Bobby April – Are You Ready?

Posted: July 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: | 56 Comments »

Think about this.  The Eagles are going to have a rookie PK in Alex Henery.  It appears they are going to have a rookie P in Chas Henry.  Likely, Henry will be the holder for Henery.  Rookies in both spots is going to require some great coaching on the part of Bobby April.  He’s got a reputation as the best Special Teams coach in the NFL.  We’ll find out just how true that is.

Henry I and Henery II, as one reader so brilliantly called them, are both very talented kickers.  Both guys had great college careers.  The problem is that not all college Punters and Kickers translate well to the NFL.  The speed of the game is tough to adjust to.  Kicking in the NFL requires precise timing and technique.  Just having a strong leg isn’t enough anymore.

RS is also up in the air.  We know DeSean can be an explosive PR.  The Eagles would rather him not be the primary guy, though.  Jeremy Maclin still shocks me with how lost he looks as a RS after he was so dynamic in college.  I keep waiting for the light to go on for him as a returner.  Maybe this is the year.

Jorrick Calvin had some good moments last year, but also struggled at times.  He’s not a lock to make the roster.  Chad Hall and Sinorice Moss would fit nicely as the #5 WR and RS.  They’re fighting for roster spots.  Gerard Lawson was added to the team late in the season and he’s got good RS potential.

WR Jeremy Williams spent time on the Practice Squad last year and has RS ability.  I liked him quite a bit coming out of Tulane.  UDFA rookies Graig Cooper and Noel Devine each have RS experience and could factor into the equation.

There is no definitive answer at RS, but this is far from 2007 when there was no one.  Half the team has the ability to handle the job.  April needs one or two players to emerge as the front runners.  There’s still the possibility of adding a player in free agency, assuming the team ever does make a move.

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The Eagles are just getting up to Lehigh today.  Negotiations with teams and players may have been slowed this morning due to logistics.  Hopefully the phones will be going full bore this afternoon and we’ll get some action flowing.

I remain confident that the Kolb/Cardinals deal will get done.

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I need to spend a full post on RB, but for now I’ll update my thoughts on the position.  I still see us going after a veteran back, but I am confused by what the Eagles have done.  They added rookies Dion Lewis, Graig Cooper, and Noel Devine.  All 3 guys have NFL ability.  Normally we have one good rookie and a longshot or two.  Adding 3 guys with that level of potential flat out confuses me.  Maybe we’re going young at RB and won’t pursue a veteran (aside from maybe Reggie Bush).  RB is a young man’s position.  The thing that hurts the rookies is that I’m not sure any of them could be an adequate pass blocker right now.  I really don’t know what to expect.  I do very much like the fact we added 3 talented rookies at a spot we often pay marginal attention to.

Someone asked if the Eagles could target BenJarvus Green-Ellis.  He’s a RFA.  Not sure what his compensation is, but I doubt we go for an RFA this year.

I do think Brian Westbrook is a possible veteran addition.  I don’t think Andy Reid would want Buck back.

I do have some interest in Marion Barber.  Honestly though, I’m not sure how good a pass blocker he is.  That would be a critical factor in deciding whether he’s someone I’d go after.  I still like Cadillac Williams and Clinton Portis, if they can accept 80 carries a year.  That may be too little work to interest them.

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Donovan McNabb will play for the Vikings this year.  Good spot for him.  Sounds like basically a one-year deal.  He’s turned into a roving QB now.  I hope things go well for him.  Glad to know that I can cheer for him in purple.  Hated seeing my man in burgundy.  Barf.

* * * * *

What’s up with Vince Young?  Reports say he’ll be cut tomorrow.  Should the Eagles be interested?  No.

Vince isn’t 100% coachable.  Many people don’t remember that Vince was struggling at Texas early on.  He was losing out to Major Applewhite.  Mack Brown said the thing that turned Vince’s career around is that they quit coaching him and told him to just go do his thing.  Vince was great at that.  His last year and a half was the stuff of legend.

Fast forward to the NFL and we see the raw ability still there, but the coaching issues remain.  Vince drove Norm Chow nuts the first couple of years.  Jeff Fisher did what he could, but Vince was still awkward to handle.  He deals well with pressure on the field, but not off it.

Vince would come here and have to learn a whole new offense in 4 to 5 weeks.  And this is a guy who isn’t real keen on being micro-managed by coaches?  Sounds like a bad fit to me.

Just Kickin’ It

Posted: May 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , | 31 Comments »

The Eagles drafted Nebraska kicker Alex Henery in the 4th round.  That statement is kinda weird on its own, but it really doesn’t hit you until you contemplate life without David Akers.

Think about it.  Some young fans only know Akers as the Eagles kicker.  He has given the team great stability and consistency.  How many guys kicked for us in the 90s?

Roger Ruzek

Matt Bahr

Eddie Murray (Cal Ripken was busy)

Gary Anderson

Chris Boniol

Norm Johnson

Akers took over in 2000 and life has been good ever since.

We can question taking Alex Henery in the 4th round.  We can question whether he’s the right guy to replace Akers.  We do have to face the fact that Akers wasn’t going to last forever.  We’re spoiled.  For every Jason Hanson or Jon Kasay that stays put for 15 years there are 10 guys that last a year or two.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the mechanics of kicking.  All of my knowledge comes from an old friend called Super Toe.  I do know that Henery has a good leg.  He’s clutch.  He’s accurate.  I also love his personality.  Henery was so highly thought of by his teammates that they voted him a team captain.  He’s not a typical kicker.  ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit spent time around Henery and his teammates and always came away raving about him as a player.  Herbstreit at some point referred to Henery as the “greatest kicker in the history of college football”.   That should give you an idea that he’s not just the latest All-American kicker.  He’s special.

Check out these numbers from a Nebraska blog:

  • He made 89.2 percent of his field goals (66-of-74. The NCAA record was 87.8 percent b Florida’s Bobby Raymond.
  • He made 77.4 percent of his career field goals from 40 yards or longer (24-of-31). The NCAA record was72.1 percent by Georgia’s Billy Bennet.
  • He has made 97.7 percent of field goals inside of 40 yards (42-of-43). The NCAA career record was 97 percent.
  • Henery was tied for the NCAA record with six career games with at least four field goals.
  • Henery combined to make 256 of 265 career kicks if you count PATs and field goals, a 96.6 percent accuracy record. The Division I record is 94.9 percent by Missouri’s Jeff Wolfert.
  • The Omaha Burke grad holds the scoring record at Nebraska with 397 points.

Bobby April raved about Henery in a recent interview.  He was especially fond of Henery’s confidence and attitude.   And those are the biggest issues with guys making the move from college to the NFL.  The game is faster at the pro level, but kicking should just be kicking.  I think the increased speed of the game and the pressure of life in the NFL is what ruins most college guys.  As April points out in the story, it isn’t as if kickers have to adjust to a new scheme.

There are no guarantees when it comes to kickers and the NFL.  Plenty of guys with great backgrounds have flamed out.  Some internet hack pointed out recently that we should beware of rookie kickers.  I feel confident that Henery will pan out, but there will be some growing pains (do I owe Alan Thicke for using that phrase?).  The numbers that Brian runs through in his post certainly aren’t comforting.

If Henery doesn’t pan out this summer we’ll have to turn to some veteran off the street.  Life will get really interesting.  Does anyone know the number for Mark Simoneau or Luis Zendejas?