Boykin Sees Limited Reps Against Jags

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Arguing the merits of moving Brandon Boykin outside is the equivalent of banging your head against the wall at this point. As Chip Kelly re-emphasized at his day-after press conference Monday, it’s not happening.

“It really is how we practice and he practices as our nickel corner.  It’s a very vital position for us.  Billy [Davis] said that that’s a starting position for us, I say that’s a starting position for us, that’s kind of where it is,” said Kelly. “Our third corner outside right now [behind Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams] is Nolan Carroll.”

While the importance of the nickel corner position makes Boykin a starter in their mind, the fact remains that one of the team’s top playmakers sees a limited amount of reps in his current role. That was particularly true in the opener against Jacksonville, as Boykin played 23 of a possible 73 snaps, or 32 percent of the time.
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Davis: Smith Will Have ‘Limited Role’ Sunday

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The progress of rookie Marcus Smith II has turned into a daily storyline at the NovaCare Complex.

T-Mac wrote about the Eagles’ first-round pick this morning, and in the afternoon, defensive coordinator Billy Davis was asked what kind of role Smith would have Sunday against the Jaguars.

“He’ll have a limited role,” Davis said. “We’re still not at that place where we’re positive with everything. We’re game-planning for certain situations. What they come at us with will dictate what we can come back at them with, what personnel groupings we’re in, how we use our players, what the matchups are. So all those things will fall into that decision.

“Marcus is like a lot of rookies. You have the preseason where you continually saw him get better and he got more comfortable in the scheme. I think he stopped trying to make plays and let the plays come to him a little bit more. I think when you turn on the bright lights of the real season and it’s all ones against all ones, I think things change a little bit. As we move forward, we’ll grow all our rookies in the same light. We’ll see what they can handle, what they can’t, drop ‘em in their limited roles and grow it as they show us that they’re capable of handling it.” Read more »

Playmaker: The Rise Of Brandon Boykin

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Training Camp

On the basketball court is where Al Boykin first really took notice.

Big brother was a high school sophomore and had grown accustomed to having to drag Brandon along with him wherever he went. On this occasion, the setup was a two-on-two game against a couple of older kids in their neighborhood.

“At first, it started out as, ‘Man, I gotta play with my brother. He’s six years younger than us. It might not be much of a game,’ ” Al recalled. “And then we started playing. He was actually killing the other guy. At that point, it was like, ‘Yeah, you could play, bro.’ It was good. And we just rolled it from there.”

Alfred, their father, saw it on the baseball diamond at a much earlier age.

“When he was 5-years-old, I put him in T-ball,” he said. “And I saw that he understood exactly what he needed to do right away. I didn’t have to teach him or anything. He was just 5-years-old, a little kid, and he loved it. …He was a fast learner. He loved sports.”

In every class, there is a kid who seems to win every race. The guy who plays quarterback and shortstop. The one who’s able to climb the ropes with ease, while others struggle to make it past the bottom knot. The first one picked, and the last one standing.

In Fayetteville, Ga., that kid was Brandon Boykin. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Cole In Year 10

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Trent Cole is well aware that this is his 10th season in the NFL. He is at the point in his career where there is some inner-dialogue going on about how much longer he will be able to play this game.

“You kind of [ask] yourself, ‘When is that time going to come when you say, ‘It’s time to put ‘em up, Trent. You’re done. It’s your time,’ ” he said.

One thing that the 31-year-old knows for sure is he hasn’t hit that point yet.

“I don’t know what it is, man, but I feel good,” said Cole, rolling into a half-crazed laugh, “and I’m ready to [expletive] rock-’n’-roll.” Read more »

Chip And the Up-Tempo Movement

Foles Steelers
Bill Walsh
predicted the up-tempo movement in his 1997 book titled, Finding the Winning Edge.

In a chapter called “Determining the Future Dynamics of Offense in the NFL,” he envisions a league where teams only huddle when the clock is stopped and use single-word audibles to call out a play.

