All – Time Eagles Training Camp Team

One of the reasons I love training camp is because of camp stand outs.  It’s hard to explain the feeling but it’s great to project what a particular player might do during the regular if season if or when he makes the team.  Over the years there have been a number of players I thought and I’m sure most others thought were going to be great Eagles moving forward.  All these players flashed and made plays against 3rd and 4th level competition leaving us to believe the same plays could be made when the lights were bright during the regular season.  Here are a number of players who turned who heads during camp and pre-season but couldn’t play a lick when it really mattered:

Kevin Kolb – He was supposed to lead the Eagles in the post McNabb era.  He was going to be the next great Eagles QB.  He threw a pretty ball and could make all the throws.  The 3 seasons leading up to his 2010 opening day start he led the NFL during the pre season in attempts and completions.  He was a star at Lehigh.  I often talk among friends “who was the player you thought would be great?”  My answer is always Kevin Kolb.  Kolb like most QB’s had a few flaws.  One that sticks out was his inability to stand strong in the pocket.  He developed the Bobby Hoying disease and never recovered.

Hank Baskett – He looked the part.  Tall, fast and never dropped a ball.  Undrafted he jumped off the screen.  He played so well during camp he started the 2006 HOF game against the raiders catching a ball on the first play (that classed Andy 5-7 yard hitch throw).  He was going to be the deep threat the Eagles needed.  Baskett did produce a little over his career catching a few touchdowns.  When he did catch balls they went for 90 plus.  Hank Baskett was on that 2009 Colts team that lost to the Saints in the SB.  If you remember he bobbled the second half onside kick which the saints recovered.

Joe Mays – Mays was going to be a 3 down thumper and ultimately be in the Pro Football HOF.  Mays was a developmental player from North Dakota State.  Wentz was in middle school when Mays was turning heads with the Eagles.  I’m sure he selected NDSU because Mays went there.  Mays was built like a rock.  He looked as if he was wearing pads when he wasn’t.  Mays like Hank Baskett played on a few teams.  Had a small little career with the Broncos, Chiefs and Chargers.  Not quite the HOF player he was projected as.

Michael Gaspherson – Undrafted from San Diego Michael Gaspherson never dropped a ball from 2005-2008 during camp.  He was arguably the best 7 on 7 player I’ve ever seen. I remember seeing him play in one game during the 2006 season against the Saints in the Super Dome.

Trevard Lindley – Lindley was supposed to start opposite Asante Samuel for a decade.  Selected 105th in the 4th round from Kentucky he made a number of nice plays in camp. Ultimately he couldn’t bring that to the big stage.  He floundered around at the bottom of the roster for a few years.  He’s played in Canada and in the developmental FXFL.  Not the player the Eagles thought they were selecting.

Andy Studebaker – The Eagles draft plan essentially during Andy’s entire career here was to take undersized defensive ends from the mid-late rounds and try and develop them into stars (see Brian Smith).  Not undersized players from the SEC but undersized players from off the grid.  Studebaker was selected in the 6th round of the 08 draft from Wheaton College.  He flashed during the preseason.  Making plays off the edge and looked like an All Pro in shells.  Too undersized he never could be a real contributor.  He did carve out a few season playing with the Eagles, Chiefs, Jags, Colts (2) and Titans.  He last played during the 2015 team season with Indy.

Lorenzo Booker – Dave Spadaro was foaming at the mouth at the “3 Headed Monster” the Eagles were going to form at the RB spot.  Booker was cat quick.  He was the 3rd back behind Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter.  He never actually did anything accept fumble and eventually was released.

Paul Turner – The jury is still out on PT Cruiser but what he did last year is exactly what a  Training Camp standout is supposed to be.  The fans loved him and called for him (me included) when this WR core struggled during the year.  He made amazing one handed catches, returned punts and did everything and more.  Time will tell if he’ll make the team this year but expect more of the same during the 2017 camp.

There are no doubt other guys, these are just a few that stood out.

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Training Camp Podcast coming soon!

 

Inside the NFC East – Pre Training Camp Edition

We are on the eve of 2017 NFL Training Camps.  We’ll have more on the impending Eagles camp later in the week and during next week but I think it’s important to take the pulse of the other NFC East teams as the stand currently.  Training Camp is where NFL teams bond and form the culture they hope will take them to the Super Bowl at years end.  Although training camp starts for all teams with in a day or 2 not all of these teams I would say are in the right place as a team.

