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Found 92 results

  1. time2rock

    One Less Hole

    One Less Hole Posted: June 20th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor Howie Roseman loves to remind us that roster building is a continuous process. And he’s right. We got more proof of that on Friday when the Eagles made a surprise signing. Back during free agency I didn’t have Tartt as a potential Eagles target. He’s 30 years old. Tartt hasn’t made a lot of coverage plays in his career. He didn’t seem like the kind of safety the Eagles would go after. I thought for sure safety would be addressed in the draft. There were quite a few safeties who made sense for the Eagles. The team had a lot of picks. The Eagles would finally invest in a talented young safety. Oops. The trade up for Jordan Davis and the acquisition of AJ Brown cost the Eagles several picks and that limited their ability to address all the positions they wanted to. There wasn’t much left on the safety market so the Eagles sat back and waited before making a move. They jumped on CB James Bradberry when he was cut. He comes in as a definitive starter and as someone worth paying good money to. Did the Eagles decide Tartt was their best option? Did Tartt decide the Eagles were his best option? Either way, they agreed to terms on Friday. Tartt doesn’t come to Philly as the definitive answer like Bradberry did. Tartt is a veteran player, but he’s only started double digit games twice in his career. Injuries have certainly been a major factor. He’s never even played in all 16 (or 17) games in a season. Last year he started a career high 14 games and played pretty well. I’m surprised at how little interest there was in him. Tartt is a physical player and big time hitter. He’s not someone you want in the slot or in man coverage against a speedy receiver. He has good size at 6-1, 215. You want Tartt staying back and attacking the ball. He can help deep, but that’s not his specialty. So how does Tartt fit in Philly? The projected starters are Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps. The coaches like Harris a lot more than I do. Epps showed real promise last year and is someone the team is high on. Still, he’s only got 8 career starts. You want to be careful about giving him a starting job. Make him earn it. My guess is that Epps will battle Tartt for a starting gig. I would love to see Tartt and Epps both look good this summer and challenge Harris for his starting role. The other real value for Tartt is that he gives the coaches the ability to play three safety sets. Tartt is big enough to play in the box like a LB and let the other two focus on coverage. That gives Jonathan Gannon another option for his passing down schemes. I feel a lot more confident about the secondary than I did in early April. CB James Bradberry CB Jimmy Moreland CB Mario Goodrich S Jaquiski Tartt There aren’t any foundational pieces to build around, but that is a good group of players to help a secondary that struggled at times in 2021. Long term, the Eagles still need to do more work, but that will be a discussion for next February and March. Right now we’re focused on having an improved secondary for the 2022 season. ***** One of the long term pieces could be K’Von Wallace. Could. Be. Roob had an odd note in his latest piece. I’m also still not sure Harris or Tartt is a better option than K’Von Wallace. We really don’t know about Wallace yet. With a good summer I wouldn’t be surprised if Wallace moves up the safety depth chart past Tartt and maybe even past Harris. Wallace has been given every chance to play the past two years and he’s struggled to get on the field. He has 6 starts. His career highlight is a fumble recovery. Listen, I would love for the light to go on for Wallace and for him to become a good safety, but we’ve seen virtually nothing from him to this point in his career. If the Eagles really trusted him, I doubt they would have added Tartt. The good news for all the safeties is that any of them could emerge. No one has to beat out Brian Dawkins, Wes Hopkins or Malcolm Jenkins. This really is an open competition. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/06/one-less-hole/
  2. time2rock

    Hype Not Hope

    Hype Not Hope Posted: June 12th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor Last year the Eagles offseason was more about hope than anything else. We hoped Nick Sirianni would prove to be a good coach. We hoped Jalen Hurts would be a good QB. We hoped DeVonta Smith would play like a #1 receiver. We hoped the back seven would be functional. We hoped the team would avoid another injury-plagued season. Enough of the hopes panned out that the Eagles went 9-8 and made the playoffs. This spring there is more hype than hope. Adam Rank says the Eagles have the best roster in the NFC East. He had really good things to say about the offseason. I know the Eagles have a not-so-great history with offseason hype; even now, nearly 11 years later, who can forget the way Vince Young’s infamous "Dream Team” fell flat? All that said, it’s hard to contain my excitement around some of the moves Philly made this offseason. This team has been almost perfectly average since winning Super Bowl LII, compiling a record of 31-33-1 in that span. But I think the Eagles really helped set themselves up for 2022. https://twitter.com/PFF/status/1535698386023686144 The thought of the Eagles having a Top 5 WR corps would have seemed nuts in the middle of last season. WR was a major need heading into the offseason and the Eagles don’t have a good track record of finding them in recent years. The team signs Zach Pascal in free agency and then trades for AJ Brown. Boom. You suddenly a good group of players with some high end talent and some depth. Speaking of Brown…enjoy five minutes of his highlights. https://twitter.com/NFL/status/1534942146536644608 Having an outstanding group of receivers doesn’t do you any good if the QB can’t get them the ball. Jalen Hurts certainly has his share of believers right now. Schein lists him as a "guaranteed riser”. Hurts is a winner and a natural born leader. This fall, I see him guiding the Eagles to an NFC East title. And you better believe this team will be a tough out in January. Is this all too much too fast? Should we be nervous? I don’t think so. The NFL can be a quick turnaround league. The Eagles were mediocre in 2015 and 2016. Then they became a dominant team in 2017 and ended up winning the Super Bowl (in case you forgot). The Eagles hit rock bottom in 2020, for a variety of reasons. It looks like they have bounced back quickly. Last year the Eagles took advantage of a soft schedule. This year they appear to have a legitimately good team. And that has led people to buying in. There are no guarantees that things will work out, but let yourself believe. Enjoy the hype. The team had a good core in place and then had a great offseason. We’ve come a long way from last year when hope was the primary currency. ***** Allen is a longshot to pan out, but with world class speed, he’s worth taking a chance on. At the very least, he will drive some DBs crazy this summer. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/06/hype-not-hope/
  3. New Look Front Office Posted: June 6th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor A couple of years ago sweeping front office changes would probably have been welcomed by Eagles fans. Draft picks weren’t working out as planned, the roster lacked young talent and there just weren’t enough playmakers. Things changed in the past two years, with the team drafting well and young players starting to develop. This wasn’t an ideal time for change. But changes happened. Lots of them. Let’s focus on the personnel department. OUT VP of Player Personnel Andy Weidl – left to become the Assistant GM with the Steelers Director of Player Personnel Ian Cunningham – left to become Assistant GM with the Bears Director of Player Personnel Brandon Brown – left to become Assistant GM with the Giants VP of Football Operations Catherine Raiche – left to become Assistant GM with the Browns Tom Donahoe – senior football advisor Shawn Heinlen – area scout TJ McCreight – personnel executive IN Matt Russell – Senior Personnel Director/Advisor to the General Manager Brandon Hunt – Director of Scouting Charles Walls – Director of Player Personnel Jeremy Gray – Assistant Director of Pro Personnel Jordon Dizon – National Scout Jarrod Kilburn – College/Pro Scout Rod Streater – Northeast Area Scout Ben Ijalana – Scouting Assistant PROMOTED Dave Caldwell – Senior Personnel Director/Advisor to the General Manager Alan Wolking – Director of Player Personnel Phil Bhaya – Director of Draft Management Max Gruder – Director of Pro Scouting Ameena Soliman – Director of Personnel Operations/Pro Scout Ryan Myers – Assistant Director of College Scouting Matt Holland – Senior College/Pro Scout No one loss is going to devestate the personnel department. No single addition is going to be a game-changer. The Eagles had some good people that took promotions from other teams. Howie Roseman brought in a solid group to replace them. There will be changes in the structure and how things go. Weidl was a veteran scout and had a traditional football background. Howie didn’t make a traditional promotion to replace him. In fact, he didn’t give anyone Weidl’s old title. Howie instead created a new position (assistant GM) and split that between two trusted staff members. Jon Ferrari – Assistant General Manager Alec Halaby – Assistant General Manager Who? Ferrari previously was the VP of Football Operations and Compliance. His background is mainly as an administrator. He’s been with the Eagles since 2016. Ferrari worked for the league before that. Halaby was the VP of Football Operations and Strategy. His background is in analytics. That phrase gets thrown around a lot these days. The Eagles are trying to use data to help make decisions involving gameday strategy, player evaluations and roster building. This will be his 15th season with the team so he knows the organization and how things are done. That also means Halaby has some friends and enemies. Some members of the Chip Kelly staff didn’t like him. Doug Pederson and some of his coaches felt the same way. We haven’t heard much from the current set of coaches. Halaby is highly regarded by Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman. That’s how he’s stayed around this long. Neither of these guys is supposed to take Weidl’s role. Don’t get all fired up about non-football guys now running the draft. Matt Russell and Dave Caldwell are Senior Personnel Directors. I tend to think they are stepping into the role Tom Donahoe had in recent years. That role is a mixture of scouting and advising. Will they have power over other staff members? Alan Wolking was promoted to Director of Player Personnel. He could take on Weidl’s duties. Wolking wouldn’t have as much power, initially. In a year or two, maybe. Last year you had multiple people reporting to Weidl. This year they will report directly to Roseman. We’ll have to wait and see how that works. One of the keys to the recent success is that the personnel department and the coaching staff got on the same page. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon recently said the coaches have a specific plan for each player that is added (drafted/signed/traded for). That simply wasn’t the case with the previous coaching staff. As long as the coaches and scouts still work well together, the new guys have a chance to continue the recent trend of good offseasons. Bo Wulf did make one interesting note about the changes. I don’t know if there was a specific reason Howie didn’t give out the role previously. This is an interesting development. At the least, it tells you that he thinks highly of the two guys he promoted. ***** Some might say I buried the lead in all of this. From Bo’s story: Lurie, the 27-year-old son of Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, will have the title of Business and Football Operations Strategy, reflecting his involvement in both the football operations and business sides of the organization, according to a team source. The younger Lurie moved into a permanent office space in the NovaCare Complex earlier this offseason. I’m sure some will scream about nepotism and talk about what an awful move this is. The nepotism criticism is certainly fair, but anyone judging this move now is guessing. Michael Bidwill took over running the Cardinals from his father and the team has benefited from that move. Stephen Jones has done some good things with the Cowboys. You can give a job to relative and have it be the right move. There are also examples where similar moves didn’t go so well. This move does have risk. Jeff Lurie is getting older and wants to be able to have someone ready to take over the team so he’s involving his son now to give him time to learn on the job and be ready for when the time comes. It is hard for me to have a strong opinion on this because I don’t know much about Julian Lurie. If he’s smart and driven, Julian could do a good job. If he has a sense of entitlement, this will not end well. I would be concerned if I thought he was getting a lot of power right out of the gate. I think the senior Lurie and Howie Roseman will be smart enough to bring him along slowly. But we’ll see. Weird things can happen when family is involved. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/06/look-front-office/
  4. Legit Contender? Posted: May 24th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor The Eagles drafted well, traded for AJ Brown and then signed James Bradberry to shore up the CB position. All of this had people jumping on the Eagles bandwagon faster than Nick Sirianni would talk ball with an average-sized Division III wide receiver with limited athleticism. The Eagles had a terrific offseason and certainly are improved from the group that lost to the Bucs in mid-January. Are they good enough? Are the Eagles a legit Super Bowl contender? In mid-April, the discussion was whether the Eagles could win the NFC East. A series of terrific moves have pushed expectations even farther. And this isn’t just a lot of hype from Eagles fans. Peter King is buying in. He’s got the Eagles as the #9 team in the NFL. 9. Philadelphia (9-9, lost to Tampa Bay in the wild-card round) I see the Eagles as the best team in the East. I see Jalen Hurts doing enough to be a C-plus quarterback, with the addition of A.J. Brown. I see the receiving corps of Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal being good enough to make the Eagles a top-10 offense. I see Haason Redick returning to the scene of his prime (he played college football at Temple) and James Bradberry fortifying a corner depth chart to make this the best defense in the NFC East. What I like about what the Eagles have done this offseason is this: They’ve created a team with a legitimate chance of winning now, with a legitimate offense to make a judgment on Jalen Hurts as the future quarterback. GM Howie Roseman has done it while still retaining enough pieces for the future to address the quarterback position if he needs in 2023. Roseman has three picks in the first two rounds next year, and three picks in the first two rounds of 2024. He’s done his job: He’s built a team for 2022, and he’s built a team that can do a U-turn in 2023 if need be. The Eagles are better on both sides of the ball than they were in January, and that was capped by the Bradberry signing. In the end, they have a chance to win a game in January. The biggest addition was Brown, and I think he can be the difference in two or three games. "A.J. was a DNA match with us,” Roseman told me after the trade. "He was exactly what we were looking for in a receiver, and he matched our culture.” Good add. The only NFC teams ahead of them are the Rams, Packers and Bucs. Dallas is down at 15. I think some of the hype is absolutely fair. The Eagles went 9-8 last year, despite having a new coach and a QB in his first full season as starter. The coaching staff is back, the QB is experienced and the team added difference-makers and depth on both sides of the ball. There are a lot of reasons to believe in this team. It is still fair to question Jalen Hurts and the QB position. He showed real promise last year, but came up small in some big games, most notably the playoff game. Hurts was 23-43-258 with a TD and 2 INTs. The Eagles were down 31-0 after three quarters. I had blocked that out of my mind. The Bucs made it clear they were the better team. The Eagles made the score look better with a pair of fourth quarter scores. Hurts is now more experienced. He will have better receivers to throw to. He will have a better defense to help him out. The O-line remains a strength and the running game should once again be one of the best in the league. This is as favorable a situation as a young QB could ask for. Hurts is potentially one of the weak spots as we look at the lineup now, but he will almost certainly improve this year. Donovan McNabb and Carson Wentz both made big jumps in their second full season as a starter. This isn’t just hope. History tells us Hurts should be a better QB in 2022. Will he be good enough to get the Eagles where they want to go? Just getting into the playoffs isn’t enough. This team needs to play at a high level. That means winning 11 or 12 games. That means winning the division. That means either winning in the postseason or losing a heartbreaker. If the Eagles are down 31-0 in the playoffs again, Hurts isn’t the guy. I know some people want to say Hurts has to win a postseason game. I think you have to be careful with things like that. What if they lose 38-35? Then Hurts is probably fine and the defense needs more work. The key is for the Eagles to look like a legit playoff team. Tampa dominated back in January. The gap between them and the Eagles was Grand Canyonesque on that day. It would help if the Eagles won some tough games in the regular season. They only beat one team with a winning record in 2021 (Denver). The Eagles got to 9-8 by feasting on a weak schedule. They beat five teams who were last place in their division. That can help get you to the playoffs, but it doesn’t help one bit when you go against Tom Brady in January. That loss can be useful to the Eagles. The front office saw major holes and knew they had to be addressed. The coaching staff saw the gap between their guys and the defending champs. The players got to see the level they need to be at when this January roles around. Playoff experience is good, even if you get your butt kicked. There are lessons to be learned. The Eagles made the playoffs in 2000 and then got to the NFC title game in 2001. Can this team make a similar leap? Hurts will have to get better, just like McNabb did in 2001. Both guys got upgrades at receiver and that helped the passing game open up and improve. AJ Brown is far better than any receiver the Eagles had in 2001 and he should have a major impact. I think the Eagles were going to be better this year even with just minimal talent upgrades. The coaches have a better idea of what they are doing after learning together in 2021. The coaches know their players better. The players know the systems better. When you combine all of this with some major talent upgrades, it is easy to see why people are suddenly high on the Eagles. Super Bowl? That might be a tad optimistic, but this should be one of the best teams in the NFC and they should be able to compete with anyone. The first real test might be Dallas on Oct 16. Then there is a three-game stretch vs the Colts, Packers and Titans in November. We’ll see if the Eagles are for real. They must beat good teams. The Eagles have had a terrific offseason and there is every reason for people to be excited about 2022. ***** Another CB? The Eagles tried to add him last year so this is a player they like. Darius Slay and James Bradberry are older so bringing in a bunch of young corners is smart. The Eagles can hopefully find a player or two to develop for the future. Moreland can play in the slot or outside so he gives them flexibility. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/05/legit-contender/
  5. time2rock

