Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Thoughts


A few days back I was highly skeptical of the Jeremiah Trotter reports. We knew he worked out for the team, but that had to be something weird. Couldn't be a legitimate workout of a guy who sat out last year. And yet it was.

The Eagles are going to sign Trot this week. He will not come in to be the starting MLB right off the bat. He hasn't played since December of 2007. He's bound to be a bit rusty. LB is one of those spots where you can shake off the rust in a hurry, though.

The Eagles aren't happy with Omar Gaither's overall performance. He covers well. He is blitzing better than in the past. The problem is physical run defense. Omar must do a better job of defeating blocks and getting to the ball. He was good vs KC, but getting off the blocks of Mike Goff is nothing compared to dealing with Chris Snee or Leonard Davis. We must be able to match the physicality of Dallas and the Giants. The Cowboys prefer to run draws and outside, but their OL is still big and strong. Washington normally gives us fits with their ball-control, pounding attack. A hesitant MLB would get us killed in those matchups.

Look at the situation. Omar covers well and is good enough to play against a some teams that like to run the ball. Tampa and Oakland are next up on the schedule. They are the kind of teams Gaither should be able to handle. Plus both are struggling right now. If we build any kind of lead they'll have to throw the ball. This gives Trot the bye week and a couple of games to get back into game shape. Washington is the next team after that.

Against the Skins I could see Sean McDermott platooning his guys at MLB. Trot plays in most base sets and early downs. Gaither is there in passing situations. Clearly, this isn't an ideal scenario. Teams will look to run vs Omar and throw vs Trot. McDermott will have to pick and choose when to play each guy. Situations and matchups will really dictate things.

We have 6 meetings with NFC East opponents. We must be physical in the middle to win those games. Should the offense build a good lead in any of them we can sit Trot down and give all the snaps to Omar. Should we be in a slugfest, Trot will have to stay in and we'll have to adjust coverages accordingly.

Games against SD, DEN, CHI, ATL, and SF are trickier. All of them can run the ball, but they don't all have the kind of big, nasty OLs that can dominate you. Those are games where Omar may play a lot. If he struggles vs the run we simply insert Trot and then deal with the counter measures from the offense.

The X-factor in all of this is Trot's health. He says that his legs are much better than they were in '06. I hope so. My grandads' legs were in better shape. And both of those gentlemen died in the 1990s. Trot had some surgery last year and he's been out of football for about 20 months. That kind of rest has to help. How much? I guess we'll see.

The Eagles would not add him if he didn't look okay at his workouts. The Eagles cut Trot in the summer of 2007 because they didn't think he could get the job done. Hugh Douglas was cut in 2005 for the same reason. The Eagles are not sentimental with veterans.

This is a strange story. I never thought the Axeman would return. He looked so bad in the playoff loss at New Orleans that it was painful to watch or talk about. He lost some weight to get in great shape for '07, but his legs were still a mess. Now he's on the way back.


My postgame write-up is posted. Most of the info you've already read, but I added some comments about ESPN and their Kevin Kolb coverage. Check it out.



RE: Maclin as RS

Sometimes the more you know the less you know. Last year I said that DeSean would have a lot more impact at RS than WR. Rookies just don't come in here and make a big splash. Oops. This year I predicted the same for Maclin. Jeremy was a great returner in college. He should be naturally good at that in the NFL. His WR skills needed a ton of work. Now we're almost in October and he's getting better and better at WR, but is still a question mark as the RS. Weird.

Jeremy has got to be decisive and sure on STs. He drops back and he's looking the ball in very methodically. That's too rigid. You have to settle under the ball and then catch it. Get too mechanical and you'll drop the thing. He's also guilty of looking for a wide open running area. Those were available at Mizzou and sometimes in the preseason. They aren't normally available in the regular season. Brian Mitchell needs to teach him. You focus on beating the first defender and getting 10 yards. If you break it long, great. Don't force every PR/KOR to be perfect or you'll be ineffective.


T_S_O_P said...

