Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) celebrates with his teammates on the field after making an interception in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis met with the media today. Here are three things that stood out from the session.
1. Since the day he was hired, Davis has talked about how defensive coordinators have to call games against the opposing quarterback and the opposing play-caller.
This week presents one of the best duos in the league in that respect with Drew Brees and Sean Payton. I asked Davis what makes Payton, specifically, so good as a play-caller.
“He’s probably one of the best in formations and matchups and adjustments,” Davis said. “He’s got a great mind as far as, again, 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.” Read more »
Normally we use this space for a thorough recap of the previous day’s game, and there will be some of that.
But it’s a playoff week for the first time in three years in Philadelphia, so let’s lead off with 10 things you should know about the next opponent: the Saints.
1. New Orleans took care of business Sunday, crushing the Bucs 42-17 to improve to 11-5 on the season – that’s 8-0 at home and 3-5 on the road. The Saints won four of their last five and were 2-3 overall against teams that are in the postseason. Going into Week 17, Football Outsiders had New Orleans as the No. 7 team overall – fifth on offense, 11th on defense and 24th on special teams. Read more »
Here’s a roundup of what the national media are saying about this weekend’s Eagles-Cowboys game. Read more »
Tony Romo, Kyle Orton. Kyle Orton, Tony Romo. Whatever, says Cary Williams.
“We’re here to win a Super Bowl. We’re here to contend in the playoffs. We’re here to build on what we’ve built already. As far as I’m concerned they can play those games. I don’t care,” said Williams. ”Jason Garrett can get out there. Jerry Jones can get out there. It doesn’t matter to me, it doesn’t matter to anyone else in this locker room. We’re on a mission and they’re in our way. Period.” Read more »
The Tony Romo report broke late Monday afternoon. As word leaked into the NovaCare that Dallas’ starting quarterback could miss Sunday night’s game with a back injury, the Eagles had to modify their approach. But it wasn’t as if they just started ripping up the game plan. In fact, they are still preparing as if Romo will start for the Cowboys.
“It really wasn’t Earth-shattering,” said Davis. “Most of the time when injuries happen early in the week, [the reaction is] not that drastic because there is still a possibility he’s playing. Now, do we say, ‘OK, let’s take maybe a longer look at Kyle Orton?’ Absolutely. That’s probably the biggest shift, we may have to play a different guy, but we’re going to prepare for their offense and all their weapons. He’s one man of 11 out there — he’s the main guy, but he’s also a guy we’ll prepare equally for.” Read more »
As the Eagles prepared for their final possession Sunday night, Nick Foles stood on the sideline next to tight end Zach Ertz and quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor.
The offense gathered briefly before running onto the field. Foles had a green and black baseball cap on instead of a helmet. He paused his conversation, joined his teammates briefly, put his arm around James Casey and returned to the sideline as Michael Vick took a couple kneel-downs to end the game.
There was a hug from Chris Polk and a handshake from Brent Celek. Foles then made his way past cameras towards midfield to greet the Bears’ quarterbacks as the clock showed triple zeroes. He removed his hat, knelt down for the prayer circle with members from both teams and joined LeSean McCoy for an interview with NBC.
Foles’ performance will not be the first or even second topic of conversation among Eagles fans today. And that’s saying something considering he went 21-for-25 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 131.7. Read more »
When Nick Foles and the Eagles’ other signal-callers take a seat Tuesday morning inside the quarterbacks meeting room at the NovaCare Complex, they are handed a copy of Bill Lazor’s game report.
The document contains play-by-play grades broken down by category: accuracy, decision-making, pre-snap checks, footwork, carrying out fakes on run plays and so on. Some plays have questions next to them because even for a quarterbacks coach who knows the calls and has reviewed the coverages, there are times when he’s not sure exactly what happened.
“I question, ‘Why did you do it this way?’ ” Lazor said. “Because it’s not always just a clear-cut answer. So they have that in front of them as they start watching the game. We start at the beginning and we go through. We try to not only talk about what happened at the time but why. We have the notes that the quarterbacks take during the game – the backup quarterbacks take notes. …And so as we sit in the room now, you hope you treat it more like a laboratory setting where you can really go back and dissect.” Read more »
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are getting the most attention heading into Sunday Night’s matchup between the Eagles and Bears. Given the talent of that receiver duo and the way the Eagles’ secondary performed in Minnesota last week, it’s certainly understandable.
But it’s clear Billy Davis‘ concerns do not stop there.
“Chicago might be one of the most talented offenses we face,” he said. ”Top five in scoring. Big, physical Pro Bowl receivers, two of them. They have a tight end [Martellus Bennett] who is a big, athletic passing tight end. The running back [Matt Forte] is as rounded as any running back we’ve faced. His pass protection is great. He runs the ball well. He catches out of the backfield well.
“The offensive line is young on one side, but it’s getting better and better as we go. The quarterback [Jay Cutler] can make all the throws. You can tell he understands this offense because his eyes are downfield and he’s getting the ball where it needs to be. This is overall our biggest test.”
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Chip Kelly offered up this line back in August, and has used some variation of it on multiple occasions since:
“Once you think you’ve arrived in this game, you’re going to get passed on by.”
Opinions vary as to whether that is what happened this past week against Minnesota: if the Eagles allowed the five-game winning streak to dull their focus, particularly as they prepared for a supposedly inferior Vikings team. Cary Williams made it clear where he stands on this debate.
“I’m glad it knocked us off our high horse,” said Williams. “Point proven right there that you have to be prepared, you have to be ready to come out and play each and every week. You can’t come out and not be physical in the beginning and expect a team to just lay down. To a degree we weren’t necessarily the most physical team out there, we weren’t necessarily the most emotional team out there, and I think we to some degree came out flat. So I’m glad that we lost, in the sense that it helped prepare us for this week, understanding that every week is going to be a different test, every team is going to come at us with their best shot.” Read more »
Safety Patrick Chung was pulled in favor of Kurt Coleman after allowing Greg Jennings to beat him for a 57-yard touchdown pass. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis said that moving Chung in and out of the lineup was the plan all along.
“Going into the game, both Patrick and Kurt knew that we were rotating every two series,” said Davis. “It happened that he had on that second series he had that [play against him]. But going into that game we were going to rotate. Now we were rotating because Patrick has been in a little bit of a slump, but he is increasing, he getting better and better as we go. That was a bad snap for him but there was going to be an every two-series rotation of the safeties regardless of that play happening.” Read more »