There were a few temporary or possibly permanent depth chart moves by the Philadelphia Eagles at training camp over this past weekend.
A starting player was demoted to second string, a second-stringer may have been bumped to the third team and a third-stringer is now running with the twos.
Okay, first things first…
Though nobody knew it at first, Mike Kafka actually fractured his left hand during the preseason game against the Steelers. This means that Nick Foles is now running with the second team.
To tell you the truth, I don’t know if this is good news or bad news. Well, I guess it’s a little bit of both, but ultimately I think it’s bad when it comes down to decision time.
With Kafka out, it gives Foles a great opportunity to gain more reps and actually get in a few preseason games with the second team offense. It will be invaluable as far as learning and gaining experience.
On the flip side, it sort of “freezes” Kafka…along with the coaches ability to properly evaluate him.
Kafka did not put on a showing last Thursday that made you say “yeah, he’s definitely the No. 2 QB.” In fact, I think that both Foles and Trent Edwards outplayed him.
I realize that one preseason game shouldn’t out-weigh what the coaches see every day in practice, which is enough for them to anoint Kafka as the No. 2, but there is something to be said for how one performs in actual live contests.
The unfortunate part of Kafka’s injury is that he may not get the chance to either redeem himself from his poor showing against Pittsburgh, thus quelling concerns, or further illustrate to the coaches that he’s not the man for the job.
Basically, if he doesn’t play in any of the remaining preseason games, the coaches will have to “have faith” in what they see from him in practice. And that will likely translate into Kafka having a free ride the rest of preseason.
But hey, we all know Foles is making the roster anyway so this will be good preparation for him at least.
Next up is Demetress ” it took six snaps to be demoted” Bell. That’s right, the first team offense played six snaps last Thursday and apparently the coaches saw enough of Bell to make King Dunlap the starter just two days later.
Andy Reid is down-playing the situation and had this to say about Bell’s demotion and King’s promotion (courtesy of the Eagles’ press releases):
As far as any changes go in lineups this week, I mentioned that there’s competition at positions. Left tackle is one of those positions, so [OT] King [Dunlap] is scheduled to work with the ones and [OT] Demetress [Bell], he’ll back up and work with the twos.
King was obviously told that, when he was re-signed here, that he would have an opportunity to compete for the starting position, as was Bell. And you know with [offensive line coach] Howard [Mudd], Howard mixes the guys and moves them all around at all different positions on both sides of the ball.”
On whether he saw anything from T King Dunlap and T Demetress Bell that precipitated the move on Saturday:
“Not necessarily. Just a scheduled switch. Like I said, King’s been with us a while and he deserves that opportunity. Demetress has done a good job. He’s worked hard, so he’s doing fine. But I just want to make sure; I want to make sure everybody has their shot there.”
That’s all well and good as far as coach-speak goes. However, teams don’t tinker with their starting lineups based on “scheduled switches.” They tinker and make changes when they have real questions about who the best person is for the job.
We’ve all been under the impression that Bell was going to be the starter since the day the Eagles signed him. That held true through all of training camp and has now changed after six snaps of live action against a different team.
At the least, this move means the coaches are not 100% sold on Bell. And actually, I don’t think they’re 100% sold on Dunlap either. If you remember, Dunlap was a free agent and the Eagles didn’t re-sign him until after the injury to Jason Peters.
So, even if they thought Dunlap would make for a good backup, they didn’t show it in their actions to keep him as a backup before Peters went down.
At this point, I’m a little concerned about the left tackle position. By making this move, it shows instability and we all know that for an offensive line to work well together, there has to be stability and cohesion.
Demetress Bell wasn’t the only one to receive a demotion over the weekend. Jaiquawn Jarrett, who had been running with the second team and got the start against Pittsburgh because Nate Allen couldn’t go, seems to have been demoted to the third team.
According to Tim McManus of Philly Mag, Jarrett lost some of his reps to Tom Nelson during Sunday’s practice.
Jarrett struggled during Thursday’s preseason game much in the same way he struggled last year. As I noted in my observations from the game, Nnamdi Asomugha was left out to dry in at least one, likely two, situations because of either a miscommunication with Jarrett or Jarrett was just slow to react.
Juan Castillo, Andy Reid and Jarrett himself also noted that he took bad angles in pursuit and when attempting to be in position.
In any case, when a second-round draft pick loses reps to an undrafted free agent journeyman like Nelson, it’s not a good sign. As McManus pointed out, Jarrett may indeed just be fighting for a roster spot at this point.
These depth chart moves may only end up being temporary, but the ultimate decision on two of the three (Foles and Dunlap/Bell) may very well end up having a big impact on the 2012 season.