A couple months ago, I wrote about Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller and not so subtly suggested that he isn’t actually doing the work he says he’s doing. Well… Here we go again.
Go watch his video on the rookies that are “struggling at Eagles training camp.” It’s only a minute and 15 seconds, so go ahead. I’ll wait.
Done? Awesome. You know who that sunburned, squinting, graying lad standing behind Kendricks is at the 0:21 mark of that very same video?
Hey now! That’s me! And you know why I appear in Bleacher Report’s video? Because I’ve been at Eagles camp almost every day over the last three weeks, save for a brief trip to Albany to check out the G Men and a couple family things. You may or may not like my work, and that’s fine, but at least there is work that is being put in. You know who I have not seen at Eagles training camp? Matt Miller. He may have been there. I certainly don’t want to definitively say he hasn’t. I just haven’t seen him. And yet, Matt somehow has opinions on who has “struggled” at Eagles training camp.
Let’s just run down his analysis in order (MM is Matt, JK is me):
- MM: “Kendricks will be a starter at weakside linebacker.”
- JK: No he won’t. He’ll be staring at the SAM position for the Eagles, but that’s just a minor detail I suppose.
- MM: “He hasn’t looked good in pass coverage, so he won’t be playing in nickle and dime situations”
- JK: He has looked good (although that’s a matter of opinion), and he will be playing in varying nickle situations.
- MM: “As of right now, (Vinny Curry) is 3rd on the depth chart behind the starters, even behind backups Brandon Graham, and Darryl Tapp.”
- JK: Of course he’s behind the starters. The freaking starters are Trent Cole and Jason Babin. And yes, while anyone with an internet connection can find the Eagles’ depth chart online, seeing Curry with the 3rd team is no surprise whatsoever. Curry has zero chance of getting cut unless he punches Andy Reid’s wife in the face sometime between now and Week 1. And even then, I’m not totally sure. Tapp, meanwhile, is no better than 50/50. So please tell me you’re not making judgments on the way Curry has played based on where he sits on a useless depth chart that every team is forced to publish.
- MM: “Curry is a pass rush specialist, so he could see time on 3rd down situations, but in the Eagles Wide-9 defense where Jason Babin (he pronounces it BAY-bin) and Trent Cole are so good, Curry probably won’t see the field much in 2012. He’s a projection at best, at this point.”
- JK: I pretty much agree here. When the Eagles were on the board at 59 and Vinny Curry was still sitting there, despite being loaded at DE, they made a value pick. So yeah, he may not play much this year. But that doesn’t mean he’s struggling in camp.
- MM: Another guy that hasn’t been great early on has been corner Brandon Boykins.
- JK: It’s Boykin, not Boykins. Continue…
- MM: “They don’t need big plays from (Boykin), but they did need him to step in, and maybe be a special teams or 4th corner. I haven’t seen that ability from Boykin yet.”
- JK: You sure haven’t.
- MM: “(Boykin) needs to bounce back and have a strong second half of training camp.”
- JK: The Eagles pack up and leave Lehigh tonight, so if he hasn’t already shown anything in the “second half of training camp,” he probably won’t.
OK… so… here are notes that I have taken of Kendricks, Curry, and Boykin over the last 2-3 weeks. I’m not Bill Walsh when it comes to scouting players, but it at least shows that some work was put in. There aren’t a ton of notes on Curry because you can only really fairly evaluate line play during live hitting sessions, but you get the point (feel free to just skip past this whole section if you’re a TLDR type of reader):
- Mychal Kendricks continues to rack up PBUs. He also looks like he has a knack for timing the snap count, although there was one play when it looked like he was trying to time the snap count and got drawn off on a hard count. Guys that are good at that tend to be really cerebral players. I think it’s a good sign that he’s trying to look for little competitive advantages in the 2nd day of rookie camp, when I think a lot of guys are simply trying to survive the heat.
- Mychal Kendricks had another good day. He made a diving pick in front of Jeremy Stewart. I think most linebackers would have been happy to just get a hand on the ball. Kendricks looked to make the big play and came away with the pick. Obvious athleticism.
- Getting back to Brackett… On one of his TDs, the QB lofted a high pass that Brackett looked like he was able to bring in fairly easily. Mychal Kendricks was in coverage on the play. Brackett is 6’5. Kendricks is 5’11. I wrote about the Eagles linebackers being the shortest group in the league, and this was the first time throughout camp where I thought Kendricks’ height cost him a play. I should note in full disclosure that I did not have the best view of the play, so I stress that his height might have cost him. If they make the tape available, I might have to take another look at that.
- I had a chance to watch some one-on-one pass blocking drills from the RBs and TEs today. Depending on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, either the RBs and TEs looked really bad or the linebackers looked really good. I’m leaning toward the RBs and TEs looking really bad. Chase Ford and LeSean McCoy were the best of the blockers, with Clay Harbor right there as well, but nobody really looked good. Brett Brackett looked really bad, especially on one play in which Akeem Jordan basically put him right on his butt. Brackett has looked excellent catching passes throughout all of camp, but oy vey, the pass pro needs some serious work. I was also disappointed by the way Stanley Havili blocked. Havili too felt the wrath of Akeem Jordan, who evidently turned into Lawrence Taylor for 10 minutes during this drill. The one guy that really impressed was Mychal Kendricks. He was routinely beating the RBs and TEs with his quickness. The Eagles may have themselves a really effective blitzer there.
