Eagles head coach Doug Pederson capped off the end of mandatory minicamp with a rousing speech to his troops—to wit, “Remember to focus on football and staying in shape over the next six weeks of summer…and keep in mind, our goal as a team is to be playing into February of 2018…”
What Dougie didn’t say is he will be sleeping with one eye open during the next six weeks of what amounts to the collectively bargained summer vacation of all NFL players—you know, that period of relaxation when more than a few of the young (and older) players will find themselves in unsupervised situations where a possible bar fight or DUI may be on the horizon.
The last thing you want as a head coach is to get a call in the middle of a July night from NFL Security…
Anyway, that’s where we are as we head into the summer of 2017—my 10th year of covering the Eagles for the MVN, Bloguin and NESN networks and doubling as the catcher in the rye for what used to be the purest Eagles fan forum in the NFL universe—the original fan gallery of Dave Spadaro’s “On The Inside” column at PE.com, which got vaporized in a 2011 format switch of nuclear disaster proportions.
Brizer and JB99 and DDD and Leo led us out of the desert left by the nuclear holocaust—they led us to roost here for what we all thought would be a temporary refuge.
I was glad to play the part of the Facilitator. Call me Ishmael. Any port in a storm, I said, and I was honored to offer refuge.
But now it’s been too much wandering in the Desert—we need a home, a nation to call our own—and when Robert Kraft and the Red Sox media machine combined to take over the running of this ship, and obliterated our happy Livefyre community of daily correspondents, something was lost. God bless the regulars who keep chiming in to keep the dream alive. But many good soldiers have been lost on the trail.
True to our forefathers’ wishes, we continue to carry on…
Fitting it is that we allow the Eagles’ media staff to have the final say on the final day of mandatory minicamp in Philly:
“The Eagles held their final practice of the spring and then a conditioning test before letting the players out until late July for Training Camp. Here’s what Dave Spadaro, Chris McPherson, and Fran Duffy witnessed from the last taste of Eagles football for over a month.
Offensive Overview From TE Zach Ertz :
After a series of Organized Team Activities and the mandatory minicamp, tight end Zach Ertz thinks the offense is far, far ahead of where it was at the end of the 2016 season. It all starts, of course, at quarterback.
“Having Carson back there, him knowing that he’s the guy, that makes a huge difference,” Ertz said. “We have so much confidence in him and we’ve developed great chemistry. Bringing in Alshon Jeffery andTorrey Smith helps our wide receivers. We have LeGarrette (Blount) back there at running back. We have improved a lot, I think. But we also know that we have so much more work ahead of us. The best thing is that we can use this time wisely and get fresh and ready for Training Camp and the grind. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
This from Fran Duffy:
“In “depth chart” news, it appears as if second-year lineman Isaac Seumalo was getting reps with the first team at left guard on Thursday. Seumalo spent a few plays with the starters at center on Wednesday but has spent a majority of this offseason at the guard spot. Cornerback Aaron Grymes, a player I’ve written about seemingly every day whenever I’ve been at practice, slid into the first-team nickel defense as the slot cornerback. Jalen Mills, who had been sliding inside for most of the spring, and Patrick Robinson were the outside corners on the first-team unit. – Fran Duffy”
“Linebacker Jordan Hicks made a pass breakup on a short out route throw to Ertz from quarterback Matt McGloin during a 7-on-7 drill. Defensive end Brandon Graham said that Hicks looks much quicker than he did last year. Hicks is happy to hear that because with a full offseason to train instead of rehab he’s stronger and added some bulk. Hicks led all linebackers with five interceptions in 2016.”
“Cornerback Rasul Douglas, working with the second-team defense opposite C.J. Smith, defended a back-shoulder throw to David Watford in the same goal line period. The rookie reacted well on that throw and was challenged a number of times throughout the day, drawing a flag from the refs in attendance on a pass later in practice for holding Alshon Jeffery down the left sideline. I’ve enjoyed watching Douglas compete over the last few weeks with every receiver he’s matched up against. – Fran Duffy”
“A lot of reports coming out of OTAs and minicamp rave about Douglas, but don’t forget about veteran Patrick Robinson. During a 7-on-7 drill, Robinson executed perfect press coverage against Torrey Smith to keep the receiver from getting off the line.”
“The action moved away from the goal line and out toward midfield, and with the second-team units going on both sides, quarterback Matt McGloin threw a deep ball that safety Jaylen Watkins nearly secured for an over-the-shoulder interception. Away from the play, Terrance Brooks smartly covered a crosser from the tight end, drawing praise from defensive backs coach Cory Undlin for jumping the route.”
“During individual drills, players worked on fielding kickoffs out of the JUGS machine. It was quite a sight seeing the 6-4, 322-pound tackle Dillon Gordon joining the group and catching the ball with ease. Of course, Gordon was a tight end at LSU, although he was primarily used as a blocker. He had seven catches in college. Gordon has been used as a fullback by the Eagles in the spring.”
“A little fun for the final minicamp practice or a preview of something to watch during the season? During the group install, which worked on red zone offense, Sproles took a pitch from Wentz and threw to tight end Trey Burton in the back right corner of the end zone. The pass, unfortunately, led Burton out of the end zone and was incomplete.”
“Another player on that hypothetical list would absolutely be Nelson Agholor. The third-year wideout was the target of Wentz’ throw down in the red zone on an in-breaking route, a pass that was perfectly placed high and away from Grymes in the slot. Agholor went up and snagged the throw for a touchdown 5 yards deep in the end zone. A couple of periods later, Wentz threaded the needle with pinpoint accuracy between multiple defenders to Agholor on a dig route over the middle for a first down. Head coach Doug Pederson wanted the players to finish the spring strong, and Wentz did just that with a few really impressive days of practice in a row to conclude the offseason workouts.”
“Before practice began, Jason Peters was spending extra time off to the side with former defensive lineman-turned-offensive tackle Taylor Hart. The All-Pro blocker was giving the former fifth-round pick from Oregon pointers on his pass set. Peters is consistently one of the most active “teachers” among the veterans on the roster, taking time every offseason to coach up younger players at his position, and Hart appears to be one of his new pupils.”
It’s a wonderful time of the year if you’re an optimistic Eagles fan. Everything looks pretty good with no horrific injuries suffered so far and a bunch of potential greatness assembled out there. The NFC East appears to be in a state of compression. No way Dallas is running away with things in 2017. The Eagles, Giants and Redskins have all improved their rosters by both addition and subtraction.
The bottom line to me heading into the summer hiatus is we should be more concerned about the Eagles’ defense early in 2017 coming together about twice as much improved compared to the Eagles’ offense. That would amount to the leeway time the Eagles offense may require to gel with so many new pieces added to the mix handed off to what amounts to be still a very inexperienced QB calling the plays.
These are human beings, not robots. They need time to figure stuff out.
It’s not gonna be easy sailing, but I have a feeling this offense could catch a wave with the support of a much stouter defense and a continuing reliable life line from special teams.
Feeling good, Louis!— 9-7, 10-6? Prego—it’s in there.
Now let’s go fishing, eh?