Eagles

Eagles mailbag: Is Avonte Maddox really CB2?

us_maddox_mailbag.png

Eagles mailbag: Is Avonte Maddox really CB2?

As always thanks for all the great questions. I got so many, I split them up into three parts. 

We looked at your first few yesterday.

Let’s get to the second bunch now: 

https://twitter.com/QB_Factory1/status/1256243620321132545

That certainly seems like the plan. Heck, that was the plan before the Eagles signed Nickell Robey-Coleman, who is going to be the Eagles’ starting nickel. So that spot isn’t where Maddox will land and Jim Schwartz is going to give him first shot at being CB2 despite his lack of height. We saw some flashes from Jones last year and that was encouraging. And maybe he’ll be given a shot to win that job; the Eagles obviously won’t be upset about a former second-round pick finally fulfilling his potential. 

But I also think not having OTAs really hurts Jones. He’s losing valuable time to prove himself on the field. The Eagles probably would have used this time to move guys around in the secondary and now I wonder if they’ll feel better about just getting Maddox those training camp reps to get ready for the season. 

First, let’s not think Corey Clement is a roster lock. He’s coming off his second season-ending injury in two years and is on a veteran minimum deal. But I do think as long as he looks healthy, he’ll make the team. 

After that, the three guys who might be fighting for that roster spot are Elijah Holyfield, Michael Warren II and Adrian Killins. All three are intriguing for different reasons. 

The Eagles liked Holyfield enough to bring him in at the end of last season knowing they weren’t going to use him in the playoffs. He ran a terrible 40 time before the 2019 draft but the Eagles liked him during that draft. Killins is super fast but I have concerns about his size. 

My favorite right now is Warren, who was a productive and tough runner at Cincinnati. I had Warren as a possible late-round running back option for the Eagles because I really like him as a complementary option to pair with Sanders. Warren is a fun guy to watch — his legs never stop churning — and his 34 rushing touchdowns in college didn’t happen by accident. 

https://twitter.com/ScorceseJihaD/status/1256244204235296768

No way. Wentz is a tough dude and the Eagles don’t think he’s any less tough because he did the right thing after his brain rattled around in his skull to the point where he didn’t know what was going on. Wentz is a tough dude. This is the same guy who threw a touchdown pass on a torn ACL and played through a broken back. 

I do not think the Jalen Hurts pick isn’t independent of Wentz like Howie Roseman said — I’m sure there is some fear about his injury history — but they have no concerns about Wentz’s toughness. 

This question is popping up because the Titans aren’t picking up the fifth-year option on Davis’s rookie contract, meaning he’ll be a free agent after this season. The production hasn’t been great for Davis in his first three NFL seasons. His best year came in 2018, when he had 65/891/4. But he was the No. 5 pick in the 2017 draft and there’s some talent there. I guess the Eagles should be interested but I wouldn’t give up more than a Day 3 pick to get him for one year. 

Andthe Titans will probably want to keep him for this season. Sure, they stand the chance to lose him at the end of the season but they’re a playoff team. 

Sure, that would be great but that isn’t happening. As much as we’re having fun figuring out innovative ways for the Eagles to use Hurts, he’s not going to see the field nearly enough to have that kind of production or anything close to it. 

Is this the year Jordan Mailata goes from project to player?

Is this the year Jordan Mailata goes from project to player?

A couple years ago, when the Eagles drafted Jordan Mailata in the 7th round of the NFL draft, I asked him a question and he gave an answer that has followed him. 

How much did you know about American football just a few months before the Eagles drafted you? 

“Mate, as little as peanuts.” 

By the end of his first training camp, Mailata said he had reached a quarter of a bag of peanuts. And it’s clear he has made progress. But now, entering Year 3 in the NFL, it’s time to start asking if Mailata has finally filled that bag. 

In other words, is this the year Mailata goes from a project to a real NFL player? 

“Look, I’m always as honest as I can be. I don’t want to lead you down a garden path, OK,” offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said last week on a Zoom call with reporters. “So I always try to tell you that absolute truth; you guys know that. … I can’t answer that question right now.” 

Hopefully, we get our answer soon enough. 

Stoutland said the reason he couldn’t answer that question is because he needs to see Mailata do it on the field. That might have hit a snag last week, when Mailata was one of three Eagles placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, meaning he either tested positive for COVID-19 or was exposed to somebody who did. Lane Johnson said publicly that he tested positive. 