Against Dallas, we might need them both together against the 'boys, because from what I remember being said, Trotter would be a liability vs Witten.

I like both Trot and Omar, and I can't think of 2 more verbally abused 'backers.

I wish there was SAM out there because I wish McD would follow through with his Cong to Mike proposal.

mcud77 said...

Go get Derrick Johnson already. He can play the SAM. =)

Cliff said...

Hit the nail on the head with ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown. Those guys are MUCH better than NFL Network's group and the FOX/CBS teams. But they still don't go far enough beyond pedestrian insights. Usually, I chalk that up to me being too serious a fan of my own team, so of course the TV guys won't know as much. In this case, Kolb and Vick showed enough that those guys should know better.

Anyway, what ex-players and analysts say doesn't matter. As a fan, I've been shaky on Kolb. Now those concerns are gone. I'm really excited about Kolb's future. It'll get really interesting if McNabb struggles in our next two winnable games. The Philly media will have a field day.

Jason said...

You mention putting Trotter in on run plays over Gaither which makes me think about Trotter vs the run later in his career. Looking back, all I can remember of Trotter the last few seasons he was here were how terrible our run defense was. I realize Trotter is not the only one to blame (at the time, our DLine could not make plays against our opponents OLine), but there were many times that Trotter was ineffective himself. His knees were obviously an issue, but given that he he has only gotten older since then, I can't imagine him having "fresh" legs at this point. Is a rested, yet older Trotter (and we have to keep it in context... we're talking about 2006-07 Trotter, not him during his prime) really better than Gaither, Mays, or Fokou? How much is this move really is for on-field production and how much is it for sideline leadership and motivation?

Tommy Lawlor said...

I think the leadership aspect of the Trotter signing is a media myth. Mikell and Cole are leaders. Heck, Gaither's best quality is leadership. If only he played the run like he runs the huddle.

The run defense was abysmal in 2006 due to poor play at SAM, WIL, and RDT. Gocong, Jordan, and Bunk are good run defenders. Trot has always been a good run defender between the tackles. He obviously couldn't catch Felix Jones if they were playing in wet cement.

Trot is a major mystery to all of us. He might get on the field and be a very pleasant surprise. He also might be a disaster. I'm not up or down on the move as much as I'm curious to see him play.

izzylangfan said...

This post is very informative. But I would like you to elaborate on what the potential strategies are when you have a MLB who is weak in pass coverage, and what are the key factors that would lead to them being successful.

It does occur to me however, that in the case of Trotter blitzing might be a good strategy since the old Trot disrupted more than a few pass plays that way and the Eagles do like to blitz anyway. In addition I think the blitz up the middle might be something the Eagles should do more of. Wouldn't that have been something the Eagles could have used more against a three step drop QB like Brees?

T_S_O_P said...

Tommy you have mentioned rust and Vick many a time, no rust with Trot? Surely, he cannot be as we put it, match fit.

mcud77 said...

Tommy, is Marcus Howard a WILL or a DE here, should he sign...?

Tommy Lawlor said...

@ TSOP...

I covered Trot's rusty nature in the post.

"He's bound to be a bit rusty. LB is one of those spots where you can shake off the rust in a hurry, though. "

RE: Marcus Howard

He's only 6'0, 240. That's tiny for a DE. I have to think we're looking at him as a LB.

Which spot? That's the tough question. Could be that we're thinking of him more as a STer than any specific LB spot.

We can still try to put Joe Mays on the Practice Squad and give his roster spot to Howard.

Howard would probably be a SAM candidate. We've had several former DEs go to that spot (Emmons, Gocong, Jason Short).

shlynch said...

Great post. This is really a pretty strange move. One side benefit is that it might give us some insight into how they might use Bradley if he isn't 100% in terms of lateral movement when the season starts next year.

izzylangfan said...

One does not like to be overly optimistic about someone like Trotter who has not played in a while and had those knee problems. But if Trot can still play he could do some real damage with Bunk and Pat playing in front of him.