Thoughts and analysis on the Philadelphia Eagles



The End of an Era

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I will remember you...

Will you remember me....?

An era, albeit of mediocrity, ended today as the Eagles announced that they've cut Koy Detmer and Todd Pinkston. They also brought back former backup/3rd string wunderkind AJ Feeley...

Since being drafted in 200 with the Eagles 1st round pick we've marveled at how a man with the body of Nicole Ritchie could last year after year in the NFL... but he has. Through his infamous alligator arms incident in Washington, years of Michael Irvin calling him "Todd Stinkston" on ESPN, being bullied by Ricky Manning Jr in the NFCCG, and through years of jeers from Eagles fans Todd Pinkston has hung around. And to be fair he's given us great moments. Despite his toothpick frame, he'd only missed 2 games in his whole career before last year. Of course, he did as good a job avoiding injury causing contact... Despite all Pinky's shortcomings I'll never forget his catch in the superbowl, and I'll look back fondly on all the pass interference penalties he drew... His career isn't over though, and Im sure we'll see him turn up at some point this season with someone else(probably the Vikings).

Of course, then there was Koy. The man who made field goal holder an actual position in the NFL. I'll admit, Koy has long been one of my favorite Eagles. From his disturbing neckbeard, to his infamous "Spankin' it" celebration, to his heroic performance that Monday night against San Francisco... In fact, I've always told people that my dream job was the one held by Koy Detmer. Get paid a good bit of money as a 10 year vet in the NFL to have front row seats to the Eagles and absolutely no pressure or expectations. Over those 10 years Koys has seen scores of better QBs than him signed and drafted to play on this team and new coaches, yet he always managed to keep himself around.

One of my favorite Koy anecdotes was a personal experience I had with him. I was working at an Eagles charity event where the team showed up in a bus to help build a playground at an inner city school. The whole team got off the bus and immediately starting working, digging holes, pushing wheelbarrows, mixing concrete... Koy however, decided to come over to the tent of the particular business I was working for to hang out and chat. He came off as a totally cool guy, very regular and personable. At one point as we were talking though, he quickly jumped behind me and ducked his head(I'm 6' tall and 220 lbs... and Koy seemingly disappeared). He told me that Andy looked over and he was worried that the coach would see that he wasn't helping... True story. I've been a huge fan of the guy ever since and always found him to funny and having a good time. Everytime I visited training camp, Koy would always be the guy that turn around to acknowledge the fans and wave hi. He's a guy that truly loved his job... and wouldn't we all? The man dubbed as "the best holder in the NFL" is gone. If/when he is enshrined in Canton for his clearly legendary holding abilities, I'll be there.

So I say a fond farewell to Pinky and Koy. Two guys that have been fixtures at this franchise for a very long time. It'll definitely be very odd to see them not on this team. In fact, I'll probably get a little wistful when I see those skinny little legs of Pinky or that hairy neck or Koy in another uniform. Eagles fans will no longer hear me standing up and yelling "goddamn Todd Pinkston!" anymore. In fact, now that I can't yell at Todd during Eagles games or at David Bell during Phillies games... What will I do?

Good luck guys and welcome back to AJ Feeley.

Memories...

A video memory of Pinky...


Eagles get WR Donte Stallworth

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The report on the radio yesterday went like this...

"And in the NFL, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb got another weapon that could change the balance in the NFC. Today the Philadelphia Eagles acquired WR Donte' Stallworth from the Saints for backup MLB Mark Simoneau and a conditional 4th round pick."

And the fans rejoiced. I got 25 new Myspace messages on the Bleeding Green myspace page overnight all people excited over the trade.

You may have noticed that I haven't been the only Eagles fan or football pundit to be screaming for the Birds to add a proven, veteran, deep threat at WR this offseason. Seemingly every post on every message board, every blog entry, every national media "report" on the team all talked about the Eagles' lack of experience and talent at WR. Andy Reid took a major step in addressing that need.

First, for those of you who aren't totally familiar with Donte' Stallworth, here's a quick bio. He was drafted by the Saints in 2002 with the 13th overall pick. He hs always had tremendous speed, boasting a 4.26 40 yard dash making him one of the fastest players in the NFL. He broke out in his rookie year grabbing 8 TDs. He battled some injuries the next year or so, but had a career year last with 70 catches, 945 yards, and 7 TDs.

For those keeping score at home... The Eagles most productive WR last year, Reggie Brown, had 43 catches for 571 yards and 4 TDs. That's a little more than half of the numbers Stallworth put up last year...

So what can we can expect from him this year? It's hard to say. A lot of people seem to assume that he'll immediately step in as the starter next to Reggie Brown and all will be peachy. I don't think that will happen. He needs to start learning this offense, which is well documented as a tough one to learn for WRs, and he needs to get into sync with McNabb. That's going to take more than 2 weeks and one preseason game to do. The good news is that early on, the tem can afford to let him work his way into the offense. There's some tough games early, but most of the early season schedule is against some of the worst teams in the NFL(Houston, San Fran, Green Bay, New Orleans). I still expect him to be in the games early on to stretch the field and catch the deep ball, but I'm not expecting him to really get into the flow of the offense until several weeks into the season. The bottom line is that even if he does take time to learn the offense, he' still a significant upgrade over Hank Baskett.

