OL Update

Posted: August 25th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 235 Comments »

One of the reasons that the Eagles offense has played so well in the preseason is that the offensive line has played well. Let’s take an updated look at some players.

* Jason Peters is a man on a mission. He is out to prove that he was the key to the left side of the line and not Evan Mathis. Peters is in the best shape of his life and he’s playing as well as I’ve ever seen. This is very encouraging.

* I like what I’ve seen so far from Allen Barbre. He may not be Evan Mathis Jr., but he’s played well at LG as both a run blocker and pass protector.

* Andrew Gardner is the least effective of the starting linemen, but he’s better than the other options at RG. Gardner has had some good moments.

Gardner looks like he can be an effective starter, especially in this system. He’s certainly not a long term answer, though. His biggest issue is that he plays too upright at times. That limits his power as a run blocker and it gets him off balance in pass protection. When he bends his knees and plays with good pad level, Gardner can get the job done. He is at his best on the move. Despite being a big guy, he is a good athlete with impressive movement skills.

* John Moffitt has been disappointing so far. I knew he would be rusty, but I didn’t expect him to be this rusty. He does have flashes of his old self. The more he plays, the more we should see of that guy. The preseason finale will probably be huge for him. Moffitt should play most of that game. He will need to show he’s worth keeping on the roster.

* I have been pleasantly surprised by Matt Tobin as the backup LT. He played that spot in the past and looked okay, but he’s had a good showing so far. Tobin won’t be mistaken for Jason Peters any time soon, but he’s been solid as a pass blocker. I would like to see him get some reps at LG. Tobin just seems more comfortable on the left side of the line. He was a non-factor in the RG competition, but you can see the guy has talent when watching him play LT in games.

* David Molk was up and down when facing some of the Ravens bigger DL. I still think he should be the backup C. Molk has very good movement skills and he will battle like heck when run blocking a DT or NT.

* I don’t know what to make of Julian Vandervelde. He looks good when allowed to fire off the ball and attack DL. He looks overwhelmed when pass blocking at times. He really struggles to anchor on some plays. Powerful DL will just drive him back to the QB. I don’t think I would keep him on the final roster, but the coaches seem to like him.

* Dennis Kelly is maddening. He has the potential to be a starting OT in the NFL, but he doesn’t play to that potential. He’s big. He has good feet. Kelly is a good enough athlete. He just doesn’t do the little things well. If you could combine him and Tobin, you might have a solid starting OL. There are some plays when Kelly is very impressive. There just aren’t enough of those. It wouldn’t shock me to see him stick around for this season, but I doubt he’s back next summer. If the light hasn’t gone on at this point, it never will.

* I haven’t yet re-watched the third string OL from the Ravens game. Just based on what I saw when watching the game live, they looked better than they did in the Colts game. You saw some holes on run plays. Kevin Monangai didn’t run for 87 yards based purely on his ability.

I just hope one or two of those guys shows enough that they can be good practice squad material.

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Kendricks Gets Some Cash

Posted: August 24th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 224 Comments »

A lot of people thought Mychal Kendricks was as good as gone when the Eagles traded for Kiko Alonso and then drafted Jordan Hicks. After all, Kendricks isn’t the 6-3, 240 ILB that Chip Kelly would ideally like.

As it turns out, Kendricks isn’t going anywhere.

Wow.

Kendricks is a talented and versatile linebacker. He has good cover skills. He can rush the passer. Kendricks has worked hard to become a good inside run defender. He can consistently take on and shed blocks. He has the speed to shoot gaps and make plays in the backfield.

Kendricks led the Eagles in solo tackles in 2014. He really filled up the stat sheet in 2013 when he finished second in total tackles and added 4 sacks, 6 TFLs, 3 INTs, 2 FFs and 4 FRs. That’s a lot of plays. And the 3-4 is at its best when the ILBs are playmakers.

This is a good move. The Eagles need to lock up the good young players they have. Next up should be Vinny Curry.

There was a time when the Eagles struggled to draft and develop young defensive talent. Thankfully, that seems to be a thing of the past.

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Tebow Update

Posted: August 24th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 435 Comments »

There has been a lot of talk recently about Tim Tebow being a sure thing to make the Eagles roster. I don’t know if I fully buy that, but I’m beginning to feel he will make the team.

Matt Barkley looks better this year than he did the past two seasons, but Barkley hasn’t stood out. As I watched Bryn Renner, the Ravens third string QB, I thought…I wish he was an Eagle. Renner is only in his second season with the Ravens, but you can just see something with him. Renner may never be a starter, but he could develop into a good backup. He was 15-21-158 with 2 TDs on Saturday night.

Through 10 preseason games in his career, Barkley has 4 TD passes. His best game came last year in the preseason finale. Barkley was 21-33-253 with a TD and an INT. On Saturday night Barkley was 6-14-86.

But Tebow only went 2-5-13. How could you choose him over Barkley?

Chip Kelly drafted Barkley with the thought that he might develop into the long term answer at QB. That certainly doesn’t appear to be the case. At the least, you hoped Barkley would become a solid backup. If he had become Kelly’s version of A.J. Feeley, that would have made him worth the pick.

