Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Let's Talk LJ Smith & TE

Someone on the EMB asked me if LJ would do a better job of blocking than Schobel did vs MIN. Yikes. The anti-LJ stuff has gotten out of hand when people are starting to ask questions like that.

LJ Smith is a good player. He is very talented.

The problem with LJ is that his time in Philadelphia is coming to a close. Things just didn't work out. He wasn't happy with his deal. He let that affect his play. He struggled with injuries at times, probably too much. He doesn't lack talent.

I also don't think LJ lacks heart. I don't see him as a lazy player. He's maddeningly inconsistent, but I think part of that is on the way we've used him. In the last 3 years he's only had consecutive games with 5 catches once. And that was the first 2 weeks of the 2006 season. Since then he's been a yo-yo. 6 catches one game, then 2 catches the next. How does LJ fit into the offense? How does the TE fit into the offense?

LJ is one of those guys who needs the right situation to thrive. The Eagles are best set up for self-motivated guys who are very mature and can handle a tough environment. Fredex didn't work out. Ryan Moats didn't work out. LJ isn't working out.

We have better luck with grinders and overachievers. Brent Celek is developing into a good player. He looks like a capable starter at times. LJ need someone to stay on his case, to keep him focused. We don't deal well with those kinds of players.

LJ shows you great potential in some games, then disappears. He was a big reason we beat the Giants last month. LJ blocked Justin Tuck a few times on pass plays. He blocked well on some runs. He caught a short pass on 3rd down and fought his way to get the 1st down. In all he caught 6 passes and helped us to play ball control football.

I hope LJ is healthy enough to play on Sunday. Celek earned the right to start with the way he played in Minnesota, but I definitely want LJ in as part of the offense. I don't trust him in the sense of being "the TE", but he can help this team.

Matt Schobel is my least favorite Eagle right now. He brings nothing to the table and I look forward to his departure when the season is over. At least Lito Sheppard can point to his past play with pride. Matt is just collecting a paycheck. He looks like he's going through the motions. I can't stand guys like that. I can deal with a player who lacks talent, but lack of effort is unforgivable.



Dan said...

How big of a priority do you think TE will be in the offseason?

I notice you have the Birds taking a WR in the 1st round of your mock draft - any chance you think we go after a top-tier TE?

T_S_O_P said...

Did the Redskins game follow the Giants game? Those were 2 different LJ's. As you say, maddenly inconsistent. I would also say that he isn't what I'd call a money player and I'd of happily swapped injuries with Chad back in January '05.

Stephen said...

To be honest GE, to me it looks like LJ is not a very good route runner, whenever I watch him while his route is developing he always runs it very slow, and looks like he's thinking too much about what he's doing. Obviously a TE isn't expected to be Marvin Harrison, but if you don't have the size to simply outmuscle/box out defenders then you do need to be able to run a decent route.

That in my mind is his biggest weakness, which is a big one as a primarily recieving tight end.

Tommy Lawlor said...

I think TE should be a major priority. Our offense is good when we have 2 quality TEs.

I would be fine if we took one as early as the 1st round. Brandon Pettigrew is the most complete TE in the draft.

I think Shawn Nelson of So Miss is quite good also. I'm personally a big fan of Travis Beckum from Wisconsin, but he's only 6'3, 235. He's similar to Dustin Keller of the Jets. I can live with a guy who isn't a good blocker as long as he is special as a receiver. Beckum is.

I do hope we add a good blocker via FA or a mid-round pick.


@ Stephen...

LJ is too erratic in just about everything he does. I think that goes back to him needing a coach who will ride him. I also think having an accurate QB would help him. I could see LJ thriving with someone like Drew Brees throwing to him.

I won't miss him next year. I didn't want him when we picked him. I wanted some kid from Tennessee named Witten.

Stephen said...

Maybe its just me about the route running thing then, but whenever I watch LJ closely on replay I see him thinking too much and moving too slowly with his routes. It doesn't look natural or smooth, for lack of a better way to describe it.

Good thing we didn't pick that Witten guy, what has he done in this league anyway O_o.

T_S_O_P said...

Of late, after round 2 we have been most definately a team that is willing to take a risk on an athlete. After reading ScoutsNotebook (always good for a read ;) ) surely we'd have interest in that guyser you mention from Rice.

T_S_O_P said...

This one:

* TE/ATH James Casey - Rice - 6'4, 235 --- Very interesting player. Rice used him all over the place, but he found a home at TE. Former baseball player is already 24. Decided to head for the NFL after a great season. Also a good student. Was 2nd in the nation with 111 catches. Also ran 57 times. Very good athlete. Teams will have all kinds of ideas how to use him...TE or H-back. He's probably too good to just put at FB. Someone could try him at LB. Really shocked me to see him go pro, but it does make sense with his age and coming off a great year.
~ from Scousnotebook.com ~