Posts Tagged ‘preseason

03
Sep
10

EAGLES: Loss to Jets Caps Off Ugly Preseason

Watching the Eagles vs. Jets game left me counting the seconds until the clock struck zeros. It marked the Eagles second loss and the end of a not so promising preseason. Even though the first team didn’t play last night, the Eagles failed to score an offensive touchdown and fell by a score of 21-17.

For many players, Thursday night’s game was the last chance to impress the coaches and make the 53-man roster that needs to be finalized in the next two weeks. Coming into the game, the players on the bubble were linebacker Moise Fokou, wide receiver Kelly Washington, and many of the defensive rookies like Kurt Coleman and Trevard Lindley. After two fumble recoveries that led to the Eagles only touchdowns of the game, the ugly Eagles offensive output soon turned to the Kurt Coleman show.

Kurt Coleman's performance saved himself a spot on the roster

Coleman has not scored two defensive touchdowns since high school. Better yet, he only had one touchdown during his four-year collegiate career at Ohio State. With two fumble recoveries for touchdowns last night, the seventh-rounder may have just afforded himself a spot on the Eagles final roster as a backup safety.

Even though Coleman had a great output, it’s still tough to overlook the offensive woes the Eagles have faced this preseason. The first team offense only scored one touchdown in the three games that they saw action; that coming on a LeSean McCoy running play. For all of the hype surrounding Kevin Kolb fitting in perfectly into the Andy Reid west coast offense, Kolb has a lot to prove after the way he played this preseason. Granted it’s hard to get any flow going in the preseason when he is only playing a scheduled amount of snaps, but still Kolb failed to throw a passing touchdown.

Last night the quarterbacking problems only continued with the performance by third stringer Mike Kafka. Michael Vick played the first quarter and actually looked the best he has in 2010. Kafka went a mere 9 for 27 for 76 yards, finishing the game with a 26.9 passer rating.

It’s not time to hold our heads down and dwell on what was a terrible preseason for the Eagles. They have two weeks of practice to gear up for the opening game against the Packers at Lincoln Financial Field. Their inexperience has shined through in the preseason games and there’s a lot of growing up that needs to be done in the next two weeks. It’s a season where a question mark lingers above the heads of fans, coaches, and players. Let’s just hope it goes a lot better than the last four weeks.

31
Aug
10

EAGLES: Can Jamaal Jackson Save the Eagles Offensive Line?

In the last few days, there have been various reports that center Jamaal Jackson may be the Eagles starter come opening day. He practiced with the first team offense on Monday and has not dealt with any reported problems with his surgically repaired knee that kept him out for the end of last season.

Having Jackson back as the starting center is not only a positive, it is a necessity. With Nick Cole continuing to nurse an ankle injury, the Eagles are currently relying on third-year offensive lineman Mike McGlynn to take snaps. McGlynn has held his own for the past three games as the starter, but he is not the long term answer for the Eagles. Jackson proved at the beginning of last season that he is capable of being a Pro-Bowl caliber center; however his knee is a big concern moving forward.

Can Jamaal Jackson remain healthy before the regular season?

With Jackson being a staple player at center, the Eagles can focus more on the rest of the offensive line. His health can act as a stepping stone and enable the first team to practice as a unit again. Like last season, the Eagles have yet to practice or play a preseason game with the first-team offensive line, which didn’t go over so well for all of 2009. Similar to 2009, the biggest question mark heading into the regular season is the offensive line. They have five prominent starters in Jackson, Jason Peters, Stacy Andrews, Todd Herremans and Winston Justice, however they just can’t seem to stay healthy and get reps together.

Herremans, who has battled a left foot problem, sprained his ankle during Monday’s practice. Stacy Andrews is struggling in practice and has been splitting time with Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole who returned to practice after his ankle injury. In the absence of his brother, Andrews has also been forced to switch from tackle to guard, which has not been very smooth.

Jason Peters is not dealing with any injuries, but is not there mentally. He led the team in penalties last season and has already committed a couple in preseason. He is a three-time Pro-bowler yet is playing much like a rookie. The scariest part of the Eagles offensive line is that their most consistent player is probably Winston Justice. I never thought I would be saying that after the way he started his career watching Osi Umenyiora run past him six times.