This trade affects the team overall on a few levels. First and most obviously it gives the Eagles to legit downfield threat that they lack. The flat out burner that can beat guys deep and forces defenses to give help coverage over the top. That's going to free up the likes of Reggie Brown, LJ Smith, and Brian Westbrook to have room to do things over the middle. Stallworth clearly represents one more legit weapon for McNabb to use.

Second, the addition of Stallworth makes the WR depth chart like it should have been from day one. Reggie Brown is no longer going to be expected to replace TO's production on his own. Hank Baskett can be free to develop naturally and learn rather than being an undrafted rookie free agent thrown in as a starter. Same for Jason Avant. Plus, it likely means that Todd Pinkston or Greg Lewis won't make the team...

Finally this trade, much like alot of what Andy does, is not just for this year and is not a terribly high risk for the Eagles. The team gave up Mark Simoneau who is backup LB whose prescence has been made much less important with the emergence of Omar Gaither this preseason. Sim was expendable, and honestly a guy that could have been cut this year. So the Eagles sent an expendable backup LB and a 4th round pick for a former 1st pick. If the Eagles reach a long term deal with Stallworth, that 4th rouner could rise to a 3rd. If Stallworth, who is only making less than 2 mil this year, has a good year this year and the Eagles resign him he's more than worth a 3rd round pick. This kid is only 25 and could be one half of a potent WR tandem with Reggie Brown for years to come... and at most he could cost a 3rd round pick and an older backup linebacker? Who wouldn't make that trade?


Eagles 16, Steelers 7: Can the season start already?

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All in all this was yet another encouraging game from the first team offenses and defenses. The defense had no trouble with the Steelers first team offense and the Eagles offense moved well against the dominating Pittsburgh D. Can we get this season underway already?

Let's get to some game thoughts.

The MNF crew... What can I say? Mike Tirico is among the worst play by play guys I've heard at any level. How did a guy with such a contrived, sing songy delivery get the MNF job? Theisman was annoying as usual, and Kornheiser was decent. Also Stuart Scott is the worst studio host... ever. Of course it was very fun to hear Eagles fans taunting Michael Irvin constantly as the pregame show crew was live from the concourse of the Linc. Stuart Scott even said "We're live from the city of brotherly love, although some of the fans haven't been so loving to you Michael..."

The star of this defense all preseason long and certainly of this game was Darren Howard. He absolutely dominated the vaunted Pittsburgh offensive line. In 2 series he hurried Big Ben on a great inside move, he then beat his man to the outside for a hurry, then he got a hit on the QB from the DT position on a 3rd down, and finally got a sack before left the game. The defense and the defensive line as a whole was very strong. They held the Steelers first team scoreless and while Big Ben was in they hit him 5x, hurried him 4, sacked him once, and forced him to throw a pick on a play where Kearse forced him to the outside. As in past weeks, this pressure came almost exclusively from the front four as the team did very little blitzing

The offense also came out pretty good despite not getting a TD with the first team. McNabb came out firing as hard as I've ever seen him throw, going 7-9 with 79 yards. He appears more than ready for the season to start. The big story on offense however, was Correll Buckhalter(7 rushes for 31 yards). He showed clear improvements over his last game, which is exactly what we all wanted to see. He ran hard, made a good cuts, and showed nice acceleration. Assuming he can stay healthy he looks like he's about ready to be the backup RB this team so desperately needs. Also, it's clear that Andy likes to run behind Shaun Andrews. He was exceptional in run blocking, although he missed a block on a blitz up the middle that led to a sack.

The WRs continued to be disappointing as a group. When McNabb was in the game, several times he sat in the pocket and could find nothing. When Pinkston(who did nothing) came into the game, McNabb was promptly brought down by a "coverage sack". They had real trouble getting open as a group. I've seen nothing in several games now that shows me that Hank Baskett is a starting WR. So far in this preseason he's shown that he can catch a short pass in the flat and get tackled. I need more from a starting WR. Gaffney did almost nothing as usual. Greg Lewis made a nice catch early on, but ruined it by getting a 15 yard taunting penalty(that I'll admit was a lame call). He did burn his man on a TD in the 3rd quarter, but his man was a guy that's competing for the Steelers 3rd DB job...

Reggie Brown was also disappointing as he played with the 1s. The McNabb INT that was overturned looked completely like Reggie's fault. He sat back and let the DB come right in front of him and take the ball. He needs to come back after that ball and not let the DB out muscle him. You could see McNabb telling him he needs to come back for the ball as they walked off the field. In contrast, Jason Avant made a very nice catch on a bullet pass from McNabb where he showed some physicality and kept himself between the DB and the ball. Reggie did some nice things against a soft zone at the very end of the 1st half with Jeff Garcia, but overall I was hoping to see more from him.

I noticed that once again Dirk Johnson was holding for Akers. Akers was excellent again as he has been all preseason. He hit 3 FGs of 40, 49, & 51 yards.

I'd like to go on record as saying that I hope these Duce Staley to the Eagles trade rumors are untrue... Although I suspect if there was any truth to them, the interest is gone after tonight. I love what Duce did when he was here, but he's a shell of himself. He's clearly overweight, out of shape, and running at half speed. Don't forget, like Buckhalter he's been hurt for 2 years. The difference is that Buckhalter looks very much in shape and running fast.

