Anthony Barr to 22?

Posted: April 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 13 Comments »

I keep saying that there is no way LB Anthony Barr falls to 22, but there are some who believe he could be in for a slide like that. Why would he slide? Is he really that good of a player? Some of you are excited by him possibly falling, while others want to know if he’s a guy the Eagles should still be interested in.

I like Anthony Barr. A lot. Let’s start with the numbers.

6-5, 255
arm – 33 1/2
hand – 9 3/8
40 – 4.66
BP – 15 reps
VJ – 34.5
BJ – 119 inches
3-cone – 6.82
SS – 4.19

2012 – 21.5 TFLs (13.5 sacks)…5 pass deflections…4 FFs…1 blocked kick

2013 – 20 TFLs (10 sacks)…1 pass deflection…5 FFs…

As you can see, Barr is a gifted athlete and a productive player on the field.

Barr played RB for his first couple of seasons at UCLA. He is the son of former Eagles RB Tony Brooks. While Brooks didn’t have much of an NFL career, those are still good bloodlines to come from. I’m sure Barr wanted to be a RB like his dad. Coach Jim Mora had the wisdom to move Barr to OLB in 2012 and the rest is history.

One concern with Barr is his offensive background. Does he have the right mentality for defense? People watch his game tape and don’t see a player that tries to physically dominate on every snap. That turns off some coaches and scouts. Barr isn’t the kind of player who will just take over a game. If you watch Khalil Mack vs Ohio State, you see a guy who put his team on his back and did everything he could in that game. Barr isn’t that same kind of guy.

I do wonder if coaching and scheme isn’t partially a factor. Watch Barr play and you’ll see him play under control most of the time. Watch Dee Ford for contrast. On most snaps, Ford flies off the edge, semi-out of control. Barr picks and chooses the spots where he’s going to really fly off the edge. You wonder if some of this was by design. With the read option and mobile QBs being so prevalent these days, Barr might have been told to slow down, read plays and keep things to the inside.

When you do see Barr fly off the edge, he is really hard to block. He gave OTs fits with his speed and explosion. You would think he could do this play after play if he wanted or the coaches told him to.

One of the reasons I like Barr so much is that he can bend and turn. Many DEs/LBs have a quick first step. They can get off the ball and up the field in a hurry. Special players can get low to get under the block of the OT and then turn to the inside to get to the QB. Even though Barr is 6-5, he does this well. That translates to the NFL.

I also love the fact that he has 9 FFs in 2 years. Strip-sacks are impact plays. Getting to the QB is one thing. Getting there and knocking the ball out is ideal. That generally means the rusher is catching the QB by surprise and the ball is still exposed. This is another part of Barr’s game that bodes well for NFL success.

Barr isn’t a great run defender. He needs to learn to use his hands better. Barr tends to do things with his shoulder. That’s the natural instinct, but it has to be coached out of him. You want defenders to engage blockers with their hands. You don’t want blockers getting into the defender’s body. There  needs to be separation so that the defender can disengage from the block and get in on the play.

People who don’t like Barr will see him as a finesse player. I see a guy who needs coaching. I don’t see a player who avoids contact. Barr simply needs to work on how to take on blockers and then shed them.

Barr would be an ideal fit for the Eagles. He has the size that Chip Kelly covets. Barr would be perfect to slide in at ROLB. He has the kind of explosive athleticism that would help him to beat LTs on a consistent basis. If something happened to Connor Barwin, the Eagles could slide Barr to LOLB and play him opposite of Trent Cole. Barr is big enough and athletic enough for the left side.

The Eagles could move him around if they wanted. Barr can line up over a slot receiver. He can line up as an ILB and rush up the middle or twist to the outside. He can drop back into coverage. Barr is a gifted pass rusher, but he’s athletic enough to play in space and do a solid job on those plays when you want to mix things up to confuse the opposing offense.

You can bet that Jerry Azzinaro and Bill McGovern would have a lot of work to do. They would have Barr hitting the sled every day and working on his hand use. They would drill into him how they wanted him to take on blocks. The raw potential is there, Barr simply needs work.

I will be shocked if Barr slides to 22. I just can’t see that happening. I sure hope it does. The Eagles better run to the podium in record time if he’s there. Barr is the kind of LB who can make plays in the NFL. The Eagles need an impact rusher and Barr could be that guy.

You see impact plays vs Oregon.

Here he is against Stanford. This isn’t an ideal matchup for Barr because he’s more pass rusher than run defender, but he still impacts the game.

I would be ecstatic if the Eagles could get Barr at 22.

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2014 Schedule

Posted: April 23rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 71 Comments »

The schedule is out tonight. Some of you get really fired up for this. I’m a bit more ambivalent, but it is fun to take a look and see who the Eagles play and when they play them.

