DeSean Update

Posted: April 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 213 Comments »

After going DeSean free for a day or two, he’s back in the news. The first item to discuss is a report from CBS Philly about Jackson and his relationship with players and coaches. The report didn’t paint a very flattering picture of Jackson.

But what a number of sources close to and around the team, including current and former players, as well as additional sources within the Eagles revealed was that Jackson was not very well liked by his teammates, was blatantly insubordinate, with temper tantrums cussing out Kelly several times in front of the team, pushed the NFL rookie coach the way “a child would test boundaries,” and was more concerned with his rap label than he was about winning football games.

If you aren’t a DeSean fan, you’re going to like the piece and say “That explains a lot.”

If you are a DeSean fan, you’ll have some questions about the article and what it has to say.

As a person in the middle, I can see both sides. The biggest issue I have is that you’ve got players ripping DeSean anonymously and doing this to someone named Joseph Santoloquito. No offense to Joseph, but I’ve never heard of him. The article was well written so I’m not questioning that side of things, but I don’t know what kind of relationship he has with players.

When Les Bowen, Jeff McLane or Tim McManus has a report that cites unnamed sources, I can accept that. I have met them. I know they have a strong track record. I know they talk to players and other sources year round and work hard to maintain relationships so that we can trust their reports.

The report might be 100 percent dead on the money, but I’d be lying if I said I was completely comfortable with it.

I do think the report has a lot of truth in it. I’ve heard that teammates weren’t fond of DeSean, and that might be putting it mildly. We know he was a handful for the coaches to deal with.

Some people take the angle that people don’t need to be best friends in order to win. That’s completely true, but it misses the mark in this case. Jackson had a variety of factors working against him. He didn’t have great work habits. He was late for meetings. He had a high price tag at a position where Kelly doesn’t seem to think you need to break the bank. I think Jackson’s pursuit of a rap career hurt him as well.

Think of it like this. The coaches weren’t happy with DeSean. Nor many teammates. Nor the salary cap people. Nor the PR/marketing people. Who exactly was going to fight for DeSean to stay?

Obviously he is still a talented player, but the coaches must feel that his production is replaceable. If not, they’d be the one group arguing for him to stick around. Even coaches have a breaking point when it comes to talent.

If this was just a case of Chip Kelly not liking him or one assistant not liking him or a couple of players…getting rid of DeSean would not make sense. If he truly aggravated that many people, getting rid of DeSean does make some sense. You still may not agree with it, but you might understand the move better.

My guess is that Chip Kelly tried to make the relationship work by giving DeSean a long leash. He’s certainly a talented enough player that you want to try to fix the situation. At a certain point you just realize that things aren’t going to work and you then prepare to move on.

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DeSean was interviewed by Stephen A. Smith tonight. I didn’t get to see the interview, but apparently it was a lot of softball questions and safe answers from DeSean.

Les Bowen wrote up a piece on the interview.

“The conversation I had with Chip Kelly was a deep, personal conversation,” Jackson said on the one-week anniversary of his release. “It was basically like, ‘we’re moving forward. I think it’s best for the team, I think it’s best for yourself.’ I was sittin’ there waiting for the reason why, but that’s basically all I can (recall) from the conversation, was ‘we’re moving forward. I think it’s best for us and I think it’s best for you … we’re going to go let you negotiate with 31 other teams.’ “

Jackson said Kelly “came back with the same reason” as he awaited further explanation. “That’s kind of where we left it. I got off the phone — I was like, ‘are you sure? That’s it?’ We hung up. That was it.”

DeSean is saying all the right things. I hope he learns from his mistakes with the Eagles. I hope he makes lots of highlight plays…all in Skins losses or wins over Dallas.

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Jake Knott tried to steal the spotlight tonight, but it didn’t work. The backup ILB was suspended for 4 games by the NFL. Jeff McLane has the details.

The Eagles announced that linebacker Jake Knott has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

Knott, who is entering his second season, is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.

“We’re very disappointed to learn of his suspension,” Eagles said in a statement. “We have spoken to Jake and he is fully aware of the mistake he made and owned it. The key for him, however, is to learn from that mistake and move forward with his preparation for the 2014 season.”

The 23-year-old Knott played in 12 games as a rookie, mostly on special teams. He was credited by the team with five special teams tackles and six on defense.

Knott released the following statement through the Eagles:

“Several weeks ago, I was shocked to learn that I tested positive for a stimulant that is banned by the NFL. I have never knowingly ingested a banned substance, but like most players, I take nutritional supplements.

Was this an innocent goof or was he hitting the roids? I don’t think of Knott as someone with an incredibly ripped body so I hope it was just a goof.

