 passes. I’ve seen a couple of grabs from him and he looked okay.
Tucker could be a good #3 RB for an NFL team. He has NFL size and speed (4.50). He isn’t a guy that was used to tons of carries in college so being part of a group of RBs isn’t an adjustment for him. He will need to show that he can be good at covering kicks/punts. Tucker has the size and physicality to do that.
C Kyle Quinn – Arizona – 6-4, 297
* 2-year starter for the Wildcats. Not a flashy player in any way, but a good, solid C. Put on the Utah game and watch Quinn vs Star Lotulelei and you’ll be impressed. There were a few times when Star body-slammed Quinn to the ground, but Arizona ran for 320 yards that day, much of it up the middle. Quinn was a big part of that. He would handle a DT on his own at times. He double-teamed on others. Quinn was able to get to the second level and take on LBs. Good game. Quinn is quick off the ball. He uses his hands well and has pretty good agility. He isn’t going to overpower anyone. He shows good awareness and always seems to be in the right spot to block the right guy. Quinn is very good with shotgun snaps.
That last point helps his cause with trying to make the Eagles. Dallas Reynolds is the backup C for now, but he had some real troubles with shotgun snaps last year, especially down the stretch. I’m sure he’s worked on that religiously since, but he can’t afford to have any problems in practice. Quinn has a chance to challenge for the backup C spot. If not, he could be an excellent practice squad candidate. Quinn only started at C in college, but did play some G early on. Teams want backup OL to be versatile.
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This isn’t a great UDFA class. If I had to put them in order of most likely to make the team, it would go like this:
1 – Brad Wing
2 – Kyle Quinn
3 – Matt Tucker
4 – Miguel Maysonet
5 – Russell Shepard
6 – Jake Knott
7 – Damion Square
8 – Matt Tobin
9 – Isaac Remington
Knott is the guy I’m most fascinated by. I love playmakers. Can he play in the NFL? Shepard is a close second. He’s just such a Chip Kelly player.
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I’ll post more on the draft and Matt Barkley tonight. I know Matt is the hot topic. We’ve got a few months to cover every angle with him. I will also talk about the lack of trades and things like that.
Posted: April 28th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 66 Comments »
Last night I didn’t write too much on the 7th round picks. Let’s talk about them some more.
Joe Kruger is a draft pick that is all about potential. He isn’t a polished player at all. He came out of Utah a year early and did so after a solid, but un-spectacular year. You watch the game tape and see a talented young man, but one who flashes big time ability rather that consistently playing at that level. Kruger did suffer an ankle injury that really limited him in the middle of the season.
He played DE and the Utes went back and forth between 3 and 4-man lines. Kruger can get out wide or play 5-tech. He is athletic enough to come off the edge and get by OTs. He is strong enough to engage blockers and jolt them backward. There were some plays when Kruger stood upright and rushed the QB, but I do not think he can play LB in the NFL. He’s meant to be a DE.
Kruger is talented and hard-working. There is a play in the BYU game where he shoots the G/T gap and flushes the QB. Kruger then chases the QB from behind and sacks him. Kruger is athletic enough to shoot gaps and be a disruptive force, but he’s also big and strong enough to 2-gap and read plays. I think that versatility (and his size) is part of what made Chip Kelly so high on him.
There is a lot of work to be done. Watch the BYU game and you see Kruger able to overpower some blockers. Put on the Washington game and you see guys that are as big and strong as him and Kruger isn’t as much of a factor. He must learn to shed blocks better. His technique needs a lot of work. Utah played him at RDE and LDE. He used a RDE stance at both spots. That will be fixed.
The thing I like most is that Kruger is a big guy and seems to know that. Some big guys think they are Dwight Freeney, which drives me nuts. Kruger uses his size, strength, and power. He just needs coaching on how to do that better. And he’s young. Kruger hasn’t even turned 21. He’s still a kid. I think he’ll grow into his body and work hard in the weight room and look very different by 2015. I think you’ll see a change as early as next summer.
