Morning Extras: How Important is Depth?

Morning Extras: How Important is Depth?

Heading into the season, there were a few question marks about the Eagles team that really stuck out. The first was the lack of talent at the wide receiver position. Second was an overabundance of talent at the cornerback position.

In other words, one of the issues that had befallen the Eagles heading into the season at a key position was, in fact, too much depth. The issue with the Eagles perceived depth at that cornerback spot was that for the first time since T.O., the Birds brought in a big ticket item, this time slated to patrol the defensive backfield instead of a player that had been a starter, had been to the Pro Bowl and felt he was warranted a starting spot.

So it wasn't so much the depth that was an issue, but rather the lack of a defined roll for each of the players. Andy Reid refused to say who the starter would be opposite Asante Samuel, saying rather that it was an open competition and both Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard (sorry, LiTo) will play and could start. It was BS. We knew it, Lito knew it and most importantly, perhaps trouble-brewing superagent Drew Rosenhaus knew it.

Depth was looked at as a problem. That said, the lack of depth at basically every other position on the field, has shown to be a much bigger problem.

The Eagles could be a good team. There is still an off possibility the Eagles can win their last five games and finish the season 10-5-1. Anything can happen in the NFL from week to week. However, it doesn't seem like the Eagles have been prepared when a player goes down or isn't performing well and needs to be replaced.

In other words, they lack depth.

The glaring lack of depth had never been more obvious than going into a physical road football contest against a bruising defense with two running backs on your active roster. And, with Brian Westbrook banged up all season and oft-injured Correll Buckhalter as his backup, there had to be an inkling that by the second half, you could have zero healthy running backs on your roster.

Here is the Eagles depth chart. Is there anyone listed on the Second String that you'd feel comfortable stepping into an increased role on the starting squad? DeSean Jackson is still listed as second-string, but he's the only player at the wide receiver position who seems to have any exceptional skills. Brent Celek had one nice game. Akeem Jordan made some tackles last week. And the aforementioned Sheppard.

But looking down the line, it seems that the most glaring issue is a lack of depth everywhere. Your starting fullback is also your second-string defensive tackle. Your backup fullback was on the scrap heap three weeks ago. You have no backup at left tackle, even though your left tackle is listed on the injury report. You have six linebackers on your roster and only one (your third string weak-side LB who was signed mid-way through the season) has more than three years experience in the league. There are the right number of players on the roster, but how many of them can play to the level they are expected...or needed?

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds defends hit on Andrei Markov

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds defends hit on Andrei Markov

MONTREAL — Wayne Simmonds didn’t feel as though he did anything wrong. Or that he even touched Andrei Markov.
Thing is, however, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety may have a different view of it come Tuesday morning.
Early during first-period play Monday night, the Flyers' winger came out of the penalty box after serving a minor for holding and cross-checked Markov from behind.
The Canadiens' defenseman went face-first into the boards and fell to the ice, where he appeared to try and sell a penalty. Nothing came of it, but the hit will likely be reviewed anyway.
“I barely touched him,” Simmonds. “When you got a bunch of guys diving all over the place, what are you going to do? Stand on your feet.”

There were a number of tough hits from both sides in the Flyers' 3-1 loss to the Canadiens (see game recap). It was evenly played and the Flyers deserved a point.
“We played a solid game,” Simmonds said. “Obviously, we lost and it’s not what we wanted but we have four more games this week.
“We go home and we've got to be focused on the positive things that we did and carry it over the rest of the week.”
Gudas eligible
Radko Gudas has yet to play a real game this season.
The Flyers' bruising defenseman has been serving a six-game suspension for a careless hit in Boston that closed out exhibition play earlier this month.
Tuesday night, the Flyers will play the back end of a back-to-back against Buffalo at the Wells Fargo Center and Gudas likely will return to the lineup now that his suspension has ended.
“It seems like forever,” Gudas said. “I could use more games behind me. I think I’m ready with my conditioning and skill level, so I can’t wait to get back in there.”
The decision as to who comes out will be difficult. A good guess right now would be Nick Schultz.
“We've got the information at this point,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “It will be a tough decision, no question, if we are healthy.”
At some point — Nov. 5 — Michael Del Zotto will be eligible to come off LTIR. That means another veteran blueliner would become available and an even bigger problem will arise because Del Zotto carries a $3.875 million cap hit.
Barring injury or trade, when Del Zotto returns, the Flyers will have to move two players off their roster entirely just to be cap compliant.
For now, following Monday’s loss, Hakstol has to decide whether to stick with his current defense or put Gudas back in. Given the Flyers have missed Gudas’ physical presence — teams have taken liberties on smallish rookie Travis Konecny — it makes sense to reinsert Gudas.
“Obviously, teams are going to take advantage of smaller guys,” Gudas said. “I would love to be out there if anything happened. All the guys here are responsible and I think they did a pretty good job defending that. It’s not happening a lot.”
No, but it’s happened enough that the Flyers should take note of it.
Hakstol said his decision does not have to come until Tuesday.
“That’s not to say we haven’t looked at things and thought about the [issue], but that decision comes after tonight,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gudas finally has come to the conclusion that the NHL is watching his every hit.
“They’re looking at me since Day 1 I got here,” he said. “The guys made up their minds. I have to make sure I don’t give them an opportunity to call again.”
Maybe he should change his ringtone to say, “Player Safety calling.”

Loose pucks
Simmonds and Matt Read saw their four-game goal-scoring streaks come to an end. ... The Flyers were credited with 39 hits, the most they’ve had since 41 in a home game against Montreal on Jan. 5, 2016. Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Schultz were credited with five apiece. ... Ice-time leaders: Ivan Provorov (21:31), Shayne Gostisbehere (21:27) and Brandon Manning (20:36). … Boyd Gordon was 10 for 12 (83 percent) on faceoffs. ... Jakub Voracek had five shots, giving him 21 overall, which ties him for 10th in the league. His goal gave him eight points and ties him with five other players for fourth in the NHL.

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai 'calms the storm,' rebounds in 2nd start

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai 'calms the storm,' rebounds in 2nd start

Halapoulivaati Vaitai wasn’t Lane Johnson on Sunday against the Vikings.

But he didn’t look like Halapoulivaati Vaitai either ... at least the version that was a revolving door last week in Washington.

In his NFL debut last week, Big V gave up two sacks, a quarterback hit and a hurry. Against the Vikings, he gave up just one QB hurry.

What led to the change?

“I just think learning from the week before, quite honestly,” head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. “He really, again, detailed his work during the week. He practiced extremely well. He used his hands better.

“He was able to calm the storm, so to speak, and played a fine football game. He played the type that we saw [in] him and he’s capable of doing. Now it’s something that he can continue to build on.”

While it seemed like Pederson curtailed his offense some to counteract what could be a shaky offensive line, he said it was more about utilizing his team’s strengths. Still, Carson Wentz attempted just four passes that traveled over 20 yards on Sunday and didn’t complete a pass that went more than nine yards in the air.

Despite Vaitai’s scary performance in his debut, Pederson decided to stick to his plan and leave him at right tackle instead of shuffling the offensive line by moving Allen Barbre to tackle and replacing him with Stefen Wisniewski.

The jury is still out on the decision, but the Eagles probably have more confidence in their offensive line for the next eight games of Johnson’s suspension than they did before playing the Vikings.

The Eagles' O-line didn’t give up a sack to the Vikings after giving up five the previous week.

“I thought our guys [Sunday] did a great job of no sacks against a team that had 19 coming in,” Pederson said. “Protected [Wentz], kept him clean and it just gives him confidence now and gives our whole unit confidence moving forward and coming away.”