Eagles

One specific way Eagles' Andre Dillard shows how advanced he already is

One specific way Eagles' Andre Dillard shows how advanced he already is

Overall, Andre Dillard’s first NFL game was a success last Thursday night. 

But there was one thing in particular that stood out to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. 

“The way he was forcing the switch on some of the twist stunts,” Stoutland said, “it’s just so natural for him and he’s so quick and he can change directions so well.”

By my count, the Eagles faced four stunts on Dillard’s side during Thursday’s first half. A few came toward the end of the second quarter. This play with 32 seconds remaining in the half was the best example I found of textbook execution from the first-round pick:  

That play resulted in an incompletion, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Dillard played the switch perfectly (along with Matt Pryor) and gave Sudfeld time to make the throw. 

When I showed my NBC Sports Philadelphia colleague Barrett Brooks this play, he told me he was most impressed by the way Dillard didn’t take an extra step after he recognized the stunt and his head snapped right. Instead, Dillard actually attacked his next assignment. 

When I approached veteran offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski about this story, I told him it was specific. When I told him it was about how his rookie teammate is handling stunts, Wiz laughed and said, “That is specific.” Admittedly, it is. But the point here is that dealing with these quick stunts in the NFL is often something that trips up rookie offensive linemen. It didn’t trip up Dillard. In fact, the 23-year-old looked like he’s been doing this for years. 

Stoutland stressed that these twists are much faster in the NFL, but as much as he harps on it, there’s nothing they can really do in practice to replicate the game speed. That’s why it was so important for Dillard to get 33 snaps last Thursday. 

The big key to stopping these stunts is recognition. Stoutland explained that when an edge player isn’t speed rushing, the tackle has to recognize something is up. A fraction of a second can make a huge difference. That recognition needs to happen quickly.   

“Extremely,” Dillard said. “You see how fast all these edge rushers are, so you just have to react to that and I think I’m getting better at it each day. Just gotta keep working on it.”

So first, the tackle needs to take the right set line. In many cases, he then has to diagnose what’s happening and stop the penetrator. But he has to stop the penetrator and keep his balance, keep his head out, push off and get set again to block the looper. 

All the while, the tackle needs to be communicating with the guard. Those two need to be in sync and know when to pass off the block. 

It’s not easy. 

“It’s one of the harder things we have to do,” Wisniewski said. “Young guys often struggle with that at first. Like you said, it’s something that once a young guy starts to figure that out, you’re like, ‘OK, this guy is processing things quickly and reacting quickly.’”

Dillard handled these stunts well, but it wasn’t much of a surprise. Stoutland said he already knew Dillard had “the critical factors” for an offensive lineman, but it’s a matter of repetition and reaction time. Pryor said it’s Dillard’s quick feet that allow him to look so smooth. 

Dillard said all the work in practice helped him prepare for his first game. But he isn’t about to start celebrating yet. 

“I think I did alright on some of them,” he said. 

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Before you ask ... no, Antonio Brown isn't worth it for the Eagles

Before you ask ... no, Antonio Brown isn't worth it for the Eagles

Updated: Friday, Sept. 20, 5:55 p.m.: Antonio Brown has been released by the Patriots. What we wrote below still stands.

No. Before you ask, no. No, no, no. No, no, no.

No.

The Raiders released Antonio Brown on Saturday after quite a saga this summer in which he screwed up his feet, threw a hissy fit about his helmet, missed practices, got fined, posted about his fine on social media, threatened to hit the GM, apologized, posted a phone call with his head coach and then asked for his release, which the Raiders granted.

So before you even ask, no. The Eagles should not be interested. Not at all.

The Eagles have a strong locker room culture they care about. And they think that  locker room culture can absorb just about anything. But it can’t absorb everything.

This would be like having a standard pair of handcuffs and expecting them to hold a monster. Ain’t gonna work.

And the Eagles care about that culture so much they wouldn’t risk it to bring in someone who could completely decimate everything like he just did in Oakland even before he hot-air-ballooned his way into training camp. Before they bring in anyone, the Eagles assess the risk. They shouldn’t need to assess this one too long. It’s not worth it. Not even for a Hall of Fame-caliber player.

Besides all that, the Eagles don’t need a receiver. They are four deep with Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Heck, the only way this offense is going to work this year is if all their skill players buy in and don’t let their egos get in the way. At this point, Brown is ego come to life.

Really, I’d question any team that brings in Brown right now. The upside could be great; he’s a tremendous player. But chemistry is important too. That’s how the Eagles won their Super Bowl in 2017, a bunch of guys buying in, working toward a common goal.

Antonio Brown is all about himself.

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Isaac Seumalo not happy about Week 2 performance, but still confident

Isaac Seumalo not happy about Week 2 performance, but still confident

At least Isaac Seumalo isn’t delusional. Nor is he in denial. 

The Eagles left guard, according to ProFootballFocus gave up eight pressures (six hurries, two sacks) in the loss to the Falcons on Sunday night and graded as the worst offensive lineman in the league in Week 2. It was an awful performance from a player for whom the Eagles had high hopes going into the season.  

He knows it. 

It wasn’t my best game,” Seumalo said Friday. “I take ownership of that. I didn’t play well and the Falcons played well. I wasn’t happy about it at all.

As he spoke to reporters on Friday, Seumalo said he had already moved past last week’s game, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t learn from it. The tape showed that he was oversetting and playing too high, things he said he hadn’t done all summer or in the season opener. 

Those things are correctable. 

The bigger issue to worry about is how Seumalo responds mentally. He’s physically gifted enough to play in the NFL, but confidence might have been an issue earlier in his career and Seumalo even admitted on Friday that he has a tendency to be an over-thinker. 

“As soon as we watch the film, man, I put that all behind me because you can't let it domino effect or any of that,” he said. “You just have to move on. I still have a ton of confidence in myself going into this Sunday. That's how I look at it, you know?”

Seumalo, now 25 and in Year 4, said he’s learned how to put games and plays behind him, whether they be good or bad. That’s a skill that has come to him over time. “Sometimes the mistakes linger and that kind of leads to more mistakes,” he noted. 

Despite Seumalo’s poor performance in Week 2, head coach Doug Pederson isn’t planning on benching him. Pederson said on two different occasions this week that he still trusts Seumalo. That confidence means something to Seumalo, who said he’s often his hardest critic. 

Just two years ago, Seumalo was benched after a horrendous game against Kansas City, also in Week 2. But since then, Seumalo has a larger body of work and plenty more experience. (And the Eagles don’t have a backup with the kind of experience Stefen Wisniewski had in 2017.) 

So Pederson isn’t making a switch. 

“It's not going to define Isaac,” Pederson said. “It's not going to define our season.”

The Eagles drafted Seumalo in the third round back in 2016; he was their second pick in that draft after Carson Wentz at No. 2. They tried to make him the starting left guard at the beginning of 2017, but he lasted just two games before he was replaced by Wisniewski. After four games last year, roles reversed and Seumalo replaced Wisniewski and started until he got hurt in December. Wiz filled in and played well, but Seumalo started both games in the playoffs and this offseason signed a three-year extension. 

Meanwhile, Wisniewski was cut before the season and is currently without a team. 

So Seumalo is the Eagles’ guy at left guard. At least for now. 

“I feel good about where I’m at,” Seumalo said. “I’m going to continue to feel that way. Go in on Sunday and just play with my hair on fire, play loose, have a good time.”

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