I do think Kruger can contribute as a rookie, but I would keep expectations low for him in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 27th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 102 Comments »
I’m too burned out to do any long writing tonight. Here are some quick thoughts.
4 – QB Matt Barkley – USC
5 – FS Earl Wolff -NC State
7 – DE Joe Kruger – Utah
7 – CB Jordan Poyer – Oregon State
7 – DE David King – Oklahoma
P Brad Wing – LSU
ILB Jake Knott – Iowa State
RB Miguel Maysonet – Stonybrook
DL Isaac Remington – Oregon
OG Matt Tobin – Iowa
OC Kyle Quinn – Arizona
WR Russell Sheppard – LSU
DE Damion Square – Alabama
RB Matthew Tucker – TCU
This was a good day for the Eagles. They didn’t have to do much wheeling and dealing, but were able to get the players they wanted. Let me focus on the 7th round picks before getting into other players.
Kruger is a player I’ve talked about quite a bit. I think he will grow and develop into a good 5-tech DE. He has a great frame. He’s 6-6, 269 and I think he can carry 285 easily. He might even go up to 290 or 295. He is a solid athlete with some natural pass rush ability. The Eagles had a 4th round grade on him. I don’t know why he fell. I wonder if there were some maturity questions. Kruger left school early after having a solid, but un-spectacular year. And it isn’t like his family needed the money. Odd decision. If he stayed in school, he could have been a Top 100 pick next year.
Poyer is a player I have been high on since watching him at the Senior Bowl. He has great instincts and ball skills. His value took a tumble because of a terrible Combine. He has solid size at 6-0, 191, but only ran a 4.54. He did 8 reps, which is poor, even for a CB. The real red flag is a VJ of just 30.5 inches. That is one of the lowest figures for a CB in a decade. The lack of upper and lower body strength shows a lack of commitment to the weight room. Some CBs can get away with that. Poyer did in college, but won’t in the NFL. You can bet Chip and the sports science guys will be feeding him mega-smoothies and working him out left and right.
The game tape is good. Poyer was 2nd in the nation with 7 INTs this year. He had 13 in his career, to go along with 23 PDs. He lacks elite speed, but reads plays well and gets a good jump on the ball. He has the skills to start in the NFL. Now we need to see if he can develop the athleticism to go along with them.
DE David King is an odd player. He finished his career with 4.5 sacks. The guy lists at 6-5, 286, but NFLDraftScout has him at 6-4, 275. He started 18 games at OU, is a solid athlete, and made the Big 12 All Academic team. Size, athleticism, brains, and some experience. How the heck wasn’t he more productive? I put on the game tape and liked what I saw. What I need to do is study several games and try to find out why the guy wasn’t more of a force. Could be a good backup 5-tech DE.
They added several defensive linemen in the draft. That’s important when moving to the 3-4/hybrid stuff. You wonder now if Vinny Curry gets moved back over to OLB.
My favorite UDFAs so far are Maysonet, Knott, Quinn, and Wing.
Wing is a crazy Punter who had some very memorable moments for LSU. Solid athlete as well.
Knott must show he he can deal with blockers. Playmaker at ISU. Had 8 career picks, 10 FFs, and 0ver 300 tackles.
Quinn has a chance to win a roster spot.
Maysonet was ultra-productive. Ran for 4,725 yards and 48 TDs in his career. Averaged 6.8 yards per carry. That’s tremendous for such a workhorse.
I’ll post detailed reports on the players later.
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What does Barkley mean for the Eagles?
Howie Roseman loved him. Chip Kelly loved him. Too good to pass up. Kelly is saying to the world that I would rather have a gifted pocket passer than an okay QB with good athleticism.
I truly believe Kelly when he says that he will adapt his schemes to his players.
I’ll cover this subject at much greater length in other posts. One key here…Kelly really values competition. Vick, Folex, Barkley, and Dixon all have a chance to be the starting QB. It is up to them to win the job. I doubt Dixon will come close, but that is up to him. Kelly wants a good QB. He wants to score points. He doesn’t care who and how.
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Thanks for a great weekend. Lots of great questions, comments, and jokes.
I had a blast and hope you did too.