Posted: August 26th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 146 Comments »
The battle for the Keystone State is complete. The heroic Eagles defeated the evil Steelers. Men, women, children, puppies and baby unicorns can now all rest easy and go about living their lives. There is no reason to worry, for at least the next 360 or so days.
That final score is deceptive. If not for a tough holding call on a WR, the game would have been 38-7 at one point. The Eagles dominated the game. Part of that is on them for playing well, but we can’t ignore the fact that the Steelers were dreadful. I mean truly awful. It was shocking to see them play so poorly, August or not.
* Is it me or does there seem to be more outside running this summer? The Eagles have used a toss play several times with McCoy.
* One read-option play worked very well in the late 2nd Qtr. Polamalu and OLB both focused on Foles. Sproles took the handoff and went up the field for 14 easy yards.
* The offense moved at a rapid pace. There was a good flow and the starters played their best football of the preseason.
FOLES - Up and down early on. Failed to connect with Matthews on opening drive. Looked like a poor throw. Made a good throw to Coop over the middle on 3rd/long, but the ball was dropped. Had some pressure, but stayed focused downfield and handled the situation very well. Handled pressure well on another play. Got hit by 2 guys, but made a good throw to Maclin on a skinny post. Incomplete, but good throw in tight coverage. Tried to hit Celek on corner route, but the throw was a bit off. Was a tough one because Celek was close to the sideline. Sold fake well, then hit Shady with screen pass that went for 27-yd TD. Made a very good throw to Coop in the end zone in the late 1st. OPI was called, but still impressive to see Coop and Foles almost connect on that play. Hit Ertz for gain of 12 on 3rd/8 to open the 2nd Qtr. Just missed hitting Sproles for a TD late in the half. The ball was too far out in front by a foot or so. A bit more air and that’s a score. 19-29-179. TD. INT. Looked his best of the preseason. Still isn’t in midseason form, but I thought he handled pressure better than the last 2 weeks and he seemed to play faster as well.
SANCHEZ - Another strong showing. 7-9-85. Led 2 TD drives, both against PIT starters in the 3rd Qtr. Had one goofy moment in the early 3rd. Team was in the RZ. Sanchez dropped back. Couldn’t find anyone open. While trying to move around, tripped himself and gave the Steelers a sack. PIT was called for holding on the play so it wiped out the sack. Also helps to explain why no one was open. Threw the ball well. Made good decisions. Wasn’t just feeding Ertz and Matthews. Hit Damaris Johnson for a couple of nice plays. Has that same look that AJ Feeley did later in his career. Might be a backup, but carries himself with the confidence and presence of a starter.
BARKLEY - Didn’t play much. I think Kelly was saving Matt for the preseason finale, when he’ll play most of the game. Barkley went 4-4-37. Didn’t make any impressive throws. Had a TD pass wiped out by penalty. Also had a near interception wiped out by penalty. Tried to hit WR on an out route and the ball took too long to get there. CB undercut it and made the pick. That is the one throw Barkley will really struggle to make in the NFL. Can’t drive the ball.
KINNE - WRs and RBs must hate when he comes in. There will be lots of running plays and Kinne will keep the ball half the time. Hasn’t shown any real progress from last year. Disappointing. I was hoping Kinne would look more like an NFL QB. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 26th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 123 Comments »
Arguably the hottest topic in the NFL for the past 24 hours has been what the Rams will do at QB. They lost Sam Bradford for the year to an ACL injury. The Rams have a potential playoff team, but Shaun Hill is the best QB on the roster for now. What will they do?
The most talked about solution to the Rams QB problem is for them to trade for Mark Sanchez. He is playing great football right now. Sanchez is a proven starter who has won playoff games. While Sanchez is no longer seen as a franchise QB, he’s definitely desirable in this situation.
There are some issues to consider, for both teams.
Let’s start with the Rams. Just how bad do they want to compete this season? They’re in a division with the Niners and Seahawks. That means they would need a miracle to even have a shot at the division crown. More than likely, they would be competing for a wildcard spot. In my mind, this should limit how aggressive the Rams are in seeking a QB. Don’t mortgage the future for a temporary solution to a problem where you still might not get maximum results.
The Eagles like Mark Sanchez a lot. Chip Kelly is a believer that you must have 2 good QBs ready to play. That is especially true when you have the best team in your division and enough talent to be among the best teams in the league. The only way the Eagles can consider dealing a valuable backup QB is if there is an offer that is too good to pass up.
