Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Even More TE Talk


Answering some questions.

Q: Do the Eagles focus on downfield throws to the TEs too much?

No. Brent Celek is the kind of player that can catch the ball short, intermediate, or deep. Ditto that for Ingram. Those guys are accomplished pass catchers coming out of college. LJ was a very good athlete. He had the speed to stretch the middle of the field, but also had the RAC skills to be a very effective receiver on short throws. I think the fact that LJ had such inconsistent hands affected the play calls and the way Donovan thought of him. Our TEs have averaged about 11 yards per reception. That isn't exactly a downfield attack.

Q: Throwing to the TE when he uses positioning to shield the defender and get open... do the Eagles do that enough?

I don't think so. Part of that is on McNabb. He throws some rockets over the middle. That doesn't work well when throwing to a TE with a defender on him. Part of it is on LJ. He's not big and isn't the kind of physical player that does a good job of creating space.

We might see more of these throws in 2009. McNabb is putting better touch on his throws than ever. Also, he'll have taller targets with better hands working the middle.

Q: What are the Eagles trying to do with their TEs?

Andy Reid is a believer in creating matchup problems for the defense. He then wants to attack those spots. Reid is creative with the TEs to see what kind of mismatches he can get. I personally don't think we do a good enough job of working the TE into the offense on a regular basis. I can't fully say if that is McNabb or Reid. We'll have several plays on a drive that feature the TE and then go away from that position for the next couple of drives.

We like to throw to the TEs a lot in the Red Zone. That has produced mixed results the last couple of years. We used to be very strong at this.

Q: How do opponents defend our TEs?

Tough question. I'd have to really go back and study tape to provide an in-depth answer. I don't think many teams have worried about our TEs recently. I certainly haven't seen any special defenses. We have to gameplan for Jason Witten. We have to really pay attention to Chris Cooley on 3rd downs. No one has had to do that with us. Maybe Celek and Ingram can change that.

Q: Could we keep only 2 TEs on the roster and then use the OL to help out? What about Hank Baskett?

Absolutely. We've always used an OL to act as a TE in goal line situations. Alonzo Eephraim had that job in 2003-04. Nick Cole had that job in 2006-07. Last year we put Herremans out at TE and had someone fill in at LG. I can easily see that kind of thing happening because we have such a good looking group of OL. Mike McGlynn could play LG or TE. Todd could go to TE and Max or Nick could play G.

Hank will never play outright TE. He just doesn't have that kind of bulk. Now, we do use him like a TE in some packages. We'll line him up just off the TE's hip. He's almost a wing in that formation. Hank is a very willing blocker, both in pass pro and the run game. He sometimes will stay in to block and other times will release into a pass route. We had him drift out to the flat quite a bit from this set-up recently.

If we do only carry a pair of TEs on the roster, I'd bet that they will definitely carry a guy on the Practice Squad. Reid will want someone he can add to the roster in a hurry and be ready to play if someone gets hurt. Back in 2005 we only had LJ and Stephen Spach on the roster. We carried a TE on the PS. Not exactly murderer's row, but that was LJ's best year.


izzylangfan said...

Great post! Thanks again for answering so many of my questions.

I agree with you on McNabb and the short pass. It is baffling to me how someone with so much talent can mess up on so many short easy passes. It is true that LJ may not have had the best hands but McNabb did throw him a lot of passes in or near the dirt. LJ made a bunch of those catches but of course got no RAC. I would love to see McNabb throw an easy one and let the reciever catch it in stride more often ( and when appropriate of course}.

When Marty Morningweg was asked if McNabb had done enough to get into the Hall of Fame - Morningweg said that he's close but might need to do a bit more work. My guess is if he could master the short pass he'd be a Hall of Famer for sure.

Don't get me wrong. I still like McNabb and think he should be the starter for more than the two years of this last contract adjustment. He has a rare and valuable skill set and the chance of the Eagles finding a better quarterback is very small. He can lead us to the championship.

One reservation however: I saw you last article on team effort on While the initial thought was about all of these prima donna wide recievers, they are not the only prima donnas in the NFL. I can't help wonder about McNabb. He played very badly for a long stretch and deserved to be benched in the second half of the Ravens game for his play even if the timing was bad for a Kolb initiation. However, if McNabb put the Eagles over a barrel and made them rework his contract just because he was angry at that benching, he qualifies as a first rate prima donna in my view.

If he did it just because he had leverage - well I'm not sure I like it but it serves the Eagles right since teams usually have all the power and leverage when an aging contract renders a player underpaid. I hope the new collective bargaining agreement gives the teams (what amounts to) fewer option years on their players. For example if you are going to sign a five year deal then maybe four years should be guaranteed. That would likely result in shorter contracts and while I would hope the players honor them it would also let them come to market more frequently and tend to prevent them from being locked into a sub market rate for too long.

I also hope we have a season in 2011.

Stephen said...

I loved the fan-demonium piece Tommy. Perhaps I can add a little bit to whats going on with wide recievers. What we're seeing these days with the egomaniac wide recievers is really people with damaged egos. People have an innate need to feel relevent, to feel like they matter. If they have a damaged ego, they are always striving to gain attention because they want to fill the void they feel, to feel like they are important.

I say all of this to lead up to our favorite ex-Eagle, T-O. The problem that T-O presents is that his ego needs are more important than the team, more important than even winning to him. All of the drama that he starts center around the idea that he needs to get the ball. The reason that he gets the ball is that he has a need to be a star, its what motivates and drives his behaviour. If he isn't getting his touches, he could begin to turn the people he sees responsible for that into villians (see the Tony Romo/Jason Witten BFF scenario) because they will be diminishing his feeling of importance and the attention he gets from the media and fans.

One of the most telling things ive seen about his behaviour is that he never seems upset when his team loses as long as he gets his 7 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. He always seems very calm and says all the right things about being sad that the team lost, but in reality he seems quite content. In contrast, there are times when he catches 2 balls for 35 yards and he starts bitching, even though the team won.

Now here lies the trap with a player like T-O. More than one team has felt that if they can just keep him happy, he won't become a problem. The reality of the situation though is that you're not going to be able to force feed him the ball all the time, it simply wouldn't be good for your offense. Look at this past seasons game where T-O was targeted on 21 of the 63 plays in a losing effort (I forget against which team). The Cowboys did everything they could to get him his touches, even though it wasnt being productive and he still complained that they needed to get him the ball more to have a better shot of winning. Really T-O? 33% of all the offensive plays when to you and thats not enough? The problem of course isn't that getting T-O the ball more will help you win, its just what will make T-O happy. Its not even enough that he gets targeted that many times, he needs to actually have the stats to be a happy camper, because thats what makes him feel like he's a star and what he believes will garner him the attention he wants.

In short its simply not possible to maintain the level of commitment to getting him the ball that is going to sustain his ego. Thats when things start unraveling because he begins to play out his problems in the media, begins to weave paranoid stories (they're out to get me!) and even begins to divide the locker room.

When T-O first shows up to a team he's the cats meow and things are smooth sailing. Once the ego needs stop being met, its all downhill from there.