Eagles Wake-Up Call: Watkins Hits Mute Button

Philadelphia Eagles right guard Danny Watkins.Citing some negative press he has received lately, Danny Watkins told reporters that he won’t be speaking with them. So, don’t expect the former first-round pick to shed any light on his own play, the offensive line’s struggles, or…anything for a while.

Fortunately, some of his teammates are willing to engage. Recently, Birds 24/7 caught up with a couple of them to get their take on Watkins in Year 2. Much of it, the 27-year-old guard will be happy to know, was positive. Though there were a few critiques.

“He’s got all the physical [tools]; he knows the techniques, he knows all that stuff. The biggest thing for him is mentally,” said Jason Kelce. “He has come a long way from the first year. Now he knows all the plays. Last year he would hear a play and he would verify it: ‘Hey what do we got on this?’ Now he knows who he has.

“Now he has to do a better job of using his – some guys call it a sixth sense, where you just have a feel if stuff doesn’t go 100 percent the way it’s designed to go on the drawing board, how do you go off of that?”

It’s reacting properly when the defense does something that runs counter to the percentages, Kelce explained. It’s improvising. Those abilities come with experience. But there are two problems: 1) Watkins is already 27 and 2) the Eagles need him to be better now.

According to Pro Football Focus, Watkins leads the league in quarterback hits surrendered with six. He has yielded nine QB hurries, but just one sack. He has shown ability, and he has also shown vulnerability.

Kelce said that he and Watkins were both playing very well prior to Kelce’s season-ending ACL injury. It’s very possible that Watkins’ level of play has been affected by the loss of the starting center, just like the unit has as a whole. It has exposed, you can argue, just how much developing he still needs to do.

“Everybody knew how much talent was there . It’s obvious that there is a lot of physical talent there and it’s obvious he’s a very smart guy,” said Evan Mathis. “He was thrown into the mix relatively fast with a limited amount of experience, and his learning curve has shown steady progress.”

Though not enough, clearly, to curb the criticism.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Eagles practiced for the first time since the big shake-up. Members of the defense talked about the changes that will come with a Todd Bowles-led defense. Nnamdi Asomugha has some regrets about how everything played out.

Michael Vick did not get a vote of confidence from his head coach last week. This was the quarterback’s first chance to react.

Mike Patterson returned to practice and believes he can have an impact, Kapadia writes.

Sheil evaluates the rookies at the bye.

According to a report, King Dunlap is back in at left tackle.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Asante Samuel sounds like he is ready to stir the pot a little in front of Sunday’s game against his old squad.

Atlanta head coach Mike Smith gave his take on Todd Bowles and what it means in terms of the Eagles’ game plan against the Falcons Sunday. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“ There will be some unknown. There will be some unscouted looks. Coach Bowles is an outstanding coach. He was the interim head coach at Miami last year and worked with Mike Nolan and Joe Danna. I’ve known Todd a long time. He’s an excellent coach, so we’ve got to be prepared for some unscouted looks, and I don’t think there will be a mass change in what they do philosophically because they’ve invested so much time into the scheme that they’re running.”

COMING UP

A day off for the Eagles before preparation starts in earnest for the undefeated Falcons.

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