11 Observations From Eagles Practice
1) Rasul Douglas looked really good
It was hard not to notice him and usually with corners, that's a bad thing. As many people have pointed out, including BLG Alshon Jeffery did in fact eat Rasul's lunch and then continued to take his milk money at the start of 11 vs 11. But as practice went on he looked really sharp for a rookie. The same things that you saw on film have continued to show up on the practice field. I saw him guide Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor towards the sidelines, disrupting their timing using his feet. You want to see that as much as possible. So although he got the rookie treatment early, he had a really good day. Broke up a lot of passes and was always in range of the football.
2) DGB Needs To Be Cut Immiadately
Honestly, it's time. It was time before the season ended last year. The shot in the dark did not hit and there is no daylight beaming from anywhere. I can't tell you how many times Eagles WR coach Mike Groh has yelled "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT" or "EYES UP" but it has become a common saying already and it's not even June. The same trends are also following him from last week (see also: career), getting out jumped by guys that are much shorter than him, lazy hands and lazy routes. On a few slant routes when it was 7 v 7, it was almost as if he was playing patty cake with the ball. I never understood the allure of this young man and I probably never will. He gone.
3) I'm A Big Fan of Defensive Line Coach Chris Wilson:
I am not exactly sure what it does for the Eagles players, but Chris Wilson fires me up just watching on the sideline. He paces around like the Ultimate Warrior sometimes and tries to fire up his troops as much as possible. He looked over at Brandon Graham as everyone was huddling up in the middle of 11 vs 11 at one point and said "HEY NOW..... This is Michigan vs Ohio State right here. It's time to go to war!" Then he looked towards Tim Jernigan and reiterated the same thing "Tim... THIS IS FSU VS MIAMI... I NEED IT." He even went in on Destiny Vaeao on a play for not being able to stay on his feet. "IF YOU CAN'T STAY ON YOUR FEET AND FINISH I'D RATHER JUST GO WITH 3 [LINEMAN]. I DON'T F**KING CARE."
4) Alshon Jeffery Makes Everyone Look Worse
Collectively the WRs had a very good day, but every time Jeffery took the field during passing drills you can just clearly see the difference. Granted, this might be a case where I am the starving man who has been searching for food for months and Alshon is the Ritz cracker. But if there was any doubt that he isn't a 100% clear upgrade and the number 1 target on this offense, he's pretty much shown it throughout OTAs. Even when he made the play of the day by snatching the ball over rookie Rasul Douglas for a touchdown, it was whole different mentality. THIS MY BALL. That's probably what he should have tattooed somewhere. The physical skills are always obvious but the mental part of his game is what has been desperately missing in this Eagles wide receiving core. There is almost a "how dare you try to take this ball from me" glare every time he battles against someone. Like it's the most disrespectful thing you could do to the man. That excites me more about the potential with him and Wentz then any physical part of his game (which, hey... he's pretty good at that.)
5) I Love The Idea Of Nelson Agholor In The Slot
Jordan Matthews wasn't at practice as he's not trying to push it with his high ankle injury from last season. This opened the door to see what a 3 WR set with Jeffery and Smith on the outside and Agholor in the slot would look like. They only ran it a few times but as we have mention before on BGN Radio I really think this could work. Now that's not to say the Eagles should disposes of Jordan Matthews and rely on Nelson Agholor but it does put 3 completely different WR skill sets on the field. I think back to Joe Douglas' philosophy on trying not to have the same type of skill sets on the field all at once and this package amplifies that. A burner, a speedy crisp route runner and a contested catcher. I think that's where Nelson can be most successful in this offense. The pads aren't on yet so it doesn't mean much right now, but I would really like to see it when they are on.
6) Mack Hollins Keeps Changing My Mind
There are parts of me that still don't understand the selection of Hollins in the 4th round over some others but it's pretty clear why the Eagles took him. He's another guy that has it mentality and made some really nice catches yesterday.
He still looks a little sluggish to me when he's running flag drills and turning the corner, but his route running is very smooth and he does have some really good hands.
7) I Wish Greg Ward Jr. Was 6'1"
I say these next things full well knowing that there is a less than 1% chance of Greg Ward making this football team. He has been very impressive transitioning over to the WR position. There have been some obvious hurdles like not having the route tree down and some miscommunication with Wentz and Foles... but for the most part he really looks like a polished WR at times. Size isn't a skill but it can definitely keep you on the field a lot longer if your bigger and stronger. I was having a conversation with BLG about him yesterday that ended with a "...if he was just Brad Smith's size..." then I think he would be more in the conversation. Regardless, he's on the top my list of who I want to see in pads. His footwork and hands should make him a practice squad candidate.
