Eagles Wake-Up Call: Rookie Progress Report

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With five games in the books, now seems like as good a time as any to check in on the nine Eagles rookies.

Lane Johnson - He’s started every game and taken his lumps, specifically in pass protection. But Johnson is showing improvement in that area. Last week against the Giants was probably his best performance as a pass blocker all season. And he’s done a good job as a run blocker all year long. He’ll continue to make mistakes, but overall, Johnson looks like he has all the tools to become a very good player.


Zach Ertz - He has played 32 percent of the Eagles' offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. When targeted, Ertz has been productive. He has seven grabs on 11 targets for 150 yards. Ertz is averaging 21.4 yards per catch, and four of his receptions have gone for 20+ yards. Ertz was moved around quite a bit last week vs. the Giants. Given the issues that the Eagles have had with receivers struggling to get open, it makes sense for Ertz to see an expanded role in the coming weeks.

Bennie Logan - He's played 31.3 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps, rotating in with the second-team defensive line. Logan has been quiet, tallying just six tackles (per coaches stats). But Chip Kelly said this week that the third-round pick is "really coming along." Logan has played nose tackle and defensive end. He hasn't shown much in the way of a pass rush, but did notch his first career sack late against the Giants.

Matt Barkley - T-Mac provided a detailed update on him yesterday. Barkley has yet to dress for a game, but there's a pretty good chance he'll be the backup this Sunday in Tampa.

Earl Wolff - He's started the last two weeks and played significant snaps in four of five games. Wolff is making his share of mistakes on a weekly basis, but the coaches love his attitude and athleticism. Wolff has flashed at times. Against the Giants, he was manned up against Victor Cruz in the red zone on one play and showed he can cover, helping to force an incompletion. Wolff said this week he just needs to maintain proper eye discipline and focus on his assignments. At the very least, he'll continue to be a part of the rotation at safety.

Jordan Poyer - The seventh-round pick got on the field in Week 1, playing some slot corner against the Redskins. Since then, it's been a purely special teams role - well, kind of. Last week vs. the Giants, he didn't get on the field at all in any capacity. Barring injuries to the guys ahead of him, Poyer might not have much of a role as a rookie.

Jake Knott - He's rotated in at inside linebacker from time to time, having played 14 defensive snaps through five games. Knott is one of the core special-teams players. No one played more special teams snaps than Knott (29) last week. He has two special teams tackles in coverage.

Damion Square - He dressed for the first two games, but did not impress. Square was on the field for 26 snaps, but has been inactive for the last three contests as Vinny Curry joined the rotation. Square will get another chance if the Eagles suffer an injury to one of their defensive lineman.

Matt Tobin - The undrafted free agent (offensive tackle) has yet to be active for a game.

WHAT YOU MISSED

T-Mac has the injury report, which includes updates on Michael Vick and Brandon Boykin.

LeSean McCoy stands by his comment that Knowshon Moreno sucks. He thinks Doug Martin is pretty good though.

An All-22 look at the Eagles' newest packaged play.

Lots of love for Nick Foles from the national media.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Chris Burke of SI.com has the Eagles 26th in his power rankings:

On the Kirk Cousins Perceived Trade Value scale, Nick Foles' 197-yard, two-TD effort in Sunday's win makes him worth a first-round pick, a third-round pick and a 12-inch Subway sub.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com offers thoughts on Brandon Graham's performance last week:

Maybe his best game of the season. Came in at ROLB to open the 2nd Qtr. Covered TE on his first play. Jammed the TE and stuck with him in short area. Played some RDE late in the half. Had one good bull rush. Switched over to LDE inside the 2-minute mark. Blew by the RT and forced an incompletion. Lined up at RDE on 4th Qtr pass, but then slanted inside and drove the LG back toward Eli. Good power. On the next play drove the LT back to Eli. That forced the awkward throw that Cary Williams picked off.

