LB Focus

Posted: July 27th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 17 Comments »

The big story from Day 1, aside from the QB battle, seems to be the OLBs.

Paul Domowitch wrote an excellent piece on Trent Cole and Brandon Graham.

Tim McManus shared his thoughts.

CSN covered it here.

Both Graham and Cole weigh 264 pounds right now. Graham was reportedly up around 275 last year.

Both guys are learning how to play LB. You do need to understand that most of the time a 3-4 OLB is going to be rushing the QB. The key is that you need to be effective when called upon to drop into coverage.

There are other changes in playing LB instead of DE. Those can vary by scheme and coaching staff, just as 4-3 DEs can have different responsibilities. Cole and Graham must learn the subtleties of the position. This isn’t entirely about coverage. The good news is that Bill McGovenr and Bill Davis have coaches some outstanding LBs over the year. Those guys know how to teach.

Let’s go back to coverage for a minute. This may be the first time since high school (or before that) that Cole and Graham are getting instructions on how to cover. Both guys have dropped back some in the past, but that was primarily due to zone blitzes. When they dropped back then, they were DEs. The expectation was for them simply to get to a spot and do their best. Now the players are going to be coached on how to actually cover.

They’ll learn to get to their zone. Once there, they have to identify receivers and patterns. You need to react differently to a WR running a slant than a RB going out to the flat as a checkdown option. The LBs won’t be asked to turn into Troy Vincent and go shut down the targets. The LB needs to keep the ball in front of him. If lucky enough, play the ball. Most likely, sit back and tackle the receiver after he’s caught the short pass.

There will be some situations where the LBs get hung out to dry against a really good player when the offense has the perfect play called. You just have to live with those situations. The whole point in running the 3-4 and using zone blitzes is to try and trick the offense. You just have to know there will be some plays when the trick backfires. You don’t buy stock, expecting to make money on every move. You don’t blitz and expect to win every play.

Cole and Graham need time. I wouldn’t start to judge their progress until the Pats practices. At that point, the guys will be 10 days into camp and will have some idea of what they’re doing.

* * * * *

Sheil Kapadia posted his practice diary. This is always must-read material.

A couple of interesting nuggets were that ILB Jason Phillips got some snaps with the starters and that the backup DL was Clifton Geathers – Antonio Dixon – Vinny Curry. I don’t want to make too much of the Phillips note. The Eagles love DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. You just wonder if that happened as a way to develop Phillips into the top backup ILB or if it was just a random happening. I do not think the Eagles are trying to send a signal to Ryans or Kendricks.

As for the backup DL, I like it. I’m utterly fascinated by Geathers. I’m hopeful that Dixon can bounce back at NT. I also think RDE, even in the 3-4, is a good spot for Curry.

2:10 – As I walk from one field to another, the great Merrill Reese asks to see my pen for a moment so he can sign a football for a fan. I remember at my first camp several years ago thinking how crazy it was that fans were stopping Ray Didinger for an autograph.

So… does anyone want my signature? Hello?? Anyone out there???

Would someone please go ask Mr. Kapadia for his autograph? I always knew Kapadia had some T.O. to his game. How does Tim McManus deal with him everyday?

* * * * *

Brandon Lee Gowton of BGN posted his practice notes. Highly productive young hack.

Good notes. Lots of quick, direct info.

* * * * *

Today’s practice should start about 1240pm.

Check out Inside Training Camp at at 3pm for some highlights and interviews.

* * * * *

In case you missed it, SalPal had an “interesting” report from Eagles camp yesterday.


17 Comments on “LB Focus”

  1. 1 nopain23 said at 11:21 AM on July 27th, 2013:

    I don’t get the obsession with T.Cole and B.Graham having to be shut down corners( sarcasm intended). These guys have to be stud pass rushers ,first, solid run stuffers ,second, and ok pass defenders LAST. If either guy( i’m, pulling for BG, ’cause he’s younger with more potential) can give us double digit sacks this year who cares if they get beaten by a slot receiver or TE.
    Maybe I’m missing something. Do you mind breaking down the pass coverage skills of Clay, Demarcus and Von miller?….’Cause I never hear folks COMMENT on their pass coverage skills….why ??.. Because their job is to CRUSH the QB!
    Another thing is ball security still going to be a problem for Brown??…’cause I read that the ball popped out in practice….that’s unacceptable!!

  2. 2 GEagle said at 11:37 AM on July 27th, 2013:

    haven’t you heard? Aldon Smith became a Force because of how he covers TE hahaha. great point man, I too find the coverage obsession very odd.
    I also think no player will be pigeon hold in any position or role in this defense, and we will see some unconventional positional responsibilities given to players. for Example, the WIL LB in a 4-3u, traditionally has no TE coverage responsibility. however when you look at our WIL, Mykal Kendrick’s, it’s absolutely jaw dropping how he was able to hang with TEs for the most part last year, having little to no experience in man to man coverage coming into the NFL..Expect drastic improvement in his man coverage out of him these next two years, and While traditionally a WIL in a 4-3U doesn’t get asked to cover TEs, Billy Davis doesn’t strike me as the type to waste a players strength, because his positional doesn’t traditionally call for it. Barwin and Kendrick’s can both handle a TE, so who really cares as long as Cole and Graham hit QBs Hard and Often..

    if Graham and Cole can’t drop back and cover TEs for 5 seconds, I’m guessing that at times we will see Davis switch their responsibilities with Kendrick’s…Have the OLB pick up the back in the flat, while the WIL drops with the TE. not Traditional, but I doubt tradition matters much to this regime