The Eagles like Knott, but this doesn’t help his situation. He’ll be fighting for a roster spot and the pressure is going to be on him to really stand out this summer.

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Some More WR Talk

Posted: April 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 173 Comments »

I’m going to be talking a lot about WR prospects in the coming days. I’ll have posts on most of the top guys. Why? The Eagles just made the DeSean move and WR is very topical. But it also happens to be the best position in the draft. Even with DeSean, I’d be talking a lot about WR prospects because there is a decent chance that could be the highest rated player on the board at some point in the draft.

Let me make this clear. I do not think the Eagles have to have to address WR in the 1st round. That’s “Do Not”. The team can go for whoever the highest rated player is. I do think the Eagles need to add a WR in one of the first 4 rounds.

Yesterday I wrote about Odell Beckham, because I think he could be a great fit. Today I am going to talk about some big WRs, Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Kelvin Benjamin of FSU.

The Eagles brought Evans in for a visit. My guess is that they are trying to decide just how much they like him. Evans could go in the Top 10 or he could slide down into the 15 range. I don’t see him going much beyond that. If Evans does slide, do the Eagles move up for him? His size and skills would seem to make him a player that Chip Kelly would have interest in.

I don’t think the Eagles would aggressively go after him, but if the price was reasonable, maybe they would move up for Evans.

I don’t like Benjamin very much. I’ll be highly disappointed if the Eagles draft him anywhere. I see him as a LB trying to play receiver. Worked great in college, but won’t in the NFL.

I posted my thoughts on the players over at ScoutsNotebook.

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I’ll write about other receivers and other prospects. You can ask about certain names, but I’m way behind schedule (thanks to moving) and I’ll get to prospects as fast as I can.

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Beckham

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 146 Comments »

WR Odell Beckham, Jr. could be the Eagles best choice at pick 22. He is a good fit for Chip Kelly’s offense and a very gifted, athletic prospect. He would also be good value in that range. I’d love for the Eagles to find some way to get Sammy Watkins from Clemson, but that’s just not happening. He should be a Top 5 pick and the Eagles aren’t likely to sell out to move up for him. Beckham is more of a 20 to 30 guy in terms of value.

Beckham is 5-11, 198. That’s not huge, but it is a good, solid build. He has the kind of strength and physicality that Kelly wants from his WRs. Beckham is a good blocker on runs and screen passes. He will engage defenders and work to sustain blocks. He’ll occasionally catch a DB off guard and “ear-hole” him.

Beckham isn’t a player that goes down on first contact. He is deceptively strong. You don’t see a huge guy, but tacklers do have to work to get him to the ground. He’s able to handle contact off the line of scrimmage and downfield. Beckham will work the middle of the field as a route runner and after the catch. He’s not shy about contact.

Kelly needs WRs that have good RAC skills and Beckham certainly is gifted in that area. He is elusive and has good vision. He has an excellent burst and good speed. Beckham ran a 4.43 at the Combine. That speed shows up on game tape. He’s not a guy like DeSean that can just outrun every defender, but Beckham beats most guys. His burst allows him to create some initial separation and makes him dangerous any time the ball is in his hands.

Beckham has good hands. He plucks the ball naturally. You will see him make some circus catches from time to time. He’s able to adjust to errant passes, especially on short throws. He can go down for the ball or reach up high. Beckham is very good on slant passes. He can reach out and snag the ball on the move. He has outstanding body control, which is a highly underrated key to being a good receiver.

LSU runs somewhat of a pro style offense and you see that in Beckham’s game. He runs good routes. So many WRs run mostly bubble screens and go routes. Beckham runs the full route tree. He makes crisp cuts and moves fluidly down the field. He also moves around the field. You see him in the slot and out wide. You see him right and left, short side and wide side. Beckham is comfortable in multiple roles.

Beckham was used as a runner and PR/KOR. He is a weapon with the ball in his hands and LSU wanted to take advantage of that. He had a pair of PR scores in 2012 and averaged 26 yards per KOR in 2013.

Beckham started 9 games as a Freshman and was a full time starter in 2012 and 2013. He finished his career with 143 receptions. 2013 was his best year. Beckham was 59-1152-8. That was good for 19.5 yards per catch, which shows you his big play ability.

Combine numbers:

40 – 4.43
BP – 7 reps
VJ – 38.5 inches
BJ – 10’2′
3C – 6.69
SS – 3.94

You may wonder about the 7 reps. Beckham has long arms (32 3/4). Doing bench reps for a WR with long arms is tough. By comparison, Brandin Cooks is 5-10, 189. His arms are 30 3/4 and he did 16 reps.