Let’s take a look at the Redskins.  This team is turning into a real dumpster fire right before our eyes.  Everyone is aware of what has happened with Kirk Cousins.  Let’s take a look at what has transpired.  July 17 was the deadline for tag players to get a deal done with the team.  Obviously a deal did not get done but it’s what transpired afterwards that’s odd.  The front office came out publicly and revealed what they had offered.  They wanted to make Kirk the highest paid player in the league in terms of guaranteed money.  Numbers were floated around over $70 million in totality.  What the Redskins aren’t letting us know is the length the contract.  It turns out this deal was short on guaranteed years which the Cousins camp didn’t even feel the need to respond too.  At this point the Redskins should consider trading him.  If he’s not even going to respond to contract offers from the team it doesn’t sound like he has plans to re up at the end of the year.  Ian  Rapaport of NFL.com talked with a number of Redskins players who all said they are siding with Kirk Cousins on this.  On the eve of camp the Redskins are a mess and the as usual the Redskins Front Office is taking a leading role.  It’s not a good look when the team is making their start QB look greedy through the media.  The Eagles battle these bozos week one.

It’s a little more quiet in northern Jersey.  The big story around Giants camp is whether start WR ODB Jr will show up.  Depending on how you talk to the Giants are the odds on favorite to win the east this year.  They have a stacked team on both sides of the ball.  Although the offensive line is the weak point of the team in my opinion they are no doubt a tough team.  The Eagles are familiar with star WR getting in the way of a camp atmosphere.  This can no doubt be a distraction.  Let’s see how it plays out.

The Cowboys are once again in the news for all the wrong reasons.  The questions of camp for Dallas have subsided and now have turned wether Zeke will be suspended or not.  This will certainly be a distraction for the Dallas Cowboys.  Pair this with the other off the field issues that just happened this cat needs to get his act together.  The Cowboys OL will be interesting to watch.  With La’El Collins kicking out to RT taking over the Doug Free they will be a solid group but the depth could be an issue if any injuries were to happen.  They aren’t alone in the lack of depth.  Most teams struggle with major injuries along the OL.

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New Eagles Podcast coming soon!

 

NFL vs NBA Salary Debate

Every July, like clock work we get into the NFL vs NBA salary debate.  Year after year we hear from NFL players about how they don’t get paid enough and they need to be taken care of financially.  Lets not forget that most of these cats will make more in a few years than most of us in a lifetime but I digress.  Let’s not also forget that the simple math doesn’t add up.  They payroll list on an NFL team is a lot longer than an NBA team.  We all know the math and quite frankly it’s irrelevant as far as I’m concerned.  I actually agree with the NFL players here.  They are more at risk on a game to game basis (minus Kickers and Punters).

Richard Sherman was quoted as saying if NFL players want change they need to “miss game checks.”  He’s right.  He’s 100% percent right.  Players fought for change in the 1987 strike and ultimately got some of what they were asking for.  In 4-5 years the NFL and NFLPA will be back at the table battling it out for what they view as fair.  The problem is I’d be shocked if there was a strike.  What Richard Sherman forgets is 95% of the league isn’t in his position and can’t afford to “miss game checks.”  The average career of an NFL player is 3.3 years.  The remaining 5% can’t afford to not be playing.  The NFL pie is far from equal.  They’re more guys at the bottom of the barrel than the top.  Compare that to the NBA where the average career is double at over 6 years with an average total pay of over $24 million.  It’s easier to miss a game check in the NBA than the NFL.

We also had to hear from Sammy Watkins who believes he should also be paid more.  This was flat out laughable from a guy who can’t even dress for 16 games.  I put more stock in what Richard Sherman thinks in this case.

Training camp starts in one week.  Nothing better than when the pads start cracking.

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New Training Camp podcast coming next week.

 

 

 

No Huddle: The Carson Wentz Factor

This Eagles team is starting to come together as a complete unit.  You get the sense when you listen to these guys speak about one another they truly care about one another.  From the OTA’s to mandatory mini – camps I’ve been getting the same vibes.  This is the first time I’ve felt this way since the 2010 team.  I really felt that team was a true team after the “Miracle at the Meadowlands 2.”  Only a close knit group could come back from 21 down with a little over 7 minutes remaining in the contest.  From the 2011 infamous Dream Team to 2015 where Chip Kelly insisted he wasn’t GM I never got the sense these dudes cared.  I said this for years on the Podcast that these guys were just a collection of guys that happen to be wearing the same jersey.  That’s not the case anymore.  There’s been a change for the better and it’s due in part to Carson Wentz.