COMING UP

One more day at NovaCare. We'll have the latest from Kelly and the players. Plus, we'll be at Smiths in Center City from 6 to 7 for Birds 24/7 on 97.5 The Fanatic. Stop by or tune in.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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  • theycallmerob

    Good year to get this many reps from these guys, so they can get the growing pains out of the way. In just these first 5 weeks, I’ve seen good things from LJ, Ertz, and Wolff. Logan has the benefit of gaining weight and strength without the immediate pressure to perform, but he doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed when he does play. And I did not realize Knott was playing that much ST. At least none of the rookies seemed completely overwhelmed- or worse, undersized, the trend of the past few years (especially on D)

    • Kevin

      And they all appear to be ‘high motor guys’ too. (Sorry couldn’t resist).

      I agree, It appears that all of the younger guys are growing in the scheme. I think the young guys over the past few years have been under a pretty stressful work environment with the coaching carousel (especially on D). A season or two of stability and Shaun Huls should greatly help the growth of rookies and second and third year players.

      • G_WallyHunter

        Great points, that consistency is overlooked. Give them 3 years of the same staff with the same direction and goals, damn, that’s exciting. This franchise hasn’t seen consistency like that since that last years of the great JJ.

        • nicksaenz1

          Although the scheme won’t likely change, Davis may not be around after this year or next.

          • G_WallyHunter

            I kind of hope he vastly improves over the next 8 games and everything he’s been saying about the players slowly getting it comes true…

            if BD can produce results, I wouldn’t mind seeing him stick around for a few more years. Can’t lose faith in him over 4 games of a completely new scheme with the wrong personnel in a lot of positions lol.. u kno. too many ppl on this board have completely given up on him… not really fair

    • Adam

      But according to Token this already looks like a terrible draft class already. We should have taken Vaccaro in rounds 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

    • Broadcasting Wisdom

      Would love to see Knott get some more reps at LB. Can’t teach those instincts.

      • cliff henny

        Ryans isnt getting any younger. he’s 6.8m against cap-getting 1m raise next yr, no dead money. good guy, not sure his play warrents paycheck. probably get your wish sooner or later.

        • Richard Colton

          Kiko Alonso looks like the early favorite to be defensive rookie of the year. could’a. should’a. would’a.

          • cliff henny

            he was mid 2nd, right? or could of used logan on him?
            .
            could’a should’a would’a should be Eagles battle cry…or on howie’s tombstone

          • nicksaenz1

            “Earl Thomas” should be on Andy’s

          • EaglePete

            that guy is a stud, hes killing it.

      • Richard Colton

        I hear you, but I like him where he is. If he plays special teams/occasional LB sub like Ike Reese – he was a steal.

        • Broadcasting Wisdom

          I agree – not saying full-time starter, but would like to see 10-15 snaps/game at LB as opposed to the current 2-3 snaps/game. Great sign that he’s getting all those special teams snaps.

  • knighn

    Checked out the SI power rankings more closely (I don’t know why – I was just curious, I guess).

    Came across the following article. Guess who has the weakest arm out of all starters in the NFL?
    http://www.fannation.com/truth_and_rumors/view/402492?eref=sircrc&eref=fromSI

    • G_WallyHunter

      that’s unreal, didn’t look like that on those bombs to Decker the other week…

      • knighn

        I know it was 7 years ago… but Jeff Garcia didn’t exactly have a cannon. He was still able to complete some deep throws. You have to have some arm strength in the NFL. You don’t have to be the strongest ever. Donovan McNabb’s arm is still probably much, much stronger than Peyton’s.

        As Chip Kelly said (in reference to Matt Barkley):
        “Sometimes the arm strength aspect of it is overrated because people are trying to paint it with a brush. We’re not trying to knock over milk cartons at a county fair. It’s, can you put the ball in the right spot at the right time.”

        And as the above-linked article states:
        “Manning’s season ultimately is proof that the quarterback position is played between the ears.”

      • cliff henny

        joe montana wasnt breaking fingers either, rice taylor jones craig et all probably helped. though these two are all-time greats. there’s no 1 recipe that makes great qb (plenty of great arms have failed) but if you’re saddled with below average, better have over the top football IQ.

        • G_WallyHunter

          Foles? haha

          • cliff henny

            foles certainly advertised as high iq qb, think we all agree he has less than ideal arm. plenty of average arms high iq guys have failed. heck, plenty of strong arm high iq guys have failed, but rather pick from this batch, better odds.

