Wrapping Up

Posted: September 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

The Eagles play in a real live game on Sunday. Time really flies. Before we start talking about the Jaguars, I want to wrap up the offseason talk. I went back and re-watched the Jets game to see how the backups looked. We won’t be talking about some of these guys for a while, if at all, so let’s give them a final discussion.

Matt Barkley – Up and down game. My biggest issue with him isn’t arm strength. I think he throws the ball well enough to succeed in the NFL. Decision-making is an area where Barkley has a long way to go. Going back to his days at USC, he’s had an issue with wanting the big play. Great QBs will tell you to focus on moving the chains and the big plays will come. There were a couple of plays in the Jets game where Matt forced the ball to a covered receiver downfield when he had a checkdown target wide open. That’s just not smart football. Obviously you don’t want either extreme. You need a QB who will throw downfield and you need someone who will take chances and throw to covered receivers. But don’t do that if you’ve got someone wide open underneath who also has room to run. If the defense is just handing you 5 to 10 yards, take it. There were also a couple of plays where Barkley’s accuracy on short throws wasn’t good. Had one game management mistake. Failed to stop the clock late in the 1st half by spiking the ball. Then he was slow to call a timeout.

Barkley failed to take a big step forward this year and that is disappointing. That doesn’t mean he’s a bust and has no future. His arm was stronger this summer. He did make some good throws in the Jets game. He does seem more comfortable in the offense. Barkley is his own worst enemy. He is so desperate to look great that he focuses on more difficult plays. Be smart. Take what’s there and the offense will move up and down the field. The big plays will come in this offense. You don’t have to force them.

Henry Josey – One thing occurred to me as I watched him, Josey did a lot of straight-line running. The plays either went right up the field or were outside runs where he would start parallel to the LOS and then turn upfield as he got outside. We didn’t see much in the way of cutting. You can’t run straight against starting defenses. You must be able to make sharp cuts and move well laterally, especially at 5-8, 194. Does he fully trust his knee? It is possible the coaches studied the tape and saw something like this and that is part of the reason they didn’t even try to keep him on the PS.

Jeff Maehl – Good game. He used his size well a couple of times. Went up over a CB to make one catch on a downfield throw. Another time he ran an inside route and fought through contact to get open and make the grab. Damaris Johnson just couldn’t do that stuff. That’s part of the reason Kelly likes bigger receivers. We’re all frustrated that Maehl is back, but there is at least a case for him.

Ifeanyi Momah – Up and down game. 1 catch for 12 yds. That was a nice catch. Problem is that there are too many plays where he looks awkward. Sometimes this is route-running and other times it will be run plays where he is blocking and even on STs. Not a smooth, fluid athlete. Herky-jerky. I think that is part of the reason he’s not on the PS. You need players who can simulate opponents in practice. They need to run crisp routes. Momah is inconsistent. Has a hitch on his release that slows him down. Also is just too upright at times.

Will Murphy – Played in the slot most of the time. Had a couple of catches outside and got some RAC yards. He does run hard with the ball. Broke one arm tackle to get a 1st down. Hustled downfield on a KO and tripped up the returner at the 8-yard line. That was impressive. Tied for 3rd on the team in STs snaps (15). I still don’t like him on the PS.

Quron Pratt – Mostly a good game. One mistake. Slowed down (almost stopped) while running a route in the end zone and the ball was picked off. The throw as behind him, but Pratt slowed down before the ball was close. Caught 2 passes for 37 yards (22, 15). Had a chance for a long TD, but the DB held him and threw off the timing of the play. Drew a flag. Sold his fake well to get the DB to bite on the play. Lined up in the slot and outside. Made a dumb mistake late in the half. Caught a pass near the sideline (:17 left) and turned inside instead of going out of bounds. Needed to stop the clock. Trying to make something happen when he didn’t need to.