Another year and the offensive line still has a lot to prove. The only difference is that the 2010 Eagles team has a number of other questions lingering above the heads of the players and coaches: how well will Kevin Kolb fare? Are the Eagles too young at offense? Can Nate Allen and Brandon Graham be all the Eagles were hoping for? Can the defense improve despite its age and inexperience? Just add the offensive line to a long list of questions and you have what will be the Eagles season. However, the offensive line is a question that needs to be answered first if the Eagles offense wants to get anything done this year.

27
Aug
10

EAGLES: Previewing the Third Preseason Game

Even though the game is just a few hours away, there are a few things to look forward to for the Eagles third preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. With the first team playing three quarters on both sides of the ball, it will be the last chance for the Eagles to show their fans what they’ve got. Now for some quick notes before the game:

-The Eagles first team offense has still yet to score a touchdown. They looked far from game ready last week against the Bengals, but the offense should get a few boosts with Stacy Andrews and running back Mike Bell back in the rotation.

-First-round draft pick Brandon Graham will start tonight at defensive end. He has impressed coaches at practice and will get his first start with the Eagles first team defense. Safety and second-round pick Nate Allen will start his third-straight game.

-Left guard Todd Herremans will start for the Eagles tonight. He will not play all three quarters for precautionary reasons with his foot.

-Cornerback Macho Harris is expected to play after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury. He is one of the main players in the bubble so tonight’s performance will be crucial for Harris.

-Things continue to get worse for Eagles tight end Cornelius Ingram. He did not travel with the team because of knee problems. Doctors noted that he has a Baker’s cyst on the back of his left knee, which is the same injury that kept him out of his senior season at Florida. His chances of making the team continue to dwindle with the injury problems.

-Players that are on the bubble and have something to prove tonight:

1) Moise Fokou- this is one of his last chances to prove that he can compete with the first team. He has continued to fall down the depth charts and almost has no chance to compete with Akeem Jordan anymore.

2) Omar Gaither- similar to Fokou, he is under the spotlight and if he wants to be on the first team, his performance tonight is crucial.

3) Darryl Tapp- with rookies Brandon Graham and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim playing well and winning the approval of Sean McDermott, Tapp could be seeing his chances of starting dwindle

4) Joselio Hanson and Dimitri Patterson- who will be the Eagles second starting cornerback? And don’t forget about Trevard Lindley.

A lot of questions for the first team and the bubble players. Let’s see how it all comes to play.

22
Aug
10

EAGLES: Offense Looks Terrible in Second Preseason Game

For the second straight game, the Eagles offense failed to make any significant impact in the preseason. The first team was held to just 6 points in the first half, and while Kevin Kolb did not turn the ball over, he failed to connect in the end zone. Kolb finished the outing going 11-17 for 126 yards, giving him a stat line of 17-for-28 for 221 yards in his two starts. Last week it was Brent Celek that couldn’t hold on to a Kolb pass in the end zone. This week it was a botched pass from Kolb headed for Jason Avant that was just a few inches too high.

Vick's performance on Friday night was one of the worst of his career

The biggest concern was not with Kolb, but with the Eagles second string quarterback Michael Vick. Number 7 had one, if not his worst, outing as a professional quarterback. Vick went 1-for-5 for 6 yards and a pair of interceptions. Just take note of the fact that he completed more passes to the Bengals than he did to the Eagles. All fingers can’t be pointed at Vick. The offensive line, who is already thin with Todd Herremans, Nick Cole and Jamaal Jackson out, struggled against the Bengals defensive pressure all night.

Another aspect of the Eagles offense that struggled for the second straight week is the Eagles running game. LeSean McCoy had 6 carries for 20 yards. Those aren’t the worst numbers in the world, however what the box score doesn’t show is that 17 of those 20 yards came on one carry. That means he rushed for three yards on five carries. Weaver only got four touches on the night and failed to make any solid production.

