Tag Archives: Jaylen Watkins

Go Ahead and Open Up the Mock Drafts Now

The clock has stuck midnight. The fat lady has sung. Insert your preferable cultural reference here.

An Eagles season that had so much promise as recently as 14 days ago is now over.

They will end the season with a better record than at least one of the 12 teams in the playoffs and maybe more, but unlike an exhilarating end to the 2013 season, there will be no January this time around, no NFC East title, no home playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field.

A big reason why the Eagles suffered this fate is because aside from the Colts, Cowboys, and maybe the Panthers, they couldn’t beat teams that have qualified for the playoffs often enough.

In some of those contests like the Packers and Seahawks game, they were outclassed. In others like the Cardinals, one or two fluke plays could have easily swung things and made a difference in the season.

Meaningless regular season football really sucks. We thankfully have not had much of it in the past decade, but for the second time in three years, there will be a Week 17 game at the Meadowlands with little to directly play for.

Perhaps in ways the repetitive location is fitting in this instance. It was only two short years ago that a 4-12 team quit on their soon to be ex-head coach Andy Reid in an embarrassing 42-7 loss to the Giants to cap off a lost season.

For all Reid did for this franchise, he left the roster mostly in shambles. There was a running back, a couple wide receivers, and some injured offensive linemen, but depth at any position was hard to come by. The defense was devoid of homegrown talent, and the secondary was (and mostly still is) a complete wasteland.

Between an offensive genius taking the NFL by storm, career years from LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson, historically good quarterback play from Nick Foles, a draft class that provided immediate impact in the form of Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, and Bennie Logan, and an offensive line staying healthy for all 16 games, the Eagles were able to go from 4-12 to a 10-win team that nearly knocked off Drew Brees in the playoffs.

Billy Davis, a defensive coordinator with a spotty track record and much to prove, took a jumbled collection of noodles and ketchup and made a presentable Italian meal out of it.

Everything clicked and were it not for a bad kicker and a fluke return, the Eagles may have well reached the NFC Championship Game in Chip Kelly’s first season.

Many of those aforementioned things did not click this season. Jackson is wearing a different uniform. McCoy, while still very productive, was far from the player who won the rushing title last season. Nick Foles threw more interceptions and got hurt. When Foles was healthy, the offensive line was not as the quarterback would constantly fear pressure playing behind backups and end up retreating and throwing off his back foot immediately after taking a snap.

Outside of Jordan Matthews, this year’s draft produced little impact. Josh Huff provided one of the most electric moments of the season but made a ton of rookie mistakes in the process. First round pick Marcus Smith cannot play. While the jury remains out, there is little indication to think Jaylen Watkins and Taylor Hart can at the moment.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the way to expedite the process in the NFL is to draft well. Years of bad drafting under the Reid regime eventually caught up with the team. In 2012, they started to reverse course some, but too many dysfunctional issues overshadowed a strong rookie class in Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry, Brandon Boykin, Foles, and Bryce Brown. It wasn’t enough to save their jobs, but it was progress.

Kelly and Howie Roseman continued that progress in 2013 but took a big step back this past May by bungling their first round pick in a talent rich draft, fumbling the best chance they had to inject talent onto an improving but still semi-flawed roster.

With a little bit of luck and mostly really solid coaching, the Eagles have gone from a punching bag to a decent team in two years but remain a couple notches below some of the NFL elite who will be playing in January.

Key decisions will be made before May, and some holes will be plugged in free agency. For better or for worse, we will be blogging throughout those periods, but the way to keep building Rome, the way to prevent three consecutive losses in December, will be to nail the May portion of the offseason and prevent a repeat of what took place in 2014.

We are more than five months away, but go ahead, unfortunately. Open up the mock drafts.

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Eagles-Packers Sad Haiku

Welp.

There have been more panful losses over the past calendar year, but the Eagles have not looked that overmatched since a visit to Denver last September.

That was really, really bad. The entire country saw how good the Eagles can look against a struggling team last Monday, and today, most of them saw how bad they can look against an elite quarterback.

The way I see it, there are three approaches one could take after what transpired over the past three hours.

1. Jump off the Walt Whitman. The Eagles are a fraud, pretenders and not contenders at 7-3. Chip Kelly was ridiculously out coached, and Mark Sanchez isn’t good enough to get them to the playoffs. The defense is awful, and Dallas is going to win the division. 

