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Birdbrained: Week 3 Mailbag

Jalen Mills and Jordan Matthews and Jimbo Schwartz (don’t tell him I call him Jimbo)

Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Howdy team! It’s mailbag time.

If you ever want to get your questions in, hit me up on Twitter @BenjaminSolak. If you don’t have a Twitter, you can also e-mail me at benjamin [dot] solak [at] gmail, but I will probably tell you to get a Twitter (and answer your question anyway).

Let’s start with the million dollar question.

Short answer: nah, not really.

Long answer: he isn’t as bad as we think he was against Tampa, that’s for sure. He was in great position on the DeSean touchdown and couldn’t have been asked to do much differently on the Mike Evans first down, yet they were two plays that basically broke the game. Across the breadth of the Tampa snaps, he didn’t struggle any more than Ronald Darby.

Jalen Mills has always been a smaller corner who struggles with physicality; he’s always been a jumpy corner who, despite playing aggressively, doesn’t produce super well on the football. He does not profile to Cover 3 coverage, and despite competing tooth and nail, will likely never be an impact player in that deployment.

He’s a lovable dude, and a guy you want on your roster. But he will be a target for opposing quarterbacks for as long as he is a starter on the outside; if anyone will be a liability for the Eagles secondary, it’s him.

How do you improve on Mills? It’s tough. That’s probably a next year situation, wherein you re-open camp with a ‘best three will start’ mentality and see if Sidney/Rasul can beat him out. But you want to improve upon him, for sure.


Tampa was a tricky situation. Live, I was frustrated with the seeming willingness to give up those comeback routes into the sideline in the second half; upon watching the film during the week, there were more adjustments made than I originally saw.

Schwartz was mixing things up pretty nicely in the original game plan: he was willing to bring blitzes and willing to rotate to Cover 2 shells. The problem was, he got burned on those non-C3 plays — not out of fault of scheme but out of fault of execution. The Darby missed tackle on the O.J. TD; the Malcolm Jenkins whiff in coverage on the DeSean TD. That’s 2 tuddies and 150 yards, man — and it was 90% execution that caused the problem.

If his players make mistakes outside of the most practiced/typical coverage shell, then he can’t really incorporate many wrinkles. There’s a balance there that has to be respected.

I think it will.

From what I understand about receiver/quarterback chemistry, it comes down to particular senses of timing and spacing. The more you throw a slant to a guy, the better feel you get as a quarterback for how exactly he gets into his break, how he takes the angle, et cetera. And it’s less conscious processing and more intuition — it’s a relationship, a synchronicity. It’s a feel thing.

That’s not to say JMatt will get a ton of targets, or will be used heavily. But I do think the pre-existing relationship will help them for those reps that JMatt is on the field. They’ve worked together before, and they have an inherent trust that makes Carson more willing to go his way.

I think both can play in both spots which is nice — though yes, I’d expect to see more Jordan Matthews in the slot, because when he was last in this offense, that’s where he was primarily deployed (107 of his 109 targets in 2016 where from the slot, per PFF). Agholor, however, has been cross-trained at all the WR alignments, so he’s the more natural candidate to move outside.

Will it be a detriment? Not necessarily. Agholor is still a handful, and the Colts’ secondary doesn’t really have world beaters at any of the cornerback positions. The advantage of the slot receiver position is that it allows for two-way goes by alignment — you can release inside and outside, and that potential is best maximized by players with excellent quickness through their breaks: that’s why those quicker types usually profile to the slot.

Agholor can still win with releases, win with quickness, win with route-running intelligence — it’s just the two-way go isn’t present on the outside. Really, in terms of an Aiken-Agholor-Gibson/Wheaton receiver set v. an Agholor-Matthews-Gibson/Wheaton/Aiken set ... give me the Matthews set every time.

Really nice question. I like it a lot.

I do give a decent amount of causation for the early offensive struggles to the absence of Flip and Reich — though the easy majority of fault goes to the injuries on that side of the ball. That being said, it’s not so much that Flip and Reich designed plays/took advantage of concepts that Doug himself is failing to now do. Rather, the biggest issue is developing the balance and trust between three powerful offensive minds.

Think about the wealth of tape those three went through last season, and the trust that has to exist within the trio to work of another man’s film study — I doubt that deep of a relationship exists right now for Groh, Press, and Doug. The same goes for in-game adjustments — simply put, Groh and Press have to earn their esteem with Doug to reach Reich/Flip levels of influence.

They’re figuring out the balancing act. It’s predictable, totally okay, and shouldn’t be a long-term issue. Still, something to certainly be conscious of.

Okay I actually thought about “Birdbrained” for WAY longer than I’d care to admit. I like naming things and I like doing it right.

I didn’t want it to come off as too self-important — as if this mailbag is any more brainy than any other mailbags — nor did I want it to sound like an inherently silly Q&A session. I just want y’all to know that, at any given time, I’m more likely to be thinking about the Eagles than not. This is life.

Most: iDL (good news for PHI), OT (good news for PHI), WR (good news for PHI), TE (doesn’t really matter), EDGE (let’s get another one)

Least: S (bad news for PHI), RB (bad news for PHI), CB (doesn’t matter too much), LB (might matter idk)

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