The only true bright spot in the Eagles offense was in wide receiver DeSean Jackson. He was the highlight of the Eagles stat-line, hauling in four catches for 74 yards. Just like expected, Jackson has so much potential with his speed and versatility as a receiver. Jeremy Maclin left the game with a shoulder contusion and the rest of the receivers had mediocre outings.

It’s very hard to be critical during the preseason when there are more concerns with injuries then with production. At the same time with the Eagles young roster and several question marks heading into the season, it is a bit worrisome to see the offense under-perform in back to back weeks. With training camp over and most of the roster set, I expect the Eagles to only improve going forward. They will take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night.

19
Aug
10

EAGLES: Training Camp Wrap-Up; Notes for Second Preseason game

With training camp coming to a close yesterday, all eyes point to Friday night’s second preseason matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Eagles are coming in relatively healthy, which has been the biggest highlight of training camp.

There were no torn ACL’s. There were no season ending injuries. With the exception of a few key players battling nagging injuries, the Eagles were fortunate enough to steer clear of the injury bug (for now that is). Now heading into the heart of preseason, the young Eagles team has the ability to flourish and mold into one of the biggest dark horses of the 2010 season. Looking back at training camp, there were a number of players that really proved themselves and earned a spot on the Eagles roster:

1. Rookies

Andy Reid talks with Clay Harbor

I don’t think I have ever been more excited about a rookie class since following the Eagles. Granted the Eagles have 13 draft picks to choose from, but there are a number of youngsters that proved they can run with the big boys. For one, Brandon Graham demonstrated that he can start as a defensive end for the Eagles. He proved all the naysayers wrong that doubted his size and power. In the last few days he has gotten reps on the inside of the line too, illustrating the confidence that Reid and McDermott have in the first round draft pick. Similarly, free safety Nate Allen, who had arguably the most pressure riding on him coming into Lehigh, showed that he can also play with the first team. Considering the Eagles are extremely thin at safety, many were worried that the second-round pick wouldn’t live up to hype and Allen showed, for now, that he is not afraid to back down. Also, safety Kurt Coleman really opened a lot of eyes over the last few weeks. As a seventh-round pick, Coleman was often overlooked coming out of Ohio State. He should have the backup safety spot locked up.

The biggest shock in my perspective came from wide receiver Riley Cooper. All I remember hearing from him as Florida was his size and ability to be a deep threat, but Cooper demonstrated all of training camp that he is as versatile as they come. Not only do I expect him to make the roster, I expect him to be a viable threat as the Eagles fourth receiver. Similar to Cooper, tight end Clay Harbor was arguably the biggest surprise of training camp. Even though Cornelius Ingram is coming off his second torn ACL, he was the big favorite heading into training camp to be a solid second option. Ingram continues to battle injuries and ended camp as one of the biggest disappointments, as Harbor outplayed him and stayed healthy enough to lock up the second spot behind Brent Celek.

2. Stewart Bradley

The fearless Bradley proved that his torn ACL from last season is far behind him. The Eagles finally have a sufficient leader on the defensive side of the ball and an experienced veteran that will be a major threat in the middle of the field. Despite being held out of many practices for precautionary measures, Bradley was in full force every time he stepped on the field. Expect a big season from No. 55 in the middle and finally some consistency from the linebacker position.

3. Mike McGlynn

With Jamaal Jackson out for the first few weeks and Nick Cole sitting out with knee swelling, the third-year offensive lineman Mike McGlynn stepped in for the Eagles and surprised many at one of the weakest positions on the field. Nick Cole had a lot to prove coming into training camp, and his inability to remain healthy left the door open for McGlynn. It’s not even that McGlynn is playing that well, it’s more that he isn’t making too many mistakes. He will start his second straight game on Friday night against Cincinnati.

Now for the biggest busts of training camp:

Fokou needs to up his game if he wants to see the field in 2010

1. Moise Fokou

Fokou was expected to be the Eagles strong outside linebacker coming into camp and eventually dwindled to the second team taking reps with the linebackers and defensive lineman. He lost his job to a more experienced veteran in Akeem Jordan and will most likely remain on the bench unless someone is injured.

