There is little to no contact so these are not true football practices. Judging defensive players is very difficult. You can see athletic ability, but the lack of hitting and tackling leaves us with little to judge. We’re getting icing, but no cake. I made a joke last week about Bennie Logan dominating a trash can.
One of the readers, Baloophi, responded to that with a great piece in the comments section.
Tommy, you’ve cautioned that rookie camp shouldn’t be about evaluation, which is why I don’t think we should make a big deal about Bennie Logan dominating a trash can: it’s Trash Can’s first day in the NFL!
I, for one, am excited about Trash Can. At 33″ tall and 55 gallons in volume, he’s got prototypical size and rare lack of movement. As you can see in the video, you’re not going to move him off his spot. Also, I think we can already see how he earned the nickname “Brute” – he plays a little dirty.
Does he come without question marks? Of course not. He had a few issues in college: getting caught holding up a pong table after curfew, and getting suspended for filling himself with ice to house a keg. But, to his credit, after his Sophomore year he really screwed his lid on tight.
At the combine his diameter measured 26 1/2″… and you simply can’t coach that kind of size! Sure, the rest of his combine numbers aren’t spectacular (vertical and broad jumps of 0′ 0″, and a glacial 19 seconds in the 3 cone). He also chose not to lift, but now that he has access to an NFL weight room and cafeteria, you have to think he’ll be able to at least improve his strength.
Yes, Trash Can is raw, but the Eagles were fortunate to get him as an UDFA. Gil Brandt says he heard the Cowboys were trying to trade to the top of round 2 to take him.
While there’s no guarantee that he’ll earn a roster spot, at least he has the right attitude. When Les Bowen asked how he’s adjusted to Chip Kelly’s fast-paced practice he said, “I’m expecting to get vomited in quite a bit.” Sounds like an Eagle to me.
Material like that is why you should always read the comments section. Truly great stuff. Hopefully Trash Can has a good showing at the OTAs.
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The Eagles made it official, cutting rookie RB Miguel Maysonet. The team signed TE Will Shaw, who had a tryout at the rookie camp.
Maysonet was one of the top UDFAs in the league and got a $10,000 signing bonus from the Eagles, but he failed to impress the team in some way. We don’t know if it was physical, mental, or having to do with effort.
Shaw, 6-2, 242, played collegiately at Youngstown State. He began at a junior college and then played 3 years at YSU. He was a Safety in 2010 and then moved to TE in 2011. This season he led the team in receiving, going 35-429-5.
Interesting move. There seemed to be good depth at TE already. The Eagles must have been impressed with Shaw.
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I finally finished the Ifeanyi Momah video. This is his performance vs NW from the 2011 season opener. I only got 5 of his 8 catches (shortened version of the game). I also included one interesting incompletion. One of the catches is shown twice. My editing skills need some coaching from Chip Kelly.
The news came out the other day that Jason Avant was taking some snaps at DB. We had previously found out that Clay Harbor took snaps at OLB. This led to some discussions about how much of this had been done in the past. Geoff Mosher had the best nugget, when he mentioned to me on Twitter that Bruce Perry had switched positions. For those who don’t remember, Perry was a RB from Maryland. The Eagles drafted him in the 7th round in 2004. He didn’t play that year, but was on the team in 2005 as a RB and KOR. He was 15-70 in the 2005 season finale. Nice showing. Perry was also the KOR in the final 2 games of 2005 and averaged 27.3 yards per return.
The Eagles moved him to CB in the 2006 offseason. With Westy, Buck, and Ryan Moats all healthy, there was no room for a 4th RB in Reid’s offense. CB was Perry’s best hope to get on the field. I don’t know if Perry ever played a snap on defense. I don’t think so. He was the KOR for the 2006 season opener (3-57), but only played in 3 games that year. RB to CB is a rare move at the NFL level.
Josh Parry came to the Eagles as an undrafted MLB. He was moved to FB after failing to make the team as a LB. Parry took over when Jon Ritchie got hurt in 2004. Parry started at FB for the rest of that year and 2005, before he lost the job to Thomas Tapeh and was traded. Moving from ILB to FB is actually a common deal.
Dan Klecko is the one established veteran player who Andy Reid moved from one spot to another. Klecko was signed to come to Philly and play FB. He was then moved to DT in the summer. At midseason, he was moved back to FB. Klecko had played DL, LB, and FB in his time in New England and Indy prior to being an Eagle so there was some precedent for moving him around.
