There is an old adage in football that players make the most progress from the first to the second season. That certainly seems to be true with some young Eagles.
Boykin knows the scheme this year and the coaching staff is getting him to play at a high level. The most impressive part of this is that Boykin is seeing time in the slot and on the outside. If he continues this, Boykin could potentially challenge for a starting role. He lacks the ideal size, but he has good speed, athleticism and cover skills. At the very least, it is good for him to push
Polk might have been happier than any Eagle when Chip Kelly was hired. Kelly believes in the run game. Kelly will also use a group of running backs. This meant that Polk had a chance to really be a part of the offense. Polk has taken advantage of that. He is down to 215 pounds and in the best shape of his life. He looks quicker and faster than anyone can remember. Polk is breaking off 10- and 15-yard runs on a daily basis. Last year, he was about 10 pounds heavier and just didn't have the speed to get up the field.
The Eagles signed
Kelly is running an offense that combines the spread and the WCO. It should allow Johnson to use what he learned last year, as well as in college. This offense features a lot of short, quick throws. Those plays are Johnson's specialty. They allow Johnson to get the ball quickly and turn into a runner, which is when Johnson is at his most dangerous. Johnson has improved his game from 2012 and looks ready to take advantage of the new offense. He has gotten snaps with the starters. He has played in the slot and outside. The injury to
I guess I can't ignore talking about quarterbacks forever.
If you think back to this time last year, Foles had zero chance of starting. Just the notion of that seemed silly. Foles was OK in the Training Camp last year, but he certainly wasn't blowing anyone away to the point that they felt the need to get him on the field. That changed in the preseason when Mike Vick and Mike Kafka were hurt and Foles played a lot. He opened some eyes.
Life is very different this summer. Foles is battling Vick for the starting quarterback spot. There is no clear leader at this point, but Foles has played well. He has shown definite progress from last year. Foles is throwing the ball better. He looks more natural and more comfortable on the field, which you would expect now that he's got some experience. One of Foles biggest issues last year was throwing the deep ball. He's gotten better at that. Just this week, Foles connected on several deep balls in practice.
The big test for both Foles and Vick will be the preseason games. Foles is certainly heading in the right direction.
Boykin was not the only player affected by last year's midseason coaching changes. They were even more dramatic for
Kendricks did have some issues with missed tackles. We won't know if he's been able to correct that problem until the Eagles are in a game situation. The coaches have focused on getting players in the right position and using proper technique, but the players aren't making full tackles during live parts of practice. On a side note, many have asked me about the lack of tackling in camp. I don't see this as a big deal. Reid did lots of tackling last summer and the team struggled with that in the season. There is no correlation between doing full tackling in the summer and doing it well during the season. The real key here is for the coaches to do a great job of teaching technique. You don't need to go full speed to learn this. Think of baseball. Hitters go through batting practice and work on their fundamentals, but face slow pitches. The fundamentals then help the hitters when they do face real pitchers.
Back to Kendricks. He has played well this summer. Kendricks has stood out in coverage. We need time to really evaluate him since Kendricks is now moving to inside linebacker in a 3-4 or hybrid defense. He has some experience with this from college, but we need to see him in a game to really know where he's at right now in terms of development.
The problem is that we don't fully know what the coaches want to do with him. If he is a 2-gap end in the 3-4, Cox won't make a ton of plays. If they play him as a 1-gap end, he can attack upfield and be disruptive. They can also use him as a 3-technique defensive tackle in the 4-3 under and let him attack into the backfield. I think this is where Cox is the most dangerous.
Two players who I don't have a good read on are Bryce Brown and
Kelly has been injured and that has made it tough to evaluate how much progress he's made. It would have been good to have him healthy this past week when
There isn't much discussion of Curry up at camp, but don't take this as a bad sign. Defensive end was a primary position in last year's scheme. It is different in the new defense. It is harder to stand out. You really need to be able to study Curry to get a feel for how he's handling the adjustment. We need to see him in a game.
Thornton has a good chance to start at defensive end this year. Reynolds is hoping to make the team as the backup center. Game tape is really needed to evaluate these guys.
So far, so good for the Eagles and their second-year players.