Weekend Reading: Matthews, ’11’ Personnel And Graduating

Jordan Matthews

Some links to pass along this weekend…

After the Eagles drafted Jordan Matthews, Chip Kelly said immediately that the team planned on using him in the slot to replace Jason Avant. There’s been talk in recent weeks about the possibility of no Eagles rookies starting in 2014. But considering how much the Eagles use ’11’ personnel, whoever plays the slot should be considered a starter. From Football Outsiders:

The team most devoted to 11 personnel? Why, that would be Baltimore, believe it or not. So much for Vonta Leach as the best blocking fullback in the NFL. The Ravens used 11 personnel on 75 percent of all their offensive plays. That’s a big shift from the year before, when Baltimore used 11 personnel on 43 percent of plays, slightly less than the NFL average. Two other teams used 11 personnel over 70 percent of the time in 2013, Philadelphia and Denver.

Before the 2013 season, some predicted Kelly would go to more of a 2-TE offense. But considering what a good blocker Avant was, the 3-WR package was the personnel grouping of choice. If Zach Ertz improves as a blocker in Year 2, we could see more 2-TE sets. If Matthews proves to be a capable blocker, though, chances are it’ll be a lot of ’11’ personnel once again.

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Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journalwrote about how Kelly and the Eagles prefer to draft college graduates. Chase Stuart of Football Perspective conducted a study about age related to draft picks. Here’s what he found:

The key part is at the end of the formula: for every year of age, a player’s expected AV in his first five seasons …. decreases. In other words, to the extent age serves as a proxy for college graduates, Kelly’s hypothesis isn’t just not true, it’s counterproductive. Youth appears to be undervalued in the NFL draft.

It should also be noted that some players graduate early and get drafted at younger ages, while others stay four years or more and never get a degree.

The WSJ article also mentioned a Kelly quote referencing how Tony Dungy once talked to Oregon players and pointed out that the Patriots and Colts had the most college graduates on their rosters. I’m all for guys graduating and teams drafting smart players, but I would point out there’s also a pretty good correlation between winning and having Hall of Fame quarterbacks (in this case Tom Brady and Peyton Manning).

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Ashley Fox of ESPN.com wrote an in-depth feature on Eagles defensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva:

Under heavy fire, Villanueva pulled the wounded Dietrich down an alley and into a second mosque, where a medic took over. Villanueva returned to fight, but when he came back to check on the injured soldiers, the medic told him they needed to move the wounded to a safer location. Carrying Piggott on his shoulders, Villanueva took the three to a nearby school, where they waited for a helicopter that would transport the wounded to the city of Kandahar.

“Help me, sir,” Dietrich cried to Villanueva.

“He was pretty scared,” Villanueva said. “He kept asking for help.”

By the time Villanueva lifted Dietrich onto the helicopter, his eyes were purple. He died a short time later.

The entire article is definitely worth a read.

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