    Changes

    Changes Posted: May 7th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor The Eagles had some interesting changes taking place this past week, on and off the field. Let’s take a look at what happened. We’ll start with the roster. Herbig is a strange player. He was never great, but played relatively well. Something must have gone on behind the scenes because the Eagles never seemed to be happy with him. They originally wanted him to play C, but Herbig had major issues with bad snaps. He was solid when playing OG. The Eagles weren’t going to make a long term commitment to Herbig, so 2022 was going to be his final season here. The team tried to trade him, but either asked for too much or teams decided to wait, knowing the Eagles very well might release him. The drafting of Cam Jurgens gave the Eagles another body on the interior line and may have expedited Herbig’s departure. The Eagles gain cap space from the move, which can be used if they decide to pursue a free agent in the next couple of months. There is a lot of speculation right now about the Giants releasing CB James Bradberry. The Eagles might have interest in him. There is still good depth on the inside of the OL. LG Landon Dickerson ….. Sua Opeta OC Jason Kelce ……………. Cam Jurgens ……. Jack Anderson RG Isaac Seumalo ……….. Kayode Awosika Opeta has flashed when he got on the field. Nick Sirianni was singing his praises recently. Awosika played well last summer and could be a good backup OG. I like his potential quite a bit. The Eagles added a pair of UDFA OL in Bill Dunkle and Josh Sills. Both remind me of Herbig, in terms of size and ability. Obviously he showed he could play in the NFL and they are complete unknowns, but Herbig isn’t some unreplaceable commodity. Dunkle is the better prospect. Sills is more athletic and more versatile. We’ll see how they play. ***** This is the official list of UDFAs. There are a couple of changes from the group I covered the other day. QB EJ Perry is out. Apparently the Eagles didn’t think they would get Carson Strong so they went after Perry. Once they did get Strong, Perry decided to go elsewhere, which is smart. He’ll be down in Jacksonville, working with Doug Pederson. The Eagles added pass rusher Ali Fayad. Fayad is 6-2, 248. He had a great season for Western Michigan, with 13 sacks and 2 FF. Fayad went undrafted due to a lack of idea size and athleticism. He’s got short arms, which can hurt pass rushers. And he’s more football player than athlete. The Eagles are listing him at LB. He will be a backup at SAM. The Eagles are committing to that position. Haason Reddick Kyron Johnson Patrick Johnson Ali Fayad Joe Ostman If the Eagles go to more 3-4 looks, these guys could rush from both OLB spots. ***** The changes off the field are in the scouting department. Lots of stuff is going on. We don’t know why the changes are taking place. Contracts for scouts/personnel people expire in early May so some of this could simply be that. Brandon Brown – left for promotion with Cleveland Browns Ian Cunningham – left for promotion with NY Giants Catherine Raiche – expected to leave for promotion with Browns Tom Donahoe – contract expired, might be retiring since he’s 75 The changes didn’t all come at the senior level. Casey Weidl, TJ McCreight and Shawn Heinlen are all gone. Weidl is the most interesting name. He is the brother of VP of Player Personnel Andy Weidl. Would the Eagles let Casey go if Andy is staying? Andy is a candidate for the Steelers GM job, but it doesn’t feel like he’ll get that. The Eagles have been interviewing people to add to the personnel department. One of the people they’ve talked to is Brandon Hunt of the Steelers. He’s up for their GM job, but is also talking to the Eagles. The team also met with Jim Nagy, who runs the Senior Bowl. Nagy has worked as a scout for a few teams until the past few years. He would be a good addition. Nagy has connections all over the league and all over the college football world after his time running the Senior Bowl. Howie Roseman has done a good job of hiring people when you look at the way other teams have hired from the Eagles staff. Joe Douglas and Andrew Berry left in the past couple of years and then Brown, Cunningham and Raiche were hired away this year. Come work for the Eagles. If you do a good job, you’ll either get promoted or hired away by another team. It will be interesting to see who the Eagles do bring in, but the most important move may be keeping Andy Weidl around. The past few drafts have gone well. The Eagles seem to be making better choices. The new coaching staff embraced the draft picks and tried to get them on the field. The Eagles still have good scouts in place. They still have Weidl. They need to bring in some more pieces to fill out the front office and keep the personnel department performing at a high level. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/05/changes-4/
  6. time2rock

