Philadelphia Eagles News

As Week 2 Begins, Some Things I See

From the "It's-too-early-to-judge-but-what-the-heck department," here are some observations from the first week of Eagles Training Camp 2016, fresh off a really lively and crisp practice in front of nearly 20,000 fans at Lincoln Financial Field. Don't look now, but the final full week without an Eagles game is upon us.

  • The offensive structure is interesting and varied as Doug Pederson and Frank Reich mesh their concepts. There are going to be a lot of high-percentage passes, for sure, as the Eagles move the chains. Darren Sproles, for example, should be much more involved in the passing game than he has been in the last two seasons. The tight ends, no question, are going to be heavily involved in the passing game. The Eagles are going to take some shots down the field, and they need to have someone step up and become a reliable down-the-field threat in the passing game. Reich and Pederson are going to rely heavily on favorable matchups, so all of the advance scouting and gameplanning will be critical.
  • Zach Ertz is so beyond important for the offense. Look for him to get moved around a ton in the offense and be a leading receiving option. Ertz, Ronald Darby and Sproles figure to be the top three targets in the passing game. Nelson Agholor, Rueben Randle, Chris Givens and Josh Huff really need to step up and become reliable targets.
  • Brandon Graham has added some moves to his arsenal as a pass-rushing threat off the edge. He's got the burst and the power, and he has a nice spin move and is using his hands very well. The combination of Graham, Vinny Curry and Connor Barwin will work in the Wide-9 formation as they look to gain the edge getting to the quarterback. Who is the fourth defensive end here?
  • Good work on the running game in 9-on-7 drills on Sunday. The Eagles want to be much more physical up front than they were the last three seasons. Scoring touchdowns in the red zone is so vitally important for an offense that relies on good ball security and drive efficiency. So the Eagles need to play some effective smash-mouth football in the tight quarters near the goal line.
  • In some way, the Eagles need to incorporate Trey Burton into the passing game this season. He catches the ball extremely well and can match up well in space. He's come a long way at the tight end position.
  • It's really hard to get a read on the defense since the Eagles haven't yet tackled, but the cornerbacks are competing early in camp. Very physical. Lots of press coverage. Leodis McKelvin looks terrific and Eric Rowe has had a couple of strong days in pads. Jalen Mills backs down from nobody and Ron Brooks is going to help this defense.
  • From the unsung department: defensive tackle Taylor Hart looks way, way improved. He could help a rotation that has Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan starting with Hart, Beau Allen and Mike Martin among those pushing for playing time. The defensive line has a chance to be really, really good.
  • Still wondering about the linebackers and the depth at that position. The Eagles needs to see which players progress throughout camp. In this downhill scheme, Mychal Kendricks should have a chance to make a lot of big plays at the line of scrimmage. He's got to play with speed and discipline.
  • Huff looks like he's going to be first in line to return kickoffs, which from this perspective are going to be extremely critical this season in the NFL. Why wouldn't teams kick off to the goal line and give their coverage units a chance to pin return men inside the 20-yard line, rather than boot the ball into the end zone for touchback that comes out to the 25-yard line?
  • There is quite a bit of action in this offensive scheme that allows for the quarterback to get out of the pocket and run, so how will Sam Bradford take to that? Both Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz have pulled it down for big runs in each of the last two practice sessions.
  • This is the tough week of Training Camp, particularly when the team starts tackling after the day off on Tuesday. It's time to separate some of the crammed roster, particularly on the defense along the defensive line and at cornerback.
  • So far, so good for Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod at safety. Both have been around the ball a lot, as advertised. They should be really, really good together. Now, the Eagles need some reliable depth to emerge.
  • Both offensive guard Brandon Brooks and running back Ryan Mathews should be back in the next several days and the Eagles need both players for an offense that needs all of the ground-and-pound power from Brooks and the explosiveness from Mathews.
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