Sunday, August 23, 2009

What Happened in Indy?

Andy Reid called the performance in Indianapolis " embarrassing, absolutely ridiculous on both sides of the ball and special teams, and unacceptable." Reid was clearly trying to send a message: "The regular season is coming real fast, it's time to get our selves in gear."

While Reid is absolutely allowed to be mad, the performance was about as embarrassing as it gets in the preseason, it just gives the Eagles more to focus on.

1. Getting the Offensive Line together.

Donovan McNabb was originally slated to play an entire half, but then Reid became aware of the offensive line situation. King Dunlap simply could not block Dwight Freeney. Although Reid will never say it, McNabb was pulled out after the TD pass because Reid did not want his Franchise Quarterback to get injured in a meaningless preseason game.

2. Ellis Hobbs doesn't know the system yet.

That Reggie Wayne touchdown was completely unacceptable. Hobbs thought that he had safety help over the top but he didn't. This is all because of a misunderstanding of the play. While we know that Sheldon Brown knows the system, Hobbs needs to get on the same page.

3. Maclin is not Jackson

He looked hesitant while returning kicks. He dropped a third down pass that hit him right in the hands. We can only hope this is because of the missed time and it will get better as the season goes on.

But here are the good things about the game.

1. Skill Position Offense looked good.

That TD throw to DeSean Jackson is exactly what was missing last year. McCoy looks great while running, and will only get better as he adjusts to the speed of the game. McNabb looked on target with most of his passes, the problem was a couple of dropped passes on third down.

2. Hobbs looked good as a Kick Returner.

He had a return for 35 yards with poor blocking. He looks like he will be a plus from Demps last year.

3. Babin looks good.

He's had 4 tackles and one sack in both of his preseason games. And this game was going against the first team offensive line. He also forced a fumble on Peyton Manning, a feat that is not easily accomplished.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Remains To Be Fixed in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Eagles are a team that is on the brink of success. There a couple of things that are holding them back... and here they are.

The Offensive Line

This is the most publicized problem with the Eagles right now. In May the Eagles had the following projected starting lineup.

RT: Jason Peters

RG: Todd Herremens

C: Jamaal Jackson

LG: Stacy Andrews

LT: Shawn Andrews.

When the Eagles played last thursday only Peters,who went out of the game with an injury anyway, and Jackson even played. While the back ups didn't do a TERRIBLE job, the game definitely would have gone better had they played better. Stacy Andrews and Jason Peters look on pace to return either this week or next week. Todd Herremens is expected to return in the season opener. The biggest question mark is Shawn Andrews and his ability to recover from some back muscle issues. Winston Justice, the former second round pick, is currently playing Right Tackle. The Offensive Line needs to sort itself out before the Eagles head to Carolina for the season opener.

Depth at TE

Right now Celek, Bright, Schobel, and Mayers are the only TEs on the 80 man roster.

- Celek is the obvious starter.

- Matt Schobel has been here for several years, knows the system, but has never really produced during the regular season.

- Robert Myers is a project the eagles are working on.

- Bright is a converted defensive end who looks like he needs another year on the practice squad before he can play at this level.

If the Eagle's ever want to line up in a dual TE set and hope their opponents take them seriously they need at least another TE. If Celek is ever seriously injured the team is going to be in dire need of one.

The Linebackers

If you took one thing away from the Patriots game it should be that a TE was allowed to score 2 TD's with relative ease. Covering the TE is the LB's job. While I don't know which LB had the specific assignment on Baker that problem needs to be fixed. I think that this will be fixed as the preseason goes on and the LB's get better chemistry, but it cannot happen during the regular season.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Practice Update: Michael Vick arrives and more!

A Couple of Big News Items
1. Michael Vick
Yes Michael Vick practiced today. He originally practiced in offensive only drills, completing slant patterns and regular routes. He worked studiously with McNabb and Marty Mornhinweg: trying to get his footwork and basics back in place. What is notable about this practice is that
a) He handled the media well, spoke very little,
b) He was the first one on the field and the last one off
c) He hooked up with Maclin twice for 50 yard throws down the field.

