What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Here’s this week’s national media roundup of what they’re saying about the Eagles:

The Eagles’ over-under for wins is 6.5 or 7, depending on the sportsbook. Dave Tuley of ESPN Insider likes the under:

We’re just two years removed from the Eagles being referred to as the “Dream Team.” But after two disappointing seasons, head coach Andy Reid is gone and replaced by Oregon’s Chip Kelly and his wide-open spread offense. There’s reason for optimism, but I’m not sure the team will fully adapt to the new system in his first season.

Ben Muth of Football Outsiders thinks Lane Johnson will be a good NFL tackle, but he has serious questions about his pass-blocking right now:

Johnson is a pretty horrific fundamental pass blocker who probably wouldn’t have gone in the top five in any other draft. Well, maybe the 2000 NBA Draft. Nothing he does can’t be fixed, but if you’re taking someone that early, you would probably like a few less loose nails. Let’s start with the fact that he leads with his head all the time. …

If Johnson doesn’t learn to use his hands and keep his distance, guys are going to be grabbing the back of his pads and pulling themselves right through to the quarterback.

It’s worth noting that Muth is a former college offensive lineman. He played at Stanford from 2004 to 2008.

Chris Burke of SI.com looks at position battles to watch this summer, including the Eagles’ competition at outside linebacker:

Two of these three guys should start outside in the Eagles’ 3-4 defense. But who’s going to be the odd man out? Cole started 16 games for the Eagles last year, while Graham stepped in and delivered 5.5 sacks after inheriting a starting role late. Despite those numbers, Philadelphia still went out and handed $36 million to Barwin in free agency, a hint that the front office did not want to rely on the Cole-Graham combo.

Burke also says the secondary is the Eagles’ biggest question mark:

Chip Kelly wasted no time trying to reform the Eagles’ defense. Two new cornerbacks, Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams, and two new safeties, Pat Chung and Kenny Phillips, could take the field to start Week 1. That group doesn’t carry the big-name potential of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but the Eagles need a more cohesive secondary this season than those former stars provided.

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com has the Eagles 25th in his power rankings:

Chip Kelly is doing things differently, but time will tell if it can work. We know the Eagles will play faster, but who is the triggerman?

Prisco offers his thoughts on the QB situation too:

I bet for now Vick is the guy. He would seem to be a good fit with what Chip Kelly wants to do. But what if Kelly likes Barkley and sees him as his quarterback of the future? Does he go to him early? The early word is that it’s an open competition. I bet Vick starts on opening day.

Marc Sessler of NFL.com looks at the Eagles’ QB battle:

Michael Vick last week called his critics a pack of ignorants who “know nothing about football,” but here’s what we do know: The 32-year-old quarterback was a goner in Philly before Chip Kelly replaced Andy Reid. Now Vick looms as the logical starter heading into camp. Vick admits that Kelly recently “taught” him how to properly hold the football while running with it. For real. It’s pretty clear Kelly is digging in. Foles, meanwhile, showed growth last season, and Barkley — a seemingly odd fit for the Eagles — has an outside chance for snaps. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kelly use all three. Advantage: Vick.

Gary Horton of ESPN Insider looks at how Chip Kelly’s scheme will translate to the NFL, and he likes how Matt Barkley fits:

He is accurate in the short-to-intermediate passing game, with not a lot of vertical passes required; he is good on the play-fake; and he has underrated pocket mobility.

However, his most desired quality in this offense may be his command in the huddle. This guy has been in a lot of big games, he can get his offense into a play quickly and he should be comfortable with the pace of the offense — and there is nothing that Barkley hasn’t already seen. He could be ready to step in and run this offense with success after one season behind Vick.

ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano weighs in on the importance of a healthy Jason Peters:

The Eagles need Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce back on the offensive line, and they need first-round pick Lane Johnson to play well at right tackle. But the most important offensive line recovery is that of Peters, who brings something to the equation no one else brings. He needs not only to be healthy, but to play like his old, spry self.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

  • hotcakes33

    It’s pretty funny to read a these outsiders’ takes on the state of the team. As we all know, nothing will be known until the season starts. Personally, I am excited, either because of something new or the fact that to this point already, things seem to be pointed up, and won’t let detractors take away my excitement. It is guarded with optimism, but excitement nonetheless.

  • hillbillybirdsfan

    I would expect Lane to have some flaws. If he runs with the 2′s for all of training camp I won’t be too bothered. No sense throwing him out there before he is ready, especially if Vick is the starter and Johnson is protecting his blind side.

    • Token

      Dennis Kelly is ahead of him. Dennis Kelly. If Johnson cant start over him then Howie may as well start packing his bags now.