Trey Burton – I’ve written about him recently so I’ll keep it short despite the fact he had a good game. Caught the ball well, in traffic or while tightly covered. Showed some RAC ability. Athletic. Good effort as a blocker, but technique ranges from mediocre to awful. You can work with a player who gives effort. Technique takes time. Brent Celek wasn’t a good blocker until the last few years. Played a lot on STs.

GJ Kinne – Made one impressive throw, when he hit Burton for a TD. Burton was covered, but Kinne gave him a chance to make the grab and that’s just what Burton did.

Josh Andrews – Played LG and C. Has good feet. Does a good job of extending his arms and engaging the defender. Moves well laterally and is an active blocker. If no one is across from him, finds someone to block. Must get stronger. Doesn’t anchor as well as you’d like. Limited push at the LOS. Does a solid job when blocking on the second level.

Kevin Graf – Played LT and LG. Love his effort. Plays every down as if his life depends on it. Very limited athlete. Isn’t pretty when he pulls, but he will block someone. Had a couple of nice blocks on outside plays. I don’t know if he will ever be good enough to play in the league, but it won’t be from lack of effort. Does have NFL size and strength. Footwork and agility are the big issues.

David Molk – Has gotten better each game. Good athlete who loves to get in space and mash on DBs and LBs. Could prove to be a solid backup C for a long time. Excellent scheme fit. Smart player who uses angles and leverage to his advantage.

Dennis Kelly – There are times when you see Kelly get into his pass set and he looks so good. He’s got a wide base. He’s bending his knees. Kelly has a huge frame and looks like he’d be impossible to get by. And then you see him reach for a rusher. Ugh. Simply doesn’t do a good job of getting his hands on defenders. Had one play in the Jets game where he failed to read a stunt and the guy looping around went right by Kelly. He needs to see that. Mixed results when blocking on the move or at the second level. Potential is there, but you just feel like he should be better than he is.

Taylor Hart – Led the Eagles with 5 solo tackles. Had a TFL and FF. Active player who isn’t afraid of doing the dirty work. Good looking athlete at Oregon, but has been more physical and rugged than athletic in the preseason. Does show a great motor. Absolutely earned his spot on the roster this summer and looks like he could develop into a solid rotational DE.

Wade Keliikippi – Big guy with good feet. Can anchor vs the run, but isn’t great at it. Surprisingly effective when Eagles ran stunts/loops. Kelli moved well laterally and looked comfortable on the move. Could develop into a backup NT in time.

Beau Allen – Didn’t stand out as much this week as in previous games. Played both NT and DE. It was interesting to see him play DE.

Emmanuel Acho – Had 3 solo tackles. Broke up 1 pass that came right to him. Would have been a nice INT. Big issue with Acho is movements skills. Very straight line. Needs to move better laterally, so he can flow to the ball. Has to open his hips and run to the ball, which doesn’t work in tight spaces. Also doesn’t deal well with blockers. Needs to use his hands to pop blockers and keep them off his body. Instead looks like he’s slap-fighting with a friend in the pool. ILBs must be physical.

Marcus Smith – More of the same. Played the run well. Showed coverage ability. Pass rush was only so-so. Did have a couple of good moments. Was borderline held by a TE on a pass rush in the 2nd Qtr. Showed good burst on a rush in the 2nd half and got the best of the OT.

Bryan Braman – Looked good as a pass rusher. Got very low with his dip and beat the OT a couple of times. Quick off the ball. Had one sack.

Chris Maragos – Best showing on defense. When things are in front of him, does a good job of attacking downhill. Strong, physical tackler. Had 3 solo tackles in the game.

Ed Reynolds – Solid outing. Flashes potential, but just didn’t do enough to win a roster spot. Had 2 tackles. Came upfield aggressively on both plays. Had a chance for an INT. Read the play, a downfield pass, and got into proper position. Reached out to make the grab, but somehow the ball went through his hands and turned into a TD for the Jets. Would have helped himself by making that play.

* * * * *

After this, we’ll get back to talking about starting players and Sunday’s game.

Real football is only a few days away. Crazy.