I don’t believe any of that for a second. I do have some obvious concerns about Sanchez, and the defense certainly underachieved today, but that line of thinking is a big time overreaction for a team still sitting pretty.

2. Today wasn’t a big deal at all. Aaron Rodgers does this to everyone, and the Packers caught a few lucky breaks. LeSean McCoy will get on track, and the pass rush will be better. We have nothing to worry about and will be fine in a January rematch. 

I would buy into this rationale more than the first approach, but completely tossing this game out of the window would be brushing away some clear issues. The Eagles are better than what they showed today but came up short on a big stage.

3. The Packers are nearly unbeatable at Lambeau with Aaron Rodgers, but the Eagles never gave themselves a chance. Between bad penalties like Trent Cole jumping offsides on third and long in the first quarter and untimely turnovers, this one unraveled quickly. The Eagles are still 7-3 and in great shape. They haven’t been blown out in quite some time and were perhaps due for a letdown, but doesn’t make it hurt any less. 

That is the way I mostly look at this. The Eagles are still in excellent shape overall but are trying to survive with a backup quarterback and a secondary that features three players who likely would not start for most other teams between Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, and Nate Allen. Rodgers, being one of the smartest and beset signal-callers on the planet, knew that and targeted Fletcher early and often.

In a chance to showcase himself for potential head coaching gigs next season, defensive coordinator Billy Davis looked miles behind Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.

Short yardage situations in the red zone are still a troublesome issue, and LeSean McCoy doesn’t look like LeSean McCoy even with 80 percent of the offensive line together.

Unfortunately, this team is still trying to recover from a few awful draft classes toward the end of the Andy Reid regime and are not getting much impact from this year’s rookies aside from Jordan Matthews. Marcus Smith, Jaylen Watkins, and Taylor Hart cannot get on the field, and Josh Huff is making mistakes every time he gets on the field.

The Eagles are at a point where while their roster is greatly improving, they still can’t afford to miss on many guys and need immediate impact from rookies whenever possible. They are getting absolutely nothing from their first round pick, and it hurts against an elite team like the Packers.

It is also becoming increasingly important that the Eagles win the division and find a way to get the second seed for a first round bye. 5-0 at home, 2-3 on the road. Despite being a very good road squad in 2013, they are clearly not the same team away from Lincoln Financial Field this season and need to end up there in January.

Thankfully there is a path for that. The Packers, Lions, and Cowboys all have three losses, and the Cardinals face four teams currently above .500 in their last six games.

A roadmap exists, and it starts next week at home against a bad Titans team before Turkey Day in Dallas.

Stay tuned for an announcement about something on our blog this week, but in the meantime, let’s hit the haiku and try to shake this one off some:

Fletcher picked on bad

Rodgers, Nelson, Cobb, oh my

Still seven and three

Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly Look Really Smart with Some of Their Offseason Acquisitions Right Now

Darren Sproles and Malcolm Jenkins helped end the Eagles season last year at Lincoln Financial Field as members of the New Orleans Saints.

Fast forward eight months, and they are now integral parts of the Eagles 2-0 start.

Sproles was a flat out stud tonight. The 31-year old running back looked not a day over 25, running for a 19-yard touchdown to tie the game at 20 in the third quarter and catching seven passes for 152 yards (only 20 less than the entire Colts team).

Sproles also helped jump start a stagnant Eagles offense in Week 1 with a 49-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.

Jenkins nearly forced a fumble last week and had an interception with the Colts leading 27-20 late in the fourth quarter. Absolutely no way Patrick Chung would have made that play in a spot like that or at all for that matter.

When the Eagles gave up a fifth round pick for Sproles in March, Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman essentially justified it by saying that if Sproles was available in the fifth round of this draft, teams would certainly pick him.

The actual draft, unlike 2012 and 2013, is not yet yielding positive results. The only rookie really seeing any playing time is second round receiver Jordan Matthews. Marcus Smith is a big time project. Josh Huff would likely have a role if healthy but is still recovering from a shoulder injury. Taylor Hart and Jaylen Watkins have both been healthy inactives.

With little impact from the draft, it is absolutely vital that additions made via trade and free agency pan out, and so far between these two plus the recently acquired Cody Parkey, they are.

Well said, Connor. Well said, indeed.

Connor Barwin Tweet

If You’re Turnt AF for Matt Barkley Time Tonight, Clap Your Hands

Clap clap!

