Wake-Up Call: The Elephant In the Room

Eagles Kicker Alex Henery kicking field goal
Deep down, in places Eagles fans don’t talk about at parties, there’s a realization that special teams could play a big part in determining this team’s fate.

It’s not the most comforting of thoughts, particularly after a game in Minnesota that turned the term “squib” into a curse word in Philadelphia. It’s far more desirable to tie one’s fortunes to the likes of LeSean McCoy or DeSean Jackson or DeMeco Ryans, but that’s not always the way it works out. Sometimes it comes down to the Alex Henery‘s of the world. Read more »

Inside Voices: Brown Stuck In Neutral

Eagles RB Bryce Brown with NFL capAt the beginning of the year, Chip Kelly was feeling so good about his stable of running backs that he said he would put his group up against any in the National Football League. There was talk of creating a  nickname for the trio of LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. “Earth, Wind and Fire” was the apparent leader in the clubhouse.

It’s turned into more of a solo show. McCoy is the league’s leading rusher with 1,009 yards through 11 games. He is also second in carries (behind Adrian Peterson) with 213, and is on pace to comfortably set a personal high in that department.

Meanwhile, Brown has failed to get off the ground. He has carried the ball 53 times for 165 yards (3.1 avg.) and has just one run of 10-plus yards on the season — a 32-yarder against Oakland. After back-to-back scintillating performances last season against Carolina and Dallas, when he posted 347 yards and four touchdowns, expectations shot up for the seventh-round pick. This season, though, the images most closely associated with Brown are of him fruitlessly bouncing it to the outside or slipping to the turf before he hits the hole.

What gives? Read more »

Odds Not In Henery’s Favor

Alex Henery

The wind gusted right as Chip Kelly and special teams coach Dave Fipp got together to make their decision.

Matt Barkley had just been dropped for a five-yard sack and the Eagles were facing a 4th-and-10 from the Giants’ 32. The options were to trot Alex Henery out for a 50-yard field goal attempt into a wind that was showing off its strength, or put the ball in the hands of a rookie quarterback in fourth-and-long.

“I made it in pregame,” said Henery. “But it’s just like the kickoffs — you’re kicking that way, you can kick it five deep or you can hit a wind gust and it be on the 15, so it’s just one of those things, either you’re going to make the field goal or you’re giving them the ball right there.”

Kelly elected to go for it. Barkley mishandled the snap, scooped it off the ground and threw wildly in the direction of Jason Avant over the middle. Incomplete. A 12-play drive and nothing to show for it. Read more »

Kelly Explains In-Game Decisions

chipkelly_400_102613Chip Kelly made some in-game decisions during Sunday’s loss to the Giants that will leave him open to second-guessing in the next couple days.

He was asked about all of them during his press conference. Here’s what Kelly said.

1. With 1:14 left in the second quarter, the Eagles had a first-and-goal from the Giants’ 2. They had just driven 78 yards, and Matt Barkley had completed six of seven passes. Instead of giving LeSean McCoy a chance to punch it in, Kelly called a naked bootleg and had Barkley roll out to his left. With the two receivers covered, Barkley was supposed to throw the ball away. But he waited too long and was stripped by Terrell Thomas. Barkley fumbled, and instead of a touchdown, the Eagles turned the ball over.

“We called timeout. I just wanted to get Matt settled. And we went over and talked about it,” Kelly said. “It’s a play we’ve run, we’ve practiced continually for about six weeks or seven weeks since the beginning of the season. It was just a naked [bootleg]. We’ve got one route with DeSean [Jackson] out wide and then the tight end on a drag on the back side. If we didn’t have it, throw it away.”

Why not hand it off to McCoy there? Read more »

Roseman Talks McBriar Move, Dawkins Tribute

Howie Roseman shed some light on the decision to cut Chas Henry and sign veteran punter Mat McBriar.

The Eagles general manager revealed that they brought McBriar in Tuesday for a workout and noticed notable improvement in his kicks from the preseason. The 33-year-old McBriar is coming off an injury to his non-kicking foot.

“We did see a difference,” Roseman told the team’s website. “He seems healthier and he’s booming the ball now.”

Roseman said they decided to make the move because they are seeking more consistency.

While the Eagles are adding a two-time Pro Bowler to the roster, there is some concern how the move will affect kicker Alex Henery. Special teams coach Bobby April has suggested  that Henery was not at his sharpest early because he bounced between different holders this preseason.

“Working with two holders is never really great because there’s adaptions and adjustments that you have to make sort of on the fly,” said April after the Cleveland game. “You can develop a couple of deals, not that it was anybody’s fault,  Chas’  or  Mat’s. It’s just the fact that they were different holders and he’s the guy adjusting to them.”

One theory is that Henry won a close competition with McBriar because he was the better holder.

“Chas is a heck of a holder but Mat was a successful holder for the Cowboys for a long time,” said Roseman. “We have confidence in his ability to do that. We have a full week leading up to the Giants game to get him more experience, and obviously he had some experience with Alex during training camp.”

Roseman also was asked about the tribute to Brian Dawkins coming up on Sunday night.

“It’s so exciting to honor Dawk and to see him come this game, playing the Super Bowl champs, on our home turf,” said Roseman. “You’re talking about one of, if not the greatest, player in Eagles history. Hall-of-Fame player. Someone that when we scout players, we’re looking for someone that can be that kind of guy: that kind of leader, that kind of player.”

Dawkins’ No. 20 jersey will officially be retired during a 6 o’clock press conference prior to the game Sunday in the HeadHouse Plaza lobby area at Lincoln Financial Field. Ticket holders are invited to attend, though space is extremely limited and those in attendance will not be permitted to return outside the gates once the press conference is complete. Dawkins will be honored on the field and will address the fans during a halftime ceremony as well.

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