      If Johnson is not the starter by training camp I suspect we have another Watkins on our hands and it will be the end of Howie Roseman.

      Picking tackles at the top of the draft is a awful thing to do in the first place, but picking the wrong one is a disaster.

      • JofreyRice

        Agreed. Not expecting the #4 overall pick to beat out a crappy dude for all of training camp is adjusting your expectations a little too low, IMO, considering where Johnson went in the draft. A few days of Johnson with the 2′s is not enough for me to hit the panic button, though. My opinion is that he should be the starting RT through TC, and game 1. Anything less than that will be worrying.

      • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

        Not sure why people are so quick to harp on Dennis Kelly. I agree that Johnson should beat him out, and will eventually, but he’s not a bad player. He anchored Purdue’s offensive line for 3 years at LT, who had a great running game. He’s a good player to have on the team. He got his trial by fire last year and should be our swing tackle.

        • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

          Well they harp on Kelly because he was beaten for no less than 6 sacks, but I agree with Dennis Kelly coming from a pretty good system that general turns out good Offensive Linemen.

          He appears to have come into this camp with a renewed attitude and physical make over that reeks of putting in time in the gym and learning his responsibilities. He’s obviously grown mentally and physically for the position.

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            I’d have to review those sacks to see how many of them were him just getting flat beat, but yeah he had a rough year… but the same could be said about the entire line.Thankfully OL isn’t a position like CB where a bad year can shatter a kids confidence, and they never play the same. You like to get the rookie struggles out of the way early.

          • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

            One of the recent strategies adopted by defenses is
            to move around your best pass rusher and put him before the weakest pass blocking tackle. So Kelly was targeted as Johnson will be this season. He was figured last season as the path of least resistance over facing off against Dunlap.

            I’m hearing good things about Kelly. If he was shattered, he used that as motivation to take positive action and prepare himself for his challenges this season.

            That’s a great response if true.

        • Token

          Defending Dennis Kelly now? Some of you are way to big of homers. You would think the Eagles were 12-4 last year the way some talk about this roster.

          This roster is not very talented. Its just that simple. Its full of either guys who are just not very good or players with talent that just dont care enough to be great.

          Dennis Kelly is a nobody. A non factor. If your #4 future LT can not beat out Dennis Kelly for the RT spot week 1 then something is very wrong. The first sign of trouble was when Chip called Lane raw. A raw LT prospect playing RT as the number 4 pick.

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            Please take a minute to read what I actually said before you put words in my mouth. I said he’s a serviceable swing tackle. Also said that Johnson will beat him out. You can pull words out of your ass and say that Kelly is a nobody, but fact of the matter is he’s not. He’s a 3 year LT starter from a school that produces good offensive linemen. He may be a 5th round pick, but Herremans was a 4th. He didn’t look hot in his rookie year, but he turned out fine. He has obviously put in work in the off season and is coming in with a good mentality, not much more you can ask from him.

            No one is arguing the roster isn’t talented. That’s years and years of Andy drafting shitty players, not something you can fix over night.

            General consensus is that Johnson has the highest ceiling out of the 3 tackles, so what’s the big deal with taking a guy who may be a slower to develop but will be better overall, on a team that won’t be in any place to contend for another few years anyway? Johnson went right where he was projected to go, so stop acting like you’re some football guru that knows better than NFL front offices, scouts, and experts. If we didn’t take him there, he was gone at 5.

  • scrapple sports

    Marc Sessler: “but here’s what we do know: The 32-year-old quarterback was a goner in Philly before Chip Kelly replaced Andy Reid.” Do we really know that or are you assuming? Didn’t Sal Pal report that McNabb was being traded every year for five years before he was traded? Yep, maybe Kelley will use all three!

  • Damien

    I don’t think a top 5 pick has to come in and instantly be an impact player. You’d like that, but if you told me I could get a 10 year consistant OT who is top 10, but not top 5 or a 10 year OT that spends his first 2 years adjusting and then becomes top 5, I would pick #2 all day. That’s what I see with Lane.

    • JofreyRice

      Yeah, top 10 at his position for a long time is about right for a #4 pick, but I think there’s a little bit of time crunch. Think D’Brickahaw Ferguson type player. I don’t think you spend a top 5 pick on a guy who’s just a consistent starter, though–especially a guy that’s being drafted that high because of his insane athletic upside.

      • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

        There wasn’t really too many slam dunks on the board. I’d say in top 10, outside of Fisher and Joeckel, the only two guys that don’t have as many question marks as Johnson would be the two guards (Warmack and Cooper).

