Here’s a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles this week.
Grantland’s Chris B. Brown with a terrific piece on Chip Kelly:
With Kelly, it’s usually about more than what we see. What makes him so interesting is his ability to seamlessly mesh old-school tactics and NFL-style attention to detail with an approach that attacks the very structure of defenses. College football has produced a lot of innovation over the last 10 years or so, but many of the great college innovators lack the attention to detail to succeed in the NFL. At the same time, many NFL coaches are too ingrained in the old ways to adapt to an evolving game. Kelly has always been at home blending the old and the new. That’s where the NFL is going, but Kelly is already there.
Seth Wickersham of ESPN The Magazine also has a great look at Kelly through the lens of LeSean McCoy:
When McCoy struggles, he tends to dance in the backfield. Nothing angers Kelly like throttled speed, and it boils to the surface against the Bucs on Oct. 13 when McCoy is slow to an opening.
On the sideline, Kelly unloads: "Hit the damn hole, Shady!"
"There was no damn hole!"
McCoy heads to the bench. But he can't let it go. He brings Kelly a photo of the play and says, "Do you see a hole?"
Kelly returns to the game, and McCoy returns to wondering whether he can coexist with his coach.
But in the team meeting the next day, Kelly says something the players have never heard so explicitly from a head coach: "Shady and I got into it, and I was wrong."
Field Yates of ESPN Insider breaks down the Eagles' offense with the help of some defensive coaches:
"We always talked about being an eight-man front," one defensive coach said. "So, the worst thing we could do was play Cover 2. So we always went to an eight-man front with Cover 1 or Cover 3. And really the basis behind that is they want to run the ball. They're a run-first, pass-second team."
Cover 2, which lightens the box to seven defenders, serves as an open invitation to run the football. That's what the Eagles do best, so bringing an extra defender into the box helps fortify a run defense.
From a pass defense perspective, defenses want to be physical with the Eagles' wide receivers.
"The thing that gave them issues -- DeSean Jackson isn't very strong at the line of scrimmage," said an assistant coach. "We played Cover 1 and pressed him and just jammed the [expletive] out of him, and he couldn't get off the line. That's the other good thing about playing an eight-man front, especially in Cover 1, if you get the timing off of those receivers, especially the little guys, it screws everything up."
Chris Wesseling of NFL.com ranks all the backup quarterbacks. He's got Mark Sanchez No. 6:
Sanchez sports a 94.3 passer rating in six postseason games. If Nick Foles washes out as a one-year wonder in a worst-case scenario, it shouldn't be a surprise if Chip Kelly extricates a good season or two out of a decent quarterback who was doomed in New York following the infamous "butt-fumble."
Mark Dominik of ESPN.com assembles the ultimate 53-man roster that stays under the salary cap. Three Eagles make it, including McCoy, Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Boykin:
Boykin is a top athlete at his position who can run and jump and has top ball skills. He is an ideal fit to move inside as a nickel/dime cornerback. He was one of the top interceptors in 2013 and possesses not only elite ball awareness but also ball skills. As the Eagles continue to improve on defense, fans will find out how good he is. Plus, given his rookie contract, he's a bargain.
Judy Battista of NFL.com on Nick Foles:
Because of the vagaries of roster shuffling, it is difficult to draw straight-line comparisons from season to season. And certainly the departure of receiver DeSean Jackson and the addition of running back Darren Sproles is likely to alter the complexion of the Eagles' offense -- and the throws Foles comes to rely on -- as this season progresses. But it is impossible not to be seduced by the simple timeline of Foles' development when an obvious anniversary like this one presents itself. Almost exactly a year ago, he wasn't good enough to start. Now, when he looks to Brady for clues about how to improve, it doesn't seem like such a laughable divide to bridge.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com collectively ranks divisions by defense. He's got the NFC East last:
The forecast remains bleak on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in Dallas, where the dismissal of DeMarcus Ware and a season-ending injury to Sean Lee have left the Cowboys without leadership or playmaking ability. The Washington Redskins hope some offseason additions (headlined by DE Jason Hatcher) can help reduce last year's ghastly points-per-game figure of 29.9. The Philadelphia Eagles are counting on upgrades in the secondary (Malcolm Jenkins) and pass rush (first-round draft pick Marcus Smith) to cut down on the big plays that plagued the unit in 2013.