1) Poor tackling – Tackling last night was atrocious. I’ve covered Eagles camp for the past two years, and the difference between camp last year and this year was night and day. Last year, there was about a 50-50 chance that if you attended the morning session, you were going to see 11-on-11, live hitting/tackling for a good half hour or so. I didn’t see tackling at all this year. There were some 11-on-11 thud sessions (“thud” sessions include full blocking and you can hit the runner to a degree, but no tackling), but little more contact than that.
Due to the lack of OTAs, the thinking was that the Eagles were more cautious about hitting this year simply because the coaching staff didn’t want to risk hitting with players that may or may not have been in peak physical condition. And when they actually did thud drills, a timer would go off signaling that it was time to take off the pads and move onto something less strenuous. That timer was part of the new CBA deal that doesn’t allow live hitting to go on longer than it used to. In the afternoon walk-throughs, the team looked more like a herd of cows just milling around in a pasture that you might pass on the road in a rural area. I’d be surprised if the action at practice (or lack thereof) wasn’t the same around the rest of the league.
Tackling is skill that takes practice. A guy like London Fletcher isn’t going to forget how to tackle, and Dallas has run weaksauce camps for years (they’re used to not practicing tackling, so no change there, haha), but the lack of tackling in camp could negatively affect teams like the Giants and Eagles, who have so much youth and inexperience at the linebacker positions. Conversely, the lack of tackling might help some teams that employ players with the ability to break tackles. If I’m Kevin Gilbride, I’m making it a priority to get Brandon Jacobs 12-15 carries, and even more if it’s working. If I’m Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg, I think I’m gameplanning for LeSean McCoy to get at least 20-25 touches, for the reason above, and also because of their offensive line concerns in pass protection.
2) Outstanding QB play – Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees put on a QB exhibition last night. The accuracy was just something to behold, and I’m not sure that he gets as much credit for this as he should, but Rodgers has an absolute cannon. You may not see two QBs play that well in one game for the rest of the season. Appreciate that game last night for what it was: Two stellar offenses led by 2 of the 3 best QBs in the league pretty much doing whatever they wanted in the passing game. And it’s not like those defenses are devoid of talent at the corner positions. Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, and James Shields make up a great trio of corners in Green Bay, and they got shredded. Ditto that for Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer. I can’t help but wonder if there’s any way an offense could throw all over Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie the way Brees and Rodgers dominated last night. Even with their pinpoint accuracy, I just can’t see it.
3) Awful officiating – This really has no tie-in with the NFC East, but how in the hell was Charles Woodson not ejected from that game last night? The rule, as it has been explained to me, is that if you throw a punch, you’re gone. There’s no judgment needed. Punch… thumb. Woodson threw a punch, and obviously the officials saw it because they threw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. But no ejection. So are we just not enforcing the rules now? Clean it up, stripes.