        A consistent starter at LT (as hopefully Johnson will be in the future) is something i would consider a luxury. I think we’ve been spoiled by Peters. If you look at teams like San Diego and Chicago, they would tell you the same.

        • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

          Joeckel and Fisher like Johnson were so physically over powering against their college competition they often got away with short cuts that will sever them no purpose in the NFL. There are questions surrounding Fisher and one is the level of the competition he dominated. Unlike Joeckel and Johnson who dominated the best defenders available and just about their Equals talent wise on any draft board in 2012.

          Also, Andy Reid when he had his Offense working they were anchored by dominating Tackles and Andrews. Runyan, and Thomas were man eaters at Tackle, Runyan had difficulties with Straham, but he was a solid anchor for many years. The troubles came when Andrews took ill and missed time.

          That’s not to take anything away from Peters. Peters is an exceptional tackle in a zone scheme who’s good to take out 3 people on every play.

        • JofreyRice

          I think you’re setting the bar pretty low. A consistent starter at LT is a guy like the Bucs Donald Penn or ATL’s Sam Baker. Neither of those guys are worth the #4 overall pick in the draft. IMO, Johnson’s got to be better than that. Like at least Russell Okung/D’Brickashaw Ferguson/Trent Williams level.

          • Max Lightfoot

            My point exactly. I don’t think he’s a stiff – I like the guy. He could be decent right off and become great. Too soon to tell. They’re rookies and will make dumb mistakes. Expecting instant success at an Okung level is still expecting an awful lot, even for a No. 4 draft pick. Theoretically, it shouldn’t be anything but a killer player at 4, but there have been duds that high. The reality is, we won’t know what they’re like until the end of the 2013 season – and my hope is that both of us will be happy with Lane Johnson.

  • PaoliBulldog

    We all knew that LJ was raw coming out of Oklahoma. For better or worse, the Dolphins’ decision to trade up for Jordan eliminated any possibility of a debate over what the Eagles should have done at #4. LJ was drafted for what he can do in 2014. Anything we get this season is, as we say down here, lagniappe.

    • Richard Colton

      There’s “raw” and there’s “pretty horrific fundamental pass blocker.” Where was this guy Ben Muth before the draft? I never heard anything like that about Lane before.

      • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

        You make it sound so much worse than it actual is for Johnson.

        Johnson will handle himself pretty well. Veteran defensive ends, and OLBs are supposed to have a step up on the kid coming right out of college. If he has dignity and I believe as a coach son he does he’s going to put in the extra work to become more efficient and fluid with improving technique.

        In college he was just better than the defenders he faced and he faced off with some very good defensive ends and OLBs. He was a engineer major so I expect him to be able to digest the responsibilities involved with zone blocking which was a major problem for Bell and Watkins now.

        • Richard Colton

          agree – but do you remember a single national writer saying that pre-draft? Or is this based on OTAs and his work with the second team?

          • poetx99

            that’s what was odd to me. i never heard that pre-draft, and the eagles have had all of 2 open practices (at which all of the media mostly ooh-ahhed over the music and pacing).

            so i wonder where this is coming from.

          • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

            it was put mildly in terms like “upside” and “raw” but Johnson is going to be ok. I don’t think it’s much to worry about.

            What I’m hearing is Dennis Kelly from Purdue has come to camp in another mindset and he’s just not about to surrender that RT position without a fight.

            Purdue generally puts out some quality Offensive Linemen so maybe Kelly put in the work and has grown over what he was last year. He could not have been Ok with his performance.

          • Guest

            who would have such insight? I’ve never heard of this particular writer either. And after a few OTA’s, with an entirely new scheme for everyone, someone’s drawn that conclusion already?

            I think it’s just a case of the May doldrums

          • Bdawkbdawk

            I’m not sure, but I am a little nervous. He seems to have been an All Pac 10 linemen and FO doesn’t often throw around trash. Hopefully he is just incorrect.

            Actually, I just checked out the article and it is worth the read. http://www.footballoutsiders.com/word-muth/2013/word-muth-lane-johnson-and-dj-fluker

          • theycallmerob

            I don’t mean to discredit him altogether, but like you said at the end- he is not the only ex-OL player to either scout or work in player evaluation departments. It seems that LJ’s technical issues are pretty well-known, but coachable. And he is, by all reports, very coachable. Kelly has a great OL coach, and values the position group too much to gamble on a player with such “major” flaws.

            I can’t imagine he won’t be at the least a decent to good OT by day 1. But more than that, he seems to be the epitome of the rookie who will develop and improve week-to-week.

          • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

            After reviewing that opening you have to feel much better about having Lane Johnson.

