Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More on the MLB Situation


Several items to dicuss. First up, the Eagles added a MLB to the roster. They signed Matt Wilhelm, formerly of the Chargers. Matt is here as a safety precaution. He has starting experience. God forbid anything else happens, you need a veteran player who can step in right away, either as a starter or key backup. Matt is that guy. He'll need some time to learn the defense. He played in a 3-4 at San Diego. He did play MLB at Ohio State. Matt has one of Chris Berman's better recent nicknames...The Kaiser.


Now let's talk about the loss of Stewart Bradley. What does that mean to the defense? The Eagles were thrilled with him and expected a really good season from Bradley. Losing him isn't a positive. No one should try to make it sound that way. At the same time, he was the MLB. That is a fairly replaceable position. The MLB needs to play the run well and make tackles. If he can do more, you've got a good player on your hands. CB and DE are much more critical positions. Those are guys that you really fear losing. The Steelers could have won the SB without ILB James Farrior last year. They would not have won without James Harrison, who is like a DE in their scheme.

I think Joe Mays can be a solid run defender for us. I do not know where his pass coverage skills are at this point. That would probably be an area where he'll need work and the only way to get that is by learning on the job. Stewart looked like someone that could challenge for a Pro Bowl spot. Joe will be a first time starter. Heck, he didn't even get much STs experience in 2008. There will be mistakes. There will be growing pains.

Joe did play MLB in college so he doesn't need to adjust to that position. He's got MLB instincts and that will speed his adjustment to the starting gig. We don't need the MLB to be a major playmaker. Our defense is built on the DL and the DBs. We ask our LBs to tackle well and handle some blockers. The defense goes from good to very good when we do get plays from the LBs. Mays will benefit from having a pair of good DTs in front of him. We'll ask him to run to the ball and hit like a ton of bricks. Joe can do that.


There is a case to be made for putting Omar Gaither at MLB. He did start there in 2007 when the defense finished Top Ten in yards and points allowed. He's not a bad player.

My point in calling him "adequate" is that we have an idea of Omar's limitations. He's nearing the end of his contract. What is to be gained by putting him on the field? He hasn't shown anything that would indicate he's special in any area. Joe Mays is a complete mystery. He could turn out to be in over his head or he could be a very good starter. The coaches love what they've seen from him. They want to give him a chance at the job to see how he handles it.

You aren't going to lose a bunch of games because Omar is the starting MLB, but the opposite is also true. He's not going to lead you to many wins because of something he specifically did. I had hoped Omar would have a good season last year since he seems more at home on the weakside. He played really well vs PIT and CHI, but then took a nosedive. He was bad vs WAS and NYG. He couldn't handle blockers. He wasn't getting to the ball. He earned a spot on the bench.


I think that may be taking things a bit far. Andy Reid wasn't mad because the media broke the story. He was upset that the media was calling his players to find out about the situation. Apparently that is a big no-no in his world. Andy wants to be "the voice" in injury matters. That way there is no confusion and he's able to control what gets announced. I don't think this makes Big Red a bad guy. Football coaches are notorious control freaks, especially about injury information. I'm not bothered by him getting upset at this. If he carries this thing forward a few days, then he'll look petty and it will be something to criticize.


Jeremy Maclin has agreed to terms. He'll be signing a 5-year deal today. Maclin is behind schedule, but he will still have a decent amount of TC to get ready and he will have the entire preseason. Let's just hope he didn't go on the Brod Bunkley holdout diet/workout plan. "I'm washing this bag of Cheetos down with a 2-liter Mountain Dew and then it is nap time."

Open message to Jeremy...Welcome to the Eagles. There is no pressure on you. Score 10 TDs and lead us to the Super Bowl and all will be good. Anything less and ... well let's not go there. Today is a good day.


Cliff said...

I don't fault Reid at all. Isn't Bill Belichick notorious for giving "fake" or "half-true" injury information to the media?

It sounds silly to us outsiders because I think we all assume the press talk constantly with players and their agents. Why would this be any different?

Oh well, that's the least of our worries right now.

rick said...

Say what you will about the Reid/Cheney comparison, but I refuse to go duck hunting with Andy just the same.

izzylangfan said...

I like Stewart Bradley and he has demonstrated his ability to be stout in the middle linebacker position. Clearly, his injury is a loss to the Eagles defense. He also seems to have a rate trait among football players and particularly middle linebackers. He is emotionally well balanced. I have long believed that emotional balance is a good trait to have in football even though there are many examples of unbalanced people performing well. The balanced person can turn on his aggression when the situation requires it and then go back to his normal balanced state. Call it controlled aggression.

Now I don't want to call Joe Mays unbalanced and I don't think he is. However, his demeanor is different than Bradley's. Mays looks like he just cant wait to hit somebody - hard. Maybe its a bit contradictory but I like that in a middle linebacker and I will be excited to see him deliver some hard hits.

