Dion Lewis and the Return Game

Posted: April 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 55 Comments »

I’ve talked about the Eagles adding a backup RB a few times in recent days.  I’ve then received emails/comments questioning why I “hate” Dion Lewis.

If Shady McCoy were tear/break something important in a bizarre gardening accident tomorrow, would you really be comfortable with Dion Lewis as the starting RB?  For me…no way.  Not even close.

This doesn’t mean Dion can’t play or I’ve got something against him.  He was a terrific runner at Pitt and showed some good things last year.  Being the starting RB in the NFL is a major role.  I’m just not sure Dion is ready for that.  Brian Westbrook didn’t become the featured runner in Philly until his 3rd season.

Dion could be a good role player for the rest of his career.  Or he could get a chance to start and turn out to be a really good player.  I’m just not willing to roll the dice on that in a year when the team needs to win big.

I think we must add another talented RB to the mix, via the draft or free agency.  I’m totally open to Dion battling the new guy for the backup spot.  If Dion wins it, great.  If not, that’s fine too.  He’s young.  Dion is an ascending player.  He should continue to get better.  I just haven’t seen enough from him to make me think “that’s a guy who could start for us for 10 games if we needed it”.

* * * * *

Don’t forget that we still have Graig Cooper here as well.  He could be a guy that could come out of nowhere, so to speak.  Cooper was a UDFA last year, but didn’t have the normal camps to get in work.  He got to Lehigh and was way down the line.  A veteran like Shady won’t be at every camp this spring (not due to contract stuff…just doesn’t need the reps).  That will give reps to Dion and Cooper, as well as the new guy.  Those reps can be beneficial.  It helps the player when he gets to Lehigh because he’s already had some snaps in the offense and isn’t completely learning at that stage.

* * * * *

The Eagles had a poor return game in 2011.  DeSean Jackson was distracted and it showed in his punt returns.  Chad Hall is Chad Hall.  Dion was the primary KOR and struggled.  He’s just not natural at that.

DeSean will still get a lot of work at PR.  I’m sure the Eagles would like to add someone to help him there.  You want to be able to pick and choose your spots with him.

Mardy Gilyard and Ron Johnson are backup receivers who will get a chance to show what they can do.  Gilyard is a good KOR.  Johnson was a good PR at USC.  Those guys are longshots, but they are at least good camp competition.

The Eagles do need to bring in someone with KOR ability.  This could be a CB, WR, RB, or possibly Safety.  I’m not sure how early the pick will be, but the team does know they need an upgrade.  There are some really good choices in the draft.

* * * * *

Don’t forget to check the Draft Info page for visit/workout updates.

WR Stephen Hill came in.  I’m not a fan of WR in the 1st round, but will admit this kid fascinates the heck out of me.  Big, fast, and naturally gifted.  If the Eagles do trade back and he’s on the board…I wouldn’t target him, but I think I could live with the pick.  I still want no part of Michael Floyd at 15.

OL Jeff Allen is the newest visitor.  Allen could play OT or OG.  Illinois used an odd system this year where the OT flopped sides according to the formation.  Allen mainly was the guy on the open side, away from the TE.  Very good run blocker.  Solid pass blocker.  I didn’t think he was athletic enough for Howard Mudd, but Allen is a darn good player.

* * * * *

I’m working everyday to update the rankings at ScoutsNotebook.  You’ll see some spots with 20 guys (CB, WR) and others with just a few (FB, TE).  Takes time to enter all the information.

55 Comments on “Dion Lewis and the Return Game”

  1. 1 iskar36 said at 12:29 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    “A veteran like Shady won’t be at ever camp this spring.”

    Is there any concern that McCoy doesn’t show up at all? I heard it mentioned a couple of times, but recently that talk has been quieted. Is he expected to show up Monday?

    I understand the Eagles have a ton of things to focus on first, but as a young, incredibly talented RB who has had no major injury or character concerns, McCoy has every reason to demand a new contract.

  2. 2 Cliff said at 12:56 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    McCoy hopefully sees what happened with DeSean this past season – the good and the mistakes.

  3. 3 iskar36 said at 2:28 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    True, but honestly, you could argue DeSean’s mistake was showing up. Had he continued to hold out, would he have been worse off? He wouldn’t have had the distraction of playing without a contract, and worst case scenario, he would have been traded and the new team would have given him a big contract (likely with more guaranteed money than he got this year).

    I just think it is way to easy to say a player should play the part of good soldier. I’d love contracts to not be an issue for nfl players, but that’s just not reality and when you are severely out performing your contract, holding out makes sense. And for those who say, “so what happens when you severely under perform your contract,” my comment would be that the team cuts you the first chance they get.

