Friday, June 19, 2015

From the Man Cave: Eagles Thoughts

Wholesale speculation is plentiful. Different players taking reps with the first team, some guys making plays and some guys not making plays. Indy drills, Skelly Drills, 7-on-7's and 11-on-11's yielding varying results and glimpses of what might be had. Don't try to figure it out just yet. Lots of new faces and the coaches need to see how they match-up against the top competition just to get started.

We're also still seeing and reading reports on these players while they are in shorts and essentially t-shirts. So, keep it all in perspective.

Some things we do kind of know:

 - Bradford can sling the ball and he's progressing with his rehab. The future is bright if he can stay healthy--and that remains to be seen. In limited participation, reports are that he looks good and has even shown a surprising amount of mobility. Also, Sanchez is getting credited with a vast amount of improvement in regards to his bad throwing shoulder (that's quietly been a problem since his days with the Jets) and the buzz is that he's one of the best back-up QBs in the league.

 - The running backs are dynamic. I've heard that nobody can tackle Demarco Murray. Ryan Matthews is apparently a solid 230 pounds and still light on his feet. Darren Sproles is getting mixed in at receiver--this could be a lot of fun. The big challenge here is going to be figuring out the best way to take advantage of having all three of these guys on the roster.

 - Nelson Agholor is blowing people away. He and Matthews look to be exceptional players. The next WR spot is up for grabs. Cooper is doing his thing to retain the starting job. Huff is struggling. And Austin is getting respect from teammates, but very little media buzz. I'll be paying close attention to this competition. Let's not forget about Seyi Ajirotutu who appears to be holding his own. But, between counting on a rookie and an unresolved competition at one of the starting receiver positions, there is still a big piece of the puzzle remaining in the unknown at receiver.

 - Zach Ertz, by all accounts is shaping into a dominant force on the field. He's reached out to guys like Tony Gonzales for mentorship. His teammates, coaches and the media are impressed. As Celek ages, the Eagles appear to be in excellent hands with Ertz at TE.

- The offensive line is something of a compounded unknown. The returning starters are solid. Barbre comfortably fit into the vacated RG position (of Herremans), but with Mathis gone as well, the Eagles have opened up a brand new competition for one of the young veterans on the roster. Filling the guard spots with young effective talent would be a huge solution for 2015 and beyond. For now, we don't really know how things will work out.

- The defensive line was a strength in 2014. It would appear to stay that way in 2015. Cox, as the anchor, is poised for a pro-bowl type season. The base 3-4 d-line is strong with Cox, Logan and Thornton. The rotational and specialty players were equally effective in 2014. Curry brings in a spectacular pass rush while Bair and Hart bring in a length that is troubling to a quarterback's throwing angles and all around vision of the field as well as a valuable reach advantage when collapsing on running backs and creating space against offensive linemen.

 - Kendricks and Alonso have been getting a lot of hype in the media. They could be a dominant pairing at ILB. Both are all over the field. Obviously Chip loves Ryans and his Mufasa-like leadership, but rookie Jordan Hicks is making an impression while drawing comparisons to him. Najee Goode also getting recognized as one of the more underrated players on the roster. ILB is now a fully loaded position.

 - On the outside, Barwin and Graham are an exciting pair of outside linebackers. We still have questions about Marcus Smith's ability to compete at this level, but teammates and coaches are in the process of building him up. Depth is still a very serious concern, but its exciting to hear that Curry is getting looks at OLB as well. Guys like Travis Long and Bryan Braman will also get opportunities to compete for time.

 - Byron Maxwell is reportedly worth the investment. Jordan Matthews said he was the best cornerback he's ever faced and reports are that he's locking players down and experimenting with shadowing receivers across varying formations. Nolan Carroll and Eric Rowe are both getting a lot of looks at the second starting corner spot with Jacorey Shepherd also impressing while Boykin and Thurmond are looking for other roles. There is a lot of potential with the new cornerback competition, but its still unclear.

 - Malcolm Jenkins seemingly has no competition for his starting position, however, on the other side Wolff has been sidelined for most of camp and somewhat surprisingly Walter Thurmond drew great praise from Chip as he spent a lot of time at safety with the first team. Again, the competition here is good, but the solution in the secondary is unclear.

What did we learn from all this? -- Nothing new.

Its way too early to think that Chip has rendered any conclusive judgement on the biggest question marks. It way too soon to project upon the recovery of the seriously injured players in their comeback attempts.

What we do know is what we knew all along. This is going to be an interesting football team in 2015. There is ample opportunity to succeed and to fail. There is justification for excitement and optimism. There is cause for concern to temper that optimism and even remain skeptical.

Buckle-up and get ready! E-A-G-L-E-S--->EAGLES!!

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