Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan could be the best DT duo in the NFL this year. Cox has become a dominant player and Logan could really thrive in the new system, now that he’s asked to make plays rather than just eating up blockers. Watch him when he was able to attack upfield.
Velocidade e movimento lateral do Bennie Logan nessa jogada é impressionante, ainda mais tratando-se de um NT.https://t.co/bQEZhf1i0V
No more football until late July. Eagles coaches and players will have about 6 weeks of down time between now and the start of Training Camp. Thursday was a light day of practice, but there is always something to talk about.
• The Eagles did a lot of red zone work today. Here’s how Kansas City ranked in red zone efficiency while Pederson was the Chiefs‘ offensive coordinator.
2013 – 5th
2014 – 9th
2015 – 12th
This could be a key for the Eagles. They were 15th and 23rd in red zone percentage over the last couple of seasons. That is part of the reason the team was disappointing in both seasons. You must score TDs to win close games. The Eagles just didn’t do that enough.
• Speaking of splitting non-receivers out wide, tight end Trey Burton has gotten a lot of looks on the outside. He’s spent more time playing like a receiver than he has playing as a fullback. The Chiefs ran a number of three tight end sets in Kansas City so I wonder how involved Burton will be on offense.
Chip Kelly did some shuffling between 3 WR/1 TE and 2 WR/2 TE, but he wasn’t very creative with formations or personnel. Trey Burton felt like a player that should have gotten more time, especially considering how the WRs struggled last year. I remember Burton making a play against the Lions. Jimmy Bama had this to say after the play.
And that’s exactly what happened. Why not get the ball to that guy again? Doug Pederson will be more creative than Chip Kelly. I would guess he will do a better job of mixing and matching his personnel. Only time will tell if the results are better.
— Thursday’s practice was much shorter and less strenuous than the first two. There weren’t any team drills – just individual, installation and 7-on-7s. A number of players, including Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce, have noted that they feel fresher this spring than in the previous three springs under Chip Kelly. The tempo of Kelly’s practices made sure that the players were conditioned by the end of the spring, but they also might have been unnecessarily exhausting. There seemed to be more standing around during Doug Pederson’s practices, though. Whether that’s good or bad is unknown, but Kelly made sure he maximized his time. Toward the end of Wednesday’s indoor session, the Eagles ran 7-on-7 drills. Typically, both lines will work individually during 7-on-7s, but during this set, both groups just stood and watched. The cramped environs might have had something to do with the standing around, but there was still plenty of space for them to get their side work in.
I am curious to see what players think of practice under Pederson vs practice under Kelly. We need to see some Training Camp practices before we can really compare the two in-depth.
It is one thing to like or dislike a style of practice, but the more important question is which style is more effective? Which one is more conducive to good teaching and learning? Kelly had great success with his methods in college. His NFL results were more mixed. Pederson seemed to get solid results this spring, but a better test will be how the players look in Training Camp. Do the new methods bring out the best in them? How do they work with hitting and tackling? Do more physical practices bring out the best in the players?
• Chase Daniel continues to impress. There haven’t been many negatives to report on him, and we’ve already pointed out a number of the positives. Daniel doesn’t have much in the way of game tape to learn from, but if I were to compare Daniel in practice vs Mark Sanchez in practice, I would give a heavy edge to Daniel.
Today, Daniel hit Jordan Matthews for a TD a strong throw to the back of the end zone. It’s becoming clearer why the Eagles paid him the way they did. He has looked legitimately good.
I was thrilled when Sanchez was dealt to Denver. I had hopes that he would improve last year, but that didn’t happen. We just saw more of the same. Daniel doesn’t have the same amount of experience, but I’m fine with that. Daniel has played behind good QBs and for good coaches. He is smart. Daniel might have physical limitations, but he should be fine as a backup QB.
• I still don’t love what I’m seeing from Nelson Agholor. Today he caught a pass near the three-yard line and was able to stretch the ball across the goal line in quick motion. However, Jalen Mills was able to pop the ball out. I would say it was probably a completion and a TD, but you’d rather just see Agholor hold onto the football and leave no doubt.
