August 04, 2023
The Philadelphia Eagles are five practices into their 2023 training camp, so we are a ways away from a more full evaluation of individual players and the team as a whole. Still, here are some players who are off to good starts, and some who are not.
📈 QB Jalen Hurts: Hurts' stock was already pretty high after arguably looking like the best player on the field during the Super Bowl and scoring a new contract worth over $50 million per year. But he does not appear to be content. Hurts has been more accurate than he ever has in camp, and he continues to grow as a decision maker, as he has not yet been picked off this summer (he did come close to his first pick on Thursday).
If there is any fear that 2023 Hurts will look in any way like 2018 Carson Wentz, there shouldn't be. He looks poised to kill it again this season.
📈 RB D'Andre Swift: Swift has made a lot of catches through the first week of practices, and he has looked explosive as a runner. He appears to be the most talented player in what is an intriguing Eagles running back committee. I do have two caveats:
Still, Swift looks the part of player primed to make plays in the Eagles offense.
📈 WR Joseph Ngata: I would guess that only A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and D'Andre Swift have made more catches through the first five practices than Ngata, an undrafted rookie free agent. Ngata is a big-bodied wide receiver at 6'3, 217, with 33 1/8" arms and 10 1/4" hands. Most of his work has been in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field, which is fine on a team that has so many players who can make plays down the field. He has shown that he has good hands and can make the plays that come his way. If Ngata can also show that he can be quality blocker and route runner willing to do some dirty work, he can perhaps carve out some sort of Zach Pascal-type role.
It's worth noting that the coaches have been on Ngata, often correcting mistakes, maybe more so than with any other receiver on the team. In my view, that's a good thing. They care, and they want him to get better, whereas that level of attention might not be given to a player that the staff knows has no real chance of cracking the 53.
📈 C Cam Jurgens: If you've been following along with our Eagles training camp battle tracker, you know that we have already called the starting RG job for Jurgens.
📈 LB Nolan Smith: I don't know how much Smith is going to play as a rookie with so many stud players on the edge ahead of him on the depth chart, but I do know that when he does get his opportunities he is going to be fun to watch. His athleticism and change of direction skills are obvious, and he plays with an physical intensity and confidence that you don't often see from rookies.
📉 QB Marcus Mariota: Mariota has shown early on that he can run, so I believe that he has a high floor as a quarterback who can run the Eagles' RPO schemes, relying on the offensive line and uber-talented skill players to win games if need be. But the accuracy of his throws to the intermediate and deeper parts of the field... 😬.
In fairness, as we have noted in our practice notes, Mariota is playing behind a second-string offensive line that has been overmatched by the Eagles' impressive D-line depth, and he has been fielding snaps from Brett Toth, who, well, is the next guy on this list.
📉 C Brett Toth: Toth can't snap when the offense is in shotgun. He has been firing worm burners back to Mariota consistently throughout camp, so much so that his bad snaps are wasting reps for the other players on the field. Toth has experience at tackle in the NFL, but the Eagles seemed to want to give him an opportunity to show that he can be a backup center as well. It has not gone well.
📉 CB Greedy Williams: There have been a lot of penalty flags thrown in Williams' direction through the first five practices.
📉 The linebackers: Early in camp a year ago, the linebackers were making a lot of plays. This year... not so much.
📉 The punters: The Eagles have only had two practices that included team punting sessions, but neither Arryn Siposs nor Ty Zentner have looked good in "open field" punting (AKA going for hang time / distance). They have both looked good in "pin them deep" punting.
In my opinion, the former is more important for this particular Eagles team. Nick Sirianni often goes for it on fourth down once the offense passes the 50 yard line. As such, the Eagles rarely punt in "pin them deep" situations. Logically it makes more sense to prioritize punters who are better in "open field" situations. I'm not so sure they see it that way.
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