Homegrown is Best

Posted: February 1st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 299 Comments »

The Eagles have done new deals with Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson. I think that is a big deal. I’m a big believer in the value of signing your own guys.

Jimmy Bama and I discussed this in Mobile and he wasn’t as sold on the importance of it. With that in mind, I wrote this week’s PE.com column on the importance of keeping homegrown talent. I mixed in some history and some football history to help make my point.

It is funny how some outsiders so quickly can feel like Eagles. I remember the team signing Brian Mitchell in 2000 to be a backup RB and key RS. He had been a lifelong Skins player, but immediately felt like an Eagle. Maybe it was just the fact he played so hard and did all the little things well. Some free agents play for money. Mitch was all about kicking some ass.

My two best Brian Mitchell memories involved injuries. One of the Gramatica brothers tried to tackle him on a kickoff in an Eagles-Cardinals game. Mitch took up straight up the field. Gramatica was between him and the end zone. Rather than dance, Mitch ran straight at the PK and went full speed. Gramatica reached out to tackle him, but Mitch ran right through the attempt and separated the guy’s shoulder in the process. That’s fantasy material for STs coaches.

I also remember LaVar Arrington coming down to cover a KO when he collided with Mitch. Arrington had a great combination of size, strength and speed. But he hadn’t learned to play a man’s game quite yet. He and Mitch hit head-to-head and Arrington is the one who left the game with the concussion.

Among current Eagles, Malcolm Jenkins and Connor Barwin felt like lifelong Eagles pretty quickly. I’m sure Jenkins is still a Saint at heart. They drafted him and he won a Super Bowl there. Barwin? He’s been here 3 years and has played his best ball with the Eagles. He might just feel like a lifelong member of the Midnight Green.

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Let’s hope this is one of those times that Howard is right.

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Q&A

Talk about the QB situation (draft, FA & Bradford).  This will be handled in a lot of posts over the coming weeks and months. One thing you need to keep in mind is that there is no slam dunk solution. Last year going for Mariota made the most sense, but moving from 20 to 2 just seemed like an impossible task.

Some want Bradford back and that just might happen, but there is a strong argument for and against keeping him.

There are 3 key targets in the draft. Each has flaws. Any of them could turn out to be terrific pros. Or all could be busts. There isn’t one that feels like a guy “the Eagles have to find a way to get”.

Who does Shawn Oakman compare to? Someone asked me if Oakman, a 6-8, 267 DE from Baylor, reminded me of Jevon Kearse. Not even remotely. Oakman is more like Jon Harris, one of the biggest draft busts in Eagles history. Oakman could turn out to be a very good pro, but he was an underachiever in college and failed to stand out in Mobile. I’d only have interest in him if the price was right.

Can Barwin play DE in the 4-3 or is that a waste of his ability? Barwin can absolutely play in the 4-3. The first thing you have to realize is that a lot of his snaps in the old scheme came as a 4-3 DE because that was part of the Nickel defense. The Eagles used some 4-2-5 looks with him at LDE. Barwin played DE as a Senior in college and was drafted by Houston to play DE for them. Barwin is more versatile now so you’d love to find a way to use all his skills. It is possible the Eagles could trade him to a 4-3 team, but Barwin is a productive player and key team leader. There is a lot of wisdom in keeping guys like that around.

Where does Marcus Smith fit in the new defense? I wondered about Smith losing weight and playing SAM in the new scheme, but it really feels like his best bet is playing DE. Smith seemed to struggle with OLB in the 3-4 in part because he was asked to do a lot of things. Think about those times when he had success (few and far between to be sure). Smith was usually rushing the QB in a known passing situation. He didn’t have to think, just to attack.

Check out #91 on these college highlights.

Smith might struggle just as much in the new scheme, but this does provide him with a chance to show that he can play in a different system and for a new staff.

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Wentzless?

Posted: January 31st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 381 Comments »

The Eagles, along with plenty of other NFL teams, took a long, close look at Carson Wentz during Senior Bowl week. I feel confident in saying that just about everyone came away impressed. It’s good that a potential prospect had a strong showing, but it also could cause a problem.

What if Wentz doesn’t make it to pick 13?

Jimmy Bama took a look at the first 13 picks to see which teams might have interest in a QB. At least one QB feels like a lock to go early. It is very possible two could be off the board.

I haven’t had a chance to fully study the top 3 QBs…Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch. After the week in Mobile, I have a good feel for Wentz. He is a legit 1st round pick and could be the first QB off the board. I have watched some tape on Goff and Lynch. Both are impressive.

It feels like Goff and Wentz are the top QBs right now. If they’re gone, would Paxton Lynch be worth pick 13?

