Quick observations before my webchat

Wanted to fire off a few rapid thoughts before I get to chat with everyone on NFL.com at 11 EST.

  • I can’t help but think that the Eagles defense is going to be in a state of transition this season. The trip of Jim Johnson, Stewart Bradley and Brian Dawkins formed the brain and spine — the very central nervous system — of that defense, each filling responsibilities that impact everyone else on that defense, relaying information, being one step ahead, acting as the on-field extension of Johnson, the team’s late defensive coordinator. This is going to be a big challenge now, and Bradley’s injury compounds everything, with the MLB basically the quarterback of that complex and blitz-heavy defense.
  • Staying in the NFC East, I also can’t help but fear for Redskins starting quarterback Jason Campbell a bit after spending a day at their camp. The offensive line has been a mess for the last few years and it appears in worse shape now. The right side is completely in the air, with guard Randy Thomas not able to get on the field — he valiantly played through a career-threatening neck injury last season, but to bank on him as a starter again after his recent health woes was a stretch — and the right tackle spot a vortex of uncertainty. Throw some injuries on top of that, and it’s hard for me to imagine them being able to protect the passer or be able to get to those seven-step drops that had to be thrown out last season because the pass blocking was so poor. Washington hasn’t been in on free agents Levi Jones or Mark Tauscher to this point, but I’d be awful concerned about that unit right now.
  • Will be bunkered down in Canton the rest of the week as the NFL Network blankets Hall of Fame weekend. Got in late last night after spending Wednesday at Browns camp. Feeling out some people in Cleveland, you get a sense the club knows it needs to continue to upgrade talent, and that will take some time. This season is about establishing a work ethic and dedication level, and changing the culture there. Eric Mangini, who some in the past would say pushes players too hard at times (or pushing the wrong buttons), is definitely running a tough camp. But I was impressed with the effort of the players, especially well into Wednesday evening. I can’t see that team competing right away, but new general manager George Kokinis has a keen eye for talent and I wouldn’t be surprised if they found a player or two to contribute on the street after clubs cut down to 53 players.
  • Brady Quinn hasn’t proven much on the field yet, but I was very impressed with how he conducted himself on field and off. I left the facility around 9 last night and he was still signing autographs and joking with fans, and this after two practice sessions of two hours or more, and a work day that began around dawn. He was genuinely enjoying the experience, too, and didn’t appear to be forcing his way through it, as you see sometimes.
  • Got a treat yesterday in the rental car. Not used to satellite radio. Pulling out of Browns camp, scanning through the stations and I hear The Skatalites. Crazy. Never, ever figured I’d hear them on the radio, commercial or otherwise. If you have any interest in reggae, ska and jazz, by all means check them out. In the past six weeks I’ve heard Bad Brains and the Skatalites on the car radio. I’m on a roll.
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