          • Richard Colton

            thanks Bdawk. I feel better after reading the first few paragraphs. All glowing. I love when he talks about how Lane regularly gets to the second level and “punishes” linebackers. that gave me chills.

          • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

            It may be, but initially he stated, Johnson was going to be a good Tackle.

            Johnson has flaws, but with those flaws he still dominated the competition in the Big 12 and SEC.

            His flaws here in the NFL can be exploited, which has to be expected but they aren’t fatal flaws that can not be corrected if he puts in the work. I don’t expect Peters will allow him to go out and get embarrassed and be a set back for the team.

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            I hope you’re right about Peters.. but some food for thought here.. Jason has 2 years left on the 6 year deal he signed in 2009. No dead money if he gets cut, so Eagles can part ways at any time with no financial penalty saving 10 mill cap space. I think we can agree the writing on the wall is pretty clear that Lane was picked at #4 to be the LT of the future. It’s in Jason’s best interest to come out and play well individually, so he can either earn the last year of his deal here in Philly or get a good deal if he goes to free agency. Is helping the guy that’s being groomed to be your replacement in your best interest? This is a guy who could take away his 10.7 mil 2014 season here in Philly, an amount he probably wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.

            It’s something to think about.

          • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

            No, I had not. I like Lane based on his play against good defenders he faced heads up in his games against them.

            I understand the negative assessment on his technique, but that didn’t hinder his play and Johnson’s dominating the competition.

            I expect seasoned DEs and OLBs to take advantage of Johnson’s flaw the first time around the block.

            At Oklahoma Johnson manhandled some pretty impressive Ends and Linebackers in the big 12 and SEC who were selected in the first round of this draft.

            Ben Muth could be driving traffic to his blog or website with those comments.

            Johnson from what I seen in his game at Oklahoma isn’t going to maul opponents but he’s intelligent enough to not have to and still be effective. He’s about 2 or 3 years from becoming a dominating force in my opinion.

            What may be a surprise is the development of Dennis Kelly who struggled last year as a rookie. Kelly seem be taking exceptions to being overlooked for that RT position.

            Live hitting may be the only way to determine Dennis growth over his rookie year. That would be a good problem to have.

        • ODB

          Ben Muth was not saying that Lane Johnson is awful, he basically just wrote that he is very raw with poor fundamentals as a pass blocker. Muth writes for Football Outsiders, so he is not trying to get traffic to a personal blog. He has broken down all of the 1st round offensive linemen and, as far as I know, he is their only offensive line scout/analyst at Football Outsiders. Although that site has some inconsistency in the quality of their writers, Muth is actually excellent. That doesn’t mean that we should be too worried about Johnson, but I would take Muth at his word when he says that Johnson’s coming in with poor pass-blocking fundamentals.

          • theycallmerob

            Appreciate the info. I can’t say I’m too familiar with him or FO.

          • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

            I agree. I read and agree with his report on Lane.

            I thought his intro leading up to the section discussed here was spot on about Johnson and the Eagles.

            “In college, Johnson was bigger, stronger, and just about as fast as most of the defensive ends he played against. If he got his hands on them, he could essentially do whatever he wanted with them. In the NFL, he’ll play guys like Julius Peppers or Jason Pierre-Paul, who will play stronger.”

            The bad habits Lane Johnson has is pretty common with all the top tackles coming into the NFL. They are so much better than the competition in College they have gotten away with things that will need revamping in the NFL.

    • theycallmerob

      “As we say down here”… NOLA? That’s the only place I’ve heard it in the states.
      It originated from “yapay”, a Quechua word (from the natives to Peru). I’d always ask for a yapa at the market, which led to many free desserts! Got a bunch of funny looks, though, when I tried it at a Best Buy upon my return home.

  • Cyrus Robinson

    Gary Horton said “there is nothing that Barkley hasn’t already seen.”
    I can think of one: a starting NFL defense, for starters?

    • Eaglesfanatic13

      You like Vick huh…I wonder why. Despite his win/loss records and ridiculous amount of turnovers…..

      • Richard Colton

        if you disagree with the comment, argue that. You’re out of line.

        • nicksaenz1

          “You’re outta your element, Donnie!”

          • theycallmerob

            “Smokey, this is not ‘Nam, this is bowling. There are rules.”
            HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE CRAZY?!?!

          • nicksaenz1

            “8 year olds, Dude…”

          • josh

            Am I the only one here who feels like Pacino from Scent of a Woman would have been the better direction? “Outa order? I’ll show you outa order!”

          • nicksaenz1

            I won’t say better, but definitely gets the job done. Comparable. How about that?

  • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

    I don’t know much about Peters personality but I refuse to believe he’s not a hard worker and, or willing to share some of the traits that make him a standout Offensive Linemen with Johnson.

