Avonte on the Rise

Posted: August 13th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Training Camp is winding down, but it is still good to check in and see what happened.

Let’s start with the hackiest of hacks, Jimmy Bama.

An interesting development is that Avonte Maddox has been getting first team reps in the slot over Sidney Jones. Today, Maddox had a good day. He had a nice pass breakup in the back of the end zone while covering Shelton Gibson. He also timed out a blitz nicely that forced a quick throw.

Is this a big deal? Maybe.

I knew when I started watching Maddox before the draft that Jim Schwartz would love him. He’s Schwartz’s kind of guy, in terms of skills and attitude. At the same time, the trio ahead of him is pretty darned good. Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills have been outstanding this summer. Sidney Jones has looked really good.

Some people see this as a sign that the Eagles might be about to trade one of their CBs, probably Darby. There is some logic to that scenario, but I don’t think it will happen. This is a championship level football team. If you trade a starting CB, you better get good compensation.

More than likely this is the Eagles cross-training the CBs they like the most. Maddox is natural for the slot. The Eagles may want him and Jones to split time inside based on matchups. Do you want Jones covering the Cole Beasley type of slot receivers? Maddox might be a better fit for some smaller guys like him.

The other thing is that you have to be prepared for injuries. Schwartz isn’t giving anyone a completely defined role because he wants them to be able to do different things. You have to be prepared for the unexpected.

I don’t think Maddox is suddenly ahead of Jones. That’s possible, but it sure doesn’t seem likely. It is possible that part of this is simply rewarding Maddox for playing well in the game and in recent practices.

Go read the whole piece to see everything Jimmy had to say about Maddox.

*****

Now for Brandon Lee Gowton.

Undrafted rookie free agent Bruce Hector received second team defensive tackle reps for the second day in a row. Don’t forget that he received the most guaranteed money of any Eagles UDFA signing. Hector might be able to sneak on to the 53-man roster with the Eagles being thin at DT.

Hector played with Azziz Shittu, ahead of Elijah Qualls. The coaches like what they’e seen. Jim Schwartz mentioned Hector in his PC the other day and talked about needing to get him more game reps. That’s a great sign if you’re Hector, not so much if you’re Qualls.

The Eagles need one of the young DTs to stand out. Shittu has done that at times. Hector is on the rise now. The job is there for someone to win.  Read the rest of this entry »


Game Review – PS Opener – PIT 31, PHI 14

Posted: August 13th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

You know the drill. Ignore the score. Focus on players and not the overall team. And so on.

I’m behind on this so let’s get right to it.

QB

Nate Sudfeld – Up and down performance, but definitely more good than bad. Showed NFL ability and that’s the real key. A player with his limited experience isn’t supposed to look polished. And he didn’t. Showed that he is worth developing. Panicked on early blitz and made a bad throw, over the head of the WR. Had more time than he realized. Threw an INT on initial 3rd down. PIT used a trap coverage and Sudfeld didn’t read it. Carson Wentz made the same mistake early in the Rams game last year and got picked off. Showed good touch and accuracy when he hit Goedert for gain of 26. Still looked to have happy feet in the pocket. Held the ball too long and then hit Clement in the flat. He was immediately popped and lost yards. There were multiple plays when he had unblocked rushers coming at him. Sudfeld escaped on two plays and threw a TD on one. Threw a beautiful 63-yd TD to Gibson. Looked the safety off by starting left. Came back to his right and threw a perfect pass. Hit Gibson on the run for the long score.

Joe Callahan – Played in the 2nd half. Too frantic. Got sacked on first pass and lost the ball. Needed to step up in the pocket, but didn’t. Forced a screen pass on play that had been blown up. Almost INT. Should have thrown that in the ground. Was low to Treggs on pass that was caught. If the ball is up, Treggs can catch it on the run and deliver a big play. Best throw came on 2nd/long when he Rodgers, who was covered. Put the ball where only Rodgers could get it. Rodgers just couldn’t quite hang on. Great throw. Callahan has a good arm. Has some mobility. Can make tough throws. On the downside, he’s not consistently accurate, makes some questionable decisions and has poor pocket presence. The final play for the Eagles looked more like 4th/32 than 4th and 2.

RB

Jay Ajayi – Ran hard and looked good. Could be in for a big year. Tough to tackle.

Corey Clement – Was the PR early on. Took one punt back 13 yards. 5-30 as a runner. Took a quick hitter up the middle for a 1st down. Ran to the outside for a good gain. Looked quick and fast. Made an ILB miss on a run up the middle. Caught short pass on 3rd down. Fought off tackle by DB and got upfield for 1st down.