What an odd game for JR Reed. I was all ready to put him as one of my "stock downs" for this game. He got absolutely rocked on a hit during a punt return that was absolutely his fault. He took a huge shot and fumbled a ball that any decent punt returner would have fair caught. He has he not been very impressive returning kicks this preseason, but after that play I'd say he's a liability in the return game. Then he made a very obvious and very poor pass interference penalty. Then he made some plays against the Steeler's scrubs. He made a one sack where he forced a fumble and picked off a pass to end the game.

I don't know how we are supposed to evaluate the WRs when Koy is in. On the majority of plays he doesn't even look at them and goes straight to the dump off to the back.

You have to like what you saw from Jeff Garcia. He did a good job with :53 left in the half driving the team down for an Akers FG. Plus he threw a gem of a TD pass where he hit Greg Lewis deep perfectly in stride.

The Eagles 2nd team defensive line also played well against the run as the Steelers sent Staley over and over up the gut with very few results.

Stock up +/Stock Down -

+ Darren Howard(dominant), Gaither(threw a few bigtime hits), Buckhalter(was very good), Bruce Perry(played well returning and running the ball. It was nice to see him bounce back after a disastrous start to the preseason)

- JR Reed(in the end he deserves to be here), Hank Baskett(he is a nice story and should make the team, but he should not be starting), Dexter Wynn(who was burned badly on a near TD and general didn't look great)

So there's one more game left in the preseason for the Birds. So far there's been no major injuries, and the first team offense and defense have left with leads every game. This was basically the Eagles final preseason game, since in game 5 it'll be unlikely that the starters will play more than a series.


Guess who DIDN'T get Lelie????

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The Eagles!

Sigh...

The Redskins, Falcons, and Broncos completed a 3 way deal that sent disgruntled WR Ashley Lelie to Atlanta, RB TJ Duckett to Washington, and the Skins' 3rd round pick & possibly 4th to Denver.

Some Eagles fans wanted Duckett here... I had no interest in him for the Eagles, backup RBs can be found anywhere and they aren't worth anything close to a 3rd & 4th round pick...

But how could we not have wanted Lelie? People can say all they like about him and it's likely mostly true. He's not lived up to his potential of a 1st round pick, he's probably not much better than a healthy Pinky.... But that's how bad our WR corps has gotten! I'd kill for a Pinky level veteran WR right now! Anything is better than Reggie Brown and a bunch of rookies and undrafted free agents. I think Reggie is legit, but he could use some veteran help. He's a 2nd a year guy and is probably the senior member of the WR corps.

Don't get me wrong, I like what Baskett has done this offseason. I like some of the things I've seen from Avant so far. However, that's a far stretch from me thinking they are starting caliber NFL WRs this year. To put that much pressure on an undrafted rookie free agent and a rookie 2nd day pick seems crazy to me!

Luckily, Lelie went to Atlanta where he can't hurt us(Mike Vick as his QB?) . But still, it would have been nice to have him here.

I have some thoughts on the deal from the perspectives of the teams involved...

OKAY deal for Atl - They needed a WR, but it won't really matter with Vick. Plus Lelie is going to be the 3rd WR(as per Mora), which is what he was already mad about in Denver, so you have to wonder how happy he'll be in ATL. He's gone after this year, but so was Duckett so that's not as much of a concern...

GREAT deal for Denver - Everyone knew Lelie had to be traded, but they get a 3rd round pick and maybe an additional 4th for him? They robbed the Redskins here.

AWFUL deal for Skins - They give up a 3rd round pick for a backup/short yardage back that will likely leave after this year... This is doubly bad considering that they already have so few picks left for the future. It's going to be interesting to watch just how bad the Skins get over the next few years with zero picks and no young talent. But hey, they've got a backup RB!

Basically, it's a disappointment that the Eagles let Lelie slip through their fingers. I do not understand a plan that involves starting rookies and undrafted free agents at WR in a the most pass heavy offense in football. I just don't get that. The scary part is that I really think that Andy Reid and co believe that they have enough. A lot of Eagles fans have been crowing since the offseason about how they think the Eagles are cheap. I don't buy that. They've shelled out tons of money for free agents and to resign their own guys. They aren't cheap, they really believe in what they have. I firmly believe that Andy Reid is more than content to go into the season with Hank Baskett and Jason Avant as his #2&3 WRs. That scares me more than a team being cheap.

I hope Andy proves me wrong. I hope he's been right all along... Because right now, I just don't see it.



With the Eagles Wide receivers(or lack thereof) being a such hot topic this offseason & preseason... and honestly nearly every year Reid has been here... I've collected some notes from around the net the Eagles WR situation.

Reggie Brown is due to break out... And I'm not the only one who thinks so!

Scouts Inc had an article in ESPN magazine about how most WRs have their breakout year in their sophomore season as opposed to year 3 as most people assume. They listed 3 specific guys heading into their second year that fantasy football owners should draft. Along with Matt Jones(Jax) & Roddy White(ATL), they included Reggie Brown and had this to say.
His speed and size are nothing special, but he consistently creates separations with his burst and quickness, So what if the Eagles run more in 2006? With a season under his belt and a healthy McNabb, Brown should maintain his rookie 2nd half production (34-463-4) over a full year.
For you stat gurus... his projected stats over 16 games as a starter going by last year's stats as a starter are: 64 catches, 823 yards, & 7 TDs. Playing with a healthy McNabb the whole time and not 7 of 9 games with Mike McMahon could easily push those numbers to the 75 catch, 1,000 yard, 10 TD level.

Lelie situation heating up?

