Mailbag: Too Many Ducks On the Pond?
@Tim_McManus do you expect the defense to take a step forward or be more exposed in year 2? Bonus: is Marcus smith a good scheme fit or no?
— Andrew Moul (@Andrew_Moul) May 22, 2014
Reasons for optimism, Andrew.
Part of what you’re banking on is that some of the young core players (Mychal Kendricks, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Boykin, etc.) take another step forward in their development this year. The group overall will be more familiar with Billy Davis‘ system, which certainly can’t hurt. And I think they have upgraded at a couple positions. The safety group is not perfect but should be better with a less green Earl Wolff and Malcolm Jenkins added to the mix. The Eagles had very little depth at cornerback last season and it bit them on a few occasions. The position appears to be healthier this year with the additions of Nolan Carroll and Jaylen Watkins.
Pass rush is a big question mark, and that bring us to the second part of your tweet. Best I can say is that Smith seems to have traits that suggest he will be a good scheme fit, but that’s about as far as we can take it for now. No idea what to expect from Smith in his rookie season. He’s the wild card.
I’m interested in seeing how running backs David Fluellen (5-11, 224, Toledo) and Henry Josey (5-8, 194, Missouri) do this summer. It’s hard not to be captivated particularly by Josey’s story, which Sheil did a great job of bringing to life here. I don’t look at the running back position behind LeSean McCoy as totally settled, especially after the Bryce Brown trade. Darren Sproles is typically more involved in the pass game than the ground game. Chris Polk can spell McCoy, but he has a bit of an injury history and is coming off shoulder surgery. The Eagles seem to like Matthew Tucker, but that doesn’t mean he’s a lock. Let’s see if either of these guys can make a push.
I believe there’s opportunity for the offensive linemen (Kevin Graf, Donald Hawkins, Karim Barton, Josh Andrews) especially considering that the Eagles did not take an O-lineman in the draft.
Not sure how good of a kicker Carey Spear is, but he’s got a shot because he only has to beat out one other competitor (for now) to win the gig.
@Tim_McManus Tim, the Eagles roster looks criminally bereft of Oregon players. How can they find more guys who Understand The System ™?
— BountyBowl (@bountybowl) May 22, 2014
The great Bounty Bowl and Mike Meech checking in.
After using two of their seven draft picks on Oregon players, the number of Ducks on the roster now stands at eight. (Cincinnati has the second most representatives with five.) I get it. Chip Kelly wants players that are cut from a specific cloth and fit well in his system. Who better than guys who have already played under him, proved to be a match and are accustomed to how the whole operation– from up-tempo to sports science — is run? The head coach says he stays out of the evaluation process when it comes to his former pupils, and that may be true. But he also tells the scouting staff exactly what he’s looking for in a player, so it’s no surprise that they come back with some of his own.
There is logic in pulling from the Oregon program, which Kelly helped stock with a whole bunch of talent. It becomes an issue only when superior players are being overlooked in favor of the familiar. After selecting Taylor Hart, Kelly supposedly told the defensive lineman, “We’re putting the family back together.” Which is fine, I guess, as long as the family can ball.
@Tim_McManus is Lane Johnson progressing the way the Eagles projected after his rookie year? If so, doesn’t this O line become elite?
— Jim rush (@Jpru30Rush) May 22, 2014
Les Bowen wrote a good piece on Johnson for today.
“I know I have the talent to one day be a Pro Bowl player,” Johnson said. “That’s my goal. I have a lot more confidence this year.”
Other than rest, Johnson felt he needed to come out of the offseason with more upper-body strength.
“I wanted to come back more developed,” he said. He said he gained about 10 pounds over his 6-6 frame, now weighs “close to 320.”
I don’t have any real concerns about Johnson. I thought he had a very strong rookie campaign all things considered, and believe he can develop into an elite tackle. The line has a chance to be very good. Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce are farther removed from their respective injuries, Evan Mathis is as steady as it gets and Johnson should take a step forward. Mathis, Peters and Herremans are all north of 30, so there are some long-term questions and concerns regarding the unit. But this group has the potential to be one of the league’s best this year.