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Clearing Up


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Clearing Up

Posted: August 9th, 2023 | Author: Tommy Lawlor 

The Eagles have not played a preseason game yet, but we have seen enough practices to start to get a feel for certain situations. You might say that things are starting to clear up.

In my previous post I talked about the struggles of backup QB Marcus Mariota. His last two practices have been his best and he looks very different. What changed? The Eagles signed Josh Andrews to be the backup C. While he won’t be mistaken for Jason Kelce anytime soon, Andrews is a reliable snapper. Brett Toth had been in that role and had a lot of issues with snaps. That threw off the whole #2 offense, especially Mariota.

Here is Bo Wulf with his take.

The other best throw of the day came from Mariota, who also threw a deep ball to his left, this one to Britain Covey, who had wheeled past Zech McPhearson. Mariota has looked better the past two days, perhaps in some part because the snaps have been more reliable from Josh Andrews than they had been from the second-team centers earlier in camp. He also hit newcomer Johnny King and Joseph Ngata for tight completions in the red zone. Covey, meanwhile, has also come on of late.

Two good practices doesn’t mean Mariota is now all better and backup QB is hunky-dory. It is a good sign, though. Mariota is a talented veteran. The Eagles wanted him as their backup. This is the guy they expected when they signed him.

There is no shame in a player starting slow and then getting better. Going to a new team and learning a new system can be tough. Add in erratic snaps and you can see where Mariota wasn’t in an ideal situation.


Let’s talk more about the Eagles new LBs.

Myles Jack is 6-1, 244. He is a gifted athlete with excellent speed and range. He’s played WLB and MLB. He played in the 4-3 in JAX and the 3-4 in PIT. If the Eagles want a LB who can cover ground, Jack is their guy. He has played in 103 of 114 career games, never starting fewer than 10.

Zach Cunningham is 6-3, 238. He is a stout inside LB who is at his best stuffing the run and making a lot of tackles. He led the NFL in solo tackles and total tackles in 2020. He moves well for his size, but relies more on instincts than pure speed. He’s played in 82 of 98 career games. Cunningham never started fewer than 11 until last season when an elbow injury limited him to 6 games.

Jack has seen more reps with the 1’s so far. We can only guess what this means. Nakobe Dean did some work in practice on Wednesday and is close to returning. When he does, he’ll be the MLB. If the Eagles are looking for someone to pair with him, Jack is the better fit. Cunningham could play WLB in this system to be sure, but he’s not as good as Jack in coverage.

What they’ve done in the past is a helpful guide in evaluating them, but how they play now is far more important. Let’s take a look at Fran Duffy’s thoughts.

Myles Jack, mixing in once again with the first-team defense, had a really impressive rep playing downhill to find the football. Zach Cunningham made his presence felt as well, beating a block and thudding up Penny on an inside run early on in the day. Cunningham also was in on an incompletion to a tight end midway through the session. Watching this play out through preseason games will be a big topic this month.

Let’s not forget about Christian Elliss.

I’m excited to watch this linebacker competition continue to unfold this summer, because I thought a handful of guys flashed today in these run-heavy periods. Christian Elliss popped early, stacking and shedding an offensive lineman on a run to the right by Rashaad Penny. Elliss’ explosiveness showed up multiple times as well today, flying into the backfield or to the flat to corral ball carriers.

It will be really interesting to see who plays in vs the Ravens on Saturday and how they are used.



Really interesting take here from John. He’s seen plenty of Training Camp practices so a few good plays isn’t going to overwhelm him. Still, he’s the only beat writer I’ve seen make this statement.

Rashaad Penny and D’Andre Swift both have more talent and more experience than Gainwell. But this is Year 3 in the Eagles system. The coaches know him and have seen Gainwell get better each season. Maybe he will jump to the front of the line. The team will still be RB by Committee, but someone has to be the lead dog. Maybe Gainwell will win that role.



I’m glad to have Allen back. He showed a lot last summer. I hoped he would challenge for a roster spot this time around. A track injury sidelined him until now. We’ll see how quickly Allen can start to make plays.

Both OTs were projects. Here is what I wrote about Reid after his signing.

Reid didn’t play football until high school so he is still learning. He’s put on 70 pounds since then so he’s had to adjust to playing as a bigger body. He was able to maintain his athleticism and that’s why the NFL is interested. Reid is agile, but doesn’t have smooth footwork. He plays too fast overall. Jeff Stoutland will need to slow him down and get him more technique-oriented. There are times when Reid looks natural in pass pro. You will also see him look good coming off the ball and blocking a LB up the field on a run. Reminds me a bit of LeRaven Clark, who was a backup for the Eagles.

Reid’s immediate future will be determined by how he takes to Stoutland’s coaching. If he is a great student, I could see room for Reid on the roster. I think the practice squad is a lot more likely. Reid will need time to learn and develop.

His athleticism wasn’t enough to keep him around. He must not have handled Stoutland’s coaching as well as he needed to.

Okorafor was even more raw than Reid. He just wasn’t a good fit for a team that expects to contend.



Steen has shown a lot of promise at LB. Here is Jimmy Bama on him.

One of the common matchups we have seen since Tyler Steen has started getting more reps at LT has been Steen against Nolan Smith. Smith has had a good camp as a rookie, but Steen has mostly won those matchups pretty easily. Steen can play. He’s already better than Jack Driscoll both at guard and tackle, in my opinion.

Steen has looked good at LT and has gotten better at RG. Driscoll has been up and down this summer. I think his 16 career starts means he’s likely to stick, but he needs to play well in the games. Driscoll has started at LT, RT and G. Dennis Kelly is now with the #3 OL. He’s got to show something to win a spot.


I don’t think I’ve heard much about DL Kentavius Street this summer. Luckily Fran shared a note on him.

The depth up front is outstanding for this team once again, and two players who have really caught my eye this summer are Milton Williams and Kentavius Street. Both guys have very similar skill sets and backgrounds as converted college defensive ends who made late transitions inside. They’re both very violent and urgent through contact, with the ability to win from multiple techniques up front. Williams knifed into the backfield, splitting a double team to wrap up a ball carrier early on in an 11-on-11 period halfway through practice.

Williams will be a key player. I started to wonder if Street would make the team. Sure sounds like Fran has been impressed by him.



I had my doubts about Ngata as a fit in the NFL. I’m happy to report that I was wrong…he’s playing well and pushing for a roster spot.


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