For my money, having Avant and Harbor take defensive snaps is unlike anything Reid ever did. Those are established offensive players, not young projects. I know Harbor is just a #2 TE, but he plays a decent amount of snaps and has started. I don’t mean the Reid/Kelly comparison here to be bad or good for either one. I’m simply comparing the unique nature of the moves.
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Speaking of moving players…Vinny Curry is moving to 3-4 DE. PE.com has an interesting interview with him. The great Bo Wulf got Curry to talk about his weight (280 pounds) and the differences in the 4-3 and 3-4. Nothing groundbreaking, but good stuff. There are some highlights shown during the interview. They certainly chose well. Those are the plays that will make you think Curry can play in the 3-4 as a DE.
PE.com also has up an interview with Brandon Boykin. Brandon is a well-spoken young man. He won’t have as much of a schematic adjustment this year. As he says, “Nickel is nickel.” There are some highlights shown during his piece as well. I think you’ll notice that the best plays came early in the year. Brandon was fresh and confident at that point. I don’t think his play slipped all that much, but I don’t think it progressed at all. It’s gonna be interesting to see what kind of jump he has in 2013. As for him the KOR…he needs to be challenged in a big way. He was unimpressive last year. I do think some of that was the adjustment to the NFL. Either that’s gone this year and he’s much better as a returner or he’s simply not meant to handle that job in the NFL. We’ll see.
Too often we forget that football players are people. Real live human beings. We see a fringe player cut and the reaction is “big deal…he sucked anyway”. Or a guy is signed and he’s “just a camp body”.
Those statements are often true, but do need to be put in context. We’re talking about the lives of young men. Since we only know them as a backup defensive linemen or the 5th string QB, it isn’t a big deal. To those young men, their time in the NFL is a huge deal, whether measured in weeks or years. They’ve worked for years and dreamed of making it in the NFL. If they make it, that’s great…a dream fulfilled. If the player fails, at least he knows that he had a chance to make his dreams come true. What to us is a minor transaction, to them is a life-changing event.
Let’s look at some individuals from the world of football, young and old.
Ronnie Cameron was recently cut by the Eagles. He was a backup DT/DE. I don’t know if Ronnie has NFL ability, but he is a young man with a bright future. Chris McPherson wrote an excellent piece on Ronnie for PE.com. Read that and you’ll understand that he’s not your typical football player. As an Eagles fan, I’m disappointed that he didn’t pan out for the team. The world might be better off if he’s able to put all his time and effort into other things. It will be interesting to follow him and see what happens with Ronnie. Give him a follow on Twitter.
The flip side of this is Rolando McClain. He is “retiring” after just a few years in the NFL. There is no question about McClain’s NFL ability. Coming out of Alabama, I thought he had the size, athleticism, instincts, and playmaking ability to be a star LB. His time in Oakland was a mixture of big plays and big problems. McClain was cut this spring and signed with the Ravens. He then got into trouble down in his hometown in Alabama and decided to retire. I don’t know McClain. I don’t have any inside info on him. I can say from afar that he is a troubled young man. McClain might be doing the smart thing in stepping away from football. He needs to get his head right and his life in order. The one concern is whether he’ll surround himself with the right people so that he can pull that off. If he’s hanging out with sycophants and people who are there for his money, McClain isn’t likely to turn things around.
Remember Cecil Martin, the FB from early in the Reid era? He’s spending a lot of time in England, helping to grow the game of football over there. Football was a godsend for Martin. The crazy story with him is that he was living in a homeless shelter with his family while being recruited by colleges. Martin went to Wisconsin and then had a solid NFL career. He’s now a football ambassador, so to speak. You can follow Cecil on Twitter.
The NFL will never be as international as the NBA in terms of players, but it is a growing segment. Just think of the recent draft. Ziggy Ansah came from Ghana. Menelik Watson came from the UK. Margus Hunt came from Estonia. These guys were high picks. There were others beyond them. The best English athletes (insert joke here) are still more likely to choose Manchester United over the Minnesota Vikings, but football is making progress. There is already a dedicated site for the Eagles run by British fans. I give Cecil Martin all the credit.
Speaking of Eagles FBs…Kevin Turner continues his battle with ALS. Kevin had a terrific NFL career, but his body took a pounding. The question is whether that pounding has anything to do with his condition. Some think there is a link between football players and ALS. Kevin is holding a local golf tournament in early June. The even will be at Medford Village Country Club in Medford, NJ on June 2-3. You can go here for some details. Support Kevin and his cause if you can. He’s a genuinely good guy dealing with a horrible situation.
