All-22: New Wrinkle Sparks Eagles Run Game

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Through the first five games, it seemed everyone had a different reason for why the Eagles’ run game was struggling.

Most pointed to the injuries on the offensive line. Some suggested LeSean McCoy was injured or had lost a step. And others simply figured it was out how defenses were playing the Eagles.

But there was another factor at play, one that the coaching staff could control. During the Week 4 loss to the 49ers, there were indications that San Francisco knew some of what was coming. Against St. Louis, to a lesser extent, there were similar sentiments.

“They knew what plays were coming,” said Lane Johnson after the win over the Rams.

“I just think defenses have more knowledge of what’s coming. Last year everything was so new, and I think they’ve kind of seen a lot of what we do, so just moving forward, we’ll probably throw in a few more wrinkles.”

Chip Kelly would not be offended by Johnson’s comments. The Eagles’ offense is based on running a series of foundation plays effectively, dressing them up differently and moving at a fast pace. The problem at times this season has been that defenses have game-planned well against those foundation plays. Because of injuries up front and inconsistent quarterback play, the offense has not run as smoothly.

But against the Giants, a team that limited McCoy to 94 yards on 35 carries in two meetings last year with an inside stunt, Kelly broke out some wrinkles that helped jump-start the run game and the offense as a whole. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Barwin And the Sack Surge

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

Following the 27-0 demolition of the Giants Sunday night — in which Eli Manning was pressured on nearly half of his dropbacks –Brandon Boykin offered the following analysis:

“I felt like at one point [Manning] was more concerned with the pass rush than he was looking at his receivers,” said Boykin.

Consider that statement for a moment. Heading into the season, the pass rush was one of the biggest concerns surrounding this team. The early portion of the schedule did little to alleviate those worries, as the Eagles were blanked in the sack department in two of their first three games. Since then, an out-and-out explosion. The Eagles have generated 16 sacks in their last three games, including eight  during their shutout win over the Giants on Sunday night. Suddenly, they rank second in the NFL with 19 takedowns.

Leading the charge is Connor Barwin, who is celebrating his 28th birthday today. The five-year pro has a team-leading six sacks — all of which have come over the last three games. Read more »

How Vandervelde Fits Into the OL Picture

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles have re-signed guard/center Julian Vandervelde and released veteran offensive lineman Wade Smith.

Back in August, the team waived Vandervelde with an injury settlement. A fifth-round pick in 2011, Vandervelde had back surgery during the summer. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Eagles In Good Spot After Six

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA Today

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA Today

Jason Kelce hung out in the corner of the Eagles’ locker room Sunday night, checking his phone and congratulating his teammates.

The Birds’ center would have loved to have been in uniform competing against the Giants. But after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia injury, Kelce instead spent the game on the sideline next to his buddy Evan Mathis, his offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland and others.

This wasn’t how most observers envisioned the first six games going. Kelce went down in Week 3. Evan Mathis suffered a knee injury in Week 1. And Mychal Kendricks went down in Week 2. Quarterback Nick Foles has 10 turnovers (seven interceptions, three fumbles). LeSean McCoy (Sunday notwithstanding) has come nowhere close to matching last year’s production. And while the defense looks improved, it’s still an inconsistent unit.

Yet here the Eagles are at the bye tied for the best record in the NFL at 5-1. Read more »

‘I Have Nothing To Explain To Anybody’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Getaway day coincided with picture day for the Eagles, and Chip Kelly used that combination to generate one last show of efficiency before sending players off for a week of rest.

“We set a record: four minutes and forty seconds. We got everybody — the entire team, every position group, the coaches and the training staff done in four minutes and forty seconds,” said Kelly. “Oh, it was tempo. And I would challenge anybody [to match that].”

Once that historic feat was accomplished, the players were able to kick into bye-week mode. They have off until next Tuesday when they’ll begin preparations for the Cardinals. Kelly’s message to his guys on their way out the door? Read more »

Sproles Has MCL Sprain

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA Today

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA Today

The Eagles will not be without Darren Sproles for long.

“He’s got an MCL sprain,” said Chip Kelly. “We’ll see how long it’s going to be. Could be a week or two. Could be back after…we have a week off, so he’ll get treatment and we’ll assess him when we get back next Tuesday.” Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Giants, the Day After

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA Today

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA Today

This was a different version of LeSean McCoy.

Standing at the podium dressed in dark jeans and a black vest, this looked like the tailback who led the NFL in rushing a year ago. The guy who made defenders look silly, juking, shaking and breaking ankles when he touched the ball. The player who was capable of routinely picking up chunks of yardage, no matter the opponent.

It was two weeks ago that the other McCoy showed up, standing by his locker at Levi’s Stadium after a loss to the 49ers and requesting that reporters ask him about any topic besides the Eagles’ stagnant running game. He was frustrated. He had put in more offseason work than ever before. He had talked big about 2,000 yards and being the league’s top back. And because of a variety of circumstances – most out of his control – he wasn’t producing results.

That changed Sunday night when McCoy piled up 149 yards on 22 carries as the Eagles shut out the Giants 27-0 and improved to 5-1 on the season. Read more »

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