Wendell Smallwood – Played better than he’s getting credit for. Ran hard on 2-pt conversion play. Had a couple of nice runs where he hit the hole and got as much as he could. Caught swing pass and got upfield. Blocked well on some pass plays. Kept blitzer off Sudfeld on long TD to Gibson. Big issue is that he fumbled on a run up the middle. Wasn’t a big hit by the ILB either. Can’t lose that ball.

Josh Adams – Good game. Got on the field in the 3rd Qtr. First carry was a run to the outside that showed his vision and speed. Almost broke that for a huge gain. Had to settle for 15 yards. Good chip block. Better on runs to the outside where he could use his vision. Had good pass blocks on multiple plays. Caught short pass over the middle late in the game and got upfield for gain of 11. Caught another short pass. I was really impressed with his ability to run outside. Has big play ability.

TE

Dallas Goedert – Great game. I expected him to stand out as a receiver, but blocked better than I anticipated. Had a good block on the first run of the game. Got some movement vs smaller player. Good effort to sustain the block. Wasn’t out there pancaking guys, but got the job done. Shielded DB on Ajayi’s long run. Ran a good route down the field on the next play and caught 26-yard pass. Looked smooth running that route and just plucked the ball with ease. Dropped one pass. Lined up in the slot and ran a shallow cross. Started to look upfield before securing the ball. Good to know he’s human. Looked better blocking on the move than in-line. Caught pass on a seam route. DB took his legs out and Goedert went down hard, but held onto the ball and hopped right up.

Richard Rodgers – I was very impressed with his blocking. Excellent downblock of DL gave Ajayi lots of room to run. Not overly big or powerful, but made a concerted effort to lock onto defender and sustain his blocks. Blocked consistently well in the game. Didn’t win every time. Got blown up on second 2-pt try. Just good to see an Eagles TE who can line up and block someone at the LOS. Without Celek, I worried if anyone could do that. Real good block on Adams long run. Wasn’t able to haul in long pass from Callahan. Went up and got his hands on the ball, but couldn’t secure it. Tough play.

Josh Perkins – Good wham block on inside run. Had great play late in the game. Saw blitzer and blocked him. Unloaded on the guy and put him on the ground. Then released into the flat and caught the pass for a gain of 7. Justin Peelle had to be excited watching that.

Billy Brown – Didn’t play a lot of snaps. Showed his athleticism on some routes late in the game. He can really run. Almost made a sensational catch. Actually made the grab, but the ball was a couple of yards out of bounds. Excellent vision to find the ball and good hands to catch it.

WR

Mack Hollins – Didn’t stand out to me.

Shelton Gibson – Made one impact play. Hauled in 63-yd pass for TD. Used his speed to run right by the CB and get open down the field. Looked up and found the ball at full speed. Made the catch and got in for the score. Caught 14-yd pass along the sideline late in the game. Got popped. Good on STs as well. Had good punt coverage in 1st Qtr.

Kamar Aiken – Made a form tackle of DB after first INT.

Rashard Davis – Had 30-yard KOR that was negated by penalty. Looked good on that.

Greg Ward – Didn’t stand out to me.

Bryce Treggs – Slipped on pass thrown his way. It was picked off. Caught 22-yd pass in the 3rd. Had to go down to secure the ball. If he catches that on the move, could have been huge. Showed excellent body control when making a sideline catch late in the game. Finished 3-39.

DeAndre Carter – Made nice catch for gain of 20 late in the game. Had to go down for the ball.

OL

No reason to cover the starters.

Big V – LT for starters and #2 offense. Stud. Looks better than ever at pass pro.

Chance Warmack – Backup LG. Still Mr. Grabby Hands.

Isaac Seumalo – Mixed game. Jumbo TE with starters. Then backup C. Showed excellent movement skills. Runs well for a big guy. Good block on 2-pt conversion. Able to engage and sustain. Doesn’t consistently hit with power when blocking on the move. Pulled left and had a terrific block on ILB on run play in the early 3rd. Had an awful snap in the mid-3rd. Eagles lost 17 yards on the play. Killed a good drive. Had a couple of other snaps that were a bit errant, but that snap left the atmosphere.

