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Eagles Weekend Reading: On Chip, the RBs And More

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Here are some Eagles-related links to check out this weekend:

Field Yates of ESPN.com listed the Eagles running backs as one of the top-five offensive position groups in the NFL:

The Eagles acquired [Darren] Sproles prior to the 2014 season for a fifth-rounder, and that proved to be quite the bargain. He provided immediate impact as a pass-catching phenom, constantly creating mismatches in open space. [DeMarco] Murray and [Ryan] Mathews came at a heftier price tag in free agency this offseason, but each brings obvious value to the Eagles’ backfield. Murray was the best back in football for much of 2014, showing off excellent vision and acceleration behind the aforementioned Cowboys line. Mathews, meanwhile, has the churning leg power to move piles, along with an ability to make defenders miss in the hole. They both come with injury baggage: Last year was Murray’s first season staying healthy for 16 games, and Mathews has missed 18 games in five seasons, including 10 in 2014. But the one-two punch should provide insurance of sorts for each other. Philly traded away an extraordinary talent in LeSean McCoy this offseason, but the ground game should keep cooking.

Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz thinks a contract extension for Fletcher Cox needs to happen soon:

There is some thought that you don’t pay 3-4 DEs big money. Their job is mostly to 2-gap. Find an athletic DT and move  him to DE, ala Cedric Thornton. You can get several years of good play for minimal money. Go spend big money on LBs since they are the true life blood of the 3-4. Read more »

Bailey Making Most Of Opportunity

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

I could play here. 

That thought ran through the mind of WR Rasheed Bailey last year when he attended his first Eagles game. The North Philadelphia native sat up and gazed out over the field, dreaming of one day being able to run routes for Chip Kelly’s squad. Now Bailey has less than three months to prove to Kelly and the rest of the Eagles coaching staff that he is deserving of a spot on the 53-man roster.

This time last year, Bailey was at Delaware Valley University, coming off a career high 977 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. But something clicked during his final season, and Bailey exploded for 1,707 yards and 19 touchdowns, leading all D-3 receivers in both categories. Del Val head coach Duke Greco tried to find an explanation for Bailey’s breakout year.

“Every mistake he made during his junior year, he didn’t make in his senior year,” Greco said. “All those normal little things that a lot of times guys learn as freshmen, and I think maybe it took him a little longer to make these mistakes. That’s the thing with him; he has been a hard worker. He doesn’t make mistakes twice, and if you tell him he needs something fixed, he’s got it, which is amazing. I mean I’m not like that, and I don’t think most people are. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: State Of the NFC East

Andrew Weber / USA Today

Andrew Weber / USA Today

Today’s question comes from reader Kevin, via email:

Who in the NFC East has the most issues before camp?

This question happened to come before the Cowboys and Dez Bryant agreed to terms on a new contract, but now seems like a good time to take a look at strengths and weaknesses within the division.

Dallas Cowboys – The strength last year was obviously the run game. The Cowboys still have their offensive line intact, but will they be able to dominate on the ground with Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden? That’s the obvious question that needs to be answered, but I’m not sure how much we’ll learn until the regular season begins.

The Cowboys ranked fourth overall offensively in DVOA last year – third in rushing and fourth in passing. With Tony Romo coming off a season in which he posted a career best 113.2 passer rating and Bryant back in the fold, the offense should still be pretty good. Read more »

Mailbag: Bradford/Foles, Carroll And the Rookies

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

I’m pinch-blogging for T-Mac on the mailbag this week. Let’s get right to the questions.

The simple answer is upside. Regular readers know that I was never a huge Nick Foles guy. I like his size and toughness, but it always felt like he had limitations. Of course, the same can be said about a lot of quarterbacks.

Sam Bradford has a better arm, could be a better decision-maker (his 2.2 INT rate is third-best among active QBs who have thrown at least 1,500 passes) and matches Foles in the intangible categories (toughness, leadership, character, etc.). Clearly, Chip Kelly felt like what he can get out of Bradford at 100 percent will be better than what he got out of Foles. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: ‘We’re Looking For Non-Impostors’

Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Below is an excerpt from my Eagles Almanac chapter on the changes on defense. If you haven’t done so already, click here to purchase this year’s edition of the Almanac.

