Observations From The First Week Of Eagles Training Camp
The first week of training camp has come and gone and there have been some highs and lows as you would expect out the gate. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the team as a whole right away, but I’ve been more impressed with what I have seen and heard thus far than I’d imagined. With that being said, there are also some blaring concerns that need to be addressed. Below I will give my key observations going into the season.
Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith Alabama connection continuing in Philadelphia
Coming into camp, I figured there’d be some obvious chemistry between Hurts and Smith solely because of their time together at Alabama, but that was almost 3 years ago. Well, I’m here to tell you that these two have picked up right where they left off.
The connection between the two has shown to be crisp and dynamic. They are both comfortable with each other and it shows in the timing Smith’s routes, and the ball placement from Hurts. Their connection has been so eye popping, that even teammates have taken notice and taken notice early at that
Drafting DeVonta Smith with the 10th overall pick had a lot to do with their already existent chemistry. This isn’t me taking anything away from Smith because I believe his route running ability would give him a long career anywhere, but having a rapport with a quarterback is everything in the NFL and it only helps this team moving forward. Excited to see their progression and to see how much more this duo can grow.
The emergence of Davion Taylor
If you go back and do a search of my tweets around draft time 2 years ago, I was extremely high on Davion Taylor and the potential he had. Till this day, that same feeling remains and still holds true. I believe this new defensive scheme fits Taylor’s traits to perfection.
Under Jim Schwartz, the team’s linebackers were asked to play majority in coverage and that doesn’t fit Taylor’s game. Davion Taylor is a rare athlete for his size and his overall game consists of blitzing the gaps and displaying his range sideline to sideline. Jonathan Gannon’s scheme will allow Taylor to rush the QB, and stuff the gaps and chase the ball carrier sideline to sideline.
I am not naive to believe that he’s fully polished or a finished product at this time. However, Gannon –or “JG” as the players call him– stated that Taylor is still learning the ins and outs of the position, but is picking it up quick and has made plays all over the field. This is extremely encouraging seeing the former third-round selection make progress, as this defense will rely heavily on their linebackers.
The players are responding well to the new coaching staff
One of the main concerns going into training camp was how the players, especially veterans would react and respond to this new coaching staff, more so Nick Sirianni. From what I’ve gathered, so far the players are responding quite well to the coaching staff and their antics.
The word around training camp is that Sirianni, Gannon, and Steichen are all intense and passionate about their coaching styles. When you have coaches with the knowledge like these three bring to the game, the quicker you listen and buy in, the easier this whole team gets on the same page and performs as a whole unit.
Jalen Reagor and Dallas Goedert failed conditioning test
If there’s one way to start off on the wrong foot with the new head coach, its to fail your conditioning test right before training camp. It just sends the wrong message to the coaches. Now in Jalen Reagor’s defense, he recently lost a lifelong childhood friend and he’s not been in the right mind set. I understand the hardships a death can bring on someone and it is brutal, but with Reagor performing the way he did last season, the bar is going to be set high for him this year and he has to be ready for it.
On the other hand, Dallas Goedert failing his conditioning test, there is no excuse. Goedert, in a contract year should have came to camp in the best shape of his life, especially knowing he is supposed to be TE1. In my personal opinion it is an extremely bad look for Goedert going into training camp, I can only imagine what the coaching staff is thinking.
With that being said, I do believe each of these guys have better seasons than last year.
Andre Dillard continues to fail at playing like a franchise LT
Since the very moment they drafted Andre Dillard, I’ve been screaming BUST. Well, were in year three, and I’ve been right thus far. This guy just simply doesn’t have what it takes to take the reign of the LT spot and its concerning.
The first concern is the amount of money Dillard is curren making. He is due to make just shy of four million this season, and accounts for over seven million in dead cap. That’s entirely too much money to be paying a back up. Secondly, it’s another wasted first round selection on the front offices’ watch. Unfortunately, the Eagles decided to trade up for the opportunity to even draft Dillard.
It’s sad to see because I can see why the Eagles front office was intrigued in Dillard coming out of college. He is a very athletic man for his size and has good footwork, but lacks the strength and the mentality needed to be an every-down-left-tackle and it shows.
Teammate Jordan Mailata, the former 7th round pick has worked his tail off to currently hold the LT1 spot, and I don’t even believe it’s a close competition at this point. Mailata has improved in every aspect of his game. He possesses that mean streak, dog like mentality needed to protect the QB’s blindside. As Nick Sirianni said, ” He’s a big man who moves like a little man”. At this very moment Mailata is the clear favorite to win the LT battle, and in my opinion thats actually a positive step in the right direction.
Jalen Hurts inconsistency
It’s early in training camp so this isn’t a huge concern, but it’s something to keep an eye on because inconsistency was one of Hurts weaknesses coming out of college. When watching some of the film from training camp, you notice his throwing motion has gotten a lot cleaner which is important moving forward. It’s extremely noticeable when you see how tight his spiral has gotten, and the added zip on his football. With that being said, his feet have been a little sloppy thus far.
Though Nick Sirianni said the team is obsessed with the fundamentals of Jalen Hurts feet, he also mentioned he has to get his feet in sync with each and every play. Meaning his feet can be inconsistent at times and they’re working through that.
Like I stated, this isn’t much of a concern, just something to keep our eyes on moving forward.
Overall, with this being a new system to majority of the team, I’m more impressed with the way the coaching staff and players have responded to each other. I have a feeling this team will have a better record than what’s being predicted. The offense has some things to sort out, but I believe they have the opportunity to score a good amount of points this season. This team’s defense is going to be key for the success of the Eagles this year. This may be a hot take alert, but I feel that Eagles will have a top 10 defense this year, and will force a lot of turnovers. Jonathan Gannon is the X factor of this ball club and I have the utmost confidence in him, as well as Nick Sirianni.
Fly Eagles Fly
John Clark Twitter https://twitter.com/JClarkNBCS/status/1420493089647570944