Matt Pryor – Backup RG. Watching live, I thought he played well. Didn’t look as good on replay. Pulled to his left, didn’t pop the target and ended up on the ground. Got pushed back into QB on the throw to Bryce Treggs that was picked off. PIT ran a stunt and Seumalo/Pryor didn’t handle it well. Got knocked off balance when #41 blitzed and shoved him. Not sure what he was doing on second 2-pt try. Went backward and never blocked anyone. Looked confused. Read stunt late in the half and shoved his guy to the ground. That’s the kind of power you expect from Pryor. Had effective block of ILB on inside run. Pulled to the right on run play and was too upright. DB hit him and knocked him backward. Had some good pass blocks when he got his hands cleanly on the rusher.

Taylor Hart – Backup RT. Good effort, but limited player. Doesn’t anchor well. Had some real good run blocks in the 3rd Qtr. Quick edge rushers eat him up.

Jordan Mailata – LT for the 2nd half. Got beaten by OLB on first pass play. Couldn’t get his hands on him. Gave up strip sack. QB didn’t help by staying deep. His kick-slide is very impressive for someone with no football background. Tried to block OLB on outside run and got knocked to the ground. There were times when he looked very good in pass pro. Showed quick feet and used those long arms to control the rusher. Has bad habit of not keeping his feet under him. That makes him easier to push around. Needs to play with better balance. There were 2 plays late in the game when PIT jumped offside. Mailata immediately moved and pointed to the rusher. PIT was penalized on both plays. That’s smart for a guy who is new to football.

Aaron Evans – 3rd string LG. Quiet feet. Plays under control. Just locked up rusher on pass play. Very good with his hands. Got a good shot on NT when nobody was rushing to his area. Find someone to hit. Did the same thing a couple of plays later and knocked the NT to the ground. Got beaten in pass pro on final drive. Overall, a strong showing. Consider me a fan.  Read the rest of this entry »


The Eagles Got Hacked!

Posted: August 12th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

That headline might be a bit deceiving.

Interesting move.

I don’t think of Hackenberg as an Eagles type of QB. Obviously they disagree and see enough they feel he’s worth taking a look at.

Hackenberg was a prep star and prized recruit. He went to Penn State and played for Bill O’Brien. Hackenberg played well as a freshman and created a lot of hype. O’Brien left for the NFL after that and things changed in a big way.

James Franklin brought in a completely different offense. The QB needed to be more mobile and to make quicker decisions. Neither of those was a strength for Hackenberg. He was more of a pure pocket-passer, being more comfortable with 5 and 7-step drops. He was more accurate down the field than on short, tight throws.

PSU also had some OL problems that compounded matters. Hackenberg rarely had a clean pocket and that brought out the worst in him. No QB likes pressure, but some handle it better than others. Think about Thursday’s game and Nate Sudfeld. There were at least two plays where he had to deal with free rushers. Sudfeld got by the pressure on both plays and one of them resulted in a TD pass.

Hackenberg’s NFL career has been a disaster. The Jets drafted him earlier than they should have and that only put added pressure on him and them. He didn’t get particularly good coaching in NY and that certainly didn’t help.

So what do the Eagles like?

Hackenberg is big at 6-4, 225. The Eagles like big QBs. He has a strong arm, another trait that is important to the Eagles. Hackenberg is a good downfield passer. The Eagles love to get chunk plays when they can. Hackenberg fits that style of play.

The Eagles have an outstanding trio of QBs in Carson Wentz, Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld.

Stud starter.

Stud backup.

Young guy to develop.

Joe Callahan is purely a camp body from what we’ve seen so far. Hackenberg isn’t likely to ever develop into a starting QB in the NFL, but there is some logic to checking him out and seeing if you can develop him into a player for the future. He does have some NFL traits.

Foles is likely to be gone in 2019. Sudfeld would become the key backup and there would be a potential opening for another QB. Hackenberg could be a candidate for that role. He could be a practice squad candidate if the Eagles wanted to go QB heavy (three on the roster and one on the PS).

Howie Roseman is always looking for talent, especially at a crucial position like QB. The Eagles coaching staff has done amazing things with Wentz and Foles. I was not a big fan of Sudfeld’s coming out of Indiana and he’s developed nicely.

Maybe Doug and the boys can push the right buttons and get Hackenberg to finally show some of that talent we saw at Penn State.

_


Seth & Clyde to be Honored

Posted: August 11th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Great news from Thursday night.

Hell yes.

Those two guys should have been in years ago, but we’ll focus on the positive here…they’re going in.

Clyde Simmons was “the other guy”. That’s what happens when you’re the RDE and the LDE is some guy named Reggie White. Clyde wasn’t just some good complementary piece. He was a terrific pass-rusher who racked up 121.5 career sacks. To put that in perspective, you could combine the sacks from Hugh Douglas and Brandon Graham and you’d come up short of Clyde. Dude could get to the QB.