    Meet the UDFAs

    Meet the UDFAs Posted: May 1st, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor The Eagles had a good draft class and then got busy on the phones, trying to build a strong UDFA class. You never know when you’ll find the next T.J. Edwards, Nate Herbig or Marcus Epps. Good players go undrafted every year. Here is the unofficial list so far: QB Carson Strong QB EJ Perry RB Kennedy Brooks WR/RS Britian Covey OT Jarrid Williams OG William Dunkle OG Josh Sills DT Noah Elliss CB Mario Goodrich CB Josh Jobe CB Josh Blackwell FS Reed Blankenship ***** QB Carson Strong – Nevada – 6-3, 226 3-year starter with a powerful arm. If healthy, had a chance to be the top QB picked. Strong has major knee issues. He was advised not to play in 2021 by everyone around him. Strong felt an obligation to support his teammates and worked out a faster recovery time so he could get back on the field with them. You can bet that level of commitment made Nick Sirianni fall in love with him. Strong’s early return led to erratic play. His numbers were good and Nevada got off to a 5-1 start, but scouts saw issues. Strong had very limited mobility. He did everything he could to play in games. During the week, he would sometimes ride in a golf cart to rest his leg for Saturdays. That should tell you how serious the injury was as well as how strong his commitment to play was. Strong’s weak leg affected his mechanics. He became more of an arm thrower. Strong got healthier and better as the season went along. I thought he looked pretty good at the Senior Bowl. At his best, he is a very impressive passer. He has a very strong arm and can make every throw in the book. He is a good deep thrower. Beyond just a powerful arm, he is accurate down the field. Strong is a smart, accurate passer on short and intermediate stuff. He anticipates receivers coming open and can put the ball in very tight windows. This is a great signing by the Eagles. Strong might remind you of Philip Rivers, who Sirianni coached in SD and Indy. The Eagles are set at QB heading into the 2022 season so Strong can play, sit, rest or whatever he needs. The focus can be on his future rather than right now. If he’s ready to play, the Eagles can mix him in judicously. If Strong never pans out, he just cost money. Strong has the potential to develop into a starting QB in the future. QB EJ Perry – Brown – 6-2, 211 Brown is a dual-threat QB who started two years at Brown. He threw for 6,258 yards and 47 TDs, while running for 1,202 yards and 16 TDs. He is a bit thin, but has a good frame. Brown has a live arm. He’s a good athlete. His ability to run wasn’t just due to facing Ivy League competiton. Brown went to the E-W Shrine game and was the offensive MVP, going 13-18-241 with 3 TDs. He also ran for a score. I don’t understand Perry signing with the Eagles. He is a solid prospect. I would think he would have been better served going to other teams. I wonder if the Eagles told him Strong would sit this season and Perry would have a good chance to compete for the #3 QB job. I’m glad he did come to Philly. He is a talented prospect with the tools to be an NFL QB. RB Kennedy Brooks – Oklahoma – 5-11, 209 Ran for 1,000 or more yards each of his last three seasons. Averaged 7.0 yards per carry and had 31 TDs. Went undrafted because he’s not special athletically and also isn’t special in terms of size or skill. Just a good RB. Those guys tend to go undrafted, but they can still carve out an NFL career. Brooks is an interesting runner. He doesn’t make hard lateral cuts. He goes slow, reads blocks and then fires upfield. Brooks runs behind his pads and goes through contact. He breaks a lot of tackles. Brooks doesn’t have breakaway speed. He ran 4.61 at the Combine and that’s what you see on the field. He needs work as a receiver and a blocker. Brooks is a good fit for the Eagles running scheme. He can take advantage of good blocking and get up to the second level. It will be interesting to see if he can deliver big plays in the NFL. The lack of speed wasn’t as big a deal in the Big 12. Brooks also isn’t meant to be an NFL workhorse. His best shot is being part of RB by committee. WR/RS Britian Covey – Utah – 5-8, 169 Small, explosive athlete who was a good receiver and dynamic returner. Ran back 4 punts for TDs and 1 kickoff for a score. Makes quick, deicisive cuts. Once he gets some space, has the burst to get down the field. Good long speed. Ran 4.48 at his Pro Day. Might be even faster on the field. As a receiver, played in the slot and outside. Would be a slot receiver in the NFL. The Eagles need to get more dynamic in the return game. Covey gives them a chance to do that. OT Jarrid Williams – Miami – 6-6, 323 Williams began his career at Houston and then transferred to Miami. He started at RT for both schools. Williams is an agile, athletic blocker. He ran 5.16 in the 40 and had a vertical of 31 inches. That shows up on tape, not just workouts. The Eagles aren’t set at RT behind Lane Johnson. Williams has a chance to earn a roster spot if he plays well. He could also be a good developmental prospect, spending 2022 on the practice squad and then competing for a spot in 2023. Williams must learn to use his hands more consistently. His pad level can also be an issue at times. He has good tools to work with, but definitely needs work. OG William Dunkle – San Diego State – 6-5, 328 Dunkle was a 3-year starter at RG for the Aztecs. He is big, strong and nasty. Outstanding run blocker. Has pretty good feet. Able to get movement on the front side or seal off the back side. Can be too high at times, but has the strength to still win. Has a real mean streak. Destroys LBs/DBs when he has the chance. Nickname is Dunkzilla. Reminds me of Nate Herbig. OG Josh Sills – Oklahoma State – 6-6, 322 Began his career at West Va, then transferred to OSU. Started 48 total games, mostly at LG. Started at all five spots during his career. You can bet the Eagles value his size and versatility. Powerful run blocker with a nasty streak. Likes to finish blocks and mix in shots whenever he can. Decent athlete. More mauler than technician. Can get out of control at times. Gets out over his feet and off balance. The kind of big, powerful OG the Eagles tend to like. DT Noah Elliss – Idaho – 6-4, 346 Elliss is the son of former Lions star DT Luther Ellis (2 Pro Bowls, 29 career sacks). Noah tried to go to Mississippi State, but had academic issues and ended up at Idaho. He played in 21 games over three seasons. Elliss was at his best in 2021, notching a career high 46 tackles and 6.5 TFLs. Dominant at times, but that was against mediocre competition. Still, has incredible combination of size and strength. A real bully. When he keeps his pad level down, just destroys blockers. Stood out at the Shrine Game practices. The Eagles wanted to get bigger in the middle of the defense. Between Elliss and Jordan Davis, that job is done. CB Mario Goodrich – Clemson – 6-0, 191 Got four starts in 2020 and then became full time starter in 2021. Has okay size, but is a limited athlete. Played a lot of press in college, but will be a better fit at playing off in the NFL. At his best when keeping things in front of him and then attacking the ball. Had 5 career INTs. Broke up 8 passes in 2021. Solid hitter and tackler. Aggressive style. Ran 4.56 at his Pro Day and had VJ of 31 inches. Not fast or explosive. The Eagles have a bunch of young corners competing for roster spots and playing time. Goodrich has a chance at both. CB Josh Jobe – Alabama – 6-0, 184 2-year starter who had a disappointing senior season. Played at a high level in 2020, when he was across from Patrick Surtain. Jobe broke up 11 passes and had 2.5 TFLs, 2 sacks and 2 FF. He was a playmaker. A nagging foot injury affected Jobe throughout 2021 and he wasn’t nearly as effective or productive. He broke up 6 passes and picked off 2. Jobe is at his best as a physical press corner. He shows solid athleticism on tape. Due to the foot injury, he wasn’t able to work out prior to the draft. I was surprised that Jobe went undrafted. He was great value as a UDFA. We’ll see if he can get healthy and return back to his 2020 form. If he does that, he’s a legit threat for a roster spot. CB Josh Blackwell – Duke – 5-11, 183 Started 28 games for Duke in a defense that played a lot of man coverage. Has spent a ton of time on an island. Ran 4.34 at his Pro Day. Broke up 20 passes in his career, but never picked off a pass. That doesn’t say much for his ball skills. Blackwell has an uphill battle as he competes for a roster spot. That speed will help, but he needs work. FS Reed Blankenship – MTSU – 6-1, 204 Watch some tape and you can see why the Eagles like him. Blankenship is a good athlete. He’s got quick feet and runs well. He’s got outstanding movement skills. Excellent change of direction. Good closing speed. He moves like an NFL DB. Now for the not so good. Blankenship is an erratic tackler. There is no lack of effort or toughness, but he needs a lot of work. Too often he’s a drag-down tackler, meaning he gets his hands on the target and then tries to drag him down to the ground. That will not work in the NFL. When Blankenship is deep and comes up in a hurry to make a tackle, he can be out of control. All it takes is a quick cut or move and he whiffs. Blankenship must do a better job of coming under control before trying to engage the runner/receiver. He is a versatile player. I saw him line up deep, in Cover 2 and in the box. He can cover slot receivers. Blankenship generally does a good job of reading plays and getting to the right spot. Good playmaker. Had 9 career INTs. Very productive senior season: 1 INT, 2 FF, 3 FR, 8 PDs, 1 sack, 110 tackles. I’m sure the Eagles love the combination of his athleticism, versatility and production. Blankenship does need to get stronger and he must improve his tackling. He has legit NFL potential. His future will be tied to his ability to fix the weak spots in his game. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/05/meet-the-udfas-2/ CLICK ON LINK TO ARTICLE TO VIEW HIGHLIGHT VIDS FOR EACH PLAYER
  7. Eagles Add LB, TE on Day 3 Posted: April 30th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor The Eagles are done with the 2022 NFL draft, unless they trade into the seventh round. The team entered the day with two picks and made a couple of trades that ended with them making a pair of sixth round selections. 6 – 181 – LB Kyron Johnson – Kansas Johnson was a late addition to the Senior Bowl and immediately opened everyone’s eyes. He is only 6-0, 231, but Johnson played with great leverage and drove big OTs back rep after rep. Who was the little dude kicking all those big guys asses? Kyron Johnson. He stood out as a pass rusher at KU. Johnson is short and only has 31 1/2 inch arms, but he makes up for that by being a gifted athlete. He ran 4.40 in the 40, jumped 39.5 inches and had a 6.98 3-cone time. That shows speed, explosion, quickness and agility. I think the Eagles want him to be the backup SAM. They are going to make a lot of plans based on Haason Reddick being both a LB and rusher. If he gets hurt, there isn’t anyone of note behind him. Johnson can now step into that role. He’ll be ready to rush right away, but will need to work on coverage and playing off the ball. Good pick. 6 – 198 – TE Grant Calcaterra – SMU I remember watching Oklahoma games and seeing this young TE making big catches. He wasn’t draft eligible, but I filed the name away for down the road. Unfortunately Calcaterra had injury issues and ended up transferring to SMU for his senior season. He posted his best numbers, going 38-465-4. He is a good athlete who can run (4.62) and catch the ball. Calcaterra will need a lot of work as a blocker. The Eagles have a star TE in Dallas Goedert. They have second year player Jack Stoll, who is more blocker than receiver. If Goedert gets hurts, the Eagles need someone that can get open and catch the ball. Calcaterra can be that guy. Calcaterra is 6-4, 241 so he’s not a big TE, but that’s okay size for someone who is primarily a receiver. He can bulk up to 250 as he gets ready for the league. Solid pick. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/04/eagles-add-day/
  8. Eagles Go OL in 2nd Round Posted: April 29th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor Thursday was a glorious night of football action for the Eagles. Friday is off to a much less compelling start. The Eagles added their starting center of the future. Jurgens is a terrific player and outstanding prospect. He is good value at 51. He can take over for Jason Kelce and start for the Eagles for a decade. But…I’m not in love with the pick. Jurgens will (hopefully) sit for the upcoming season. He only plays if Kelce gets hurt. The Eagles are loaded with guards. For a team that wants to make the playoffs and compete, adding a player purely for the future is less than ideal. The Eagles do need someone to take over for Kelce next year. But they could have waited until next year to find that guy. They made this pick because they love Jurgens and think he can be a stud. I’m sure he was the highest rated player on their board. It is still frustrating to me. Jurgens is a gifted athlete. Whey you watch him block on the move, you can help but think of Kelce. Jurgens was either the best or second best center prospect in this draft. He should develop into a good starter, possibly a Pro Bowl player so the Eagles did make a move that will help them in the future. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/04/eagles-2nd-round/ CLICK ON LINK TO ARTICLE TO VIEW VIDEOS
  9. Eagles Add a Star LB Posted: April 29th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor Nakobe Dean had a great season for Georgia, helping them to win the national championship. He was expected to be drafted in the first or second round. Dean slid down the proverbial draft board and the Eagles generously ended his slide. Love it. Dean is a high character player and team leader. He was the heart and soul of Georgia’s amazing defense. He is an outstanding student and a guy that people just rave about it. As a player, Dean is a stud LB. He has terrific instincts and outstanding range. He is a physical hitter and tackler. He has solid cover skills. Dean is only 5-11, 229 and that’s not ideal size. He’s not an elite athlete. He is just a damn good football player who showed up every week and made a ton of key plays. Why the slide? Teams were concerned with some injury issues, most notably a pec injury. Dean elected not to have surgery, preferring to try physical therapy. Apparently that decision bothered some teams. There is a question about whether Dean will be healthy for the upcoming season or will need to have the surgery that he put off. There is risk. But I’m fine with that because of the potential upside. Dean could play MLB or WLB for the Eagles. He could become a key leader for the defense. If he can stay healthy, Dean can be the best LB the Eagles have had in a while. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/04/eagles-add-a-star-lb/ CLICK ON LINK TO ARTICLE TO VIEW VIDEOS
  10. time2rock

