At this time last year, there weren’t many positive things to say about Mike Mitchell’s NFL career.
Drafted earlier than many projected (second round, 47th overall) by the Raiders back in 2009, the Ohio product managed to start just nine games in four seasons. He signed with the Panthers on a one-year, $1 million deal, and after a solid 2013 campaign, Mitchell could be an attractive option for teams needing safety help this offseason. Read more »
T.J. Ward is exactly the kind of player the Browns should be looking to keep in Cleveland.
With the franchise having once again undergone major changes at the top, Ward is a homegrown talent (drafted in the second round of 2010) who has started 30 of 32 games the last two seasons and earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2013.
The Browns have the franchise tag in their back pocket, but with new decision-makers leading the charge, the possibility exists that Ward hits the open market.
Considering the team in Philadelphia is in dire need of safety help, we went to the All-22 to get a better idea of what Ward brings to the table. Read more »
On the surface, Jairus Byrd appears to be a near-perfect fit.
That’s why he’s the free agent Birds 24/7 readers have asked about the most in recent weeks. Byrd played his college ball at Oregon, and for two seasons while he was there, Chip Kelly was the Ducks’ offensive coordinator. At 27, he is a three-time Pro Bowler and appears set to hit the open market.
At this point, we don’t even need to discuss the need for the Eagles to upgrade at safety. It’s been a position of weakness for five straight years, and the personnel whiffs have led to struggles on the back end of the Birds’ defense.
While Howie Roseman has dropped hint after hint this offseason that the Eagles won’t be pursuing big-name free agents, I decided to take a closer look at Byrd anyway. Read more »
With 3:54 left in the third quarter of last week’s playoff game against the Saints, the Eagles’ offense took the field for the ninth time.
The results of the first eight drives were ugly: six punts, one missed field goal and a touchdown. The Saints finished fourth in the regular season in scoring defense, and for much of Saturday’s game, Rob Ryan’s group got the better of the Eagles.
Nick Foles and company scored on their final three possessions to give the Eagles a 24-23 lead, but ultimately, it wasn’t enough.
Defense and special teams certainly shared responsibility for the 26-24 loss, but given the way the offense had played all season, it’s worth exploring why that side of the ball struggled for the first 41 minutes of the game. Read more »
Since the day he was hired as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, Billy Davis has talked about competing against opposing play-callers and quarterbacks on gamedays.
Last week against the Saints, he went up against one of the best duos in the league in that respect: Sean Payton and Drew Brees.
“He’s probably one of the best in formations and matchups and adjustments,” Davis said of Payton. “He’s got a great mind as far as he makes you defend the width and the depth of the field.
“And I think him and Drew are really one and the same person. They have worked so much together that their understanding together that no matter what is in Sean’s head, Drew can execute. And that’s the key to great offensive football is when the quarterback has the same understanding as at coordinator or the head coach in this case, and they play very efficient.”
The Saints entered the postseason with the reputation as one of the league’s more pass-happy teams. That figured to be even more the case Saturday, considering they were without their leading rusher in Pierre Thomas. The Eagles, meanwhile, had the fifth-best run defense in the NFL since Week 10 and had shown vulnerabilities against the pass.
All week, the question was whether the Eagles could handle Brees. No one paid much attention to the Saints’ running game. Read more »
Asked earlier this week why the Eagles’ passing game stalled in the second half against Dallas, Chip Kelly pointed to two factors – neither of which had anything to do with Nick Foles.
“They did a decent job generating the pass rush on a couple things, and there were a few times down the field where we just couldn’t get off of some jams,” Kelly said. “It was a combination of the two things.”
Kelly has not hesitated to criticize Foles in the past – when warranted. After the Vikings game, for example, he labeled the quarterback’s play inconsistent.
So was he protecting his quarterback here, or did he really feel like the breakdowns had more to do with protections and the receivers?
Based on the tape, it’s the latter. On most occasions when Foles held on to the ball, he didn’t have anywhere to go with it. For examples, let’s go to the All-22. Read more »
Last year against the Eagles, Jimmy Graham was targeted 11 times and ended with eight catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Three of those catches came with Mychal Kendricks in coverage, including the one in which the 6-7, 265-pound athletic phenom found pay dirt.
With the Saints set up deep in Eagles territory late in the third quarter, Drew Brees found Graham in the flat. Kendricks moved in for the tackle. Read more »
The Eagles’ offense took the field with 11:46 left against the Cowboys in need of a serious boost.
Chip Kelly’s squad had come up empty on six of its previous seven possessions and clung to a 17-16 lead with the division on the line. So Kelly leaned on what the offense does best: running the football.
The Eagles put together an 11-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a 6-yard Bryce Brown touchdown. Nine of the 11 plays were runs. And one run in particular gave the Eagles a boost: a new sweep play from an unbalanced line that was just installed during the week, according to players. Read more »
When Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker met with reporters Monday, he noted that the Eagles basically used the same five run plays out of different formations Sunday night to pile up 289 yards on the ground.
If Chip Kelly heard that assessment, it would probably put a big smile on his face – because it’s true.
By now, we’ve seen Kelly’s Eagles team take the field 15 times, and we have a pretty good idea of what he head coach values offensively. He wants his offense to play fast – which means simplifying things and going back to the same concepts until the defense proves it can stop them.
He wants to run first and take shots downfield. He uses packaged plays to put defenders in situations of conflict. And he wants to spread the field both horizontally and vertically.
Sunday’s 54-11 victory against Chicago was a pretty good example of all those things at work. Read more »
On Tuesday afternoon, Nick Foles stood behind the podium at the NovaCare Complex and was asked what it’s like.
What it’s like to throw for 428 yards, complete 62.5 percent of your passes and be labeled as inconsistent by many observers, including your own head coach.
“I agree with it,” Foles said. “We didn’t win. I missed some throws that didn’t give us an opportunity to win. And I’m a firm believer that as an offense we have to score more points than the other team no matter how many points they score. And I didn’t put us in a good position.”
Foles has now started 14 career games, two short of a full season. But as the quarterback, he sets the tone for accountability when things don’t go well. And he’s consistently accepted responsibility regardless of his individual performance.
Despite the 30-point, 475-yard output against Minnesota, the truth is Foles and the offense left too many plays on the field. With the Bears and Cowboys coming up, there’s a pretty good chance the offense will have to put the team on its back if it wants to play in the postseason.
And that starts with the quarterback. So let’s go back and take a look at some of the things Foles showed against the Vikings – both good and bad. Read more »