Nolan Carroll Continues To Impress

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Brandon Boykin was the camp standout on defense last year. Every day it seemed like the Georgia product made at least one play that commanded your attention. This year, that distinction belongs to Nolan Carroll.

It didn’t move the needle much when the Eagles signed the former Dolphin to a two-year, $5.25 million contract in free agency, but he has opened some eyes since his arrival.

His moment on Thursday (or at least one of them) came during 7-on-7s. Locked up with Jeremy Maclin, Carroll extended himself to break up a Nick Foles pass in the end zone. Those PBUs have become a regular occurrence.

“He’s a very well‑rounded talent,” said Billy Davis. “He’s got size, he’s got length, he’s got speed.  He’s a real tenacious competitor.  I love his attitude out there the way he presses and competes and puts his hands on the people, and he’s got a good knack for the ball.”

Who knows if a solid summer will translate into a productive fall like it did for Boykin but Carroll continues to impress, even if he’s not all that impressed with himself. Read more »

Notes: A Chippy Start To Camp

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Another day, another dust-up here at Eagles training camp.

Today it was Jeremy Maclin and the normally mild-mannered Bradley Fletcher squaring off. The two were going head-to-head during team drills and started having words after the whistle. Next thing you know, punches were being  thrown and a big crowd gathered to separate the two.

Practice ended a short time later. Maclin exited the field without speaking to reporters. Fletcher didn’t offer much.

“We’re just playing ball,” he said. “Emotions got going and one thing led to another.”

Cary Williams, meanwhile, had plenty to say on the subject. He held court out on Lincoln Financial Field and was still speaking long after the rest of his teammates had gone into the locker room. He has a soft spot for this particular topic of conversation.

“I’m glad, to be honest with you,” said Williams of the fights at training camp this year. Read more »

All-22: How the Eagles Lean On Cover 3

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Your 2014 Eagles Almanac is now available for pre-order.

If you’ve missed this publication the past two years, it’s a comprehensive look at the season ahead with contributions from a variety of talented writers.

There are also some untalented writers who are allowed to pen chapters. That’s where Tim and I come in.

My piece this year focused on the defense as a whole. What did Billy Davis run in his first year as the Eagles’ coordinator? What were the strengths and weaknesses? What changes are in store going forward?

Below is part of what I wrote, focusing on one of the Eagles’ primary schemes on the back end: the Cover 3.

And remember, order your Eagles Almanac today! Read more »

Eagles Training Camp Preview: Cornerbacks

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Leading up to training camp on July 25, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We have already covered the defensive linequarterbacksoutside linebackers, running backs and inside linebackers. Now it’s on to the cornerbacks.

The pressing question: Can Nolan Carroll II push for a starting job?

The best bet for the Eagles’ defense going into 2014 is that this unit will return 10 of 11 starters from a year ago – the only exception being new safety Malcolm Jenkins.

But if you want a position battle to watch on that side of the ball, it’s at cornerback. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher were the starters last year, but the team signed Carroll from the Dolphins in the offseason. The 27-year-old started 12 games in Miami last year and 10 more in 2012. He has adequate size, plays with great effort and only missed seven tackles the past two seasons, per Pro Football Focus. Read more »

Why Size At Corner Matters To Eagles

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Chip Kelly led with size when extolling the virtues of free-agent acquisition Nolan Carroll last week.

“We had him targeted very early as a guy we wanted to bring into this organization,” the head coach said. “I think he’s got the requisite length that we are looking for at the corner spot, especially as an outside corner.”

Another blow dealt to those hoping Brandon Boykin will be given a starting role this season.

The argument for moving Boykin outside is pretty straightforward: The 23-year-old finished second in the league with six interceptions last year while playing only half the time. Why not give the playmaker more opportunity to make plays?

There is merit to that line of thinking. But the Eagles are looking at it another way. Big picture, they see a league that is getting flooded with giants at the wide receiver position, and are trying to properly arm themselves so they at least have  a fighting chance against them.

Read more »

Offseason Outlook: Cornerbacks

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

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


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 endsoffensive line, defensive lineoutside linebackers and inside linebackers. Now let’s look at their cornerbacks. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: The ‘Batting Average’ Approach

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There was no good reason for the Eagles to swing for the fences in free agency last season.

They were coming off a 4-12 campaign and were in the midst of an organizational reboot. The focus was on foundation building and no one knew exactly how long that build would take; it made little sense to splurge for big-ticket players at that time. Instead, they went shopping for “mid-level” free agents and ended up with the likes of Connor Barwin, James Casey, Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Patrick Chung, Donnie Jones, Jason Phillips, Isaac Sopoaga and Kenny Phillips. Some good, some bad, some in-between. Decent return rate.

“That group as a whole I think contributed a lot to our football team. We certainly weren’t perfect on our free-agent signings but I thought it matched what was out there in free agency last year and served us well,” said Howie Roseman.

The team is in a much different place than it was a year ago. The turnaround happened quickly, and Chip Kelly claimed an NFC East title in his first year. The Eagles are further along and presumably in position to contend. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will alter their plan when free agency opens on March 11. Last year’s approach was more about a shift in philosophy than it was a reaction to circumstance. Read more »

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