So, obviously, everyone is hoping Mailata is healthy; that’s more important. But he also can’t afford to miss any grass time, especially in a training camp that won’t have preseason games. With such limited game experience in his life, those preseason games were more important for Mailata than any other player on the roster. And now he’ll have only training camp practices and that will only happen once he’s off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. 

The good news is that Stoutland is very optimistic. 

“I can say this: In the meetings that we have, the virtual meetings, he was a completely different guy in the meetings,” Stoutland said. “And, you’re going to say, ‘What do you mean by that?’ His confidence level. Because we require these guys to know a lot and to be able to convert blocking schemes and calls. Completely, completely different in the meeting. 

“Now, will that carry over to the field? Every morning when I come here I pray that’s what will happen. Do I think that will happen? Absolutely. But I can’t guarantee that. We’re going to find out, though. That’s what this is all about. And if it does carry over then we got action. We’re going to be in good shape.”

This offseason, Halapoulivaati Vaitai left in free agency and got a big contract with the Detroit Lions, which means the Eagles’ depth at offensive tackle took a big hit. But then they drafted two players with tackle experience and brought back Jason Peters to play guard and also be insurance at tackle. 

So the Eagles have options if Mailata doesn’t work out or if he isn’t ready. But in Year 3, it’s probably time to get past the project phase. 

Mailata is still just 23 but in his first two NFL seasons he still hasn’t played in a single regular-season game. And he has ended both years on Injured Reserve with back injuries. 

But all the traits the Eagles saw in Mailata when they drafted for former rugby player to play offensive tackle are still there. 

Mailata is 6-foot-8, 346 pounds, incredibly strong, athletic and willing to learn. And in last year’s preseason, he looked good. We saw progress. Really, we’ve seen progress every time Mailata steps foot on a football field. 

But is he ready to be an NFL player and not just the guy trying to become an NFL player? 

We’ll find out soon enough. 

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

On Friday, two days before Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19, several of his assistant coaches spoke about how effective they believe the Eagles’ safety protocols are inside the NovaCare Complex and how safe they consider the facility.

The Eagles, under the direction of vice president of football operations and compliance Jon Ferrari, reconfigured the South Philadelphia facility over the last several weeks to comply with NFL safety measures once the players arrived.

On Monday, the Eagles' so-called IDER plan – that stands for Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan – was approved by the league, meaning the team's plan to deal with the virus in the facility met the safety standards required by the league and the players' association.

Yet here we are.

Without knowing how or where Pederson contracted the virus, it’s impossible to determine whether the safety measures are working. 

If nobody else in the building contracts it, they’re working. If it turns out there are additional positive tests within the building in the coming days, it’s possible that even the strictest adherence to the safety measures isn’t enough.

We’ll know more in the coming days, but offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, running backs coach and assistant head coach (and interim head coach) Duce Staley and special teams coach Dave Fipp all spoke on Friday about how effective the measures the Eagles took to create a safe working environment appeared to be.

Stoutland: “Coming through the front door, going through the gate, getting tested each morning, I gotta tell you guys, I’ve never felt more safe in my life. I told my wife that, I told my kids that. Mr. (Jeff) Lurie, he cares about his team, his coaches, and just proves it once again with the group of people that he’s put together to organize this whole operation. It’s all different, it’s all new, (team president) Don Smolenski, Jon Ferrari, it’s unbelievable. Every little detail that’s going on right now, the door handles, everything that I notice, I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, they think of everything to keep us safe.’ That part of it is great I think for all of us because it kind of lets you (know), ‘OK, let me just focus on my job and detail what I have to do and the other stuff, we’re good. We’re going to be in good hands.’”

Staley: “We have to be careful, that’s something that all coaches are being redundant with. We’re talking with our players, we’re talking amongst ourselves. We’re all reminding each other how serious this is, reminding ourselves as coaches and reminding the players. This is a different time for us and as a team we must make the adjustments so we can be successful down the road. We must make the adjustments. I think the Eagles, this organization, Howie, Jeffery, along with Jon Ferrari, they’ve got a great plan here for us while we’re in the building, so we feel 100 percent safe in the building. Now, we understand everything going on, how it can be contracted, but we feel safe.”

Fipp: “I think common sense is the biggest thing. Gotta be smart, obviously. There’s definitely an issue going on out there. I think we feel good about it as long as we wear masks and take care of our responsibility outside the building. I feel great about being inside the building.”

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles