1. Jeff Stoutland knows a thing or two about one-on-one drills, and the first is their appeal. “Everybody wants to watch one-on-ones,” the Eagles offensive line coach said last week. But are the drills valuable for coaches looking to instruct and evaluate players, especially for offensive linemen who are seemingly at a disadvantage? Stoutland said they are, especially if given the proper context.
“That’s like going to a gunfight with rocks,” Stoutland said. “You’re kicking backwards, and they’re running full speed. There’s no threat of a run. So if you do well in a one-on-one drill consistently, you’re really good, really good, because you’re up against it. There’s no draw threats. There’s no screen threats. There’s no run threats. It’s just giddy up, let’s go.”
Defensive end Malik Jackson said he didn’t agree that offensive linemen were at a disadvantage. “They know the count,” Jackson said. “Some of the tricks our offensive line does, if the guard’s going, the tackle will line up and he won’t move, so he makes that B-gap very small. Vice versa, when the center’s going, the guard won’t move, so it makes that A-gap very small. So for them to say it’s harder for them? They got more tricks.”
Tackle Jordan Mailata, who has had his ups and downs in one-on-ones, said the drills were more helpful for tackles because they so often are matched up alone vs. edge rushers. Stoutland typically gives his lineman a tip before each rush.
“I say, ‘Look, we’re up against it here. Don’t worry about getting beat. Just take the line I’m telling you to take based on where he’s at. Here’s how I want you to have the relationship on him,’ ” Stoutland said. “And if I see it on film in a one-on-one and [there’s] something bad, I just want to make sure you’re in great relationship with him.”
Stoutland uses the phrase in relationship a lot when talking about blocking. And Stoutland said his fear with one-on-ones is that his linemen will alter their angles and the use of their hands because defensive linemen are able to rush downhill.
“Now you create bad habits,” he said.
Has Stoutland ever seen an offensive lineman who was better at one-on-ones than he was in team drills?
“Very few guys are better in one-on-ones than they are in team drills because the element of surprise is there,” Stoutland said.
2. The Eagles were in shells for a relatively light practice Tuesday. They didn’t have one-on-one drills, but the linemen did work on combo blocks and there was another scrap after Monday’s tussle. Tackle Andre Dillard was involved again, but according to colleague Les Bowen, it was defensive end Shareef Miller who was the instigator.
Jason Peters apparently had words for the rookie from Philly, as in chillax, bro, football’s a contact sport. Dillard is a soft-spoken guy with a laid-back demeanor, but he’s done something to get under the skin of several defenders. Maybe they just don’t like that he’s already so good. Stoutland spent some extended time after practice walking and talking with Dillard, who declined to answer questions for the second straight day.
3. Installation periods can be relatively uneventful, but one thing I noticed Tuesday was that Halapoulivaati Vaitai was at right tackle, ahead of Mailata, in place of the injured Lane Johnson (knee). Malaita has been filling in for Johnson during team drills, but with Brandon Brooks (Achilles) cleared for installation periods, Big V was no longer needed at right guard.
Safety Rodney McLeod and center Jason Kelce returned to practice after taking vet days Monday. McLeod was held out of team drills. Defensive end Daeshon Hall (shoulder) was also back in action. The Eagles waived injured safety Blake Countess (hamstring) and signed defensive tackle Aziz Shittu.
4. Carson Wentz continued to get extra team reps and worked with both the first- and second-unit offenses. He had a solid day and not as uncharacteristic as Sunday and Monday. But considering the large amount of red zone work (read: more difficult than anywhere else), it was, overall, a positive outing.
Some of the highlights: Wentz evaded the rush on one play, rolled to his right and hit receiver Alshon Jeffery from across his body. He tossed a nifty touchdown to receiver Zach Ertz when the tight end ran into cornerback Sidney Jones. Wentz assumed that Ertz would work back for the ball, and he did, and threw the ball up where only Ertz could grab it.
During red-zone 7-on-7 drills, he hit DeSean Jackson on a fade over cornerback Avonte Maddox. He then found Ertz in the back of the end zone. Linebacker Alex Singleton was in man coverage, but he faced Ertz and didn’t see the ball coming. He argued, as did other defenders, that Ertz had stepped out of bounds, but he clearly had both feet in. Wentz then hit Nelson Agholor on a post route for a touchdown. The receiver snagged a ball that was whistling just beyond his body.
But Wentz and the offense had its struggles, as well, although credit must also be given to Jim Schwartz’s defense. Jones had tight coverage on a pass to Agholor on a comeback route. Wentz had the first of several throwaways in the red zone when no one was apparently open. Maddox was on Ertz like glue on a pass that sailed incomplete. Wentz tried to hit Jeffery on a back shoulder in the back of the end zone, but safety Malcolm Jenkins stuck out his hand for a pass breakup. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson tipped a ball at the line during “backed up” drills.
5. Cody Kessler took most of the second-team reps at quarterback. He again had trouble connecting on what should have been straightforward throws. There were a few positive moments. He hooked up with tight end Josh Perkins on a seam route into the end zone. But he had numerous throwaways and too many check-downs.
Even when he made the right read and throw, the ball didn’t move with enough pace. He had receiver Marken Michel open near the sideline, but cornerback Orlando Scandrick was in the area by the time the ball arrived and made a diving interception.
Clayton Thorson was once again relegated to relative bystander. The best I can say about his day is that his scrambling alerted me to his quickness. He can run pretty well.