    Impact Players

    Impact Players Posted: April 29th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor The Eagles were a playoff team in 2021, but they weren’t good enough to beat good teams. They just didn’t have enough impact players. They needed to go find guys who weren’t just going to start, but guys who could really affect games. Fletcher Cox vs Mike Patterson DeVonta Smith vs Nelson Agholor Just finding solid, talented players wasn’t going to be enough. The Eagles had to shoot higher. And boy they did. Howie Roseman traded up from 15 to 13 to take Jordan Davis, the top DT in the draft. Then Howie Roseman pulled off the shocking move of the night, trading pick 18 and a fourth rounder to the Titans for receiver A.J. Brown. Wow. We’ll start with Brown since that is the more notable move. Brown is one of the top receivers in the NFL. Any time you can add a talent like that, you want to try to make it happen. The Titans didn’t want to lose him, but realized they probably weren’t going to get a long term deal done. Their loss became the Eagles gain. Brown is an ideal fit for the Eagles. He has averaged 62 catches a year since coming to the NFL so he’s not a volume receiver. Most star receivers expect to catch 100 passes. Brown played for a team that ran the ball a lot so he had to impact the game without a ton of touches. Brown has 24 TD catches in the past three years and has averaged 16 yards per reception. Playmaker. Brown also is a good fit because of his style of play. He is 226 pounds. He is a tough, physical receiver. You can throw the ball downfield to him or you can hit him with a slant and let him add RAC yards. DeVonta Smith is a technician. Quez Watkins is an explosive receiver. Brown is a good complement to them. Suddenly the Eagles have a good set of receivers. The Eagles gave Brown a 4-year, $100M extension. You can argue about the wisdom of that, but I am completely fine with it. The Eagles have Jalen Hurts playing on a rookie contract so they can get away with paying big money to a receiver. And Brown is a sure thing…a proven veteran. The Eagles could have tried to add someone in the draft, but picks are a roll of the dice. Brown can step into the offense right away and contribute at a high level. He should make the players around him better. This was a bold move and I love it. Some people are pushing back by focusing on their lack of faith in Jalen Hurts. That’s fine. Hurts isn’t a sure thing. But he’s got legit weapons heading into the 2022 season. If he can’t get the job done, the Eagles will know it and can focus on finding a QB. ***** I had a feeling Jordan Davis would end up an Eagle. They brought him to Philly for a visit. Jonathan Gannon attended his Pro Day in person. I thought Davis would go in the 10-15 range so his value would be a good fit. Howie traded ahead of Baltimore to make sure he landed the DT he wanted. Many people thought the Ravens would take Davis if he’d been there. Davis is 6-6, 340. People assume he is a run-stuffing NT because of the size. Davis is much more than that. He is an athletic freak. The Eagles can use him at 0-tech, 1-tech and 3-tech. They could even play him at DE in 3-man lines. He’s so much more than just a big body. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4pW18Ntw3k Some fans pushed back on this pick, which surprised me a bit. If he’s so big and so athletic, why did he get pulled off the field at UGA? Why wasn’t he more productive? Georgia fielded one of the best defenses in college football history. Another DT went in the 1st round. A DE went #1 overall. A LB and S went in the 1st round. They have a DT coming back next year who could go Top 10. They have 2 other LBs who will be drafted on Friday night, maybe both in the 2nd round. One of the backups from 2020 transferred to Florida State and became the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. This was a deep defense over the past few years. Players got rotated. Nobody stayed on the field all game long. You also have to understand Georgia’s scheme. They didn’t run a standard 4-3 or standard nickel and just turn the DL loose. Football is constantly evolving. Penn State lets their DL attack up the field. UGA doesn’t. Both systems can work. You figure out what you want to do and then you run that scheme. You don’t obsess on how productive your players are if you’re winning. Davis will be more productive in the NFL. The Eagles will give him more chances to make plays. Fletcher Cox is in his last year here so Davis gets a season to learn before the pressure is on him to start and play at a high level. Hopefully Davis will hit the ground running and won’t need that time. If he plays well, the coaches can get real creative. You could put him at NT and Cox and Javon Hargrave at DE in a 3-man and then have Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick rush off the edge. That would be a lot of talented guys going after the QB. The Eagles have added bigger DTs in the past year so that must be something Gannon wants. Now he gets a guy with enormous size and enormous talent. Davis has the potential to be a special player. Daniel Jeremiah compared him to Albert Haynesworth. He reminds me of Akiem Hicks. Either way, both of those guys were studs who played on elite defenses. Great way to start the 2022 draft. I’ll gladly give Howie Roseman all the credit in the world for these moves. The Eagles are a much better team than they were on Thursday morning. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/04/impact-players-2/
  11. 2022 Eagles First Round Preview Posted: April 28th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor This is a critical draft for the Eagles. They have a solid core in place, but also have some key veterans who could be in their final season of wearing midnight green. Howie Roseman, Andy Weidl and the scouts really need to get this right. The good news is that they have the resources to do just that, including a pair of first round picks. I always think it is important to look at what the Eagles already have in place. Here is my guess at the depth chart for now, focusing on projected starters and key backups. WR DeVonta Smith ..… WR Jalen Reagor …… Zach Pascal WR Quez Watkins ….. Greg Ward QB Jalen Hurts …….. Gardner Minshew RB Miles Sanders ..… Boston Scott … Kenneth Gainwell TE Dallas Goedert …… Jack Stoll …… J.J. Arcega-Whiteside LT Jordan Mailata …….… Andre Dillard LG Isaac Seumalo …….. Nate Herbig …. Sua Opeta OC Jason Kelce ………. Jack Anderson RG Landon Dickerson … Jack Driscoll … Kayode Awosika RT Lane Johnson ……. DE Brandon Graham …. Tarron Jackson DT Fletcher Cox ……….. Milton Williams DT Javon Hargrave …… Marlon Tuipulotu DE Josh Sweat ………….. Derek Barnett WB Kyzir White ……… Davion Taylor ….. JaCoby Stevens MB T.J. Edwards ……. Shaun Bradley SB Haason Reddick ….. Patrick Johnson SS Anthony Harris ……. K’Von Wallace FS Marcus Epps ……… Andre Chachere CB Darius Slay ……… Tay Gowan CB Zech McPhearson …… Craig James …. Kary Vincent NB Avonte Maddox …… Josiah Scott P Arryn Siposs K Jake Elliott LS Rick Lovato NEEDS The Eagles have drafted a WR in the first round the past two years. Before that, they spent a second round pick on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Unfortunately, there still is a need at WR. JJAW has changed positions and will try his hand at TE. Jalen Reagor has struggled and could be changing teams. DeVonta Smith is a stud and Quez Watkins is a good #3 receiver. The team still needs someone to take over the #2 WR role. They could go for an explosive player like Jameson Williams, a technician like Chris Olave or a big dude like Drake London. The bottom line is that they need someone good. *** Safety is a huge hole. The Eagles have not invested resources here and it shows. The big question is just how much they value safety. Would they use 15 on Kyle Hamilton if he fell? Could they trade back from 18 and take someone? Will they wait for the middle rounds? *** Linebacker is a big need as well. There is some hope with young players like TJ Edwards, Kyzir White and Davion Taylor. None of them will be going to the Pro Bowl without a ticket, but there is at least something to work with. The problem is that Jonathan Gannon’s scheme leaves a huge hole in the middle of the defense. His DL are attacking up the field and the safeties are back in Delaware making sure no one gets behind them. That leaves a huge chunk of field to cover. White has the combination of speed and experience needed to handle that, but he’s here on a 1-year deal. Adding a speedy playmaker to the middle of the defense would make sense. *** Daris Slay and Avonte Maddox have two of the three corner spots under control. Will Zech McPhearson be the other starter? Is he ready? Is he good enough? We don’t know what the Eagles want at CB. It is possible they could go for one in the first or they could wait a round or two. This is a talented class and there should be good players on Day 2 and possibly into the fourth round. *** Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox might be playing their final seasons in Philly. The Eagles could go for a DT or a DE. Or both. Recent Super Bowl teams have had difference-makers up front. The Eagles have a solid DL, but need to get even better if they want to compete with the best teams. *** I don’t see the Eagles going QB, TE, RB or OL in the first round this year. TARGETS DT Jordan Davis – Georgia – 6-6, 340 Rare physical talent. Has the potential to become a dominant, disruptive DT. Davis is huge, but is also explosive and incredibly agile. He would be an ideal replacement for Fletcher Cox. WR Jameson Williams – Alabama – 6-2, 179 Arguably the most explosive receiver in the draft. Do the Eagles need another deep threat, though? Williams also has outstanding RAC ability and Nick Sirianni knows his team has to get better at that. Williams is dealing with a torn ACL, but will play in the upcoming season. If healthy, he would be WR1 in this class. Even on the mend he could be the first to go and would be an excellent addition for the Birds. DE Jermaine Johnson – Florida State – 6-5, 254 Johnson was a backup at Georgia in 2020. He transferred to FSU and became ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Johnson built on that by having a dominant Senior Bowl and then lit up the Combine. Johnson would give the Eagles a young talented DE to pair with Josh Sweat (who also went to FSU). FS Kyle Hamilton – Notre Dame – 6-4, 220 Most expected Hamilton to be a Top 5 pick when projections started last summer. Hamilton had a good season, but safety is an awkward position and teams aren’t always comfortable spending a high pick on one. Hamilton could fall to 15. It certainly isn’t likely, but is a consideration. He would make a lot of sense for the Eagles, giving them someone to cover a lot of ground and make plays. Gannon saw Harrison Smith up close in Minnesota so he can appreciate what a top safety can do. DE George Karlaftis – Purdue – 6-4, 266 I could see the Eagles loving Karlaftis. He has a thick, strong build. He can move around and do a variety of things. Karlaftis has a good motor and feels like a player Sirianni would love. Some question why he didn’t post better numbers at Purdue. They had him do a lot of different things. He wasn’t just flying up the field every play. Could be a terrific pro. WR Chris Olave – Ohio State – 6-0, 187 The best route-runner in the draft. He also runs 4.39, so he can stretch the field. The only downside with Olave is that he feels awfully similar to DeVonta Smith. That’s hardly a terrible thing. If you gave Jalen Hurts two guys that know how to get open and have excellent hands, that’s a big help. Olave feels like a polished receiver who could contribute right away. CB Trent McDuffie – Washington – 5-11, 193 I don’t think the Eagles will get a chance to take the top 2 corners. McDuffie would be the most realistic target. He only picked off 2 passes in college so he’s probably not the kind of playmaker they covet. He is a good tackler and plays hard. McDuffie has short arms, which will turn off some teams. He doesn’t feel like a likely pick, but McDuffie is a good player and would improve the secondary. WR Drake London – USC – 6-4, 219 London would make a ton of sense for the Eagles. He would give them a big body to go with the smaller, speedy players they already have. London can play in the slot or outside. He’s not just big. London is a tough, physical player who battles for every yard. I’m sure Sirianni loved watching his college tape. It is hard to get a great feeling for his value, but it seems like London will probably go in the Top 10. Would the Eagles like him enough to trade up? LB Devin Lloyd – Utah – 6-3, 239 Could this be the year the Eagles take a LB in the first round? Lloyd and Nakobe Dean are the top two LBs. They could go anywhere in the 15-40 range. Lloyd can blitz, cover and play the run. He would be the most talented OLB the team has had in a while. You can debate the value, but Lloyd is a terrific prospect. LB Nakobe Dean – Georgia – 5-11, 229 Dean was the MLB for Georgia’s elite defense. He made a ton of plays and was the leader of a championship group. There is a lot to like about him. Dean is a high character prospect and is another guy that you could see Sirianni just loving. FS Lewis Cine – Georgia – 6-2, 199 I’m throwing out a player who I project to go later in the first round, but who could be a wild card to go earlier than expected. When you watch UGA tape and focus on the front seven, this guy wearing #16 keeps making plays and diverting your attention. Cine is an outstanding tackler and good cover safety. I think he would be an excellent fit in the Eagles scheme. ON THE MOVE There are lots of rumors about the Eagles wanting to move into the Top 10. The hot rumor has them going after Jameson Williams. Think about Cincy and their trio of young receivers. Think about the Rams with Cooper Kupp and OBJ. Think about Tampa with all their talented receivers. If you want to have a strong offense, it helps to have a deep, talented group of receivers. Going after an top talent would make sense. I know some have speculated about the Eagles trading up for a corner. This just doesn’t make sense to me based on the way the Eagles used CBs last year and the needs they have in other areas. I would love to see the Eagles move back from 18 into the 20s. They could target Cine or WR George Pickens, two guys I love. They would have plenty of other options. I would love to know if the Eagles have interest in DE Arnold Ebiketie. He’s only 6-2, 250, but he had a great year and is a talented, productive pass rusher. Would the Eagles take him over bigger, more athletic guys who weren’t as productive? GOALS The Eagles have a solid core. They should be looking for difference-makers. That’s what makes Jameson Williams so interesting. He’s got that kind of potential. Jordan Davis has that kind of potential. If they need to move up to get those guys, I can understand that. It would kill me to give up picks, but there would be logic to it. MY IDEAL SCENARIO 15 – DT Jordan Davis 18 – (trade back into the 20’s) WR Jahan Dotson Davis would give you a tremendous talent to add to the front of the defense. He could develop into a dominant DL and those guys are invaluable. He is worth the risk. As for Dotson, he makes a ton of sense for the Eagles. He has great hands and is a terrific route-runner. Dotson has the speed to get deep, but also has great RAC ability. Use him on WR screens and he can make plays. Dotson was a good PR at Penn State and could give the return game a major boost. He can play in the slot or outside. If there is any way to come away with Davis and Jameson Williams, that would truly be ideal. ***** I’ll post my preview for the rest of the draft on Friday. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/04/eagles-first-preview/
  12. The Corner Question Posted: April 22nd, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor The draft is a week away. Which Georgia DT might the Eagles prefer? Will they go for a WR early? Is there any chance they would take a linebacker in the first round (for the first time since 1979)? Lots of good questions. One situation I’m interested in is cornerback. The Eagles have an outstanding starter in Darius Slay. Avonte Maddox seemed to find a home in the slot last year. The other starter was Steve Nelson, but he just left in free agency. You can argue the Eagles should aggressively target a corner in the draft. That isn’t a lock, though. The Eagles seemed to be prepared for Zech McPhearson to start last year. They were not in a rush to sign anyone with a clear hole in the lineup and less certainty in Slay and Maddox. We know the coaching staff is willing to give young players a chance to play. McPhearson now has a year under his belt, even if he didn’t play a ton. He’s in better position to start this year. The team added Tay Gowan last year and he could also compete for a starting job. Are these guys good enough? Shouldn’t the Eagles add a stud corner if possible? This is where I’m curious. Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon had his corners play off receivers most of last year. Did he do that because his personnel wasn’t good enough or is that his preference? If Gannon wants to have his corners play off, there isn’t a need to spend a first round pick on one. That would be a mis-use of resources. I’m hoping Gannon is going to be more aggressive this year. If so, then CB can be an early target. There is also the fact that Darius Slay isn’t getting any younger. Draft a corner now so he can develop for a year or two and you don’t have to rush him into the lineup. There are a few mid-round corners I like this year so part of me would rather the Eagles wait a couple of rounds before going for a corner. Cam Taylor-Britt Alontae Taylor Damarri Mathis Joshua Williams Zyon McCollum Akayleb Evans They will have options outside the first two rounds. The Eagles could still add a veteran. We know they talked to Stephon Gilmore before he signed with the Colts. Last year they signed Nelson on July 25th. Depending on how things shake out in the draft, the Eagles could still check out whoever is left on the free agent market. ***** I think this is good news. The more I looked at the roster, the more TE stood out as a need. JJAW moving there doesn’t change it drastically, but he does add a player with some potential to the mix. JJAW has struggled at receiver. Compared to him, Jalen Reagor looks like Jerry Rice. In a word…yikes. But JJAW has developed into a good blocker. He does play hard. Moving him to TE gives him a chance to compete for a roster spot and possibly contribute in 2022. He wasn’t going to make the roster at WR unless aliens came and abducted everyone in the state of Pennsylvania who can catch a pass. This move gives him a chance and might help the team. ***** The Eagles will almost certainly add a TE in the draft or as a priority free agent. One player I like to go later in the draft is Jake Ferguson from Wisconsin. There is nothing special about Ferguson, but he’s solid all around. Ferguson is 6-5, 250. He can catch, run and block. He has good RAC ability. Ferguson should go in the fourth or fifth round. The Eagles like Jack Stoll, but he didn’t show much as a receiver last year. Stoll caught 61 passes in his college career so he’s never been overly productive. Ferguson caught 145 passes in his career at Wisconsin and then looked good at the Senior Bowl. He could be a good backup TE. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/04/the-corner-question/
  13. Boys Beat Backup Birds Posted: January 9th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor Dallas had their starters play three quarters. The Eagles had multiple players making their NFL debut. Do I really need to tell you who won the game? Dak Prescott threw 5 TD passes and Dallas won 51-26. The game was tied at 17 in the second quarter. Dallas then added a TD to go up 23-17. A terrible punt by Arryn Sipposs gave Dallas the ball in great position and they added a late TD to extend that to 30-17. Game over. It is sad that the game turned on a bad punt. The Eagles played with a lot of heart in the first half, moving the ball effectively and scoring points. The defense didn’t do much, but they were without any starters. And it showed. ESPN’s announcing crew kept praising the Cowboys. They talked about how Dallas wanted to get on a roll, even if it meant only beating up on the Eagles backups. That made it sound like the Eagles were mixing in reserves. That’s not close to what happened. The Eagles had only a couple of starters playing in the game at all. They had more guys making their NFL debut than starters. That’s crazy. This was as much of a hodge-podge lineup as you’ll ever see. Give the young Eagles credit for giving us an enjoyable half. Gardner Minshew played with his usual moxie and that helped on a few plays. Kenny Gainwell and Jason Huntley ran the ball well. The Eagles finished the game with 149 yards rushing. The defense struggled mightily. Milton Williams was the one guy who stood out. He had 3 tackles, 2 TFLs and a batted pass. He was disruptive. The rookie DL played DE and DT. He’s played well in the second half of the season. Were there any lowlights? JJAW. He dropped a TD pass and then got called for OPI on another play. He had a pass go off his hands and get picked off. If there is a silver lining, this likely sealed his fate. It probably was already decided, but this had to seal it. There’s no reason to bring him back next year even to compete in camp. The key goal in the game was to come out healthy. TE Tyree Jackson, who caught his first NFL pass, likely tore his ACL in the game. That’s not crucial to this year. I hate it for the young man because this will affect his 2022 season as well. Shaun Bradley, who has been a good STs player, injured his shoulder and left the game. We’ll have to wait and see what that means for next week. I will be really interested to see how Dallas plays next week. Dallas wanted to play well and get some momentum going for the postseason. Boom. 51-26 win. All is good. Right? Dallas beat WFT 56-14 a few weeks back and the NFL world fell in love with them. The offense was back. Then they struggled against the Cardinals, having one of their worst games of the year. Now they beat the heck out of the Eagles practice squad. Does that really mean anything? I have serious doubts. I have no problem with Nick Sirianni resting Eagles starters. There just wasn’t much to gain by playing them. Get some rest and get ready for the playoffs. WILL POST LINK LATER ... IGGLESBLITZ SITE EXPERIENCING ISSUES
  14. time2rock