The Denver Post talked about some happenings in the NFL that have heated up interest in disgruntled Broncos WR Ashley Lelie
The Broncos hope of trading holdout receiver Ashley Lelie improved after two major developments in the league.

In Minnesota, top receiver Koren Robinson was arrested on alcohol-related charges and could be suspended for a year by the NFL. The Vikings were light on receivers before the arrest and have an interest in Lelie.

In Philadelphia, coach Andy Reid said receiver Todd Pinkston is not progressing well from Achilles injuries. Like the Vikings, the Eagles are thin at the position. The Eagles have been linked to the Lelie talks several weeks.

Chicago is another team that has talked about Lelie.

The timing may be right, since trade value for Lelie could be lowered as the cut dates approach and receivers become available for no compensation costs.

Bob Grotz of the Delco Times claims to have a team source that says the Eagles would make a deal for Lelie if the price is right.
If Pinkston doesn't show enough progress, the Eagles might reconsider taking a shot at disgruntled Denver Broncos wide receiver Ashley Lelie, providing the price is right, according to a team source.

Lelie, formerly a first-round pick, would be worth probably a fourth-round pick according to sources. The Broncos, on the other hand, would take a solid defensive player or a running back in a deal.
Well, Pinkston has not shown enough progress as evidenced by Andy Reid not playing him in the Ravens game.

Jeremy Bloom to miss entire season?

I've already speculated several times that there was no chance Bloom would make the team this year...Butt the word is now that he could be put on IR for the whole season rather than cut and signed to the practice squad. Putting him on injured reserve would prevent him from playing at any time this year, but it would keep him on the team without using up a roster spot.

Les Bowen agrees

There also was no update on returner-receiver Jeremy Bloom's hamstring "tweak," but it sure seems likely to land the fifth-round rookie on injured reserve...
The Pass Rush is fixed...

I also wanted to pass along this very cool note about the defense... The Eagles defense has 16 sacks since the Hall of Fame Game opener against the Oakland Raiders Aug. 4.

Obviously it's quite early and several of those sacks came by the 2nd and 3rd team against the 2nd and 3rd team... However all you have to do is watch the games to see how well the team is pressuring the passer. The Eagles made a commitment to fixing the pass rush in the offseason and so far it is clearly paying dividends. The great thing is that for the most part they've done it with the front four, only 2 of those 16 sacks has not come from a defensive lineman. The vanilla, "don't show anything" defense the Birds use in the preseason has included very little blitzing. If defense is getting this kind of pressure with only the front four, it's exciting to think what will happen when Jim Johnson unleashes his blitz schemes...


Eagles 10, Ravens 20

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Friday night the Ravens beat the Eagles 20-10... but as usual in the preseason there's alot more important things to come out of the game than the final score.

So here we go with some thoughts on the game.

The big story was the return of Correll Buckhalter. Now, while the reviews have all been good thanks to his impressive 48 yard shuttle pass reception... but in general I was mixed in Buck. He deserves credit for the one big play, he showed vision and he ran well. However, outside of that there was little to see that made me feel like we are set at backup RB. He just flat out didn't have the explosiveness he used to. When he came into the league Buckhalter didn't just run hard, he was fast. He hit holes quick and hard, which is something he didn't do last night. Now, it's only his first game in over a year and I don't expect him to be back to form already... but when a guy has missed multiple seasons due to multiple knee injuries, it's fair to wonder whether his explosiveness will ever come back. I think he should be seeing significant time in the next 2 preseason games. It's not as if the Birds have anything to lose if he gets injured, the guy hasn't been part of the team for a long time now. After a good amount of playing time in 3 games, we should start to see if he can get back to where he was. I will give Buck credit for his blitz pickup, he did a solid job there with several nice blocks.

Continuing with the running backs, Ryan Moats was a disappointment. Fumbles, lack of production... He really did nothing. 7 attempts, 7 yards and a fumble. Like with Buckhalter however, I won't blow this too far out of proportion. Moats only started practicing again recently and this was only his first preseason game. He has to show some things in the last 2 games however.

McNabb showed some encouraging things yet again. The best of which was the way he moved around. It almost became easy to forget last year with his injury what Donovan is capable of with his feet. He was running around, evading would be sackers, buying himself time. If there was any doubt about how much his injury affected his play and ability to play the way he does... that doubt was gone this past game. McNabb was flat out not able to move like that last year it clearly limited him. As far as his passing though, there wasn't much to see. Combine the Eagles extremely vanilla, dumbed down preseason offense that Reid has become famous for since he arrived with the fact that receivers had trouble separating... and McNabb's options were clearly limited. There were lots of designed dump offs and screens, that was obvious. However, on those plays where McNabb was forced to dance around and run the receivers just flat out weren't getting open. He only completed one ball to a wideout and that was a screen to Reggie Brown. It was fun to see McNabb run the no huddle offense however.

One receiver who did get open was LJ Smith. He had 2 catches for 32 yards, including one very nice 21 yard catch and run over the middle. If the Eagles don't get more help at WR before the season, LJ is going to have to continue to build on his breakout year last year and be a big time contributor.

The first team defense was okay. Kearse got a sack, but in general they were pretty vanilla. There were a few blitzes, but for the most part they rushed 4 and hung other guys back. The Ravens has some success moving the ball, but mostly on short dumps and slants. I was a little disappointed with Matt McCoy, who had been impressing me so far this preseason. He got sealed off on a few blocks and let the RB turn the corner.

