Every Friday, Patrick and Dave sit down to riff on the week's news and happenings. Welcome to Two Guys Internetting Football.
Dave: It's been another uh, interesting week for the Eagles. Love or hate this offseason, it's certainly hasn't been boring. In a ten day span we had Cary Williams complaining about Chip Kelly and the drama of Evan Mathis. And that's just the past two weeks!
Patrick: I'm glad you brought up the Cary Williams stuff because I feel like it's been overshadowed by the release of Evan Mathis. Granted, he was reviled by much of the fanbase since he got to Philadelphia. But I think both the Cary and Mathis situations are interesting because they provide little glimpses into the Chip Kelly regime. With Cary we had a player who wasn't afraid to go against the company line, even when he was here. And what's more interesting (to me, anyway) was Cary's assertion that he wasn't the only player who felt like Chip's new way of doing things wasn't perfect. And with Evan, we're seeing a kind of he-said-he-said situation that Chip hasn't really faced yet. Unless, of course, you count that thing said by that guy who plays in upstate New York.
I've got a Cary-related question for you, Dave: Do you think his gripes about the team would have been solved by better position coaching? Cary said he didn't feel that the defensive backs were ready to play the best teams in the league, and during OTAs we heard a lot of player sing the praises of new secondary coach Cory Undlin.
Dave: Yeah once the Mathis situation got heated, Cary's comments got put on the back burner. Sure, we've pretty much heard them before and Cary never knows when to shut up, but calling out the coaching was a new one from Kelly axe grinders. And Malcolm Jenkins' comments about how Undlin is an improvement from John Lovett hit some of the same notes.
I don't think a new coach would have made a big difference. If it did, then the team wouldn't have completely revamped the secondary. Just bring in Undlin and fix them. But they didn't, they dumped three starters. I'm glad you brought that up, I'm writing something about that for next week. I feel like there is too much being made of Undlin. I'm not doubting that he is a good coach, but a position coach can only do so much. And because there will be three new starters, it will be tough to separate his coaching from the change in talent. And Lovett wasn't the guy calling plays or creating the game plan, so Cary's comments haven't really been addressed.
I'm sure Cary wasn't the only one frustrated by the coaching. And I'm also sure that the number who were has been significantly decreased. Chip's my way or the highway attitude is what has made Mathis' situation so unsympathetic to many. He knew what he was dealing with.
Patrick: Maybe Mathis knew what he was dealing with, but I'm not sure if it makes him any less sympathetic. There's a real argument to be made that a discontented Mathis is less of an issue in the locker room than some of the other players who have left. That said, word came out Thursday that Mathis was looking for a $3 million dollar raise. That's quite a bit, though it feels somewhat in line with the raise the Eagles gave Barwin. I wonder if Evan could have gotten a little bump if things had played out differently.
But enough about the negatives! Let's talk about minicamps. Word on the street is largely the same as it always is: X Player really looks like he's going to take a big jump this year (Zach Ertz, in this case). X Injured Player is right on schedule (pick your player there).
Meanwhile, the early word on Bradford seems to be surprisingly positive, both from a health and performance standpoint. It's too early for predictions, but there's six weeks til meaningful football news, so let's speculate wildly! What are your expectations for Bradford, both in the short-term, and over the course of the season?
Dave: I am very much in wait and see mode with Bradford. I just can't get excited about him, but I'm not going to write him off either. Zach Ertz.... I feel like we need an end of season Zach Ertz Award for the player who failed to meet his pre-season hype. Many, including myself, pegged him for a breakout season in 2014. Kind of the regular season Na Brown Award.
Speaking of which, one of my favorite things about the summer is the hilarious takes on bottom of the roster and bubble players. The other day I was driving home and the talk radio guys I were listening to were discussing a Rob Rang piece where Rang favorably compared 5th round rookie DT Grady Jarrett to Geno Atkins and Aaron Donald, saying he was their best fit among rookies. The hosts were like "hold on, it's only June. But if we're saying this in December then SIGN ME UP." Talk radio is awful everywhere, yet I still listen. Last year was a pretty weak field for the Na Brown Award because so many jobs weren't really available, and this year is shaping up to be too.
NA BROWN AWARD PRE-PRE-SEASON NOMINEES!
Can Tim Tebow be eligible? He's a veteran, which would make him ineligible, but he's also played as many snaps in the NFL since 2012 as you and I, and he has no real expectations. He's got an interesting case. Chip Kelly has been the one (along with Eliot Shorr-Parks) to applaud him, talking up his progression through every stage of offseason workouts. He has been mentioned by some national writers as a 2 point specialist even though Chip hasn't gone for 2 since the opening stages of his first game. I can see him being on the field for a touchdown drive (but not actually doing anything) to take the lead in the second half of a pre-season game and getting praised for being a winner. And Matt Barkley will need a miracle to hang to a job, so people will say "they need a 3rd QB it's gotta be Tebow!" only for them to start the season with just 2 QBs. That's Na Brown material to me.
Patrick: You're right about Ertz, though I am feeling more optimistic about this year. The question with him (and, really, all the skill position guys) is whether or not there will be enough catches to go around. Last year the team had 612 pass attempts and 384 catches. And that' way up from 2013, when the team had 497 pass attempts and 310 receptions. So if the Eagles' skill guys catch, say, 350 passes, how many are going to Ertz? 50? 60? That's a huge chunk of all pass plays, and that's not factoring in the other guys: Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Brent Celek... the list goes on.
As for the Na Brown Award nominees, this is an interesting class. I want Tebow to be eligible if for nothing else than the comment section vitriol we'd be sure to accrue (love y'all!). Even if he doesn't look great, I'd probably keep him over Barkley. I don't want either starting under any circumstance, but if they have to, at least give me the guy who's more mobile and has a proven record (I can't believe I typed those words). I also think the safety class could produce some real award-winners. Guys like Jerome Couplin, Ed Reynolds, et al. could really push for the coveted offseason award.
Dave: Yeah it seems like DB might be the best bet. Football Outsiders had a hilarious take in their NFC East post-draft wrap up, saying that the most likely UDFA to make the team will be... Denzel Rice, because of the uncertainty of the depth chart, not because of his abilities. They also, and I don't mean to beat up on him here, rely heavily on an ESP article for their UDFA analysis. That's just lazy. But I digress.
I also expect someone to falsely impress at right guard with the position open and so many UDFAs. Usually we see an unknown or two stand out in OTAs but this year it's been veterans. Tebow kind of sort and Seyi Ajirotutu, who has gotten some nice press.
We'll have to keep a diligent eye on the Na Brown Award this year, we slipped last year.