VERSATILITY is the cornerstone of RB Kenneth Gainwell’s game, and we need to find a way to make that a regular problem for our opponents. While Gainewell isn’t the most physical RB, he is an actual RB. He’s not a trumped up WR playing the spot, like Antonio Gibson in Washington. Gainwell can take hits, hold onto the ball, and participate in blitz pick-ups. So there was also no need to trade for a WR (Deebo Samuels), who does RB impersonations.
The thing about Gainwell, is that in college he played RB and WR. Then in his first pro season, he proved to be a natural route runner, and a reliable pass catcher. So why not let him line up as a Slot WR this year? Not every down! I’m not even suggesting to start him there. In fact, it’s best if he lines up all over the formation (RB, WR, proctologist, etc.) and is frequently motioned.
This way we can use our personnel groupings to create, then exploit mismatches. With the addition of WR A.J. Brown on the perimeter, the talk is that WR Quez Watkinswill see much more time in the Slot. Imagine being the NCB who just had to cover Watkins, and now sees a fresh Gainwell jog out across from them. It’s unfair isn’t it?! It’s just plain mean! We need to do that!
Hack the bone. Twist the knife! Find an unfair advantage, then use it early and often. Abuse our power! Think of it. This year, Watkins and Gainwell in the Slot. Last year it was WR Jalen Reagor. Christ on crutches, can you say “major fucking upgrade”? I knew you could.
REALIZE this: The only thing that could hold the Eagles back in 2022, is whether or not QB Jalen Hurts can read a defense. This is not me taking a shot at Hurts. Last year I said that we should start him, and though he doesn’t strike me a franchise QB, I still think the job should be his in 2022. So I’m not taking shots.
The last time Hurts took the field, his inability to read a defense was put on national display. He came here not knowing how to read a progression, so the coaching staff put him on a high-low read concept, on the right side of the field. (For when he would scramble right, and then throw the ball down the sideline. Sound familiar?)
As we saw last year, Hurts waits until a receiver is wide open, before throwing the ball. That resulted in a lot of incompletions, and late completions resulting in tackles instead of touchdowns. More important than getting Hurts more WR talent, is him knowing when to get the ball out. He has to be taught how to throw his receivers open. How to put the ball opposite a defender, where the receiver can run under it, and not have to break stride.
Here’s an example: Hurts has been throwing with WR A.J. Brown during the offseason. Still in this video, Brown has to gear down and reach behind him (not in front of him), to make this catch.
Brown having to gear down, gives the defense a better chance to catch up to him. Also, in a game, with his head turned back like this, Brown wouldn’t see a defender closing on him. Ouch!
The easiest way to train Hurts, would be during Training Camp, before the pads go on. Draw up plays, and tell Hurts where the ball should be placed on each route. Coaches on every team already do this of course, but unlike other drills, teaching him to see passing windows, anticipate them, and place the ball, would be the focus, not merely the suggested best practice.
Every year we see plenty of camp reports where a QB’s proficiency is judged by how often the ball hits the ground. Don’t do that this year. Window and placement work means that a LOT of early passes will end up with grass stains. Prior to pads, grass stains don’t equal failure. This is fine tuning. You wouldn’t say a guitarist tuning his guitar was failing at it. Well this is exactly that.
NOTE: Every day of the Draft I will add to this article, tracking the hits (H), questionables (Q), and misses (M).
EAGLES fans, get excited about 2022! Two days ago, I said“Properly armed, the Eagles can win the NFC East.” I then went on to explain what and who I meant by, “properly armed”. I said on Tuesday that we should trade up from #15 to #13 to draft DT [Jordan Davis], and then we should add big, physical WR [Treylon Burks] at #18. That in itself would have been great.
And then on Thursday night, General ManagerHowie Roseman, pulled off not one, but two master strokes, mere minutes apart. Let’s get at it!
Round 1 (13th overall): DT Jordan Davis(H)
Davis is not a pass rusher. What he is, is a pocket collapser, and a run stuffer. He’s a guy who demands a double-team, and he’s virtually unblockable one-on-one when he finds his way into an ‘A’ gap. By the way, we will be pairing/rotating this kid with DT’s Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.
With the three man triangle of Davis, Cox, and MLB T.J. Edwards, seeing the Eagles finish once again in the NFL’s Top 10 vs the run (9th in 2021), almost seems like a given. Surely it’s the basis that the Eagles pass rush will be built upon, now that the DE’s will see a ton of one-on-one match-ups. And this was all done by adding ONE GUY. If you don’t love this pick, you don’t understand football.
I said on Tuesday, that to avoid Baltimore grabbing Davis at #14, we should package our #15 and #101 picks to Houston for the 13th pick. What happened instead, was Howie packaged our #15 with two 4th rounders and 5th, to move up to 13. Dumping late rounders in a shallow Draft, when we have a ton of guys on futures contracts already? Absolute master stroke, Howie.
Round 1 (18th overall): TRADE for WR A.J. Brown. (H)
I wanted WR Treylon Burks with this pick, but Brown is so much better. Everything I said about why I wanted Burks, is true about Brown, and then some. With Brown it’s all been proven at the NFL level, and he’s more physical. In addition to which, he keeps his nose clean off the field. So we already know that we’re getting a real professional.