Brian Dawkins played like an absolute animal. He needs to play a regular season game before he explodes.

It looks like Hank Fraley is going to be the backup guard and center. He played some series at guard for the 2nd game in a row. I suppose you can't argue that he should provide solid veteran depth.

Jeremy Bloom finally got on the field and returned 2 kicks in the 2nd half. While he didn't anything special, he did flash some good speed. More than Reed, Wynn, or Perry for sure... Unfortunately, in those 2 returns Bloom was injured again. Andy says he "tweaked" his hamstring which has held him out of most of camp so far. Again, I don't see any way he makes this roster.

Overall the second teams didn't have alot of highlights. There were a few bright spots though.
Juqua Thomas had 2.5 sacks and played well, as he has all preseason long. It's definitely time to start working him in earlier in these games. He's clearly shown that he's on another level than the 3rd and 4th stringers he's played against so far.
Broderick Bunkley also looks like he's going to be playing himself into the starting lineup very soon, he had 1.5 sacks and was generally pushing his man back on seemingly every play. He also is clearly on another level than the 3rd stringers he's played against.
Jabar Gaffney also had a decent game with 4 catches for 37 yards, however I'm not encouraged by seeing a guy who was a starting WR in this league last year play well against a bunch of guys that may never see an NFL snap.
Omar Gaither continues to look like he was a steal late in the draft. He's been playing tough and aggressive all preseason and continues to make plays. He should provide very solid depth behind Trotter this year.

In the end, the first team offense & defense left at the half with a 10-3 lead. They've left every game with a lead so far and that's encouraging.

Next up are the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, which should be an interesting game. Not a good one... it'll just be interesting to see how much the Eagles actually play. Normally a team's biggest preseason game is it's 3rd, that's the game the starters usually play the most. That was the Ravens game for the Eagles. Typically in the 4th and final preseason game the starters get a quick look and get off the field to avoid injury. This is the Eagles' 4th, yet not final preseason game and the Steelers' 3rd. I would imagine that the Eagles starters will see no more than a quarter, while the Steelers' should see a half. I'm actually looking forward to seeing some of the Eagles standout reserves like Bunkley, J Thomas, & Gaither take on the Champs' first team. It'll also be a nice test for Buckhalter and Moats to prove that they are getting back into shape.
ape.


Photos from Training Camp

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Bleeding Green Live at Eagles Training Camp!

I was able to get up to Lehigh and catch the final day of open practices at Eagles TC yesterday. It was a hot day, but the place was packed and the atmosphere was overall very cool. I know everyone always says it, but if you've never been to training camp you really should go next year. There's nothing like hanging out 6 feet from the players and hearing them joke and talk Xs & Os.

Here's some of my observations.

Pinky and Greg Lewis switched jerseys at TC yesterday. It prompted a bunch of people around me to remark about how well Pinky was moving. I must have had to repeat myself 5 times that it clearly not Pinky wearing the #87 Pinkston jersey.

Also, Marty Johnson was wearing #36, although with no name. That seemed to fool alot of people that Westy was practicing.

I don't see anyway Bloom makes the team. He will get cut and resigned to the practice squad. He's not even the 3rd string KR, he took NO reps returning kicks. How it is that a guy drafted solely to return kicks can't even a rep during a non contact TC drill is beyond me. (I only caught the afternoon practice. If he took reps in the AM let me know). The only drills he was in were as a 3rd or 4th team WR and as a 2nd or 3rd team onside kick coverage.

Dawkins made 2 picks and looks to be in midseason form. Plus he signed my Eagles Insider.... :D

Buckhalter ran well. Obviously it's no indication as to how he'll perform in an actual game, but looks to be moving well in practice.

Gaffney made the grab of the day. It was on a pass from Koy that was maybe a half step overthrown that Jabar grabbed with his fingertips. Hank Baskett has yet to not catch a ball from what I've seen. Reggie Brown looked good, especially on a quick out where he caught a ball and immediately darted past everyone upfield.

Gocong is lining up at the SAM spot. I know some people had said he'd revert back to a DE this year... but he was definetly playing SAM with the 2nd team yesterday.

I also can't see how Timmy Chang makes the team. He was bad yesterday. He threw alot of balls in the dirt and over heads, plus he threw several picks. 2 to Dawkins and one to Gaither if memory serves me. Koy looked alot sharper IMO.

Finally a funny note is what the Eagles have out there for you to buy. Now there's a billion different things in their Merch tent... but the funniest thing is the jerseys. In one afternoon I saw Eagles fans wearing 9 different versions of a McNabb jersey. I saw all 3 regular colors(black, white, & green), 2 versions of pink jerseys(both the all pink and the white with pink accents), a McNabb pro bowl jersey, a white with green pastel and rhinestones McNabb jersey, a McNabb Syracuse jersey(admittedly the Eagles don't sell that), and finally a Red McNabb training camp jersey a guy was wearing.

Later today I'll post a bunch of the pictures I took at camp.


NFC East is falling apart

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The so called "best division in football" is in rough shape. A look around the news stories this morning shows a bunch of bad news for several of the NFC East teams.

First and foremost is the shoulder injury to Redskins RB Clinton Portis. Considering Portis is the Redskins offense(gaining over 1,500 yds on the ground last year), this is bad news for them. He suffered the injury, which was confirmed by an MRI ina preseason game against the Bengals. So far the only word is that he's out "indefinetly." "Right now, it's tough to say," coach Joe Gibbs said. "Obviously, it's going to be a while."

