Taking a Chance

Posted: June 8th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 53 Comments »

Chance Warmack was once a Top 10 pick. His size, power and athleticism impressed coaches and scouts all over the league. Warmack was expected to develop into a big time RG and Pro Bowl type player.

That didn’t happen.

Not even close, to be honest.

Paul Domowitch has a good piece up on Warmack signing with the Eagles so that he can be reunited with Jeff Stoutland (his college OL coach) to try and get his career back on track.

“The NFL is a relation-based business,” Warmack said. “When you’ve been with a guy for two years prior to coming to the NFL and had the success we had together, it was a no-brainer (signing with the Eagles).

“The offensive line is a developmental position. You can’t just jump in and play at a high level. You have to develop. I know what he gets out of players. He got a lot out of me at Alabama and he’s going to get a lot out of me here.”

Can a coach really make that much of a difference? Yes, but it doesn’t always happen.

Domo pointed out that Evan Mathis was a journeyman player until he got to the Eagles and was coached by Howard Mudd. That is a great example. Mathis was a perfect fit for Mudd’s system and played at a Pro Bowl level (I think he might be the first member of the PFF Hall of Fame).

There is a bid difference, though. Mathis had some odd circumstances and just couldn’t seem to get on the field regularly until he hit Philly. Warmack started for 3 years in Tennessee. He had the skills to play well for the Titans. He just didn’t do that.

Warmack does have talent.

If you put on some game tape from 2015, you will see talent. Warmack is big and powerful. He has quick feet. There are times when he looks nimble and shows good movement skills. He flashes big time ability on some plays.

Warmack also has major issues. He is on the ground way too much. Part of that is because he gets off balance way too easily. Sometimes he forgets to move his feet. There are some plays when he doesn’t use his hands well.

If you only watched his highlights, Warmack would look like a solid starter. If you watch his lowlights, you see a player who looks like a confused rookie. That’s not good for a player with plenty of experience. Can that be fixed?

Training Camp will be huge for Warmack. He needs to show he can be physical and beat up on defenders. He then has to show he can also pass protect well and be counted on to play with some consistency. Stoutland has a big challenge ahead of him, but Warmack has NFL talent. If Stoutland can “fix him”, Warmack could turn out to be a great signing.

I just wouldn’t bet a lot of money on that happening.

One thing that does help Warmack is that he seems to understand he is headed in the wrong direction and he’s got to play much better to save his career. He could have gone elsewhere for a bit more money, but he came to Philly to work with Stout and to try to fix his game. That’s smart for a young player.

*****

 

Hicks should be even better his year. This will be his second year at MLB in the Eagles 4-3 scheme.

Of course, you could argue that Eagles CBs were so bad that QBs simply quit throwing over the middle and attacked the outside over and over.

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Second Thoughts

Posted: June 6th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 62 Comments »

This will be Darren Sproles final season in the NFL. Unless it won’t.

You can understand where Sproles might have an open mind at this point. It is spring time. His body is healthy and feels good. There is optimism about the upcoming season. He’s got some talented players around him.

The NFL season is a marathon. It is a war of attrition. Players wear down, mentally, physically and emotionally. It doesn’t matter if you are 23 or 33. The NFL is tough. Players are, as the great Lili Von Shtupp would say, “tired”.

Sproles may feel completely different when December and January roll around. He might be ready to head off to the sunset. For now, he’s smart to keep an open mind. See how the season goes. See how he feels. Play football if it is fun, but walk away if the grind is just too much.

I guess there is also the question of how Sproles would fit in next season. We’ll have to wait and see how Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey pan out. If they play as the Eagles hope, Sproles would be a luxury. If those young guys struggle, the Eagles may be begging Sproles to stick around for one more season.

Stay tuned.

*****

I didn’t get a chance to touch on this yet.

Wright replaces LB Steven Daniels, who was cut last week. I hated to see Daniels go, but the first rule of the NFL is you must be healthy enough to play.

The Eagles needed help at DT with Beau Allen injured. And then Tim Jernigan got hurt on Monday. It turned out to be good that the team added Wright to help eat up some practice reps. From PE.com.