2. Cornelius Ingram/Mike Bell/Nick Cole

All three of these players had the backup/starting positions locked up before they spent most of training camp getting medical attention. The more unfortunate part is that none of their injuries are serious, but are still enough to keep them off the playing field while they watch their positions being taken from them. This is more the case with Ingram who is without question the third string tight end now and who’s only chance to make the 53-man roster is if Reid takes three tight ends. Bell is still expected to be the backup running back for the Eagles due to the lack of depth at the position, but both Eldra Buckley and Martell Mallet are getting reps with the second and third teams as Bell sits out. As I mentioned earlier with Cole, his starting job was in question coming into the season but he was the clear favorite to be the Eagles starting center with Jamaal Jackson still injured. However, his knee continues to keep him on the sidelines as McGlynn makes moves at the starting job.

3. Hank Baskett

With five years of experience in the NFL, it seemed like Baskett was a sure fit as the Eagles fourth wide receiver. Even though it’s a new quarterback and a lot of new faces, it’s still the same system under Andy Reid. Baskett was out-hustled and outplayed by Riley Cooper and Kelly Washington and if it wasn’t for his experience, he would probably not make the team. I’m sure he will still make it as the fifth receiver.

Check out Philly.com Sheil Kapadia’s list of winners and losers from camp.

Notes for Friday night’s game against the Bengals:

-The starters are going to play the first half on Friday night. Kevin Kolb will start, Vick will play the third quarter, and Mike Kafka will finish the game in the fourth quarter.

– Inactive for the game: Nick Cole, Jamaal Jackson, Todd Herremans, David Pender, and Victor Abiamiri

-Asante Samuel (hamstring) and running back Mike Bell (calf) are listed as questionable

-Tight end Cornelius Ingram practiced yesterday and expects to play. Similar story with Macho Harris (hamstring) and Quintin Demps (knee)

-For the Bengals, head coach Marvin Lewis ruled out WR Antonio Bryant (knee), FB Fui Vakapuna (shoulder), WR Robert Geathers (foot), LB Rashad Jeanty (leg), S Tom Nelson (knee) and OT Andrew Mitchell

-A direct quote from Terrell Owens about his new team: “I was just talking to Carson [Palmer] earlier,” Owens said. “This team, this year it really gives me the feeling of when I went to Philly. The talent level on this team, the capabilities of where this team can really go.” It’s always interesting to play against the infamous T.O.

15
Aug
10

EAGLES: Looking back at the Eagles preseason game against Jacksonville

There was a lot to take away from the Eagles first preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night. From the positive to the negative, the Eagles 28-27 win illustrated that the ‘Birds are still far from game-ready.

If the Eagles could work the west coast offense they did on the first drive, this is going to be a fun year to be an Eagles fan. First off, the Eagles scored on four of their first five drives. Quarterback Kevin Kolb looked relaxed in his completions to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin for big gains over the middle. The drive ended in a field goal, but that was due to a dropped touchdown pass by Brent Celek. DeSean Jackson was wide open on the side of the endzone and was probably a better option, but there’s no excuse for a drop like that in the red zone. Kolb went 6-for-11 for 95 yards on the night and still realizes there’s a lot to work on before the regular season.

Michael Vick on the other hand was full of ups and downs. He had a great vintage-Vick touchdown run, but also tossed an interception and missed a few crucial passes. His best pass of the night came on a 46-yard toss to rookie wide receiver Riley Cooper. I was surprised at the lack of Wildcat play-calling throughout the game. Maybe Andy finally got it through his head that it wasn’t fooling anyone.

Don't let Chad Hall's size fool you

The player of the game was 5-foot-8 wide receiver Chad Hall. Despite competing at the deepest position of the Eagles roster, Hall’s spectacular performance on Friday night may have solidified his spot on the 53-man list; whether that be as a wide receiver or return specialist. The rookie hauled in a 57-yard pass from Mike Kafka over the middle on top of a few large gains from end-arounds. Despite his tiny stature, his speed is unmatched by almost anyone on the roster. And we all know how much Andy Reid loves speed. Even if Reid decides to take four or five receivers, I can’t imagine he will pass up on Hall’s versatility and ability to be a kick/punt returner.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles first team was very strong in the first quarter. They didn’t see much action (6 plays to be exact), which is a positive considering they forced back-to-back three and outs. Because of that, there’s not much to report on rookies Brandon Graham and Nate Allen, who are two of the biggest question marks coming into the regular season.