Second is the major problems going on with the New York Giants. Both Lavar Arrington and Carlos Emmons, their two starting outside LBers, have been injured all preseason and are still not healthy. Those injuries and the loss of Strahan for their first preason game led to thier defense getting shredded by Baltimore.

The biggest and most obvious weakness coming into the season on the Giants is the interior of their defensive line. They lost a quality player in Kendrick Clancy and made no major moves moves to replace him. They instead decided to rely on former 1st round pick(and so far bust) William Joseph, who routinely tends to dissapear in games. The tough NY media and fans are starting to turn on the guy heavily... what's worse is that he's refused to address the media since he was drafted in 03. So fans and media alike have been left wondering who he is and if he has any explanation for his poor play.

In response to the general bad play from his defensive line, coach Tom Coughlin unleashed this gem..
"I will never use that – you know, this guy was here, that guy was there," Coughlin said. "I thought we were soft up front, to be honest with you."
That's right, he calls them soft. Now, maybe he thinks this will motivate his team? Not quite, they've already fired back at him. Pro Bowl DE Osi Umenyora came out against Coughlin in an article in the NY Daily news today after a team meeting where Coughlin reportedly blasted the defensive line.
"Obviously, I'm the worst defensive end in all of football after hearing the comments that were made in there," he said. "At this point in my career I feel like I know when I made a mistake. There's nothing a coach can say to me that I haven't said to myself 10 times already. As soon as I mess up, I know. So you don't have to do that to me."
Bad news for all of them... good news for the Eagles.


Eagles 20, Browns 7: Can I get a R-B?

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Last night's game was very interesting. A few of the guys who had a tough time in the HoF game bounced back, and a several of the guys who palyed wel against Oakland continued to play well. Although some didn't, and a few serious concerns at skill positions are emerging.

Quote of the night: by Jaworski "Put the ball in the Baskett". His new plan for the Eagles offense to utilize Hank Baskett.

Stat of the night: On the ETN broadcast, they said that 19 or 20 of the projected starters on the Eagles are homegrown Eagles draft picks. Compare that to the Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys who project to start 12, 10, and 7 former draft picks repectively. The prospect of Dallas only starting 7 former picks is an embrassment, that's not how you build a winning football team.

Let's get to some game thoughts

  • Reno Mahe is not a starting RB or even suitable backup. The offense did not run the ball nearly as effectively as they did against Oakland and it was obvious to see that Reno simply does not hit holes as quick and decisively as Westbrook or even Moats. Not even close. I have to admit that he has skill catching the ball out of the backfield, but we can never rely on this guy to run the ball with any frequency and expect to win. This team needs another RB. I don't think they need a starter, but they need someone more capable than Mahe.
  • Did anyone find it odd that the Eagles wore white uniforms at home? I don't remember them doing that very often
  • Not only is Baskett ahead of Jabar Gaffney and Greg Lewis on the WR depth chart, so is Jason Avant. That's bad news. The fact that Gaffney and Lewis have done so poorly in camp that this team is forced to start a rookie and an undrafted rookie free agent is bad news. It seems obvious to me that we can not rely on Pinkston, Gaffney and Lewis won't cut it, and we can not expect Baskett and Avant to be starting WRs all year. That's alot to ask of a 1st round pick WR, let alone these guys. Going into the season with your top 3 WRs having a grand total of one half year of starting experience is suicide.
  • Now, it wasn't all bad by any means. McNabb looked crisp again. However, other than the one brilliant 33 yd pass to Baskett on the sideline... #5 wasn't really asked to make many tough throws. Also, his protection from the first team O-Line was very, very good.
  • I can't ignore Hank Baskett anymore. I'm still not comfortable at all with starting him at WR all year, but no one can say this guy doesn't look like an NFL calibre WR right now. Unlike Blly McMullen, Bskett has size and uses it. He has good hands and clearly gives maximum effort. I honestly think that not getting drafted was the greatest thing that ever happened to this kid. I can't say that he wouldn't have given this effort if he was drafted, but he is clearly playing a like a guy that is desperate to make the team and that's encouraging to see.
  • Michael Lewis was very active as was Matt McCoy(again). Both of those guys seemed to be around the ball every play. McCoy showed more of his incredibly high motor and Mike Lewis was just playing mean.
  • The starting defensive line brought pressure constantly. They really seem to be as scary as advertised. So far, the real star of the line is clearly Darren Howard.
  • LJ Smith was absolutely abused trying to block. He looked good out catching balls and running after the catch, but he was pushed around several times in run blocking.
  • Spadaro eating ice cream on the sideline was maybe the lamest on air plug I've ever seen. Just cut to an Eagles ice cream commercial and don't force the guy to do stuff like that.
  • Jeff Garcia deserves praise. He had a tough time in the Raiders game, but really bounced back with a solid performance
  • Bunkley came in and nearly got a sack on his 3rd play... Not bad. Hopefully he gets in full football shape soon
  • The Jerome McDougle sack was a great moment. He owned the tackle he was against, lowered his should and ran right around the guy. The crowd gave him a great cheer and the whole team was clearly very excited for the guy. Kearse was on the sidelines with McDougle after the play for several minutes jumping around and congratulating him. It was nice to see guys acting like teammates and being happy that another guy made a good play... Rather then a guy complaing he didn't catch the first down that the QB just threw...
  • Jeremy Bloom was in commercials during both this game and the last... yet has not been in an actual game yet.
  • JR Reed again played very well at safety, although no longer looks like he can be an effective returner.
  • The NFL network did an odd thing at halftime of their game reply. The game started with the Eagles television network coverage of the game, but at halftime swtiched to the local Browns' coverage
My stock up/stock down

Up - Garcia, Mike Lewis, Gaither, Baskett, McDougle, Lajuan Ramsey, Reed

Down - Mahe, William Thomas, LJ, Gaffney, Greg Lewis


Eagles v Browns Tonight

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The Eagles return to the Linc tonight in their "preseason home opener"... or I as I like to call it "the game where the fans pay full price to see Andy Thorn and Timmy Chang play..."