Wentz is developing into a true leader right before our eyes.  Right now he and the other skill position players are bonding in North Dakota.  It’s good for these guys to get away.  A little bonding down time will help them get through the dog days of August and a hot training camp.  The idea is that this carries over to the field during the regular season.  This type of camaraderie sets the tone for giving max effort on the field.  Guys fighting for extra yards, peeling back for a second block during a long run.  Who knows, we might even see Zach Ertz break a tackle.  I’m joking about Ertz but this is the type of play that can come out of this.  During the 2016 season when I really saw this becoming a factor.  Credit also needs to be giving to Head Coach Doug Pederson and GM Howie Roseman.  Roseman set the tone of the off season by investing in his own guys as opposed other teams players in that 2016 off season.  A strategy I’ve lamented for years.  It’s good to see the Eagles taken care of “their” players.  Doug’s done a good job instilling a winning attitude as well.

All this is great but it really goes back to Wentz in my opinion.  If they’re isn’t a true leader at the QB position guys get lost in the shuffle.  Carson Wentz is a guy who gives it his all and expects the same in return.  Since 2011 I don’t know if the Eagles players felt that way about their leader and Head Coach.  We got glimpses of this on the field with Michael Vick but his off the field leadership wasn’t much.

Photo Credit – Bleeding Green Nation

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New Eagles Podcast coming next weekend with our training camp preview.

What’s the best Eagles road trip this year?

It’s always fun to roll into opposing team’s territory flying your team flag.  It’s a blast to see your boys battle it out on the road.  There’s a special bond you feel when it’s an Eagles Road trip.  I’ve made a couple trips such as this over the years and they keep getting better and better.  During the 2017 season fans will have a nice opportunity to take some cool trips.  There are some close proximity games as usual and if you’re feeling really adventurous there’s a number of west coast games as well.  Here’s how I would rank them counting down from 8-1.

8.  FED EX FIELD – If you haven’t taken road trip thus far and want to test the waters before taking a big trip Fed Ex Field is a good place to start.  It’s a little over 2 hours from the trip-state area and relatively easy to get to.  I’ve seen a couple games down there and there’s good visibility through out the stadium.  The Eagles play the Redskins week 1 so this game will have some juice no questions asked.  The stadium itself isn’t the greatest.  It’s an older stadium compared to the newer stadiums in the league.  Parking absolutely blows.  There’s one road in and one road out so plan accordingly.

7.  BANK OF AMERICA STADIUM – Eagles travel down to North Carolina during week 6 of the NFL season.  Carolina is an easy flight and relatively cheap by all means so this trip has some possibilities.  Charlotte itself is a great city.  This game is very interesting for the Eagles because after this game they have 3 winnable home games.  Hopefully they’ll stay focused.

6.  CENTURYLINK FIELD – Seattle fans suck.  If you want to listen to pathetic pumped in crowd noise then this is this stadium for you.  Where sunglasses because with all the bright green and yellow you’re bound strain your eyes.  The Eagles played up there last year in what was no doubt a tough/frustrating game.  This game would rank higher on my list if it wasn’t for the amount of travel.  It’s two full days there and back with time travel so that eats into the fun.  The Eagles head out there week 12 in early December.  Weather could be an issue that could effect air travel.

5.  METLIFE STADIUM – Throughout the last couple years Metlife Stadium has been a home away from home for the Eagles.  Eagles Giants games are always fun.  If we were ranking this list based on the stadium itself it would be higher but compared to the other road games this is a good spot.  A short drive straight up I95 and the Jersey turnpike for about an Hour 45 and you’re there.  This game will no doubt have a good atmosphere as all these games do.  The Eagles travel up there in week 15.  This game could have major playoff implications.

4.  AT&T STADIUM – There’s nothing better than watching the Eagles get a w in a 100,000 seat capacity dump.  Winning games in Dallas is as sweet as it gets.  The Eagles will go down to Dallas for there usual Sunday Night dust up with the Cowboys.  All jokes aside this stadium is very nice.  The monster TV over the field only enhances the experience.  Much like the Giants games the Eagles always play the Cowboys well and usually split over the course of season.  The Eagles usually play the Cowboys during weeks 7-10 of the season.  Travel could be tough around Thanksgiving time but this is always a good game.

3.  STUBHUB CENTER – The Eagles are making their return to LA this year.  The Last time the Eagles played a football game in LA they were wearing Kelly Green.  This will be one of the most interesting games of the year.  The StubHub Center is a temporary stadium the Chargers will play in for 2 years.  This stadium only seats 30,000 people.  It will be a different atmosphere.  It ranks this high on our list because of LA.  Although flights are expensive and the city is no doubt expensive it doesn’t get better the LA LA land.  The Chargers throughout their history have always played the Eagles tough.