***

In Year 3, we have a pretty good idea of what the defense is going to look like from a schematic standpoint. The Eagles run a two-gap 3-4 that focuses on stopping the run first and foremost.

Billy Davis and the players did a good job last year of generating pressure, and the plan in the secondary will be to play mostly with a single high safety and disrupt routes/timing within the 5-yard window.

“I think we want to be a press, single high team that gets after you with a pass rush,” said Malcolm Jenkins. “That’s what they’ve been coaching. That’s what Cory Undlin specializes in is teaching press and technique. We have the front to get after the quarterback so we don’t have to cover for a long time. And we’ve got safeties with range. So I think we have the personnel to get that done.”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Team gets rid of assistant coach and adds his replacement. Players rave about the new guy and subtly take jabs at the old guy. Everyone assumes the problems are solved. Then the regular season begins, and the narrative gets thrown out the window. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: The Most Indispensable Eagle

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders

On most playoff-contending teams, a serious injury to the starting quarterback in August would be devastating.

In Philadelphia though, that might not necessarily be the case. It’s impossible to say with certainty that a healthy Sam Bradford would provide a massive upgrade over Mark Sanchez, especially considering that Bradford won’t be able to practice fully until training camp. Bradford has more upside and a greater skill set, but that doesn’t always translate to better on-field performance.

In Green Bay, Indianapolis, New England and Denver (among others), the QB is without question the most indispensable player. But who holds that title in Philadelphia?

This is a classic mid-July question that we kick around every year as we count down to training camp. So here’s my list of the top five. Read more »

All-22: Deploying Mychal Kendricks

mychal-kendricks-940x540

When looking for an opinion from Chip Kelly, sometimes simpler is better.

Present a bunch of background information before getting to your question, chances are he’ll get bored and cut you off.

So back in March at the owners meetings when we were looking to get Kelly’s take on Mychal Kendricks, we asked directly for Kelly to evaluate the inside linebacker’s play in 2015.

“When he was healthy, he played really well for us,” Kelly said. “But we missed him for… four games. And the health aspect was a difficult thing. We were a different team without him on the field. But when he played, he played really well for us.”

The answer was peculiar considering the Eagles’ other moves at the position. They had traded LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso, a player who had missed all of 2014 with a knee injury. And they were in the process of extending DeMeco Ryans, a player rehabbing from an injured Achilles’.

Kendricks’ name has surfaced in trade talks multiple times during the offseason. The Eagles took action to make sure Alonso and Ryans would be part of this team for the next couple of years. They also drafted inside linebacker Jordan Hicks in the third round. Meanwhile, there have been no indications that the team is talking extension with Kendricks as he enters the final year of his deal.

Yesterday, reader Dustin asked about Kendricks’ performance in coverage. Perhaps that was a reason the Eagles were a little cool on him?

So we went to the tape for answers. And the truth is, Kendricks was not only very good in coverage, but as the defense fell apart down the stretch last year, he was a true bright spot and played some of the best football of his career. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Chip’s Need For Two QBs

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Today’s question comes from reader Nick, via Twitter:

I don’t think it’s a college notion, and I hear what you’re saying Nick, but Chip Kelly is talking strictly about injury when he says he needs two quarterbacks. And it’s not a controversial opinion. Coaches around the league would agree.

When you look at Kelly specifically, he lost Michael Vick in Year 1 to injury, then lost Nick Foles and had to play a rookie in Matt Barkley. Last year, Kelly lost Foles and had to go to his backup again. Now he’s rolling the dice on Sam Bradford, so he better have a capable backup.

In 2013, Kelly held a true QB competition between Vick and Foles. In Year 2, though, Kelly was clear that Foles would start and Sanchez would back him up. He may have paid lip service to the whole “competition” notion, but Kelly had his starter before training camp had opened. Foles had earned that with his performance in 2013. It’s not like he was going into the season anticipating both QBs playing.

What about this year?

Read more »

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