- Another defender showing excellent coverage ability is Mychal Kendricks. In 11 on 11′s, the Eagles had Clay Harbor flexed out wide. Harbor ran a go route, and Kendricks stayed on his hip pocket the entire way. QB looked that way, but decided to throw elsewhere.
- Another DE that continues to play well is Vinny Curry. In 9 on 7′s, where there’s 9 players blocking 7 defenders in running plays only, Curry did a great job chasing down plays in backside pursuit, and on plays that were run right at him, I thought he held up very well at the point of attack.
- Two QBs hit the deck today. Brandon Graham accidentally clothes-lined Michael Vick, and Vinny Curry hammered Mike Kafka because he couldn’t stop his momentum. Funny thing was that it wasn’t even during a tackling session.
- I specifically watched Brandon Boykin on a few plays. He got himself a PBU on a cross by Damaris Johnson. He also jammed Marvin McNutt at the line with relative ease, and then stayed in his hip pocket through the rest of the route. McNutt has 6 inches and about 35 pounds on Boykin. There’s really no good reason why McNutt shouldn’t be able to fight through Boykin’s jam.
- Mike Kafka had a really ugly day. The worst of his passes was a semi-deep ball that was horribly under-thrown and easily picked off by Brandon Boykin. His pass needed about 45 yards on it. Only went about 35. Later he threw too high for Damaris Johnson, who got a hand up and knocked the pass in the air where it was picked off by Wade Bonner. Next play (I think), Kafka threw to a spot near the sideline, where there wasn’t a receiver within 10 yards (although that could have been a matter of a receiver running a wrong route). I’ve seen more good than bad from Kafka so far this summer, but this was just a bad day through and through, as the defensive rookies dominated all day.
- Marvin McNutt had 82 catches at Iowa last year. I didn’t see him catch anything today, and I’m having trouble recalling anything at all about him since camp opened. Yesterday, he was unable to beat a jam by Brandon Boykin. Today, Boykin was on him again, an while McNutt did a better job getting off the line of scrimmage, he never got a whiff of separation from Boykin.
- Brandon Boykin continues to impress me. Watched him jam Chad Hall at the line and stay in his hip pocket. Then I watched him do the same with Damaris Johnson. The one guy I’m really looking forward to seeing him do battle with is Jason Avant. Avant is the best route runner on the team, and has made a habit of beating pretty much anyone that has tried to cover him in the 3 years I’ve watched practice up here.
- I thought Dion Lewis had a nice day, but I’m going to note some good and bad from him. He had a one handed catch in the flat and showed some nice scoot in the running game. On one play, a defensive lineman got some immediate penetration, and Lewis did a quick jump cut, got the corner and picked up a nice gain. Well done. On the not-so-impressive side, Lewis received a handoff, and his jersey was grabbed by the powerful pimp hand of Derek Landri. That was the end of Lewis’ forward progress. Lewis looks very quick, but nobody is ever going to confuse him with Earl Campbell. And finally, I watched him fielding kicks, along with Brandon Boykin, Cliff Harris, and some others. Boykin and Harris get a head of steam as they catch the ball. That little difference of a yard or two worth of momentum can mean the difference between hitting a seam and taking it to the house… or not. Lewis seems to catch the ball far too often with his weight on his back leg.
- There was one play that was just awesome all around, that just so happened to be right in front of me. Jeremy Maclin went deep, with Brandon Boykin in coverage. Maclin got a step, and Vick let fly and absolutely gorgeous ball. However, Boykin closed and got his hands in between Maclin’s, but Maclin was still able to bring it in for a tumbling catch about 40 yards down field. Great coverage, great throw, great catch, great football.
- I had been waiting a while to see a Brandon Boykin 1-on-1 matchup with Jason Avant, and I got my wish today. Avant is the best route runner on the team, and despite not having the most speed in the world, he’s quick, you can’t jam him because he uses his hands so well, and his body fakes are excellent. Meanwhile, Boykin has been good at getting jams on receivers all throughout camp, but they have been on receivers less skilled in that regard than Avant. Avant won.
- A couple DB blitzes were able to get to the QB today. Atogwe got one, as did Boykin.
- Brandon Boykin also continues to impress me. On one play in 1-on-1′s, He jammed the receiver (McKay Jacobson) so well that he never got off the line… at all… and the QB didn’t even bother throwing a pass. Also saw Boykin time out a blitz nicely in 11 on 11′s and hurry Vick.
- Brandon Boykin made a few nice plays today. Nick Foles tried to go back to the Mardy Gilyard magic from Thursday night, but Boykin would have nothing of it. Pick. Actually, it was a pretty badly under-thrown ball. Boykin also had a pretty impressive PBU.
I’m certainly not saying that it’s wrong to have negative opinions of Kendricks, Curry, or “Boykins,” but I’d be interested in seeing if Matt Miller has any actual analysis. I’d love to hear how Brandon Boykin doesn’t look like he can become a special teams contributor, considering the Eagles don’t have any contact whatsoever in special teams drills, and kick return ability is virtually impossible to evaluate. Really anything at all that might prove that his video isn’t 100% complete and utter bullshit would be nice. My cards are on table. I’m calling. Let’s see ‘em.