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Impressions on the First Iteration of the 2011 Eagles Depth Chart

Impressions on the First Iteration of the 2011 Eagles Depth Chart

There's a lot of fun "firsts" once football season starts to roll around. First day of training camp, the first day Madden is released, and, of course, the first Sunday of the season are all popular ones. Today was the less heralded, but still entertaining for football geeks, first draft of the Eagles' depth chart, as the headline would imply.

Of course, a couple of notes before we get into some analysis. First, the depth chart is always UNOFFICIAL. It's compiled largely based on watching who is taking what snaps during practices, not by members of the coaching staff. Also, obviously much can and will change before the regular season gets underway, but it's still interesting to take a peak at what the team is working with up at Lehigh.

So with that in mind, thoughts on a few key positions after the jump.

RT1 - Ryan Harris
This has to be considered the second biggest surprise on the depth chart. The Harris signing was met with little fanfare (we didn't even post on it), and sort of lost in the shuffle after the Birds acquired some guys named Nnamdi, and Cullen, and Ronnie. For now, he is the starting right tackle.

Winston Justice is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but Andy Reid told reporters back in April that the starter of two seasons would compete with King Dunlap for his job. Dunlap, however, is currently third on the chart, even behind 2009 fifth rounder Fenuki Topou, who has yet to appear in an NFL game.

Meanwhile, Harris--who signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum--is becoming a greater threat to Justice. A third round pick out of Notre Dame in 2007, the 6-5, 300-pounder started 34 games at right tackle in four seasons with the Broncos, and by all accounts he has been very impressive in camp.

We thought the Eagles could target a high priced talent in free agency, and indeed there is at least one report they went after Doug Free, so when they wound up with Harris, it seemed minor. It appears he could really push Justice though, which certainly isn't a bad thing with him coming off an injury and a subpar season protecting Mike Vick's blind side.

LDE2 - Jason Babin; RDT2 - Cullen Jenkins
The first time I read over the list, I actually did not notice two of the three biggest free agent additions on defense weren't listed as starters. It's mildly interesting, but probably means little.

Babin is currently slotted behind Juqua Parker, who seems to be locked in a battle for his starting job every summer. Ultimately, it doesn't matter much who holds the designation as a starter, because the Eagles will rotate their ends. At $6 million/year, Babin will have more than his fair share of chances to rush the quarterback, while a fresher Parker should equal a more productive Parker.

Antonio Dixon is ahead of Jenkins, though again, there will be some kind of rotation here. But assuming Patterson returns (as he intends) and the Birds are playing with a full deck, it is actually possible Dixon's name could stay on top. He was an effective run-stopper last season, which might make him more appropriate on first and second downs, as opposed to Jenkins, who is coming over from a different defensive alignment entirely.

It could be they are just working Jenkins into the system, but it could be he will also see the bulk of his action on third downs and obvious passing situations.

MLB1 - Casey Matthews; SLB1 - Jamar Chaney
Not much the Eagles do shocks me anymore, but Matthews as the starting middle linebacker accomplished precisely that. I figured at the most, Chaney would reprise his role in the middle, and Matthews would compete at one of the outside positions. It appears they may have pegged him as their new MIKE from the very beginning.

Neither Matthews or Chaney are exceptionally big, both standing at 6 feet, so I suppose they aren't losing anything from a size perspective. For that matter, Chaney--last year's seventh round pick--has only been in the league for one season, with three career starts including the playoffs, so they're not exactly losing out on a wealth of experience either.

Only the Eagles could tell you exactly why they went with Matthews over Chaney in the middle, but it may have something to do with the difference in athleticism. Matthews, a fourth round rookie out of Oregon, is measurably slower than Chaney (4.78 to 4.54 in the 40-yard dash). In Jim Johnson's defensive system, the middle linebacker was typically aggressive around the line of scrimmage, while the outside backers more frequently played in space.

If defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is maintaining the principles of JJ's system, then it makes sense to put the faster player in more coverage situations. As for trusting a rookie at such an important area, if it were anybody else, I'd be more concerned. This Matthews kid, on the other hand, has football in his blood.

RCB1 - Nnamdi Asomugha
Nothing really to add here, but it is sort of cool.

CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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Position Breakdowns: How the Eagles stack up against the Giants

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Position Breakdowns: How the Eagles stack up against the Giants

Two weeks ago, it was widely assumed the Giants were going to have a more complete team than the Eagles this season. Now that the Giants are sitting on an 0-2 record, and the Eagles are at 1-1 with a hard-fought loss on the road in Kansas City, people aren’t so sure.

