Eagles Droppings 7/19: Herremans Foot, Eagles Not Good Enough, Unsigned Rookies and Banks Question For Eagles
By Lance Epstein
Herremans Foot is 'Fine':
One of the keys to being a great team is to have a offensive line that has gelled together and is healthy. Unfortunately, the Eagles never had that cohesiveness last year and injuries destroyed a potentially dominating line.
With center Jamaal Jackson likely to miss the first month of the season, the Eagles cannot afford to lose another offensive lineman for any extended amount of time. However, starting left guard Todd Herremans missed a majority of the club's OTA's with soreness in his left foot. The same foot that cost in several weeks of the 2009 season.
His foot pain became so bad this offseason that the Eagles sent him to a specialist in Charlotte, N.C., to try and alleviate the pain so he could get back on the practice field. Today, Herremans told the Muskegon Chronicle in Michigan that his foot should be 'fine'.
"It will be fine," Herremans told the newspaper. "I had to get it looked at in the offseason. I had to make sure it was suitable and I can play on it. The doctor said everything is playable. I’ll be alright."
Herremans understand the importance of having an offensive lineman out there especially with young quarterback Kevin Kolb taking over the reigns.
“We shuffled all season on the offensive line,’’ Herremans said. “Right now, we’re all in place and that will be huge for us.’’
He couldn't have said it any better, the Eagles struggled last year because the line was always shuffling. Whether it was Max Jean-Gilles stepping into both guard positions, Herremans replacing the injured Jason Peters at left tackle or Cole being the default center, the team had to use a band-aid for a wound that required stitches.
If the Eagles start the season with Herremans on the sidelines, then they could find Kolb struggling to get the ball off to his receiver. Remember, he is not as mobile as McNabb so he is not going to avoid some of the sacks McNabb would able to avoid.
Eagles Are A Red Chip:
Michael Lombardi of NFL.com recently broke down the NFC into five different categories. The five categories are Blue Chip (Super Bowl contenders), Red Chip (playoff contenders), Green Chip (middle-of-the-pack), Orange chip (improving but still not near the playoffs) and Brown chip (no chance to win and the year will be long).
So where do the Eagles rank? Well Lombardi has the Eagles as one of seven Red-chip teams. The others include Dallas, Minnesota, San Francisco, Washington, New York Giants and Atlanta. Only two teams managed to make Lombardi's highest honor, which were the defending Super Bowl Champions New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers.
The reason Lombardi puts the Eagles as a playoff contender is not because of the switch at the quarterback position. He believes the addition of rookie defensive end Brandon Graham and the return of Stewart Bradley will significantly improve a below average defense. In fact, Lombardi thinks the defense could be the key to the Eagles transforming from a mere red-chip team to a blue chip-team.
When I was in college I worked a summer job as a bartender (on the Jersey Shore), which allowed me to learn valuable life lessons. One of those applied to the Eagles last year. A veteran bartender told me to never trust the bartender who accuses others of stealing as it diverts the attention away from him, so he can steal. With all the attention that the Donovan McNabb trade received in Philadelphia, the issues at quarterback diverted the attention from the real problem, which is Philly's overall defense. The Eagles last year were like the Denver Nuggets of the old ABA -- they can run and gun and score points, but could not keep their opponents from scoring or making plays, especially in the red zone. In the final eight games of the season, the Eagles' defense was 21st in points allowed and they gave up as many touchdown passes -- 27 -- as their offense scored. The Eagles have always wanted their defense to complement their offense, meaning they wanted their defense to be very active rushing the passer in the framework of their blitz scheme. Adding first-round draft pick Brandon Graham will help, as will getting Stewart Bradley back healthy to solidify their middle linebacker position. But the biggest help will be if second-year defensive coordinator Sean McDermott can grow into the job and make the right adjustments. If so, it could move the Eagles into blue-chip territory.
