Monday, April 20, 2009

Let's Talk About the New LT

Jason Peters is now our starting LT. Great move by the Eagles. They got a potential stud LT at a reasonable trade price. They did give him a monster deal, but you don't mind putting big money in a LT in his prime.

I was busy with doing draft preparation this weekend and only got to watch a little Buffalo tape. I watched parts of several games from several seasons. I wanted to get a good feel for our new player.

JASON PETERS -- Very good feet. Looks natural with his kick slide. Keeps his feet active when needed. Does a good job of mirroring the rusher. Moves to get into blocking position so he doesn't have to reach or lunge. Keeps his feet under him. Doesn't get off balance. Able to re-direct when rushers try a hard inside move. Uses his hands well. Has good pop when he lands a shot on the rusher. Shows good awareness.

Good run blocker. Engages the defender and is able to sustain his blocks. Has good power. Can drive DL off the ball. Can really mash on LBs. Gets into proper position. Able to get out in space. Not a watcher. Finds someone to block.

Needs to work on sustaining pass blocks. Sometimes has trouble with spin moves. Rushers who take a really deep angle can be tough on him. Generally the defender takes himself out of the play by doing that, but if the QB holds the ball the guy can get back into the play.

I know a lot of people are concerned by the 11.5 sacks Jason gave up in 2008. That number has to be taken in context. Jason held out for the entire summer last year. He didn't go to Training Camp. He didn't play in the preseason. He reported to the Bills on the Saturday prior to the season opener. He sat out that game and then played the next week at JAX.

Buffalo coach Dick Jauron believes in light practices. He likes to keep his players fresh for games. That means that Jason's only preparation for the Jaguars was a couple of days of light practice. It should be no surprise that he struggled mightily in that game. Heck, he was rusty for the first month. He gave up 5 sacks in his first 4 games.

Jason simply wasn't in football shape. You cannot simulate football while working out on your own. You must get some game action or go through heavy practices. That is the only way to get ready for the tough grind of an NFL game. Jason was dumb to hold out the way he did and the Bills were dumb to play him so quickly.

He got much better as the season wore on. He was elected to the Pro Bowl, but that was a joke. No way he deserved that. Jason didn't have a good season. Some of the sacks were plays where he just flat out got beat. There were some other plays where he was a victim of bad circumstances.

* A Safety blitzed off his side in the Jets game and Jason wasn't able to get hand on him.
* A Dolphin rusher took a hard inside move. Jason was protecting the edge and didn't know the QB had stepped up. The rusher nailed the QB.
* Against the Cardinals the QB took too deep a drop and Jason rode the rusher deep, which pushed him right to the QB.

This move has tremendous upside. It also does involve some risk. Jason was 6'4, 336 and very athletic coming out of Arkansas. He did play TE in college, but you could see his talent. For some reason, he went unpicked. Teams either had character questions or intelligence questions in regard to him. Guys that big and athletic don't go unpicked just because they need coaching.

You also wonder if Jason will stay motivated. We've seen plenty of guys over the years who got their big payday and let up. That's just human nature. Can Peters maintain his edge and work as hard as he needs to in order to be a true Pro Bowl player (like he was in 2007).

On the plus side, Jason no longer has to worry about his contract. He can focus on just playing. That has to be a big relief to him. He also is entering a winning environment. Jason isn't used to playing with guys like McNabb and Westbrook. He's never been on a playoff team and a legit Super Bowl contender (feel free to insert joke at this point). Reid is an infinitely better coach than Jauron. There is good structure in Philly. That can help players.

Let's move back to the field. Jason isn't the polished pass blocker that Tra Thomas was (in his heyday). Jason is a much better run blocker than Tra ever was. Nothing against the big man, but he wasn't a good run blocker, even at FSU. Jason gives us a powerful presence on the left side. He and Todd Herremans form a really good 1-2 punch. That should make us that much more effective running to that side.

Tra struggled as a run blocker against 3-4 DEs and when he was in space. Peters should will be an upgrade in both areas. There were several games last year when Tra was out in space and didn't get a hand on anyone. Westy got to the 2nd level, but couldn't break the run into a big play. With Peters out there, Westy will have one less defender to worry about. Tra's height worked against him in those situations. He was too upright and missed blocks on DBs and some LBs. Jason's more compact build will help him.

3-4 DEs gave Tra problems because they normally go in the 300-pound range. He just didn't have the kind of power needed to move those guys off the ball with any consistency. Jason has plenty of experience against the 3-4 defense and is better suited to take on those DEs. We don't face a ton of 3-4 defenses, but it is becoming more prevalent.


RE: Eagles trading up with 2nd & 3rd Rders

Very possible. This is not a good draft. If there is a player the Eagles really like, go get him.

The flip side is that they could trade down from 21 to the 27-30 range and add a 3rd or 4th. The Eagles may not see good value at 21 and may want to recoup the pick given up in the Peters deal.


The Eagles draft for the future. Curtis is about 30. I could easily see his replacement taken this year. The guy may sit for a year or two, but you always like to get a player ahead of time. That way you can develop him at your own pace and not just throw him into the fire.


shlynch said...

The one thing I learned by watching the clips of Peters' sacks was that Derrick Dockery was a very poor team blocker. Atrocious, really. It will be interesting to see how Peters adjusts to a line system like ours, where team blocking, like handing off rushers, or double teaming guys, (from what a total-non expert in this topic like myself can observe) seems to be much more of an emphasis.

Cliff said...

Tommy, are you going to hook us up with a pre-draft review on the EMB (or here)?

I'm sure we're going to get a post-draft analysis.

Stephen said...

Honestly I think Sheldon is a solid enough guy that you can pay him a bit more. He has always seemed to handle himself very professionally and seems like a genuinely smart and stand up kind of guy, so its hard for me to see him really letting the situation affect his play.

Honestly I think the Eagles need to re-evaluate how they handle contractual situations. On one hand you don't want people thinking all they have to do is whine a little and they can get a new deal, but on the other it seems like we have a constant stream of players who are unhappy with their contracts. I'm really getting tired of hearing about people talking in the media about their contracts, it seems like their must be a better way to deal with these situations.