Beckham would fit right in with the Eagles. He could play the slot a lot and let Mac and Cooper focus on playing outside. Beckham could help as a RS right away. His RAC skills would make him effective on screens. Kelly talked about the importance of being able to beat man coverage in a recent interview. Beckham is a good athlete, but also can use his route-running skills to get some separation from DBs.

In terms of a pro comparison, he might remind you of Victor Cruz, minus the awful salsa dancing of course.

Some highlights for your viewing pleasure.

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What Kind of WR Will the Eagles Go For?

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 201 Comments »

The Eagles WR corps is going to look different in 2014. DeSean Jackson is gone. So is Jason Avant. There are no guarantees that Damaris Johnson will return. It is going to be very interesting to see how the team goes about rebuilding the receiving corps and what kinds of players they bring in.

Right now the WRs are:

STARTERS
Riley Cooper
Jeremy Maclin

BACKUPS
Arrelious Benn
Brad Smith

POSSIBLE BACKUPS
Damaris Johnson
Jeff Maehl

LONG SHOTS
B.J. Cunningham
Ifeanyi Momah
Will Murphy

You can argue that Darren Sproles should be included in this list. He will be lining up in the slot on a regular basis.

There is room for the Eagles to draft 1 or 2 WRs. Some will argue the team must go for one in the 1st round. I’m not on that bandwagon. I do think the Eagles need a WR early, but I think they can find good help in the 1st, 2nd or even 3rd round. This is a deep, talented class. There will be lots of choices.

If a WR is the best player at 22, they can go for him. If not, they don’t need to force the issue. The Eagles do have Cooper and Maclin coming back. The cupboard isn’t bare.

The thing I’m curious about is if Chip Kelly has a preference in his type of receiver. Will he go more for speed or size? DeSean was a smaller guy that thrived in Kelly’s offense,  but you can’t ignore the fact that Cooper, Benn, Smith and the others are either average sized or flat out big guys.

While there is always an argument to be made for speed, size has plenty of benefits as well. Bigger guys tend to be better blockers. They don’t need separation to be open. Bigger receivers can out-muscle DBs for the ball. Big receivers can be more effective in the Red Zone as well.

Denver didn’t have an elite speedster this year. Nor Green Bay. The Saints haven’t had a consistent vertical threat in a couple of years. You don’t need speed to throw the ball. It helps, but isn’t necessary. You can move the ball if you have big guys with okay speed or if you have WRs with excellent quickness.

We’re still learning about Kelly and I’m interested to see what he does. The one thing Kelly mentioned recently is that he wants someone that can beat man coverage. To many, this means speed. But that isn’t the case. You can beat man coverage with route-running, quickness and/or size. The key is to find someone that can consistently win using one of these methods.

I think one of the key traits Kelly will focus on is RAC ability. You need players who can catch short passes and then make something happen. This is where quickness and elusiveness can be just as important as speed. A fast receiver can run by players. Someone who is quick and elusive can catch the ball in traffic and then make guys miss. That’s critical with the amount of quick screens the Eagles throw to WRs. You need players who can turn nothing into something.

In the coming days, I’ll be talking about different prospects the Eagles could have interest in. Some will be big. Some fast. Others will be somewhere in-between. We’ll find out Kelly’s thinking about a month from now when the Eagles make some draft picks.

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Venting

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 324 Comments »

DeSean Jackson has signed with the Skins. No one is happy about that. Even people who have accepted the release of Jackson are frustrated to see him go to a division rival.

So vent here. Get it out of your system.

But don’t let it get personal when someone disagrees with you. We’re all Eagles fans. This has been one strange situation to follow. Some people are more understanding, while others are more emotional. A lot of that depends on how you felt about DeSean Jackson. As I wrote the other day, I’m not a typical fan. I don’t have favorite players. I don’t go buy jerseys. I’m more of a team guy.

Vent and get it out of your system.

We don’t need to get into the same petty arguments, post after post. If you’re mad at Howie, this is your spot. If you’re mad at Chip, this is your spot. And so on.

When I put up a post tomorrow on a WR prospect in the draft, please don’t go in there to bitch about the Eagles front office failing for getting no compensation. Please don’t rant about losing DeSean to a rival.

I’m not saying you can’t be critical of the Eagles in other posts. By all means do that. But the emotional stuff has got to go away so we can get back to having good discussions. Screaming about a situation isn’t going to change it. At some point you have to accept the situation. I didn’t say you had to like it, but you’ve got to accept it and move on.

Then we can get back to being critical of other moves and non-moves. Where is our new OLB? Where is a new PK? Where is my Funyuns smoothie???

So vent. Let it fly…