NFC Exec: Don’t Get Too Excited About the Eagles
While shows like HBO’s “Hard Knocks” show us the highly introspective nature of training camp and the challenges of figuring out the pieces of a 53-man roster — not to mention Rex Ryan’s affinity for profanity and Oreos — the pre-season is not all about deciding whether to keep a fifth running back or fourth safety. There are opponents to dissect and rival rosters to evaluate, in case fortifications are necessary as the brutal season drags on.
With less than a week remaining until the Eagles finally tee it up in earnest, the team has been folded, spindled and mutilated ad nauseam in house and by the obsessive media that charts each Kevin Kolb pass and every Ernie Sims late hit. It’s refreshing, therefore, to get another viewpoint on the team. So, here are the musings of an NFC personnel executive on the Birds, position group by position group. [SIGNUP]
A couple of things to note: First, pay attention to the rather underwhelming tone. Second, in case you are wondering whether this source is truly plugged in, remember that when we spoke last week, he told me the Eagles were quietly “inquiring about the value of Stacy Andrews on the trade market. They’re fishing.” A few days later, Andrews was traded.
So, here is the breakdown:
Wide Receivers: Their two young guys (DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin) are unique in their speed, and they create challenges with that speed. Jackson is a viable threat and has shown his playmaking skills early. They have a very good one and two. The strategy the Eagles present opens things up for them.
Tight End: (Brent) Celek is a proven starter, and (rookie) Clay Harbor is more of an athlete than a football player right now. He’s still a work in progress. They could probably use a third tight end, but they’re happy with Harbor. They don’t need a pure blocking tight end. Those guys just need to get in the way (of defenders) anymore.
Offensive Line: Jason Peters is probably their best offensive lineman. He has wonderful athletic skills and left tackle feet. (Right tackle) Winston Justice is good enough. He still needs a little development. Injuries have set them back in the interior and in the development of the line. (Todd) Herremans is all right. He’s a functional inside player.
Running Backs: They have “Mr. Inside” and “Mr. Outside.” (LeSean) McCoy has shown flashes, but I don’t know if he can run between the tackles consistently yet. That’s why they acquired (Mike) Bell to do the heavy lifting. (Leonard) Weaver is a conventional fullback, and you can win with him.
Quarterbacks: (Kevin) Kolb has all the stuff you want. He just needs experience. He can be good down the line. (Michael) Vick gives them a different dimension with his feet, but he needs to work on his passing skills. He hasn’t reclaimed the form he had. Everything needs to slow down for (Mike) Kafka. He’s a good winner and has the intangibles you’re looking for.
Defensive Line: (Trent) Cole is the best guy of the bunch, but I think they helped themselves in the draft and through trades here. (Broderick) Bunkley and (Mike) Patterson do what they ask them to do. They’re not the true playmakers of that defense. Brandon Graham was a good pick for them, and I think he has proven that during camp. I love the effort and motor of (rookie end Daniel) Te’o-Nesheim. Maybe they’ll kick him inside on third downs so he can rush the passer. They’ve built some young depth on the defensive line.
Linebackers: I think their starting three are pretty good. (Ernie) Sims is as advertised. He will run around and fly to the ball. But he’s such a reckless player. He has to dial it back. Having (Stewart) Bradley back helps. He provides stability in the middle and adds leadership and smarts.
Defensive Backs: I don’t know how much they like Ellis Hobbs. I think he may be out at some point. They do like (rookie Trevard) Lindley at corner. He may be the starter down the line. If I were (Asante) Samuel, I wouldn’t worry about knocking people down as much as I’d worry about covering them. They’re pretty strong at safety. (Quintin) Mikell is solid at what he does, and he has a comfort level with the system. (Nate) Allen has talent but is young.
Not exactly an overwhelming assessment, is it? Like most Eagles fans, our NFC exec thinks the Birds are pretty good but not exactly ready to tear through the division.
Maybe next time, I’ll find out what he thinks about some other NFC East teams.
Like the Redskins.
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