Right now Barkley looks like a #3 QB. That’s it. The light still might come on for him one day, but it just hasn’t to this point.

Tebow has been interesting to watch. He is an improved passer, but the one thing Tom House wasn’t able to fix is the mental side of things. Tebow struggles with his progressions and his decision-making.

How he didn’t see the open receiver or get him the ball is beyond me.

But Tebow still got the ball down inside the 1-yard line. His style isn’t pretty, but it can be effective. When Barkley isn’t throwing the ball well…the offense is in trouble. He can’t make things happen.

You generally want to keep the young QB so you can give him as much time as possible to develop, but if you don’t think Barkley is going to take that next step, keeping him around doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I wish there was a way to see each player with the starting offense. Playing with top talent might make Barkley look very different. He’s not special in any way so he needs help. Tebow would likely be more effective with top talent, but I don’t know if you could count on him consistently getting the ball to Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and the gang. Still, we do know that in the right situation, he can win games, even a playoff game.

If either Barkley or Tebow had to play significant snaps, the Eagles would be in trouble. You just don’t put in your third QB and win very often. As dysfunctional as Tebow can be, if you had to have one NFL coach designing and calling plays for him, it would be Chip Kelly.

I don’t think either Barkley or Tebow will play a whole lot this week. The third preseason game is mostly the starter and top backup. Both guys should be on the field a lot in the finale. And who knows…maybe the player who looks better in that game will win the job.

The one thing that bugs me as I consider Tebow for the roster is that Kelly explained recently that he wants his backups to look like the starters so that things won’t have to change much when there are injuries. Tebow looks more like Brent Celek or DeMeco Ryans than he does Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez or Barkley. That’s true of his appearance and his QB skill set. Things change drastically when he’s on the field.

But Kelly chose Tebow to be here. Maybe Tebow is so unique that Kelly is willing to make an exception in his case.

We’ll find out in a couple of weeks.

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A Year Later

Posted: August 23rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 402 Comments »

Last summer the Eagles started the preseason 0-2. That’s hardly a big deal since preseason records don’t matter at all. But the Eagles lost to Chicago 34-28 and to New England 42-35. The Eagles gave up 76 points in those games. Ouch.

This year the Eagles are 2-0. That’s nice, but doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The scores do offer some hints. The Eagles beat the Colts 36-10 and the Ravens 40-17.

Two preseason games don’t tell us the defense is going to be great. Opponents haven’t had a full complement of starters out there. Schemes are vanilla. And starters are playing limited snaps. Still, there is no denying the progress that has been made this year.

The Eagles have not given up a 1st quarter touchdown so far this year. They shutout the Ravens unitl the 4th quarter. X-plays were the huge issue with the defense last season. So far this summer they have not been a factor at all. Think about the one deep ball Joe Flacco tried to throw. His receiver was well-covered by Nolan Carroll. Flacco made the throw anyway. Carroll got his hand up to deflect the pass. FS Walter Thurmond was in perfect position to help on the play and picked off the pass. This is worlds different from Bradley Fletcher getting burned time after time and never getting help from Nate Allen.

It is too early to say the X-plays problem has been solved, but the Eagles have absolutely improved in that area. New secondary coach Cory Undlin has made a difference. The new players have made a difference. This won’t be the second coming of Troy Vincent and Brian Dawkins, but if they can be as good as Bobby Taylor and Greg Jackson, the defense will be much improved.

There is no doubt the Eagles will score points. If the defense takes a big step forward, this time might prove to be more of a challenge to the Seahawks and Packers than anyone anticipated.

* * * * *

Sam Bradford showed glimpses of what he can do. He found Riley Cooper open deep early on, but the ball was a bit off. Mark Sanchez has failed to see open receivers downfield so just seeing Cooper is a big thing for me. The timing between Bradford and his receivers will take some time. Practice is one thing, games are another.

Bradford made good throws to Jordan Matthews and Darren Sproles. You can see his tight spirals. He’s just a gifted, natural thrower.

Bradford was awkward in the pocket. His timing was off. But it was encouraging because he didn’t go into some kind of panic mode. Heck, it almost looked a couple of times like he was caught off-guard by having such good protection. I guess coming from the Rams he simply isn’t used to having time to scan the field and find a receiver.

The coaches will go over the tape and work on the things that need to be fixed. Bradford is still a work in progress. I was encouraged by what I saw. The most important thing is that he took some hits and played through them. Remember, he hadn’t been truly hit in 12 months. That is a tremendous lay-off for a football player.

Now that some of the rust is gone and Bradford has taken his shots, I’m curious to see how much better he looks next week. The Packers will be a good test for him and the Eagles.

* * * * *

The Eagles haven’t lost any key players to injury so far. That’s very encouraging when you look at how some other teams are losing players. I don’t blame Chip Kelly one bit for being cautious with his guys this summer.

* * * * *

Stay classy, Baltimore.

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PHI 40, BAL 17

Posted: August 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 133 Comments »

Another week, another butt-kicking. I could get used to this.

The Eagles out-played the Ravens on offense, defense and STs. Sam Bradford was able to get in and shake off some rust. He took some hits and worked his way through them. Several backups improved from last week. Maybe most importantly, there weren’t any key injuries.

All in all, a terrific night.

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