A week off, so to speak, for the Eagles, which feels so much better after the Game 1 victory over the pesky Falcons… Nice to get that first W on the books, that’s for sure. Now the Birds have a free Sunday to scout all the other “first efforts” of the NFC East. I know you can’t really project a whole lot based upon a team’s first regular season game, especially in this new era of limited veteran reps in the preseason. But I am Curious Green, so I shall be looking with prurient interest upon the Dallas Cowboys’, New York Giants’ and Washington Redskins’ opening games. I will also do some TV-couch scouting of our next opponent, Tampa Bay.
Basically the Eagles players and coaches go back to work on Monday, so it’s not really a “week off”. It just feels like it after getting through that Thursday night marathon with a nail-biter of a win.
Next Sunday we are the visiting team against the Tampa Bay Bucs. We will have LB Nigel Bradham and safety Deiondre’ Hall returning to the active roster after their one-game suspensions. The Eagles will have to release one player from the roster (wide receiver Mack Hollins went on Injured Reserve earlier in the week, so the Eagles carried an 89-man roster into the opener). They will have a light practice and conditioning work to do on Monday to prepare for Tampa. According to Weather.com, the projected high in Tampa next Sunday will be 92 degrees, with 68 percent humidity. Ugh…but so far the Eagles have shown quite acceptable cardio conditioning and acclimation to high heat conditions.
One thing I noticed in the home opener against Atlanta was how much I miss having a Big Bopper at running back to set the tone for the offense in the first half of a game. Last season that guy was Blount. He gone. Not having that guy puts a lot more pressure on interim QB Nick Foles.
It’s not fair or reasonable to ask guys like Sproles or Ajayi or Clement or even Smallwood to fill that role. Blount was and still is a specialist in that “soften up the defense” kind of thing. We are lacking in that dimension at the moment. I think the only reason the Eagles gave Matt Jones a tryout this summer was to see if he could fill Blount’s shoes. He couldn’t, and he didn’t.
So on to Plan B…which means Foles (who will be QB1 for at least the rest of September based upon updated reports of Carson Wentz’ medical clearance status) will be dinking and dunking more than usual on first and second downs. He just doesn’t have the luxury of a big running back to set up favorable play-action sequences anymore.
That’s one reason why Foles averaged only 3.2 yards per passing play against the Falcons.
No surprise that safety Tre Sullivan was waived by the Eagles after the Falcons game. Tre “pulled a boner” on a bouncing punt which could have cost the Birds the game. Rumors are he also may have pulled a Falcon boner at the bottom of a special teams pileup later in the game. I don’t know about that kind of stuff, could be “made up”?
Also, the team is reportedly adding wide receiver Braxton Miller (6-1, 215) to the PS-10 pending a physical.
Miller is a former third-round draft pick out of Ohio State, and after two seasons with the Houston Texans, was released just ahead of the regular season. The wideout was a quarterback in college, and while he always had the athleticism to play a WR position, he wasn’t forced into the move until suffering a shoulder injury in 2014.
Following his injury, he made the move to an h-back position for the Buckeyes, and was often used in wildcat formations when he returned to the field in 2015. He didn’t put up a ton of crazy stats that season, but with a few highlight-worthy plays, his potential was obvious.
Miller rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2012 and 2013 when he was still a quarterback for the Buckeyes, and while he doesn’t quite have the size to be a running back in the NFL, he does have the elusiveness to make defenders miss in the open field.
He is capable of contributing on punt and kick returns. He fielded three kickoffs his rookie season in Houston for 41 yards, and a 17-yard long run, and three punt returns in 2017 for 12 yards and five fair catches.
Other practice squad moves:
This player has been signed: defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.
For those of us who follow “snap counts”, this is an interesting recap by Jimmy (“Borzki”) Kempski over at PhillyVoice.com, showing you a few glimmers of truth as to where certain personnel rotations are headed, and where we are burning the candle at both ends at some positions:
Quarterback and offensive line
• 72 snaps each: Nick Foles, Stefen Wisniewski, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson
• 71 snaps each: Jason Kelce, Jason Peters
• 5 snaps: Isaac Seumalo
• 1 snap: Halapoulivaati Vaitai
“Analysis: We’ll just note briefly here that Jason Peters went to the locker room after the Eagles’ final touchdown. He was not on the field for the ensuing two-point conversion, and the Eagles’ offense never got the ball back. To be determined what happened to him.”
• 29 snaps each: Darren Sproles and Jay Ajayi
• 13 snaps: Corey Clement
• 1 snap: Wendell Smallwood
“Analysis: I was surprised by the number of snaps Sproles got, especially early. If the game plan was for Ajayi to get the bulk of the carries in the second half against a tired defense in the hot weather conditions, then I can see the strategy in that. However, I figured Clement would be used more than he was.”
• 68 snaps: Nelson Agholor
• 66 snaps: Mike Wallace
• 53 snaps: DeAndre Carter
• 4 snaps: Shelton Gibson
• 2 snaps: Markus Wheaton
“Analysis: I did not see Carter getting 53 snaps. The offense is going to improve significantly when Alshon Jeffery can return to the outside and Agholor can go back to full-time duty in the slot.”
• 70 snaps: Zach Ertz
• 17 snaps: Dallas Goedert
• 4 snaps: Josh Perkins
“Analysis: While he did have a drop that led to an interception after a big hit, you can see the potential Goedert possesses on the catch he made in the end zone in which he landed out of bounds. It was surprising that the Eagles stuck with 11 personnel as much as they did, giving 53 snaps to Carter and only 17 to Goedert.”
• 65 snaps: Fletcher Cox
• 46 snaps: Brandon Graham
• 45 snaps: Michael Bennett
• 40 snaps: Derek Barnett
• 39 snaps: Chris Long
• 27 snaps: Destiny Vaeao
• 17 snaps: Haloti Ngata
• 7 snaps: Bruce Hector
“Analysis: Fletcher Cox is a beast, and his conditioning is at a new level this year. He missed just five snaps on the night, and was still a major force on the final drive of the game. That is highly impressive at the defensive tackle position in the weather conditions that existed last night.
“During the telecast, it is my understanding from fan tweets that Cris Collinsworth said that Michael Bennett is unhappy that he’s not starting. To be determined if that’s true or not, but he played 64 percent of the snaps, the third-most among the Eagles’ defensive linemen.”
• 70 snaps: Jordan Hicks
• 28 snaps: Kamu Grugier-Hill
• 26 snaps: Nate Gerry
• 1 snap: LaRoy Reynolds
“Analysis: Gerry officially got the start, but Grugier-Hill played two more snaps. The Eagles were rotating them. More importantly, Hicks was able to play the entire game, which had to have been a mental hurdle for him to overcome after returning from a ruptured Achilles.”
67 snaps: Jalen Mills
65 snaps: Ronald Darby
45 snaps: Sidney Jones
2 snaps: Rasul Douglas
“Analysis: No surprises here, although we’ll note that Douglas made the most of his two snaps by picking off Matt Ryan.”
70 snaps each: Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod
40 snaps: Corey Graham
“Analysis: Graham played a big chunk of the game, as expected.”