The knock on him is that in three seasons, he’s already had seven missed games due to injury. The worry is that now that the Eagles have given him a 4 year, 100M$ (57M$ guaranteed) contract, he might not ball out anymore. Really? Did I mention that he spent the offseason working out with QB Jalen Hurts? Before he was traded here. Does that sound like someone who doesn’t want to get at it? Or does it sound like a guy with a point he wants to make?
Aren’t you excited to see just what Hurts and Brown worked on this Spring? Shiiiiid, I know I am! With this ONE MOVE, the Eagles Offense is suddenly stacked! This guy was totally worth the 18th and 101st pick. Hell, if I was the GM, we’d have already blown it on Davis. So score one more for Howie!
Round 2 (51st overall): C Cam “Beef” Jurgens(Q)
The Front Office sees traits of C Jason Kelce in him, but I’m still not really all that excited. Jurgens moves well enough for all the second level stuff in the run game. He’s also smart enough to recognize fronts, and make the blocking scheme calls. Which is great. That’s all good news.
What he doesn’t do, is generate a new line of scrimmage with his blocks. Watching the videos (one and two), he doesn’t drive defensive linemen backwards, without a combo block. He turns them out of the hole, or ushers them down the line when they chase the ball carrier. Get them going backwards though? No.
He’s lean and has a lack of lower body mass, which betrays a high center of gravity. Not possessing a natural anchor, it opens the door to him being ridden back into his QB, at the NFL level. If he’s Kelce 2.0, then great. If he’s not, this was a wasted pick.
Round 3 (83rd overall): LB Nakobe Dean (H)
He has first round talent, but his medical history saw him slide two rounds. No one is saying what his injury is specifiaclly, but my guess is that he tore his pectoral muscle off the shoulder bone. A quick glance at him shirtless would confirm that, but even after scouring the Internet for a couple hours, there doesn’t seem to be even one. (Which is side-eye inducing.)
Here’s why he’s a hit, and not questionable or a miss. So far he has opted not to have surgery to repair the tear. Doesn’t matter why. Don’t focus on that. Get him in here for mini-camp and OTA’s. Let him see the pros and realize that to stay one, he’ll need to be at his best to win a roster spot. He’ll decide on the surgery, which will basically sideline him for his rookie year.
We don’t need him this year. We have MLB T.J. Edwards, who is coming off a good year. We have OLB Kyzir White on a one year deal. Get Dean the surgery, let him take his time to heal, and then get him out here, better than he’s been in years. We got a steal. To watch it pay off, all it will cost us, is some patience.
Round 6 (181st overall): OLB Kyron Johnson (M)
He’s a 3-4 OLB used mostly as a pass rusher in college. His draft dimensions are listed at 6’0” 235, which would be undersized for that role in the NFL. However, he has college listing that put him at 223 pounds as a senior. Which would make him a liability in the NFL, in the role to which he is accustomed. In coverage, he has 5 passes defensed in a 51 game career.
The have been some rumblings about the Eagles wanting to use a 3-4 front, from time to time, so Johnson may have been selected with an eye towards that. Or, he may have been selected to light a larger fire under 2021 draft pick, OLB/DE Patrick Johnson in competition for that role. If he’s motivation, this is a good pick. If the Eagles are looking to rely on him on Sundays… Meh.
Round 6 (198th overall): TE Grant Calcaterra (M)
In 2019, after waking up from a hit suffered in practice, at the age 20, Calcaterra made the decision to retire from college football. It wasn’t because of one hit that he retired. It was because after multiple concussions, he realized that they were coming closer and closer together.
He took a year off and made a comeback in 2021, posting decent numbers as a receiver, but offering little in the way of physicality as a blocker. Knowing what we know, it’s hard to blame him for being less physical. Unfortunately, his position demands it. If retirement was his reality at 20, then someone was trying to tell him something. He just wasn’t wise enough to listen.
You want to root for this kid? Root for him to live. Root for him not to make the final cuts, or the Practice Squad. Root for him to be 50, and still recognize his wife and his kids. Having suffered multiple concussions means that CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) is already part of his future’s landscape. Root for it not to be made worse by wearing midnight green.
I said on Tuesday that because it’s a shallow draft, we should load up in the first three rounds, and treat the remaining picks like lottery scratch-offs. Apparently Howie reads my articles, because that’s exactly what we did. He was aggressive in the first round, took what fell to him in the next two, and then practically bailed on the rest of it. Which was genius actually.
The top of this Draft was excellent. As a fan, I can only put it behind the 2002 Draft (Lito Sheppard, Mike Lewis, Sheldon Brown, and Brian Westbrook, in that order), in regards to how excited it got the fan base. Jordan Davis and A.J. Brown will make an impact in 2022.
The middle was saw us do some important pantry stocking. Nothing we have a pressing need for, but good to have in the house already. Neither Beef Jurgens (I do love the nickname), nor Nakobe Dean has to start in 2022. The game can be shown to them at a pace that allows them to be great when we do need them.
The bottom of this Draft is a head scratcher. Neither guy even seems like a Special Teams contributor. Maybe they’re here to push players already on the roster? Hell, I’m just disappointed that WR(?) Jalen Reagor is still on the roster.