All-22: Improvements In the Run Game

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

The Eagles have a losing record, are winless against NFC East opponents and haven’t been able to play well in all four quarters of a game through five weeks.

However, beating the Saints Sunday put the Eagles on a path to potentially turn the season around.

“Everybody knew this was a very important game,” Jason Kelce said. “1-4 is drastically different from 2-3, especially with where the division is. I don’t want to say it was a must-win, but it kind of was.” Read more »

All-22: Washington’s Game-Winning Drive

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Bill Davis wasn’t angry, but as he talked to reporters Tuesday before practice, he did want to clarify that his defense didn’t give up Washington’s game-winning touchdown drive because they were tired.

“I honestly don’t see it that way,” he said. “In talking with the players, we are in great shape. There was nobody talking about being gassed. It’s not an excuse that we’re going to rely on, even though the question isn’t about an excuse. I really believe, guys, that we are in great shape.”

The Eagles were on the field for more than 41 minutes, or nearly 70 percent of the game. Even using Chip Kelly’s preferred method of analyzing number of plays and not time of possession, the Redskins dominated the ball (79 vs. 51).

But if you ask Davis, his three starters — Brandon Bair, Mychal Kendricks and Byron Maxwell — leaving the game with injuries was far more important. Read more »

All-22: Behind the Offensive Line’s Bad Start

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Jason Kelce was extremely frustrated after the Eagles’ loss to the Redskins Sunday, calling the offensive line “a disgrace.” When he met with reporters Tuesday after practice, he didn’t back off his comments at all.

“I still think that through the first four weeks, we have been a disgrace,” Kelce said. “We haven’t been able to run the ball. Especially with the backs that we have, we should have rushing yards. We don’t give the offensive coaches and head coach the confidence to call run plays, because we’re not consistent.”

Despite spending more than $50 million in the offseason on DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, the Eagles rank 30th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (70) and 31st in yards per carry (3.1). Although they appeared to take a big step forward in the box score Sunday by reaching nearly five yards a rush, that mark dips below 3.5 when eliminating Murray’s 30-yard run. Read more »

All-22: Inside Sam Bradford’s Struggles

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles’ philosophy is simple.

“Our whole way of looking at it is not be satisfied with just 10-6, 10-6,” Jeffrey Lurie said in March. “It’s to try and go for it. You got to take risks to do that. It’s worth it to take the risk.”

Perhaps the biggest risk Philadelphia has taken so far in Chip Kelly’s tenure is trading Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. Foles threw for 40 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions and 5,054 yards in 21 games under Kelly. Bradford, meanwhile, had only played in seven games in the previous two seasons at the time the deal was made. Read more »

All-22: Inside the Defensive Line’s Dominance

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles’ season through three weeks has been a fascinating series of twists and turns. Before the opener in Atlanta, many considered the rushing attack to be a potential juggernaut. After Week 3, however, they rank third-to-last in yards per carry.

The secondary, meanwhile, was considered a potential weakness in the offseason. But after the win against New York, the Eagles’ defense ranks in the top-10 in interceptions, opponent passer rating and yards per throw allowed. Read more »

All-22: Inside the Eagles’ Defensive Success

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

As the Eagles jogged off Lincoln Financial Field for halftime on Sunday, their fans showered them in boos.

The offense ran just 16 plays for 21 yards in the first half. DeMarco Murray rushed the ball five times for one yard, and Sam Bradford’s longest first-half completion traveled a single yard past the line of scrimmage.

Somehow, the Eagles only trailed the Cowboys 6-0.

Although Chip Kelly’s offense was expected to carry the defense this season, it has been the other way around. While the offense has struggled six out of the eight quarters so far this year, the defense—particularly against the Cowboys—has given the Eagles a chance to win both games.

“Our defense played outstanding today,” Kelly said on Sunday after losing to Dallas. “I don’t think the offense did anything, especially in the run game, where we could complement what our defense was doing. We let a really good defensive effort go for naught because we didn’t do what we needed to do offensively.” Read more »

All-22: Opponents Picking Up On Eagles’ Tendencies

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Photo courtesy of USA Today

There were times, Josh Huff says, when Dallas’ defense knew what was coming.

“I know a couple of times this past game when I was on the Dallas sideline lined up, I would hear them call out our plays,” he said. “Not saying they were doing any SpyGate or anything like that, just saying with our tendencies that comes about where teams really focus in and hone in on how our tight ends are lined up or how we’re lined up or what the splits are.”

Lane Johnson agrees that the Cowboys had a bead on what the Eagles were trying to do offensively.

“Yeah, I think so,” said Johnson, when asked if he believed Dallas had a feel for their tendencies. “I think moving forward we have to mix it up a little bit, create some more variety of plays and try to get some confusion for the defense.”

There is no singular reason for the offense’s struggles through two weeks. The 0-line has been spotty at best; Sam Bradford has been inconsistent; the wide receivers have several drops and are not gaining separation with any regularity. The list goes on.

According to Chip Kelly, it all boils down to execution. That’s largely true, but there is something else at play here.
Read more »

All-22: Why the Eagles Abandoned the Run

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Their success was essentially a foregone conclusion. Yes, they lost a two-time Pro Bowler and a second starter, but the Eagles’ offensive line still had a lot of talent. Their new pair of guards transitioned smoothly in the preseason, so expectations for the unit were relatively high.

Then Monday night happened.

The Eagles scored only three points in the first half, largely because the offensive line failed to open up holes in the running game. Their ineffectiveness led to not only three-and-outs, but drives in which the Eagles didn’t gain a single yard (and one that resulted in a loss of eight yards). Read more »

All-22: Inside the Eagles’ Secondary Struggles

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

It didn’t take long for the concerns to start creeping in. On one play, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan delivered a quick pass to Julio Jones, who picked up 17 yards. On another, Ryan found Roddy White wide open for a 25-yard gain.

And that was only Atlanta’s first two passing plays.

The Falcons’ receivers torched the Eagles’ secondary for 23 catches, 298 yards and two touchdowns in Monday night’s matchup. After giving up the second-most passing yards in the NFL last year, Philadelphia focused on fixing their secondary in the offseason. They signed free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell to six-year, $63 million deal and traded up in the draft to select defensive back Eric Rowe with the No. 47 overall pick.

After signs of progress in the preseason, their moves appeared to work. Although few expected the Eagles to make the jump to an above-average secondary, many expected the unit to at least rank among the middle of the pack.

In their first test of the season, however, the defensive backs came up short. Read more »

All-22: What To Expect From Sam Bradford

Sam Bradford. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Sam Bradford. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Before Sam Bradford had fielded the first question, he smiled, looked around and offered up an observation.

“It’s already more people than in St. Louis,” he said to a roomful of reporters at the NovaCare Complex.

When a quarterback is taken with the No. 1 overall pick, the expectation is that he’ll make it to the second contract with the team that drafted him. But that expectation does not always become reality. Bradford started 49 games in five seasons with the Rams. He’s been on the field for just seven games in the past two seasons, and the last time Bradford took a meaningful snap was 17 months ago.

But two ACL injuries did not dissuade Chip Kelly from making a move for the former Heisman Trophy winner.

“I think we had some inside information because [offensive coordinator] Pat Shurmur had the opportunity to coach the kid for a year [in St. Louis], so he knows what he’s like in the meeting room, and he knows what he is like on a daily basis. He knows the consistency that comes with him, and he understands his work ethic. He’s an unbelievable competitor. Read more »

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