8) Matt McGloin Could Beat Out Nick Foles And I Don't Think We Would Know The Difference
I know what you're thinking and yes, at the end of the day Nick Foles is probably the better QB2 and financially he's definitely going to be in that role. BUT, for all the money that has been distributed amongst the guys behind Wentz I still find this so odd. Is Foles REALLLLLY 3 or 4 million dollars better than McGloin? No. Hell no. In fact I would say McGloin throws a better ball intermediately and more accurately. You're basically trading one thing for another here and that's the game of being a backup in this league. In the end this obviously doesn't matter that much because if you're down to the backup anyway your chances aren't going to be great. But I do bet there are some people by the end of preseason that will question why they paid Foles when McGloin could do the job about the same and for less.
9) Carson Had Another Up and Down Day
Could have been the rain, the new WRs or maybe Carson Wentz is the worst QB that has EVER put on an Eagles uniform. All jokes aside, I don't think there is too much to be concerned here. The only really bad throw that I saw was against air where Carson completely under threw Mack Hollins and it landed in front of Hollins by about two feet or so. The important thing to see is that his improved mechanics are there and it does look like he has a little more zip on his ball. The best ball that I saw him throw was in a goal line drill where it was 3 LBs & 2 Safties vs 2 RBs and a TE. In the tiniest window between Maragos and McLeod he zipped in a fastball to TE Anthony Denham (who was having a really good day btw) for a tuddy.
10) Brandon Graham, Chris Long & Derek Barnett Are Going To Hurt Some People
There aren't a ton of things you can take away from the trenches during OTAs but it's still amazing to see the type of bend and pass rushing ability from this current group. This is a serious upgrade in terms of talent whether it's the guy who is 31 years old or the guy who is 21 years old, they are out to hunt. Time and time again after each one rotated in 11 vs 11 you can start to imagine how fresh everyone will be in attacking the QB this season. Barnett continues to impress me regardless of making rookie mistakes. I don't think he came close to coming off of his feet and his first step is incredibly deadly. This was also my first time seeing Chris Long up close and you could have told he was 25 with the way he moved. Lots of in and out moves from him that made a few RTs slip a little. Brandon Graham was his usual self, talking trash and making plays throughout the day. If Vinny Curry can find himself again and the big boys in the middle can do there job, we might finally see the hype around this defensive line become a reality.
11) We Don't Know Exactly What The Eagles Are Working On
Don't live and die on every tweet or opinion because again, it's just OTAs. It's exciting to have football to talk about and to get our first glimpse at new players and rookies. There 34 different eyes on everything and everyone is going to see something different. I thought Jim Schwartz had a great quote yesterday:
I'm a big baseball fan, I remember Jim Palmer talk about Spring Training, and he would have like a 10.00 ERA in Spring Training. And I heard him speak at a banquet after that and he was like 'Well, I threw nothing curveballs that whole time, or I threw nothing but change-ups. I was working on that pitch.'
That's what all of this about, this whole process is throwing curveballs and change-ups everyday until it becomes second nature. There are guys at all different parts of the career which need a lot different things. We don't know everything behind each play, each rep or each drill. We can only point out the obviously things like bad drops and passes. This isn't just in OTAs either, this continues into training camp and into preseason games. We will all understand more as this thing unfolds but for now, we all have very limited information on what exactly is behind every rep.
Finally, I don't care about who and who is not at OTAs. It doesn't really matter, at all. We as logical human beings can determine the difference between Marcus Smith not showing up and Fletcher Cox not showing up. We both know where they are going to be Week 1. It's funny to me that there are some media and fans that can say "THIS PLAYER SHOULD BE AT OTAS BECAUSE OF THIS THAT AND THE OTHER" and then in the same breath also say "Well, it's just OTAs so you can't take too much away from it." Well which is it?!
At the end of the day if the guys that are in the Eagles locker room are concerned about Fletcher Cox missing voluntary workouts, then they are going to lose their jobs on the field. Is Destiny Vaeao & Tim Jernigan gonna be a little upset that they have to work a little harder in his absence? Probably. Don't you think they are also happy that they can get more reps for the time being? Probably. And why was it only Fletcher? Where is the outrage for Peters? Where is the outrage that Blount & Sproles scheduled family things during OTAs yesterday? We pick and choose who we want to be the enemy and it gets really stupid. I get it, it's almost June and the Phillies look about as good as a rotten turd sitting out on Washington Ave. But that doesn't mean any of this matters or has any looming impact on Sept. 10th.