Less serious and much less lengthy than usual. Just some things I've been idly wondering about during this period of not much happening.
I'd like your esteemed opinions regarding these questions.
7 Brief Musings of DSmith215:
1. I'm worried that DeSean Jackson could become a huge punk post-contract.
It is absolutely no secret that DeSean is one of the most important players on the Eagles. It is also absolutely no secret that he has some lingering character concerns. I appreciate that DeSean didn't let his contract blow up the team last year. However, he had some moments that are red flags for me. "I don't want to field a few practice punts, it's too cold." "I'm texting my agent after a bad loss rather than listening to my coach." "I'm gonna set the bar for you guys. (T.O. and Chad Johnson) They [Banner] better do somethin'."
Now, I don't expect perfect behavior out of DeSean. We all know the kid's a little bit of a fake gangster and loves the camera. But the huge pile of money he's due to receive makes me wonder if the larger problems that these smaller incidents *could* be indicative of are going to rear their heads once he's gotten that multimillion dollar signing bonus. I like DeSean. I think he's got a good heart (see his appearance on The View) and that he likes his identity as one of the faces of our franchise. I'm just concerned that the lack of a huge contract could be the only thing keeping him in line. I think it's plausible that once he gets it, he could become a real problem and worse, set a terrible example for the other skill position players who obviously look up to him.
2. I'm worried about DeSean Jackson as a Wide Receiver, and the Eagles are too.
Don't for one second think that Andy Reid's unenthusiastic comments about DeSean's new contract were meaningless or an accident. It's obvious that the Eagles have some concerns about him as a player, and they should. Here's what scares me. I'm afraid that DeSean's about to become a shorter Randy Moss-esque WR: what some WR coaches derisively refer to as a "789". This is a WR who is afraid of the big hit, doesn't want to go across the middle, and grows alligator arms when he hears footsteps. The term "789" comes from the routes those numbers represent: the corner, the post, and the streak. WRs that get called "789s" only want to run those routes because they don't require precise running, don't require excellent release technique, help avoid hits from bigger players, and produce high numbers of yards and touchdowns with minimal effort.
Let me be clear: I am not saying that DeSean is a pussy, and I'm not saying that he doesn't have good reason to avoid going over the middle. However, we need to keep four things in mind.
Thing #1: WRs like DeSean usually don't keep their super-elite speed much past age 26 or 27.
Thing #2: DeSean is 24.
Thing #3: WRs, when they have a lack of speed, compensate with excellent release technique and great route-running. (See Avant, Jason)
Thing #4: DeSean's route-running is sloppy, and his release technique is absolutely fucking terrible.
Look at any youtube clip of our offense. Watch DeSean's releases. They're awful. They stink. He has his little shake-and-bake he does at the line, which since he's so agile often lets him get a good angle against the CB. However, his shake-and-bake thing takes time and throws off his route. This is one of the reasons why he has so many deep routes: he's really easy to hold up at the LOS, so Marty sends him deep where his insane speed can make up for the fact that he didn't get a good release off the line. If he's not shaking and baking, he does a "slide and glide", meaning he squirms his way around the DB, taking a couple seconds in the process, and then runs away really fast. This throws off his routes, which are supposed to be crisp and precise and etc. He has no physically aggressive or in-your-face release moves whatsoever. Don't give me the size thing. Does Steve Smith have trouble being physical at the point of release?
DeSean's lucky he has Vick to bomb him the ball 65 yards downfield all game. If DeSean's performance was predicated on having to run the slant, the comeback, and the 6, he'd be totally screwed. DeSean has the success he does because he's so abominably fast. I'm worried about his future because if he doesn't improve in the aspects of route-running and releasing, he'll be totally useless once his speed becomes merely above-average in a couple of seasons.
3. Where does Jeremy Maclin go from here?
We all like Jeremy. We all know next to nothing about him. He hates the spotlight, doesn't talk a lot, and goes about his business on the field in a very sort of ordinarily talented way. Maclin has said in interviews that the other guys call him "the old man," because he never jokes around with them or, as Shady put it, "acts a fool."
The classic example is one of the 2 Minute Drill clips Maclin and DeSean did together. DeSean is constantly cracking jokes and mugging for the camera and then looks to Maclin to laugh or jump in. Each time, Maclin looks awkwardly at DeSean and quietly and uncomfortably goes, "Heh."