    In the Hunt

    In the Hunt Posted: January 4th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor Back in September, there were a lot of questions. So many questions. Was Nick Sirianni the right coach? Could Jalen Hurts be a good starting quarterback? Did the team have any decent linebackers? Could Jordan Mailata be a good left tackle? Was DeVonta Smith the real deal at receiver? Could this team improve on the disastrous 2020 season? I was optimistic, but in a limited way. I don’t know if this team will go 6-11 or 11-6. I do know this team is headed in the right direction. They just feel different. One of the reasons for optimism is the young talent. Miles Sanders, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Jalen Reagor, Tyree Jackson, Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Josh Sweat, Milton Williams and Davion Taylor all have a lot of potential. The Eagles aren’t on a full blown youth movement, but the front office and the coaching staff have embraced finding young talent and trying to develop those players. I hope 2021 is a fun season after the misery of last year. At the least, it should be a lot more interesting, and for the right reasons. 2021 did prove to be a fun season, with the Eagles getting to 9 wins and securing a playoff berth before the final week of the regular season. We need to celebrate what this team has accomplished. This is quite a feat for a rookie head coach with a rookie defensive coordinator and a second year QB. I know some people will want to play the wet blanket role. "Making the playoffs isn’t that big of a deal.” "They beat bad teams with scrub QBs.” "They’ve got no chance at the Super Bowl.” Forget that nonsense. Ask a Lions, Jags or Jets fan if they’d like to make the playoffs. You want to get in every time you can. You never know when your team will get hot and go on a run. The 2008 Eagles were a flawed team that snuck into the playoffs and almost made it to the Super Bowl. The Eagles lost to the good teams they played and beat the bad ones this year. Guess what…that’s how a lot of sports work. You need to beat the bad teams. If you are a high quality team, you beat some good ones as well. This isn’t a vintage Eagles team (2002, 2004, 2010, 2017). They don’t have to apologize for beating who they did. They won enough to get to the playoffs. Does this team have a chance to make some noise in the postseason? This is not a Super Bowl team. You can look at the Packers and Chiefs and see star QBs with elite receivers. Tampa has that Brady dude. The Cowboys and Rams have multiple stars on both sides of the ball. I don’t see the Eagles beating several good teams in a row. I do think the Eagles can beat anyone in a game. This team is good on the line of scrimmage and has a playmaking QB. That formula can give anyone a hard time. While the Eagles haven’t beaten a good team so far, Sirianni and Jonathan Gannon were learning about their units when those games were played. This is a different team now that it was in October. The coaches are much improved as well. Are they good enough to beat Tampa? We’ll find out in a couple of weeks (the Bucs are the most likely opponent). This team didn’t underachieve, that’s for sure. Sirianni and Jeff Stoutland crafted the league’s top running game. Hurts developed into a solid starting QB. Smith looks like a legit stud receiver. Gannon’s defense, for all its issues, is Top 8 in yards and points allowed. They also are tied for the league lead in defensive TDs. The ultimate goal is always winning the Super Bowl, but you can still certainly enjoy a season where that doesn’t happen. I loved the 1995 Eagles, who beat the Lions 58-37 in the wild card round. I loved the 2006 team, who also won a wild card game. The 2010 team was incredibly fun and they didn’t win any postseason games. This team has been frustrating at times, but also a lot of fun. And we still have the season finale and a playoff game. There are no guarantees we’ll see the team win again, but I’m looking forward to seeing if the 2021 Eagles can give us any more memorable moments. Anything can happen in the posteason and it would be a ton of fun to see this team win a game or two. Or more. They’re in the hunt and that means they’ve got a chance. ***** The Eagles will likely be resting some players on Saturday night so this isn’t a big deal. They should have the key guys back for the playoff game. Is it kinda weird for all those guys to go on the list today? Very weird. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/01/in-the-chase/
  15. time2rock

    Sitting Pretty

    Sitting Pretty Posted: January 2nd, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor The Eagles went to Washington hoping to win and do their part in securing a playoff berth. They did win, although not comfortably, and then got the result they needed in the afternoon game, with the Niners beating the Texans. Now the Eagles will watch Sunday Night Football to see if the Packers can beat the Vikings (without Kirk Cousins). If Green Bay wins, the Eagles are in the postseason. Let’s go back to the key point in all of this…the Eagles beat the Washington Football Team. A couple of weeks ago, the Eagles beat them 27-17 and totally dominated the second half of that game. There was no domination on Sunday. The Eagles got off to another slow start and found themselves down 10-0. They scored a TD to make it 10-7 and I thought the Eagles would take control of the game. Instead WAS added a pair of field goals to go up 16-7 at the half. I started to think this might be the week when the slow start became a problem. Jalen Hurts was brilliant on the drive that opened the third quarter and led the Eagles to a TD. The game was 16-14. At that point, the WFT had not punted at all. Their offense had moved the ball all day and you wondered if the Eagles defense would finally wake up. It did. The Eagles stopped consecutive drives by WAS, both ending with third down sacks. Jonathan Gannon was more aggressive in the second half and the front seven got more pressure. The Eagles offense added a field goal to go up 17-16. Again, you felt like the Eagles might put the game away. They didn’t. The Eagles stopped another drive and then added a field goal to go up 20-16, but WAS got the ball with 2:21 left and only needed a TD to take the lead. They marched 55 yards before Rodney McLeod made a diving INT in the end zone to seal the win. Exhale. I was highly frustrated with the Eagles performance. I knew WAS would be fired up after getting curb-stomped last week and still delusionally hoping to sneak into the playoffs. This game meant everything to them. The Eagles didn’t show the same sense of urgency. This wasn’t about effort, but more about focus and discipline. Missed blocks. Missed tackles. Poor angles. Just sloppy play, in all three phases. It was good to see the Eagles win on a day when they didn’t have their A-game. There is a real benefit in that. It was also good to see the Eagles tested. Prior to today, the Eagles only win in a close game came when they beat the Panthers 21-18 way back in October. While it has been fun to see them win by two or more scores over the past few months, that isn’t likely to happen from here on out. This game had the kind of tight feel that you can expect in the postseason. Every play and every possession mattered. The Eagles were clutch in this game. Hurts was sensational on the drive to open the second half, topped off by this play. CLICK ON LINK TO ARTICLE BELOW TO VIEW VIDEO Wow. Just wow. Boston Scott ran for a pair of TDs, both on 4th downs. Those were huge plays. Greg Ward had a critical 27-yard catch that set up that TD run. Dallas Goedert was 6-71 and made some crucial catches to keep drives going. Avonte Maddox made a couple of key stops after drawing a questionable PI call. Josh Sweat had 1.5 sacks and deflected 2 passes. Genard Avery had the biggest sack of his NFL career to end a WFT drive. He almost had the biggest INT of his career, but it was negated by a penalty…by him. Ugh. The biggest play of all was McLeod’s diving INT. I had to pause and wait to make sure it wasn’t going to be ruled incomplete. If you’re an Eagles fan, you’re always waiting for the penalty or the challenge flag. Instead, McLeod made a terrific play to seal the win. We do need to give WAS some credit. Taylor Heinecke Heinicke was incredibly frustrating. He made plays with his legs and made some terrific throws. I knew his playmaking ability would be an issue. RB Jarrett Patterson was tough. He ran hard and broke his share of tackles. The DL played worlds better than the past two weeks. DT Jonathan Allen won more than his share of battles. WAS never panicked and battled all game long. Ron Rivera has his flaws, but he got his team to bounce back from a humiliating loss. The Eagles were just better, especially in key situations. It was good to see the team making clutch plays in a tight game. I felt even better after listening to Nick Sirianni’s postgame press conference. Sirianni praised the calmness of his team. They didn’t panic when they were down 10-0 or 16-7. That might not sound like a big deal to everyone, but it sure resonated with me. The Eagles were 4-11-1 last year. There are plenty of young faces on the roster. They haven’t exactly played in a lot of big games. With a lot on the line, it would have been easy for the Eagles to panic or get flustered. Instead, they kept working and eventually started playing well. That will serve them well this year and in the future. Beyond that, Hurts went to Sirianni and told him the playbook was wide open, meaning don’t worry about protecting the ankle. Call any play you want to. Hurts is a gamer. He will do anything he can to win a game. You love that mentality in your QB. Players will feed off his example. They know his ankle isn’t 100 percent. It has to fire them up to see Hurts moving around and making plays. The Eagles have their share of issues, but this is a tough team that has a lot of heart and more talent than we thought last summer. Stay tuned for some postseason football. ***** Things weren’t easy after the game. CLICK ON LINK TO ARTICLE BELOW TO VIEW VIDEO The worst stadium in the league. http://igglesblitz.com/2022/01/sitting-pretty/
  16. Lots On The Line Posted: January 1st, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor The Washington Football Team is 6-9 and coming off a 42-point loss. But this is the insane 2021 NFL season and that means they are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. They have to upset the Eagles on Sunday, beat the hapless Giants next week and cheer for a few specific outcomes of other NFC games. This team shouldn’t be sniffing the playoffs, but they are. Combine that with the humiliation of last week’s loss to the Cowboys and you can bet Washington will be one motivated football team. This week will be their Super Bowl. Some people don’t agree with me and see the blowout loss as a sign that the team has given up. Ron Rivera is a veteran NFL coach and he’s still got some good players. I expect Rivera to push the right buttons to get his guys fired up and ready to play. Their issues will be more a lack of talent than a lack of motivation. The Eagles are the better team and should win this game. It would be great to see them break their recent habit of falling behind early and then dominating the second half. We haven’t seen a complete game out of the Eagles in a while. Sunday would be a good time to change that. If you do get a lead on WFT, they just might go into shutdown mode. Since the X-factor these days is Covid, let’s start there. The Eagles will have all their DEs, making it interesting that they elevated Malveaux. I wonder if he’ll play over Ryan Kerrigan. Malveaux showed more last week than Kerrigan has all year. Malveaux is bigger, younger and has fresh legs. We knew Kerrigan was a declining player, but he’s gone off the cliff this year. One non-move that caught my eye was not elevating any RBs. That could be a sign that Jordan Howard is good to go. If so, that’s huge. A combination of Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell and Howard is enough to keep the ground game going at a high level. Overall, the Eagles are a healthy team. They have no excuses if they can’t win this game. As for WFT… They’ll be missing Gibson, who is their best offensive player, as well as a pair of starting OL. They are thin at CB and will be without their stud punter. Washington will be without some key pieces once again. They will have QB Taylor Heinecke this time out. Heinecke moves well and has playmaking ability. The Eagles tend to struggle more with pocket passers, but Heinecke can make a difference becaue of his willingness to take chances and ability to make plays. With a couple of OL out, the Eagles DL needs to come up big. This would be a great time to have 6 or 7 sacks, but I’ll settle for regular pressure. The Eagles have been shutting down bad offenses recently. Washington hasn’t scored more than 20 points in five weeks. They only went above 300 yards once in that span. This would seem to be a team the Eagles should shut down. Last week the Eagles got good performances out of Rodney McLeod, Alex Singleton and Genard Avery. Was that an anomaly because the Giants offense is so horrible or are the non-stars of the D starting to make plays? I’m really curious about the Eagles offense. They just faced Washington a couple of weeks back. Washington had no answer for the Eagles run game and it was frustrating for them. That spilled over to last week’s game, with the sideline "punch” thrown by one DL at another DL. Rivera and DC Jack Del Rio will try to come up with something to stop the Eagles ground game. Can Jalen Hurts win by throwing? He threw the ball really well in the first meeting so that bodes well for him, but this will be a different game. You can’t automatically count on that result happening again. WFT got to see the Eagles scheme in action and will have adjustments. The Eagles will have Landon Dickerson back at LG and will make some adjustments of their own. This game will be a good test for the coaching staff. By the end of the season, there aren’t a lot of surprises. The game boils down to execution and small tweaks. We’ll see which coaching staff has more answers. I thought last Sunday would be run, run, run and run some more. Instead, the Eagles came out throwing. You could see this as bad coaching by Nick Sirianni or him trying to work on the Eagles passing game. At some point, they will have to throw the ball, beyond just screens and play-action passes. WFT is better against the run than the pass so this might be a week to throw the ball around. This would be the old school plan of throwing early to build a lead and then running late to put the game away. No matter what plan of attack the Eagles choose, Jalen Hurts must protect the ball better. He’s been sloppy in recent weeks. The Eagles overcame his mistakes outside of the first Giants game, but this trend must stop or the Eagles aren’t going to do much when they do play a good team. A win by the Eagles moves them closer to clinching a playoff spot. They could even have that wrapped up by Sunday night. A loss would keep WFT alive and have Eagles fans saying WTF!?! After the team’s 2-5 start and last year’s 4-11-1 disaster, it is exciting to have a big game late in the year. Now let’s hope the Eagles show up and play like a winning team. ***** Need to get fired up? The Jason Kelce speech in this video (half at the beginning and half at the end) is fantastic. My love for him grows every year. Philly legend. CLINK ON LINK TO ARTICLE BELOW TO VIEW VIDEO http://igglesblitz.com/2022/01/lots-on-the-line/
  17. time2rock