2.  LA MEMORIAL COLISEUM – There’s nothing better than the Coliseum.  This iconic stadium has held everything from Super Bowls to College Bowl games.  It’s a fixture in the LA community.  What makes this road game intriguing is where it fits on the schedule.  This game is paired with the Seahawks game.  The Eagles will be staying on the West Coast in between games.  If you’re going out for the Seattle game it won’t cost you too much more to get down to LA for the following week.  I only wish Jeff Fisher was still coaching the Rams.

1.  ARROWHEAD STADIUM – Arrowhead seats over 76,000 people.  This stadium is a one of the best.  It’s not new but it’s history and fanbase make it special.  There’s nothing better than a reunion with Andy Reid either.  This game is in an interesting spot for the Eagles.  A week 2 tussle in KC following a week 1 bout in DC.  If the Eagles aren’t careful they could be looking at 0-2 and maybe 0-3 with the Giants a week later.  Arrowhead is a loud stadium.  Much better than the artificial garbage in the Northwest.  If you’re picking a game this year this is my number 1 choice.

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New Eagles Podcast coming soon!

Defensive Line facing the most pressure entering 2017

There’s no doubt Carson Wentz will be facing the pressure this season.  A lack luster second half led to some ups and downs during his rookie year.  I expect more of the same from Wentz this year.  I believe he’ll be better but there will still be growing pains.  It happens with all young QBs.  All the pressure for me falls on the defensive line.  This unit needs to be better both against the run and the pass.  Timmy Jernigan and Chris Long have been added and will surely help the depth along the line.  Going into 2016 the DL was going to reck havoc on opposing Offensive Lines.  Brandon Graham was a bright spot.  He continued to make plays but really wasn’t able to finish at the QB.  Fletcher Cox led the team in sacks but based on his contract and 15 production he didn’t live up to his or our standards.  Did Vinny Curry dress for any games during the 2016 season?  He wasn’t quite 100% dealing with an MCL sprain for part of the season but injuries are no excuse.  He was paid a lot of money and didn’t produce at all.  I can guarantee the Eagles have looked at ways to get out of his contract in the future.

As our Eagles wrap up another week of OTA’s and head towards training camp the success of this season and DL is tied together.  This Eagles defense as a whole is in transition.  At every level of the defense the Eagles have a playmaker.  By my count with age as a factor they have three individuals they can build around.  Again I mentioned age as a factor so take out the Malcom Jenkins of the world.  At 30 years old he’s not a player the Eagles can necessarily build around for years to come.  He’s a win now player.  That being said this DL can mask some of the problems in the secondary.  The Eagles will struggle against the pass this year.  They have some young DB’s they think can ultimately produce a solid tandem going back to the Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent days followed by the Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown days.  A solid, stout fundamental DL can help with pass defense.  The addition of 1st Round Pick Derek Barnett and 6th round Elijah Qualls will certainly boost the play of this unit.  By all accounts Barnett has been impressive during practice so far.  It will be fun to see what he does in pads during camp when the hitting begins.

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New Eagles podcast coming soon!

 

Are the Eagles accelerating their plan?

The Eagles made a surprise signing yesterday with the addition of LeGarrette Blount.  We know they desperately needed another running back.  Blount is the downhill physical healthy back the Eagles need.  Ryan Mathews was physical and did all he could but injuries sidelined him and he was unfortunately know help.  With the signing of Blount the Eagles will eventually save $4 million by cutting Mathews.  As of now he’s still on the roster but I don’t expect him to be here once camp starts.  Blount finished the year ranked 39th in RB rankings according to Pro Football Focus with an overall grade of 68.0.  Although he ranks out of the top 32 starting backs these numbers don’t tell the story.

Blount finished 8th last year in the league in rushing with 1,161 yards on 299 carries.  He won’t see nearly that amount in this offense but he’s a weapon the Eagles haven’t had.  My question is where do the Eagles find themselves after this signing?  Have they accelerated their plan to compete?  LeGarrette Blount is 30 years old and will be 31 during the season.  They’ve made some moves this year that I would not have based on where I thought they were.  Hindsight is 20/20 because I would not have signed both Jeffrey and Smith and preferred a young WR through the draft but after Davis was taken 5th we knew that wasn’t an option.  I still think this team is 2 years away from really competing with the big boys.  The Eagles need to finish over .500 this year with meaningful games in December or Doug Pederson is in some serious trouble.  I don’t expect Dallas to be as good but they’ll still be a handful.  The Giants are much improved while the Redskins are in transition.

This offense has the potential to be very good.  Ultimately the defense, specifically the secondary will hold them back.  Teams will exploit the Eagles on the outside through the early part of the season.  The front 7 will have to get home.  That will do a great job in helping out this secondary.  That being said it will be fun to watch this team grow through the off season and regular season.  They have some pieces in place.

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Photo Credit – philadelphiaeagles.com