That's him in a nutshell for me. Jeremy Maclin, almost 1,000 yards, 10 TDs, 1st round pick... "Heh."
I wonder what is going to happen with Jeremy these next few seasons. In which way will his game develop? Truly great WRs take over games: Andre Johnson, Fitz, Calvin Johnson, etc. Will Maclin ever have one of those days? What type of player is he? What's his ceiling? Does he have a future other than running very precise 6 routes and making quietly acrobatic sideline catches? Will he ever actually connect with the city of Philadelphia? Will sportscasters (Merrill excluded) ever have to not think for a second to remember his name? Will he ever make a reputation in the league? If so, as what? Is Jeremy Maclin a less-known version of Reggie Wayne, quiet, workmanlike, and very good? Or does he have it in him to eclipse DeSean, Nicks, and Austin in our division?
4. A Thought Experiment:
Serious questions. First: how many normal-sized guys, of average physical fitness and average athletic ability, would it take to physically subdue a seriously pissed-off Jason Peters? Second: how many of those same average dudes would it take to win a no-holds-barred brawl with the Eagles' starting Offensive Line? Third: which of the starting Eagles OLmen would be the toughest and do the most damage in that brawl before they went down? Which Olman would be the weakest and fold the fastest?
My answers: 6, 25, Herremans, Justice.
5. What is Shady McCoy's ceiling?
The obvious answer is, "High." The real question, though is, "Yeah, but *how* high?" In his second year in the league, I'll assert that LeSean is already one of the NFL's top 5 RBs in terms of being a complete player and game-changer. And I don't think I'm being too Homerlicious in that assertion. Is Shady about to become the best RB in Eagles history? Don't you think it's conceivable? I do. I really do. To be honest with you guys, I think he's already essentially as good as BWest was in his prime. I can't wait to see what happens these next few years.
Don't forget how young LeSean is. He's the youngest player on the team, I think. He's only 22. He's going to get stronger and bigger for another 3 or 4 years. I can't wait to see where he goes from here. Here's another assertion: I believe that LeSean McCoy has already passed DeSean Jackson as the 2nd most important piece of our offense after Michael Vick.
6. Who breaks out next?
We hope for a breakout player every year. Last season, it was obviously Shady's breakout year. The year before, it was Brent Celek's. So, who does it happen for this upcoming season?
Here's how I define a breakout player:
1. The player must have already been on the team for at least 1 year.
2. The player must have seen at least limited game action.
3. The player must have legitimately shown flashes of an ability to be a game-changer.
4. The player must be in a situation where, with good play, he can elevate himself to a starting position or justify the faith implied by the organization when they get rid of the veteran who used to start ahead of him.
I think Quintin Mikell is as good as gone, and my pick for the 2011-2012 breakout Eagle is Kurt Coleman. The bottom line is that to play SS you need instinct, ball skills, and a big pair of heavy brass balls. Kurt Coleman has all of these things. He's obviously an instinctual player: how many TDs did he save in that debacle of a Vikings game? He obviously has good ball skills: he found fumbles for big returns and got himself a fantastic INT off of McNabb, no less.
He also has the attitude needed to play SS: he doesn't fear being in the box, he doesn't get run over, and he's a sound tackler. He loves to hit, too: his hit on Austin Collie was absolutely scary. He doesn't have prototypical size, but he looks like he'll benefit from good weight training. Assuming the lockout gets taken care of.
The bottom line is that Kurt Coleman is, as Jon Gruden would say, "a FOOTball player." I think he was an absolute steal, and I agree with Tommy Lawlor that he has to potential to be a starter for us for years. Of course, if Q somehow comes back, this all changes. Who do you all think is the next breakout Eagle?
7. Which way does Vick go?
Vick has some big questions. As the year wore on, defenses got his number. His joke of an OL didn't help matters much, but Vick is far from perfect. The big question for me is what happens next season. Will Vick show up improved and as unstoppable as he was in the early part of the season, or will he be the much more flawed player of the latter games?
Vick needs to be more careful with the ball and for God's sake he has to take fewer hits. We can only hope he finds a way to stay healthy: if Kolb vanishes, we'll be in real trouble if Vick is out for another 3 games.
Sound off, dudes. Argue with me if you want to, argue with each other as always, and here's hoping all this lockout crap gets sorted out sooner rather than later.
DSmith signing off.