    Depth Test

    Depth Test Posted: December 28th, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor Football is the ultimate game of attrition, especially in the time of Covid. You need star players, good starters, but also good depth. The Eagles have had pretty good injury luck this year, but they might be tested this week. The 8-7 Eagles go to Washington on Sunday and will be missing Miles Sanders. They might be missing Jordan Howard (stinger), Derek Barnett and Tarron Jackson. That’s not ideal. The RB situation is especially key because the Eagles are now a running team. Even if Howard is able to play, you want to limit his touches. That could mean a lot of work for Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell. Jason Huntley is on the practice squad and could be elevated for this game. Scott has been a feature back before. He had 19 carries in a game back in 2019. He’s had 15 carries in a game three times, including twice this year. Gainwell has been more of a specialist for the second half of the season. He was a key part of the offense early on. This could be a big hance for him. Gainwell isn’t a physical, pounding runner, but he is a talented player. The coaches can have plays to take advantage of his skills. Huntley has five career carries so he is the real mystery man. Sanders won’t go on IR so the Eagles have to decide if they want to add another RB. That would mean making a roster move to free up a spot. There aren’t going to be many good choices right now. I’m sure Howie Roseman and the scouts have a list of names, but don’t expect any miracles. The DL might get Ryan Kerrigan back from the Covid list. It is fair to question whether that matters since he has been completely disappointing this year. No sacks, one TFL and only 3 total tackles. Rookie Tarron Jackson has played less, but has 14 tackles, 2 TFLs and a sack. The Eagles do have some flexibility. Milton Williams practiced a lot at DE this summer. He and Josh Sweat could be the DEs. Cameron Malveaux is on the PS right now, but played vs the Giants. Malveaux (#59) played 34 snaps on defense. He had a tackle and 2 QB hits. I thought he showed some good things. Malveaux could be the primary backup. The Eagles could go with a 3-man line and use OLBs more in this game. Genard Avery played his best game of the year on Sunday. He’s not suddenly a star, but he was disruptive and that’s the best thing you can say about a DL or LB. Rookie Patrick Johnson didn’t play much at all. He could get more time. If Barnett misses the game, that will affect the defense. He hasn’t panned out as hoped, but he is a solid starter. The Eagles are trying to be proactive in dealing with Covid to avoid breakouts like some other teams have had. That is a smart move. We’ve seen too many third string QBs this year and teams have no shot to win with them. The game on Sunday is critical because as crazy as it sounds, the Eagles could clinch a playoff berth with a win and a couple of other things. Washington looked awful on Sunday night, but that scares me. Ron Rivera is a veteran coach and they have some talented players. That group could come together and look at Sunday as their Super Bowl. Pro athletes don’t like being embarrassed. Rivera will push every button he can to get his guys fired up. That was just a dreadful game and one they’ll want to use as motivation. Check out the below chart to figure out all the possibilities. Deniz is the man when it comes to keeping track of all this. Give him a follow on Twitter for all his up to the minute updates. How funny is it to think there is even a possibility the Eagles could clinch this week and then rest starters in the season finale? When this team was 2-5, that would have seemed like lunacy. Give Nick Sirianni and his players a ton of credit for turning things around. http://igglesblitz.com/2021/12/depth-test/
  18. Judging the Defense Posted: December 29th, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor When you think of the Philadelphia Eagles, you think of defense. From Chuck Bednarik to Bill Bergey to Reggie White to Brian Dawkins to Fletcher Cox, the team’s history is filled with great players. From Marion Campbell to Buddy Ryan to Bud Carson to Jim Johnson to Jim Schwartz, the team’s history is filled with terrific coaches who delivered top notch defenses and won a lot of games. Fair or not, that history is what current defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon will be judged against. The early returns were not good. Embarrassing..soft…easy…those are not words any defensive coach wants to hear when describing his unit. They prefer words like tough, physical and aggressive. Gannon’s defense was too soft and too easy and it was embarrassing at times. The stats reflected that. Gannon finally began blitzing more at midseason. After a frustrating loss to the Chargers, he began playing more press coverage. The defense has been much better since Gannon allowed his players to be more aggressive. Here are the numbers for the whole season. That’s pretty darn good. All stats need context and that is certainly true here. The common refrain is this: There is truth in that, but it also is overly-simplistic thinking. Yes, the schedule has been soft for the second half of the season. You also have to understand that it takes time for a new coach to come in and teach his system. Gannon knew it would take time for the defense to play well since he was trying to do something very different than what Schwartz did. Making matters worse, the Eagles played some really good offenses in the first half of the season. Players were learning while trying to stop Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr and Justin Herbert. That’s tough for anyone. The Eagles were near the bottom of the league in defensive DVOA. They are now up to 15th. And that probably is about where the defense is. Some of the stats listed above look great, but this is nowhere close to being a great defense. I do think they’ve become pretty good, especially against the run. Only 1 of the last 8 opponents has run for 100 yards or more (Saints at 109). Antonio Gibson and Saquon Barkley just combined for 30 carries for 58 yards in the past two games. That is good run defense. Pass defense is still an issue for the Eagles. We saw rookie Zach Wilson shred the defense in the first half of the Jets game a few weeks back. The Jets led 18-14 and had moved the ball really well. The Eagles then took over the game and kept them from scoring anymore, but that was still a concerning first half. Gannon took a ton of heat early in the season, and deservedly so. His unit wasn’t playing well and he wasn’t solving problems. He did start making adjustments, both schematically and personnel wise, and the results have been good since. Give him credit for the adjustments. Give him blame for taking so long to make them. One of the biggest changes was benching LB Eric Wilson and replacing him with T.J. Edwards. Wilson was expected to give the defense a veteran presence in the middle of the field. He was a playmaker for Minnesota last year and Gannon kept waiting for that to happen this season. Wilson simply never played well this year. Edwards took over and has played "winning football”, as Gannon likes to say. Edwards is good vs the run and he’s done a good job in pass defense as well. Gannon also had to get veteran players to really buy into his system. Cox wasn’t happy and his play reflected that. As Gannon got more aggressive with the defense, Cox began playing better and he’s been regularly disruptive in the last month. They are on the same page now. The Eagles have shown that they can shut down mediocre and bad offenses. We haven’t seen what they can do against a good offense. The last good offense they faced was the Chargers, but that still featured a ton of off-coverage. With the schematic changes and time for players to learn and improve, this defense should look different when they face Dallas in the final week of the season or if/when they meet someone in the postseason. We’ll truly get a feel for where Gannon and the defense are at that point. It is funny that some people don’t want to give Gannon and the defense credit for playing well against weak teams. That’s what a good defense should do. I get that there is residual frustration from some of the early games, but anyone who is watching the games and being fair and open-minded can clearly see a difference in this defense, no matter the opponent. Gannon has his defense headed in the right direction. The unit won’t become top notch until they have an offseason to add pieces. They desperately need a good safety. They might need a linebacker. Davion Taylor showed real promise, but then got hurt. At the least, they need better LB depth. Gannon’s scheme needs playmakers in the middle of the field and the Eagles just don’t have them right now. Alex Singleton played well on Sunday. Rodney McLeod played his best game of the year. Genard Avery played his best game. Maybe Gannon is figuring out how to get the most out of these guys. Or maybe the Giants were just so stinkin’ bad that mediocre players looked good. We’ll see how things play out. I’m genuinely curious to see how the defense plays when they do face a good QB and talented offense. We need to know how legit this defense is to know what needs to be worked on in the offseason. There are some obvious holes, but there are other spots where we need more info. At the least, I’m grateful that this defense has gone from the passive, cautious group of the early season to a unit that will attack and make some plays. Nobody will mistake them for the ’85 Bears anytime soon, but we have seen real progress this year. That’s critical. We need to keep our expectations realistic based on this being Gannon’s first year as a DC and what he’s got to work with. Give me a Super Bowl or at least a shutout and I’ll be a happy guy. ***** We lost a legend yesterday. I wrote some thoughts on Madden five years ago. I was lucky enough to have some Football Dads who helped me to learn and love the game. First and foremost, John Madden. Many of you younger fans will scoff at the idea of John Madden being important to anyone. I learned more about the game of football from listening to him than anyone else. And it isn’t even close. He is the greatest football announcer of all time. I don’t think there is even a 2nd place. I get the fact that many now think of him as the guy who loved Brett Favre and felt a bit cartoonish with what he said and did. But that’s like judging Johnny Unitas on his time with the Chargers or Donovan McNabb on his time with the Vikings. In his prime, Madden brought a passion for the game and combined that with an expertise that I had never heard before. He was fun and smart. He talked about OL play at a time when not many people discussed the big uglies. Madden shared great stories and had interesting opinions. Vince Lombardi was the greatest coach of all time. Joe Namath was the toughest QB he ever coached against. The hardest points to score are the first of the game. More than anything else, Safeties must be able to tackle. And so on. Every Madden game was an education for me. Madden was a great coach. He won a Super Bowl and won more than 75 percent of the games he coached, which is an amazing record. He left coaching and got into broadcasting right as I was becoming a fan. Boy, talk about luck on my part. Madden got to be the voice of my youth. I got to listen to him do the big game almost every Sunday and it was a great experience. A ton of people have tried to copy Madden. What they don’t understand is that he was just being himself. Other guys think this is a schtick and it comes off as phony when they do it. Madden was genuine. He was real. Madden was special. He was a great coach. He was a great broadcaster. His beer commercials are some of the greatest ever made. He wrote several great books. His video game was amazing. Everything he touched turned to gold. That tells you that he was pretty smart, very talented and surrounded himself with good people. I’m just so thankful I came along when I did and got to ride the Madden football wave for 30 years. http://igglesblitz.com/2021/12/judging-the-defense/
  19. time2rock

    Above .500

    Above .500 Posted: December 26th, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor We knew there would be one bad team on Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday when the 4-10 Giants came to town to take on the Eagles. We didn’t realize that for a half, there would be two bad teams on the field. The halftime score was 3-3. The Eagles had several dropped passes, multiple fumbles, a dropped INT and too many penalties. Calling it a sloppy performance would be an insult to the word sloppy. That was some bad football. Luckily things changed in the second half. The Eagles woke up and started making plays instead of mistakes. Rodney McLeod picked off an errant pass and returned it to the Giants 21. The Eagles offense took advantage of the great field position to go up 10-3. Then a 39-yard punt return by Jalen Reagor put the Eagles right back at the 21. That turned into a field goal and it was game over. Once the Eagles were up 13-3, the game was out of reach. The Eagles scored 34 unanswered points to build a 34-3 lead. The Giants scored late to make the final score 34-10, but the game had been over for quite a while. This was the fourth straight game where the Eagles fell behind early. The team is 3-1 in those games, but that is a bad trend. These recent games have been against some awful QBs. The Eagles are going to face a good QB sometime soon and they can’t count on coming back against a legit opponent. The good news is that the Eagles are now 8-7 and 7th in the playoff standings, which would mean they get a berth. The Vikings lost to the Rams, dropping Minnesota to 7-8 and 9th in the NFC. The Eagles have now won 6 of 8 and they’ve had several blowout wins. When you face mediocre or flat out bad teams, you should blow them out. That’s a good sign. Give the Eagles defense a lot of credit. They faced an awful offense today and limited them to 3 points for most of the game. Once the starters were pulled, the Giants were able to drive for a late TD. And they needed an Eagles penalty for that to happen. The defense had 2 sacks and 2 INTs, one of which was a pick-6 for Alex Singleton. They limited the Giants to 192 total yards. Saquon Barkley had 15 carries for just 32 yards. The Eagles offense had an odd day. Nick Sirianni had his offense come out throwing and was slow to embrace the run game. I can throw out some theories on why, but I was highly frustrated, to put it mildly. Jalen Hurts struggled early and his receivers weren’t helping him out. As awful as Jake Fromm was early on, Hurts wasn’t much better. Hurts’ play improved in the second half. It still wasn’t a great showing, despite solid numbers (passer rating was 102.5). He underthrew several receivers. He made some questionable decisions. Hurts was good enough to get the win, but he’s got to play much better in the coming weeks. You love the fact he can overcome a slow start, but it would be good to see him play more consistently. The unstoppable run game never really got the chance to dominate. Sirianni stubbornly kept throwing the ball. Miles Sanders injured his hand in the second quarter and didn’t return. Jordan Howard got hurt in the second half and went to the locker room. The Eagles still ran for 130 yards and a TD. DeVonta Smith did have a big game, going 5-80-1. He made a pair of terrific catches. He went up and high-pointed a ball down the field that turned into a 46-yard gain. Smith had a crazy TD catch where he had to drag both feet. Incredible body control on both plays. Smith, however, wasn’t the Eagles star receiver. I didn’t think Lane Johnson would catch a TD when considering the possibilities for the game. Johnson is a gifted athlete and former TE so throwing to him makes complete sense. What a cool moment. The Eagles now return to a normal schedule and will have a full week of rest before they play again. They’ll need that with Sanders and Howard nursing injuries. Hurts didn’t take a beating, but he could use some more rest as well. You can see that he’s not 100 percent. The Eagles had a lot to deal with in the past week – a postponed game, Covid issues, injuries, Christmas. They won both games played in that span and dominated large portions of those games. There was a 27-7 stretch vs Washington and a 34-0 stretch against the Giants. When this team clicks, they are good. There are legit issues to work on, but there is also a lot to be happy about. 8-7. The Eagles never had a winning record last year. They were 1-0 this year, but you have to go back to December of 2019 to find them above .500 after the opening week. Next up is a trip to Washington and, believe it or not, a chance to clinch a playoff spot. The 2-5 start sure seems like a lifetime ago. http://igglesblitz.com/2021/12/above-500/
  20. time2rock

