Friday, August 16, 2013

Five Things I've Learned From The Eagles' First Two Preseason Games

Go Palindrome Scrub Go!
5) Vinny Curry belongs in the league, and the lineup

One of the more maddening things about the end of The Reid Era was his steadfast refusal to find out about young guys in the second half of the journey to the floor of the NFL. Curry, a second-round pick with athletic promise, didn't see the field for the better part of forever, even as Jamar Cheney, Jason Babin, Akeem Jordan and a host of other bad ideas got snaps that just proved what we already knew; those guys needed to get gone.

This year, Curry is bigger, all over the field, and downright disruptive, on a defense with few things to smile about. I'm still not sure if he gets a ton of snaps, as he really doesn't have a role in a 3-4 lineup that fits his physicality to a T... but he's making plays and will be in the league for years to come. After last year, you couldn't say that.

4) The special teams coverage and return units will be better

I can't tell you how dispiriting this has been, because it spoke to just how nonathletic and small the back end of the roster was... which was a big problem once the injuries started. So far this year, we're seeing far better coverage and body language on those units, and the crispness is startling, especially for preseason. It's not going to be the kicker, Colt Anderson, and nine other guys not helping very much this year.

3) I'm already in love with this offense, simply because they snap it fast

For years and years, we'd watch the play clock tick down to the small numbers on play after play, even when the club was trying to score quickly. It also made the wasted timeout on offense such a routine first quarter occurrence that I made a pool bet out of it. Kelly's not having that, and as a result, the opposing defense is far less likely to come off the line like they are shot out of a cannon, since the ball was always getting snapped at one. Those delay of game flags are also going away, too. Yummy.

2) Cary Williams is going to be hated, because he got CB1 FA money, and isn't that good

Williams is just not good enough to be a #1 CB, especially in a division where he gets six games of Victor Cruz, Pierre Garcon and (yikes) Dez Bryant. Tonight, Steve Smith joined the gravy train of guys who pick him apart, and this is going to be a routine thing. At least he seems to tackle fairly well after giving up first down catches. After last year's team, it's growth.

1) The Annual Mirage Guys Are Named Russell Shepard, Earl Wolff, Brad Wing and Greg Salas This Year

There's nothing better in preseason than starting dumbly at fourth quarter "action" and trying to talk yourself into anyone as more than practice squad fodder, since the idea that the entire exercise is pointless would get you to turn off the tee vee, and we're not having that. Especially when Shepard is making plays in special teams, Wolff looks like the first safety since Brian Dawkins who enjoys hitting people and might be good at it, Wing is an adorable Aussie punter and that's always fun, and Salas could make the team as a surviving WR that you kind of recognize because he's already been on a bunch of teams and had fleeting fantasy relevance.

Breath, folks. This happens every year. And none of these guys -- either here or on the other 31 NFL teams where the same four to six deep names are getting hyped now -- make an impact in the league right away, at least not without the buzzard luck of an injury or six in front of them on the depth chart. But by all means, keep watching!

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