Jimmy Kempski on Jordan Matthews, Lane Johnson, Marcus Smith & more!


While he was on his vacation, Philly.com’s Jimmy Kempski took some time to answer some of my questions on the Eagles, as we close in on Eagles training camp.

Tim Kelly: Thanks for taking time to answer some questions for us, Jimmy. Last time we had you on, you dropped a bit of a bombshell about DeSean Jackson‘s future in Philly, so we’ll try to top that one.

Jimmy Kempski: No problem, Tim. And yeah, we can try to top that. No promises, though.

Tim Kelly: With Lane Johnson expected to be suspended for the first four games, Allen Barbre steps in at right tackle. I may be underestimating Johnson’s impact on the line, but with the Colts missing Robert Mathis, I’m not panicked. Obviously not having the full line intact to face Justin Smith and company week four isn’t ideal, but didn’t they re-sign Barbre so they could feel comfortable if one of the offensive linemen went down?

Jimmy Kempski: There isn’t much film of Barbre out there. He hasn’t started a game since 2009, so all we really have to go on is his game against the Packers last season, when he had to fill in for Jason Peters. I watched him in that game a couple weeks ago, and came away thinking he can handle speed rushers. I also think he’ll be effective in the screen game and getting to the second level in the running game. My concerns with him are that he seems to struggle setting the edge against bigger DEs/OLBs, and I question how effectively he’ll be able to anchor against powerful bull rushes. You can check out my film breakdown on him here.

Take that with a grain of salt though. Again, there isn’t much tape on him, but that’s what I saw in limited snaps.

Tim Kelly: You made headlines during OTAs when you said that Jordan Matthews looked like ‘by far’ the best wideout on the Eagles right now. Do you think he ends up making more of an impact than Jeremy Maclin or Riley Cooper this year?

Jimmy Kempski: Ha, that was actually a two-part tweet. Here’s the first tweet that got national attention.

And here’s the follow-up that got about as much attention as a fart in the wind.

I think the Eagles are really going to spread the ball around quite a bit this year. Maclin, Cooper, Matthews, Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Shady McCoy, and Darren Sproles will all get theirs. And then on a smaller level, guys like Chris Polk, Josh Huff, James Casey, and others will be mixed in as well. There are too many mouths to feed in the passing game for anyone to really have a huge impact, in my opinion, and that may be a good thing.

Tim Kelly: With DeSean Jackson out of the picture, would you expect to see more two tight-end sets this year?

Jimmy Kempski: Yeah, I think we were going to see a lot more of that anyway, but with Jackson gone, that might be amplified some. Brent Celek is the best blocking Tight-End on the team, so he’ll get plenty of snaps, and Zach Ertz is too good to keep on the sidelines.

Tim Kelly: Is Marcus Smith someone who might just be a one-trick pony in terms of sacks this year, as the rest of his game develops? Or is it too much to expect him to even be a serious threat to get to the quarterback this year?

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  • Jimmy Kempski: Marcus Smith, in my opinion, is sort of jack of all trades. He can cover, play the run, and rush the passer. He’s a highly athletic player who can be versatile in Billy Davis’ defense. In many ways, he’s somewhat like Connor Barwin. The trick for Smith will be whether he can master one of those traits, preferably as a pass rusher. But I do think it could take some time for him to develop. If he can get on the field for 300+ snaps this season and be reasonably productive, I’d chalk it up as a win.

    Tim Kelly: What’s the biggest headline for Eagles’ fans to keep tabs on as we await training camp?

    Jimmy Kempski: Nothing really, other than Lane Johnson’s impending suspension. Players report on the 25th, so until then, no news out of any player is good news.

    Tim Kelly: Thanks again, Jimmy, we’ll catch up again sometime during the season.

    Jimmy Kempski: Looking forward to it. 

    I’d like to give a special thanks to Jimmy for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions. Please give Jimmy a follow on Twitter (@JimmyKempski) and read his work over at Philly.com.