On the Marcus Smith Project

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Billy Davis has a message for players who enter his office looking for feedback:

“Be careful what you ask, because you are going to get the truth. Just be ready to handle the truth,” said Davis, channelling his inner Colonel Jessup.

The truth is that Marcus Smith is struggling. Davis has talked to the rookie outside linebacker about it, and was candid about it at his press conference this week when he said, among other things, that “the game is moving too fast in his brain right now in my opinion.” He knew Smith would be listening.

“I was interested to see how he would respond even to our comments to you guys. I know that I am talking to them, too,” he told a small group of reporters Tuesday. “But I talk to them first and I try to keep the same message. He’s going to be OK. And he’s not playing great. We try to live in the truth.”

Davis says Smith has responded well to the critical analysis and believes the 6-3, 251-pound former quarterback has the athleticism and mental make-up to push through the learning curve and develop into a good player. The question is: how long will that take?

“He had a ton of production [in college] but a lot of it was on-air production when you studied it,” said former scout and current NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who had Smith as his 44th ranked player in the 2014 draft but anticipated that he would be taken in the first round based on buzz he was hearing around the league. “But you were intrigued with what he could do athletically just in terms of watching him run and drop and do different things, you can use him on twists and do all different things with him. Very, very athletic but not a pure polished pass rusher. Very much going to be a work in progress.

“He is an athlete right now. He’s not really a football player. You have to develop that. The position switch he had in college coming from the offensive side of the ball, there is going to be a natural adjustment period, especially  when you get to this level. I wouldn’t expect much — I know I didn’t expect much –in Year One. I think it’s kind of a long-term play.”

The answer to their pass-rushing issues in the short-term, then, might have to come from somewhere else besides their first-round pick. Howie Roseman has talked about the draft being more of a long-term investment rather than a quick fix in the organization’s eyes. They would obviously prefer instant impact but will accept minimal early returns so long as it pays off down the line.

Right now, the bumps in the road are being looked at as part of the process for a young, green player. When does it turn into a cause for concern?

“Year two,” said Davis. “If this time next year I’m having the same conversation, then I’m alarmed. But it won’t happen. We’ll make sure we get him right. He’ll be OK.”

You can tell that?

“Yeah, you can [by his personality], the way he works, and it means something to him. That rookie year is so hard.”

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  • Eneagled
    • macadood

      lol @ Donnie Jones in his stupid safari hat looking on

      • How dare you mock Donnie Football. Shame on you.

  • Kleptolia

    Billy Davis would be a good coach to work for.

  • JofreyRice

    For me, the most impressive part in watching his Louisville cutups was seeing how aware he was in Charlie Strong’s defense. I disagree with Jeremiah, I thought he looked like a defender in those clips. A second round type guy, but an actual defender. I felt like you could see he was a smart guy, and had a good feel for the bigger picture, as a former QB. I think we knew he wasn’t a passrusher, but were hoping he would find some way to get onto the field as a rookie, if even to free someone else up to get after the QB. I think it’d be a little disappointing to get absolutely nothing out of him this year.

  • cliff h-MOAR white goons

    Smith didn’t look good, no way getting around that. least fans aren’t getting nutz-fluffed with whole bunch of coach speak. sounds like they knew what they were getting. wonder if they tossed him to the dogs alittle in the NE game. he didn’t look nearly as lost in Chicago game. but they stuck him out there for 70 plays, might have given the rook a little reality check.

    • Hey, I’d like to see him for a 1/2 versus Pittsburgh. Hopefully we’ll see some improvement.

      • cliff h-MOAR white goons

        like to see more than that. rotate in with Barwin and Cole after 2 series. who cares at this point if he struggles, Band-Aid is ripped off. put him right up on the line, welcome to the NFL rook.

        • well, I’m being reasonable. Starters usually get 3/4th of the 3rd game. If Smith gets the entire 3rd, he’ll be going up against their starting offensive line. Good barometer. And hey, if he dominates their backups in the 4th like he should, the entire tenor of this conversation changes.

          • cliff h-MOAR white goons

            yeah, you are right. just don’t need to see Cole. he’s a pro, let him save his gas. shoot, I don’t care if they put MS2 in at MLB. cant learn on the sidelines.

