Some Depth Talk and OL Confidence

Posted: August 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 28 Comments »

My new SB Nation Philly column is about the Eagles aggressively building up the depth on this team.  I can’t remember a team with so many veteran players competing for spots.  This has a hint of the Ray Rhodes era to it.  The big difference is that Rhodes didn’t have as many young guys making up the core of the team.  Ray mixed in young guys on an old core.  You have to wonder if George Allen was his hero.

* * * * *

A lot of people want to talk about Jason Kelce and what’s going on with him.  I will write up a full post on him.  It has been surprising to all of us just how much playing time he’s gotten.

I have a question for you guys.  We’ve got a new OL coach.  We have a battle at Center between a rookie and a guy coming off a pair of injuries.  Our starting RT is on the PUP.  We’ve had 4 guys trying to take his spot.  We’ve got a rookie at RG.  We’ve got another rookie and a veteran castoff as key backups.

While that’s a lot of uncertainty, I’m pretty comfortable with the O-line.  Are you guys?

I think for me part of the issue is that I am glad Nick Cole and Max Jean-Gilles are gone.  They had some good moments here, but seemed so streaky that you had a hard time being comfortable with them.  Offensive linemen need to be consistent.

One of the things I love about this group is that there are so many overachievers.  Juan Castillo needed massive guys for his system.  A lot of the big linemen he drafted/signed were underachievers or projects (Justice, MJG, Bobbie Williams, Stacy Andrews, Calvin Armstrong, etc.).  Howard Mudd can find his type of players all over the place.  He can be really selective about who he wants.  That eliminates rolling the dice on guys who have a major issue (lazy, not so smart, not competitive enough, character, etc.).  Mudd can go find players he definitely believes in.  And I think that’s what he’s done in drafting Watkins, Vandervelde, and Kelce.  I think the same is true of signing Harris and Mathis.

So how do all of you guys feel?  Confident?  Shaky?  Awkwardly curious, the way you felt when watching Wonder Woman as a kid in 1975?

* * * * *

I’m happy to see Kurt Coleman is having a solid camp so far.  He was a favorite of mine in the 2010 draft before he ever became an Eagle.  Kurt had a solid rookie year and showed good potential.  We added Jaiquawn Jarrett and the team wants him to be a starter in the future, but Kurt didn’t flinch.  He’s not giving up his starting gig without a serious fight.  Someone is going to have to out-play Kurt before they get into the lineup.  That’s the attitude to have.  It makes you better and the team as well.  Competition brings out the best in players, or exposes those guys that “don’t have the gear to serve in my beloved corps”, to borrow a line from Sgt. Hartman.

28 Comments on “Some Depth Talk and OL Confidence”

  1. 1 mattman said at 1:44 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    It felt like every year, the Eagles did everything they could in the offseason to keep Max Jean-Gilles out of the starting lineup, and every year he’d end up starting at least eight games. SO glad he’s gone.

  2. 2 Kyle said at 1:52 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    Who will be the starting C, JJ or Kelce? It looks like Kelce has an edge at the moment. McGlynn seems to drop off the screen now, after a season of filling in at C. Is he really that bad, or he is simply not Mudd’s kind of player?

  3. 3 -Triumph- said at 1:52 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    Harris looks like he belongs. Seems to be “smoother” than some of the others, like he doesn’t waste motion.

  4. 4 ppk said at 2:17 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    I’m comfortable with a number of different combinations on the O line. I think it is important, though, that the starters are determined sooner rather than later so the guys have an opportunity to play together and get in synch before the start of the season.

  5. 5 Sjampen said at 2:26 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    I like that Coleman has some competition. You really need a good backup S, and Coleman can play both. Besides, i think hes the kind of players that thrives when he is pushed to his limits. Who rember Drew Bress sucking it up in San Diego and his transformation to the current Drew Bress when Rivers came and challeged. I think Kurt will see this as him having to play harder every single day, and that i always like. Look at what happened to Demps when he though he was da man!

  6. 6 Stephen said at 2:29 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    It’s hard for me to say Tommy since I haven’t gotten to see a lot of the new guys play yet. I like what I hear about the situation and I love that theres a lot of different people competing. That part is great, but until I can watch the guys in a game situation I’m not sure what to make of all the new faces.

    Off topic but something that has slowly been bugging me more and more, can we finally get this desean jackson deal done? I mean the guy is massively underpaid, theres really no question about that. He’s been a productive member of our offense for several years now and I’m really confused why we’re creating a situation where his holdout of camp has dragged on. Obviously he has to report by the 9th because he doesn’t want to lose his UFA status for next offseason, but to me the longer we let this thing drag on the more likely it is Desean isn’t going to want to be with us long term.