Agholor has been up and down this spring. It feels like he might be pressing right now. The time off might be just what he needs. Sometimes a break can clear your head and get you back into a comfort zone. Agholor should focus on the next rep. Run a good route. Catch the ball when it comes your way. Forget about big plays and do the little things right. Then the big plays will come. A hitter in baseball doesn’t break out of a slump by trying to hit home runs. Work on your swing. Make good contact. The hits will come. The same principle applies to Agholor. Do the little things well. Everything else will follow.
Mills is another corner who could play in nickel situations, with Pederson mentioning his name first when asked which rookie has impressed him outside of Carson Wentz. Jordan Matthews spoke highly of Mills, too, after minicamp wrapped up today.
“I like Jalen a lot,” Matthews said. “He’ll come up there and get up in my face whenever we’re working plays. If he wants to be physical, he’s going to be physical. He’s not going to back down. Even after some practices, he’ll pull me aside and say, ‘Hey, let’s get some extra releases.’ So you know that willingness to work is also there, too. I like him a lot. I think he’s definitely going to play a lot for us this year.”
I love hearing Matthews talk that way about Mills. Matthews was a 2nd round pick, but he’s also worked his tail off since coming to the NFL. He does everything he can to be a better player. Mills was a late pick, but he has legit talent. It is great to hear that Mills is working with Matthews. That doesn’t guarantee success for him, but it shows he is being smart about who to hang out with and who to work out with. Go spend time with the overachiever. Learn from that guy. He can teach you what to do on and off the field to be a better player.
Another day of practice, another step closer to the Eagles being the best team in NFL history. Okay, there may be a tad bit of hyperbole in that statement, but this is spring football and being a bit delusional is okay. The Eagles defense did have a stron day. We’ll start with some details from Jimmy Bama.
• All afternoon long the defensive line batted passes at the line of scrimmage and the defensive backs had pass breakups in the secondary. A few of the batted passes I saw were by Bennie Logan, Connor Barwin, and Myke Tavarres.
The pass breakup list is looong. Jalen Mills had at least three, Denzel Rice had two, Jordan Hicks had one, Mychal Kendricks had one, Najee Goode had one, Ron Brooks had one, Leodis McKelvin had one, and Jaylen Watkins dropped an easy pick, although that would also technically count as a pass breakup. The Eagles’ defenders were very active today – and physical. Impressive showing from that side of the ball.
• To expand on the notion that the defense was physical today, there were several times when defenders brought skill players to the ground, which they’re technically not allowed to do. Leodis McKelvin brought down T.J. Graham, Mychal Kendricks brought down Chris Pantale, and Jordan Hicks brought down Brent Celek, all while trying to break up passes.
• Jalen Mills looks like he might be a player. He plays with confidence, trusts what he sees, and goes after the football. He doesn’t look at all like a rookie, which kind of makes sense, seeing as he has played for years with so many other talented defensive backs at LSU. Today he got reps with the ones.
• Nolan Carroll practiced in team drills for the first time this offseason. He too got some action with the ones, coming in on nickel situations.
Players aren’t supposed to be hitting at this time of the year. But all teams have some limited contact. You can’t run a football practice and avoid all contact. That’s just not going to happen.
Jim Schwartz is a tough, veteran coach. He’s going to push his players to push the rules. It sounds like he and the other coaches may have gotten on the defense overnight. That or the defense just magically started playing tougher and more physical for no reason at all. Doug Pederson wants toughness and physicality. He’ll be happy his coaches and players are pushing the rules.
At the same time, Pederson doesn’t want things to go too far. This is a time for installation and fundamentals. This time of the year is more about teaching than toughness. You don’t want the physicality and “toughness” to distract players from learning their jobs and the scheme.
I’m encouraged by what we’ve heard about Jalen Mills. I think he might be one of those rookies who really pushes for playing time. He’s athletic and instinctive. He’s tough and has solid size. He is naturally aggressive. At DB, those traits can be just as important as experience. I keep saying this, but Mills started for 4 years at LSU and that’s not to be taken lightly. Dude can play.
— Chris Pantale has emerged as a dark horse to make the 53-man roster. Well, actually, he’s no underdog anymore. Doug Pederson has already singled out the tight end twice. He has also mentioned not only that he might keep four tight ends, but also that he could dress all four on game days. Pantale’s usefulness on Sundays will come, in part, because (if) he can play fullback. Pederson has plays, particularly near the goal line, with a lead blocker. Pantale isn’t exactly built like a fullback (6-foot-5, 254 pounds), though. He has made a number of nifty grabs this spring, and pulled in two passes with one hand on Wednesday.
Pantale is a player the Eagles added last year. Ryan Day was the QB coach at the time and had coached Pantale at Boston College. The Eagles were impressed enough by what they saw to keep Pantale around. Wait…I thought they had to get rid of all players added under Chip Kelly? I’ll be glad when that silly notion is long gone. Pantale will have a lot to prove in Training Camp. He’ll be able to show off blocking skills as a FB and TE. He’ll also get to do some STs work. The Eagles don’t need a fourth TE, but the point of building a team is to keep the best 53 players. Pantale has a chance to be part of that group if he plays well enough.
— If Pantale makes the roster, Pederson might be inclined to carry only three running backs. Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles are locks. That leaves either Kenjon Barner or fifth-round rookie Wendell Smallwood, unless undrafted rookies Byron Marshall and Cedric O’Neal surprise. Barner dropped two short passes on Wednesday. Smallwood is a better receiver. We’ll see how they run once the pads are on in camp. Sproles had a number of agile moves. On one rush, he gave Aaron Grymes a little shake and the rookie corner nearly fell over himself.
The problem with keeping someone like Pantale is that you have to go light elsewhere (RB or WR or OL). Pantale won’t be competing with just a RB or TE, but rather all the fringe players. He needs a strong summer to keep himself in roster contention.
Barner could be a key person in this battle. He needs to play really well this summer to secure a spot and put pressure on the coaches to make the right decision.
2:50 — With nowhere to go,Bradford pulls the ball down and runs to the right side for a gain of around 15 yards or so. This leads Josh to wondering what the longest run gain of Bradford’s career is. I set the over-under at 19 yards. He takes the under. The answer?
Twenty three yards back in 2013. Down goes Paunil.
I would have taken the over. If a defense has their back to the offense, all it takes is one small move to get by the initial traffic and then the QB has some room to work with.
3:13 — The defense’s dominance continues. Bradford attempts a pass down the left side but Ron Brooks is there and nearly comes up with the interception.
3:23 — Daniel helps the offense save some face before exiting the bubble, lofting one to Chris Givens near the right sideline before zipping one down the seam for Pantale, who makes his second pretty catch of the afternoon.
That’s it for today. Minicamp comes to a close with a final practice tomorrow.
Brooks is a player that interests me. He was mostly a STer in Buffalo. He has 74 career tackles and 7 pass breakups. Those aren’t good numbers for a someone with 47 games under his belt. Jaylen Watkins, he of 8 career games, has broken up 5 passes. Maybe the change of scenery is bringing out the best in Brooks. Or maybe he’s just having a good spring and will go right back to being a STer.
Brooks was a good playmaker out of the slot for LSU. It isn’t as if he’s a guy with no talent.
He didn’t say anything compelling, but it feels like he is getting more and more comfortable with his situation. Forget about the Broncos. Forget about long term deals. Focus on here and now. Focus on what you can control.
I’m still not sure exactly what to expect from him this year. I think playing in Chip’s system was good for him, but it wasn’t the best fit. If he can combine what he learned last year with playing in a system that fits him better, Bradford could play the best football of his career. Obviously the bar isn’t set sky high with that comment, but I guess part of the problem with Bradford is that we don’t know what his ceiling is. He’s always had some issues to overcome.
More than anything, I want Bradford to stay healthy so we can see what he can do. Was the 7-game stretch from last year as good as it gets or can he take his game to a higher level?
Tuesday was the first day of a 3-day minicamp for the Eagles. Since no one got hurt, it was incredibly successful. That’s kind of the way you judge practices this time of year. Let’s check out some notes from the beat writers.
• Josh Andrews had a very rough day as the second-team center. By my count, he had at least three bad shotgun snaps. Credit Chase Daniel on one of the snaps for making a nice play. The ball was snapped over Daniel’s head, but he was able to grab it on the run, sprint outside the tackle box, and throw it away. Heady play.
• Tight end Chris Pantale has gotten a lot of reps at fullback. Just something to file away.
Andrews earned a spot last year, but is facing tougher competition this time around. He needs a strong showing in Training Camp to remain on the team. Andrews isn’t so gifted in other areas that he can afford errant snaps.
Doug Pederson mentioned Pantale as a Fullback the other day. The Eagles don’t need a FB for the base offense. Pederson would like to have someone for that role, but the guy will also need to contribute at another spot. Most importantly, the player will need to be a standout on STs. Pantale won’t get to prove his worth on STs until the preseason games. Until then, he needs to play well at FB and TE. He is 6-5, 254 and would be a huge FB.
Mr. Bama also wrote a bit on Carson Wentz.
• One thing that has been clear in media-attended practices so far is that Wentz takes far more shots down the field than the other two quarterbacks. It’s not even close. He has a big arm, and he likes to let it rip. There’s good and bad in that. On the one hand, that’s going to lead to a higher percentage of incomplete passes and picks. On the other hand, you’re going to get more big plays, and pass interference penalties. #Analysis.
Anyway, the point is, he doesn’t seem to GAF, which is a quality I admire in a quarterback, within reason. It’s certainly better than watching the quarterback throw short of sticks on third down all game.
• On one deep throw, Wentz threw his worst pass of the offseason, or at least the worst one that I’ve seen. It was a play action waggle to the right side, and Wentz threw deep all the way back across the field to the left side. It was a wounded duck that hung in the air for a while, and was easily picked off by Chris Maragos.
• On another deep ball, Wentz dropped one in the bucket to Hunter Sharp. Well-placed deep throw.
Wentz’s highlight of the day was a play in which the pass rush was collapsing on him. While climbing the pocket, he tripped on a lineman’s foot, and started to fall. While falling to the ground, he was able to turn his body, and still complete a throw with enough power to get to the sideline. Carson Wentz might throw harder while falling to the ground than Matt Barkley with a full head of steam.
Today, he fielded a low snap off the ground, quickly popped up, and hit Paul Turner over the middle.
Wentz continues to be up and down, which means he is normal for a rookie QB. He does seems to have regular moments where he looks special. That’s what you want to see from a highly drafted player. You never expect a rookie QB to look great, but you do want to see moments of greatness. That tells you the talent is real. It is up to him and the coaches to develop that talent.
It is interesting that Wentz is throwing downfield a lot. I don’t recall that with other young Eagles QBs. I tend to think it was the opposite. When in doubt, dump the ball to a RB or TE and get 3 yards. NDSU didn’t throw a ton of passes. They tended to make them count when they did throw. Wentz averaged 8.4 yards per attempt for his career, which is a good figure. Matt Barkley was down at 7.9.
I’m really excited to see how Wentz will look in August.
— Bradford had what appeared to be a strong practice. He didn’t take many deep shots, but his short-to-intermediate throws were mostly on target. First the good: Bradford connected with Rueben Randle on a comeback route; he led Darren Sproles on a wheel route; he hit Trey Burton over the middle; he hooked up with Jordan Matthews on a seam route out of the slot; he tossed a beauty to Zach Ertz downfield; and he dropped a deep ball into the bucket of Josh Huff (who beat Leodis McKelvin) for a long touchdown. The bad (what little there was): Bradford threw high and wide of Nelson Agholor, who got caught in coverage; he didn’t read a Malcolm Jenkins blitz, in which he would have gotten decked had he not been off limits; he threw too high of Ertz on a quick “out” that glanced off one of the tight end’s hands.
It is encouraging to read about Bradford playing well. A lot of people are very down on the Eagles offense heading into this season. If Bradford can play like he did late last year, I think the group can surprise a few people. The OL will be better. WR should be better. RB could be, if Ryan Mathews can stay healthy. I certainly get the hesitation to think of the Eagles offense as some unit to be feared. You just don’t see the weapons. But Bradord, Zach Ertz, the Matthews brothers and an improved OL could be better than people think.