          • anon

            Often QBs are as good as their receivers. Cutler still has a job bc of B. Marsh, Andy Dalton b/c of AJ, even Luck has TY and reggie, you can see the difference between peyton and brady this year.

          • cliff henny

            does seem like 5 tiers of qbs
            1. great..get them good players, they’ll do rest, brees, p manning rodgers brady
            2. good enough…need pieces. flacco eli had defense
            3. teasers.. should be, times look the part, get them pieces but just cant do or havent done it. cutler rivers, romo. guess vick fits in here.
            4. tbd…young guys with talent. luck rg3 dalton
            5. nfl fillers
            certainly blurry lines between 2 and 3. nfl, nothing like winning some games to change perception

          • knighn

            Waaay to early to know what kind of IQ Foles will ultimately demonstrate. Foles has still played in fewer than 10 NFL games. Unfortunately, the immediate success guys like Russell Wilson, RGIII, Andy Luck (and even Colin Kaepernick) showed last year has everyone looking for instant gratification. I still think that most QBs are going to get better as time goes by. Here are my 3 biggest questions about a QB:
            - What’s his ceiling?
            - How long will it take for him to get there?
            - Will he be able to consistently play at his highest level?
            The 4th question, which is really more about the team than the QB, is:
            - Does the team have all of the necessary tools for the QB? (Coaching, blocking, run-game, receivers)

    • Stuart Philp

      Doesn’t hurt that he has a solid OL and the best group of WRs in the league. Look at how poorly Brady is doing (relative to his normal top 3 status) with what he has to work with. Give any starting QB the support that Manning has and they will do great things. Not to take anything away from Peyton, he’s still the best in the league, but it’s not all him.

      • knighn

        It never is just the QB but let’s be honest: not every QB is going to do as well as Peyton even with that offense and those weapons. Even QBs with “stronger arms”.

  • anon

    Poyer gave up that ST TD against Denver last week. Too bad b/c i thought he’d come in and be a ball hawk — at least be a backup to Boykin.

    As much as I like sconces still giving up TDs on slants.

  • cliff henny

    Howie could have a ’75 steelers’ draft (took 4 HOFs + couple pro bowlers) and he’d still rub me the wrong way. but, no doubt last 2 drafts are much better than previous 3 or 4 – not hard – have to start somewhere.

    • anon

      hard to evaluate last drafts given so many scheme changes

      • cliff henny

        in comparison to previous drafts, not really. at leasts last 2 have players that look like they should be on nfl field, may not be all pros. previous 3 or 4, those guys looked overwhelmed from get go, minus shady and maclin.

        • anon

          i meant 2010-11.

          • cliff henny

            yeah, if players were better, scheme wouldnt of changed-looked as bad. chicken/egg deal, i know. i’m way more of a players guy, though scheme coaching changed didnt help. get players might struggle w/ certain aspects of scheme change, but if you can play, it’ll come thru, at least get glimpses.

    • Maggie

      Chuck Noll had major input into draft choices, just like Andy and Chip. Once again, general managers or personnel managers DO NOT OPERATE IN A VACUUM. General managers do not go to every college game and tape every player. Scouts do. Equally, general managers do not sit in a little room deciding to draft some player for his brown eyes, or type of car he drives. At least 15 people have input on the draft board on any given year. Why can’t you understand that? And I believe the unreal Steeler draft may have been 1974. Doesn’t matter. As soon as Noll arrived, they drafted the type of players HE, the Head Coach, wanted.

  • JofreyRice

    We knew Lane would experience some learning curve, but what’s been surprising is how the other top Tackles have also struggled; Neither Joeckel nor Fisher have come in and totally solidified the edge for their teams. That being said, him rating out as one of the 10 worst in the league isn’t quite so hard to swallow. He’s looked pretty decent at times, and the arrow seems to be pointing upwards. Hopefully he’ll continue to improve from here, and become at least a solid RT.