          • TNA

            It’s interesting that they’ve taken different developmental approaches to the various rookies. With JMatt, maybe because they see him as a potential starter, they had him perfect as much as possible a role solely as a slot receiver. With Huff and Smith2, they have them do a bunch of a different things (e.g. Jack) to learn the system and what it means to be playing a role in the system. Part of it has to do with team needs, but they’re clearly in different phases of development.
            Right now, if this were a classroom, Barwin, Jenkins and DeMeco would be the students that are serving as teaching fellows. Then there are guys like Boykin who are A/A- students. And then there are guys like Wolff who are in the B/B+ range. And then you have Smith2, who’s hanging on for dear life and having difficulty processing the vocabulary, much less the concepts, intuition, and ultimately execution.

        • Ty

          less tossing him to the dogs or “welcome to the NFL rook” more like hey there is only a few ways to get experience in the NFL and none involve sitting on the bench. there is no point of ripping the “Band-Aid” off if the kids not ready. it looks like the coaches think he is ready to struggle without loosing confidence or getting discouraged. which is a very good thing if they are right because not many NFL players don’t struggle sometimes. need to learn to learn from it. like a tough love kinda think not the eagles trying to teach him a lesson on being a rookie. I don’t think smith has necessarily done anything wrong just taking a bit to develop. he was a qb when he was recruited to play in college so it is still a new position. qb to lb is a hell of a switch.

          • cliff h-MOAR white goons

            bandaid is already ripped off. besides tackling own guys and scoring tds for other team, is there anything MS2 could do that would make us think less of him?
            I’m not freaking out the guy is a project. COle and Barwin better be able to pick up pace this year. don’t think it’s the worst thing for a rookie to sit or have limited playbook in 1st year. yr 2, all that goes out the window, better show glimpses. cross that road when we get there. relying on rookie passrushers is never the way to go.

          • NickS, Combine Warrior

            Even the (arguably) most hyped rusher from last year’s draft who fell, Jarvis Jones, didn’t start.

        • Jerry Pomroy

          Part of the problem is that his speed is being under-utilized when rushing from the front side. He’s playing a new position and although he lined up all over in Louisville last year, he primarily ‘rushed from the right side’, not the left. The early expectations couldn’t have been that high for him from the coaching staff because you probably put him in the toughest position to have some success this year. So they basically threw him into the water with a sink or swim mentality. If they ultimately view him as the successor at ROLB, I’m guessing they feel that his growing pains he’s feeling now learning to play the more advanced Jack role will pay off at higher dividends in the future in the Predator role.

          I personally wish that they would’ve put him in at ROLB and let him utilize his speed and athleticism chasing down QBs & RBs in the backfield w/ the occasional coverage drop while slowly expanding his responsibilities, football IQ and position versatility. Much like Louisville did with him with great success after transitioning him from QB to LB, then LB to DE, then DE to LB/DE/DT.

  • Amar, CB who bought in

    You know who’s not a project, Darqueze Dennard

    • Adam G

      You know who was a project, Robert Quinn.

      • Ty

        you know who’s not a project… Payton Manning

        • you know who is a project? Alan Parsons

          • You win, RC.

          • NickS, Combine Warrior

            As was the Blair Witch.

          • OldDuckMcDoc

            Surely you can’t be Sirius?

          • Johnny Domino

            Don’t call me Shirley.

          • Pennguino

            Oh the games people play….
            Doesn’t matter to me but you can take it or leave it

          • FluxCapacitor

            I was like “I never heard of the player named Alan…OHHHH”. Well played RC, well played…LOL

      • Amar, CB who bought in

        No, he was not.
        “Quinn ended his rookie season with five sacks, three blocked punts, and generated positive reviews for his pass rushing skills.”

        • Adam G

          You really are thick. He didn’t even play the season before he was drafted and was inactive for the first game of the season. Here you go so you don’t have to do more research:

          Coach Steve Spagnuolo confirmed that he considers No. 14 overall pick Robert Quinn the fifth-best defensive end on the Rams right now.
          Quinn was a surprising healthy scratch in Week 1 as he’s behind Chris Long, James Hall, C.J. Ah You and Eugene Sims on the depth chart. Quinn will be active this week thanks to Ah You’s wrist injury, but it’s a bad sign for the rookie’s potential production early this season.

          He was literally the definition of a project.

  • MagatBrackendale

    How many folks here were hot after Colt Lyeria? Well, Green Bay has just waived B-bye. Waiver can have different meanings but….

    • he tore every ligament in his knee Maggie. Come on.

    • Travis Papa

      By all accounts he was having a good camp till that happened also

      • anon

        nope he was allllllll the way at the bottom of the depth chart. they were going to switch him to fullback

      • Johnny Domino

        “Other than that, how’d you like the play Mrs. Lincoln?”