The team that nearly ruined Mark Sanchez plays the team that is rebuilding him in the preseason finale tonight at Lincoln Financial Field. In less douchey terminology, the Eagles and Jets meet in the annual fourth and final preseason contest before roster cuts are due and teams get ready for the actual show.

I unfortunately will not be watching the action live tonight, but unlike a lot of folks who tune out the fourth preseason game because they falsely believe it is completely meaningless, I have to work late before spending Labor Day Weekend in Pittsburgh at a friend’s wedding. You may have already seen that mentioned on here.

I get that some people cannot stand this final game. I really do, but to the fringe players that participate in it, tonight could help make or break their career. It happened 14 years ago in Philadelphia with A.J. Feeley and will happen again around the league tonight.

When I arrive home from work, I will probably throw on a replay while packing for the wedding and attempt a 53-man roster projection.

In the meantime, here are five things I hope to see from the Mark Sanchez-Michael Vick Bowl Matt Barkley-Michael Vick Bowl when I fire up the DVR:

  1. Matt Barkley has an excellent audition — I like Matt Barkley. I think he can have a future as a starter in this league, just not in Philadelphia (where Nick Foles is the starting quarterback for the next 1000 years). Since he entered the league 16 months ago, Barkley’s game has been picked apart every which way. Such is life when you go from a prodigy who some scouts had ahead of Andrew Luck to a fourth round pick following a rough senior season at shoulder injury. Tonight is Barkley’s chance to show some of the naysayers that he belongs and to catch the attention of some quarterback needy teams who might be interested down the road.
  2. Alex Henery is mistake free — I am at the point where I don’t know what else to write about the embattled kicker. I attempted to explore his issues in-depth and even defended him after an awful miss last week. I am still very confident the Eagles enter Week 1 with him as their guy, but the margin for error has never been smaller. I will update the kickoff tracker when I get home but nothing live during the game sadly.
  3. A wide receiver on the bubble shows they want the spot — Between Jeff Maehl, Arrelious Benn, and Ifeanyi Momah, the birds have a trio of receivers competing for what is likely one final spot on the depth chart there. All have flashed but have also displayed their inconsistency that has put them squarely on the bubble. Maehl is the safe bet considering he played for Chip Kelly at Oregon and knows the system, but I think Benn and Momah have a much higher ceiling. If they want to reach that ceiling though, they need to show it tonight.
  4. Jaylen Watkins doing good things on defense — I could have picked a lot of people here but hope to see the rookie defensive back in action tonight. He had a rough time against the Bears but also flashed his potential and versatility with an interception before all was said and done.
  5. A standing ovation for Michael Vick — Call this a cop out, but the former Eagles quarterback is back at the Linc in a different shade of green after five years in Philadelphia, and I think he earned it. I never thought Vick was a very good quarterback, but I believe he left here a better person and teammate than when he arrived. I think a lot of people are still unsure about how to judge him stemming from his dogfighting troubles of the past, but our country loves a comeback, and Vick has certainly made the most of his second chance.

We almost made it. The finish line is in sight. See you folks for more analysis once we cross it.

Live Blog: Replay of the Eagles-Bears Preseason Game

Last night, I watched the Eagles preseason opener against the Bears at a crowded bar, and it reminded me why I don’t watch Eagles games at crowded bars.

It was great to catch up with some of my high school friends who I hadn’t seen in quite some time, but it is impossible to really focus on the details of a game at a place like that.

I ended up listening to Merrill Reese on the radio for the first 10 minutes while doing 20 laps in my car around the parking lot looking for a space.

This may not be a weekly feature, but here’s a collection of notes, thoughts, and maybe a few pictures while watching a replay of the game in the comfort of my own home. Live blog style:

Pregame

Bae

Chip Preseason

Missed you, bae.

Chip Preseason 2

I’ll stop now, I promise.

First Quarter

14:55 — Scott Graham just called Allen Barbre, “Allen Barber.” I have a feeling a lot of announcers will make that mistake during the first four games. The less they do, the better, because it means Barbre will have done his job and gone unnoticed.

14:01 — The Bears have to call timeout after two completions from Nicky. Can I call you Nicky? I feel like I can call you Nicky occasionally after I wrote this about you.

13:55 — Man, it feels like Lance Briggs has been on the Bears forever, doesn’t it?

