Big People: Eight Potential Eagles DL Targets

NFL: Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens

Defensive line is an under-the-radar need for the Eagles going into free agency and the draft.

Here’s what we know: The team really likes Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton as 3-4 defensive ends. It would be a surprise if they’re not two of the three starters going into 2014.

But there’s a lot we don’t know. For example, do the Eagles think Bennie Logan is the answer at nose tackle? There’s no doubt they like Logan, but maybe he’s more of a rotational guy who offers versatility and plays DT in sub packages.

There are more question marks with the backups. The Eagles want to rotate bodies up front, but they just didn’t have enough talent to do a ton of that last season. It’ll be a surprise if free agent Clifton Geathers returns. And Damion Square will have to battle for a roster spot next summer.

As we mentioned yesterday, it’s no guarantee that Vinny Curry returns.

Keeping all that in mind, look for the Eagles to add bodies and competition up front in the coming months. The “big people beat up little people” motto is especially true on the defensive line.

When taking a look at the free agent list, here are eight names that caught my eye: Read more »

Offseason Outlook: Defensive Line

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles
This week, we’ll continue to offer offseason outlooks for the Eagles, position-by-position. Each day, we’ll answer a pressing question and rank the position on the priority scale. First up was quarterback. We covered running backswide receiverstight ends and the offensive line. Now onto the defensive line.

PRESSING QUESTION: Will Bennie Logan go into 2014 as the starting nose tackle?

McManus: I believe he will.

Overall, I thought Logan acquitted himself well in his rookie season. The Eagles felt comfortable dealing Isaac Sopoaga and handing the starting job to the LSU product, who finished with two sacks, seven hurries and 43 tackles (two for loss). He took to the techniques taught by Jerry Azzinaro and Billy Davis and was part of a young defensive front that proved to be a strength of this team. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: No Rocking the Boat

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles

MOBILE, Ala. - Howie Roseman was asked this week whether he talks to current Eagles about draft prospects they might have played with in college.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “You want to know their mindset. You want to make sure that you’re bringing guys in that are gonna fit into your culture. Right now we have a good culture, and that’s a fun part of it. You want to make sure that you continue that and you don’t bring anybody who’s gonna rock the boat.” Read more »

Final Eagles Pass-Rusher Rankings

Trent Cole had one sack in the Eagles’ first 10 games. He has seven in the last five, including three against the Bears.

For most of the year, we kept track of how productive Eagles defensive players were when rushing the passer.

With all 16 regular-season games and the playoff loss to the Saints in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for one final tally.

Sacks, hurries and batted passes are tracked by the Eagles’ coaches. The Penalties column tracks instances when the defender forces an offensive holding or an intentional grounding call. Chances are tracked by Pro Football Focus. And I calculated the final column as the percentage of times a defender did something (sack, hurry, batted ball, forced penalty) to affect the passer, given the opportunities. Read more »

Rookie Review: How the 2013 Class Fared

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

When asked how happy he was with the Eagles’ rookies this year, Chip Kelly offered a typical Chip Kelly response.

“It’s my favorite draft class for the Philadelphia Eagles,” said the head coach, sarcastically.

“I mean, I was really happy. I’m really, really happy with our young guys. I think they’ve all got really bright futures here. But is that going to happen every year? It’s a catch-22 because if it’s happened every year, then the top of your roster is not what it’s supposed to be. So if each year we’re bringing in 10 or 12 brand new guys and there’s only 46 guys active, they’re taking 10 or 12 guys that were on the team last year. So at some point in time, you hope you’re at a point in time when we’re not having anybody make the team as a young player because the older players we’ve got in place are doing a great job and we’re winning a ton of football games and we’re competing for championships. There’s that catch-22.

“But I think there was a lot of turnover early. I think that’s understandable. It’s a new coaching staff and new systems in every aspect of the game, so that part is a little bit different. But if we’re bringing in 10, 12 new faces every year, then that means we’re not where we need to be right now.”

Keeping that in mind, below is a player-by-player look at how the Eagles’ rookies performed in 2013 and what their outlooks are going forward. Read more »

Why They Believe In Chip

NFL: NFC Wildcard Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

When asked why he was so confident that his program could work in the NFL, Chip Kelly offered a somewhat surprising response.

“I wasn’t confident,” he said. “I had a system and a plan that we were going to go in, but I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be until it was all finished. But I think we played sound fundamental football, and I think that’s what we preach on a daily basis to our players. I think it’s still a game of 11-on-11, and I think a lot of things we do schematically match up 11-on-11. It’s a fundamental game, and I think that’s what our coaches teach. I thought we brought in a bunch of really good teachers that could implement the plan that we had in place, and we felt this would be the best plan for us this year going forward.”

Going into next season, new faces will be added, but many of the core players from the 2013 squad will remain the same.

Keeping that in mind, I posed one simple question to the players earlier this week as they cleaned out their lockers:

What did Kelly do in Year One that makes you believe he can lead this franchise to greater heights going forward? Read more »

All-22: Why the Run Defense Faltered

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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 »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Chemistry Mattered In 2013

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles

Bennie Logan didn’t know what to expect from an NFL locker room.

The rookie from LSU had heard tales about how the chemistry on a professional roster was far different from that of a college squad. But with his first year in the books, Logan’s perception has changed.

“You hear stories in college about the NFL – it’s not really like college bonding,” Logan said. “But the thing that surprised me being here is everybody is a family. There’s a brotherhood here. Just to see the way the guys grew from Week 1 to Week 16, 17, to see the way that we grew and bonded together through the whole season was something incredible.”

Players said their good-byes to one another at the NovaCare Complex Monday afternoon. They cleaned out their lockers, shared hand-shakes and hugs and exchanged numbers for offseason communication. Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Dallas

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Here’s a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ defensive performance against Dallas after having watched the coaches tape.

DEFENSIVE LINE

* This group limited DeMarco Murray to 51 yards on 17 carries (3.0 YPC). Cedric Thornton probably had the best game of any of the linemen. He combined with Bennie Logan to stop Murray after a 3-yard run in the first half. In the third, Thornton and Brandon Boykin dropped Murry for a 4-yard loss, putting Dallas in a tough third-down spot. Thornton finished with two tackles.

* Fletcher Cox was quiet – one tackle, no sacks, no hurries. Logan had three tackles. He pressured Kyle Orton and helped force him into a bad throw in the second.

* All three starting defensive linemen jumped early once, drawing flags. Read more »

The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Cowboys

Trent Cole had one sack in the Eagles’ first 10 games. He has seven in the last five, including three against the Bears.

Here is a complete breakdown of Sunday night’s Eagles-Cowboys matchup.

THE BIG PICTURE

It’s pretty simple: Winner hosts a first-round playoff game next weekend, while the loser goes home.

The Cowboys have been up and down with two losses in their last three games, but they pulled out a 24-23 victory over the Redskins in Week 16.

The Eagles have won six of seven and are averaging 39.3 points per game in their last three. Read more »

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