Three Eagles Leftovers: On Barbre, Maxwell And Hicks
From Allen Barbre’s comfort level to Byron Maxwell’s role to a Jordan Hicks-DeMeco Ryans comparison, here are three Eagles leftovers.
1. We know that the Eagles will enter 2015 with at least one new offensive line starter at right guard. And depending on what happens with Evan Mathis, that number could be two.
One of the players who has been talked up quite a bit is Allen Barbre. Barbre has started a grand total of eight games in seven seasons, including one with the Eagles. But if the Birds had to play a game tomorrow, chances are he’d be in the starting lineup.
While many assume there’s not much of a difference when it comes to a player lining up on the left side as opposed to the right side, that’s not always the case.
Asked how Barbre looks on the left side, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said: “Better than on the right. He’s a lot more comfortable. I think he’s been a left-side player for a long time. He was not generally on the right. We moved him on the right last year because we needed him to play multiple positions. But he had always been more comfortable as a left-side player by far. Ask him that right now. He’ll tell you that.”
The best-case scenario for the Eagles is that Mathis eventually shows up and starts at left guard, while Barbre starts at right guard. But given what Stoutland said, that move is going to be a transition for Barbre, and it’s not the spot where he’s most comfortable. In other words, RG is going to be a question mark going into the season regardless.
Some offensive linemen don’t have a problem playing both sides. For others, it can be difficult.
“Some of them will hide that because they don’t want you to know that because that decreases their value, obviously,” Stoutland said. “But there’s players, like Andrew Gardner, I can tell from day to day, he can go left side, right side, it doesn’t affect him at all. Other players, they’ll be like, ‘Oh man, I’ve got to put a lot more time into this on this side of the line.’
“Because your body transition, when you’re moving as a left-side player, usually you lean a little bit to your right because the quarterback’s here. So you want to counter-balance your weight. You don’t want to go to your left and have all your weight go out here. So they have to calculate that in their brain if they go on the other side.”
2. There’s been talk about Byron Maxwell shadowing opposing wide receivers once the regular season starts. Billy Davis talked about the possibility last week.
“We did it a little bit [last year], and we always said that we can move Max,” Davis said. “Every day in practice, the corners switch. One day they’re right side. One day they’re left side. So they have the ability to do either one, yes, move and match him up like we did last year.
“We can, depending on the plan and how many receivers are out there. The matchups, the body types of the receiver. Is he a little, quick scat receiver? Is he a real long, tall one? So that’s a week by week decision, but yes we have that ability.”
Davis’ goal is for the Eagles to have a mirrored defense. This is primarily a Cover 1 (man coverage, single high safety) and Cover 3 team. Shadowing opposing wide receivers applies to when the Eagles are playing man.
I don’t think having Maxwell “travel” is something Davis wants to do, even though the Eagles paid a hefty sum to land him. He might do it in specific instances where Davis really sees a matchup advantage, but overall, expect Maxwell to line up on one side like the Eagles have done the previous two years.
3. Given the current construction of the roster, it might be difficult for third-round pick Jordan Hicks to get on the field as a rookie. The Eagles have DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso ahead of him. They’ve got veterans like Najee Goode, Emmanuel Acho and Brad Jones on the roster as well.
But down the road, it seems like the team views Hicks as a potential Ryans replacement.
“I don’t want to curse him, but he’s kind of a young DeMeco-type,” said inside linebackers coach Rick Minter. “And maybe more so DeMeco in the intangibles than maybe just tangible. DeMeco was a second-round pick, very powerful, forceful linebacker. Jordan has a lot of athleticism. Athletically, I think he’s probably somewhere between Mychal [Kendricks] and D. Not as big and physical as D, maybe not as athletic as Mychal. Maybe somewhere in the middle.
“But as far as the leader, the smarts, the intelligence, the sense, football IQ, common sense about the game, he’s got it. He’s just one of those guys that’s got some of those ‘it’ factors. He’s just got a good feel.”
I’m not sure how this year’s going to play out, but for the first time in awhile, the Eagles have some really young, talented options at the linebacker spot.