13:30 — Foles intercepted. Did not hear this on the radio last night, but Brian Baldinger says the pass was tipped, and I agree. Not a great read by Foles but also don’t know where the pass was originally intended.

11:59 — Nice to see Mychal Kendricks just dropped in coverage and looked alright doing it. Good stuff.

11:50 — Nice field goal block by Damion Square. Not sure he makes the team here but has that on his resume now.

The channel I’m watching just fast-forwarded eight minutes. Boo

3:24 — Touchdown Bears. Baldy says it was good coverage but looked like DeMeco Ryans never got his head turned around to look for the ball.

Too many commercials.

3:18 — First ball blows off the tee before the kickoff of the year! We rollin now.

3:10 — Baldy just called Barbre “Barber” now too. Make it stop.

2:40 — Jeremy Maclin catches a pass. First time he did that since December 30, 2012. I want to say something witty here about how times have changed since then, but I’ve got nothing. Sorry, folks.

1:00 — Foles intercepted again. You probably haven’t heard this stat yet, but that equals the number of picks he threw last regular season.

:50 — Nice tackle by Najee Goode. The lack of depth at inside linebacker is an underrated concern in my opinion. Hopefully he can ease some of it.

Second Quarter 

15:00 — Vinny Curry hungry.

13:50 — ZACH ERTZ, MY DUDE. Big second year leap coming for him this season. Mark it down.

12:50 — Donnie Jones in midseason form, pinning the Bears on their own 10 yard line.

12:00 — Bad missed tackle by Earl Wolff there. Billy Davis can’t be thrilled.

10:55 — 2010 Draft class RISE UP! Nate Allen picks off Jordan Palmer, set up by some nice pressure from Brandon Graham. Take that Earl Thomas! // Sobs during the commercial

10:47 — Ertz again with a nice reception. Last year, my dad never really bothered to learn his name. Every time he caught a pass, he would ask “Is that the kid from Stanford who they got playing for em’?” Expecting to hear it a lot this year.

9:38 — Eagles score, Matthew Tucker. Running out of the spread seems to have caught the Bears off guard. Nice push from potential backup center David Molk.

This is just weird, but I think I can get used to it.

Mark Sanchez

9:30 — Welcome, Chris Maragos. Nice tackle on the kickoff.

8:15 — Marcus Smith outchea batting down a pass to get the defense off the field. Good to see.

7:32 — I’m trying to watch Lane Johnson against the twos. Think he looks good, but Mark Sanchez and Tucker are making it tough to pay attention with these dynamic plays.

5:52 — Tucker scores again. I realize it’s the preseason against fellow backups, but the bottom of this Eagles roster is the best it has been in quite some time. I imagine a few guys who get cut will hook on elsewhere.

5:50 — Baldy mentions DeSean Jackson. To my knowledge, this is the first time his name has been dropped tonight.

5:50 — Alex Henery puts the kickoff into the end zone. Whoa.

5:27 — Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro just seems like a fun guy to play for. One of Chip’s Oregon guys and glad he brought him along.

Jerry Azzinaro

5:15 — Defensive holding negates the impact but nice coverage and tackle by Smith in space.

1:07 — Touchdown Bears. Marc Trestman has found a mismatch with Zach Miller against the Eagles linebackers in coverage, and he likes it.

There is a minute left in the half and the Eagles have three timeouts left. Insert some joke about Andy Reid here.

:54 — JOSH HUFF GOES 102 YARDS FOR A TOUCHDOWN! Last night, I thought he pulled a DeSean circa 2008 and dropped the ball before crossing the plane but nope, he good.

:49 — Only a yard deep that time, but Henery still puts the kick in the end zone. Could be worse.

:31 — Almost 10 minutes have elapsed since I last typed something. This is the longest end to the first half ever, but I love Chip using the aforementioned timeouts to try to get the ball back. Aggressive football.

Halftime

Finally! I wasn’t quick enough to snap a picture, but Sanchez and Chip were walking off the field together. I imagine the signal-caller said something along the lines of “Thanks for rescuing me from that Jets offense and Rex Ryan.”

 Third Quarter 

15:00 — Henery puts another one in the end zone. Not bad.

14:55 — Jimmy Clausen sighting for the Bears. I automatically think of this upon seeing his name.