A fourth-round pick of the Detroit Lions out of Auburn in 2015, the 6-2, 284-pound Wright has played in 12 games over the past two seasons with the Lions and the Cleveland Browns. He played in seven games as a rookie, but landed with the Browns in 2016 and suited up for five contests while bouncing back and forth between the active roster and practice squad.

At Auburn, Wright played in all 52 games during his four-year career. His best season as a Tiger was in 2013 when he had 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

Wright does fit the scheme. He is a 1-gap DT. To be anything more than a camp body Wright will have to play his butt off and impress the heck out of the coaches.

*****

Practice leftovers

  • Dorial Green-Beckham had his best day on Monday. He’s had a tough spring and might be feeling the pressure of a now crowded WR spot. DGB has a rare combination of size, skill and athleticism. He has big potential. The problem is that potential only gets you into the league. It won’t keep you around forever. DGB has to step his game up and force the coaches to want to keep him. If he can’t handle the pressure of a battle for a roster spot, then you sure as heck don’t want him playing for you in a big game. A lot of people have already written him off. That’s understandable. There is enough time left for him to do something about that, but he’s got to build off what he did Monday and continue to get better. Anything less and he’ll unemployed by Labor Day.
  • The Eagles played Brandon Graham at RDE and Vinny Curry at LDE on Monday. This isn’t a huge deal, but it is interesting that they are moving the DEs around to find the best combination of players and spots. I think Graham and Curry are both natural LDEs. Derek Barnett was predominantly a RDE in college. It would be great if he could step up and either win that job or play well enough to earn a lot of snaps there.
  • Brandon Lee Gowton noted that Steven Means was a DT for a rep and made a play that impressed the coaches. Means is a fringe guy, but he is doing exactly what you want. He lines up wherever the coaches tell him and plays 100 mph on every snap. Too many young/fringe players don’t get this. You have to find any and every way to impress the coaches. Even if they have to cut you, make them not want to.

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Week 3 OTA Roundup

Posted: June 5th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 92 Comments »

There was another practice session open to the media so let’s see what the local writers had to say about the Eagles.

We’ll open with Jimmy Bama.

Carson Wentz was up and down today. Early in practice, he had a really nice play when he stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush, then moved to his left and threw the ball on the run deep down the field complete to Alshon Jeffery. He also had good, strong throws to Torrey Smith on the sideline, and in between a few defenders to Nelson Agholor.

Wentz also had his bad moments, throwing his share of inaccurate passes. His lowlight on the day was a badly overthrown pass outside the hash on the left side of the field that was easily picked off by Jaylen Watkins.

It would be great if Wentz looked like Tom Brady out there, just throwing perfect pass after perfect pass. That’s just not reality. He’s a young player adjusting to new receivers and working on his mechanics. There are going to be ups and downs. This is the time of year for him to work through those issues. It is good that Wentz does seem to make a highlight play or two at every practice. The talent is there.

Can a new assistant coach really make a difference?

Mike Groh was getting on the receivers most of the day. During drills, he had the following exchange with rookie UDFA (and converted quarterback) Greg Ward:

Groh: “Look at where you are!”

Ward: (Looks down, realizes he’s lined up offsides and moves back)

Groh: “Is this press?!?”

Ward: “Yeah.”

Groh: “Is this press?!?!?!”

Ward: “Yeah.”

Groh: “Then why are you bent over like that?”

Ward: (Gets into better position to fend off press coverage).

There’s a lot of that going on with Groh. He seems very detail oriented and doesn’t let his players get away with getting those details wrong.

I love that nugget. A good coach sees everything and is trying to teach his players to focus on the details. Greg Ward is a UDFA who played QB last year at Houston. There is every reason that Groh could be easy on him to try and build the young guy’s confidence. The heck with that. Groh is going to push his players to do their job well. It doesn’t matter if that’s the Pro Bowl receiver or the UDFA rookie. Groh has high expectations for his players and he is pushing them. This group could have used that last year, but better late than never.  Read the rest of this entry »


Mac Update

Posted: June 5th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 48 Comments »

There just might be a Jeremy Maclin reunion, only not the one many of you were hoping for.

