Tulloch is Finally Free

Posted: July 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 72 Comments »

We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. The day has finally come. LB Stephen Tulloch is a free man.

Now that he’s free, the question becomes where Tulloch will sign.

I recently wrote about the Eagles as a possible destination. The big problem obviously is that the Eagles have a starting MLB in Jordan Hicks. Would Tulloch come here to compete for a job or to be the backup?

At first glance, that doesn’t seem likely. But the relationship between Jim Schwartz and Tulloch is a factor. See what Jimbo had to say about Tulloch when he signed him as a free agent in Detroit.

The Detroit Lions had a press conference for newly re-signed linebacker Stephen Tulloch at its facility this afternoon. Tulloch was an unrestricted free agent and signed a five-year deal to remain in Detroit on Wednesday (terms of Tulloch’s deal are currently unavailable). His family, friends and girlfriend attend the press conference in Allen Park.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew expressed how happy he was to have Tulloch for five-years, but Schwartz fought back tears at the podium.

“I get a little choked up because I’ve known Stephen since he was 20-years old,” Schwartz said. “He came in as a fourth-round draft pick (in Tennessee) and I’ve seen him (grow). It’s like a son, or a neighbor, or a cousin, and you see him develop throughout his career.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this day for him. To see the hard work and the perseverance it’s taken him to get to this point. I need to step off this podium before it’s too much.”

Schwartz did not need to say another word.

The Tennessee Titans made Tulloch its fourth-round selection in 2006. Schwartz was the team’s defensive coordinator. It is why the two men have such a bond.

“Coach Schwartz gave me the opportunity in 2006, when everybody overlooked me because of my size,” Tulloch said. “I wasn’t big enough, my 40 time wasn’t fast enough, but (for Schwartz) to see the person I was and give me the opportunity in the film he watched … He gave me an opportunity.

“I remember being behind a guy named Peter Sirmon, itching to play, scratching at the surface to play, knowing I was ready. My opportunity didn’t come then, but not too far after, I got the opportunity and never looked back.”

Tears? What is this, Dick Vermeil time? Those two men obviously have a tight bond. That absolutely could come in to play as Tulloch surveys the market.

The recent suspension of Rolando McClain makes Dallas a distinct possibility. There are a few other teams who don’t have a settled situation at MLB. Tulloch might want to go to a contender. Or he might focus on a sure-thing opening in the lineup. The Eagles aren’t a great fit in either category. Still, you never know. He might want to come here to play for an old coach and for a defense that has the potential to be outstanding. Dallas certainly doesn’t appear to be a dominant D. On the flip side, Tulloch might get to make a bunch of tackles for them.

I would love to have Tulloch, but don’t hold your breath.

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Supplemental Draft

Posted: July 5th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 16 Comments »

The NFL will hold the Supplemental Draft on July 14th. There are 6 players eligible.

  • Eddie D’Antuono – LS – Va Tech
  • Ra’Zahn Howard – DT – Purdue
  • Jalen Overstreet – RB – Sam Houston State
  • Tee Shepard – CB – Ole Miss
  • Rashaun Simonise – WR – Calgary, Canada
  • Cameron Walton – DE – Concordia

I do not think the Eagles will spend a pick on any of these players. None are that good. In case you have forgotten, teams can select these players during the Supplemental Draft and would then lose that pick in the 2017 draft. The Eagles are already missing their 1st round pick. I don’t think they would want to use any more picks unless the player was simply too good to pass up.

I did not watch any tape of Eddie D’Antuono, but those guys are usually late round picks anyway. The Eagles already have Jon Dorenbos and a rookie at LS. I don’t see them using a pick.

Howard is 6-3, 325. He is a big, powerful player who started the past 2 seasons. He would be good as a 3-4 NT or a run-stuffer in the 4-3. Put on the tape and you’ll see some good plays, but not enough to make him a compelling option for the Eagles. He reminds me of a lesser Beau Allen. Howard had 2 sacks in his career and the Eagles prefer playmakers in the new system.

Overstreet used to play at Texas, but got the boot and went to SHSU. He has some legal issues that could make jail more likely than the NFL.

Shepard is interesting. He is hearing impaired and said that he lost playing time at Ole Miss because the coaches didn’t fully trust him on the field because of that. The coaches, obviously, deny that. Shepard has had an interesting career. He committed to Notre Dame, but instead went the JuCo route. He actually went to a pair of JC schools before transferring to Ole Miss in the spring of 2014. He then quit the team in October of 2015. Shepard announced he would transfer to Miami of Ohio, but that fell through and now he’s headed to the NFL.

