Monday, August 3, 2009

Hey Joe...

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Stewart Bradley is done for the year with an ACL injury. The question then became who would replace him. In Monday's practice Joe Mays took over at the #1 MLB spot. Charleston Hughes was with the backup defense at MLB. Omar Gaither remained the #2 WLB. Omar did take over Bradley's role in the Nickel defense.

This is smart.

We lost the starting MLB to an injury. The smart thing to do is promote the backup MLB. I'm glad the Eagles did just that. They could have gone with the more experienced Gaither, but initially I think you need to give Mays a chance to show what he can do. Joe was good in Training Camp and looked great in Presason games last summer. His PS games were spent on the field against 2nd and 3rd string players. We've talked about that before. The question is how he'll do against front line players. I do think Mays earned a chance at the starting job.

I'm sure Omar is going to be ticked off about not getting the starting job. Again, I think the Eagles made the smart move. We know what Gaither can do at MLB. He's adequate, but nothing special. Leave him as the fall back plan. Keep him at WLB for now. That also keeps pressure on Jordan to play well at WLB. And it keeps Omar on edge, which might be a good thing. He seemed to get a little complacent last year after a good start. Getting Omar on the field in the Nickel is smart. He can be a good role player for us. The extra playing time is a way to make Omar somewhat happy in a contract year (maybe - CBA).

Charleston Hughes could be the real winner in all of this. He's got a real shot to make the roster. It will be interesting to see how he does as the backup MLB. That means he'll face the starting offense in practice. Hughes will get a chance to show if he has MLB potential or if he's just a camp body.

More about Mays...here are my notes from last PS:

vs PIT --- MAYS – The guy who helped himself the most last night was backup middle linebacker Joe Mays. He led the team with six tackles. Several of those were big hits. Mays was instinctive. He showed good range. He tackled with authority. He showed why the coaches have him as the backup, despite the fact he was a sixth-round pick in April. This kid can hit. Needs to work on shedding blocks. Unloaded on a WR who caught a short pass across the middle. Did it again as he upended Limas Sweed after a catch across the middle.

vs CAR --- MAYS – Another good game. Didn’t have the dramatic hits like last week, but tackled well and showed good range. Was credited with a pair of tackles, including one TFL. This kid looks like a player. Mays made a tackle in punt coverage.

vs NE --- MAYS – Terrific game. He led the team with 8 tackles. Mays flew to the football and tackled well. He has some real pop when he hits. He had a tackle-for-loss when he fired into the backfield and blasted the running back. The most impressive thing is that he shows good instincts. Mays isn't the fastest player in the world so he has to read formations and plays quickly. He does a good job of that and seems to sense where the ball is going to be. Takes good angles to the ball. Blew up the FB as he tried to catch a pass over the middle. Does everything at 100 mph. Fun to watch.

vs NYJ --- MAYS – Another outstanding game. Had 13 tackles. Flew to the football. Really fought to get off blocks. Had a TFL in the 4th when he fired into the backfield. Still showing good instincts. Might not be the biggest guy, but he is a tough, physical player.


Joe is 5'11, 245. He's strong and physical. Excellent hitter and tackler. Has real pop. Good downhill player. Instinctive. Has good range. The two areas where we need to see progress from last year are shedding blocks and pass coverage. Joe is now in his 2nd Training Camp and knows the scheme well. He no longer has to worry about adjusting to the Eagles defense or the speed of the NFL. Mays is now in the process of fine tuning his game. We'll see in the next few weeks whether it is enough for him to keep the starting MLB job. I'll be pulling for him.

ROSTER ADDITION

The Eagles reportedly signed DE Jason Babin (6'3, 265). Abiamiri is still out and I'm thinking this is a move to keep a fresh body on the DL. Babin was a terrific prospect when he came out of Western Michigan, but never really panned out in the NFL. He's got 15 career sacks, which puts him halfway between Mike Mamula and Jerome McDougle on the DE success scale.
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6 comments:

Stephen said...

Last years preseason I was absolutely enamored with Joe, he just seemed to be around the ball making tackles and hits all the time. I think that instincts really trump things like strait line speed at a position like linebacker, because you more than make up for your lack of speed by reacting quickly and getting into position. Obviously the best thing would be to have both, but if you had to have one or the other I'd probably take instincts.

When I posted a few weeks back that I hoped Joe would get a chance to show us what he's got, this isn't exactly the scenario I was hoping for. I'm going to give myself a pass on the whole jinxing the situation/be careful what you wish for thing though. I had nothing to do with this, I swear.

T_S_O_P said...

"Adequate and nothing special" is little harsh on Omar in my opinion, one area his is better than adequate is as a team captain, a vocal leader and with his football cognition. It has certainly helped this adequate athelete to make the plays her has in the NFL.

Will the Mike be calling the D, or will that fall back to Q or somebody else? Here I'm willing to bet that Omar is in the box seat. If Mays does indeed beat him out that will be a good sign about his football acumen.

T_S_O_P said...

The Eagles have added 6'4" 245lb Matt Willhelm from the Chargers (where he made 21 starts), how significan tis this?

Ilya said...

Tommy, I've heard (from you, I think), that our defense is not "linebackers centered", unlike Titans for instance. What does this mean, and does it make the loss of Bradley a bit less significant, than it could be in the other system?

rick said...

Tommy - what do you think of the way Andy handled the non-announcement of Bradley's injury? I think he's making a big mistake in demonizing/punishing the press. They're just doing their jobs. This whole secrecy and control thing the Eagles do reminds me of Bush/Cheney. And I think he diminishes himself in the eyes of his players, which is never good for a head coach. I certainly can understand being very frustrated with losing one of your key defensive players but he made the situation worse by what he did.

orangecrush007 said...

Great notes. You have such a gem with those notes/knowledge!