Scoop on Philly “Dream Team”

Eagles Training Camp Notes

Paper Champions don’t mean anything, but you can’t deny the statements Andy Reid and the Eagles front office have made.

Defense

I expect (and predict I guess) Asomugha, Samuel, and Rodgers-Cromartie to all be part of the defense this season. 65-75% of every game has 3 and 4-wide receiver sets. Nearly the whole league views 3 receivers as starters, and 3 corners as starters as well, so there you have it.

Asomugha could be in a similar role to Charles Woodson in Green Bay, coverin g tight ends, blitzing, just using his extraordinary talent in multiple ways. Great idea, and I do recall seeing Vikings use Antoine Winfield in much the same ways (exposed, as the Vikings upset the Eagles late last season).

Good news, Nate Allen appears to be completely healthy after last season’s knee injury. He will be starting week 1 with rookie Jaiquan Jarrett, and the 3 Pro Bowl cornerbacks.

The Eagles like their youth at linebacker, and they will be rolling with rookie Casey Matthews (brother of Clay Matthews of the Packers) at middle linebacker. Jamar Chaney will start on the weak side. He filled in surprisingly well, and with his speed, he can stay with receivers and tackle sideline to sideline. Moises Fokou on the strong side, has started there for a season and a half. He is solid against tight ends, but his strong suit is his physicality and playing the run.

Former OL coach, now the defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, bringing the fire to training camp and you hear him (and d-line coach, Jim Washburn) every single play. The energy and emotion is contagious. The d-line is playing like they’re on hot sand, getting “sacks” (it’s training camp, don’t touch Vick in that red jersey), and constant pressure. Without Samuel and Asomugha, they are helping their back-7 and it shows with numerous deflections.

Offense

Quarterback

Vick was active and hit a few nice darts, even connected on a bomb to Sinorice Moss. The starting receivers were not practicing (Maclin is sick and Desean is holding out). Riley Cooper is making the best of his opportunities, getting extra snaps in their absence.

Michael Vick will be in shape, and have the playbook down. Last year, the plays were limited to an extent, and he wore down (first year back in football). With improved o-line and defense, the world won’t be on his shoulders, although he is the face and the leader of the team/franchise. If for any reason he goes down, we have a winning backup in Vince Young (31-17 in his career). All while Andy Reid and Marty Morningweg are grooming another QB in Mike Kafka.

Offensive Notes

McCoy looks like he is on another level, taking this seriously and stepping his game up. He did league the NFC in all-purpose yards last season (Eagles were 4th in rushing and 9th in passing).

O-line, coach Howard Mudd rotating guys in and out to get them accustomed to the wrinkles he brings to the table.

Eagles signed former Cincinnati Bengals OL Evan Mathis, whom was drafted in the 3rd round by Carolina. FYI: He has played in 726 snaps the past 2 seasons, and he has only allowed 1 QB pressure and 0 sacks. He could be a steal, and may be the answer at right tackle, or if players are shuffled (perhaps Herremans to right tackle), he may play guard. Winston Justice will start the year on the PUP list (most likely), he has started the past 2 seasons.

I love the addition of Donald Lee, he is a blocking tight end that has a nose for the endzone (as shown in GB). With a great o-line coach and an improved o-line, perhaps Brent Celek gets to run more routes and get back to his borderline Pro Bowl level (he had to block 6th most out of all starting tight ends last year).

Special Teams

The biggest issue on a young team with veteran leaders sprinkled in, I would say having a rookie kicker and a rookie punter. Rick factor, but we will see how those positions make the college-to-pro transition.

Wide Receiver/Returner Johnnie Lee Higgins will be returning this season, one of the elite return men int he game. He has the speed and home run ability (played for Oakland), and will spare Desean Jackson and DRC of those duties. Another guy, if he makes the team, if Sinorice Moss. Another fast player that will be given a legit opportunity (from the Giants).

I’m happy as can be…for now. Paper it’s great, sure, but I can’t wait for week one…Go E-A-G-L-E-S!