2. Sheldon Brown
Sheldon Brown was injured his ribs today while defending Kevin Curtis. His ribs are bruised and I Don't Know how long he'll be out.

3. Shawn Andrew's Speaks!
Yeah, a lot of you guys with the ink pens question my mental toughness. I know a lot of people are trying to keep their jobs and do good for their paper, so I guess it’s OK. It’s tough when a guy can’t defend himself. People just kind of make me out to be a nut case. It’s all right. I’m content with myself and where God wants me to be."

Get back on the field PLEASE!

4.Westbrook Practiced.
Philly.Com had this to say about Westbrook
-- Westbrook ran during intalls, but not during team drills. The running back looked very sharp.

Gcobb had this to say about practice.
Brian Westbrook was out getting some work during the individual drills. We went in after those were over and I'd estimate that he looked about 70%. You can see that BWest still has a ways to go before he's all the way back. He doesn't put all of his weight on that injured ankle. It's understandable. It's good to see him out here so far ahead of the first game.

Friday, August 14, 2009

PreSeason Without Michael Vick (Offensive)

So I know that everyone wants to talk about the signing of Michael Vick right now, but let's keep this discussion as uncontroversial as possible. PreSeason is an incredibly important time for rookies and a few veterans as they are fighting for a spot to make the team.

Here a couple people I'm going to talk about quickly and absolutely encourage anyone's views on these players or anyone else I don't mention.

1. Jeremy Maclin - It took Maclin a drive or two to get acclimated to the environment but he played well during the game. He had 2 catches for 44 yards, which made him the Eagle's leading receiver behind Eldra Buckley (more on him later). He also drew the pass interference which obviously gave the Eagle's great field position inside the 1 yard line. He also played incredibly well as a punt returner; returning 2 punts for over 20 yards each.

2. LeSean McCoy - He averaged 5.5 yards/carry and was very explosive. He made his way through some tough holes. He gained 19 yards on one reception, but then lost 7 yards on another. Those 7 yards are NOT his fault. Donovan McNabb was being pressured and he just dumped it off to McCoy when McCoy was still standing right next to him. McCoy attempted to scramble but there is only so much you can really do.

3. Eldra Buckley - This is the player who I was by far the most impressed and surprised by. I expected Buckley to make a push for a roster spot, but he blew me away. He had 2 touchdowns (1 receiving 1 rushing) and was the Eagle's top receiver. Definitely the best contributor on the offense.

4. The Entire Offensive Line - They looked pretty good without 3 of the projected starters. Not the best offensive line in the league, but they were effective.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Injury Update: (As of Sunday June 09)

Injuries have plagued the Eagle's this offseason, making a once optimistic camp seem dark and dismal (it's really not, but I'll get to that later).
Let's start with the worst first, and then move into less severe.

Stewart Bradley - Torn ACL: Out For Season

This may be the worst injury that the Eagle's have suffered in the offseason. Bradley was the starting Middle Linebacker and primary signal caller for the Eagle's Defense. After Dawkins left it seemed that Bradley was tapped to become the Defense's new leader as well.
In regards to the X's and O's, his replacement will either be Omar Gaither, who is currently competing with Akeem Jordan for the Weak Side LB position, or Joe Mays. I like Joe Mays in this battle. Gcobb wrote a very good article about Joe May's recent progress. Here's an excerpt:
But Mays had a good day today. He made some very good open-field tackles. He had one on LeSean McCoy where it was just the two of them out there in space. He got McCoy to the ground. He did a great job of taking away McCoy’s cut-back lanes and using the sideline as a defender. It was a very nice play.

And On Omar Gaither:

There are plenty of leader's on the Defense to replace Bradley's spirit. Mikell has always been an assumed leader, and he will continue to rise in that role. Asante Samuel has been making some noise every day in camp. Trent Cole is the unquestioned leader of the line. There are plenty of good people that will step up.

Cornelius Ingram - Torn ACL: Out For Season

This is a big loss for the Eagles. They were expecting Ingram to become the X-Factor in the red zone. His height, and athleticism would have been invaluable for Donovan McNabb had he been available. He was injured in a goal line drill on Thursday. The Eagles thought it was just a small amount of swelling until they conducted an MRI. Last Year Ingram tore the ACL in the same knee and was out for the season with the Florida Gators.