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Practice Squad Complete

Posted: September 1st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 173 Comments »

The Eagles added 2 more players to the practice squad, filling out the 10-man unit. This will change quite a bit in the coming months. Players will be added to the roster or signed away by other teams. Or maybe a player comes available that the Eagles prefer to the guys they currently have. Expect changes.

The 2 players added were

WR/CB Teddy Williams
QB G.J. Kinne

Williams is a very interesting player. He has good size at 6-1, 207. He played for Dallas and Arizona previously. The Cardinals used him at WR in 2013, then moved him to CB this summer. Dallas tried him at both spots as well.

Why do that?

Williams mainly has a track background and is still learning how to play football. He was a 4-time track All-American at Texas-San Antonio.

The Tyler native not only finished his career as UTSA’s lone four-time All-American, but he also helped lead the Roadrunners to six Southland Conference Championships (four indoor/two outdoor) from 2007-10. Williams claimed nine Southland titles (five indoor/four outdoor), was twice named the league’s Indoor Athlete of the Year (2009-10) as well as Outdoor Outstanding Track Performer (2008, ’10) and established UTSA records in the 55m (6.23a), 60m (Southland-best 6.59), 100m (9.90w), 200m (20.60w) and 400m relay (39.59).

Williams played WR in high school and it is easier to learn that spot than CB so the fact he’s been moved to CB makes you wonder if he has bad hands. I’m sure Chip Kelly is fascinated by the size/speed combo that Williams offers.

While the Eagles are trying to develop him, there is another possibility. Williams could be a versatile practice player. In preparation for Dallas, he could be Dez Bryant. For the Skins, DeSean Jackson. For the Cardinals, Patrick Peterson. It is hard to simulate the speed and athleticism of some WRs/CBs with normal practice squad guys. Williams could help there.

Geoff Mosher offered an interesting nugget on why signing Williams took so long.

As for Kinne…Kelly adds a 4th QB to help in practice and an athletic guy who will help in other ways. Kinne isn’t your typical QB. He’ll do anything. Kelly had him doing STs stuff last summer.

It feels like the Eagles looked elsewhere and things didn’t work out so Kinne got the call. I can’t imagine any other reason the team would not have signed him on Sunday.

Kinne has practice squad value, but I would rather the Eagles have signed a player who had some QB potential. Kinne is a fun guy to root for, but he has yet to show the traits of an NFL QB.

The overall group looks like this:

C/G Josh Andrews
G/T Kevin Graf
WR Quron Pratt
WR Will Murphy
WR Teddy Williams
QB G.J. Kinne
RB Matthew Tucker

NT Wade Keliikipi
ILB Emmanuel Acho
S Ed Reynolds

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Sunday’s Moves Become Official

Posted: August 31st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 138 Comments »

The Eagles have added 8 players to the practice squad. There are 2 spots open. Since the Eagles made the first 8 signings officially known this afternoon, I’m guessing the final slots won’t be filled in the next few hours. Normally this is when the Eagles are talking to players who have multiple offers and who are trying to find the best situation, financially and otherwise.

Today’s additions to the practice squad

C/G Josh Andrews
G/T Kevin Graf
WR Quron Pratt
WR Will Murphy
RB Matthew Tucker

NT Wade Keliikipi
ILB Emmanuel Acho
S Ed Reynolds

No real surprises. Now for some thoughts on the players.

Andrews played mostly LG at Oregon State. He played a lot of C this summer and his value is in being able to handle both spots. Andrews needs to get bigger and stronger before he even thinks about going against staring competition. Solid athlete. Should be a good practice player.

Graf was a RT at USC, but played LT for the Eagles. Limited athlete, but a tough, competitive player who really battles on every snap. Smart player who uses angles to help him overcome his lack of quickness and agility. Graf played LG in the Jets game after the Tobin injury. I don’t know if he has an NFL future, but should be a good practice player.

Pratt had some good moments this summer. I’m not sure what his ceiling is. Good blocker and STs player, which the Eagles require from their WRs. Should be good practice player and might challenge for a reserve role in 2015.