  4. 4 Liam Garrett said at 2:44 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    When I was younger and more self-righteous, I would have disagreed with you, but now that I’m older and more thoughtful, I agree with this sentiment. These poor guys only have so many years to make their fortune, it isn’t fair to expect one of them to play all-out when he’s only getting a fraction of what his peers are. I still don’t approve of everything he did after rejoining the team (e.g. missing team meetings), but, considering players can’t cut their team the way owners can cut their players, I’m starting to become more sympathetic toward the idea of players holding out.

  5. 5 iskar36 said at 3:14 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    I think once a player shows up, he needs to focus and play the best they can, so I fully agree that missing team meetings and letting his contract become a distraction during the season was inexcusable from DeSean, but had he held out (and conversely, if McCoy holds out), I think that is completely justified. Yes, even with “cheap” contracts, they are making over half a million dollars, but the point is not the amount. You can’t compare the money a football player makes to the money most of us will ever make. You have to compare their value to the value of other players at his position. When a player is being underpaid relative to his peers, especially when they are in the last year of a contract, as much as I hate to see it disrupt team chemistry, I fault the team, not the players for causing the hold out.

  6. 6 Cliff said at 6:55 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    I actually agree with you! If I was a football player, there’s no way I’d subject my body to more punishment without the security of a “long term” contract. I get that.

    I think what I meant to say was LeSean shouldn’t show up and half-ass or hold out and expect the Eagles to re-sign him. If he wants to stay in Philly, the best strategy is always to just stay the course. The Eagles want to keep LeSean, just like Reid wanted to keep DeSean. A contract will get done. Just have to go about things the “right” way.

  7. 7 TommyLawlor said at 1:39 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Just updated the main post. Shady won’t skip for contract reasons. Coaches are likely to keep him away. Doesn’t need the reps. Save him for Lehigh and the regular season. Shady knows the offense.

    He will be at some of the mini-camps so that he can knock off rust and work on simple thinks (blocking, receiving).

  8. 8 iskar36 said at 2:31 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Just to clarify, I wasn’t confused by your original point. It made perfect sense. I was just using that sentence to connect to sort of an unrelated topic.

    That being said, now I actually need clarification. Are you hearing that Shady will not hold out from TC (or other mini-camps) without a contract extension? Was that reported somewhere and I missed it? Or are you just guessing he will not go the same route DeSean went?

  9. 9 TommyLawlor said at 3:17 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    I don’t think Shady will holdout at all. I think he and the Eagles will work on an extension post-draft. Too busy right now.

    I am guessing Andy will have him skip a mini-camp in order to get reps to the other RBs. Nothing to do with money/contract.

  10. 10 JRO91 said at 12:50 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Tommy – Do you think that Bobby Wagner has a destinct advantage over someone like Lavonte in terms of SAM (if they pass on Luke) because of his versitily? He could SAM, or slide inside if needed to MLB. Also, he could be had in the 2nd, freeing up the 1st for BPA. Lavonte is more of a pure SAM. Also, I see the Big Red/UTAH connection written all over this pick!!!

  11. 11 TommyLawlor said at 1:57 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Reid/Utah…forget that angle.

    Lavonte is a natural WLB. Play him in space and let him tackle. He is light and doesn’t have a huge frame. Teams could try him at SAM since he can cover TEs. Eagles might do that themselves.

    Wagner is more versatile, but is also bigger, faster, stronger, and more athletic. David will be higher rated on some draft boards, Wagner on others. Depends on your scheme and what you want.

  12. 12 Liam Garrett said at 2:48 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    So, wait, what is David better at? (Assuming her must be better at something if he’s higher on some draft boards.)

  13. 13 TommyLawlor said at 3:19 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    David played at a bigger school and was more productive. He is a very talented prospect. David is more of a pure OLB. Wagner’s versatility means that he wasn’t lining up at the same spot over and over and perfecting his specific skill set.

  14. 14 Arby1 said at 4:05 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    From youtube videos, David looks incredibly quick knifing through the line to make tackles. When you say that Wagner is faster, are you talking 40 times? Because from youtube, David looks extremely quick and he’s the guy I want with our first pick of the 2nd round. Also, what do you think of the idea of taking 2 LB’s in the first 2 rounds? Not that I think the Eagles would do that with all the lb’s we’ve drafted lately, but the idea of Luke and Lavonte, or Lavonte and Wagner, is very appealing especially since Lavonte’s natural position is WILL.

  15. 15 TommyLawlor said at 4:33 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Faster in the 40 and other athletic drills. The speed shows up on game tape as well. David could be more explosive. Lavonte had the fasted 10-yd split of any OLB at the Combine.