12:23 — Matt Barkley time y’all! (Starts with an incompletion intended for James Casey)

11:20 — Tucker fumbled, Clausen got nowhere, and Robbie Gould made a field goal. 21-17 Eagles. It seems like things bout to get unwatchable.

11:16 — Bad kickoff return by Huff that time. Didn’t even make it to the 10 yard line. One thing of note here, pretty sure I saw Marcus Smith playing special teams there. Will be interesting to follow.

8:51 — Couple of good balls from Barkley including an out to Will Murphy down the right sideline showing off some decent arm strength. Another nice pass to Jordan Matthews on the left, but the rookie drops it.

7:02 — Screen game, David Fluellen. 28-17 Eagles and some boos heard at Solider Field. I love Chicago, awesome city, but they’re probably still a bit salty over this.

6:50 — I went to go get some grapes during the commercial, but I see Henery had another touchback. Nice.

6:04 — Touchdown Bears. Jaylen Watkins burnt in a welcome to the NFL moment for the fourth round rookie.

5:59 — Obligatory reminder that Damaris Johnson is still on this team for another couple weeks.

5:27 — Bad drop by Matthews, not exactly helping Barkley out here. Birds have to punt.

5:09 — Turnovers on back-to-back plays. Bears fumble a punt return and Barkley gets intercepted. Seen some good stuff out of Barkley but think my slim hopes of him taking the backup job from Sanchez have just left town.

4:15 — Clausen should have been called for intentional grounding. He wasn’t, and the Bears get a first down on a screen pass the very next play.

1:29 — Touchdown Bears, lead Bears. Watkins got picked on pretty good during that drive. 31-28.

:26 — Barkley seems to like Casey. Nice third down completion over the middle to extend the drive.

It just dawned on me that I’m spending 1/8 of my Saturday watching a football game that isn’t even live. Send help.

Fourth Quarter

14:50 — Barkley slips and misses an open Huff who seemed to be sitting in the Bears zone. Cue a punt.

14:15 — Roc Carmichael seems like a good guy. He’s not a good NFL cornerback however. Beat deep again.

12:13 — Watkins interception! Don’t be fooled if you only look at a box score.

Eagles Preseason Box Score

He had a rough night, but I imagine that made the pick feel even better.

10: 56 — G.J. Kinne time. He appears to enjoy throwing to Johnson, a former Tulsa teammate.

9:45 — Jones touchback. Looked like Watkins may have had a shot to down it, but either way, you don’t see that too often. Only five in 82 punts last season.

It just occurred to me that I forgot to start Corey Kluber on my fantasy team today. Dammit, Drew. I’m in first place but gotta be better than that.

8:11 — Bears convert a 3rd and 11. These are backups in the fourth quarter of a preseason game, but that’s one area where the Eagles defense needs to be better this year.

I didn’t watch the guy as much as I wish I did to point out specific plays, but I don’t want to go the whole post without mentioning him: Beau Allen seemed to take advantage of Bennie Logan sitting this one out with a solid game.

5:01 — I’m still here folks, I promise. You gotta realize what I’m working with here trying to blog about the fourth quarter of an NFL preseason game.

3: 46 — Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’ is playing during a timeout. Used to really like that song before it got ridiculously overplayed.

3:30 — Solider Field goes wild for local product Jordan Lynch as he runs for a first down. According to Wikipedia, he and I share a birthday, so he’s cool in my book.

2:50 — Between all of the offensive holding penalties early and a personal foul on Bryan Braman there, birds not exactly disciplined in their play tonight.

This graphic appears on the broadcast before the two minute warning. Please get here soon.

Eagles Schedule

2:00 — Graham is on the field. For as much as some think he won’t make it out of camp, I hope the Eagles keep him around as another pass-rusher. Even though you have me blocked on the Twitter machine, I’m pulling for you.

1:58 — Gould adds a field goal to make it 34-28. We unfortunately won’t see Henery attempt any tonight.

1:49 — Kinne has to go 79 yards in under two minutes. Back in 2001, A.J. Feeley made the team by pulling off a similar situation.

:50 — Kinne has the Eagles more than halfway there to the 37 yard line. Let’s see what you got, kid.

Tick..tick…

:02 — Hail Mary time. Ball spotted on the Chicago 33.

:00 — Kinne rolling to his left and falling down off his back foot completes a pass to Quron Pratt just inside the red zone but time expires. Game to Chicago.

It was fun, Bears. Let’s do it again next August.