More Sports:

August 28, 2017

What they're saying: Kendricks key to Eagles blitz, reactions to McDougle trade, and Madden ratings

Eagles NFL

Entering the final week of the 2017 NFL preseason, the Philadelphia Eagles – specifically Doug Pederson and the other decision-makers – have quite a few position battles still left to be decided.

Luckily for the Birds, there's no roster cutdown from 90 to 75 players prior to the final preseason game, so they'll have one more chance this to assess everyone before the most difficult decisions must be made.

But over the weekend, the Birds again made a deal to improve their secondary, throwing a wrinkle into the current cornerback battle by acquiring Dexter McDougle from the Jets for safety Terrence Brooks

We'll get to the newest member of Jim Schwartz secondary in a minute, but first, let's take a look at the other side of the ball before moving onto the defense. 

Here's the latest edition of What They're Saying...

Is THIS the year Ertz finally breaks out?

Reuben Frank | CSN Philly

This certainly sounds familiar. Zach Ertz has been a good tight end so far in his career, but it seems like each year he's expected to make the leap to very good or elite. And to this point, that hasn't happened. 

The one thing he has going for him that's different from past years, however, is consistency at the cornerback position. Combine that with the hole in the middle of the field left when they traded Jordan Matthews, and it could be a big year for Ertz ... assuming he can stay healthy. 

But judging from the last month of practice and from the starting offense's brief preseason appearances, they look to be on another level this year.

“I think we’ve definitely taken a big step," Ertz said. "We’re seeing the game very similar. We’re both very high football IQ guys, so it’s easy to translate from the practice field or the meeting room to the game field.

"And just having the same quarterback for a second year, it’s huge for chemistry, especially when it’s someone as talented as him. I'm excited about it."  []

Could Kendricks actual play crucial role on defense?

David George |

Is Mychal Kendricks still going to get his wish and get traded? Or has he played so well this preseason that he might find himself playing a key role on a defense that's expected to put quite a bit of pressure on opposing quarterbacks? 

NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell was recently on the Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast with Fran Duffy and was talking how the addition of Ronald Darby could allow Schwartz to blitz more often. But quickly, the discussion turned to Kendricks.

According to Cosell, linebacker Mychal Kendricks might be one of the guys who makes the difference. Kendricks has looked spectacular in the preseason, coming away with three interceptions and a sack.

“Kendricks is a very good athlete. We saw him when he was used at Cal. He was used as a blitzer quite a bit. He’s a really good athlete. He’s not a great off-the-ball linebacker. He’s much better on the ball going forward and they clearly used him as a blitzer and I think that that’s something where again we don’t know how this is going to play out,” Cosell said.

“You know he didn’t play in the nickel last year. It was (Nigel) Bradham and (Jordan) Hicks but if the blitz percentage by Jim Schwartz will increase meaningfully, not just incrementally, Mychal Kendricks could become a more important piece of this overall defensive puzzle. Jordan Hicks was not a big blitzer a year ago. So maybe they feel that with another year under his belt, as now a veteran who’s a solid player, Hicks will be better at it. So I’m real anxious to see if this is something that continues."  []

What do Jets fans think of McDougle trade?

Brandon Lee Gowton | Bleeding Green Nation

One of my favorite things that the guys at BGN do following a trade is when they check in with a writer from a site associated with his former team. This time, they called upon Gang Green Nation to break down Dexter McDougle, who checks in at 5-foot-10 and has spent the entire preseason playing in the slot. 

Here's what Jets fans have been saying about the trade:

There seems to be a bit of a negative reaction. McDougle has gotten a lot of hype for his preseason performance, so trading him for a relatively unknown player (at least over here) has caused some stir. Some don't mind it too much, as he hasn't produced at all in his first three seasons.  []

Not great company for McDougle

Brian Costello | New York Post

That's interesting, because McDougle, who has been plagued by injuries in his career, seems like a guy whose name alone brings back some bad memories for Jets fans.

McDougle was a member of the “Idzik 12,” the famed 2014 draft class that features way more misses than hits by former GM John Idzik. His career has been filled with injuries. He missed his rookie season with a torn ACL and played in just 20 games for the Jets, primarily as a special teamer.

There are now just two members of the 2014 draft class left on the Jets’ roster – Dakota Dozier and Quincy Enunwa, who is out for the season after neck surgery.  []

Madden really high on Graham

Chris McPherson |

No pressure, BG.

Brandon Graham is the second-best left defensive end in Madden 18. The latest edition of the EA Sports series was released Friday and the second-team All-Pro is the best Eagles player and tied for 15th-best in the league with a 95 overall rating. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (91 is 91 overall), tackle Lane Johnson (90 overall), guard Brandon Brooks (89 overall), and a tie between wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and tackle Jason Peters (87 overall) round out the top-six Eagles players.  []

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports