Posted: August 24th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 195 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.
Posted: August 22nd, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 139 Comments »
Let’s talk some more about the game and what we learned.
* The pass rush was better. The Eagles only got 2 sacks, but they affected Big Ben. Sometimes that meant moving him off his spot. There was a play when Mychal Kendricks pressured Ben and he lobbed a pass downfield that Nolan Carroll picked off. Sacks are fun because you see the QB go down, but pressure has a value as well. That INT is worth a handful of sacks.
The Eagles still need to get better, but at least this was a step in the right direction.
* Rookie WR Jordan Matthews caught a pass out of the backfield. The cool thing about that is that the play was designed to specifically get him the ball. It is obvious the coaches don’t see him as a typical rookie. It is important to mix him into the offense and to help him grow this year. God forbid anything happens to Mac or Coop, the Eagles need Matthews to be able to contribute. Get his feet wet when you can so that if things do go wrong and he’s needed, Matthews has a better chance of handling the situation successfully.
* It was good to see Coop out there. He has an excellent size-speed combination and is a good fit for this offense. It also helps that Foles trusts him. You could see that on the deep ball that went to Coop in the end zone. He was covered, but Foles put the ball in there to give Coop a chance to make a play.
The drops need to stop, obviously. Let’s hope that was some rust from all the time he’s missed this summer.
* OLB Marcus Smith is a good run defender. He can set the edge. He can shed blocks. He can make tackles. Smith still needs a lot of work as a pass rusher, but there is something to build on. His most impressive play came when he covered WR Antonio Brown down the sideline on a route. Smith had pretty good coverage. You don’t want that matchup, but there are times when the offense is going to come up with something that works perfectly. You hope that whatever defender is put in a tough position can do a reasonable job. Smith did more than that. Heck, he looked better than Curtis Marsh in coverage. Smith is a talented OLB.
* RB is a complicated position. I think the preseason finale vs the Jets could be a huge factor in making decisions. The backups will play a lot. They will be judged as runners, receivers, blockers and STers.
There is a compelling case for Chris Polk, Matt Tucker, Kenjon Barner and Josey Henry. The most simple factor here is health. If Polk can’t play, he’s in big trouble. The other 3 need to stay healthy.
One possibility would be going light at WR and keeping 4 RBs.
I need to study the game and see how these guys looked from an overall standpoint. STs play will be a huge part of that.
* My guess is that the Eagles would like to trade Brandon Graham. He certainly doesn’t appear to be part of the future here. He can rush the passer, but not is that enough to keep him? You already have one pass rush specialist in Vinny Curry. Beyond the starters at OLB, you have Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman and Travis Long. Smith isn’t going anywhere. Braman is supposed to be a key STer. Long is a player the team is interested in keeping, as you could see by having him play ILB and OLB vs the Steelers.
Graham can be a good role player and he’s a nice insurance policy for Trent Cole, but is he worth spending a roster spot on for that vs dealing him and getting a pick in return? There is no easy answer to this. Of course, the trade scenario only makes sense if some 4-3 team shows you they want Graham. I think some team would.
* DeMeco Ryans got flagged for an illegal hit. Then the Steelers had several questionable plays, but no flags. There were 2 hits on Brent Celek where his helmet popped off. There was also a hit on Shady’s TD that was awkward at best. Maclin was blocking near the goal line. Troy Polamalu came over and knocked the crap out of him, even though Mac was already engaged with someone and it didn’t affect the play. That to me was penalty material. Isn’t that the definition of unnecessary roughness?
Celek’s helmet popping off made those hits look worse than they were. I’m pretty sure at least one was completely clean, even though it looked bad. I need to check out the tape to be more sure.
* The running game was beautiful last night. Every RB had a run go for at least 14 yards. Those guys averaged more than 5 yards per carry as a group. I’m looking forward to seeing the OL in action. It looked like Kelce and Mathis had some really good blocks.
Even crazier was the way the backups handled the Steelers starting defense. I was shocked as Andrew Gardner and Matt Tobin opened big holes for backups to run on Lawrence Timmons. Polamalu and company. That’s insane.
But it did happen. And it was beautiful.
Posted: August 21st, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 274 Comments »
It sure is a lot more fun when the Eagles play well, huh? They certainly did look good on Thursday night. That said, we cannot ignore just how bad the Steelers looked. Was Mike Tomlin coaching that team or Mike McMahon? Yikes.
Quick thoughts on the game
* Nick Foles was erratic early, but then seemed to get into rhythm. Played well overall.
* Welcome back, Jeremy Maclin. That was his best showing since the 2012 season. He didn’t do anything great, but had a good game. I was encouraged to see him block well and also work the middle of the field.
* Goodbye Jeremy Maclin. Or so it seemed for a moment. He went down awkwardly in the 1st quarter and all of us were scared. Luckily, Maclin was able to come back to the game and he’s just fine.
* The OL had another good outing. RT Allen Barbre struggled in pass pro early, but it looked like he settled down after that.
* The defense eliminated many of the mistakes they’ve been making and suddenly they look worlds better. Also helped to have Nolan Carroll in place of Curtis Marsh.
* Beau Allen got time with the starters and looked good.
* Mychal Kendricks was terrific. He flew around the field and made tackles. He blitzed on one play and forced an INT.
* I have no idea what to make of Chris Polk vs Matt Tucker vs Henry Josey. Polk has the most experience and is the most versatile. Tucker has looked the best this summer. Josey is the most explosive of the group.
* Travis Long played a lot of snaps at ILB. The Eagles want to know if he can handle both ILB and OLB. That would give him a boost in his quest to make the roster.
* Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham played well. Graham beat the LT for a strip sack.
* LT Andrew Gardner and LG Matt Tobin had another good game. Remember when OL depth was a major concern?
* WR B.J. Cunningham had a terrific TD catch wiped out by a penalty.
* TE Trey Burton flashed. Definite PS candidate.
* OG Michael Bamiro is playing like he’s ready to get on with his post-football life. Ugh.
* Alex Henery had better depth on his kickoffs. And then he missed a chip shot FG. Ugh.
* The Steelers were just 17-58 on the ground. The Eagles were 35-182-3. The Eagles were more talented, but also seemed like they were the more physical team.
* Mark Sanchez had another strong outing. There shouldn’t be any questions about backup QB.
All in all, it was a good night.