    2 LBs? I wouldn’t hate it. I think I’d rather take one early and another later on.

  16. 16 Arby1 said at 5:39 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Explosive, yes!

  17. 17 rage114 said at 1:01 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    On the subject of KOR, I firmly believe the Eagles thought that moving the kick off location from the 30 yard line to the 35 yard line was going to have a larger impact on the game; especially with all of the touchbacks seen in the preseason.

    As a result, I believe they significantly devalued the position and gave the job to Dion by default.

    I agree that they will bring someone in to be that guy this year. The question is, if they bring is a another RB as a backup AND they sign a second player to the KOR, will Dion have a spot on the team?

  18. 18 deg0ey said at 1:23 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Depends whether the guy they get to be the KOR can also contribute elsewhere. If, for example, they were to sign a WR or a CB that can also play the slot then we might see Dion kept ahead of Hanson or Hall/Cooper

  19. 19 TommyLawlor said at 2:01 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Yes and no.

    Eagles had Johnnie Lee Higgins and Sinorice Moss as RS candidates last year. They hoped 1 of the 2 would step up. JLH just wasn’t good enough at WR. Moss was okay at both, but didn’t stand out at either spot.

    Eagles hoped Chad Hall would take a big step forward. That didn’t happen.

    Dion was a fall back plan.

    I do agree that they weren’t more aggressive due to the new KO rules, but it wasn’t as if they ignored the position. This year they will add more of a sure thing.

  20. 20 iskar36 said at 3:22 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Speaking about Chad Hall, do you think the Eagles would have any interest in a guy like Rainey to take Hall’s spot? AR seems to love Hall (although I can’t really figure out why, other than he is versatile, but not very good at any particular spot). I don’t know much about Rainey in terms of talent level, but I have gathered that he can play, WR, RB, KR and PR and is likely only a mid round pick?

  21. 21 TommyLawlor said at 3:46 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Rainey could absolutely take Hall’s place. Chad was a RB at Air Force. Chris is a RB/WR tweener. Chris is infinitely faster. Literally. Can’t be calculated.

  22. 22 iskar36 said at 4:04 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Well.. yea. When you’re talking about 0 speed and then trying to compare, that’s just dividing by 0.

  23. 23 Baloophi said at 4:09 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    If Chad Hall is a 0, what’s Reno Mahe?

  24. 24 TommyLawlor said at 4:30 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    We need to get Jason the NASA guy in here for this level of math.

  25. 25 Thunder_lips said at 2:20 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    What do you feel worse about: Dion Lewis starting for 4 games at RB, or Mike Kafka starting for 4 games at QB?

    I think I feel worse about Kafka, and I think it’s more likely Vick goes down than Shady.

  26. 26 TommyLawlor said at 2:30 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Kafka. QB is more critical. That said…I want to see 2012 Kafka. He got his first taste of real NFL action last year. Let’s see how that and a full offseason help him to develop.

    I liked Kafka coming out of NW. I think he can play in the league. This is a make or break year for him. I’m betting that brings out the best in Mike. And I’m betting with your rent money…so you better hope I’m right.

  27. 27 Thunder_lips said at 2:33 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    But my mom said if I’m late with the rent one more time, she’s kicking me out of the basement!

  28. 28 TommyLawlor said at 3:19 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Tell your mom I said the check is in the mail.

  29. 29 TommyLawlor said at 2:31 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Seattle is linked to Luke Kuechly a lot.

    Sigmund Bloom, a smart draftnik and good football writer, did some research with Seahawks bloggers to get a feel for what the team could do. Check it out.


  30. 30 Liam Garrett said at 2:50 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Why would a good football writer contribute to Bleacher Report?

  31. 31 Liam Garrett said at 3:01 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    P.S. ZING!

  32. 32 TommyLawlor said at 3:20 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Normally I agree, but Sigmund seems to be an exception. Smart guy.

  33. 33 ultramattman said at 6:48 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Sigmund Bloom and Tommy are my two favorite sources of draft info. Like Tommy, all of Bloom’s analysis is based on his own detailed film study. His twitter and footballguys podcast are must-follows. Bloom’s also a tremendous fantasy guy.

  34. 34 Arby1 said at 5:13 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    I don’t think Ingram will still be on the board at 12 but Upshaw certainly should be. Good article – I’m still not sure I see them taking Upshaw at 12.

  35. 35 ACViking said at 2:52 PM on April 13th, 2012:


    How ’bout . . . “Dion Lewis and the Returns”. A classic Motown group like the Temptations.

  36. 36 TommyLawlor said at 3:21 PM on April 13th, 2012:


    We could have the Four Bottoms, with Corey Simon as the only member. His butt was almost as big as LaRon Landry’s arms. Almost.