The secondary saw the most action against the Jaguars. Seventh-round standout Kurt Coleman, who has opened eyes during training camp, was the Eagles most consistent defensive player on Friday night. Similar to Chad Hall, he may have secured a spot on the team with his performance, making a few big hits (most noticeably the hit on Mike Sims-Walker to break up a 4th down attempt) and pass deflections.

Veterans Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims, Broderick Bunkley, Asante Samuel, and Ellis Hobbs all played very well with the first team offense.

Cornerback Joselio Hanson was beat badly by Troy Williamson in the second half, which led to a 73-yard touchdown pass. Hanson is battling Dimitri Patterson and Trevard Lindley for the second cornerback spot on the depth chart and plays like that are certainly not going to help. Linebacker/defensive end Moises Fokou was called for illegal contact and failed to make up for it the rest of the night.

Safety Kurt Coleman is making strides to be the backup safety

Overall, the most important part of the night was that the Eagles remained injury free (with the exception of Antoine Harris). Both the offense and defense showed a lot of bright spots, but more importantly left a lot of room for improvement. The next preseason game is on Friday, August 20th at Cincinnati.

Updates from Training Camp


-Jason Avant’s brilliant and unnoticed streak of catches may have ended today. Until the morning practice, Avant had not dropped a single pass during training camp and preseason (which according to Marty Mornhineg has been over 100 passes so far). Avant still claims it was a fumble and not a drop pass, jokingly adding, “I caught it and he poked it out. It was a fumble,” he said. The Eagles are lucky to have him as a slot receiver.

-The luck, or lack thereof, continues for running back Mike Bell. After sitting out for the last two weeks with a hamstring injury, Bell left the field this morning with a strained calf muscle. Let’s hope these nagging injuries end fast.

– The Eagles activated left guard Todd Herremans and center Jamaal Jackson from the physically unable to perform list. Herremans has not played with the team since early on during the spring practices and Jackson has been rehabbing a torn ACL that occured against the Broncos on December 26th. Center Nick Cole is expected to return later in the week after sitting out with knee swelling. Considering how well Mike McGlynn played in his debut as a starter against Jacksonville, it should make for a great position battle between Jackson, Cole and McGlynn.

– Harbor continues to practice with the first team. Ingram’s calf is still tender and he remains out of training camp while Harbor inches closer to the second spot

-According to the last reports from ESPN.com, it looks as though former Eagle Brian Westbrook is going to sign with the St. Louis Rams on Monday. Good for B-West.

13
Aug
10

EAGLES: Jerry Jones on Kolb and Reid; Preseason Game vs. Jaguars

The other day, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, regarded as one of the most hated men in sports, made a comment about the Eagles that caused a lot of stir in Philadelphia. It wasn’t derogatory or condescending, but rather a compliment for one of his division rivals. In a press conference at Cowboys stadium, Jones commented on the Kevin Kolb era and head coach Andy Reid:

Are these comments a tactical move by Jerry Jones?

“McNabb helped create those big swings in our games over the last 10 years,’’ Jones said to Paul Domowitch. “When he played well, it was like throwing the knockout punch. When he didn’t, you were able to throw the knockout punch. I don’t see that now (with Kolb). I think Kolb and the way they’re going about it now, you won’t have those big swings one way or the other. I think every game with them is going to be a battle. Because of Kolb and because the makeup of the rest of their team is solid. And their coach, there is not a better coach in the NFL than Andy (Reid).’’

Is Jones just saying this to cause media stir? Is he attempting to put more media attention on the Eagles and less on the Cowboys? Who knows what’s behind the crazed mind of Jerry Jones.