What would that be? Would the Rams pay that price?
I don’t think I would make the deal for anything less than a 3rd round pick. You start by asking for a 2nd, but I just can’t see the Rams as likely to pay that price. You could settle for a 4th, but that player would be out of the Top 100 picks and I’m not sure that’s good value considering the situation.
The other consideration to factor in is what the Eagles do at backup QB if they do deal Sanchez. Is Matt Barkley ready for that role? I’m not sure we’ll have a strong feel for that until the Jets game, when Barkley will play most of the game. The Eagles could try to sign Kyle Orton to be in the mix. They could see if the Raiders cut Trent Edwards. Dennis Dixon was just cut by the Bills. He looks shot to me but Kelly might disagree. Maybe there is another player the Eagles have interest in.
I do not think GJ Kinne is ready to be the #3 QB. I just haven’t seen much progress from him this year.
The Eagles could go with Foles and Barkley and just use Brad Smith as the emergency QB. That would free up a roster spot for some other position. I doubt Kelly would do that. He seems like the kind of coach who wants 3 QBs on his roster.
All in all, I don’t see a deal as likely to happen. The Eagles won’t want to give up Sanchez cheap. I doubt the Rams will overpay for a QB.
* * * * *
Right now Jeff Fisher is saying the Rams are going to take it slow.
“You know what I like is, ‘According to sources close to the situation, we’re da da da da da,’” Fisher said. “I love that, okay. So no, we have not had any conversations with anybody. It’s the old source deal, you can just throw that out there. There’s a lot of players out there that are under contract and so you can’t discuss those things. But we’ve not had any discussions with anybody. Again, we’re going to be patient with this. There’s probably a couple quarterbacks let go at 75. There will probably be some let go at the 53 and, like I said, there may be somebody, a club, we may have a trade partner out there. We don’t know. But we’re not initiating anything right now.”
We’ll see if the Rams decide to make an aggressive move. If so, do they call the Eagles?
We’ll see how Barkley plays on Thursday night. That could affect the Eagles willingness to deal or not to deal.
Posted: August 24th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 193 Comments »
Alex Henery is a hot topic, but for all the wrong reasons. In a summer where a lot of questions are getting positive answers, the Eagles kicking situation isn’t one of them. Henery missed a FG against the Pats. This week he missed a chip shot. What’s next?
The problem is that there isn’t an easy solution to this problem.
Some of you wonder why Chip Kelly didn’t address this in March. Why did a very smart coach keep Henery around? I don’t know the answer. It is obvious that Kelly and STs coach Dave Fipp must feel that Henery can be a good kicker. If they didn’t see the potential, they’d have made a move. Maybe Alex talked to them about making technique changes and everyone felt that would help him. Or maybe Henery has nude photos of Kelly and Fipp in a hot tub with the Kardashians.
My assumption, based on Kelly’s love of logic, is that they felt Henery was worth keeping because his flaws could be worked on. His kickoffs do seem better to me this summer. But now we’ve got the missed FGs. Ugh.
I do think Kelly, Fipp and Howie Roseman erred in not bringing in better competition. Carey Spear made for a good story for about a week, but he wasn’t a great kicker in college. He’s been bad in the NFL. He hasn’t challenged Henery at all.
But that is spilled milk. We need to focus on the problem and how to solve it or deal with it.
Cody Parkey is a total mystery. He will have a week to show what he can do. Then he’ll get some chances in the Jets game, but who knows how many that will be. A couple of kickoffs? You wonder if Kelly would be willing to intentionally stall drives at the 25-yard line so he could get live reps for Henery and Parkey. Am I insane for even thinking that?
Are there outside options?
First…let’s get one thing clear. We don’t want to cut Alex Henery as some kind of punishment. You have to let go of emotions and frustration. Anyone who says “Cut him. Anybody else would be an improvement” is speaking from the heart, but not the brain. We’re all frustrated, but the worst thing the Eagles could do would be to just cut Henery for the heck of it. There are worse kickers out there.
The whole point here is to see if there is a way to improve the situation.
Jimmy Bama wrote about a possible solution the other day. That would be Dustin Hopkins of the Bills.
That would leave second year kicker Dustin Hopkins on the outside looking in. Hopkins was drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 draft, and he beat out Rian Lindell for the starting job after a perfect (six for six) preseason. Unfortunately, Hopkins injured his groin, the Bills signed Carpenter, Hopkins was placed on IR, and has still yet to kick in the regular season.