If you can’t support Kevin’s golf tournament, you can interact with him on Twitter. He loves hearing from fans. Give him a follow and just let him know you’re an Eagles fan that remembers him. That stuff seems to mean a lot to him. Moral support goes a long way when you’re dealing with something like ALS. It may only take you a minute or two to send a message, but you never know how much that can mean to someone who is having a bad day. I lost a family member to ALS. There are a lot of bad days.
One final person of note is a guy I didn’t know much about…former Jets WR George Sauer. He died recently and there was an interesting story in the New York Times about him. Sauer was a talented player, but he didn’t care for all the BS that goes along with playing football. He played in an era when coaches were were true control freaks. They ruled with an iron fist. It was their way or the highway. So Sauer chose the highway.
Football isn’t for everyone. You spend a week practicing to go play one game. Practice is long and hard. Coaches can be bullies and perfectionists, always a fun combination. Football is hard. It isn’t a surprise at all that someone like Sauer grew tired of the NFL life and walked away.
Sorry for the heavy subject, but I do think it is important from time to time to reflect on the fact these guys are real people, not just characters in the NFL world. I’ll be back with normal stuff either tonight or tomorrow morning.
In the lengthy Chip Kelly post I mentioned that I was skeptical of the Bill Davis hire. I hope he turns out to be a terrific Defensive Coordinator, but his track record is mixed, to put it mildly. His 2 years as DC for the Niners and 2 years as DC for the Cardinals yielded results that were less than ideal. Chip Kelly is a smart coach so what would make him hire Bill Davis? Clearly this is a case where Kelly went beyond the numbers.
One thing I think will help Davis is the defensive staff. Let’s look back at his first 2 stops. The SF staff had good coaches, but wasn’t a good fit for a first time DC like Davis. The head coach was Mike Nolan, who really ran the defense. The assistant head coach was Mike Singletary. Davis has stated since then that it was frustrating trying to do what Nolan wanted and not having total control. This isn’t an insult to Nolan, who I think very highly of. This is similar to Brad Childress trying to be the Eagles OC with Andy Reid as the HC. Childress clearly preferred a more conservative running attack, but he ran the offense that Andy wanted…lots of passing. The results were good enough that Childress wasn’t negatively affected. Davis was and Nolan let him go after the 2006 season.
In Arizona Davis had total freedom, but just not a staff that was very good. Recognize these names?
DL – Ron Aiken
OLB – Ryan Slowik
LB – Matt Raich
DB – Teryl Austin
I’ve heard of Austin, but that’s it. He’s now a coach on the rise, but back then wasn’t a coach with a big reputation.
One of the big problems with that staff is a lack of experience. None of the 4 key assistants had ever been a DC or HC. Davis went from tons of experience around him in SF to none in Arizona. Compare that to the Eagles staff.
DL – Jerry Azzinaro
OLB – Bill McGovern
ILB – Rick Minter
DB – John Lovett
All 4 of those coaches have been a DC. Minter and Azzinaro even had HC experience. Coach Azz only ran a small, small program for one season, but even that gives you a certain perspective that other coaches don’t have and can’t understand.
Davis is now an experienced DC and he’s got a veteran staff around him.
Just as important, I think the personalities fit well. As we learned, the 2012 staff did not have the cohesive bond that you want. There was Jim Washburn and his DL…and there was the rest of the defense. Todd Bowles was new to the team and hoping to turn a good showing into a DC or HC gig for 2013. Mike Caldwell was the LBs coach and just trying to get his feet under him as a young coach. Juan Castillo was in charge and trying to run the show, despite great credentials or communication skills.
The 2013 staff is a group of veteran football coaches. No one is pushing for another job. No one is a star on the rise. Chip Kelly brought Azz here from Oregon. Azz worked with McGovern at UMass. Azz worked with Minter at Marshall. Lovett is the lone outsider. He did run the Maine defense in 1994. Azz was on the UMass staff that year and the two schools played each other. Lovett was the Clemson DC when Minter was an assistant at South Carolina in 2004. This doesn’t make them buddies, but coaches do tend to know about coaches that are local to them. Sometimes they’re recruiting against each other. One other key selling point for Lovett is that Tommy Tuberville hired him at 3 different stops. When a coach is willing to hire you that much, it generally means you’re a good guy and a good coach.