If he ends up the starting middle linebacker opposing offenses are going to run at him hard. He may hold up well in the beginning of the season but the offenses will keep coming at him. Am I correct in remembering that Gaither wore down a bit as his season at middle linebacker went down to the final game?

Mays seems to be strong but does he have the size to be able to withstand that punishment for a full season? If he needs help up the middle how will the Eagles accomplish that would that compromise from a defensive standpoint?

This situation would seem to test Reid's philosophy regarding linebackers. As a second rounder Bradley was picked higher than any linebacker except Quentin Caver who I believe was also a second rounder. But now with Bradley out the Eagles are going with a group of lower round talent. I think Gocong was a three, Gaither a five, Mays a six and of course Akeem Jordan was an undrafted free agent. Now, Eagles are putting most of the responsibility on the defensive line - the DT's take two gaps and the large stable of DE's needs to create havoc on the edges. Then don't the linebackers have to do more than make tackles on running plays. They need to get in the backfield to stop the runner for a loss, get sacks and force fumbles. An occasional interception would also be nice.

Every defense involves a number of compromises. Theoretically, I have no problem with Reid's philosophy of putting your money on the line and defensive backs. This worked to perfection when we had Hugh Douglas creating havoc in the backfield and Troy Vincent, Dawkins, and Bobby Taylor catching all the dying ducks released in desperation by harassed and harried quarterbacks. But Jeremiah Trotter was also on that team. So maybe we don't need a great middle linebacker but don't we need some harassment which we do not yet have on the current team? And, if you were in charge would you try to tweak Reid's linebacker approach to improve the defense?

izzylangfan said...

In my last post above I forgot to note that we had Carlos Eamons for several years on the strong side and Sean Barber in 2002 who we got on the cheap. So we had some talent at linebacker on those lights out defenses of that era.

Cliff said...

Why are fans worried about Mays' size? The official web site lists his weight at 246 lbs. He's "only" 5' 11', but that doesn't make him a liability in run defense. If anything, that might give him an advantage in leverage (a la Mike Patterson).

FYI: Ray Lewis is listed only 2 inches taller. The league-leader in tackles, D'Qwell Jackson, is 6'. Carolina's Jon Beason is 6'. Someone we're more familiar with, London Fletcher, is SHORTER than Joe Mays by an inch.

I don't know what is up with Eagles fans, but Mays sure as hell isn't small. Can his body hold up? He's a freaking manimal.

Jason said...

Tommy -
Obviously the lose of Bradley will have a negative effect on the defense in terms of talent (and that's not to take anything away from Omar or Mays, but more a comment on how much we expect out of Bradley). My question is, how much will Bradley's absence effect the leadership on the defense.

One of the obvious concerns we all had when Dawkins left was who would step up and become the leader of the defense. In my opinion, I felt that it would need to come from several places, including Bradley, Cole, Brown, and maybe Mikell. You may be able to add Bunk or Patterson to that but I haven't really heard/read anything about their leadership abilities. That being said, with Bradley down, do you think it will significantly impact that aspect of the defense, or do you think the other guys are capable of stepping up and taking over his role as a leader?

On a related note, if Mays starts (or whomever), do you think the MLB will continue to have the plays called into their helmet? I'm not sure how difficult that aspect is and whether or not it matters that the player who receives the calls have some more playing experience, but to me it seems that the MLB would be the likely player to have it.

Stephen said...

I don't understand why people would put that stuff about the injury situation on Andy. I read a really whiny piece by Ray Didinger about it today and thought that was out of character from him. He sounded less like a hall of famer and more like a TMZ papparazi spurned on the latest Michael Jackson lovechild story.

The thing that irks me is people, press included, act like they have a right to this information, which is totally bogus. The sense of entitlement puts me a bit on edge because of the line of work I'm in right now.

craig said...

Bradley was a third round pick, the top rated SAM in the draft, with a history of knee injuries (High school and @Nebraska). He was playing the MIKE as well as anyone in the league. He was intelligent, and even tempered and has the makings of a great leader.

The closest match to him in terms of size, talent and intelligence is Gocong. He is actually Bigger, faster and quicker than Bradley. And without the responsibility of contain, where he tended to overpursue, he might be a better fit in the middle.

All that being said, I really like Joe Mays. He reminds me of Sam Mills, a smaller in height LB that made plays for years in the USFL and NFL. He wouldn't get blownup like OG, but might be a coverage liability with taller TE's. This is why Free Safety going to be the linchpin of the D this year.
Just a random thought, McDermott coached the LBs and Secondary the past two years. He should know the strengths and weaknesses of those players on the roster.

Have faith

rick said...

I thought the Didinger piece was great as well as the Domo and Sheridan pieces. Andy messed up but maybe he was pissed at having to disrupt his routine at Lehigh and have the injury occur while doing the Flight Night benefit and didn't want to answer questions about the rainy practice conditions, as Sheridan suggests. Whatever the reason, he's the one who comes off like a baby, not the reporters just doing their jobs. I'm surprised at all the authoritarians out there who support Reid whether he's right or wrong, just because he's the coach.