Shawn Andrews - Back MUSCLE Soreness

This injury doesn't have me overly concerned. According to Andy Reid Shawn Andrews is having some issues with the muscles in his back. Andrews reported to camp and completed the flexibility and agility drills required but then started complaining. Andrews has been seen around Lehigh rehabing and staying in shape by doing cardio. Filling in for Andrews at Right Tackle is Winston Justice.

DeSean Jackson- Hyper Exteneded Knee: Already Back

DeSean Jackson is already back on the field as of Sunday Afternoon. Andy Reid said he would have been back earlier had it not rained Sunday Morning. I really only included this here because I got several frantic texts last night about this showing up on sports center.

Friday, August 7, 2009

What Happened To Training Camp?

So this is my first post in a while... so I am going to talk about a lot!

1. Jim Johnson Passes Away
This is a terrible tragedy. Jim Johnson was an incredibly important part of this organization and you know that when Andy Reid placed Sean McDermermott as the official Eagle's Defensive Coordinator things were bad. First off I want to send out my condolences to everyone who was affected by Jim Johnson's death. We all miss him greatly.

What does this mean for the Eagles on the field though?
I think it does some good things and some terrible things.
The terrible thing is obviously that Jim Johnson will never again call a blitz. While we may not feel that right away, his ability to find the wrinkles in an offense and expose them through complex blitz packages kept this defense in top 5 shape for the past decade.
It also gives players a drive. It gives them something to fight for. They all loved Jim Johnson and respected him like no other man in that locker room. They'll want to do it for Jim. You cannot replace that motivation with any contract incentive.

2. Flight Night, or more like Injury Night.
So Ellis Hobbs apparently only has a stinger, and that should be resolved in the next day or so. Stewart Bradley on the other hand is a much bigger issue. According to the reports he tore his ACL. This means he is almost guaranteed to be out of the season. Bradley is the player who wore the communication helmet and called out the plays. He also seemed to be tapped to be the heart and soul of this defense now that Dawkins is gone. Who will replace his position? At this point it looks like it will be either Omar Gaither or Joe Mays. Gaither played MIKE throughout 2007 and led the team in tackles that year. Joe Mays played well in preseason last year and has potential. Another question is who will step up and replace him as the emotional leader on the defense? Asante Samuel? Sheldon Brown? The options are limited but someone needs to step up soon.

3. Juquae Parker.
I'm just going to refer to this. What the two of them did was very stupid and if it impacts the team at all I will be very dissapointed.
These guys went to college, right? Don't they know how to block the bottom of the door with a towel, turn on the lava lamp, and chillax in private?

4. Jeremy Maclin
I am gladded that he is FINALLY signed to a contract but it took way too long. A Rookie coming out of a spread offense needs all the time he can get.

5. DeSean Jackson
I can't report anything myself so I will just refer to this.
Quarterback Kevin Kolb talked Wednesday about how Jackson's desire to be one of the league's best propels the skinny little wideout, who seems to relish facing off 1-on-1 with Pro Bowl corner Asante Samuel. Samuel and Jackson jaw at one another constantly, taunting and baiting.

If DeSean can really blossom this year it will help McNabb a lot. I don't need to explain how that will work.

6. Brian Westbrook may be back!?!?!?!?!
Early reports from the Eagle's said that Westbrook MAY be back by preseason and most analysts said that there was no way that was happening. Well apparently Westbrook was running drills very well on the side. If Westbrook can slowly get his way back into the rotation I think that will only help LeSean McCoy. I know the Eagle's won't work him too hard, but McCoy has an opportunity to learn directly from the best in the business. It can only make the team better when Westbrook is on the field doing his thing.
"Yeah, (we are) just trying to get him involved with some football drills,'' Reid said. "Rick has done a handful of conditioning and rehab drills with him. We brought a quarterback over to throw him the ball, throw him some routes just to see how he's cutting. I needed to get a little feel on it, just see where he's at.''

So on a happier note... I still like the way this season looks.
We had some minor to major bumps in the road but I still like our chances. We just need to resolve a few key issues succesfully and we're on our way.