Why Size At Corner Matters To Eagles

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Chip Kelly led with size when extolling the virtues of free-agent acquisition Nolan Carroll last week.

“We had him targeted very early as a guy we wanted to bring into this organization,” the head coach said. “I think he’s got the requisite length that we are looking for at the corner spot, especially as an outside corner.”

Another blow dealt to those hoping Brandon Boykin will be given a starting role this season.

The argument for moving Boykin outside is pretty straightforward: The 23-year-old finished second in the league with six interceptions last year while playing only half the time. Why not give the playmaker more opportunity to make plays?

There is merit to that line of thinking. But the Eagles are looking at it another way. Big picture, they see a league that is getting flooded with giants at the wide receiver position, and are trying to properly arm themselves so they at least have  a fighting chance against them.

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Wake-Up Call: Villanueva An ‘Intriguing Prospect’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Safe to say Alejandro Villanueva has had his plate full since signing with the Eagles as a rookie free agent back in early May.

For starters, he hadn’t played the sport since 2009. The U.S. Army Ranger was on active duty for the past four years, which included three tours in Afghanistan. When he did play last it was at wide receiver and before that, offensive tackle. He has been not only reacquainting himself with football but is learning a new position — defensive end — and doing so on the game’s highest level. If that’s not enough, Villanueva still has Army requirements that need to be fulfilled.

“I’ve been kind of partially amazed that he could do what he’s done,” said Chip Kelly. Read more »

On the Allen/Jenkins Dynamic

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Chip Kelly cracked wise as a reporter began asking whether Nate Allen and Malcolm Jenkins play a physical enough brand of ball to be an effective safety duo.

“They’ve been knocking the [stuffing] out of people in OTAs, so be ready for that,” Kelly quipped.

Joking aside, the two safeties currently atop the depth chart aren’t exactly known for laying the lumber. Philosophically, how important is it to have an enforcer in the back end in the head coach’s view? Read more »

Chip: It’s Not Yabba-Dabba-Do Time

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Chip Kelly was in a playful, stone-busting mood as he met with reporters for the final time this week.

It’s getaway day for the players. Minicamps come to a close today, and they’ll have 35 days off before having to report back for training camp. Don’t expect Kelly to be peeling out of the parking lot, though, when the day comes to a close.

“I’ll go home and see my family and spend some time with them but I don’t look at this as I need a break from what we’ve just done. This is our life’s choice and we enjoy it, he said. “This isn’t ike Fred Flinstone with the ‘Yabba-Dabba-Do’ and we’re trying to get out of work, you know what I mean? It’s another day and we’ll finish up with some things before we get some time off. But I think anybody that’s in our situation that coaches isn’t like, ‘I can’t wait to get out of there.’ Most are like, ‘I can’t wait to get back in there.’”

Kelly revealed a couple logistical items as it pertains to training camp. The players will report on July 25. And the team will hold joint practices with the Patriots in New England prior to their preseason game on August 15. Read more »

Notes: McCoy On Message Received

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

LeSean McCoy took the podium this afternoon after another hot minicamp practice at the NovaCare Complex. [He went with sweatpants for Wednesday's session; said it was a mental thing.]

McCoy told Albert Breer of NFL.com recently that the release of DeSean Jackson sent a message to the team. He was asked to elaborate.

“I don’t know what you took out of that, but for myself, what I took out of that is no matter how good a player is, it’s a team and if you can’t buy in, anything is possible,” he said.

“I’m not sure about the rest of the team, the concept they took out of that, I’m just speaking for myself. A player like that, who has done so much for this franchise — even in the year Chip was here, the stuff he did — so some players on some teams may think, well, he’s producing on the field, that’s the only thing that matters.” Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Cox In Year 3

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Not long after the Eagles moved up to select Fletcher Cox with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Jim Washburn declared: “When God made [Cox], he made him to play in this system right here.”

That system was a Wide-9 4-3, in which an interior defensive lineman’s objective was to “rush, crush and close,” in the words of former offensive line coach turned defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.

We seem far removed from that era in a way, but in reality it was half of Cox’s NFL experience to date. After being trained for a full year to attack, attack, attack, Cox jumped to a role in a two-gap 3-4 scheme that required a shift in mind-set and technique.

“He was transitioning from a 4‑3 to a 3‑4 defense so I think his production towards the end of the year was most like everybody else on our defense. It was a little bit better towards the end of the year than it was the beginning of the year,” said Chip Kelly.

“But he’s big, physical and can run for a big guy.  Very difficult to block in one‑on‑one situations, try to create some one‑on‑one situations for him but I think he’s really starting to get acclimated to what we are doing on the defensive line and obviously like everybody, I think year two will be better than year one for him.”

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Foles On Maclin: ‘I Think He’s Better’

Nick Foles

During one portion of 7-on-7′s Tuesday the first-team offense showed a four-receiver look. From left to right it went: Riley Cooper, Josh Huff, Jordan Matthews, Jeremy Maclin. There were different personnel groupings throughout the day but that one stood out, maybe because it contained the receivers on which the most hope is pinned.

On the outside, two veterans that come with both accomplishment and a caveat. Cooper’s is that he has just one truly productive NFL season under his belt. Maclin’s is that he is coming off major knee surgery.

On the inside, a pair of first-year players who will be the exception rather than the rule if they have standout rookie years.

In the middle of it all, a quarterback in Nick Foles who seems just fine with the weapons he is working with — including the green ones. Read more »

It’s About Time For Musgrave, Foles

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Bill Musgrave doesn’t exactly have a major project on his hands here.

He is inheriting a quarterback in Nick Foles that finished with the best touchdown/interception ratio in league history in 2013 and a league-high 119.2 QB rating. Still, there is room for improvement, and the coaching staff has identified a couple specific areas for Foles to focus on as he prepares for the upcoming season. Much of it has to do with self-preservation. They want him to “ditch the ball earlier in the down” and reduce the number of hits he is taking in the name of staying healthy.

 Pro Football Focus tracks the time it takes a quarterback to get rid of the ball, from snap to pass attempt, while operating in the pocket. Foles had the highest average (2.88 seconds) in the NFL last year by their calculations. (Russell Wilson was second at 2.82). Similarly, his average time from snap to sack (4.69) was longer than any other signal-caller in the league.

When Foles held onto the ball for 2.5 seconds or less, he was sacked twice. The other 26 came when he held it for 2.6 seconds or more.

Some work to be done, then, for the seasoned coach and the budding QB, and they’ll continue that work during the team’s three-day minicamp, which starts today. Read more »

Bicknell On DeSean, State Of Receivers

Jeremy Maclin

Many of the offseason questions for the Eagles surround the wide receiver position, so we spent a good portion of Monday’s session with the assistant coaches at Bob Bicknell‘s table for his read on the state of the receivers. Here’s what we came away with:

Bicknell might be best known in Philadelphia for his flap with DeSean Jackson on the sidelines in Minnesota back in December. This led to speculation that the coach and player had a strained relationship — a theory that gained steam when Jackson was shown the door back in March. Not so, according to the receivers coach. Read more »

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