  37. 37 Liam Garrett said at 3:29 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    My jaw dropped when I read this, and then I realized you might not be aware of the double entendre.


  38. 38 TommyLawlor said at 3:48 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    I was just making a joke on the Four Tops, one of my favorite Motown groups.

    As to the other meaning of bottom…Always Sunny had an episode where Dennis and Mac pretended to be lovers and both guys claimed to be the “power bottom”. Hilarious discussion.

  39. 39 Liam Garrett said at 4:23 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Lol. Love that show.

  40. 40 Arby1 said at 5:41 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Why are the first 6 definitions all the same? And did they realllly have to use the word in a sentence??

  41. 41 Arby1 said at 5:41 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Why are the first 6 definitions all the same? And did they realllly have to use the word in a sentence??

  42. 42 Liam Garrett said at 3:00 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    When talking about a veteran backup RB in the past few days, it seems like we haven’t really fully discussed the Eagles’ need for a big, North-South runner. (Although, the threads got long this week, so maybe I missed a fuller discussion on this.) I remember, during the season, the only real criticism of Shady was of his tendency to go East-West too often in short yardage situations, and how disappointed we were that Ronnie Brown didn’t punch it in in those situations like we hoped he would. If my recollection is correct, shouldn’t we still be trying to get a true, big North-West RB? Or did Shady get better at the North-South stuff by the end of the season?

    I still hold out hope we discover someone like Clay Harbor has the potential to fill this role, so we don’t lose a roster-spot addressing this potential need, but I’ve been told that that doesn’t look promising.

  43. 43 TommyLawlor said at 3:23 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Adding a big N-S runner would be ideal, but it isn’t an absolute need. If Shady can work on that part of his game, he could easily become a very good short yardage runner.

    I am curious to see Stanley Havili this summer. He could get some touches as a runner.

  44. 44 Cliff said at 7:18 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Classic Eagles Fan Post.

    TATE has been blowing up about the need for a “power back” for YEARS.

    BTW, does TATE still exist?

  45. 45 Kevin_aka_RC said at 3:33 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Does anyone believe the “Graham has lost weight and is cut”?. Or is that some well-placed Eagles spin. I believe the weight loss given where he was in 2011, but I have my doubts about his ripness. Ultimately though, his knee just needs to be “right”.

  46. 46 TommyLawlor said at 3:49 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    I totally believe it. I’ll cover this in a post tonight or tomorrow.

  47. 47 Cafone said at 10:08 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Wait, is Graham losing weight good news? Wasn’t the early knock on him that he was a lightweight and had trouble against the run?

  48. 48 Jack Waggoner said at 4:20 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Any thoughts on the FB Rodriguez out of Temple?

  49. 49 TommyLawlor said at 4:29 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    I don’t think he has the ability to be a lead blocker. I see him more as a TE/H-back. Talented player. Good athlete. Lacks TE size, FB skills. With the right coach and the right QB, can carve out an NFL career.

  50. 50 M0rton said at 4:37 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Join the petition to tell Andy Reid & Howie Roseman to “Just say NO to Ryan Tannehill”.

    Mcnabborkolb.com is on board, as are most of the Philly beat writers: http://mcnabborkolb.com/post/21028965353/what-the-eagles-should-not-do-in-the-first-round

    Let’s hope that the Eagles avoid making a terrible mistake by reaching for the mediocre Ryan Tannehill.

  51. 51 M0rton said at 4:39 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Also, Tommy, if you haven’t realized already, the running game does not matter in the NFL anymore. The Giants were dead last in 2011 in rushing, and still won the Super Bowl.

    Dion Lewis could step in and this offense wouldn’t miss a beat as long as Vick was throwing the football well.

    RBs simply do not matter anymore.

  52. 52 Joe Taylor said at 7:10 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    San Fran, Baltimore, Houston, Cincinnati, Denver, & Atlanta were run based teams and they all made the playoffs.

    “RBs simply do not matter anymore” might be the ugliest thing anyone has ever said.

    The Giants had 100 + rushing in the Superbowl, & never had less than 80 yards in any of the playoff games.

    Vick isn’t Drew Brees’, Aaron Rodgers’, or Tom Brady…Therefore we need to have a running game. Not a huge one but somewhat of a decent running game to have success.

  53. 53 nopain23 said at 6:40 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Broncos just released one it their starting CBs….possible landing spot for Asante?…..

  54. 54 Joe Taylor said at 6:49 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    Very doubtful. The reason they released Goodman is because they signed Peyton’s best friend, Tracy Porter.

  55. 55 D3FB said at 8:31 PM on April 13th, 2012:

    God how awkward is that going to be.