To me, this comment is more about the Andy Reid part than the Kevin Kolb part. Everyone, including myself, has exhausted the Kevin Kolb vs. Donovan McNabb debate. The truth is that Kevin Kolb is not Donovan McNabb and brings a completely different style of play to a new Eagles team. He is playing to be Kevin, not Donovan, and that all starts tonight in the first preseason game against Jacksonville.

However, saying Andy Reid is the best coach in the NFL seems like a “suck-up” comment to a hated rival. It has caused a lot of stir in the Philadelphia media, as many radio shows and articles have come out about the infamous “there is not a better coach in the NFL than Andy Reid” line.

As big of a supported as I am for Andy Reid, there is no way that you can argue that he is the best coach in the NFL. I don’t even know if you can argue that he is the best coach in the NFC East now that Mike Shanahan is the coach of the Washington Redskins. Granted Shanahan has not coached since 2008 and was fired from the Broncos after failing to make the playoffs, his history with the franchise includes two Super Bowl Championships, three AFC West Championships and seven playoff berths. In his 11 year coaching span, Reid has one NFC Championship, five NFC East Championships, and eight playoff berths. Reid has a winning percentage of .617 (108-67–1) while Shanahan has a .598 winning percentage (146-98); however Shanahan has also coached 68 more games than Reid.

Where do you think Andy Reid fits among the NFL's top coaches?

In the NFC, the only other coach that I believe has comparable numbers to Reid is Saints head coach Sean Payton. Even though he is much younger and does not have the same experience as Reid, he still has a Super Bowl Championship, two divisional championships, and two playoff berths. While I believe Reid still has a better resume, Payton’s age and immediate impact in New Orleans is impressive.

The AFC is full of great coaches. One of the most successful coaches in the history of the NFL, Bill Belichick of the Patriots, continues to impress even with his team getting younger. He has three Super Bowl Championships, four AFC Championships, seven AFC East Championships, and eight playoff berths. Sorry Andy, that’s a lot to live up to. I would also argue that Pittsburgh Steelers skipper Mike Tomlin is a better coach than Reid. Similar to Sean Payton, Tomlin is young but has a great winning percentage (.646) and a Superbowl Championship under his belt.

The common theme between all of these coaches and Andy Reid is a thick rock that sits on each of their fingers—a Superbowl Championship. I’m not saying that a Superbowl is the only thing that makes you a good coach, but after 11 years in the league and no rings after such success with a franchise, Reid is still a step behind. His “refuse to change” mentality has been a common criticism, but that all has changed with the 2010 roster so maybe that’s what Andy needs to get over the hump.

My list of top coaches:

Bill Belichick

Mike Tomlin

Mike Shanahan

Andy Reid

Sean Payton

John Harbaugh

Jeff Fisher

Norv Turner

Rex Ryan

Tom Coughlin

Tony Sparano


Updates from Training Camp:

-The Eagles take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first NFL Preseason game tonight at Lincoln Financial Field. All of the Eagles starters are expected to play the entire first quarter.

– According to Andy Reid, RB Mike Bell (hamstring), RB J.J. Arrington (foot), DT Antonio Dixon (concussion), CB Macho Harris (hamstring) C Nick Cole (knee), OL Fenuki Tupou (ankle) and WR Hank Baskett (knee) will not play against the Jaguars

A lot of attention will be turned to how fourth-rounder Mike McGlynn handles the pressure at center

-Center Mike McGlynn will start tonight against the Jaguars. With Jamaal Jackson out indefinitely and Nick Cole battling a knee injury, the fourth round draft pick will fill in with the first-team offense

– According to Daily News writer Les Bowen, wide receiver Riley Cooper is almost a sure thing to be fourth on the depth chart come the regular season

– Clay Harbor continues to make strides towards the second tight end spot. Cornelius Ingram continues to battle knee problems and has been splitting time with the rookie. One of the big questions facing Andy Reid will be how many WR’s vs. TE’s he will take on the 53-man roster.

-Former Eagle great Brian Westbrook told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that he will choose what team he will play for this season by Monday. The teams believed to be in the hunt are St. Louis, Washington and Denver. Mike Shanahan has apparently left an offer on the table for Westbrook, which means that No. 36 could join No. 5 in Washington. What a nightmare that would be.




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