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.

Eagles Doing The Safety Dance?

Posted: April 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , | 12 Comments »

For my SB Nation Philly column I wrote about the Eagles and their increased focus on Safety prospects for the upcoming draft.

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Someone yesterday asked about which players might struggle with the new line coaches.  Fair question.  Howard Mudd and Jim Washburn drive their players hard.  Not all guys handle this well.  Washburn has a really strong reputation with his players, though.  Albert Haynesworth took years to buy into Washburn’s style of coaching, but once he did, Big Al became the best defensive player in the league.  And very rich.  I think Eagles players will see that and what he did with Babin and Antwan Odom and be motivated.  Washburn made those guys good players and lots of money.  That will play a big part in the way the guys respond to Washburn.  Bunk would be the guy I’m most curious about.  I think he can take someone riding him.  Mickey Andrews ran the FSU defense and was hard on his guys.  I just wonder what will happen if Bunk is a backup and gets limited playing time.  Will he respond to that situation well?  If he’s struggling for reps and Washburn is riding him hard, that could be a situation to watch.

Offense is different.  Winston Justice has his contract.  He’s not exactly known as a guy with a driven personality.  Things were very competitive at USC, but it was also a fun atmosphere.  Mudd is a no-nonsense guy.  We really do need Winston to buy in and respond well to the pushing and prodding.  King Dunlap is another player that wasn’t exactly known as a grinder, in college or the pros.  He lost his starting job as a Senior at Auburn to a Freshman because he wasn’t playing up to his potential.  Dunlap has made a lot of progress since then, but Mudd will be a tough adjustment for him.

Jason Peters had a reputation in Buffalo as a talented, but fickle player.  He was great on Sundays, but didn’t have an ideal work ethic the rest of the time.  I think coming to a better environment has had a positive effect on him, but Mudd will be an adjustment.  Again, Peters has his money.  His only motivation for working hard with Mudd is to hone his craft.  When I say the phrase “hone his craft” Jason is about the 11 millionth person I think of.  This is a situation that bears watching.  The good news is that Jason played lights out down the stretch last year so maybe Mudd won’t be riding him that hard.

As I talked about yesterday, the key is for the coaches to make the players realize they are being hard on them for a reason.  Mudd and Washburn did a good job of this in their previous stops so I expect that to mostly be the case here.

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I was looking over the roster the other day while confirming some info.  Two names that jumped out at me as guys I’d forgotten about – Reggie Wells and Jorrick Calvin.  I don’t know what to make of their futures.

Calvin showed some potential as a RS, but he didn’t make the kind of impact that makes him a lock for that role in 2011.  I was disappointed that he didn’t get better as the season went along.  As a CB, we still don’t know much about him.

Wells was a solid veteran for the Cardinals, but struggled as an Eagle.  Reggie needs a strong training camp to have a shot at a roster spot.  Maybe he meshes well with Mudd and plays much better.  I don’t see that as likely.  I think his best days are behind him, but the Eagles will give him a chance to show what he can do.