We may see a bit more of the starters in this game, but usually the starters only see significant time in the 2nd and 3rd preseason game. With the extra game this year the Eagles starter will probably see the most time in the 3rd and 4th game. Reid claims that the first teams will play 1 1/2 quarters... however he said they'd play a full quarter last game and they cleary did not.

The big news for this game is that we'll see 1st round pick Broderick Bunkley for the first time. He'll play tonight, less than a week after reporting to camp.

We won't be seeing 4 running backs including Westbrook, Moats(who is back practicing BTW), Perry, and Buckhalter. The Eagles actually had to sign a free agent RB(Marty Johnson = who?) to fill in. Reno Mahe, Thomas Tapeh, Johnson, and UDFA fullback Jason Davis should get some carries. Darwin Walker and Todd Pinkston will both also be out, plus there's still no signs of Jeremy Bloom or Chris Gocong.

It should be interesting to see the Eagles first team offense take on the Browns 3-4 defense. The Eagles have traditionally struggled against 3-4 defenses, something that Hank Fraley has taken alot of blame for. His ability to play with a nosetackle lined up right on top of him has been exploited by teams like Pittsburgh and New England. It should be interesting to see new how the line with Jackson at center performs.

Check back here the day after the game for my notes and thoughts...


Eagles 10, Raiders 16: Encouraging signs

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It's still very early, and we only saw the starters for a series or so... but you have to be encouraged by what you saw from the Eagles last night. If they play nearly as well as they did last night we should be in for very good things things this year.

Also, before we hit the game notes great job by the Eagles in extending Dawkins contract and likely making it so he'll finish his career as an Eagles. He's been one fo the great players and franchise history and has defined that defense for nearly the past decade.

Some Game thoughts:

  • Darren Howard absolutely dominated Robert Gallery(as did everyone the Eagles sent out against him). Howard was in the backfield stuffing the run or hitting the passer all three plays in the first 3 & out the Eagles forced to open the game. In the second series, he was just as active and when he moved inside for the pass rush he brought tremendous pressure that pushed Aaron Brooks right into Trent Cole's arms. The whole starting defensive line looked fantastic, but Howard clearly stood out.
  • How about that up the gut running? The Eagles took their opening drive down the field with ease to score the first touchdown of the game. The drive was clearly on the back of Brian Westbrook as Reid sent him right up the middle behind Jackson, Andrews, and Herremans, all of whom seemed to bully the Raiders defensive line around. Andy really seemed to send a message running the ball to start the game. Westbrook looked very crisp as well.
  • McNabb looked very good in his extremely limited time. He only played one series, but went 3 for 3 and made three accurate bullet passes to Baskett, Brown, and Westbrook.
  • Winston Justice stood out in the 2nd team offense absolutely pancaking his man on more than one occasion.
  • Did everyone see JR Reed running witht eh 2nd team defense? He actually seemed to play pretty well at safety.
  • Akers couldn't have hit that 55 yarder(a HOF game record) more perfectly. He looked in midseason form already
  • Matt McCoy played alot. He ran with the first team defense and was still in the game in the 3rd quarter. I'm not sure anyone else played that much. Other than one very stupid late hit that an NFL starter shouldn't be taking... He looked fairly good, especially against the run and seemed to have a very high motor.
  • There wasn't much to see in the 2nd half as both teams deep bench players didn't seem to do much.


Common Threads Emerge

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First off, I wanna say that as I write this I'm watching a Ravens/Redskins intersquad scrimmage on the NFL network. This is either really cool, or the most pointless thing on TV. I haven't decided yet...

Second, the quote of camp so far comes from McNabb. McNabb said, "If it means I have to run more for us to move the chains, then that's what I'll do."

There's a nonstop flow of reports and info coming out of training camp at any given time. Every media outlet in Philly, NJ, & Delaware is there on a daily basis, the Eagles website is live practically all the time from training camp,and the national media have all stopped by to spend time as well. The interesting thing is that in combing through the mountain of info that the media is churning is out, a few "common threads" start to emerge. When multiple sources all seem to start saying the same things they seem more and more true. Let's check out some of the more popular points being made.

1) There's a new mood at camp. Everyone from Pat Kirwan at NFL.com, Peter King of SI, Charles Robinson of yahoo sports, and most every local media source has commented on the positive atmosphere at camp.

Kirwan wrote
Contrary to popular opinion, the team has not fallen apart with the departure of No. 81. In fact, it is safe to say that the 2006 Eagles have moved on. A year ago to the day you could cut the tension with a knife at practice. Now Reid's biggest challenge may be to throttle back the players' enthusiasm so they don't leave their best efforts on the practice field.
Robinson wrote
McNabb turned and took an energetic trot toward the coaches. For a moment, the man who has known little more than pain and controversy for over a year looked genuinely happy. It's a common thread in this training camp, which rolled into full gear this week without major controversy. In other words, nobody showed up in the parking lot rocking army fatigues and headphones and looking like a hybrid of Chuck Norris and Jay-Z. And while the memory of Terrell Owens hasn't exactly been wiped away completely, he's at least been demoted to a second-string topic of conversation.

