There isn't one specific thing on my mind right now so I decided to cover a variety of areas. I'm still not sure what to make of the Eagles signing defensive end Phillip Hunt. He was an incredibly productive player in college and had a breakout season in the CFL last year. There is reason to like the signing. The flip side is Hunt's size. He's 6'0, 248. That would be fine for a linebacker and situational rusher, but Hunt is going to play end. Obviously Hunt would never start based on his size. I'm just a little confused about where he fits in.
Trent Cole is the right end. Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Ricky Sapp, and Brandon Graham are on the roster. That is six guys already here. Hunt makes seven. That's a crowded group before even addressing the spot in free agency or the draft.
A couple of things do need to be pointed out. Hunt isn't even a lock to make the team. Guys coming off great CFL seasons rarely pan out in the NFL. Everyone is pointing to the success of Cam Wake of the Dolphins. Be careful with that comparison. In high school he went by the name of Derek Wake and he was a coveted prospect. He went to Penn State and had a disappointing career. There were times when he flashed big time talent, but a variety of issues kept him from becoming a great player. Wake did go to the Scouting Combine where he had one of the best vertical jumps of all time - 45.5 inches. He had a really good overall workout.
Hunt did not go to the Combine. He did have a very good Pro Day at the University of Houston. That workout would mean more if he'd gotten a chance to do it in Indy. Sleeping in your own bed and doing the workout in a friendly environment will never carry the same weight as a Combine workout, where there is a great deal of pressure and players are in an environment that is a bit intimidating. Wake was a better prospect going into college as well as coming out. Hunt had the better career, but that's doesn't mean a lot in regard to his future. Hunt has an uphill battle to make the team, let alone contribute.
The other point to bring up is that the Eagles could cut Parker and replace him with a free agent or high pick. The Eagles could use another starter type. Brandon Graham was going to be that guy, but coming off an ACL injury you don't know what to expect of him in 2011. I don't have a problem with Hunt, but my point is that there are already a lot of second tier guys in place. Ideally, the Eagles would find a way to rent a top flight pass rusher for one season. Hunt's addition doesn't mean the Eagles can't continue to make moves at end, but the fact they went after him so aggressively tells you that he's more than just a novelty in their eyes.
* * * * *
The Eagles recently signed linebacker Rashad Jeanty. This was an excellent move. We don't know what the rules of free agency will be (does it take four seasons or six seasons to be free?). The only linebackers absolutely certain to return are Moise Fokou, Jamar Chaney, and Keenan Clayton. Bottom line, the Eagles needed bodies. Jeanty is a player I like. He can play MLB or SAM. He's got pretty good size at 6'2, 243. He's the kind of veteran that can be a good backup. Jeanty has one year of starting experience so he can handle that situation if injuries dictate that he take over.
I was sad to see the Vikings place the franchise tag on linebacker Chad Greenway. The Eagles loved him back in the 2006 draft. Had he hit the market, Juan Castillo could have won the hearts and minds of Eagles fans by getting him signed as a free agent. Linebacker is still somewhat of a confusing position and will be until we see what happens with Stewart Bradley.
* * * * *
Let's talk about Michael Vick and Oprah. The beauty of having a superstar quarterback like Vick is that you'll get to see breathtaking plays on a regular basis. The downside of having a superstar quarterback like Vick is things like the Oprah situation.
Star quarterbacks generate controversy. Tom Brady gets flak for spending time in different locations with supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen. That must be the reason they haven't won the Super Bowl since 2004. Or maybe it's his long hair. Donovan McNabb had a string of strange controversies in his time as an Eagle, some self-inflicted and others where he was purely a victim. Tony Romo has had his share of bizarre stories in the last five years. We won't even bother getting into Brett Favre's recent situations.
While I get frustrated at a non-story like Vick canceling an appearance on Oprah becoming a story, I do understand it. He is a mercurial figure, on and off the field. Anything he says or does will be scrutinized to the nth degree. I'd rather have that problem than not having a star quarterback. I'm sure the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, and San Francisco 49ers would love to have this problem.
A final note about Vick...he needs to have the philosophy that "less is more" when it comes to interviews. Very few athletes get better with the more they talk. These guys are drilled in catch phrases and hackneyed cliches. Open-ended conversations that require longer, more specific answers to complex questions can prove to be a risky proposition. Once you say something dumb on national TV you can't take it back. Nothing good was going to come of Vick going on Oprah's show. The more he talks, the more nervous I get. Let Jim Mora interview him for a five or six minute pre-game package and I'm happy.
* * * * *
Would Ellis Hobbs just please go ahead and retire? Nothing personal, but it seems strange to drag this situation out forever. It just doesn't seem advisable to play again with that neck situation.
* * * * *
I'm not real sure what to make of James Urban leaving the Eagles to go be the receivers coach in Cincinnati. That is a lateral move, at best. Highly unusual. It might simply be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. Urban was behind Marty Mornhinweg and David Culley in the pecking order among offensive assistants. He had to wonder if he'd ever be appreciated by outside teams.
One thing that affects Urban is his background. He played at Clarion and then worked at Penn before coming to the Eagles. He didn't exactly build up an extensive network of contacts in those stops. I'm sure he's a respected coach around the league, but you know there is that little bit of doubt with some people about how much of the Eagles success at quarterback can really be given to him. He was always going to be in the shadow of Mornhinweg/Reid. One way for him to prove his independent worth is by jumping ship. Taking the receivers job in Cincinnati doesn't make a ton of sense, but maybe new Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said he'd be open to Urban playing a bigger than usual role with gameplans and that kind of thing.