I made an announcement in today's Linc post that some writers from the Eagles Almanac 2014 crew (Jimmy Kempski, Sheil Kapadia, Brian Solomon, Derek Sarley, and myself) would be participating in an 'Ask Me Anything' session on Reddit (r/Eagles) today. The Q&A is now over and I thought it was a good turnout so here are a look at some of the highlights. Here's a link to read the entire thread.
johnnysalami93 asks: Since you guys would actually know before any of us, does Mathews actually live up to the hype? Do you think there's a chance he moves up past slot to WR 2 or 1?
BLG: The thing we know for sure is that if Matthews doesn't live up to the hype, it won't be because of a lack of effort. It's really fun watching him practice because he visibly gives maximum effort all the time. He runs out every rep hard. He doesn't take a snap off. And it's not like he's just a try-hard guy, he's physically talented. The biggest thing working against him, stat wise, is that there are many other options in the Eagles offense. With that in mind, Matthews may disappoint from a statistical perspective (in year one), but I know fans will love watching him play. I think the Eagles are strictly keeping him in the slot for now.
Sheil: From a skill set standpoint, Matthews has a unique combination: size, speed and maximum effort. In practice, he's been great in the short/intermediate area and seems like a master at finding holes in zone coverage. Pat Shurmur called it "spatial awareness." Two things I want to see out of him going forward. One is: Can he get vertical and have that 4.46 speed show up on gamedays? And two: Can he use that 6-3 frame to out-muscle opposing DBs in contested catch situations. There's a lot to like, but I'm in the "want to see more" camp with Matthews.
Kempski: Don't think we'll see him move outside that soon. Think he'll strictly be a slot guy for a while, but he'll be an immediate upgrade over Avant.
menglish20 asks: A bit of a negative approach, but what worries you the most about this team?
Kempski: OL depth.
Kapadia: 1) Special teams - I thought this was a major disappointment last year. 2) Talent on defense - I buy the continuity angle to a degree, but I'm not sure if they did enough from a personnel standpoint. 3) Hitting on big plays downfield without that little speedy guy. 4) Injuries to McCoy, Foles, Kelce on offense would be devastating.
BLG: The biggest concern I have is with Nick Foles. It's not that I think he's suddenly going to fall off and play poorly. I don't see that ever being the case with him, especially with Chip Kelly around. But what concerns me is if Foles falls into the QB category where he's good enough to commit to long-term, but never good enough to get the team over the top. It's a weird, theoretical gap of mediocrity that's worse than having a QB simply being either really bad/good. Something comparable to the pre-Hinkie Sixers.
eagsrock20 asks: Ever since the start of training camp everyone has been very high on Nolan Carroll. What your thoughts on him going forward for the season?
BLG: I really like what I've seen out of Carroll. Cliché, but he just makes plays. He seems to have great ball skills. His hands could improve because he's dropped a number of interceptions but perhaps that's just why he's not playing wide receiver. I really see Carroll challenging for a starting role. If he doesn't end up being a starter he'll still have value to this team as a rotational player (dime CB) and special teams contributor. Carroll might end up being a starter next year because Cary Williams could potentially be a cap casualty and Bradley Fletcher is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.
Kempski: Bradley Fletcher isn't Richard Sherman, but the Eagles got torched last year when he was out. Carroll was an important acquisition, even if he doesn't win a starting job, which I don't think he'll do. But he gives them a guy off the bench who could start for some teams.
Zacharoni9 asks: The Eagles seem to want to do a "mirrored" scheme on D. Two equal safeties, two equal OLBs, two equal CBs, etc with a 2-gap DL doing the "dirty work". Where do you think they want the stars? What I mean is that it doesn't seem like they have a position of emphasis where they want a big playmaker. Just seems like an interesting approach. Do you think it's important to have "the guy" in a scheme who is set up to dominate?
Sarley: I think this is exactly how they're thinking. They want to minimize weaknesses and attack surfaces, so that they don't have to scheme around their own weaknesses -- which in theory will allow them to scheme toward their opponents'. Your last point is an "offensive" approach to defensive coaching, exemplified by the Jim Johnson's, Wade Phillips, etc. school. Kelly seems to think more defensively about his defense.