There is no denying that Shepard has talent, but all that movement doesn’t look good. The Eagles already have a group of young CBs. I don’t see the need to take a chance on Shepard.

Simonise is the player the Eagles could be most interested in. He is 6-5, 205 and you know the NFL loves big receivers. Simonise posted great stats, going 65-1306-11 in just 10 games. The problem is that he wasn’t facing good competition. Simonise averaged more than 20 yards per catch, but didn’t show a lot of speed. His Pro Day is July 11th and we’ll see what he runs, but he sure didn’t look like a 4.4 speedster to me. You can be an effective downfield receiver without great speed, but I saw a player who wasn’t getting a lot of separation against mediocre DBs.

Walton was good, but played at a very small school. The Eagles don’t need bodies at DE so I don’t see them having much interest.

I don’t see any of these players as likely to be Eagles, but Simonise makes the most sense with WR being a weak spot for the team. And the Eagles would only go after him as a free agent. I think Howie Roseman will hold onto his picks. No one in this bunch is very compelling, at least in a good way.

*****

Here is Jimmy Bama’s take on the fellas.

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My Buddy

Posted: July 3rd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 22 Comments »

Buddy Ryan is the reason I’m an Eagles fan. He first put the hooks in me when he was coaching the Bears defense. I don’t remember a specific moment that got my attention, but the 1984 Bears defense was the start of it all. There was a famous game between the Bears and Raiders. It was almost like the first version of the Body Bag Game.

The 1984 Bears were finished #1 in the league and set an NFL record with 72 sacks. They were great.

And then the 1985 Bears showed up. They took defense to a whole other level.

There were 10 games where the opponent scored 10 or fewer points. Two of those games were shutouts. The ’85 Bears had 34 INTs. That is an astonishing total. The Eagles have 46 over the past 3 years combined. The Bears didn’t just take the ball away. They scored 5 TDs. The Bears then pitched 2 shutouts in the postseason and won the Super Bowl 46-10. For my money, that was the best season by a defense in the history of the NFL.

The Bears had great players. They also had Buddy and his 46 Defense.

Mike Singletary Chicago BearsJanuary 27, 1986S 587credit:  Bill Smith - spec

I was just getting into the X’s and O’s of football when the 46 Defense took over the NFL. I was enamored with the 46. It was so creative and different from anything else being run by teams.

I was excited to see what Buddy could do as head coach of the Eagles. And he didn’t disappoint, as I wrote for PE.com.

The end result was disappointing. No playoff wins. Unfulfilled potential. Far too many “What if’s?”.

But that doesn’t erase the great memories and all the fun of the Ryan era. In some ways, it makes things even better. Think about how many people become bandwagon fans of the Lakers, Yankees, Patriots or Cowboys. Fans see them on TV. They see all the titles. They start pulling for those teams. but it is all based on winning.

I became an Eagles fan because of Buddy Ball, not postseason glory. I loved watching the Eagles play. The team was fun. They felt special, even though they don’t have the postseason success to prove that. They are like a boxer that won big fights, but never the title fights. The good moments were sensational. They just didn’t come in January.

I also think Buddy’s impact on the Eagles has been long lasting, as I talked about in the piece. He is a big reason that the Eagles are Philly’s team. It wasn’t that way when Buddy came to town, but is has been true since he left.

If it wasn’t for Buddy Ryan, you wouldn’t be reading this. I might be writing about the Baltimore Orioles or the Sixers (god forbid) or maybe something completely outside of sports. How does Tommy’s Tips To A Whiter Bathroom sound?

Buddy got a Super Bowl ring when he helped the Jets win SB III. He got another ring when the Bears won in 1985 and his players carried him off the field. When the Eagles win a Super Bowl some time in the next 37 years, I feel like Buddy will be part of that. His arrival in 1986 woke the franchise up and got it moving in the right direction. While Buddy didn’t deliver the results we wanted, his impact on the organization and the city is still here to this day.

Buddy’s impact shouldn’t be defined by rings and trophies. His impact is more about people and relationships. Buddy’s players loved him and were incredibly loyal. The fans loved Buddy’s players and continue to do so to this day. Reggie, Seth, Clyde and Jerome haven’t played for the Eagles for more than 2 decades, but those names mean something to Eagles fans. No last names are needed. Buddy loved being the coach of the Eagles. That really meant something to him.