Clyde didn’t just ride on Reggie’s coattails. He had 7 or more sacks in a season for four teams (PHI, ARZ, JAX, CHI).

Clyde was 6-6, 280 and had long arms. He was a good athlete. You don’t beat LTs that regularly without having a good burst and good agility. He blocked 7 kicks in his time with the Eagles. He had 3 career INTs and scored 4 career TDs. One of those TDs won a game against the Giants.

I’m glad Clyde is finally getting his chance to be recognized.

Seth Joyner isn’t just one of the all-time great Eagles, he is one of the best 4-3 OLBs I have ever seen play. I’m glad he’s going into the Eagles Hall of Fame, but he really should be getting serious consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was that good.

Football changed in the 1980’s. The 3-4 defense turned OLBs into pass rushers. You may have heard of Lawrence Taylor, Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling and guys like that. As they posted gaudy sack stats, it became hard to appreciate 4-3 OLBs who were complete football players.

While Seth never had 20 sacks in a season, he made plays all over the field and in a variety of ways. He had 52 career sacks. He could line up and rush the passer or be a devastating blitzer. He knew how to beat blockers and how to finish. Seth had 24 career INTs, an incredible number for a LB. He had 26 FFs and 12 FRs. Seth was a playmaker and a weapon all over the field.

It is hard to quantify how good Joyner was in coverage. The Eagles would play him against RBs and TEs. There were times he might cover the slot. When Buddy Ryan brought him to the Cardinals, he had Seth play some safety when injuries hit the secondary hard. Seth was athletic, but more importantly he had excellent instincts.

Seth was amazing in 1991. The Eagles Gang Green defense had an all-time great year and he’s one of the reasons why. Seth had 6.5 sacks, 3 INTs, 6 FFs, 4 FR and he scored a pair of TDs. Sports Illustrated chose him as NFL Player of the Year.

Seth might be the most intense player to ever suit up for the Eagles. He had rage inside of him. That showed on the field and helped him to become the great player that he was. His intensity wasn’t always a great thing off the field. Jerome Brown was his best friend and a polar opposite. He was the playful kid with a smile on his face. Brown died in the summer of 1992 and that really affected him.

Seth had lost a close friend, but also the personality that helped to keep the locker room balanced out. Seth hated coach Rich Kotite and wasn’t afraid to let anyone know that. It made things awkward in 1992. Seth left in free agency after the 1993 season. He and Clyde both went to the Cardinals to play for Buddy Ryan, a coach they loved and respected.

It killed me to see Seth leave, but he would have been miserable playing another year for Kotite.

One of my favorite Seth highlights came in the 1992 season. The Eagles had lost a painful game to the Packers the week before. Seth was ripping Kotite to the media and tension was high. The Giants were a mess as well. Players hated Ray Handley and were threatening to forget the calls and play how they wanted during the game. Talk about a weird day, huh?

The Giants came out hot and were up 20-6. Things didn’t look so good. The Giants got the ball back and tried to throw a short pass. Seth stepped in front of that and picked it off. TD Eagles. That started a 41-7 run that helped the Eagles win 47-34. This was more famously the game where Vai Sikahema used the goal post as a punching bag to celebrate a TD.

That was terrific.

Nothing tops this, though.

Seth makes an incredible INT and runs it back for a TD to seal a win.

Then he goes over in front of a sign honoring Jerome and salutes him. I got emotional just watching this today. Great moment between Seth, his teammates and Eagles fans. There are times when I really do miss The Vet and those signs. That could be a special place.

Jerome was watching that day.

And he’ll be watching when Clyde and Seth go into the Eagles Hall of Fame this year.

_


Eagles are Sloppy in Preseaon Opener

Posted: August 10th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Preseason football is all about evaluation so final scores aren’t all that important so the Eagles losing to the Steelers 31-14 isn’t a big deal. To make it as simple as possible, their backups beat the Eagles backups.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about what we saw, starting with the good.

Nate Sudfeld started slow. He threw a bad pick. He seemed to be locking onto Dallas Goedert for each pass play. Sudfeld was slow to get the ball out. I was starting to wonder about all the praise the coaching staff has given him since the middle of the 2017 season. Then Sudfeld got his feet under him and played much better. He handled the rush well. He made smart reads and accurate throws. The TD to Goedert was an impressive play. Sudfeld showed elusiveness, awareness, vision and accuracy.

Sudfeld showed potential and playmaking ability tonight. That’s what you want in a #3 QB. He’s not supposed to be a finished product.

