Eagles Wake-Up Call: Depth Chart Analysis
The Eagles updated the unofficial depth chart on their website yesterday, which they note is crafted by the PR team. Here are some thoughts on the second iteration of this.
In the first iteration of the Eagles’ depth chart, Rueben Randle was ahead of Chris Givens. Now, the speedy 26-year-old has flipped the script. It’s no surprise because of Randle’s first preseason game and who Doug Pederson started at receiver in the second preseason game, but Givens and Randle may be battling for the last roster spot at their position.
Dorial Green-Beckham jumped to the Eagles’ second-team offense simply by joining the team, while Paul Turner is still third-string. These depth charts put together by the Eagles’ PR staff are far from gospel, so I don’t see this as a particularly bad sign for the undrafted rookie.
Similarly, this doesn’t mean Givens has a better chance of making the team than Josh Huff does, even though Givens is ahead on this depth chart. Same thing with Givens and Green-Beckham. I do find it interesting, although not surprising, that Marcus Johnson and David Watford join Turner once again on the third-team offense. Maybe those two are your pair of practice squad receivers.
There’s no surprise at quarterback, running back or tight end, but I do wonder if Brent Celek’s potential starting role means he’ll also play more than Zach Ertz. If the Eagles want to move the ball through the air, Ertz will be on the field. Pederson will also deploy a lot of multiple tight end formations, so I wouldn’t read too much into Ertz’s placement here.
Outside of removing Dennis Kelly and the recently cut offensive linemen, everything along the line is nearly identical.
Beau Allen joins Mike Martin as the backup defensive tackles, and I believe that’s how the coaches currently see it, so I’d place Allen over Taylor Hart for a roster spot. Destiny Vaeao over Aziz Shittu — likely for a practice squad spot — also makes sense, and while it’s not surprising Marcus Smith is still noted ahead of Steven Means, that certainly isn’t based off of their play this summer. What is shocking is Alex McCalister’s placement over Means, but McCalister still seems destined for the practice squad.
Quentin Gause is listed over Myke Tavarres on the second-team defense, which is the order I think the coaching staff is also leaning toward. I’m still not sold that potential sixth linebacker spot goes to a guy currently on the team, but Gause appears to be the frontrunner in that race. I am surprised Blake Countess is placed on the second-team defense over Chris Maragos, given that Maragos received some first-team reps with Malcolm Jenkins out. Countess seems like a strong practice squad candidate.
What I don’t have a great read on is whether Schwartz has switched his starting corners from Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks, as this mentions, to McKelvin and Nolan Carroll. Is Carroll’s superb second preseason game enough to catapult him ahead of Brooks? I view Carroll as the starter, but that competition is far from over.
No surprises here, although it is interesting Wendell Smallwood is the backup kick returner. The kicker competition hasn’t even been close this summer, as Caleb Sturgis has made 91.7 percent of his kicks in practice, while Cody Parkey is at 77.1 percent, according to Jimmy Kempski.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“Some tweaks have been made along the way through his time in Buffalo coming here, but it’s pretty much the same defense.” Stephen Tulloch feels very comfortable in Jim Schwartz’s defense.
“I think everything will work out.” Nigel Bradham’s preliminary hearing is today in Miami, but Bradham does not need to attend.
“We’re a merit-based defense. We don’t go in with a lot of preconceived notions.” Schwartz is unsure of Tulloch’s role in his defense.
“Jim Schwartz’s upfield attack can put a ton of pressure on linebackers and safeties to fill holes, if the linemen get caught.” What They’re Saying.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Les Bowen of the Daily News writes about Jim Schwartz’s relationship with comedian and former Georgetown teammate Jim Gaffigan:
The Eagles’ defensive coordinator was a linebacker for the Hoyas from 1985-87. Gaffigan was an offensive tackle and guard who transferred in after a year as a walk-on at Purdue, Schwartz recalls. Gaffigan’s older brother Joe was a Georgetown offensive lineman and captain, and Gaffigan has said both his parents went to Georgetown.Gaffigan, who opened for Pope Francis in Philly last year, recently spoke about Schwartz and football to the Tennessean in Nashville, where Schwartz first gained coaching prominence as the Titans’ defensive coordinator from 2001-2008.
“The thing that I love about Jim’s story is that he and I kind of pursued the pipe dream,” Gaffigan said. “Jim wanted to be a pro football coach, and I wanted to be a comedian. They were dreams that were kind of viewed as impractical. I’m sure there were plenty of other guys on the team who wanted to be football coaches and some who wanted to be an actor or a comedian, but we were the two who followed our passion.”
Gaffigan didn’t play football his senior year.
“I didn’t play because I was literally having nightmares about two-a-day practices,” Gaffigan told the Tennessean. “I remember walking back from an early- morning practice and seeing other students coming back from a party. I was like, ‘This is what I’m doing in college?’ I mean, I loved football, but when I started having nightmares about wanting to quit, it really made me think. At the same time, it was very hard to quit.”
The Eagles need a leader or two to emerge, notes Marcus Hayes.
There are plenty of players with potential.
Wentz, of course, was drafted No. 2 overall to lead the franchise for the next decade, but his presence undermines Bradford’s power.
Eventually, Wentz’s chief target likely will be Jordan Matthews, a big, engaging, effusive, productive slot receiver with 16 TD catches in his first two seasons . . . and an occasional case of the drops. Talented tight end Zach Ertz caught a lot of passes Celek might have caught, and Ertz, a Stanford guy with Pro Bowl potential, pulls no punches.
Kelce might play himself into redemption. Johnson, who led the vanguard against fired coach Chip Kelly last season, could re-emerge in 2017 as a significant voice.
The smartest money, however, is on Jordan Hicks.
Practice is scheduled for 11:45 a.m., with Doug Pederson set to speak to the media shortly after practice.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.