    • pjcostello

      He’s waived/injured — GB wants to IR him, but he has to pass through waivers first. If he does, GB will keep him.

  • Jason

    I think the most telling thing will be if he is a game day inactive in the first couple weeks. It would be interesting to see if they game plan a couple simple “games” between him and Ced Thorton. Run a couple twists, etc.. on 2nd and long or 3rd down.

  • JosephR2225

    Reports of the Fluellen release may have been premature:

    Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter · 4m

    Eagles and Colts wheeling and dealing: Colts trade K Cody Parkey to Philly for RB David Fluellen, per Indy official.

    • cliff h-MOAR white goons

      traded for a FG kicker, man, that’s low. Parker any good?

      • JosephR2225

        No idea, but if these college stats are accurate, it’s not a pretty picture.


        Kicks a damn good extra point though. And he led the nation in touchbacks last year.

        • cliff h-MOAR white goons

          have that in involuntarymanslaughterleg

          • Ty

            if murderlag somehow makes the final 53… I’m buying his jersey. such a humble kid too, until your the guy receiving his kckoff and he is pointing at you and looking deep into your soul tryin to decide if he should let you live or not.

        • Will, Always Shady in CA

          He’s 2 for 2 in the preseason, including a 45 yarder.

      • Token

        Ill copy and paste what I posted on the other thread.

        Parkey ranked first in the nation with 69 touchbacks. Had a few nice kickoffs last week according to Indy press. 15-21 his senior year. Missed a 33 yarder in the championship. Scouting report says he has limited leg beyond 50. So I dunno guess we will see. Wonder if they are still watching a couple guys to see if they get released or if this is it.



        • peteike

          interesting, carry 2 kickers and a long snapper?

          • Token

            I would hope not. They just have to admit they were wrong with Henery and let him go. Go with this kid or some other cast off like the Bills 2nd kicker. Its hard to be much worse.

          • peteike

            well, this guy could be worse if he cant hit much past 50 which is weird since he can boot it out of the end zone. That means he has accuracy issues. Who knows but like most of us, any change there is good, there seems to be a few teams with 2 guys fighting it out. Take the one dumped

          • Token

            But Henery is inaccurate in addition to not kicking deep. So Ill take the guy who can get us touchbacks if this is the only other option.

          • peteike

            ha good point, me too

          • 76mustang

            Henery is 86% career FGs in 3 seasons. Parkey kicked in the South, and has below average hang time on his KOs (more a line drive). Doubt he’s Henery’s replacement, but happy to have a better leg in camp to push Alex.

          • Token

            There cant possibly still be Henery supporters can there? Henery has a inflated % because hes been babied going back to Andy.

        • eaglespur

          Cody Parkey’s kicking assignment involves Henery’s butt

      • eaglesfan, 20-win failure

        at least Fluellen can brag that his trade value was higher than a certain pro bowl WR…

      • DoctorRick

        I’m a contrarian about kickers, I think they are incredibly undervalued and that many teams would be better off to pay a little more attention to securing a good one. They consistently score points and any weakness at the position will be exposed. Only 2 non kickers are in the top 50 all time scorers so the point production is huge.

        I am surprised they kept Henery after his issues last season.

  • Ty

    well… I wanted the Eagles to draft Jonny football so what do I know, but the Eagles already have a project at outside lb with Cole and graham if he even makes the team, I was hoping that shith would sure up the linebacker core not add another questionmark.

    • Javi Echie

      Could of said the exact same things about Lane Johnson last year and that turned out pretty good. Have faith in the coaching staff.

      • Ty

        I do have faith, but it isn’t a direct comparison because we could take a project on the line cause peters and other vets. and they didn’t reach to get lane, everyone could tell he was the real deal even if he wasn’t there yet. but as a former O-line I am a better judge of skill there.

  • Dave S

    Uncertainty creates chaos. There was chaos in that pick. Too many better choices, instead they panicked and reached. Fact.

    • Joe Thomas

      How can you say fact, if thats who they liked, you can’t say they panicked. I like the pick, i think it pays off

      • Will, Always Shady in CA

        Its still early, too many expected this guy to come in and eat quarterbacks from the get go. I think hell be fine. Kendricks had growing pains as well

  • Anytime you hear “project” and your 1st round pick in a sentence it never makes you feel good. A 3rd to 7th round project is another thing.