The quarterback will look to the sideline the instant the whistle blows on the previous play to see which personnel combination is entering the game. The designated coach indicates the formation to the quarterback and whether he should audible his own play or will receive a play call from the coach. All of these steps will occur without a huddle.

The movement is upon us. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Davis Counting On the Blitz

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

By just about any statistical measure, the Eagles’ pass defense has plenty of room for improvement.

Football Outsiders had the Birds ranked 25th overall against the pass last year. Despite a focus on limiting big plays, Billy Davis’ unit was burned for 62 completions of 20+ yards, fourth-most in the NFL.

Any time the pass defense struggles, coaches point to two specific areas: pass-rush and coverage. The latter should see an improvement with Malcolm Jenkins filling in for Patrick Chung. The addition of cornerback Nolan Carroll II could help as well.

But the team did very little to bolster the pass-rush. The only significant addition up front was Marcus Smith II. And based on what we’ve seen in the preseason, Smith is unlikely to provide much pass-rush as a rookie. Combine that with the fact that illegal contact downfield is a point of emphasis for officials, and Davis thinks sending extra pressure might be his best chance for improvement. Read more »

Rule Emphasis Affects Man Coverage, Benefits Eagles

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Billy Davis felt like words alone couldn’t get his message across, so he reached over and grabbed the sleeve of a reporter’s shirt with his thumb and index finger.

“They’re throwing everything. They’re not playing. That one that got us off the field… [Tom] Brady to Curtis Marsh, the 3rd-and-3. I swear, it was that,” he said, barely yanking on the sleeve. “But it was that. He did it. So the flag was our’s. But it was only that. It wasn’t the pull where it moved his body. It was a feeler cloth deal. Can’t complain because we did it, but…”

Defensive coaches at the NovaCare Complex are walking a fine line. They don’t want to make excuses when asked about the new emphasis on illegal contact downfield. But they want to be honest in explaining that the job of defenders in coverage just got a whole lot more difficult.

What’s perhaps more fascinating, though, when it comes to the Eagles is how the emphasis affects the other side of the ball. Read more »

Graham, Curry State Their Case

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Heading into Thursday’s game, Billy Davis was asked if it is frustrating that two of his top pass-rushers — Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry —  are not natural scheme fits and therefor must see a limited amount of snaps.

“I don’t think anybody’s a full‑time player.  When you’re talking d‑line to me, I don’t view full‑time and part‑time players.  There are different two‑gap schemes and gap-penetrate schemes where we’re rushing, they all fit.  Those pass rushers fit,” he said.  “It’s just different sections of the scheme that we use.  I’m very impressed.  Those are two good pass rushers you’re talking about.”

There has been plenty of talk about how long Curry and Graham will remain in Philadelphia considering that they are both edge 4-3 rushers playing unnatural positions in a 3-4. Curry is undersized to be a pure two-gapping defensive end, and Graham isn’t fluid enough in space to be the type of versatile outside linebacker that this system craves.

What they can do is rush the passer, maybe better than anyone else on the team right now. Read more »

On the Marcus Smith Project

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Billy Davis has a message for players who enter his office looking for feedback:

“Be careful what you ask, because you are going to get the truth. Just be ready to handle the truth,” said Davis, channelling his inner Colonel Jessup.

The truth is that Marcus Smith is struggling. Davis has talked to the rookie outside linebacker about it, and was candid about it at his press conference this week when he said, among other things, that “the game is moving too fast in his brain right now in my opinion.” He knew Smith would be listening.

“I was interested to see how he would respond even to our comments to you guys. I know that I am talking to them, too,” he told a small group of reporters Tuesday. “But I talk to them first and I try to keep the same message. He’s going to be OK. And he’s not playing great. We try to live in the truth.”

Davis says Smith has responded well to the critical analysis and believes the 6-3, 251-pound former quarterback has the athleticism and mental make-up to push through the learning curve and develop into a good player. The question is: how long will that take? Read more »

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