— Jordan Hicks (quadriceps spasm) was limited, but he did take part in some team drills. He said the injury came as a result of rehabbing on his shoulder and not being ready for the workload. Cornerbacks Nolan Carroll (ankle) and JaCorey Shepherd (knee) were still limited. Randle returned after missing two weeks because of gall bladder surgery. Pederson praised Randle (I’ll have more on the former Giants receiver in my newspaper column). Defensive tackle Beau Allen is still being held out of team drills for some unknown reason. Kendricks left drills briefly after apparently dinging his shoulder, but he returned.
Good injury update.
— Matthews hasn’t dropped a pass as far as I can tell during the open practices. He made a few great grabs on Tuesday – catching one ball thrown behind him and high-pointing another. … Huff had another drop. The deep ball wasn’t perfectly placed, but it hit him in the hands and he couldn’t hold on. … Eric Rowe caught an earful from defensive backs coach Cory Undlin after he missed an assignment. He later got beat on a pass underneath – he was playing way too soft – and got yanked. I’m not sure where Rowe stands as he enters his second season. One of the cornerback spots should be his to lose, but he apparently hasn’t made a strong case yet. He could just be going through some growing pains as he learns a new defense.
Jordan Matthews continues to impress. He will be the key to the passing game. Matthews isn’t an explosive receiver, but he still has big value as he keeps the chains moving. Agholor, Huff, Randle and Givens can stretch the defense and have more playmaking ability.
It doesn’t sound like Huff has stood out this spring. This is a critical year for him, after two disappointing seasons.
Rowe is still learning how to play CB. He was there for most of his Senior season at Utah and then last year with the Eagles. He’s played off a lot and is now adjusting to a system that prefers him to play tight and be aggressive with receivers. There will be ups and downs, but he’s talented and smart so I would expect the light to go on at some point this summer.
2:23 — Team drills start up and it’s Mike Martin, not Cox, in at tackle with the first team. Jordan Hicks is out there, though, after being limited of late with what Pederson described as quad spasms.
It’s way early, but more times than not the starting corner tandem seems to be Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks. That’s the case again today, with Brooks moving inside in nickel situations while Eric Rowe mans the outside.
The only reason DT Mike Martin is with the starters is that Fletcher Cox is being brought along slowly. Still, it is interesting that Martin is on the field with the starters. Taylor Hart is still adjusting to playing DT. The rookies are adjusting to the NFL. Martin got praised by some offensive linemen recently so he’s impressing the guys he’s going against every day. That’s a good sign.
With Carroll and Shepherd limited, it isn’t all that shocking that Brooks is still on the field a lot. If he stays out there when those guys are completely healthy, then we’ve got a good story on him or a couple of bad ones on them.
But this is no Kelly practice. Where everything was in hyper-drive under the previous regime, here the pace is slower which in turn makes the atmosphere a bit more relaxed. Here, Pederson takes a moment from watching team drills to mingle with the offensive line. He’s jumping up and down for reasons unknown but whatever is being said/done has brought a smile to Jason Peters‘ face and started a conversation among the group. In the next moment, he goes over to Josh Huff and demonstrates the type of technique he wants out of his receiver, who has had his share of struggles in the early going. Just little moments that didn’t exist over the last three years thanks to a conveyor belt type system that coldly zipped player from station to station.
I’m curious to see if the practice style makes any kind of difference. What Kelly did was unusual, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. He was trying to maximize limited time. It just isn’t how the rest of the football world operates. I do like hearing that Pederson is working on relationships with his players and is being very hands-on. It will be interesting to see how things go the first time Pederson has to be tough with a player. Will he have a George Hegamin incident where he shows the team that Mr. Nice Guy can be a jerk when needed?
2:32 — Wentz throws high for McFarland. Later, he connects with Chris Pantale but as the tight end is going to the ground, Quentin Gause swoops in and rips the ball out of Pantale’s hands before running the other way with it.
Gause is a UDFA LB with a chance to win a spot on the roster. Glad to see he’s making some plays.
2:52 — “Maragos gets his revenge!” Paunil exclaims, picking off Wentz’s deep-ball wobbler. Some good and bad out of the rookie today. One thing we can say for sure: he is not afraid to throw the ball downfield.
