Eagles Wake-Up Call: Potential Cap Casualties

Sam Bradford and Ryan Mathews. (Jeff Fusco)

Sam Bradford and Ryan Mathews. (Jeff Fusco)

To submit your mailbag question, fill out the form at the bottom of this post or email us.

Looking at the Eagles’ 2017 salary cap, they are last in the league with only $5 million available. Is this fallout from the Kelly era, or are these Roseman contracts? What should we expect to see next year, cuts (Peters, Barwin, etc) or restructures (Bradford, etc)? — Shawn

This is why I think the phrase “contract year” is funny.

You often hear it when a player is on the last year of his contract and he’s set to be a free agent, but the reality of the NFL is many players are in “contract years,” even if they have multiple seasons left on their deal. That’s because they can be cut to save money if they don’t appear to be worth their future cap commitment, which is why I think Shawn’s question is intriguing to consider. Even though many Eagles still have multiple years left on their contracts, several of them could be playing for their futures in Philadelphia this year as they try to avoid being cap casualties in 2017. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Barwin And the Defensive End Rotation

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

There were two key differences  between 2014 and 2015 from a pass-rushing perspective, says Connor Barwin.

In ’14, the Eagles played with the lead more — particularly over the first 12 games when they shot out to a 9-3 mark and Barwin racked up 12.5 of his career-high 14.5 sacks. Last season, there were fewer opportunities to just pin the ears back.

The other was depth. The Eagles enjoyed a nice rotation at outside linebacker two seasons ago with Brandon Graham successfully rotating in with Barwin and Trent Cole. This past year, not so much.  Where Graham played 499 snaps (43 percent) in the next-man-in role in ’14, Marcus Smith was in for 127 (10.5 percent) largely unproductive snaps, per Football Outsiders.

“If anything, the last year, we just didn’t have a great guy to rotate with me and Brandon Graham,” Barwin told Alex Marvez and Bill Polian during an appearance on SiriusXM Radio. “And that was a problem. Hopefully this year, moving to a 4-3, we’ll have that with Vinny [Curry] — because Vinny can play first and second down at defensive end.” Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Defensive Line Outlook

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

This week we’ll continue to take a position-by-position look at where the Eagles stand going into the offseason. In the first five installments, we covered the quarterbacks, running backswide receivers, tight endsoffensive linemen and safeties. Now, it’s on to the defensive line.


Asked during an appearance on Daniel Jeremiah’s Move the Sticks podcast to pick one defensive lineman he’d choose to build a defense around, Jim Schwartz offered a response that revealed a little bit about his overall philosophy. Read more »

Adam Schefter: Fletcher Cox Isn’t Going Anywhere

Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)

Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz both joined Anthony Gargano on 97.5 the Fanatic on Wednesday to discuss the Eagles.

Schwartz talked about his defensive philosophy and plans at length, while Schefter touched on the Birds’ upcoming offseason and their plans for handling free agency.

Of everything discussed, two points from Schefter stuck out as key holding points for the Eagles going forward.

For one, Schefter said that Fletcher Cox isn’t going anywhere.

“He’s not going anywhere, they’ll never allow him to leave,” Schefter said.

Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Championship Coaches

Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick.

Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick. (USA Today Sports)

Searching for a head coach who can lead your team to a Super Bowl is an inexact science. Championship caliber coaches have come from all kinds of backgrounds, which is why — despite the Chip Kelly era — Jeffrey Lurie won’t rule out any type of coach, even those from college with no professional experience.

“No category is diminished here,” Lurie said the day after he fired Kelly. “We’re going to look at NFL coaches, NFL coordinators, college coaches, retired coaches — any category you can come up with, if we think it’s the best candidate.”

Although there may not be a prototype you can model the best head coaches after, we looked at the last 10 Super Bowl-winning coaches to seek similarities. Those coaches are Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh, Tom Coughlin, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin, Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, and Jon Gruden. Read more »

Eagles Roster Analysis: Defense

Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)

Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)

As the Eagles begin their search for a new head coach, candidates will care about the franchise’s new power structure, what kind of owner Jeffrey Lurie is, and what the city of Philadelphia is like. But what they’ll really want to know about is the talent on the roster and the salary cap situation.

Adam broke down the offense, and I’m taking a look at the defense. The position guys play could change based off the scheme the new head coach implements, but we’ll categorize players by where they fit in Billy Davis’s 3-4.

(All contract information is via Spotrac, including the 2016 dead cap numbers.) Read more »

Graham: I Want A Coach With NFL Experience

Brandon Graham. (Jeff Fusco)

Brandon Graham. (Jeff Fusco)

Brandon Graham was clear today after practice when explaining what he’s looking for in the Eagles’ next head coach.

“I’m hoping that we get somebody that’s already been in the NFL,” he said.

Chip Kelly, of course, did not fit that bill, and Graham explained why college coaches sometimes face a tough transition. Read more »

Marcus Smith: ‘I Don’t Think There’s A Gap’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Marcus Smith picked up a half-sack in the Eagles’ 40-17 loss to the Cardinals in Week 15. For most first-round draft picks playing in their second season in the league, that would be an encouraging, albeit run-of-the-mill, tick in the box score.

For Smith, it was the first time he recorded even half a sack in his career.

After two seasons, Smith has shown few signs that he is close to stepping into any sort of consistent defensive role on this team.

“Marcus has got to continue to get better,” Billy Davis said Tuesday. “There hasn’t been a whole lot of production yet. We’re still working, Marcus is working hard at it, and hopefully we can get some production from him.

“You have to play the guys that are playing the best for you. If there’s too big of a gap, the other guys can’t play. Right now, it’s tough to take [Connor Barwin] or [Brandon Graham] off and put Marcus on.”

But that’s not how Smith sees it.

Read more »

All-22: How Billy Davis Confused Tom Brady

Billy Davis. (Jeff Fusco)

Billy Davis. (Jeff Fusco)

It was a laughing matter. Literally.

Tim and I explained in last week’s Press Coverage how the Eagles would need to generate a good pass rush and force turnovers against Tom Brady to pull off the unlikely upset over the Patriots. How unlikely? We treated it more as a joke than as something that could actually happen.

But Billy Davis’ unit, after allowing 90 points in the previous two weeks, helped do just that as their four sacks and two interceptions played a pivotal role in Philadelphia’s 35-28 win.

“It’s a tough place to go in,” Davis said. “First of all, I thought the players did a great job. They showed a lot of character, being in the hole we were in the last two weeks and them fighting through it and having that challenge of going in there to beat Brady and Coach [Bill] Belichick in Foxborough is a big deal.

“A big part of it was the three- and four-man rush winning there and the cover guys just holding. We knew we were going to get our share of their passing game. That’s what they do and that’s what their strength is. In the last couple weeks, we were not having much success in that area and the guys stepped up and made a lot of plays.” Read more »

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