  3. 3 GEagle said at 11:27 AM on July 27th, 2013:

    I will be shocked if an OLB isnt added from the waiver wire at some point. An OLB who’s strength is dropping back into coverage, unless one of our unheralded backups step up and show something. As of today, an Injury to Barwin would be catastrophic, and good rosters can’t have gaping holes like that in the depth positions. However, from an overall stand point I’m very pleased with the depth at most of the positions.

    eagles seem high on Kruger’s future and want to get him up to 290lbs. this to me gives hope that Vinny can carve himself out a niche on this team.
    Cox talked about how we will see much more than just two gapping, bunking the Philly Media’s favorite report that we will be a 3-4 team this year which makes a heckuva lot of sense to me. Why in the world we would want to limit Cox to taking on blockers so that other people can make plays is beyond me. Dude is Primed to become a disruptive force that Lives in opposing backfields!!….Davis, and Kelly both finally acknowledged the real possibility that we will be a single gap, under front defense in 2013. looking at our personel, I’m not exactly sure how that was ever in doubt
    Cole talked about how excited he is to rush the passer now that he can let loose and not have to worry about Containment…I hate to admit, but he has yet to become fluid in coverage, but since that sort of thing shouldnt be expected overnight, there still is hope. I was actually impressed in the agility and back peddling Graham was displaying in some PEcom footage. Seems like the injuries haven’t robbed him of his agility. there is hope for the young lad…As a pass rusher I believe the switch can be an advantage for a bull rusher like him…

    mind boggling How Mosher and Gun think there is a chance that Kendrick’s won’t start, and will just be used as a Nickle back. as if a coach would take the communication helmet from Meco to give it to a second year Nickle back. It’s Laughable how they could even suggest Kendrick’s Not staring or being traded before the season.
    I’m getting the feeling that Knott makes this roster. if the Casey Mathews Oregon dynamic wasn’t in play, I would really feel confident in Knott making it

  4. 4 Dominik said at 11:59 AM on July 27th, 2013:

    “As of today, an Injury to Barwin would be catastrophic, and good rosters can’t have gaping holes like that in the depth positions.”

    An injury to Meco or Kendricks would be as catastrophic. Depth at LB is a real concern. The only exception is the Predator role – if Cole or Graham get injured it’s a problem, of course, because every injury of a skill player is a problem, but it wouldn’t be a disaster if you give the other one 80 % of the snaps and split the remaining 20 %.

  5. 5 Duracell said at 11:47 AM on July 27th, 2013:

    I know Barwin is a better scheme fit, and from what I hear Graham is struggling badly in coverage so far, but I just don’t see how Graham can’t see the field. I get him as the backup SAM, but there’s no way Barwin is a better DE than Graham when they move to 4-man fronts, yet they have Barwin ahead of him there, too. I know it’s early, and things may change, but that’s really disappointing to see.

  6. 6 Weapon Y said at 1:14 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    4-3 Under is the best base defense for the Eagles as of now. Graham and Cole can handle rushing the passer 90% of the time and dropping into coverage 10%. That’s actually very similar to the regular (non-Jim Washburn) 4-3.

  7. 7 T_S_O_P said at 1:48 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    From the BGN article –
    Kenny Phillips looked healthy and word is he’s 100%. We have to see how the knee holds up over time, but so far so good for him.

    and relating it to the Sports Science talk from a couple of days back

    But perhaps the most remarkable account of Huls’ impact is told by Robbie Stock, a retired SEAL.

    Stock was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 when a grenade exploded
    inches from the left side of his body. After nearly a dozen surgeries he
    had no motor function in his left arm or hand, and surgeons recommended
    amputation. But Stock had other ideas and sought out Huls back on the
    Virginia Beach base. For several months Huls worked with Stock, using
    the Omegawave to determine when his battered body could handle exercise
    and inventing ways for Stock to train while his arm was mostly lifeless …
    and then when he regained movement in his biceps … and then when some
    function returned to his hand. Within a year of the explosion, Stock
    says, he could bench press 275 pounds, as much weight as he could before
    his injury; today he says he has 70% function in his arm and hand.

  8. 8 holeplug said at 3:11 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    That mmqb article on Huls was great. Hope the medical staff basically becomes as good as the one in phoenix for the suns.

  9. 9 P_P_K said at 1:50 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    Shel is developing into a good reporter. He’s only been on the Eagles beat a couple years.

  10. 10 GEagle said at 2:11 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    maclin was carted off the field…some reports suggest it didn’t look good. I heard he took a few steps off the line of scrimmage and collapsed, holding his leg in pain…no word if it’s Achilles, knee or ankle injury…
    On a positive note, Benn was pictured riding an exercise bike today so it can’t be that serious

  11. 11 Duracell said at 2:27 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    Yeah, I’m really hoping for the best. I know he’s not always popular among Eagles fans, but I really thought he was going to be a beast under Kelly. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious, but it doesn’t sound good.

  12. 12 Flyin said at 3:13 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    Dave just said Maclin suffered a right knee injury. No other info available… still being evaluated.

  13. 13 Flyin said at 4:17 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    I believe Dave said that the Eagles distributed 65k tickets to fans for practice tomorrow. Is this correct? That is an insane number for a practice, if all show!

  14. 14 ICDogg said at 4:18 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    my guess is 50-60% show, less if the weather is bad.

  15. 15 Flyin said at 4:20 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    I wonder if the parking is free.

  16. 16 Anders said at 5:19 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    Parking is free

  17. 17 BobSmith77 said at 4:55 PM on July 27th, 2013:

    Was that in person or just an massive email distribution?