A Wentz out to Nelson Agholor hits off the tips of the receiver’s fingers and rolls out of bounds. Agholor screams, then repeats to himself over and over: “Calm down. Calm down. Calm down.” Amazing the intensity some of these guys bring to a spring practice. Pro athletes are just wired a different way, Josh and I conclude, as we fan ourselves with our notebooks.
I hate the drop by Agholor, but I love the reaction. He understands it is critical for him to play well this year and get his career headed in the right direction. The team needs that and he needs that. This might just be a minicamp practice, bu the best players never accept mistakes. They want to perform at a high level every time they’re on the field. Agholor has great intangibles. I sure hope the young man turns out to be a good player for the Eagles. He’s the kind of guy you want to cheer for.
A lot of drama went away when Fletcher Cox reported to Philly to take part in the Eagles mandatory minicamp. Over the top questions and crazy hyperbole were ready to run rampant, but now we’ll have to live without them. Until the next crazy situation, which always seems to be around the corner with the Eagles.
Cox didn’t miss a lot. He will primarily be the 3-tech DT (or the Under Tackle) in the new scheme. His job is to attack up the field. Over and over and over. Sure, it would have been good for him to work with the new DL coach on some technique stuff and to shake off the rust, but Cox can get up to speed in a hurry.
In the meantime, Cox’s absence has helped the Eagles get a better feel for their depth at defensive tackle, one of the positions most affected by the switch from 3-4 to 4-3. Beau Allen, drafted in 2014 as a gap-filling nose tackle, has pared his body-fat percentage in an attempt to be more viable in a 4-3.
Asked about spring standouts on Friday, Pederson spoke of “some defensive linemen in there that have really shown flashes of giving us depth at that position.”
Center Jason Kelce, asked Friday who has impressed him, said: “Mike Martin . . . has given tremendous effort, each and every day. I would be doing him a disservice if I didn’t point out how much he has stood out in these OTAs, the effort level he has brought.”
Martin, 6-1, 298, the Titans’ third-round pick in 2012, signed a one-year deal with the Eagles in free agency. He’d played nose tackle in a 3-4 in Tennessee and thought his quickness and aggressiveness might be more suited to a 4-3.
“To have an opportunity to play in a defense like this, that I feel fits my playing style very well, is a huge opportunity for me,” Martin said. “I just want to make sure I capitalize on it as best I can.”
The Eagles know Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan are the starters at DT. They have Beau Allen as a backup. Taylor Hart is making the transition from 3-4 DE to DT, a position he hasn’t played in the NFL. Mike Martin is a veteran, but is new to the Eagles and to this scheme. UDFA rookies Destiny Vaeao, Connor Wujciak and Azziz Shittu all have a ton to learn.
Those players got extra reps with Cox skipping the OTAs and Allen missing time due to injury. OTA reps don’t tell you much about who can shed blocks, but they do mean something to players trying to learn a new scheme and who need lots of technique work. You don’t need contact to see how a player lines up, gets off the ball and looks on the move.
I’m still curious about Allen. He was a NT at Wisconsin as a Senior and has played that role in the NFL. He can 2-gap.
What I don’t know is if Allen can attack and be disruptive. The Eagles have kept him around this long. Maybe that’s because he’s hurt. Or maybe they value the thought of one DT being more of a run-stuffer type. I thought Allen would have been long gone by now, but he’s still here. We’ll see how he does in Training Camp.
Darren Sproles also showed up on Monday. His absence wasn’t an issue. Doug Pederson said on Friday that Sproles and Duce Staley are close and had been in regular contact.
Sproles said he missed OTAs because of "family stuff," #Eagles "cool with it." As for reports he wanted new contract/to be traded: "False."
Sproles’ absence meant extra reps for Kenjon Barner and rookie Wendell Smallwood. Both players took advantage, impressing the coaches and showing they deserved to be regular parts of the RB rotation. Sproles doesn’t know the Eagles offense, but he is a smart, veteran player and should be able to pick it up quickly. This is another case where the team benefited from extra reps going to the young guys.
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