Murphy. I get that Kelly likes the way Murphy practices. He must be the Jerry Rice of practice players. I don’t like seeing Murphy on the squad because I don’t think he’s got an NFL future and there seem to be lots of WRs out there with more talent. If this is Kelly’s one vice, I can deal with it. But I’m not a fan.

Why Tucker and not Josey? Tucker is a better blocker and STs player. He was here last year and knows the offense. I thought he had a real shot at the roster this year. Josey is a tough subject. I need to re-watch the Jets game before saying too much. There is no doubt that he lit up teams this preseason, but there are 2 key questions. First, how much of that was him vs the system and players around him? Second, could he have that kind of success against starting players? The Eagles obviously feel there are some issues with Josey and that is why he’s on the street.

Last year we all went nuts when the Eagles cut Emmanuel Acho and Chris McCoy. Those seemed like awful moves. The Eagles turned out to be right. You have to be very careful when judging preseason success.

I’m pretty sure the Eagles kept Kelikiipi just so I’d have to learn how to spell his name. Or maybe they just wanted to have another good 3-4 DL available. Kelikiipi can help in practice and he could become a good backup NT in the future.

Acho had a solid summer and was part of the Eagles last year. No brainer to keep him around.

Reynolds is a player that is tailor-made for the practice squad. He’s smart, tough and has the size/strength to play in the league. Reynolds isn’t special athletically. In order for him to succeed in the league, Reynolds has to anticipate plays. He needs to play fast based on his eyes rather than his legs. Practicing and going to meetings for a year will be a big help in him making the roster next year. Heck, he could be added at some point this year.

The Eagles like their starting Safeties, Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen. Earl Wolff had a good summer and should be a good #3 Safety. Chris Maragos played his best football in the preseason finale. He will be a good STer and can be effective on defense if needed. You don’t want Maragos starting, but that’s true of almost every team’s 4th Safety.

Reynolds is a 5th round pick. He’s not here to steal a starting job. The Eagles like him and think he can be a good player, but some people seem to have unrealistic expectations for him. Reynolds showed enough this summer to make you think he’s got an NFL future, but wasn’t so good you felt he had to be on the roster, let alone on the field. The practice squad is ideal for him. Let him develop.

Believe it or not, the Eagles like their Safeties. They might turn out to be wrong, but right now that’s not a position of concern for the team. I do think they were hoping that Reynolds, Keelan Johnson or another young player would play better this summer. Johnson was a major disappointment. As for Reynolds, I’m sure the team hoped he would play as well as Wolff did last summer, but that didn’t happen. Reynolds was okay, but nothing to write home about.

RB Kenjon Barner was put on IR.

* * * * *

About some former Eagles…

Josey was signed to the Jags PS. You wonder if that has anything to do with playing the Eagles next week.

Damion Square was claimed by the Chiefs.

Former OL Donald Hawkins is now with Dallas. OG Karim Barton made the Browns roster. Good for them.

Alejandro Villanueva is on the PS in Pittsburgh…as an OL. That’s interesting. Good for him.

* * * * *

Who will be the final 2 guys on the PS?

I hope they add a pass rusher for one spot. The other could be a DB or QB. Maybe a TE or WR. Lots of choices.

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Sunday Practice Squad Talk

Posted: August 31st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 125 Comments »

No Eagles moves announced yet. We do know that Damion Square was claimed by the Chiefs.

It doesn’t sound like G.J. Kinne will make the squad.

Beyond that, we’re still waiting.

I’ll post updates as they come along.

* * * * *

Eagles Practice Squad

C/G Josh Andrews
G/T Kevin Graf
WR Quron Pratt
WR Will Murphy
RB Matthew Tucker

NT Wade Keliikipi
ILB Emmanuel Acho
S Ed Reynolds

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More on the Roster Moves

Posted: August 31st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 147 Comments »

I’ve had some time to reflect on what the Eagles did. And many of you have questions. With that in mind, let me offer some additional thoughts on what happened today.