Here goes…

The game that jumps out…Thanksgiving at Dallas. I don’t know what to make of that game. My family aren’t very big football fans. Normally we eat a lot and goof off. I get them to watch a few minutes of football, but not much. This year is going to be very different. It will be kinda fun to play on Thanksgiving. There is something cool about playing on that day.

There are 4 primetime games:

Week 2 – at IND – MNF

Week 6 – NYG – SNF

Week 10 – CAR – MNF

Week 15 – DAL – SNF

It is interesting that 3 of them are at home. I’m not sure if that is good or bad.

I can’t say opening the season with JAX is compelling, but that should be a favorable matchup for the Eagles.

My biggest complaint is playing Dallas twice in the span of 3 weeks. That’s too good a rivalry to treat it like that.

The Eagles close out the season with 3 straight division games. Based on recent years, that could very well decide the division title. The NFC East race tends to be pretty close.

Do you guys love or hate the schedule?

Any games really grab your attention?

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Azz Men

Posted: April 23rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 35 Comments »

DL coach Jerry Azzinaro has been at several Pro Days this spring. Let’s take a look at who he has been looking at.

Jay Bromley from Syracuse. DT who would be DE/NT for the Eagles.

Kareem Martin from UNC. DE who would need to bulk up 10 pounds to play DE for the Eagles. Could also possibly switch to LB, but the fact the Eagles sent Azz to work him out shows more interest as a DE.

Shamar Stephen from UConn. DT who would be DE/NT for the Eagles. Caught my eye at the Senior Bowl.

We don’t know for a fact that Azz was the guy who worked out Kyrhi Thornton, but he probably was. He is a good DE candidate so that’s a guy you send the DL coach to check out, not just an area scout.

Coach Azz might have been at more spots. We’re learning more every day. You can see the Eagles are not focusing on big NT types, but rather tweeners that could play DE or NT. Martin is the one exception. He is a DE/OLB player. No NT in his future.

The Eagles did bring DE Taylor Hart to Philly. He had a foot issue so I’m sure that visit was more medical than anything else. Here is Hart vs Tennessee. And remember that Jeff Stoutland went to the UT Pro Day to work out their 4 OL prospects.

Here is the full list of workouts and visits info.


Is the Size Issue an Issue?

Posted: April 22nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 64 Comments »

We’ve talked quite a bit about how Chip Kelly prefers big players. This has led a few of you to wonder if he focuses too much on size and it that could hurt the Eagles in their search for players.

I do think it is fair to wonder if Kelly is too pro-size. I don’t think it has been a problem to this point, but it is a question worth considering.

Here is why I don’t think it has been a problem so far…Kelly has focused more on performance than size. The size can get you a chance to show what you can do, but you have to play well. Last spring we were all fascinated with WR Ifeanyi Momah. He was humongous and the idea of a WR with his kind of rare size had us all excited to see what he could do.

Nothing. Momah did nothing.

The Eagles cut him. He didn’t get a spot on the practice squad. Kelly saw that Momah was a failed project and let him go. The team added him this January,  which is fine with me. Momah had been out of football a while last year. To say he was a little rusty would be like calling the sun kinda warm. Momah now knows what an NFL training camp is like. The rust will be gone or Momah will be gone. He is a glorified camp body at this point. I have no problem with Chip using a roster spot like that on a guy with rare size.

Think about Clifton Geathers. The Eagles were excited to see what he could do. Geathers was huge for a DE. Geathers earned a roster spot, but never played at a consistent level during the season. He had some good moments, but failed to show enough. He left the team as a free agent this offseason. Geathers didn’t get big money. The Eagles could have easily kept him if they wanted.

Kelly wanted Momah and Geathers because of their size, but never let that mean more than the game tape.

The upcoming draft will give us another chance to see how Kelly factors size into his decisions. I don’t think he has made any bad picks or signings due to size so far. That could change. If he passes on Marqise Lee, Odell Beckham or Brandin Cooks for Kelvin Benjamin, I’ll go nuts. If Kelly passes on Jeremiah Attaochu or Marcus Smith for Trent Murphy, I’ll personally lead the attack on the NovaCare Complex. Pitchforks, pudding and PBR!!!

One thing that is hard to factor in is scheme fit vs personal preference. Aaron Donald is the best DT in this class, but he is a pure 4-3 player. He’ll be long gone by 22, but he’s the kind of guy the Eagles would pass on because of scheme. Not every small player that gets passed over will be due to Kelly’s preference. We’ll have to see what happens and then figure out why players were picked or passed on.

So far I think Kelly has been reasonable with his desire for bigger players. We’ll see if that continues or if it does become an issue.

