Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interesting Moves

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The Eagles added a couple of players today, TE Tony Curtis and LB Curtis Gatewood. Each move is a bit different.

We're pretty banged up at LB. Tracy White got hurt in the Colts game and won't play this week. Omar Gaither has a sprained knee and won't play. That means we needed a body for STs and as a backup defender. Enter Gatewood.

I liked him as a LB coming out of Vandy. He played DE there, but looked out of place. Curtis isn't a pass rusher. He's meant to play the run and chase the ball. He can be physical at the POA. He can shed blocks.

Gatewood spent last year with WAS and KC. He played in a few games, mostly on STs. That means he is perfect for what we need now. He's also a bright guy and should pick up on things quickly. I would tell you he's strictly a body, but the last couple of guys I've said that about have turned out to be good players (Jason Babin, Rob Myers).

Curtis is an interesting addition. I haven't liked our backup TE situation for a while. I'm ready for Schobel to be deported to the Van Allen Belt. Eugene Bright is strictly a developmental prospect. I don't hold that against him. We finally got something right with the addition of Rob Myers. That kid looks like a legit prospect. He's more of a receiver than a blocker. That still leaves a spot for a bigger guy.

This is where Curtis comes in. He's 6'5, 251. He will block. He will play on STs. Curtis has played in the NFL for 3 years and has 11 catches. He knows how to fit on a roster without being a key offensive weapon. That is the kind of backup TE you like.

Right now Tony has a bad ankle. He won't play in the Jags game. We'll see on Saturday if he's able to practice. There isn't much time left until the season gets here. We need to see if he fits in.

I'd love it if Curtis looked good enough to challenge for a spot. I'm not sure he's good enough to be a #2 TE for us. I'd still like to find more of a proven veteran. Curtis would be ideal as the #3 guy. Myers has another couple of weeks to show what he can do. And the Eagles are still looking around at other TEs. Ben Watson of the Pats is serious cut material. Keep an eye on that.

In order to make the moves we had to cut WR Shaheer McBride and QB Adam DiMichele. McBride could hook on with another team. DiMichele isn't an NFL guy, but I'm glad he was able to play last week and look good. That 4th quarter action gives him a story to tell for the rest of his life. I mean he almost single-handedly beat Peyton Manning. At least that's the way I'd tell the story if it was me.

LB SHIFT

Ruben Frank is reporting that Moise Fokou saw some snaps with the starting defense...as the MLB. That gets a big "wow" from me. Here's the link to Ruben's story.

* Foukou Getting Reps With The 1's *

Joe Mays has not set the world on fire so far this summer. He's looked okay since taking over as the starting MLB, but Joe hasn't done anything to make us feel at ease. Fokou began as the #3 or #4 WLB. He played so well that the coaches moved him all the way up to #2 SLB. They wanted him on the field.

Fokou looked good in the camps. He was even better in Training Camp. He's continued that good play into the preseason games. Fokou leads the team with 9 tackles. He had a couple of TFLs last week. Moise looks natural on the field. He's fast and aggressive. You don't see him and think "rookie". Matt Wilhelm has started 21 NFL games, but he's playing more tentatively than Fokou.

The goal with this move is to encourage Fokou to keep working at the same time as challenging Mays. We need someone to emerge at MLB. Mays has been quiet so far in the preseason, partly due to limited snaps. He did miss an easy tackle last week.

Stewart Bradley is done for the year with his ACL. We need Mays or Fokou or someone to step up and take control of the situation. Mays was the backup LB last year that got our attention. Fokou is that guy this year. Thursday's game against the Jags will be a big opportunity for the guys to show what they can do. Mays has been put on notice with this move that he's got to pick up the pace. "Okay" isn't good enough. We need Joe to give us more. I like the fact the team is giving Fokou more and more reps and mixing him in aggressively. If the guy can play, find a way to get him on the field. Reward him for what's he done this summer.

Fokou isn't an ideal fit for MLB. The Eagles list him at 6'1, 228. We seem to prefer MLBs that are 240-250. Fokou isn't adept at shedding blocks. He has little to no experience in the middle. Fokou played on the outside at Maryland. So can he make it in the middle? Maybe.

Fokou is playing tough, aggressive football right now. He is attacking upfield when he has the chance. He's tackling well. These are traits that fit MLB. We do like our MLBs to play "downhill" football. I know some fans hate that phrase, but it's accurate with us. We have the MLB attack upfield at the snap more than any other team in the league. We mix in a lot of run blitzing. Fokou would be natural at this. He also would bring more speed and agility to MLB than Mays and probably Stew. You sacrifice size and strength, but do gain something.

I know some people are wondering about Omar Gaither. Obviously he could take over at MLB. Gaither has a banged up knee right now and hasn't been practicing. He might get a shot to start at MLB if the situation continues as is. For now the battle is between Joe and Moise. Let's hope one of them stands out on Thursday. We'll add Gaither to the mix when he's able to get back on the field.
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5 comments:

izzylangfan said...

Tommy,

Why not try Gocong in the middle? He's got some size. Maybe his speed will let him get to the quarterback faster from the closer MLB possition. (He never seems to quite get there from the wing.) And he supposedly is finally learning to cover. Pressure up the middle from the MLB on passing plays would be nice and in my view is something that has been missing from the Eagles D - from LB or DT.

Fokou has been impressive but at 228, doesn't one have to expect that he will wear down quickly in the middle as teams run at him repeatedly.

T_S_O_P said...

Just another note on Curtis (TE), he has caught 3 TDs, so is a worthy addition to our Red Zone offense in comparrison to the back up TEs around him.

I like that Schobel has gone from Siberia to the Van Allen Belt but I fear Greenpeace may worry about the ecological ramifications.

Stephen said...

Matt Schoebel is biodegradable and made of 100% natural material so I don't think we'll have a problem there.

Is Curtis perhaps finally one of those guys who fits in the mold of a blocking tight end? We've been looking for one of those for a while and it'd be interesting if we got one.

Dan said...

Hey Tommy, great stuff as always.

Do you think we'll pursue another TE after roster cuts? Or are the Birds happy with Myers as the #2?

izzylangfan said...

Babin has played a pass rushing linebacker and has an ability to get to the QB. This could prove useful if Gocong is allowed a shot at MLB. Although this could prove to be a liability in pass coverage, particularly since the Eagles could be having trouble with tight ends again as in the start of last year. However, it appears the Eagles are struggling with MLB in the wake of Bradley's injury. Tradeoffs and compromises seem to be the order of the day.

There could be some trades in the offing: Reggie Brown and maybe a quaterback might be expendable for the Eagles. They need a TE and a middle linebacker. But while there could be some TE's to fill a #2 role out there, a #1 or even #2 MLB could be a lot harder to find.