  7. 7 -Triumph- said at 2:44 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    Today the #1’s at DT were Jenkins and Hargrove. (Dixon played with the 2’s.

  8. 8 Tommy Lawlor said at 2:44 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    RE: DeSean

    He’s reportedly going to show at Lehigh on Monday. The Eagles will then work on a deal with him. I’m confident it will get done pretty quickly after that. He wants to be an Eagle. We want him to be an Eagle. We know he deserves a big deal. There is no dispute on the key points. Just a matter of negotiation.

  9. 9 Tommy Lawlor said at 2:59 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    From Les Bowen on Twitter:

    “Winston Justice says he is “close” to returning.”!/LesBowen

  10. 10 mcud said at 3:16 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    Justice better get his ass on the field if he wants to be an Eagle in 2011. Guy can’t lose his starting gig, or there’s no point in keeping him around as a backup with the salary he makes coupled with his inability to play LT. I wonder if Winston is nursing the injury because he’s out of shape and doesn’t want his butt kicked on the field.

    Get him on the field for a preseason quarter or two, protect him while he’s out there, and ship him off to Detroit or some other OT needy team for a late rounder. Its too bad, because Winston has the perfect build and athleticism for Mudd’s system. I just wonder how much he wants it at this point.

  11. 11 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:26 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    ESPN’s Matt Williamson is optimistic about our OL as well.

  12. 12 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:29 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    @ mcud…

    No idea what’s up with Justice specifically.

    I don’t question his toughness. Winston is a much different person than he was when we drafted him. Getting married had a profound effect on him and caused him to really grow up.

    It will be interesting to see how he handles the competitive situation at RT.

  13. 13 mcud said at 3:38 PM on August 7th, 2011:


    I, for one, am completely nervous about the O-Line, even more than I am about the LB corps. Scares me that our incumbents were drafted for a system that is pretty much a polar opposite of what we will be running in 2011. That our RT is a weird guy and frustrating talent on his best day, and he hasn’t had any best days so far in 2011.

    Who knows who our center will be? They guy who has suffered back-to-back season ending injuries? A guy who couldn’t off the practice squad for the past few years? A 6th round rookie?

    The best candidate for RT appears to be a guy who we signed to a one year deal at the league minimum.

    Our RG is a rookie.

    The good news for me is that this could all work out. I could see it all working out. JJ could be back in a big way. Watkins could live up to his draft billing and the expectations that the front office has set for him. Harris (or one of the other guys) could thrive under Mudd. Our biggest O-Line problem going into 2012 could be wondering how we’re going to afford a new contract for Pro Bowler Ryan Harris (good problem to have).

    I have no idea how this is going to turn out. I’ll be watching the C-RG-RT more this pre-season than any I can remember. Can’t wait for Thursday for it all to begin.

  14. 14 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:48 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    Per Jeff McLane,

    Vick told him that DeSean will report on Monday.

  15. 15 mcud said at 3:54 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    Jeez, Kelce even LOOKS like Jeff Saturday.

  16. 16 PhxPhilly said at 4:00 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    Count me as NOT confident.

    Entirely new system (like almost the complete opposite it appears) with short preseason. I do not want guys wondering about their technique during the games. Add that to a QB that is not a rythym passer against teams likely to configure all kinds of complicated blitz packages. I really think it could be a disaster.

    The most important lineman for Vick has the most question marks with Harris being oft-injured in his career (and being poor while playing through those injures).

    As was mentioned, having a line with experience together is considered very important. I would think that scheme consistency is assumed in that experience factor. It is almost like everyone on the line is rookie, and they may actually have 40% rookies starting. Also there is no backup LT. I would guess that Herremans moving over is the most likely scenario.

    It is nice that ESPN’s Williamson gives Jackson a pass for playing hurt but Justice (Osi game still in everyone’s head) gets no such slack. That is why talent evaluation (especially with judgment statistics) is so variable.

  17. 17 Name fordy88 said at 4:07 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    I think having Mudd as our line coach makes me feel better about the situation. He seemed to make the most out of what he was given in Indy. However, having Peyton behind center helped because he might be the most “mobile” quarterback in the pocket. He also knew how to get the ball out quickly to lessen the stress on the o-lineman. I hope that it will work the same with Marty and Andy. Get the ball out of Vick’s hands quickly to our playmakers and let them do what they do best. So with that being said, I’m real optimistic and excited to see what these guys can do.

  18. 18 PK said at 4:46 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    This OG Mathis intrigues me quite a bit, he’s got good reviews form sites like profootballfocus and seems to be a perfect fit for Mudds scheme. Too bad Herremans and Watkins are pretty much locks to start. I suppose he’s here to be a good insurance for injury or if Watkins struggles. Is he capable of playing RG or any other position on the line?

