You can infer all you want from the various scribes who are reporting on Eagles 2021 TC with extreme vigor, but you should filter their biases…
Many of them are secretly wishing for Jalen Hurts to show weakness or for Andre Dillard to fail. Many of them are equally invested in a bust scenario for Joe Flacco. EYE don’t get it, but the truth will out when the contact gets real. I don’t think anything controversial about any of the current personnel or coaching staff— let it play out.
What’s really happening is a new coaching staff is getting to know an entirely new set of players, and vice-versa. There is no need for speculation upon performance beyond that.
These are 70-minute get-togethers, meet & greet affairs with occasional football activity. Nobody among them even knows what they don’t know at this point.
Here’s how the official site of the Eagles describes the current state of practice:
“It initially looked like the head coach was wrapping up practice early, but he gathered the entire team because he was not happy with the performance on the field. As defensive end Ryan Kerrigan explained, Sirianni said Friday’s session mirrored the adversity that the team will encounter at some point in a game this season. Sirianni wanted to see how the team would respond. After a spirited final few periods, it was clear that the message was well received.”
“I think we finished the practice stronger than we started,” Kerrigan said.
See….getting to know you….
First of all, the new head coach understands it’s a long season ahead and is not insanely pushing a narrative. On Friday, Sirianni provided the following veterans with a rest day: defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, tight end Zach Ertz, defensive end Brandon Graham, tackle Lane Johnson, Kelce, Kerrigan, and cornerback Darius Slay.
Other Eagles who did not practice due to injury: wide receiver Jalen Reagor (limited with lower-body tightness), guard Brandon Brooks (day to day, hamstring), cornerback Shakial Taylor (day to day, lower body), wide receiver Quez Watkins (day to day, non-COVID illness), defensive back Nate Meadors (week to week, hamstring), and guard Isaac Seumalo (week to week, hamstring).
“With so many veterans off on Friday, it was cool to see some young players thrown into the fire. One of those examples? Rookie JaCoby Stevens, who I caught calling the defense with the first-team unit in a red zone session early in practice.” – Ben Fennell
“After that first period, the team broke off with the linemen going into individual drills while the rest of the squad took part in a 7-on-7 session. Jalen Hurts completed his first two passes in that drill, both to DeVonta Smith, before hitting Dallas Goedert on a corner route for a touchdown on the right side. Hurts got better as the practice went on in Thursday’s session, so it was good to see him start fast on Friday.” – Fran Duffy
It was good to see the veterans put their coaching hats on throughout Friday’s practice. Lane Johnson was working extensively with Jack Driscoll as Brandon Brooks coached up Matt Pryor. On the other sideline, during a special teams period, Darius Slay worked with young veteran Craig James on his press coverage technique. – Fran
• In a team drill, Josh Sweat made his presence felt in the backfield on consecutive plays, arriving at the ball for what would have been a tackle for loss on Jordan Howard and a would-be sack against Hurts. Sweat has been splitting first-team reps with Derek Barnett this summer, and Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon said that he views both as starters on this defense on Thursday. – Fran
Bringing a ton of great energy on Friday was Assistant Head Coach/Running Back Coach Jemal Singleton. The veteran coach was vocal all day long, and showed off his enthusiasm after a long run from running back Kerryon Johnson. Singleton sprinted 30 yards downfield after the play to praise his running back after the big gain. – Ben
• Linebacker Genard Avery showed off his range, wrangling up the speedster Adrian Killins in the flats on one running play. – Fran
• On these perimeter plays, you need guys blocking on the outside. Travis Fulgham had an impressive block on one play and another player who has stood out? Michael Walker. He’s given good effort in the run game and has flashed each day so far. – Ben
• In another team period, Joe Flacco hit rookie running back Kenneth Gainwell for a touchdown on a little Texas route out of the backfield. Gainwell had a couple of drops on Thursday, but he caught the ball really well on Friday. It’s great to see young players fight through adversity and bounce back. You’re not always going to be perfect every single day; I love to see that rebound from Gainwell in the opening week of camp. – Fran
• A few plays later, another rookie nearly plucked a pass in the end zone. Cornerback Zech McPhearson correctly diagnosed what the offense was trying to do and nearly came away with the interception. I noted that McPhearson was putting in extra work after practice on Thursday, and he’s flashed every day so far. – Ben
You see, judge not lest ye be judged, especially after 3 days of camp when nearly all the participants are simply getting to know one another. Nobody sucks, nobody is failing as some of the local media would have you believe.
As for Hurts? He is fitting right in…
Hurts’ best throw of the day (and really, the week) came in 7-on-7 red-zone drills. Just one play after an impressive toss to RB Miles Sanders was broken up by surging young linebacker Davion Taylor, Hurts threw an absolute dime over Taylor to Goedert for a touchdown. Hurts avoided pressure in the pocket and stepped up to hit Goedert in the hands as the tight end leaped for the ball.
During 11-on-11 work, Hurts evaded pressure as he moved to his right in the red zone and connected on a tight-window touchdown throw to tight end Jason Croom. Hurts fit the ball perfectly for Croom, who slid to make the catch with Avonte Maddox behind him in coverage.
But often all you will hear in media reports are the misses he made. Same goes for Flacco.
Flacco’s best pass came on a cross-body throw on the run during 11-on-11 drills. Flacco hit wide receiver Michael Walker down the seam for a first down, showing accuracy and athleticism as he escaped pressure to his left.
If the Eagles stink this season, it won’t have anything to do with the first week of training camp.