    The Big Sexies

    The Big Sexies Posted: December 23rd, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor When a football team is struggling, a smart coach will turn to his best players. Forget about scheme and outsmarting opponents. Just use your best players to right the ship. And this applies whether the team is struggling in a game or in the middle of a season. Nick Sirianni did this when the Eagles fell to 2-5. He said enough with the passing game and embraced the Eagles best players…the offensive line. Over the years, linemen were often called the big uglies. That insult will not stand for this Eagles OL. They are the big sexies. Since Sirianni embraced the OL and went to a run-heavy attack, the Eagles are 5-2 and have one of the hottest offenses in the league. You can talk about the Eagles not facing top defenses in that stretch as a counterpoint. That is true. But the Eagles aren’t just having some success. They are historically good right now. The team has run for 175 or more in seven consecutive games. The last team do to that was the 1985 Bears. The Eagles ran all over the Saints top ranked run defense (242 yards) and just ran over Washington’s fourth ranked run defense (238 yards). Teams that normally shut down the run are getting gouged and run all over. This is crazy stuff. And it isn’t like the Eagles are trotting out Walter Payton or Emmitt Smith or Barry Sanders. Or even LeSean McCoy. The Eagles have a good set of runners, but the run game is truly built on the guys up front, the big sexies. The Eagles offensive line is unique. They have some big, powerful blockers who can get movement at the line of scrimmage. They also have some incredible athletes who can get out in space and do crazy things. Jeff Stoutland uses the versatile skill sets to build a creative run game that can attack all over the field. Then you mix in a running QB like Jalen Hurts and I’m not sure where a defensive coordinator should focus. What do you stop first? Let’s talk about the individual O-linemen. Jordan Mailata – A unique player with special potential. He isn’t a great player right now, but he does things that make other OL go "Wow!”. That’s the first sign that someone is special. When peers are blown away, you know this isn’t just a fun highlight. Mailata is physically overhwhelming with his size and strength, but he still has good feets and moves well. That is a freaky combination. He is still somewhat raw. The biggest issue for him is hand use. He must work to sustain blocks better. Landon Dickerson – Dominant run blocker. Big man who can get low and get movement. Outstanding on double teams. Not as comfortable in space or in pass protection, but he should develop in both areas. Can be a Pro Bowl OG. Jason Kelce – He’s got to be at least 56 years old and somehow he’s still the most athletic center in the league. It is fair to wonder if he’s the most athletic center in NFL history. That would require some research, but there wouldn’t be many guys who can move like Kelce. His hidden value is in identifying blitzes and different looks and then adjusting the blocking. There isn’t much that is going to fool him. A great leader and special teammate. Nate Herbig – He’s taken over at RG for Jack Driscoll who took over for Brandon Brooks. Herbig has 15 NFL starts under his belt. He is at his best at RG. Big body who is a good run blocker. Moves okay, but easily the most limited athlete up front. Herbig is the #5 OG on the Eagles and plenty of teams would love to have him as a starter. That should tell you just how good the Eagles OL is. Lane Johnson – Arguably the best RT in the NFL. Remains an outstanding player both as a run blocker and pass protector. Special player. He is big, strong and athletic, but also a student of the game who understands technique. Constantly works at his craft. We see plenty of athletic blockers come into the league. Johnson worked hard to develop into a special player and he’s worked hard to stay at that level. Injuries are the only thing that has slowed him down. Pro Bowl selections were announced on Wednesday and only Kelce got chosen. Johnson should have been taken over Tristan Wirfs. Individual honors aren’t as important as collective play when it comes to the OL. The Eagles have the best OL in the league. There are some other good groups, but I don’t know if anyone would come close to this bunch. I hope fans appreciate what a special group this is. Mailata may go down as the best LT in franchise history, if he continues to develop and plays for a decade. He’s got that kind of potential. Kelce is the best center in team history. Johnson is the best RT in team history. Dickerson can be a Pro Bowl player. Special group. If you think back over my time watching the Eagles, this would be the best OL: LT Jason Peters LG Evan Mathis OC Jason Kelce RG Shawn Andrews RT Lane Johnson Peters, Kelce and Johnson all had sustained excellence. Mathis was a top LG for his four years here. Andrews was a dominant player for three years before injuries and other issues ended his time in Philly. Andrews had tremendous potential, but didn’t love football. He’s one of the biggest What If players in Eagles history. Andrews could have been special. Todd Herremans deserves a special mention because he played RG, RT and LG. He was a 9-year starter and key player for some good teams. It feels funny to make a list like this that leaves off Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan. They were an outstanding pair of bookend tackles from 2000-2008, but somehow the Eagles found even better players in Peters and Johnson. As someone who lived through the Ryan-Kotite-Rhodes years, it feels crazy to say that Eagles fans have been spoiled by an abundance of great O-linemen. Enjoy the big guys up front when you watch games. This is a special group and they are the key to this team’s ability to keep winning games. http://igglesblitz.com/2021/12/the-big-sexies-2/
  21. time2rock

    Back to .500

    Back to .500 Posted: December 21st, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor The Eagles fell behind 10-0 and conjured torturous memories of Joe Webb, but then settled down, took over the game and beat the Washignton Football Team 27-17. A dominant ground game showed that it doesn’t matter what day you play on. If you can run for 230 yards, you’re going to win. The Eagles did both of those. They ran for 238 yards, slicing and dicing a defense that came into the game fourth in the league in run defense. It’s a good thing the game was delayed so WAS could get some DL back. Imagine if they didn’t have their good players. The passing game was also in high gear, with Jalen Hurts going 20-26-296. Three of those incompletions were drops. Hurts mades some terrific throws and played really well overall. Washington got off to an ideal start in the game. Dallas Goedert dropped a short pass and the ball bounced off his heel right to Landon Collins. That set up a short TD drive for the WFT. The Eagles then drove down the field, but Hurts had the ball knocked out of his hand. Collins scooped it up and ran it back to midfield. A long completion to Terry McLaurin put Washington back inside the 10. The Eagles defense came up with a key stop and forced a FG. WAS 10 PHI 0 Yikes. Eagles fans were going a bit crazy. Luckily the team stayed focused and dominated the rest of the game, outscoring WAS 27-7. The beauty of this win is that a lot of different players came up big. Miles Sanders ran for a career high 131 yards. He showed good patience and toughness. This was his best game of the year. Sua Opeta started at LG with Landon Dickerson out due to Covid. Opeta had one penalty, but seemed to play well overall. Jalen Reagor was 3-57 and had a good game. Greg Ward was 2-28, including an impressive 19-yard TD. Dallas Goedert had a career high 135 receiving yards. Fletcher Cox had 1.5 sacks and played one of his best games of the year. Tarron Jackson blew up a run by shooting a gap and getting into the backfield. The run defense limited Antonio Gibson to 26 yards on 15 carrries. Washington hadn’t allowed more than 323 total yards in a game since October. The Eagles had 336 early in the 3rd quarter and finished with 519 yards for the game. I know WAS had players coming off the Covid list and were banged up, but they still had a lot of key starters on the field for their defense. They simply had no answer for the Eagles run game. Give the OL a ton of credit. Those guys dominated the line of scrimmage and also were fantastic at blocking out wide or up on the second level. One of the best moments in the game was watching Jason Kelce and Sanders race down the field. Kelce was upset with Sanders when he cut to the middle and got tackled. If Sanders goes outside, he might have gone all the way for a TD. At first, I thought Nick Sirianni was throwing too much. I was shocked when I checked the stats and the Eagles had 80 rushing yards late in the first half. It sure seemed like Sirianni and his staff called a great game. They used Sanders on a lot of wide runs, where his speed hurt the defense. Then they pounded WAS with Jordan Howard up the middle. Hurts only ran 8 times, but 2 of those were short TDs. Hurts played well. He made a couple of poor decisions in the Red Zone and failed to spot a wide open Reagor running down the field, but overall found the open guys and got them the ball. The highlight was his TD to Ward. Hurts put the ball in a spot where only Ward would have a chance to play it. This wasn’t a wide open player just waiting for the ball. Hurts made a smart, accurate throw and anticipated Ward adjusting. On a wet, cold, sloppy night, Hurts handled the ball well. Little things like that help you win. This might not have been the blowout that some people wanted or expected, but it was a good win. They overcame adversity, beat an inferior opponent and stayed pretty healthy. The Eagles are now in the 8th spot in the hunt for the playoffs. Minnesota is 7-7 and in the 7th spot. There is now a short week until the Giants come to town on Sunday. The Eagles are now 5-2 since their 2-5 start. They are hardly a juggernaut, but they are running the ball on anyone and everyone. The defense has held three straight opponents to 18 points or less. They have held 5 of the past 7 opponents to 18 points or less. There aren’t a lot of elite star QBs in that stretch, but the defense is getting the job done. The Eagles are playing their best football at the right time of the year. http://igglesblitz.com/2021/12/back-to-500/
  22. time2rock