At this point, it’s probably fair to say New York’s football team was overrated. The offense hasn’t eclipsed 19 points since November – a run of right games – and the defense, though good, isn’t quite elite. Add a key injury to the mix, and you get a team that doesn’t look particularly threatening.

The Eagles are far from world beaters themselves. But compared to the Giants, they are in much better shape at this stage of the season.

 

QUARTERBACKS

You sort of have to give Eli Manning the nod on the strength of his four trips to the Pro Bowl and two Super Bowl championships. Then again, Manning appears to be regressing as he approaches his 37th birthday, and truth be told, he’s always been inconsistent and turnover prone. Carson Wentz continues to develop as a passer, plus possesses tremendous mobility, which Manning lacks. But Wentz’s accuracy still needs to improve, and he has the tendency to cough up the football, too. The body of work simply isn’t there. By the time the Eagles and Giants meet again in December, this might not be the case.

Slight edge: Giants

 

RUNNING BACKS

What a mess. The leading rusher in this contest is Wentz (61 YDS), followed by Darren Sproles (50), then LeGarrette Blount (46). Then it’s Orleans Darkwa, who leads the Giants with a mighty 31 yards – and he’s not even the lead back. Even if the combination Paul Perkins and Darkwa is a push compared to Blount and Wendell Smallwood, Sproles is a superior change-of-pace back to Shane Vereen.

Slight edge: Eagles

 

WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS

Odell Beckham might be the most dangerous player on the field this Sunday – if the Giants wideout is healthy. Beckham was limited to 34 snaps by an ankle injury in his Week 2 debut, finishing with 4 receptions for 36 yards. Meanwhile, Alshon Jeffery and Wentz are starting to get on the same page (10 REC, 130 YDS, 1 TD), and tight end Zach Ertz has hit the ground running this season (13 REC, 190 YDS). New York has some big names in its receiving corps, but Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepherd have been little more than window dressing so far. Unless Beckham is 100 percent, the Eagles claim better weapons.

Very slight edge: Eagles

 

OFFENSIVE LINE

The Eagles are experiencing their share of issues up front. Replacing Isaac Seumalo with Chance Warmack at left guard is probably a step in the right direction. Warmack didn’t live up to his full potential with the Titans, but the fifth-year veteran should stabilize an otherwise solid O-line. The Giants have no such reinforcements on the way. They are stuck with the likes of Ereck Flowers at left tackle, and will continue to feature underwhelming starters across the board. This is New York’s Achilles heel right now.

Clear edge: Eagles

 

DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN

Both of these teams have outstanding defensive lines. New York may even boast the better of the two. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon form one of the premier pass-rushing duos off the edge, while Damon Harrison anchors a stout interior. However, the Eagles hold a distinct advantage at linebacker. Jordan Hicks is coming off a tough game, but remains one of the top playmakers in the league, and Mychal Kendricks is off to an amazing start in 2017. Just try to name a linebacker on the Giants. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

Slight edge: Eagles

 

DEFENSIVE BACKS

The Eagles are already down Ronald Darby, and the statuses of Rodney McLeod, Jaylen Watkins and Corey Graham are all up in the air. Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins is out at well, but defense is still strong at that spot with Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Landon Collins are roughly a push, so New York’s superior depth at cornerback would seem to be the difference here.

Edge: Giants

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

The kickers are relative unknowns, with three career NFL games between them, so special teams could be a real wild card on Sunday. Based off of Sproles being an electric, game-changing punt returner, and the Eagles typically outstanding coverage units, we’ll assume the Eagles have the upper hand. But if the game comes down to a last-second field goal, all bets are off.

Edge: Eagles

 

COACHING

Both Doug Pederson and Ben McAdoo are only into their second season at the helm. McAdoo did lead the Giants to 11 wins and the playoffs last season. He also has more of a track record as an offensive coordinator, as he was actually in charge of New York’s offense for two years before taking the head job – as opposed to Pederson standing behind Andy Reid in Kansas City. McAdoo is off to an 0-2 start in ’17, so it’s a tough call. If we use defensive coordinators as the tiebreaker, it doesn’t get a whole lot easier, but Giants assistant Steve Spagnuolo does have a Super Bowl ring.

Very slight edge: Giants

 

OVERALL

These squads are close in many areas, but the difference is along the offensive line. The Giants have one of the worst units in the NFL right now, in a league that has quite a few bad O-lines. Beckham is the X-factor here. If he’s back to full strength, he could give the Eagles secondary fits, but it’s a big “if.” It’s difficult to envision New York’s offense getting on track at Lincoln Financial Field, where Manning traditionally stinks. On paper, this matchup is not especially close, although anything can happen when NFC East rivals clash.

Edge: Eagles