Eagles Wake-Up Call: Trey Burton’s New Role
Trey Burton is a football player. If you talk to anyone in the Eagles organization, they will almost certainly use that phrase when talking about the tight end, which they use to reference his versatility and to explain why he filled in so well for Zach Ertz against the Bears.
“You can put Trey anywhere and he could go out there and play,” Jordan Matthews said. “I was just talking to him today about when he played back in high school, when they used to play against Aaron Murray, back when he was back at [Henry B.] Plant [High School]. They were having trouble with Orson Charles — y’all remember him, he played at Georgia — and (Burton’s) coach told him to go cover Orson Charles. He didn’t even play corner!”
But Burton stuck to tight end in the Eagles’ 29-14 win over the Bears, catching five passes for 49 yards and one touchdown (all career-highs). The 24-year-old played well in what was essentially the first significant action of his NFL career, but it wasn’t surprising because of how much he stood out nearly every day during training camp.
“Trey did exactly what we thought he was going to do: make some plays,” Frank Reich said. “What he showed us during the whole offseason kind of put him in a position, where when Zach went down, he wasn’t just filling in. This is a guy who is not just going to fill in, we’re going to go to him. I mean, Carson [Wentz] has a ton of confidence in him.”
Since signing to Philadelphia in 2014 as an undrafted free agent, Burton has improved markedly on his route running, strength and blocking, according to Eagles Tight Ends Coach Justin Peelle. Even since OTAs in April, Burton has made a significant jump in diagnosing defenses, which has made the game slow down for him. Burton is seeing coverages better because he understands his role, he knows how opponents will defend plays, he’s aware of what everybody else around him is doing and he has a good sense of how everything will likely unfold.
Peelle also explained how, when compared to Brent Celek and Ertz, Burton is a more natural route runner and a better athlete. Even once Ertz returns from his rib injury, players and coaches insist Burton will still be a contributor to the Eagles’ offense, as many people in the NovaCare Complex are excited to unveil Doug Pederson’s three-tight end sets — which don’t involve Matt Tobin or another extra offensive lineman — in games.
“It gets me extremely excited when we’re able to get Zach back, because we haven’t been able to have that set that everybody’s been talking about where you have Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and Trey Burton,” Matthews said. “That’s a dangerous combination that I feel like we can really take advantage of. This is the first time I’ve ever been excited that a bye week was this early so we can go ahead and get Zach back. With those three guys, we can really make some heads turn.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“You’ve got to get third and manageable. That’s going to be key.” Frank Reich wants the offense to keep moving the chains.
Carson Wentz and the offense had another great game against the Bears, even though his numbers were lower than the previous week against the Browns.
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“He’s not afraid to chuck the ball deep and make some plays. I definitely admire his game.” Wentz is honored to be compared to Ben Roethlisberger.
Brandon Lee Gowton and James Seltzer preview the Eagles-Steelers game on the latest episode of BGN Radio.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Frank Reich’s lessons from his predecessors have helped him with his time with Carson Wentz, writes Mike Sielski of the Inquirer.
The episode was an early lesson for Reich, a precursor to dozens of coaches’ meetings and game-planning sessions. It taught him how far a team would go to stop a supreme athlete, and how that athlete might transcend the strategy anyway. Reich saw that same dynamic play out as the quarterbacks coach for the Indianapolis Colts, where he worked with a certain Hall of Famer in Peyton Manning, and as the offensive coordinator with the San Diego Chargers, where he worked with a possible Hall of Famer in Philip Rivers. And he is beginning to see it now, he said, with Carson Wentz.
“I’ve seen how teams try to stop elite quarterbacks who can think like that, who can throw like that,” Reich said. “I’ve seen a lot of what they try to do to confuse them. Here’s what happens: When you’ve recycled through it a bunch of times, you say, ‘Oh, there are the three or four things they do.’ Say you’re the defensive coordinator and I’m Peyton Manning, and you have those four things in your back pocket. You think, ‘I’ve got four options to try to stop this guy.’ Peyton knows over all the years, ‘There are four things that coordinators do to try to stop me. As soon as you do Number Three, I recognize that you’re trying to do Number Three, and I have what I think is an answer for that.'”
It is a necessary aspect of Wentz’s maturation – the thrust and parry between a defensive coordinator and a quarterback, the knowledge and experience that he can accumulate only over time. Make no mistake, too: The battle of wits is between the coordinator and the quarterback. A team’s offensive system, Reich said, is less important to a defensive coordinator’s game plan than the manner in which the quarterback implements that system.
Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice says Antonio Brown will cause problems for the secondary, especially if Leodis McKelvin is still unable to play.
1) The Eagles’ secondary against Antonio Brown and the gang
Brown could pose all kinds of problems for the Eagles’ secondary, which will likely only have three cornerbacks active on game day, as Leodis McKelvin is expected to remain out.
While the Eagles will always have to be aware of where Brown lines up, the Steelers have other weapons in their passing game as well, as Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz pointed out on Thursday.
“Yeah, we know what number he wears, so we won’t have a problem finding him,” said Schwartz of Brown. “But it’s not just him. I mean, they’ve got a track meet of wide receivers. They’ve got some guys that can fly and that can take the top of a defense.”
Doug Pederson will address the media at 10:15.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.