I need to do more research, but I lean toward “yes” right now. He has good size. He is an above-average athlete. Lynch has a very strong arm and a quick release. Rather than focusing on his best game, let’s look at Lynch’s performance against Temple, an outstanding defense.  Read the rest of this entry »


Senior Bowl – The Game

Posted: January 30th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 415 Comments »

The Senior Bowl is today at 2:30pm on The NFL Network. While practices are more important than the game, there is value in the game. That’s especially true for O-linemen. The practices give a clear advantage to DL. Games even things out.

So who should we focus on for the Eagles?

QB

Carson Wentz – Will he be on the board at pick 13? If so, do the Eagles pull the trigger? There isn’t anything specific to look for. You just want to see how he looks.

Kevin Hogan – Up and down showing this week, but Hogan isn’t the kind of physically gifted player that is going to shine in practice. A game setting should bring out the best in him. Hogan could be an interesting target for Doug Pederson’s offense.

Jacoby Brissett – I think he’s a project, but he is talented. Brissett is the kind of prospect you would take and develop for a couple of years. He got better as the week went along. This is not a great group of QBs in Mobile and Brissett could really help himself with a strong showing. The key will be to see how does as a passer.

WR

Braxton Miller – Unfortunately, Miller will probably be a 2nd round pick. And the Eagles don’t have a 2nd. If the Eagles move Jordan Matthews outside, Miller could be a great fit in the slot. I’m interested to see how he does with route running in the game today. Can he get open?

Jay Lee – Has good size at 6-2, 214. Has long arms. The Eagles could use a receiver like that. Lee won’t be an early pick so he could be an interesting target. I don’t have any specific things I’m looking for. Just want to see how he plays.

OL

Cody Whitehair – Could be a target at pick 13. Should play at a high level. Watch the way he blocks at the 2nd level.

Joe Dahl – Another guy going from LT to OG. Had a good week. Want to see if that carries over to the game.

Josh Garnett – Pure LG. 317 pounds. The Eagles could use someone on the inside with size. Garnett has size and strength. Needs to show he can handle quick, athletic DTs.

Le’Raven Clark – I’m curious to see if he will just play OT or OG. Had a good week. Want to see where he plays and how he plays.

DL

Bronson Kaufusi – Jim Schwartz loves long, tall DL. Kaufusi has size. He was more of a LB in college. The game will give him a chance to show what he can do as a 4-3 DE.

Jihad Ward – Has played DT and DE. Schwartz loves versatile DL as well as big guys. Ward is 6-5, 296. Can play inside or outside. Curious to see where he plays in the game.

Dadi Nicolas – Only 6-3, 235. At the right spot in the draft, could be good value because of his ability as a pass rusher. I’ll be watching today to see how he does as a run defender, as well as whether he brings impact as a pass rusher.

S

Miles Killebrew – Huge at 6-2, 219. This will be his only chance to face big time competition. Killebrew needs to show he can be effective in coverage.

KJ Dillon – Talented FS prospect. Just want to see how well he plays.

Kevin Byard – Can he cover well enough to start in the NFL? Needs to show he’s got that kind of potential.

Jeremy Cash – Duke lined Cash up in the box a lot. He’ll be used in a more conventional role in the Senior Bowl. He needs to show he can handle being a “typical” Safety.

Sean Davis – Played some CB this week and wasn’t at his best in that role. Much better at S. Will be interested to see where he plays in the game.
The Eagles are moving to the 4-3. They will need depth at DL and LB since we can’t be sure that some of the current backups will fit the new scheme.

Obviously the Eagles are going to be looking at all the players on the field. Every year we have some players that unexpectedly stand out. It will be interesting to see who those guys are today.

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Finally…4-3 Confirmed

Posted: January 29th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 88 Comments »

We knew the Eagles were going to run an attacking 4-3 under Jim Schwartz, but for some reason, the Eagles did not want to commit to that publicly.

Until now.

Schwartz went on 94.1 and talked about the defense. Jimmy Bama has the details.

Angelo Cataldi: You will change the scheme, Jim. Everybody assumes you’ll go more to a 4-3. Is that safe to say?

Jim Schwartz: Um, yeah, for sure. We’re not gonna be a two-gap 3-4. I want those defensive lineman to be attacking. I want those guys to be creating and wreaking some havoc and putting pressure on the quarterback. They’re not gonna be playing at the line of scrimmage and grabbing guys and trying to keep the linebackers clean. I think we have some good guys up front. We can take the handcuffs off of them a little bit and get some more production out of them.

It is finally good to have a coach state this publicly.

I am excited to have the 4-3 back in Philly.

No more reading. No more reacting. Just attacking.