It sounds absurd, but there is no more dividing up loyalties like a United Nations debate. No more McNabb Bloc. No more Owens Bloc. No more guys stuck in between. The locker room has been devoid of paranoia. The situation got so out of whack last season even a guy like mild-mannered offensive lineman Shawn Andrews began to wonder about the frequent hushed conversations.

"It's really a breath of fresh air," Andrews said. "This year, it's not about what such and such did, or such and such said. This year, guys are playing around. There aren't guys sitting at their lockers whispering. After a while, you'd see guys sitting there whispering, and I'd start to think, 'Are they talking about me?' "

2) LJ Smith is ready to take the next step. I wrote about the quiet breakout season LJ had last year amidst everything else earlier this year. Now, the national media is coming aboard. Peter King(Sports Illustrated) and Len Pasquarelli(ESPN) both raved about him in their columns about Eagles camp. Plus there was my favorite story from camp so far...
During a Tuesday morning "team" drill, tight end L.J. Smith gathered in a pass in the short left flat, turned upfield, and absolutely annihilated backup safety Quintin Mikell with an ear-splitting collision that seemed to echo through the entire Lehigh Valley. The "de-cleater," in which Smith simply mowed down Mikell, certainly brought the throaty Eagles fans to their feet. It was also indicative, said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, of the manner in which Smith performed in the offseason.
Peter King wrote
I think I will be extremely surprised if tight end LJ Smith isn't in the Pro Bowl this year. Smith is a man. If I were a safety and he was coming down the middle, I would think Mark Bavaro was heading my way.
Reggie Brown is going to have a microscope on him this year. We already knew this was true about Eagles fans. He supposed to be our savior at WR and make us at least start to forget about TO. It may be too much to ask of the kid, but it seems like he's got the right attitude. He's accepted that he's the #1 guy

The Eagles website quoted Reggie and Reid
"It's always exciting when you're the No. 1 guy for the first time," Brown said. "But I'm trying to really not worry about it ...make plays and do what I do."

"He'll work as hard or harder than anybody on this team at what he does," head coach Andy Reid said. "He's hard to tire out, man. He'll keep going. When (Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach) Jon Gruden had him in the Senior Bowl, that was the thing he told me, 'You can't wear this guy out. He just keeps rolling.'

"He just pushes, pushes and pushes every play. So, with that, I don't think he's too worried about the other things. He's concentrating on his job and doing it the right way. He tries to improve every practice and he seems to do that"

Len Paquarelli dedicated an entire article to Reggie and quoted him as being ready to step up as the #1
"They've put [the No. 1 label] on me and I'm happy to have it," said Brown, who at times wasn't even the lead receiver on his college team. "They don't seem to have a problem with it, so why should I? If they felt like someone else [here] was the top guy, then it would be him. If they felt like there was someone better that they could go get, they'd probably go and get him, because that's the nature of his business. But I feel like it's my place on this team … and I'm definitely ready for it."
Pat Kirwan loves Reggie
The Eagles have to figure out who their wide receivers will be before the summer is over, and after a few practices, here's my take on the situation. Reggie Brown deserves the hype he's been getting as an emerging star. After watching him run precision routes and catch balls with ease, I would say he's headed for a 75-reception, 1,000-yard season. As Reid said about Brown, "He's smooth, runs the short crossing routes we like to feature, and he handles himself like a real pro." Sheppard seconds that evaluation, and Dawkins added that his precision route running makes him difficult to cover off his breaks.
Peter King wrote
The second-year kid looks stronger then he did a year ago, and he appears to be better as a sure-handed sideline receiver. You can see how much faith McNabb has in him with the way they communicate in and around the huddle. My guess is he'll lead all Philly receivers with about 70 catches.
Charles Robinson
When Reggie Brown turned the corner on a double reverse on Monday, quarterback Donovan McNabb swept into his wake, laughing and clapping as he watched his new No. 1 wide receiver run for a 30-yard touchdown.

McNabb wheeled toward the sideline and pointed at seemingly everyone and no one, and he barked to the crowd of fans and reporters.

"You will be seeing that!" he said.

Plus, nearly everyone has written about Jerome McDougle. The consensus is that he looks good, but mostly the national and local media are just blown away by his story. If he plays well and the Eagles win this year, he's going to be an absolute media darling and fans are going to love him. McDougle is an absolute badass... After he was shot, he tried to chase down the guys that shot him
"I knew I was shot," he said. "I wanted to get those guys. My adrenaline was going. They got me once in abdomen. I was about to get out of the car, and that's when they shot me. The flash from the gun temporarily blinded me, and after everything became clear, I was after them."

Undrafted rookie free agent Hank Baskett has seemed to draw praise from everyone and he's been running with the first team. People have talked about his size and strength... although unfortunately I always remember hearing the same stuff about Billy McMullen, so we'll see...

The Birds kick off the NFL Preseason today against the Raiders in the Hall of Fame game. 1st thru 4th string will each play 1 quarter says Andy Reid. Check here the day after the game for my full observations.




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