Listen Up You Hosers

Posted: April 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , , | 12 Comments »

Apparently the Eagles will be playing up in Canada against the Bills this year.  The schedule will be officially released tonight so we’ll have confirmation soon enough.  Buffalo has lost the games played in Toronto each of the last 2 years (MIA, CHI).  Of course, those weren’t exactly juggernaut Bills teams.

I expect a large contingent of Eagles fans to take over the stadium and introduce our Canadian brothers to the way a football game is supposed to be.  The last 2 years the stadium has lacked atmosphere.  That better change in 2011.

Just a heads up for those that go, if you find a mouse in a bottle of beer from the Elsinore Brewery, that is against the Canadian Criminal Code and you’re entitled to a free case.  Just go to the brewery and tell ’em that Bob and Doug sent ya.

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I was listening to the Dan Patrick show this morning.  They had a discussion about the battle for the cover of the upcoming Madden game.  It is down to Peyton Hillis and Michael Vick.  One point someone brought up was whether fans should want their favorite player to win.  There is a “Madden cover curse” that has plagued some guys in the past, mainly in the form of injuries.  One of Dan’s assistants made the joke that he’d just gotten an email from Kevin Kolb saying that Vick should absolutely win and get the cover.

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I want to pause some of the O-line discussion and save that for after the draft.  There were some good questions and comments on Monday.  That will make for a good discussion in early May.  We won’t be talking about mini-camp or UDFAs.

I will talk about the draft angle.  Mudd doesn’t require guys that are massive, but that doesn’t mean he can’t use them effectively.  Mudd needs players that can move, whether they are big or small.  Jason Peters is thick/heavy, but is agile enough to be fine in Mudd’s system.  Winston Justice is 6’5, 320.  That’s hardly a huge OT.  He’s also agile enough for Mudd’s system.  A guy like Jon Runyan might have been awkward.

On the inside, Mudd does prefer guys that are lighter.  Guards/Centers that go 330 pounds tend not to have the footwork and athleticism he likes.  I popped in some Eagles tape last night just to watch a couple of series.  Nick Cole would be a complete debacle in this system.  He has the lateral agility of a mountain.  Max Jean-Gilles is hardly nimble, but he’s at least guy a fighting chance with his new build.  He looked like a whole new guy last year, after shedding about 60 pounds.

Todd Herremans gets listed at 320, but that’s a joke.  I heard from one person a couple of years ago that Todd got down to 280 in that offseason.  He doesn’t look that light, but he’s not 320.  He’ll be fine.  McGlynn has a good build.  He’s strong enough to anchor, but isn’t so big that he can’t move and cover a small space.

The Eagles can look for interior blockers anywhere in the draft, but they don’t have to come from the first couple of rounds.  I still think Clint Boling in the 2nd round would make a lot of sense.  The Eagles can see if Will Rackley or Rodney Hudson is around in the 3rd.  A guy like Marcus Cannon would have been ideal for Juan Castillo’s system, but isn’t a good use of resources for Mudd’s system.

The Eagles can go look for a guy even later.  One consideration is that the lower the pick, the less likely that the player will challenge for playing time in 2011.  If Howard wants a starter, he probably ought to find that guy in the 2nd or 3rd.  If he wants a player to develop, he can go 4th, 5th, or even lower, depending on how he likes the G/C class.

I’ve touched on this before, but it’s worth bringing up again.  With Castillo, we focused on OTs.  We spent little time on pure C’s and G’s.  We wanted OTs, especially LTs.  They had the size, arm length, and footwork needed for Juan’s system.  The hiring of Mudd gives us the freedom to look at a pure G like Hudson (291 pounds).  We can still look at someone like Rackley who played LT, but projects to the inside in the NFL.  Rackley isn’t so big that he can’t play G or C in Mudd’s system.  He uses his hands well and has good lateral agility.  He could be a good RG in the new system.

We discussed this in the column I wrote after reading the interview with Howard, but one of the key factors is finding guys that are mentally tough and coachable.  Small school players tend to have a chip on their shoulder since they didn’t go to a football school like Penn State, Ohio State, or Michigan Iowa.  Those guys are more likely to listen to a coach and focus on fundamentals than a kid from a big school who is used to being praised.  Mudd had good success with players from mid-major and small schools.  That should make Rackley and Slippery Rock C Brandon Fusco all the more interesting to him.

Who are some mid-to-late round players that could be of interest?

