“I can’t lie,” Washburn said. “That’s why they don’t want me to talk.”
Please keep talking, Wash.
Reuben Frank put out a list of the top ten roster battles heading into training camp. He hits on some of the biggest ones: Atogwe vs. Coleman, Rolle vs. Chaney, Hanson vs. Boykin. But he also lists a bunch of questionable ones:
- Dion Lewis vs. Bryce Brown? I’m excited to see if Brown can make the transition to the NFL. He clearly has 5x the physical potential of Lewis. But I’m not really seeing the competition for backup running back. There’s just no way Brown is going to come in after sitting out nearly all of college and immediately pick up the complexity of the Eagles offense and the intricacies of pass blocking, other essential bits. Then again, don’t read this as an endorsement of Lewis, who seems like a poor backup to one of the best players on the roster.
- Riley Cooper vs. Damaris Johnson? It’s unclear whether the Eagles will keep five or six wide receivers, but I don’t really see the big receivers competing against the smaller ones. Cooper and Marvin McNutt would serve similar roles on the roster, as would Johnson and Chad Hall. Those are the real one-on-one battles. Winners of each competition will be guaranteed a spot on the roster. After that, all they can do is hope the Eagles keep six guys.
- Clay Harbor vs. Brett Brackett? With the Eagles using more two tight end sets, the question is really whether Brackett can play his way onto the roster — not whether he can beat out Harbor, a more experienced player and much better blocker.
- Mike Kafka vs. Nick Foles? As with Lewis/Brown, this isn’t a ringing endorsement of Kafka. But Frank is the first person to suggest that Foles even has a shot to replace him in his rookie year.
Ahead of all of the above, I’d rate these battles: Demetress Bell vs. King Dunlap, Jaiquawn Jarrett vs. the Chopping Block, Derek Landri vs. Antonio Dixon vs. Cedric Thornton.
LeSean McCoy, as told to Reuben Frank at CSN Philly:
“Training during the offseason, I wanted to be one of those guys. I think that’s the biggest difference from this year and last year – the confidence level. When I step on the field now, I feel like I’m one of those guys (opponents) are worried about.
“‘Where’s DeSean Jackson? Where’s Mike Vick? Where’s LeSean McCoy?’ I want to be one of those guys. The whole offseason, that’s what I put in my mind. I don’t want to just be another guy on the field. I want to be a guy who has that confidence that those guys know, ‘I’m ready to play.’”
He got his wish.
Reuben Frank, at CSNPhilly:
He makes no excuses.
“It’s been frustrating basically playing a new, different position, but I’m young, I’ve got a lot of time to just learn,” he said at his locker before practice Thursday. “Slot is a difficult position to play if you’ve never done it before. I never really even paid attention to it because you’re outside doing your thing.
“Outside is a whole different ballgame. That’s really been the most difficult thing. Trying to make that your spot. I asked guys around the league how difficult playing the nickel is and they tell you but until you get out there, you don’t realize how difficult it is and how different it is.
“Once I get it, I got it. But there’s a lot of new concepts. Gotta read run, gap responsibilities – your mind has to work quickly. But with more experience, it’ll come. In the long run, it’ll make me a better corner. I’ll have a better mindset or mentality of the game because playing inside, it makes you more versatile and makes you a better player.”
Is it too late to get Patrick Peterson?
You play to win the game. Corollary: if you don’t win, show some humility.
On Monday, Trevor Laws talked to Reuben Frank about the upcoming game against Seattle. “Watching the film, I think it’s an easily winnable game,” he said. “If we play our game, we should blow these guys out. That’s just how I feel.”
One might dismiss Laws’s words as a single player speaking off the cuff, not to be taken too seriously. But that would be to ignore the many other quotes from players over the course of the season, who’ve made similarly confident assertions about this Eagles team. Even right after Sunday’s debacle, I watched Asante Samuel assert that they were still a “really good team.”
It’s unclear if the players are delusional, overly cocky, or both. Any team that’s closer to a top five draft pick then to the playoffs should realize and admit that they just aren’t as good as as they expected. These quotes flew when it was early in the season and we still thought the losses might be an aberration. Not anymore.
It’s time to fess up to the disappointment and display some humility. Rather than boast about how “easily winnable” the upcoming game appears, look in the mirror. Most Eagles fans I know can “easily” see another loss as the Eagles head west on Thursday.
You were just embarrassed at home, and the fans that weren’t calling for your coach to be fired were headed to the exits a quarter early.
Save the talk about blowing other teams out for another season.
Photo from Getty.
There’s an important, if often overlooked difference between critic and cynic. The critic questions the current situation thoughtfully and wonders what other options exist. He might second-guess decisions and rethink conventional wisdom. But the cynic overreacts to the most recent information. He might call a good team a "house of cards" or demand that they shake everything up for one questionable improvement.
That’s where we stand at this moment with the Eagles. Some of us are willing to criticize and question, and others are quick to call for changing everything immediately. You can watch this dichotomy play out in the debate about right tackle.
The calls are out for Andy Reid to move Todd Herremans away from his normal left guard spot to shore up the right tackle position. Admittedly, right tackle could be a problem for the Eagles. Winston Justice’s knee injury hasn’t fully healed yet, his replacement Ryan Harris now has back problems, and temporary starter King Dunlap hasn’t proven he can hold his own at this level yet.
But moving Herremans over to tackle is a desperate move, one that many in the media have been pushing for days. They ask Reid whether he’d consider moving Herremans and Andy says the same thing every time: he know that’s a possibility if he needs it, but he has other options right now. To me, that quotation is clear. Herremans can be a last resort if no one else is even adequate, the way a salad is a last resort for Reid after every possible cheesesteak and hamburger option has left the building.
And why would Herremans at right tackle be anything more than that? He hasn’t taken a snap at tackle in almost two years, and hasn’t gotten regular playing time at the position since his rookie year in 2005. We know he can slide over in a pinch, but you don’t sacrifice the only solid thing the Eagles offensive line has going for it - the left side - for a questionable upgrade.
Like every other team in the NFL, the Eagles have problem spots. Injuries at right tackle, a rookie middle linebacker, and a few more. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that with these offensive weapons, pass rushers, and cornerbacks, the Eagles on paper rival any team of the Andy Reid era.
Criticism is always good. Cynicism gets old.
Photo from Getty.