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The Eagles signed OT Lane Johnson to a new deal that will keep him an Eagle until the sun expands and destroys the Earth.

It is good to have Johnson locked up for the long haul. He is the RT now, but will take over at LT when Jason Peters is finally done. Johnson has not yet become a dominant blocker, but he has developed into an above average starter and still has potential to get better. It will be interesting to see if the new offense brings out the best in him.

The Eagles have now done new deals with Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Johnson. And they aren’t done yet.

Yes, please.

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I need to do some research before commenting on the update in regard to the personnel job.

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Now for Senior Bowl stuff. Notes from Day 3.

NORTH

SOUTH

I’ll write up a summation of the Senior Bowl week over the weekend.

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While we were down in Mobile, Jimmy Bama caught up with Georgia LB Jordan Jenkins to ask him about new Eagles DL coach Chris Wilson.

“He’s one of the craziest coaches I know,” said OLB Jordan Jenkins, whose face lit up when Wilson’s name was mentioned during an interview with PhillyVoice at the Senior Bowl. “He just gets after it. His coaching style is that if you’re not playing up to par he’s going to let you know. He enjoys the game of football and loves pass rushing. He’s crazy.”

Sounds like a lot of DL coaches. Those guys love getting to the QB.

Wilson sounds like a really good hire, based on his successful track record. The only real concern I’ve got is the fact he switched jobs so often. He won’t be making those kind of moves at the NFL level. He’s under contract and can’t leave for another NFL job unless it involves a promotion. He could go back to college, but that wouldn’t make sense unless someone paid him a boatload of money. And colleges rarely pay as well as the pros. Wilson will likely be here as long as he keeps producing good D-linemen.

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Settling In

Posted: January 28th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 554 Comments »

There is no question that Doug Pederson’s opening press conference was a bit shaky. One thing the NFL doesn’t do very well is train assistants to deal with the media. That’s especially true when going from KC to a city like Philly. Nick Foles looked at the media in St. Louis in his first PC out there and something to the effect that “This is it?”.

Standing at a podium in front of a full hoard of media and talking about getting your dream job isn’t easy. You have a ton of thoughts going on in your head. You want to say a few things, but then you will turn control over to the media so they can ask their questions. The circus begins.

Pederson met with a small group of media in Mobile on Wednesday. He was much more comfortable and natural. He’s been on the job for a bit now so he’s getting used to talking. The setting was different. He was near a chain link fence at football practice. Coaches are going to be more natural there than when wearing a suit and standing in an auditorium.

Pederson took the questions from reporters and answered them as honestly as he could. The media actually ran out of things to ask. I think they were genuinely surprised at how the meeting went. Pederson gave them enough nuggets for multiple articles. Unlike Chip, he wasn’t dodging questions and playing the semantics game (“I’m not the GM”).

I came away feeling good about Pederson.

I mentioned yesterday that he might have made a mistake when addressing the issue of Sam Bradford and saying “I look forward to coaching him.” I doubt reporters in KC looked at every nuance of every word he said. As head coach of the Eagles, you better choose your words very carefully when addressing key topics like that.

Maybe Pederson was telling us that they really do want Bradford back.

Maybe he was simply trying to be positive. If so, a better quote would have been something like “Every offensive coach would like to have a talented, veteran QB to work with.” Compliment Bradford, but don’t feed his agent any comments that will boost his value.

That’s the whole trouble with the Bradford situation. I’m sure they would love to have him back, but only at the right price. Anything you say that is overly positive about Sam just feeds ammo to his agent.

It feels like Pederson is settling in to his new job and he’s getting in a comfort zone. That’s good. This is going to be the biggest challenge of his life.

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Bradberry is a physical CB. Looks like a good athlete. I haven’t focused on DBs that much this week so I don’t have much in the way of notes on him. Could be a mid-round target.

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The Eagles spoke with Sean Davis on Wednesday. He can play CB or S. I actually prefer him at S because he’s smart, can cover, is a good tackler and plays with excellent awareness. I’ll try to talk to him to find out if the Eagles mentioned liking him at one spot or the other.

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Here are my Senior Bowl notes from Wednesday.

SOUTH

NORTH

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Maybe.

Joe is on Twitter and if you follow him, which you should, he says some really wild stuff at times. I don’t think he has yet acknowledged ever making a mistake in Philly or Cleveland. He gets very defensive when questioned about anything.

It is possible the Cards mentioned the #5 pick in negotiations, but the fact is that the situation never got to the point where they could actually do the deal so we don’t know if they would have actually gone through with it.

I have serious doubts.

If it is true, and that is possible, this is just another reason to hate that stupid lockout.

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