Inside The Birds: Tyree Jackson, Quez Watkins Impressing
There were plenty of takeaways from the Eagles first preseason game, a 24-16 loss to the Steelers on Thursday at the Linc.
On the latest Inside The Birds, Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan discuss the latest from camp, last week’s preseason opener, and much more.
Adam Caplan: “Elliott hit all three kicks and they were all long. I know people are going to say, ‘But what about the short kicks, this is what he’s had a problem with.’ It’s true, but in this game we could only go by what we saw and he hit two 47s and a 50. The operation between the snap last year, the placement, and the kick, just was not consistent enough and that led to Elliott’s struggles, and he smoked them there. That was a good thing he did a good job there.”
Geoff Mosher: “I specifically asked Jake Elliott after the game about how the process was going with a new holder, who is the punter, Arryn Siposs. He said that they’ve been working a lot since OTAs, not just training camp but OTAs, and he specifically said that Arryn holds the ball in a style that he likes. He gets the hold down the way he wants it, he has smooth hands. It sounds like stuff that’s minutiae, but it’s really important for that process that involves the long snapper Rick Lovato, the holder, and then of course the kicker, Jake Elliott.”
Mosher: “They really need him back, this wide receiver group right now, I know everybody’s excited about Quez Watkins and what he did, we’ll talk about it. But in general, no Devonta Smith, Jalen Reagor still inconsistent, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and [Travis] Fulgham really haven’t done much as far as in the preseason games. So it’s a group that really needs some consistency to it right now.”
Caplan: “I agree. Fulgham has had a decent training camp. Arcega-Whiteside, every once in a while we either see or we hear that he did something good today. They’ve got to get things going, they don’t have a lot of depth, and they can’t afford anyone else to be hurt. They really need Jalen Reagor to take his game to the next level, which he’s not done yet. He flashes but it needs to be more consistent. As you said with Devonta Smith … it would be great if he could play in the following preseason game. It’s one thing to practice but you’d like to see him get in a game if possible, get those game conditions with Jalen Hurts and his rest of his teammates.”
Mosher: “I do believe Quez [Watkins] is having a really good camp, it’s not just that he flashed [on Thursday]. It was nice to see him get some first-team run on Saturday and I’m sure in joint practices he will get some opportunities to continue to prove himself, but I don’t think this team is now looking at him instead of Jalen Reagor just yet as the [guy] who’s going to start opposite to Devonta [Smith] and whoever else is out there. I think they’re just happy to see [him] rounding into form.”
Caplan: “Watkins and Fulgham started in Thursday night’s game, that was interesting and they came out with 12 personnel with [Dallas] Goedert and [Zach] Ertz. Ertz didn’t play a lot but he technically did start with Goedert. Right now Quez Watkins is going to be one of their top two backup outside receivers. Depending on how they do it, it’s either Devonta Smith and Reagor, or Devonta Smith and Fulgham –however they want to do — it but Quez Watkins has played himself into a role. Into the role that, quite frankly let’s call it like it is, the one they wanted from DeSean Jackson last year. He just was not available. He’s not small by the way, like DeSean, he’s got some decent size to him so he’s got a wonderful opportunity and he needs to keep doing it.”
Mosher: “[The Eagles] love Tyree Jackson. We’ve talked about Jack Stoll and him having a good chance to make the 53 because he can block and catch, right? Tyree Jackson has shown them in his first year at tight end, at least so far in training camp, that he can catch the ball well, he’s a reliable target at 6-foot-7, he runs decent routes. I thought he ran good routes against Pittsburgh, I thought he was interfered with on one play and they didn’t call it. As you mentioned earlier, and this gets better by the practice, his blocking is good enough. It’s not great, it’s not even maybe good compared to normal NFL level but for what they’re expecting of a guy who’s moving from quarterback to tight end for the first time, they’re not disappointed with what they’re seeing from that element as well. This guy is trending toward making the club.”
Caplan: “To me this was the first test. It’s one thing to never play tight end before and you do well in practice and training camp where there’s no tackling. This was a test and he led them in targets, he had 20 snaps, he had five targets, he had the 19 yard catch. He’s got a great attitude, I’m just loving this story.”
Mosher: “Alex Singleton, this guy was all over the place. I don’t know how you keep him off the field. For a guy who missed the first week and a half of camp from being on the COVID list, and then had to exercise in his hotel room and play as many snaps as he did against the Steelers. I think he made seven tackles […] he was everywhere. At this point, how do you have a nickel defense without Eric Wilson and Alex Singleton in it? Unless he just has a really bad three weeks, I can’t imagine that happening.”
Caplan: “He almost certainly is going to start next to [Eric] Wilson. He had seven assisted tackles on just 19 snaps. From what we heard he was fine physically, he didn’t pass the COVID test, but we knew for a fact he felt really good. He got cleared, he did play and he did start and he’s off to a great start. I’ll tell you what he’s got a real chance to be a big contributor again and he was a great story, this is a good fight for their pro staff coming from the CFL. This is a really good job by them and this has been a good story so far.”
Mosher: “Zech McPhearson came in and I thought showed you exactly what you’ve seen. A tough, scrappy, physical guy. He got flagged for DPI which was legit — he had his hands on the shoulder of the receiver — but I also thought from a tackling standpoint and a nose-for-the-ball standpoint, he was around the ball and he was a good solid tackler.”
– Justin Morganstein (@jmotweets_) is a staff contributor to InsideTheBirds.com.
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