I don’t know who Jordan Schultz is and can’t vouch for his credibility, but this makes total sense. Sean McDermott is the head coach in Buffalo and knows Maclin from their time together in Philly. There is also some guy named Shady McCoy who plays for the Bills. He is actively recruiting Maclin to head to western New York.

The Bills could use Maclin. They have Sammy Watkins as their primary WR. He is a terrific deep threat, but has never caught more than 65 passes in a season. Rookie Zay Jones could play the slot and that would leave an open spot for Maclin on the outside, where he is most comfortable.

Nothing has happened yet so we’ll have to wait and see how things play out. Maclin doesn’t need to make a hasty decision. He may want to consider his options.

Maclin hated leaving Philly. This organization drafted him and he liked living here. He went to KC for the money (and that area was near where he grew up in St. Louis). It is possible Maclin may want to come back to Philly.

In terms of the Eagles wanting Maclin, we don’t know anything for sure. If you want to boil things down to a basic level, Maclin would be the second best receiver on the team. Jordan Matthews is younger and put up better numbers last year, but Maclin has better hands and is still faster. Matthews is a good fit for this team because he is so good in the slot.

Maclin did play some in the slot the last two years, but he will never be mistaken for Anquan Boldin in terms of toughness or physicality. Maclin wants to make plays and is best when he’s got some space. He isn’t going to thrive when playing in traffic all game long.

Torrey Smith is a speed guy. You want him on the outside.

It really seems that if the Eagles wanted Maclin, they’d have to cut Smith. That would free up some money and a spot in the offense for him. That just doesn’t seem likely, but never say never. In the end, this most likely will come down to money and there are other teams who can outspend the Eagles so all the discussion of playing time and how to use receivers will be moot.

*****

For those of you not on Twitter…Chris Long is one funny guy.

It took me a minute to realize that was Chris with the Delta logo. That is brilliant.

I hope he plays well. Seems like the kind of guy you want to pull for. Connor Barwin was that guy last year, but just didn’t get the job done on the field.

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Building an Offense

Posted: June 4th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 53 Comments »

There was a lot of criticism of the Eagles offense last year. Fans, writers and analysts all had issues with what they saw. Some said the Eagles didn’t run the ball enough. Others thought Carson Wentz didn’t run enough. A lot of people hated the small-ball passing attack. Some critics focused on personnel use. Why no fullback? Why didn’t they run more 3-TE sets? There were plenty of beefs about players usage as well.

The offense was 22nd in the league in yardage. They were 16th in points, but got help from 5 non-offensive TDs and a safety. The offense itself only scored 32 TDs. That’s not ideal.

This is Year 2 for the Eagles offense under Doug Pederson. This should be a better offense, hopefully much better. Part of that will be due to personnel upgrades. Part of that will be Wentz no longer being a rookie.

I also think coaching will be a factor. The staff should have a better idea of what they want to do and how to use the personnel. I wrote my PE.com column on the offense and how the coaches may use the personnel.

I’m curious to see how the coaches do this season. They will finally have some good pieces to work with. Pederson has given us every indication he’d like to throw the ball down the field, but a rookie QB and poor WRs killed that idea last year. It will be interesting to see just how vertical the offense becomes. Let’s hope the days of constantly throwing quick screens are over. That was torture, especially with WRs who lacked RAC skills.

*****

One player who can help on both deep balls and quick screens is WR Shelton Gibson. PE.com has a highlight video up, focusing on him as a deep threat.

Mack Hollins is the rookie receiver drawing the most praise. Gibson might start to impress this summer, or he could be one of those guys who will struggle as a rookie and need more time to get going. We’re barely into June so it is too early to know anything definitive about the rookies.

*****

I found some mock draft scenarios yesterday while doing some cleaning. I will scribble down ideas to see how they look and to compare them. That helps me when I’m doing mock drafts. Also helps me to see the big picture when discussing the draft. Too often we fixate on one idea. Really can help to compare different scenarios.

One of the scenarios had Derek Barnett in the 1st round, Rasul Douglas in the 3rd round and a WR from UNC in the 4th. To be fair, that was Ryan Switzer, the slot receiver and RS (now a Cowboy).

The other two scenarios on that sheet didn’t have any correct picks.

Always fun to look back at things like this.

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