Eagles fans should be very happy about his analysis since the Eagles have been overlooked by many experts so far this offseason. On the other hand, every team that Lombardi lists in his top two categories except the Saints play the Eagles this upcoming season. It should be a very tight, interesting and competitive NFC East race this season.
Graham, Allen Not Close To Deals:
According to Philadelphia Daily News' Les Bowen, neither first-rounder Brandon Graham nor second-rounder Nate Allen are close to being signed. Bowen is reporting that the agent of Allen, Todd France, says there is "nothing to report" on a contract for his client.
With training camp only being seven days away, it is vital for the Eagles to get Allen in as soon as possible. If starting free safety Marlin Jackson did not rupture his Achilles tendon in OTAs, the Eagles could manage to let this situation drag on. However, Allen is projected to be the club's opening day starter and as a rookie he is already behind the eight ball. Missing any portion of training camp will put him even further behind, which is something the defense cannot afford.
As for Graham, Bowen spoke with his agent, Joel Segal, but stated that Segal does not talk about contracts. However he did hint to Bowen that the lack of first-round signings is affecting his client's ability to sign. Supposedly, the potential lockout and new CBA is holding up teams signing any first-round picks.
Bowen also points out that Segal is not exactly the guy that likes to get deals done in a timely manner. Last year, Segal's clients first-rounder’s Percy Harvin and Aaron Maybin missed the start of their team’s training camp (Maybin missed 27 days).
For the Eagles, the can afford for Graham to miss some time due to the fact that they have a plethora of players at the position in Trent Cole, Juqua Parker, Ricky Sapp, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Darryl Tapp (Victor Abiamiri could potentially be back). The key guy the Eagles should be focusing on signing is Allen. Andy Reid and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott do not want Quintin Demps, who struggled mightily last year, to have to play extended minutes in the regular season.
SI's Don Banks Chimes In:
With training camp about to kick-off for every NFL franchise, SI's Don Banks took a look at the 20 questions to contemplate heading into the season. The very first question on his list is "Is Kevin Kolb ready for his close-up in Philadelphia?"
Banks compares Kolb's situation to that of Aaron Rodgers when he had to replace the future Hall of Famer in Brett Favre. He even thinks Kolb has all the tools and weapons to be a good starting quarterback in the league.
With Donovan McNabb in D.C., it's time to throw Kolb into the deep end of the pool and proceed with the sinking or swimming phase. While there's no deeper end of the pool in the NFL than playing quarterback in football-mad Philly, Kolb isn't without some very reliable survival skills. First off, he's an accurate and efficient passer who is comfortable and perfectly suited for Andy Reid's West Coast offense. His three years of playing understudy to McNabb has been time well spent, and the most obvious comparison is to Aaron Rodgers , who didn't waste a minute as Brett Favre's heir apparent for three years in Green Bay. When Rodgers finally got his chance to replace a legend, he made it immediately obvious that he was up to the task.
Still Banks believes that the Kolb would be even better if he had a stronger defense and a better running game, but that the weapons at Kolb's disposal should allow him to succeed in his first-year.
If you're an Eagles fan, you wish Philadelphia had more of a running game and a stronger defense to help lift some of the burden from Kolb's shoulders, but that's somewhat off-set by the explosive receiving weapons Philly has amassed in recent years. There's no way to replace McNabb's experience all in one season, so Kolb can be expected to make some glaring mistakes as he learns the subtleties of playing the position. But Reid will always show patience and refuse to panic or cave to the talk-show ranting, and my sense is Kolb will reward him with a solid and occasionally spectacular first season on the job.
Certainly, if LeSean McCoy can come in and make the fans forget about Brian Westbrook then the team could be even more deadly on offense. However, Banks is wrong about the defense. The additions of Brandon Graham, Nate Allen, Darryl Tapp, Ricky Sapp, Ernie Sims along with getting Stewart Bradley back makes the Eagles defense much better than they were last season. Additionally, the experience McDermott got in his first season should help him. Lastly, secondary coach Dick Jauron should be to improve a the weakness that was the Eagles secondary.