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With Other Eagles' Observations ...

Posted Jan 8, 2013

As the Eagles continue to identify head-coaching candidates and work the interview process, I'd like to change the conversation and talk about this, that and a few other things about your 2013-and-beyond football team ...

We sit here late on this Tuesday knowing that the Eagles have former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith lined up for an interview and that Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is on the schedule and that the team has received permission to talk to Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

OK, so you are caught up on the coaching process. There's a lot of talk ahead ...

In other Eagles conversation, there are some things festering and I just want to discuss. So let's do it, and take a breather from the Coach Talk and the speculation. Let's talk football!

  • Yeah, I watched Alabama blast Notre Dame on Monday night in the BCS National Championship Game and, yeah, I saw Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o have a rough outing and, yes, I wonder how that performance will impact his draft status in April. I know I've gotten a bunch of "Will the Eagles draft Manti Te'o with the fourth pick?" questions over the last several days and weeks. Haven't gotten any after that game. Te'o had a wonderful season and he's a very fine player. I don't think he's going to get drafted in the top 10 in April. We still have to go through the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, and Te'o will shine as an athlete and in personal interviews there. But drafting him at No. 4 and fitting in here? I just don't know if I see that right now ...
  • The Eagles have signed a handful of young players to add to the roster as competition, and that's just what they are right now -- competition. Not sure there is a Phillip Hunt-type player here in that when the Eagles signed Hunt from the CFL they felt he was going to really push to make the roster. Anyway, here is a brief what-I-know about this wave of signings ...

1. Chris Hawkins, CB: A big-bodied cornerback who saw some time with Tennessee in 2011, Chris Hawkins is someone the Eagles hope can be a physical cornerback who can turn and run with the receiver. Maybe you didn't notice, but the cornerback situation here is extremely fluid. 

2. Everette Brown, DE: Once upon a time Everette Brown was a big deal. He was a second-round draft pick for Carolina and he recorded six quarterback sacks in two seasons and there was the hope in Carolina that Brown was ready to emerge. It hasn't happened. Why bring Brown on board? He's an athlete and he maybe pushes the defensive end group in training camp. If the Eagles play a 3-4 defense, maybe Brown shows some "wow" coming off the edge. I like signing former high draft picks. Sometimes those players rise when they're in the right situation.

3. Trevard Lindley, CB: Trevard Lindley has been in and out with the Eagles for the last few seasons and the team wants to take yet another look. He's a big body who presses well at the line of scrimmage. He has the long arms and strength. Again, the Eagles need to add as much talent as cornerback as they can find. This could be a total overhaul at the position.

4. B.J. Cunningham, WR: The Eagles never promoted B.J. Cunningham from the practice squad, despite some openings. But he's a strong guy who was extremely productive and who has strong hands. Can he run well enough to make it at this level?

5. Marcus Dowtin, LB: A talented player, Marcus Dowtin needs to show that he is mature enough to handle the situation at the NFL level. The Eagles don't yet know if they are playing a 4-3 or a 3-4 scheme, so the idea here is to bring in as many athletes as possible.

6. Derrick Carrier, TE: A member of the team's practice squad for the 2012 season, Derrick Carrier is a great athlete who is still a little bit raw here. Will the Eagles add to tight end in the offseason? Yes. How high of a priority will they make the position? Still to be determined.

7. Ronnie Cameron, DT: Big and strong, Ronnie Cameron is going to have a chance to show the new coaching staff that he can handle the inside business defensively.

8. Nick Miller, WR: Small guy (5 feet 9, 180 pounds), quick and fast, Nick Miller is going to get a look in the slot and on special teams. He has some experience in the league (17 games with Oakland and the Rams) and he has had some success returning punts.

9. DeMarco Sampson, WR: On the same day the Eagles announced the signing of a little guy with speed (Miller) and a big guy (6 feet 2, 204 pounds) with speed (Sampson). The latter was a seventh-round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2011. He is here to compete with Marvin McNutt, Cunningham, etc.

  • On the health front, and this is very early but I'm getting a bunch of questions, the rehabbing offensive line is doing well. I'd guess that left tackle Jason Peters will be completely recovered from his Achilles tendon injury and ready to go for spring practices, and that guard/tackle Todd Herremans should be fine as well. Jason Kelce says he feels fine, great, wonderful, and so it is a matter of how the athletic training staff feels about Kelce's ACL injury in the spring. The expectation is that all of them will be good to go for training camp.
  • Some numbers that really stuck out like a sore thumb from the 2012 season from the Eagles offense: Ranked 26th in NFL in passing net yards per play, ranked 22nd in sacks per pass play; ranked 18th in third-down efficiency and ranked 29th in points per game. The Eagles were 20th in the league in yards per play, so it's fair to say that up and down the stat board the offense was extremely inefficient, including a red zone ranking of 28th and a total of 37 giveaways, worst in the league along with the Jets and Kansas City.
  • Defensively, there is just not much good news to talk about from 2012. It was pretty terrible from top to bottom. The Eagles didn't have enough sacks, were lousy for much of the year against the run, didn't take the football away and ended up tied for 18th in red-zone efficiency. Let's see how much of the defense the Eagles can revamp in a single offseason.

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