The bottom line here is that I think this group will be cohesive. There shouldn’t be a problem with egos and agendas.
Davis will have good teachers around him. I think that is going to be a tremendous help. Coaches are like players. There are good ones and there are special ones. John Elway could put an entire team on his back and take them to the Super Bowl. Trent Dilfer needed one of the greatest defenses in NFL history to win the big game. Guys like Wade Phillips, Dick LeBeau, Bill Belichick, and Rex Ryan are defensive gurus that don’t need great pieces around them. Compare that to a guy like Steve Spagnuolo. When he had the right circumstances in NY, he put out top defenses. In St. Louis they were mediocre. With the Saints…historically bad in 2012.
I think Bill Davis is in a good situation…off the field. On the field? We can debate that from now to September, but nobody really knows. There are just too many unknowns. I do think the defense has more potential than some people give it credit for. If the unit does struggle in 2013, which certainly is possible, you can bet that side of the ball will get a ton of help next offseason. One of the keys for 2013 is finding out who can play and who can’t.
It is easy to pick on Bill Davis and question the hire, but I do trust Chip. He’s betting some of his job security on Davis doing a good job of running the defense. If Chip is willing to do that, who am I to doubt.
This is a good and bad sign for Harbor. It is bad because he’s entering the 4th year of his career and when you start getting looks at a completely different spot at that stage, it isn’t a good sign.
The positive angle is that moving Harbor around shows the Eagles have interest in him. If the coaches simply wanted him gone, they’d cut him. Harbor has size, toughness, and athletic ability. This is a guy you want to keep around if you can. The TE depth chart is now crowded.
Y – Brent Celek … Zach Ertz
F – James Casey … Emil Igwenagu … Derek Carrier
Harbor’s best chance to make the team is probably if he can make the transition to LB. Or if someone else gets hurt. Harbor does have the potential to be a good LB. He’s big enough to set the edge. He can play in space. Whether he can hit, tackle, and rush the passer is the big mystery. No idea on that stuff.
As many have pointed out, Dion Jordan was a WR/TE at Oregon before becoming the 3rd overall pick in this year’s draft. It is unlikely that Harbor can make the transition at a functional level, let alone anything close to that, but the point is that this isn’t impossible. We’re not moving Brent Celek to FS or Nate Allen to LT.
I’m interested to see how Clay does, whether at LB or TE. The pressure is on for him. Either he plays well this summer or he’s out of the NFL.
When it became clear that Andy Reid was on his way out, Chip Kelly became my #1 target to replace him. I wasn’t sure that Kelly would succeed in the NFL, but I felt he was the right guy to replace Big Red. The Eagles needed change. Hiring another NFL coach would have meant some change, but not the culture shock that Kelly has brought. I didn’t anticipate Kelly’s personalized smoothies, reorganized locker room, and things like that, but I knew that he would be distinctly different. This is like a knuckleball pitcher being replaced by a guy who throws 100 mph. The change is so dramatic that it has extra impact.
I fully acknowledged that Kelly was a risky hire. What works in college does not always work in the NFL. Steve Spurrier is the most famous college-to-NFL failure. There have been plenty of others. I felt the risk was worth it because Kelly reminded me a bit of someone that did make the transition successfully, Jimmy Johnson.
Since the hire, I’ve been mostly impressed by Kelly. My biggest concern is the hire of Bill Davis as the Defensive Coordinator. Davis doesn’t have a great track record as a DC. It is hard to get excited by him. I’m also nervous about the hybrid defense. Trying to use the 3-4 and 4-3 Under can be tricky. Hybrid defenses have failed more than they’ve succeeded in the NFL. Too often, coaches think Bill Belichick’s ideas can be copied, but don’t realize you need a brilliant coach like him to teach them, run them, and make adjustments to them.
Fast forward a bit. The last month or so has gotten me to completely buy-in on Chip Kelly. The more I see him in action…the more I hear from him at press conferences…the more I find out about him…the more I like him.
Cole: You say you’re satisfied, but you sound like a guy who knows the results are still not exactly what you wanted them to be.
Vick: Right, and I won’t go into detail about it because Coach Kelly told us as a team, “Don’t talk about winning the Super Bowl, just put in the hard work to get there. You talk about if you get there.” So I don’t think about winning the Super Bowl anymore. I just think about working hard as I can and whatever’s in the future is going to come.