* * * * *

The schedule will be announced Wednesday night at 8pm. That’s kinda cool, but not something I go nuts over. You can’t judge teams until right before you play them. Do you think anyone was looking forward to a game vs the Texans last April? They sure were by November.

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Here is the link to the new H2H show. That is 1 hour and 20 minutes of me and Jimmy Bama discussing the Eagles, the draft and my Sesame Street blanket. Fun for the whole family.

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Unlucky Losers

Posted: April 22nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 119 Comments »

Many of you love numbers. Chase Stuart over at Football Perspective is one of the best people at using numbers to evaluate teams and players in a historical perspective. He just put out an interesting piece called “The Least/Most Lucky Teams When It Comes To Rings“. This one is going to hurt, both ways.

The top row indicates that the Eagles had a 6% chance of no titles since 1950 and a 12% chance of no titles since 1970. Philadelphia has 2.4 expected titles since 1950, 1.93 of which come since 1970. In reality, the Eagles have won 1.4 fewer titles than expected over the last 64 years, and 1.93 fewer than expected since the merger.

Most Unlikely Loser since the Merger: Philadelphia Eagles
Despite leading the league in DVOA or estimated DVOA four times (1980, 1981, 2001, and 2008), and racking up 1.93 hypothetical Super Bowl wins, the Eagles have nothing to show for it. Philadelphia’s lead in this category is large in part because the Vikings’ 1969 season doesn’t qualify. Even if we include the entire Super Bowl era, however, the Eagles have the highest expected number of Lombardi trophies without actually owning any silverware. They have just a 12% chance of being without a Super Bowl title as of 2014.

Ugh. And then…

Most Unlikely Winner since the Merger: New York Giants
This one is kind of amazing. The Giants have just 0.95 expected Super Bowl wins, but have 4 actual ones. When looking at New York’s DVOA ratings and playoff seedings, there was a 35% chance of no rings for Big Blue. The Giants led the league in DVOA just once since the merger (1990) and only one more time (1959) overall. New York is held out of the top spot overall by their five championship game losses between 1950 and 1966. Despite all those losses, the Giants’ recent good fortune makes them #3 in titles above expectation going back to 1950.

This will change someday.

Right?

* * * * *

The Eagles had OL coach Jeff Stoutland at Clemson’s Pro Day to work out T/G Brandon Thomas and G Tyler Shatley. Unfortunately, Thomas later tore his ACL while working out on another occasion for the Saints. He was probably going to be a 3rd to 4th round pick. The Eagles could now get Thomas at the bottom of the draft, if interested, and redshirt him for 2014.

Stoutland spent a lot of time covering stunts and blitzes with the players. He wasn’t just checking out movement skills, but rather how they followed instructions and if they were quick learners. A lot of coaches do generic movement drills in the workout sessions, focusing on just athletic ability.

Here is Gil Brandt’s Pro Day bit on the players.

Tyler Shatley, G: Shatley (6-3 1/4, 300 pounds) has 31 3/4-inch arms and is a very strong player, putting up 40 reps in the bench press. He ran the 40 in 5.17 and 5.21 seconds and had a 30 1/2-inch vertical and a 9-foot, 2-inch broad jump. He ran the short shuttle in 4.66 and the 3-cone drill in 7.95 seconds. He’s probably a third-day pick or a priority free agent.

Brandon Thomas, OT: Thomas (6-3 5/8, 318 pounds) impressed a lot of people with a good workout. He had an 8-foot, 3-inch broad jump, a 4.75 short shuttle and a 7.83 3-cone drill. He has very long arms, at 34 1/2 inches. I think he’ll be a third-day draft pick.

* * * * *

Check out CB Phillip Gaines of Rice. This kid had a great workout at the Combine and his Pro Day. From Brandt

Phillip Gaines, CB (6-foot-0 1/8, 191 pounds) — Gaines, who has 31 1/8-inch arms, ran really good at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis (he had the second-fastest 40-yard dash time among cornerbacks at 4.38 seconds). On a windy day in Houston for Rice’s pro day and on a new turf surface, Gaines only ran the 60-yard long shuttle (11.24 seconds). Gaines surprised everybody with his speed and quality of his overall pro-day workout; performing beyond expectations, due to his speed, ability to cover and backpedaling ability. Gaines is everything teams look for in a defensive back, and he will likely be a mid-second- to mid-third-round draft choice.

Put on the game tape and you see a CB that likes to press and has very good athletic ability. Some guys test well, but it doesn’t show up on the field. Gaines does both.

Gaines broke up 18 passes in 2012. He only broke up 9 in 2013, but picked off 4 passes and added 6 TFLs. He is a productive player as well as talented. Really interesting prospect. Not sure if the Eagles are interested, but sure seems they should be.

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