It feels funny to use the word “love” so much when writing about Buddy Ryan, but it also seems darned appropriate.

Thank you, Buddy, for teaching me to truly love great defense and for making me an Eagles fan.

Buddy-Reggie

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Feeling Nostalgic

Posted: July 3rd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 12 Comments »

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research on Buddy Ryan. That made me want to go watch a random game from back in his day.

Believe it or not, there was a time when CBS had the best football broadcasts (and it wasn’t close). Dick Stockton was the announcer in this game and was terrific. It is a shame he’s stayed active so long because he is awful now. Just looking at the CBS graphics gets me all warm and tingly for the old days.

Look how fast Reggie was back then. He slowed down as he got older (proving he was human).

Seeing Seth Joyner in his prime always gets me thinking about LB play. The last truly great 4-3 LB was Willie T from 1993-1996. That wasn’t his whole career, but he was at the top of his game in that span. Jeremiah Trotter and Carlos Emmons were good, but not great. Shawn Barber might have been something special if he stayed, but he didn’t.

Jordan Hicks showed big time potential last year. We’ll see if he can build on that or if it was a bit of a fluke. I’m also curious to see how Mychal Kendricks does now that he’ll be getting the best coaching of his career.

And it sure is fun to watch The 46, at least when it works.

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More on Character

Posted: July 2nd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 35 Comments »

There were some interesting questions and comments after yesterday’s post on character.

I wrote that you wouldn’t want a team full of choirboys. Someone asked why not. Football, even modern football, is a violent game. You are asking men to attack each other for 3 hours. You can find some intelligent, well-adjusted people to do this, but not 53. At some point you are going to have to take chances on questionable character types if you are trying to assemble a talented team to win games.

There is no way the 53 best players available to you are high character guys. You can pass on them, but that talent will go elsewhere and then your team of choirboys has to deal with teams that have more talent. You have to take some chances to have a realistic shot to compete with the best teams.

The Eagles took a chance when they drafted DeSean Jackson. He fell to the 2nd round because of character concerns. Most of those concerns didn’t come true in the NFL. He was a good risk.

King Dunlap got benched in his Senior season at Auburn. The coaches were frustrated with him and sat him to play a freshman. That killed Dunlap’s draft value. The Eagles took a chance in the 7th round and he has had a solid NFL career.

There were character questions with Winston Justice as a prospect. Character was never an issue with him in the NFL. Getting married and becoming a father helped him to mature. His issues were all football related.

Both Lito Sheppard and Freddie Mitchell had maturity questions coming out of college. Both players had maturity issues in the NFL.

You have to take some chances. The key is to limit those chances and be smart about them.

I think a big problem is that we tend to hear “character” and immediately think of a rapist, wife-beater or drug user. Character isn’t always that extreme. Sometimes maturity is the question. Maybe a player has a huge ego and that’s a concern. Maybe a player’s temper makes him a potential problem. With Danny Watkins, the problem was dedication to the game. He just didn’t love football. To many coaches, that’s the biggest sin of all. They can live with other issues if a player lives and dies to get on the field.

Someone brought up my Michael Irvin example and mentioned Irvin would be getting suspended in today’s game. I agree. I wasn’t mentioning Irvin as someone I liked, but he’s a great example of the true problem of talent vs character. He produced. He was a team leader. He helped his team win big. It is easy to talk about not wanting or getting rid of unproven or marginal headaches. Greg Hardy wasn’t that good on the field last year. Not bringing him back wasn’t an overly tough decision. Coaching someone like Irvin or Lawrence Taylor would be so much tougher. Great players with serious issues. It is much harder to do the right thing when that guy is a star player with a Super Bowl ring on his finger.

I don’t think you can make a permanent rule. I think you must judge things on a case-by-case basis. What kind of a team do you have that year? What are the concerns with a prospect? Is the risk worth the reward? And so on.

*****

NFL.com ranked Doug Pederson as the league’s worst coach. I can live with that, but not their logic. Go read Jimmy Bama’s post. He breaks down the situation perfectly

It is fair to rank Pederson last, but that logic is terrible.

*****

RIP Buddy.

Dave Spadaro wrote a nice piece on Buddy’s funeral.

I love the fact that so many former players are so loyal. Speaks to the bond Buddy had with his guys.

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