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.”

Read more »

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 »

Wake-Up Call: Ertz On the ‘Move’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Last season didn’t play out as most expected when it came to the tight end position.

After the Eagles signed James Casey to a three-year, $12 million deal and used the 35th overall pick on Zach Ertz, the expectation was that Chip Kelly would deploy multiple tight-end sets with great frequency. That wasn’t the case. Read more »

Williams, ‘D’ Eager To Wash Out Bad Taste

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Cary Williams still thinks about the horse collar tackle. He replays it in his mind and believes he could have taken down Darren Sproles without drawing that costly penalty. He  thinks about instances where he allowed a running back to drag him for extra yards rather than just taking out his legs. He thinks about the loss to the Saints, and other missteps along the way, and it bothers him.

“Every season, every team wants to focus on winning the Super Bowl, and when you fall short it leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. So I think everybody that’s here is hungry. Everybody here is motivated, everybody that’s here wants to win. The way that we went out last year is something that we couldn’t necessarily be proud of,” said Williams. “There are some plays that left a bad taste in my mouth and there are several guys that feel the same way.” Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Impact Of the Kaepernick Deal

foles-boykin-smith-940x540

Last week we asked former agent and salary cap expert Joel Corry about the type of deal Nick Foles might command if he has another strong season in 2014. His response is worth revisiting given what has transpired since.

“Now to get in the game with quarterbacks, you’re going to have to go 18 million per season and close to 50 million in guarantees. [Colin] Kaepernick should get done before  training camp starts. That’s going to be another benchmark Foles is going to point to,” said Corry. “And I can’t see that number coming in below [Jay] Cutler. He wants $20 million per season…I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets it. That’s just going to be another data point to add to the equation to help Foles.”

Sure enough, Kaepernick signed a six-year deal that is reportedly worth $126 million ($21 million per season) and contains $61 million worth of guarantees. [Though the numbers aren't quite what they appear.] He joins a growing list of QBs that have cashed in of late to help set the market. Read more »

Even With Foles, Zone Read Here To Stay

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings
Funny to think how significantly the dynamics of the quarterback situation have shifted over the course of a year.

This time last offseason Michael Vick was splitting first-team reps with Nick Foles. And given the little that we knew about Chip Kelly‘s offense, you couldn’t help but think Vick had the leg up. Day after day we saw the Eagles practice the zone read, over and over. The QB would cross paths with the running back and, depending on how the defense responded, would either complete the handoff or keep it and head for the edge. This didn’t seem to be a particularly good sign for Foles, who once said: “If I can adapt I want to, but I’m not a zone read quarterback. Some people are gifted with different things, that’s just not one of my skill sets.”

Kelly phrased it this way at the beginning of training camp last season: “To be honest with you, if I called 20 read options with Nick Foles in the game, you should fire me.  We’re talking about practice right now.  I think we’ve got to figure out who our quarterback is before we understand the direction of where our offense is going.”

It took some time to get the QB position settled, but it eventually blossomed in the hands of Foles. And while Foles never kept it 20 times in a game (the most rushes he had in a single outing was nine), the zone read didn’t go away. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Eagles ran the zone read 304 times during the regular season — 135 times more than the next highest team. About 60 percent of those came when Vick was out of the lineup. Read more »

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