In terms of leg strength, Hopkins is everything Henery is not. In his final season at Florida State, Hopkins hit five of six field goal attempts from outside 50 yards. For his college career, he was nine of 15.
Hopkins is also considered a weapon on kickoffs. In the Bills’ first preseason game against the Giants, Hopkins produced touchbacks on all four of his kickoffs.
Will Hopkins be available? Per a Buffalo reporter, here is his roster situation.
Dustin Hopkins: Do the Bills really need a kickoff specialist? Hopkins’ job depends on it. He had touchbacks on four of his six kickoffs in the first two preseason games before a groin injury sidelined him last weekend. If Hopkins is healthy enough to kick Saturday, it might be his last chance to make his case as the kickoff man. Most teams only carry one kicker, andDan Carpenter has proven capable enough on kickoffs.
Hopkins did play against Tampa. He had 3 kickoffs. One went for a touchback.
Can he be trusted to make field goals?
Elliot Shorr-Parks wrote about other candidates. As he put it, it’s not pretty.
Even though he is 36-years old, Bironas would certainly qualify as a “win-now” kicker. Bironas went 25 of 29 last season with the Tennessee Titans, including two of three from beyond 50 yards. Bironas does have some playoff experience, but he has gone three of five in two playoff appearances — including one miss in a 13-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens when he was with Tennessee.
Akers is not the same kicker he used to be during his long stint in Philadelphia from 1999-2010, but he did knock in all three of his attempts from 50-plus yards last season with Detroit. Akers’ accuracy from that deep is impressive, but he forced less touchbacks than Henery did last season, which is one of the Eagles’ main problem with their current kicker. A reunion would be a nice story, however.
Lindell has the strongest leg among these free agent options. The 37-year old hit four of his six attempts from 50-plus yards last season. Lindell did have his accuracy issues, however, missing four kicks between 30 to 49 yards.
Forget about Akers. He is done as a kicker. I love the guy, but Henery is the better PK right now.
I’m fine with bringing in Bironas. Have him, Henery and anyone else have a kicking competition at The Linc. Go with the guy who wins it.
I am fine with the Eagles taking a chance on a young guy like Hopkins or a vet like Bironas if they feel those guys will legitimately be better than Henery. If not, we may have to wait for the offseason.
You don’t just get rid of Henery. You need someone that can do a better job to replace him.
Any other names out there that you guys have dug up?
Posted: August 23rd, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 76 Comments »
You guys had some questions. Let me offer some answers.
Is Alejandro Villanueva practice squad material? No. I’d be shocked if that happened. He made for a great story and it was fun to see him have some success, but he doesn’t project as someone that will ever play in the league and he’s not such a good practice player that you want to keep him around for that.
Think of him as the DL version of Momah. Let him work out this offseason and come back next summer to see if he can take a big step forward. There is a bit of a difference. Momah had somewhat of a WR background. DL is very new to Villanueva. He can train all he wants, but I don’t know that he’ll ever develop DL skills. You really need a game setting for that.
Jake Knott’s future? I wondered if the Eagles might be cutting him with the intention of re-signing him in a week or so. Then I saw this.
That gives off the vibe that he’s gone.
If the Eagles intended to bring him back, you would think they would explain that to him and Jake would just know this cut is a formality. The reason you cut him now is that he is hurt and wouldn’t play this week. He’s got a 4-game suspension in front of him. It is unlikely anyone will pick him up.
The Eagles would re-sign him before the season. Jake would not count against the roster while suspended. That would give the team 4 weeks to figure out if they wanted to keep him or not.
I know the coaches liked him a lot last summer, but Jake is a bottom of the roster guy. They can’t afford to be complicated. Someone that is hurt and has a suspension is probably way too complicated for the team to want to keep around. The sad thing for Knott is that he can’t start serving the suspension until someone signs him.
Should we worry about all the Oregon guys on the roster? No. None of the guys has been forced into the starting lineup. No one is getting overpaid. Several will be cut next weekend. When Kelly puts Josh Kaddu into the lineup over DeMeco Ryans or plays Jeff Maehl over Jordan Matthews, then we’ll have an issue. These guys fit the schemes. They were drafted or signed for the right price. They are being used correctly. Why does it matter if they came from Oregon or Nebraska?
If this was Steve Spurrier forcing Danny Wuerffel on us…that would be a whole other story.