Will Rackley ——- Lehigh ———– 6’3, 309 — 3rd round
Rodney Hudson — Fla St. ———— 6’2, 291 — 3rd round
Brandon Fusco —- Slippery Rock — 6’4, 302 — 4th round
David Arkin ——– Missouri State – 6’5, 300 — 5th round
Stephen Schilling — Michigan ——- 6’4, 305 — 5th round
Andrew Jackson — Fresno State — 6’4, 299 — 5th round
Caleb Schlauderaff – Utah ———— 6’4, 302 — late rounder

Those are my guesses at the kind of projections we would have on those players.  I’m sure some sites might have them rated higher or lower.  I’m trying to guess what the Eagles/Howard Mudd will think/see/want.  Fusco is the only outright Center in the group.  This is a terrible class of Centers.  I think highly of him, but otherwise I think you’re better off taking another player and moving them to the middle.  Some people feel Hudson could be a good C.

I have to admit that the more I think about Rackley as a potential RG, the more intrigued I get.  Is he worth our 2nd rounder?  Will he last to the 3rd?  Ask about other players if you like.  It is possible I’ve overlooked someone.  Do remember, that the list was guys who should be in rounds 3-7.  That’s why I didn’t bother with Pouncey, Watkins, and guys like that.  I’m also doubtful that Stefen Wisniewski makes it far into the 3rd round, if at all.

I’ve got a post half-done with some draft Q&A from the last couple of days.  I’ll finish that and post late tonight or early tomorrow.

Mudd’s Passion

Posted: April 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , | 21 Comments »

For those who haven’t been by recently, Dave Spadaro has posted a really good interview with new OL coach Howard Mudd.  I encourage everyone to read it.

I came away thinking that Winston Justice will either push for a Pro Bowl spot or be an ex-Eagle at the end of 2011.  Howard is tough.  He’s hard on his players.  Those that can handle it, thrive.  Those that can’t…hit the bricks, pal.  Check out this quote.

“A weak-minded player has no chance with me. This is a tough game and it is a tough world. The quarterback doesn’t care if you feel sorry for yourself. He doesn’t care. He’s on his back. That’s all he cares about,” says Mudd. “It’s not OK that he is on his back. What’s OK is to recognize that what you did was a failure, so let’s go fix it. I have a list of excuses, so I say to a player when he starts explaining what happened, ‘Just give me a number. I have the list, about 10 or 12 of them.’ Players say, ‘The back knocked me off my block,’ or, ‘I slipped,’ or, ‘I did what you told me but it didn’t work.’ All excuses. None of them are reasons.

“Eventually, if you are going to survive in this world, you can’t dance around the truth. You have to confront it and you have to be honest with yourself and if you want to excel, you have to commit yourself to that concept.

Winston has the talent to be an outstanding RT.  He showed real flashes of that in 2009.  Howard is here to get Justice back to that form, and better.  If Justice buys in, the sky is the limit.

One of the reasons I like Howard so much is that he’s not trying to re-invent the wheel.  He is a believer in fundamentals and repetition.  Football can be a pretty simple game when you really break it down.  Learn certain basic techniques and then spend time perfecting them.  You’ll never do it, but the pursuit of perfection (as Lombardi talked about) is what leads to really good things.  More from Howard:

“Uniformity is a big deal to me. We’re going to do the same things the same way every time. We’re going to do a few things and do those things extraordinarily well,” says Mudd. “I’ll live with that principle forever and ever and ever. I will tell the players this: We’re doing to do the same drills on the first day of training camp that we do on the final day of practice before the Super Bowl. We’re going to hit the same sled. We’re going to do the same footwork and I’m going to make you do it right. My job is to make them do it right. That’s the way the world is. You can either embrace it or not embrace it. But that’s the way we’re going to do things around here, because I know what works.”

We all want to see better OL play in 2011.  I think the addition of Howard Mudd will have a big impact on the guys.  He’s not inheriting chopped liver.  Jason Peters is a Pro Bowl player.  Todd Herremans has shown flashes of that kind of ability.  Justice has big time potential.  Jamaal Jackson at C and Mike McGlynn at RG are more uncertain.  JamJax can be a good C if he just returns to form after a long layoff.  RG is the mystery position.  I”m assuming McGlynn is the guy there, but don’t know that for a fact.  Howard is likely to get a G pretty early in the draft to work with.  He’ll also have Max Jean-Gilles.  Hopefully he can find a solid starter out of that group.

I came away really fired up after reading what Mudd had to say.  He’s not a jerk, but is hard on his players because he wants them to be at their best.  Tough love, I guess you’d say.  Players need to be pushed.  Graig Nettles (star 3B for the Yankees in the ’78 World Series) said the key to being a coach/manager is figuring out which guys to kick in the ass and which ones to kiss on the ass.  I get the feeling that Howard very much understands that principle.  Ted Daisher rubbed a lot of guys the wrong way because he pushed, but never praised.  Sean McDermott, to a lesser extent, had a similar issue.  Players have to understand you’re being hard on them for a reason.  If not, they think you’re a jerk and tune you out.

Now all we need is the resumption of football so Howard can actually get a chance to interact with his new players and “coach ’em up”.

p.s.   anybody get the title reference?