All-22: Why the Eagles Will Target Byron Maxwell

Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today

Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today

Following the Eagles’ 24-14 loss to the Seahawks in December, Chip Kelly was asked about why his offense converted just two of 11 third-down opportunities on the day.

He pointed to a few different factors, one of which was the inability of the Eagles’ wide receivers to separate from Seattle’s defensive backs.

“Some were runaways where you’re hoping they beat the man‑to‑man coverage and [uncover] a little bit quicker and separated the way we need to separate and run away from them a little bit,” he said.

On four occasions, it came down to a one-on-one matchup against a specific cornerback: Byron Maxwell. Time and again, Eagles receivers ended up on the losing end of that battle.

With free agency rapidly approaching, Maxwell’s name has been discussed quite a bit around these parts, and for good reason. Read more »

Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans

From the idea of a QB-friendly system to limiting big plays on defense, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.

64.1 – That was Mark Sanchez’s completion percentage with the Eagles last year. He also averaged 7.8 YPA. Those numbers really pop if you compare them to what Sanchez produced with the Jets: 55.1 and 6.5.

So why am I bringing this up now?

There has been a lot of talk about how QB-friendly Chip Kelly’s scheme is. We had a large sample size (62 games) of who Sanchez was with the Jets. And we got a smaller sample size (nine games) last season with the Eagles. But in a couple of base indicators – completion percentage and YPA – Sanchez performed significantly better in Kelly’s scheme than he did with the Jets.

On the other hand, Sanchez’s interception rate remained nearly identical: 3.7 percent with the Jets and 3.6 percent last year. Read more »

Eagles Notes: The Dick LeBeau Question

Charles LeClaire / USA Today

Charles LeClaire / USA Today

Longtime Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau told the Urbana Daily Citizen that he will not be back in Pittsburgh next season.

“I’m resigning this position, not retiring,” LeBeau told the newspaper. “I had a great run in Pittsburgh. I’m grateful for all the things that have happened to me and thankful for all the support I had in Pittsburgh.”

So what does this have to do with the Eagles? Read more »

Kelly On Roseman, Davis And Gamble

Photo Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

During his season-ending press conference today, Chip Kelly was asked to describe his working relationship with GM Howie Roseman.

“Good,” he said, offering a one-word answer.

How has the relationship/your influence changed in two years?

“I don’t think anything’s changed,” Kelly said. Read more »

All-22: Defensive Decisions Burn Eagles

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The way Billy Davis tells it, the Eagles fully understood going into last week’s game that the Bradley Fletcher-DeSean Jackson matchup was one that favored the opponent.

“The whole game plan was either to pressure and have the post-safety stay over the top of DeSean, unless somebody else was in a more stressful situation, or split the safeties and double,” Davis said. “So we moved in and out of that the whole game.”

Chip Kelly and company were adamant in the offseason that Jackson didn’t affect how defenses played the Eagles. But apparently, as an opponent, he was someone they felt they had to focus on with their game plan.

The speedy receiver got loose for four catches for 126 yards. He had two grabs of 50+ yards and also drew a pass interference penalty that set up a Washington touchdown.

Fletcher had been left on an island against the Packers earlier this season, and Jordy Nelson went off on him. In Week 15 against the Cowboys, it was the same story; only the name changed. It was Dez Bryant this time.

Yet in an absolute must-win spot, there it was again: Fletcher on an island against an opponent he couldn’t handle. It wasn’t every play, but it happened enough to where the mismatch was glaring. It got to the point where Davis finally made a switch, pulling Fletcher for Nolan Carroll II in the fourth quarter.

Too little, too late. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Washington, the Day After

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

LANDOVER, Md. – Chip Kelly had been in this room before, but the circumstances were different the last time.

It was September of 2013. Kelly’s squad had just put the NFL on notice that his up-tempo attack could be effective at the professional level as the Eagles defeated Washington on Monday Night football in his debut as Andy Reid’s successor.

Kelly answered questions from a roomful of reporters about the Birds’ pace, Michael Vick’s performance and other topics. Before exiting the room to make the trip back to Philadelphia, Kelly stopped to say hello to some media members who had made the trip from Oregon.

Where his first season began was essentially the same place that his second season ended. Kelly’s squad was clinging to its playoffs aspirations Saturday afternoon at FedEx Field. The hope was that the Eagles would take care of business against an inferior opponent and perhaps get a little help in the final two weeks to sneak into the postseason.

Instead, the Eagles suffered a meltdown. Issues that have been prevalent all year long resurfaced, and the result was a 27-24 loss. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Eagles Can’t Sleep on RGIII

Courtesy of USA Today

Courtesy of USA Today

You won’t find many pundits backing Washington this week. The Eagles have too much to play for and the Redskins are too much of a mess to not lean towards Philly in this one. That sentiment is reflected in the line, with Vegas making the Eagles 7 ½ -point road favorites.

If there is one variable that has the best chance of knocking this game off course, it’s quarterback play. That is, if Robert Griffin III shines and Mark Sanchez falters, the Eagles could leave FedEx Field with their playoff hopes all but crushed. Read more »

Lost Season For Boykin?

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

The calls for more Brandon Boykin have quieted down as the year has gone along, partly because people have come to realize those efforts are fruitless, and partly because Boykin hasn’t been flashing with the same brightness compared to last season.

That six-interception campaign seems a world away now, doesn’t it? The talk this offseason was all about how to get the young corner’s snaps up from 50 percent. Instead, his playing time has gone south (he’s played 42 percent of the defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus) and it feels like Boykin has been pushed further to the fringe by Billy Davis and Chip Kelly despite the coaches’ claims that he is viewed as a starter. Read more »

All-22: Defensive Failures Against Dallas

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In the days leading up to the Eagles’ rematch with the Cowboys, Billy Davis made it clear that he was expecting to see a different Tony Romo.

On Thanksgiving, the Birds’ defense applied consistent pressure on Romo, and the Cowboys’ quarterback struggled to connect with open receivers when he did have opportunities.

Sunday night was a different story, and Davis ended up being right. Despite a mostly ineffective run game, Romo picked the Eagles apart, completing 22 of 31 passes for 265 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

“I think the biggest difference in the two games that we had… was the play of Tony Romo and the throws,” Davis said this week. “The throws on Thanksgiving were under-thrown and bad, and we were coming back and making plays. The throws the other night were on the money, and they were right where they needed to be.”

Romo certainly deserves credit for playing well in a big spot. But Dez Bryant scored three touchdowns one-on-one against Bradley Fletcher. Was the Eagles’ game plan sound? Was it just a matter of the more talented unit winning? We explore those issues with the All-22. Read more »

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