    I want to see Ertz more involved, so we can see what he can do with more of a workload. The gaudy YPC is nice, but I’d love to see more than 7 receptions and 30% of the snaps from a second rounder. Some redzone catches, (maybe even 1 or 2 tds for the year) would be awesome. The opportunity is there: Celek’s definitely slowed down. He used to forced missed tackles after the catch, now he’s shaky at catching the ball, and not doing much after the catch. Can Ertz offer some ability to make contested catches? I think the team needs to find out.

    The rest of the draft is kind of zeroed out at this point. We’ll just have to wait and see what kind of players they’ll be. I don’t think it’s fair to make a judgement on Wolff’s poor play so far–it’s really a difficult thing to come in as a S and play at a high level in today’s pass-happy NFL. Especially when you’re a 5th round talent trying to figure out what the league is all about.

    • cliff henny

      issue might be nfl hyp machine. dont recall 10-15yrs ago anyone(gm/coaches) talking about 3rd rds and back picks like they do today. like poyer, claiming 2nd grade. mean, that’s total bs, would never wait till 7th rd. look at barkley, they had him 3rd rd grade, and had to move up 5 spots to get him but poyer they waited. seems recently that gms, or howie, cause he’s the one i listen too, blows smoke up our @sses about every pick, sets expectations high, than 6 months down road wants fans to backtrack. used to be 3ys, unless player was unreal talent.

      • nicksaenz1

        So true, and last year’s class of QBs didn’t help either. Now everyone thinks that to be good in this league you have to come in from day 1 and make noise. No one likes to remember that guys used to take time to develop and acclimate. I think we get four players out of this last draft, holding constant they’re all putting in the proper amount of work and training. Lane, Ertz, Logan, and Wolff I think can all develop into nice players. I wish we could get an update on Joe Kruger’s development. Would love to see if he can pan out to fill Cole/Graham’s role, or even Barwin’s.

    • Richard Colton

      Haven’t seen anything from Logan at this point – and considering our defense hasn’t been setting the world on fire, that’s disappointing.

      As far as Johnson, he’s easily looked like the best of the three so far. And yeah. arrow is pointing up – unlimited ceiling. What I’d like to know (and we never will) is how Howie had those three linemen graded out. Did he have them Luke-Eric-Lane like most people? Or would he have taken Dion or Eric if given the opportunity?

      • Adam

        I still think Dion was our pick. You can almost tell by his reaction:

        • JofreyRice

          Agreed. I think they definitely wanted Dion.

          • GiveMeABreak

            We should have picked Jarvis Jones. He is going to be a better pro than LJ and likely DJ. Plus, we would have had a playmaker right away on defense and not a potential talent “with the arrow up…”

          • Richard Colton

            hard to knock them for not drafting Jarvis Jones. Kid had serious red flags – A lot of us knew that Honey Badger would be a star too AND be severely underdrafted, but same issue.

          • GiveMeABreak

            The two are nothing alike. JJ won virtually all the accolades you could ask. There was some concern about his health but nothing else that I am aware of. Unlike our first round pic, he was a stud during the season when it counted.

        • Justin

          I know Jordan was who I wanted us to pick. I was a bit disappointed, but I’m fine with Lane Johnson. Peters won’t be here forever.

      • JofreyRice

        I think they’d have gone for either, but I don’t know.

        Johnson’s athletic ability is undeniable, and he’s looked solid any time he’s runblocking; initiating the action. He got beaten like a drum in pass protection by some wiley vets, but he’s seemed to be able to bounce back so far. I think Watkins’ struggles had a lot to do with not being able to bounce back, so it’s a good sign.

        With Stoutland guiding the mix of vets and young leaders, I think the line, as a unit, has a pretty good outlook, at least for a year or two. At some point, they’ll have to replace Peters, Herremans, and Mathis. Gives them some time to bring in guys and develop.

      • nicksaenz1

        Give Logan time. I’d like to think in a year or two he’s a force. He doesn’t need to be a Ngata-like force to make an impact. Although I certainly wouldn’t mind if he did.

    • Adam

      I really hope Ertz and Foles can develop something this game. You just get the feeling he’s coming into his own, and is on the cusp of having a break out game.

  • Anthony Patterrson

    Chris Burke is a moron, he has Washington playing for first place against Dallas. How is that possible when they’ve already lost in the division to Philly, and have more conference losses than Philly?