I love this.
We have no more dream team talk. We have no more dynasty talk. Kelly has beat it into the players heads to quit talking about how great they are and what’s going to happen down the road. Kelly has sold the players on his philosophy…”win the day”. Players are focused on the here and now. Nothing was more infuriating in recent years than hearing the players talk about how talented the team was and how great they could be…right after a bad loss.
“It was always an uptight conversation whenever I had one with (Reid). Whereas Chip is a lot more — at least at this point — one of the guys. He’s still the head coach and you still have great respect for him, but he converses with everybody, he strikes up conversations. He’s much more of a loose guy to be around than Andy was, that’s for sure.”
You don’t want the coach to be buddy-buddy with the players, but you do want him to have good interaction with the players. Kelly seems to be doing a good job of walking the line right now. The players are following his lead. You don’t hear complaints about the changes he’s making. Kelly is very cognizant of the importance of leadership. He isn’t trying to be popular. That would be no good. Kelly knows how to sell his ideas so that players will embrace them.
One of the things Kelly preaches to his coaches is to always be able to explain to players why something is being done. Think about how often kids ask parents, teachers, and/or coaches why something is being done. The standard answer is either “because” or “because I said so”. Kelly tells his coaches that if they can’t explain why something is being done, then it probably shouldn’t be done.
I think too often outsiders see the unique things Kelly does and don’t understand that there is logic behind all of it. Everybody made a big deal out of the loud music at practice. Kelly mentioned at his PC that there was science behind that. The loud music may have made things fun, but Kelly had proof that it worked in a positive way.
Kelly truly sees the big picture. Remember when Reid came to Philly with the blue binder and had all his plans mapped out? Kelly goes beyond that. He has everything mapped out. He takes being a control freak to a whole new level.
Here is when we practice. Here is how we practice. Here is what we listen to at practice. Here is what you eat before practicing. Here is what you drink after practicing. And so on. This could be a major issue if Kelly was a domineering perfectionist, but that’s not the case. He tells players that he understands they will make mistakes. It is up to Kelly and the coaches to correct them. Players will be held accountable if the mistakes continue.
It is also crucial that Kelly is able to sell his ideas so well. If he came in pushing these methods on players like a dictator, there would be some sense of revolt. Les Steckel coached the Minnesota Vikings in 1984. He was a Vietnam vet who believed the team needed discipline and drew upon his Marine background for how to run the team. Steckel was 38 years old and the youngest coach in the NFL at that time. He wanted to do things his way. The Vikings went 3-13 and that doesn’t tell the whole story of how disastrous the season was.
Kelly is more salesman than bully. He understands that the ideas are worthless if players aren’t on board with them. It probably helps that Kelly had great success with these methods and ideas at Oregon. The offensive players are excited to play in Kelly’s offense. They watched Oregon move up and down the field and score points left and right. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
Even defensive players can get excited. Think about the last 5 drafts. LB Dion Jordan was taken 3rd overall this year. DBs TJ Ward, Patrick Chung, and Jairus Byrd were all early 2nd round picks. MLB Kiko Alonso was a mid-2nd round pick this year. There were several other LBs drafted in the mid-rounds. Oregon’s defense also led the nation in takeaways over the last 4 years. Kelly is an offensive coach, but his defenses and defensive players have had some success.
I think one of the key’s to the success is that Kelly preaches the importance of competition. He said something great at a recent PC, “…if anybody came in here and said they were really vying for a backup job, then they would probably be on the bus down 95 pretty quick.” This might sound like B.S., but Kelly comes from the college world. We regularly see 5-star recruits that never pan out and walk-ons who become star players. Kelly will give all players a chance to show what they can do. It is up to them to win a job or playing time.
Competition will keep a sense of entitlement from setting in. DeSean Jackson got benched in 2011, but it should have happened earlier. Amazingly, DRC and Nnamdi Asomugha never got benched last year. Reid did bring them in for a talking-to. We don’t know how Kelly’s attitude in this area will translate to the NFL. There are no signing bonuses in college. In the NFL, economics do get factored into decisions. Still, I like the fact that Kelly wants his players to always feel that the guy behind them is a threat. If you don’t play up to his standards, he will give someone else a chance. No one gets a free ride.
I guess you could say that I’m a fan of Chip Kelly and what he’s done so far. I can’t wait to see the team in action. There will be ups and downs, but I really think we’ve got the right coach to get this team headed back to the top.
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