  19. 19 Alex K said at 5:05 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    I’m cautiously optimistic about our line play on both sides of the ball. I think it will take some time early on for the new schemes to click, so I think there will be some early struggles. If that happens, I’ll try not to panic. I trust Mudd and Washburn.

    The depth at OL doesn’t trouble me, but there could be issues with continuity. Williamson’s article is kind of reassuring.

  20. 20 3five7 said at 5:36 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    No Tommy Im not any more concerned with the OLine than any other area of our team. To be honest I am fine with how everything is shaking out right now and I’d just like to see them put it all together on Thursday.

    The question is about the right side of the line,:
    – if we run with Kelce, I feel its because he had WON the job outright. So i’m fine with him starting and so far the kid looks real good. Mistakes will be made, thats just part of the game, he’s only human, but hes practicing against some high level talent and hes holding his own. Im fine with him.
    – Watkins is still learning, and he is learning fast. It maybe a little bumpy at first, but he should be good for us there. He has the right attitude, skill set, build… everything… even the right coach, just got to put it together, and it looks like its coming together just fine.
    – Harris looks like the best option at RT, but Justice is a real nice backup at this postition, the only problem is he may not be a viable reserve at any other positions, and we like our backups to be versatile. so he could end up traded if he cant beat Harris, but coming off an injury… might be hard to ship.

    The biggest issue we had last year with the line was pass protection (obviously) but I think there are a couple major changes this year during TC that will greatly enhance the development of our OLine (aside from Mudd). The fact that this year at TC we have been having the 1’s play against the 1’s so often, and that we have been throwing a lot of blitz plays and blitz looks at Vick will have a profound impact on our overall performance. Vick ate a lot of blitzes last year because he couldnt read the blitz effectively. This year SHOULD be different.

  21. 21 McG said at 6:16 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    I am going to work with the baseline that Howard Mudd knows what he is doing. Was the right side of the O-line and the center play so good last year that we didn’t want to change things up? Clearly we needed some changes, and it is equally clear that changes have happened.

    Can we ship Winston to the NY Va-giants? I think they need some more broken down linemen.

  22. 22 eagleizeit said at 6:55 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    I think Harris, Topou and the 3 rookies won’t have any problems; the same way Herriman learned both systems quickly. It was just Justice and Dunlap that took a couple years or so to finally learn what Juan wanted them to do and they might get lost again. I forget, but I think Topou can play LT and RT; he mentioned his coach at Oregon was similar to Washburn and he could learn easier what Wash wants done more so than he could from Juan. So the line should be fine.

  23. 23 CVD said at 8:25 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    i really like our oline except that RT really worries me. Harris looks good but there is a reason denver didnt give him a contract, he hasnt been able to stay healthy. so even if he plays great, u never know if he will stay healthy for 16 plus games. the one good thing is we still have justice in the mix. so hopefully between the 2 of them it works out

    i like JJ and if Kelce beats him out that means alot. i think watkins will do well, if not evans could be good, or even mcglyn. RT is the only spot i worry about

  24. 24 netherman said at 9:01 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    I won’t start worrying unless we are still doing the o-line shuffle after the 2nd preseason game.

  25. 25 Eaglesfanatlarge said at 9:18 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    Jamal Jackson has been out for almost 2 years. I suspect that the torn triceps in the first game last season may have happended because he rushed back in before his body was back into football shape. If I recall, he missed most of training camp last year. Could the coaches be mixing in Kelce to help ease JJ back into things?

    I do wonder about the O-line, in part becuase of the uncertainty at RT with Justice on PUP. I think Harris will struggle a bit to get chemistry with a rookie guard as well as with Celek.

    However, my biggest concern with the O-line is the transition of Mudd from coaching in a very fast-paced, short drops and quick patterns type of offense to one where plays are slow to develop and the QB’s at times seem to have superglue on their hands. I don’t think Peyton had a pass play over 5 seconds in his entire carrer. Vick has a half dozen of those every game. I am anxoius about what happens when the quick-pass line coach meets the slow-developing offensive scheme under game pressures.

  26. 26 Name said at 10:38 PM on August 7th, 2011:


    I was in Vegas from 7/17-7/22. Stayed at Bill’s. Between the Flamingo and Bally’s. Across from Cesears and the fountains. Great place. Wish our trips overlapped and we would have cornered the black jack tables.

  27. 27 Name =Flyin' said at 10:40 PM on August 7th, 2011:

    Flyin’ = name ….again.

  28. 28 ian no. 2 said at 12:57 AM on August 8th, 2011:

    The line will be fine. They added rookies and the injury prone Harris and Mathis and if those two or JJ get hurt then you have good depth. Teams were using pressure against Vick late last year and boxing him in, and if you have improved line play as expected, this offense will be truly scary.