    Judging JG

    Judging JG Posted: December 14th, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor Jonathan Gannon has had quite a wild ride as the Eagles defensive coordinator. There was a lot of hype when he was hired and he inherited a unit that had some talented pieces. More than a few people thought the defense might have to carry the team, especially early in the season. The defense didn’t play nearly as expected and Gannon became a punching bag for angry fans who detested his bend-but-don’t-break style. Bad defense is bad. Passive defense isn’t something Eagles fans can handle. The low point came in Las Vegas, as it so often does in life. The funny thing is that with Gannon he wasn’t betting the house and being too risky. Quite the opposite. Gannon had his defense playing soft against the Raiders. Derek Carr went 31 for 34 and had a lovely fall afternoon. When you make Derek Carr into a superstar, something has to change. Luckily, Gannon did change. He began blitzing more. He started playing more aggressive coverages. The defense has responded well. Four of the six opponents were held to 18 or fewer points. Denver did score 29, but a lot of that came when the game was out of hand. This isn’t to say the defense has turned into Gang Green or the ’85 Bears just yet, but they are playing better. They responded to personnel changes and schematic changes. Gannon has found out which buttons to push, so to speak. Still, there are parts of games where the defense falls apart. The Jets scored on their opening three drives. The Saints went wild in the fourth quarter. The Eagles weren’t facing top talent in either game and still couldn’t stop those units when they were hot. That’s a concern and something to address. When the defense does go into a funk, social media quickly fills up with calls for Gannon to be fired. "Get that bum and his garbage defense out of Philly!!!” might be one of the nicer versions to share with you. Part of that is fans living in the moment. If social media had existed when Buddy Ryan’s defense gave up 28 fourth quarter points to Joe Montana in the Niners back in 1989, Ryan would have heard the calls for his dismissal after the 38-28 loss. All coaches have to live with criticism. Gannon is new and doesn’t have a track record, though. It is fair to question if he is the right man to lead the Eagles defense. I’m okay with Gannon. He’s got sound ideas. Gannon focuses on stopping explosive plays, hardly a new concept. He just seems to take it to the next level. His safeties play way deep to keep things in front of them. That requires them to be able to attack quickly when things do happen in front of them. That also puts pressure on the linebackers to cover a lot of ground in the middle of the field. Right now the Eagles have a pair of problems. They don’t have the players to run this system at a high level and the players they do have are learning on the fly. When you play a lot of zone, players have to work together to cover areas. This is the same principle as playing zone in basketball. Players must all be on the same page with how to defend each situation. Timing is important. When do you pass a receiver on to the next guy? Jim Schwartz wanted his players to think less and play fast. He wanted to attack. Gannon wants to run a more complex scheme that does require players to think, to understand the situation and handle it correctly. That takes time to master. Gannon is teaching his players and they are gaining valuable experience. This will pay off down the road. As for the talent aspect, that also takes time. Buddy Ryan didn’t have the players to run his 46 scheme when he got to Philly back in 1986. It took time for him to draft and teach Seth, BE, Jerome, Eric, Clyde, etc. I’m not saying that Howie Roseman is going to magically build an elite defense, but the Eagles will find better talent at safety than Anthony Harris and Rodney McLeod. I don’t know if it is age or fit, but those guys just aren’t making plays. I’d be shocked if Nick Sirianni let Gannon go at the end of the year. They are close on and off the field. Sirianni is going to be loyal to a guy who has done a better job than he gets credit for. Fans focus on the low moments, but the Eagles right now are 9th in the league in yards allowed. That’s not the defensive coordinator you fire. I know that stat needs context and is greatly helped by shutting down bad QBs, but the point is that really bad defenses can’t do even that. I would not argue that Gannon has gotten the most out of his players. I think installing his system and teaching them has been balanced with truly using them to max out their ability this year. Gannon has shown that he can adapt and find some fixes. I hope Sirianni preaches to Gannon in the offseason that he must be quicker at making changes in games. That Raiders game was torturous. Gannon shouldn’t have had to wait a week to be more aggressive. Personnel upgrades should be the focus of the offseason, not finding a new defensive coordinator. http://igglesblitz.com/2021/12/judging-jg/
  23. Assessing the Eagles Posted: December 10th, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor Heading into the 2021 season, the Eagles were seen as a team that lacked the kind of talent needed to compete for a Super Bowl, but had too much talent to be a flat out bad team. Sure enough, they find themselves at 6-7 in the bye week and still competing for a playoff spot. Not bad, but not good enough. It would be easy to rip the team for finding themselves in No Man’s Land. Why not go for a total rebuild? Or if you want to keep the Kelce-Cox-Brooks-Graham guys happy, go get a quality veteran QB. Instead, the Eagles added a rookie coach and stuck with a young QB, as well as their veteran stars. That’s the greedy approach, trying to rebuild while still competing. The big picture questions remain unanswered, with Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts having expected ups and downs. Sirianni feels more and more like a coach who will pan out. Don’t read that as Andy Reid, Pt. 2, but rather a coach who gives his team a chance to win more often than not. Sirianni has shown the ability to adjust his offense on the fly. The screen happy offense of the early season gave way to an adjusted passing game and that has now been replaced by the NFL’s best rushing attack. The Eagles have 7 games of 173 or more rushing yards. They have three runners averaging more than 5 yards per carry. Five players have at least 200 yards rushing. This isn’t about feeding some star RB. This is a unique run game operating at a very high level. Sirianni seems to connect with his players, something that helped Reid and Doug Pederson have success. Sirianni weathered the storm of a 2-5 start and kept veterans and rookies all believing in his ideas and themselves. The team is 4-2 since then and has a real shot at the postseason. Hurts is a more complicated discussion. I thought he was a lost cause through October. Hurts had shown only minimal progress from his rookie season and that was concerning. He’s been a different player since then. Hurts still has issues, but you can see signs of improvement on almost a weekly basis. He’s better at staying in the pocket. He’s better at using the whole field. His decision-making is improved. The Hurts situation is more complicated than most people think, but not because of Hurts. The Eagles thought Carson Wentz was their franchise QB and that fell apart. Jared Goff took the Rams to the Super Bowl, but got dumped this past offseason. Baker Mayfield had a career year in 2020, but is struggling this season. Tua Tagovailoa has been erratic since coming to the NFL. Young QBs tend to be volatile. Just because you get a good or even great season doesn’t mean you’ve got The Guy. It takes time to find out who is a true long term answer. Knowing who to stick with and who to move on from can change the fortunes of a franchise. I think Hurts has shown enough to get an extra year as the starter, but what he does in the final month will have an effect on what happens. Does he play well and lead the Eagles to the playoffs? Does the pressure get to him and lead to sloppy play like we saw in the Giants game? Let’s go away from coach and QB and talk about the rest of the team. The offensive line has been great this year. Jordan Mailata looks like a stud LT. He’s good for a mistake or two every game, but physically dominates opponents as well. The mistakes should go away as he continues to learn. He has special potential. Landon Dickerson is an outstanding run blocker. He’s been dominant at times. Dickerson does need to work on his pass protection. I had questions about the pick back in April becuase of his injury history. So far, Dickerson looks like a terrific pick. There is a good mixture of experience and youth on the line. This group looks like they’ll be good for a while. Heck, even Andre Dillard has shown real potential. The skill players are a mixture. Dallas Goedert, DeVonta Smith and Miles Sanders could form a dynamic trio. Goedert is really coming into his own. Smith looks like a stud receiver. Sanders is the most erratic of the trio. There are times when he is an explosive runner who would be ideal for a team that wants big plays. There are other times when Sanders dances too much and doesn’t attack big holes right in front of him. He also has had some torturous moments, like his costly fumble vs the Saints and forgetting to stay in bounds twice at the end of the Panthers game. Jordan Howard, Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell have been good as role players. The Eagles need to try and find another young back to add to the mix, preferably a power runner like Howard. The receiving corps has been disappointing. I hoped the new staff would bring out the best in Jalen Reagor. Oof, was I wrong on that one. He has struggled as a receiver and returner. You just don’t see the burst, speed and athleticism he showed at TCU. Quez Watkins has been good, but inconsistent. He seems like a guy you want as your #3 or #4 receiver. Greg Ward and JJ Arcega-Whiteside have to be replaced. They are role players with no upside. The offense has averaged 29.7 points per game over the 6-game stretch. That number would be over 30 if not for the stinker against the Giants. The coaching staff has figured out how to use these players. There were high expectations for the defense coming into the season. That group has been disappointing. The defense does look good at times, but you can’t ignore some of the struggles. The Chiefs and Cowboys both scored more than 40 points against the Eagles. Neither the Chiefs nor Chargers had to punt when facing the Eagles. The Eagles pass defense was on the way to NFL history (or should that be infamy?). Luckily Jonathan Gannon finally embraced blitzing and press coverage. He took more chances and the defense has responded. The Eagles have climbed from 32nd in opponent completion percentage up to 30th. That’s progress. While the defense has struggled at times, it has also worked more than some realize. None of those games featured good offenses. The Eagles are able to shut down bad teams. That isn’t saying a lot, but it’s a start. Javon Hargrave was great early in the season. He’s cooled off a bit, but does have 7.5 sacks and 8 TFLs. That’s excellent production for a DT. Fletcher Cox only has one sack and 4 TFLs. There were times when he looked to be struggling, but Cox has become more disruptive in recent weeks. Josh Sweat leads the edge rushers with 5 sacks. I was hoping for him to be more consistently disruptive. Derek Barnett’s numbers aren’t good and penalties remain a problem, but he does show up on tape. Ryan Kerrigan has been a huge disappointment, no matter what JG says. Rookies Milton Williams and Tarron Jackson have shown promise. Williams looks like he could be a stud. His athleticism is legit. Jackson relies more on effort than talent, but looks like he could be a solid rotational end. The linebacker situation has been wild. Eric Wilson was awful early on and thankfully got benched, then released. TJ Edwards took his place and has played really well. Alex Singleton got benched for Davion Taylor, who looked good. Taylor then got hurt and Singleton has struggled since returning. You love his grit and effort, but he’s simply not good enough to start in the NFL. Edwards and Taylor could be a good young duo to build around. The Eagles need to keep adding talent. They’re headed in the right direction, but still aren’t good enough. Safety is a mess. Anthony Harris and Rodney McLeod aren’t productive. Part of that isn’t their fault. It is hard to make plays when you’re lining up in Delaware and the corners are usually playing soft coverage. Marcus Epps is playing the best football of his career. I don’t know that I see him as a future starter, but he can be a valuable role player. K’Von Wallace has struggled to get on the field. The team must address this position aggressively in the offseason. Darius Slay is finally playing like the corner the Eagles hoped to get when they traded for him. He’s been terrific, in coverage and as a playmaker (3 INTs, 3 TDs). Steve Nelson has been solid. Avonte Maddox is having a career year and looks at home in the slot. This is the best group of corners in a while, which makes all the soft coverage so frustrating. This is a group you take advantage of. Behind the starters, the Eagles have about 37 other corners. Rookie Zech McPhearson has played some and the team is high on him. Tay Gowan and Kary Vincent are other corners with good potential. CB could be in good shape in the future. Michael Clay’s special teams units have been solid. Jake Elliott could get Pro Bowl consideration. Arryn Siposs is doing a solid job. Rick Lovato remains in the shadows, which is exactly what you want from a long snapper. The return game isn’t good. The Eagles need to figure this out for next year. The roster sure looks better now than it did in August. The new coaching staff has been able to develop young talent and find ways to use them. The coaches also embrace playing backups, which helps. The final four weeks will be an interesting test. The Eagles have been able to bully bad teams like the Falcons, Lions, Saints and Jets. Their best win came in Denver, but the Broncos are hardly great. The Eagles face Washington twice and then Dallas in the season finale. Washington has won four in a row and is playing their best football of the year. Dallas is up and down, but has some elite talent. This is the time of the year when good teams stand out. We’ll find out just how good this Eagles team is. Or isn’t. http://igglesblitz.com/2021/12/assessing-the-eagles/
  24. time2rock

    Good Enough

    Good Enough Posted: December 6th, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor The Eagles needed a bounce-back win on Sunday. Ideally, they would have played great and just dominated the hapless Jets. That didn’t happen. The Eagles played pretty well and won 33-18, but this was hardly a game that made you feel great about the team. The Jets returned the opening kickoff 79 yards and then marched in for a short TD. They missed the extra point, but that beginning was a sign this game wasn’t going to be a cakewalk. The Jets led 6-0, 12-7 and 18-14 before the Eagles went ahead 21-18 and never trailed again. The Eagles defense wasn’t sharp early so it is a good thing Gardner Minshew was. The coaches built a great gameplan for him and Minshew executed it really well. After three drives, he was 11-11-165 with a pair of TDs. You couldn’t ask anything more out of a backup QB. Early on the attack was screens to RBs and TEs, mixed in with other short throws. RBs and TEs combined for 11 catches in the first half. The WRs only had 3. The Eagles had 24 points and 262 yards in the first half. Minshew led the offense up and down the field. Before you get too excited, the Jets defense was terrible. There weren’t a whole lot of "wow” plays on Sunday. Superior talent and execution won the day. It was impressive to see Minshew go 20-25-242 with a pair of TDs in his first start of the year. Any talk of him stealing away the starting job from Jalen Hurts is going too far, though. You could see Minshew’s limitations on Sunday. He underthrew Dallas Goedert on both TDs. A couple of his other throws were so slow they seemed to have hang time. Minshew looked very uncomfortable running RPOs. He didn’t seem sure of what to do. There is a big difference in being a good backup QB and being a good starting QB. Minshew’s physical limitations should keep him as a backup. There is nothing wrong with that. Good backup QBs have real value. He’s a better player than Koy Detmer and Detmer lasted in the NFL for nine years. It is fun to watch Minshew play and to see him deal with the media. He’s a funny guy and brings a lot of energy to whatever he’s doing. That personality isn’t going to help him when he’s got to drive the ball down the field or to the sideline. Minshew is good at small-ball, but that’s not a long term sustainable offense. Small-ball worked on Sunday, in large part due to Goedert. He was outstanding as a receiver and blocker. Goedert finished the game 6-105-2, setting a personal high for receiving yards in a game. He didn’t get the ball last week and it hurt the offense. The coaches made sure to get him the ball this week. There was some question about the run game. Would it be as effective without Hurts running and the threat of him as a runner? Yes and yes. Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell combined to go 36-174-1. The Eagles ran for 185 yards overall. The last time they were under 175 was back on Oct 24th. This run game really has become a thing of beauty. After throwing a lot of praise at the offense, it is time to talk about the defense. Someone glancing at the box score would see the Jets with 281 yards and 18 points and think the Eagles played good defense. They were highly erratic. For most of the first half, they were embarrassing. The Jets scored TDs on their first three possessions. They missed the extra point after the first two scores and then failed on a 2-point conversion. Those missed points help create separation for the Eagles and definitely affected the game. The Jets never scored again. I haven’t studied the tape, but the Jets sure seemed to attack the edges early on. They were able to run and throw wide. Eagles LBs weren’t able to stop the plays. For a while, it felt like the Jets were targeting Alex Singleton over and over. He hasn’t had a good year overall, but really struggled on Sunday. Singleton is at his best when attacking. He’s just not doing a good job of getting out wide and making stops this year. I’m not sure if the Eagles changed schematically or if they just started getting off blocks. Whatever happened, it worked. The Jets didn’t have a third down conversion in the second half. They only rushed for 13 yards. QB Zach Wilson only went 11-24. Certainly give some credit to the Eagles, but the Jets also didn’t execute well. One of the X-factors in the game was the Eagles getting the best of the officiating. Every questionable call seemed to go their way, including some big ones. Jets coach Robert Saleh was raging on the sideline at some of the calls. I don’t blame him one bit. The Eagles are now 6-7. They are 4-2 in the last six games and continue to run the ball extremely well. Up next is the bye week, which comes at a great time. Several Eagles got hurt in the game so the extra rest is crucial. The Eagles control their fate heading into the last month of the season. There isn’t much more you could ask for considering the team started the season 2-5 and looked pretty hopeless. http://igglesblitz.com/2021/12/good-enough/
  25. time2rock

    Bad Day

    Bad Day Posted: November 28th, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor Weird things tend to happen in rivalry games and that certainly was the case today. The Eagles delivered a sloppy, uninspired performance and lost a key game to a bad Giants team. Jalen Reagor dropped two potential TD passes in the final minute. Those are the headline moments. The first was a deep ball that hit Reagor’s facemask and he wasn’t able to pull it in. The other drop came on a fourth down in the final seconds. Reagor might have scored. The Eagles would at least have been at the Giants 1-yard line with time to get a play or two off. Reagor’s drops would not have been so critical if Jalen Hurts hadn’t thrown 3 interceptions, including two in scoring territory. If the Eagles had just kicked field goals in those situations, the end of the game is very different. Hurts forced things and it cost the Eagles in a big way. Hurts ended the game at 14-31-129 with 3 INTs. He did run the ball well (8-77), but that didn’t make up for the passing. Hurts has to be at least functional as a passer. This might have been his worst start in the NFL. In his defense, the receiving corps was bad today. Greg Ward dropped a TD. Reagor stunk up the joint. Quez Watkins and Kenny Gainwell both had questionable effort on some crossing routes. Dallas Goedert dropped a key pass late in the game. Guys have to make plays for the QB, no matter who it is. Hurts and the offense weren’t helped by the playcalling early in the game. The Eagles came out throwing and it didn’t work. That got them into a funk and they struggled to come out of it. Injuries affected the game. Jason Kelce got dinged up and missed a few series. Nate Herbig replaced him and had a pair of holding penalties. One of them negated a Boston Scott TD run. That was a questionable call, but it did get called. Kelce came back and then Jack Driscoll got hurt. Herbig replaced him at RG. Miles Sanders hurt his foot/ankle and didn’t play much after that. Scott took Sanders place and played pretty well, going 15-64. Unfortunately he fumbled on a run on the next to last drive when the Eagles had already crossed midfield and were on the march. Ugh. Reagor will catch the most heat, but this was a team loss. This game is a big crap sandwich and everyone is taking a bite, not just Reagor. The defense limited the Giants to 264 yards and 13 points, but Jonathan Gannon’s group couldn’t come up with a big play. Daniel Jones had one of his rare NFL starts without a turnover. The Eagles DL struggled to get hits on Jones, let alone sacks. This was a game where the Eagles needed the defense to make a big play and that just didn’t happen. A lot of the good will the Eagles built up over the past month is gone. You just can’t lose to the 3-7 Giants when you’re fighting for playoff position. The Eagles are now 5-7 and only half a game up on the 4-7 Giants. The good news is that the Eagles still have a soft schedule remaining. If they learn from this debacle, it can serve them well over the final month of the season. The Eagles said all the right things leading into the game, but actions speak louder than words. The Eagles didn’t play like a hungry, focused team. They played like a group that was more worried about outside noise than the guys lined up across from them. Do that in the NFL and it will bite you in the ass. Four turnovers plus costly penalties plus killer drops equals a bad loss. Sirianni doesn’t need some magic potion to fix this team. They just need to stay focused and play smart football. Despite all of their struggles today, the Eagles still almost won that game. But they didn’t. Learn from it and move on. There is still plenty of season left. Just not much margin for error. http://igglesblitz.com/2021/11/bad-day-4/
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