Corey Clement looked terrific. He was 5-30 as a runner, looking as quick and fast as ever. He also had a 13-yard punt return.

Josh Adams showed the ability the Eagles expected when they gave him a good signing bonus back in April. He ran well to the outside, showing patience, vision and speed. He caught a couple of passes and looked natural doing it. Doug Pederson said he blocked well. I didn’t focus on that.

Shelton Gibson averaged 27 yards per kickoff return. He hauled in a 63-yard TD pass from Sudfeld. We all know Gibson has speed, but this was the first time we really saw it make a big difference. He ran right by the CB.

Dallas Goedert was outstanding. He was 4-66 as a receiver, including a TD. Goedert did drop one pass. He started to look where to run before he had the ball secured. Goedert has big time potential. He can run routes, get open and snatch the ball when it comes his way. He makes all of this look so easy. I didn’t see much of him as a blocker.

I did think Richard Rodgers had some good blocks. That’s encouraging.

Matt Pryor looked good. He seems unusually confident for a rookie O-lineman.

Fletcher Cox doesn’t need to be mentioned in a piece like this, but he was so dominant at times that you have to mention him. Sack. Chased down a screen. Drove blocker back into the QB. He looks like a man on a mission.

Jordan Hicks did play. He didn’t jump out at me, good or bad. Still, it was great to see him on the field.

Azziz Shittu was the DT who jumped out at me. He was very quick off the ball and disrupted multiple plays. The coaches had to be really happy with what they saw from him.

Winston Craig played both DE and DT. He was in against third stringers, but I thought he flash a few times.

Kamu Grugier-Hill stood out more than the other LBs. Some of that was against backups, but you could see just how athletic he is. He led the team with 6 solo tackles, including a pair of TFLs. KGH helped his cause tonight.

De’Vante Bausby looked very good in coverage, but he had one atrocious tackle attempt. He’ll hear about that from coaches and teammates.

*****

Now let’s talk about some guys who had mixed performances.

Isaac Seumalo was the backup center and blocked well. But he had a terrible snap that killed a drive. Pederson said the coaches are working with him on that.

Jordan Mailata played his first ever football game. And it showed. He gave up a strip sack on his first play. The QB didn’t help him at all on that, but he was beaten cleanly and quickly.  Mailata got better as the game went along. He’s got zero chance to play in the league this year, but you can see hints of his potential, mostly due to his size and natural gifts right now. If he played like that after starting 38 games at LT for USC, I’d say he stunk. Considering his background, there was plenty to build on.

Rasul Douglas gave up a pair of TDs. He also had an impressive INT. Up and down. He just missed the ball on both TDs. While close is good, the problem is that he still missed and gave up big plays. Douglas is in Year 2. He shouldn’t be making those kinds of mistakes.

Elijah Qualls got my attention on a few plays. He showed good strength and was disruptive. He also was called twice for defensive holding. That should happen in a season, let alone one game.

Avonte Maddox showed talent and made mistakes. He was a very aggressive and confident player at Pitt. We didn’t see that same vibe from him in the opener. He’s doing a lot of learning.

Cameron Johnston averaged 45.8 per punt. That sounds good. It sounds even better when you find out he had an 81-yard bomb that didn’t count. Still, some kicks lacked hang time. His ball-placement, both deep and along the sidelines, must get better. Great leg, but inconsistent results.

*****

Bad games.

I thought Tre Sullivan stunk. Maybe I’ll feel different after watching the tape, but I was not impressed at all.

Wendell Smallwood did have a 13-yard run, but he also fumbled. A veteran RB like him can’t put the ball on the ground against backups.

Joe Ostman. Maybe I’m being overly harsh here, but effort just isn’t enough in the NFL. Ostman played hard, but he showed poor awareness and didn’t catch my eye as a pass rusher.

Joe Callahan looked like a #4 QB. He is mobile. He’s got a good arm. He also goes into panic mode way too easily. He’s better than Matt McGloin so all is forgiven.

It is hard to judge the WRs because they’re affected by play-calling, blocking and QB play, but WRs only caught 7 passes all night. That’s not good.

I feel like Rashard Davis always disappoints me. I desperately want him to break loose for a big return, but it never happens. It feels like he focuses too much on trying to make guys miss instead of trying to get yards.

*****

Major issues:

  • Tackling
  • Turnovers
  • Penalties

That kind of sloppiness is going to happen in the preseason opener. Still, there was too much of each. The coaches have plenty of teaching material from this game. You can bet the players will hear about it.

*****

Best news…no major injuries. Sidney Jones hurt his ankle, but it didn’t seem too serious.

_