Kruger to the practice squad? I’d like to see it, but don’t hold your breath. The fact they cut Joe this early isn’t a good sign. Makes me think they don’t see him as a fit in the 3-4.
Could any of today’s cuts make the practice squad? Sure. Here is the most likely group for me.
WR B.J. Cunningham
DE Frances Mays
What’s up with Bryan Braman? The Eagles love him as a STer. I think they are curious about him as a LB. He is a gifted athlete that can fly around the field. I don’t know if he’s good enough you want him on the field or if he’s a guy you mix in when you are desperate to give the starters some rest. I think we’ll see a lot of him against the Jets.
Posted: August 23rd, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 145 Comments »
This time of the year is exciting. Young players are stepping up. Some unknowns are becoming known. The regular season is right around the corner and everyone is ready for football.
But this is also a sad time of year.
More than a few dreams will end, or be put on hold, in the next 10 days. Sometimes we forget these are real people that are living their lives out right in front of us. Getting fired is never easy. Imagine if it was from a dream job and you knew the general public would be discussing it for several days? Yikes.
I hope the players who do get cut find some way to keep their dream alive. Another team. Another league. Working out and waiting for another summer of hope. Or maybe making the transition to coaching. Good luck to all.
With that said, let’s talk about cuts. The Eagles have to get down to 75 by August 26. It sounds like some cuts will happen today. I’ll take a stab at the first 15 cuts.
WR B.J. Cunningham
WR Kadron Boone
WR Will Murphy
TE Blake Annen
OG Karim Barton
OG Michael Bamiro
OT Donald Hawkins
QB G.J. Kinne
DE Alejandro Villanueva
DE Frances Mays
NT Wade Kelikiipi
LB Josh Kaddu
DB Davon Morgan
S Daytowian Lowe
PK Carey Spear
These are not necessarily the 15 worst players. There are 2 things to keep in mind. A guy like Cunningham might be getting cut to give him a better chance to catch on with another team. He’s been with the Eagles for a couple of years and they may be trying to help him out.
The other consideration is the Jets game. Starters don’t play in the preseason finale. That means you need backups who can handle all those snaps. I’d rather keep a guy like Frances Mays than Emil Igwenagu because I’ve seen Iggy play and I know what he can do. I’d love to see Mays get one final set of snaps. But the Eagles need 2 or 3 TEs to get through the game. I’m guessing Ertz sits so that means James Casey, Trey Burton and Iggy will stick around.
We’ll see what happens.
The Eagles only made 14 cuts. I was off on a few who did get cut.
DE Joe Kruger
ILB Jake Knott
TE Emil Igwenagu
Here are the guys staying that I had going.
QB G.J. Kinne
WR Will Murphy
NT Wade Kelikiipi
LB Josh Kaddu
Let’s talk about the most surprising cut…DE Joe Kruger. We had a long discussion about him the other day. Many of you love his potential. That’s understandable, but the bottom line is that he just didn’t play well enough to earn a spot. The face the Eagles cut him this early may be a sign from them that they feel he is best suited to play in the 4-3. If they wanted to keep him to develop, they may have held on to him as long as possible.
Knott hasn’t been healthy and has a suspension to deal with. He could be back with the team by the middle of the season, but there are no guarantees. Iggy is a FB/TE tweener with limited athletic ability. The Pats will sign him and turn him into a good role player, infuriating all of us to the nth degree.
As to the guys sticking around…Kinne is here because the Eagles are going to sit both Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez this week. Matt Barkley will play a ton on Thursday. Kinne is the backup and might play late in the game.
The final 3 players are all Oregon guys. Why did Chip keep them? My guess is that he knows Murphy and Kaddu aren’t likely to land elsewhere. By cutting BJ Cunningham now, he can go look for work. Murphy will play as needed on Thursday night. Kaddu is emergency depth at ILB and OLB for the Jets game.
Kelikiipi is a different story. He might have an NFL future. The Eagles also may have kept him so he can eat up snaps on Thursday and save some wear and tear from Beau Allen and Damion Square. Allen sure looks like a guy you want as part of a regular rotation. I think Square is still battling for a job. Should anyone get hurt on Thursday, Square could be roster material. Kelikiipi could be useful depth. And he could be practice squad material as well.
I don’t have a major problem with any move the Eagles made today. I’d love to have kept Kruger around, but if the team doesn’t think he’s going to fit in, it is better to move along and give those reps to someone else.