    It’s always been my hope Peters will willingly help and spend time helping Lane develop anyway he’s capable to get prepared to play RT. Lane wouldn’t be as smart as I thought if he doesn’t acquaint himself with Peters, Herreman, Kelce and Mathis.

  • Max Lightfoot

    A few weeks back I got tromped on here for suggesting that I’d be happy if Lane Johnson turned out to be a decent NFL lineman for the Eags, considering the bozos that Andy used to draft. Oh no, they cried – Johnson would be an absolute bust if he were only competent and not DOMINATING. Well, maybe Ben Muth has a point after watching LJ on tape for a while, and having played the position himself. Just sayin’ …

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      Muth has a legitimate point, but as he also stated in his review it’s nothing that will stop Lane Johnson from being an outstanding addition to the Eagles Offensive Line.

      it’s common bad habits Tackles who dominated their competition in College come into the league practicing.

      You’re not far off. He should be a mainstay on the Eagles line baring injuries and be anything but a bust.

  • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

    Sheil, had you taken in what the offensive line is doing at these practice sessions, if so what’s your take on Dennis Kelly’s growth over what he presented last year.

    I’ve read some takes on the Eagles Offensive line. Could Dennis Kelly have bulked up without gaining extra pounds and does he appear to have a good command of the responsibilities of the RT position in your opinion?

    • eaglepete

      good question, we all tend to forget that some younger players actually develop and improve no matter where they were drafted. Crazy I know

    • Guest

      He was a good prospect coming out of Purdue. Started at LT for 3 years where they had a great running game. We could do a lot worst for a back up swing tackle. His rookie year was a trial by fire, he handled it well for a 5th round pick. Should have a strong sophomore year.

  • theycallmerob

    Relax, everyone. It’s May.

    From T-Mac’s article last week:

    Johnson’s timeline for when he will join the first team is a little less
    defined. By his own admission he relied heavily on his athleticism at
    Oklahoma and needs to improve in the technical aspect of the game. Kelce
    said that the veterans are taking Johnson under their wing. They
    realize that this is someone who will be getting playing time before
    long, so it’s in their best interest to help coach him up.

  • Septhinox

    “I bet for now Vick is the guy. He would seem to be a good fit with what Chip Kelly wants to do.” – Prisco

    I’m getting tired of reading the same thing over and over again. Everyone thinks that they know what Kelly wants to do.

  • Prowler

    Ben Muth is a Dope…”Johnson is a pretty horrific fundamental pass blocker”…Words of a bitter former bench-warmer. Proof that you can be brainy enough to go to Palo Alto to get degree and still be stupid. Johnson needs work?…of course, …but horrific?…hardly…

    • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

      yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem

      • theycallmerob

        Nice find on the website!

      • Richard Colton

        no true scotsman would have posted that link

  • Chris

    You can’t do too much worse than 4 wins, conventional wisdom says the Eagles have at least a reasonable chance to match that or do better this year. So it looks like the arrow is pointing up no matter how you look at it. Excited for some changes!

  • JofreyRice

    Obviously, the wording is strong, but I do think Lane will have some ups and downs, as I’ve said; certainly nowhere near as consistent as the other two tackles, who were replaying very sound fundamentals snap after snap.The hope is that Johnson learns to apply those fundamentals consistently and pair that with an unquestionable athletic upside.

    Certainly, at one point in his career, Jason Peters was probably a “horrific fundamental pass blocker”, but progressed pretty well from there, I’d say. Now, of course Peters was a UDFA TE conversion, whereas the Eagles just spent the #4 overall pick on a guy, but if it’s the same end result of a top tier tackle, who cares? We have to hope the scouting and projection process the Eagles did on Lane was correct. FWIW, I thought Lane looked better each week he played at Oklahoma.

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      I just reviewed the site and article. I suggest you read the article it’s a rather glowing assessment of Lane and his expected contributions with the Eagles despite the technique flaws he has.

  • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

    For the love of God, you guys are pretty screamish to be Eagles Fans.

    • Richard Colton

      * squeamish

      “screamish” is what we were when Kotite declined the penalty and punted on 4th down.

  • Zachary Kahn

    Everyone wants to look at Johnson at #4 and say he needs to start. I think its really simple: The Eagles, Including Chip, felt that Lane had enough upside to warrant potentially allowing him to sit for an entire year. Im not saying that will happen, but rushing this kid into the action isn’t the way to go if you ask me.

  • hartyattack

    Apparently Muth was a “pretty horrific pass blocker” too since he never got drafted or played in the NFL……..

    • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

      yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem