August 23, 2021   5 MIN READ

Inside The Birds: Depth Issues On Defense; Optimism for RBs


With the Eagles resting a number of key starters Thursday night, they were dominated at Lincoln Financial Field the New England Patriots, who carved up an inexperienced defensive line in a 35-0 slaughter.

On the latest Inside The Birds, Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan break down the game and provide updates on injuries and positional battles.

ITB photo: Rookie RB Kenneth Gainwell is poised to see action as a situational pass catcher this season.

Miles Sanders

Adam Caplan: “One issue he’s going to have is it’s going to be [run by committee] on some passing situations. I just know the way coaches think. He’s clearly the guy on first and second down – there’s no sharing – but when we come down to third down, we know [Kenneth] Gainwell is going to be involved, because that’s why they drafted him.”

Geoff Mosher: “But until Gainwell can be better at pass protection then it’s gonna have to be both of those guys on the field.”

Caplan: “Yes, ‘Pony’ as you were telling us weeks ago. Boston Scott is obviously really good in that. That’s just what’s gonna have to happen until [Sanders] shows that he can not drop the football. And he’s an average pass protector at best, he’s trying to get better but he just needs to be better at it.”

Travis Fulgham

Mosher: “We’re hearing the same things. I mean they’re just not as enthused with him right now as they were hoping to be. They thought this guy had a beautiful chance to come in, claim one of the top two or three receiver spots. He’s got that size that you’re looking for that some of these other receivers don’t have. But as we’ve outlined for quite a while – and this goes back to last year – the coaches want to see that consistency, they want to see that focus, they want to see him rise to the occasion. I don’t know this for a fact but I thought him not playing at all in the first half was a little bit of a message to him.”

Defensive Line

Caplan: “The top five guys [on the defensive line] were out and [Ryan] Kerrigan is still dealing with that thumb injury, so he’s not able to do anything. I expected them to get housed and they did. Nothing surprised me … just be a little more competitive against the run. It was embarrassing. I felt they were playing like 11-on-9 with a couple men down on the D-Line, they were just so non-competitive against the run.”

Genard Avery

Caplan: “[Genard] Avery by the way [has] interest from other teams, I talked to two teams that actually have interest in him, and they’ve talked to the Eagles about him. I just know that he’s still best in a 3-4 front, he really is not a great fit for a 4-3. Now, they’ve found a way … to stand him up and play him on the ball. That’s really the only way he can survive as the SAM linebacker, you’re not asking him to drop in coverage, He’s just not your traditional 4-3 SAM, he needs to play over the ball.

“Look, for a guy who’s short, we’ve seen in the locker room he’s got super long arm for guys his size and he’s so explosive. That [49ers] game last year, I know a lot of teams have looked at it, that’s the best game he’ll ever play he was unbelievable in that game.”

Zech McPhearson

Mosher: “Zech McPhearson, he had such a nice first two weeks of camp and I think we all knew that at some point the baptism by fire would come into play in these preseason games and they would target him a little bit. That’s basically what happened [against the Patriots].. First of all, there was no pass rush so I can’t totally kill Zech McPhearson for not making a bunch of plays. I mean you’re covering professional NFL wide receivers and they have all day to get open on you and that was really kind of what you saw.”

Caplan: “They isolated him, no doubt. They went after him. He got his baptism by fire, he didn’t the previous week against Pittsburgh. These are meaningful snaps for him. It’s really important he got out there. Yeah, there were some struggles, no question about that. He’s a good kid, he’s really smart. He’s well coached, they’ve got a good secondary coach with Dennard Wilson so he’ll get him back, no question. I’m not worried about his confidence, just that their hope was from the very beginning that [Steven] Nelson plays well, everybody stays healthy at corner. McPhearson will be their top backup outside corner, then he doesn’t have to play more than 20 snaps a game.”

Jack Stoll

Mosher: “He had a pass that bounced off his hands that he should have caught, and it wound up getting picked off. That’s not great. But he actually made some pretty good catches in that game, blocked well. You saw what you wanted to see out of Jack Stoll in that game.”

Caplan: “Yeah he did, he actually had the run after the catch where he was like a pinball, he kept going forward. It would be a pretty significant surprise if they cut him. I don’t see it. Plus they gave him $120K so I’d be very surprised.”

– Justin Morganstein (@jmotweets_) is a staff contributor to

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