Is Cody Parkey the answer at PK? There were some veteran PKs cut in the last couple of days. The Eagles didn’t sign any of them to this point and I don’t expect them to. Parkey is a young guy with a strong leg. He showed on Thursday night that he can make long FGs in game situations and do well on kickoffs. Howie Roseman said today the Eagles followed Parkey while in college so this isn’t some random signing. This is a player they liked and STs coach Dave Fipp wanted to work with. My guess is that the Eagles stick with Parkey and see if they can develop him into a long term solution.

Could Michael Sam be of interest?  No. Sam is a lesser version of Brandon Graham. He needs to be a 4-3 DE. Sam doesn’t have the athleticism to be an OLB in the 3-4. The fact that he’s gay is completely irrelevant to whether the Eagles would have any interest.

Why did the Eagles keep Jeff Maehl?  I know more than a few of you think this is all about Oregon bias. Watch the Jets game. Maehl played well and that game and put himself in a position to make the team. If Arrelious Benn was healthy, I’d be upset with this move, but since he got hurt, I’m fine with it.

Maehl is the kind of WR that Kelly wants. He has some size. Maehl will block and is a solid STer. He can play in the slot or outside. Maehl has little to no upside and I understand some of the frustration with him making it, but I don’t think anyone else beat him out. Ed Reynolds was okay, but didn’t do enough that you felt you had to keep him. Damaris Johnson played his butt off, but he’s just not a good fit for Kelly’s offense. Johnson is an undersized guy with average speed. He can’t play outside. He’s not ideal in the slot. The fact he played RB in the preseason shows a great attitude, but he’s never going to be a RB in a real game. Johnson just doesn’t fit.

Who are some players that got cut that the Eagles might have interest in?

No slam dunks.

* WR Stephen Hill
* QB Tajh Boyd
* QB Jeff Tuel
* OL Vinston Painter
* LB Jake Bequette
* LB Adrian Hubbard
* CB Terrance Mitchell

Hill is big at 6-4, 215. Former 2nd round pick who struggled with the Jets. Lots of potential, but needs a lot of work.

Boyd failed to do much this summer and might not be of any interest, but if Kelly wants a young QB to throw on the practice squad, Boyd would make some sense.

Tuel is physically gifted, but needs a lot of work. Played at Washington State so Kelly knows him and what he can do. I like Tuel quite a bit as a developmental prospect.

Painter is a very athletic blocker and the Eagles value OL with that kind of ability.

Bequette is 6-4, 265 or so. Played DE at Arkansas, but would be a 3-4 OLB for the Eagles. I liked him quite a bit in college. Haven’t followed him much in the NFL.

Hubbard is a player the Eagles showed interest in this year in the pre-draft process. He is 6-6 and has very long arms. Not an explosive rusher. Would be better suited as the Jack LB.

Mitchell is a former Oregon player that I was high on heading into the draft. Tough and physical. Just lacks ideal speed.

I set ILBs apart all on their own. The Eagles are reportedly really looking hard for ILB help. First up are some veterans the team could go after to replace Casey Matthews right now.

* ILB Moise Fokou
* ILB Kelvin Sheppard
* ILB Pat Angerer

Fokou is a former Eagle that can play ILB or OLB. Also solid on STs. Sheppard was a mid-round pick by the Bills a few years back. He was awful while playing MLB for them. I think he would be better suited to 3-4 OLB since he wouldn’t have to cover as much ground. Angerer is small and has been hurt. That’s not an ideal combination, but he was pretty darn good a few years back.

Now for some young guys that might be better suited to the practice squad.

* ILB Shayne Skov
* ILB Korey Toomer
* ILB Andrew Wilson
* ILB Max Bullough
* ILB Chris Young
* ILB Steve Beauharnais
* ILB D.J. Smith
* ILB Andrew Jackson

I have not had a chance to study this group as NFL players so I don’t have a strong opinion on them.

It will be interesting to see if the Eagles make a move at ILB, or anywhere else. I get the feeling that Kelly and Roseman like this roster quite a bit. They won’t make a move unless they feel strongly about a player or position.

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