Three Eagles Leftovers

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From Connor Barwin’s role to Chip Kelly’s love for DeMeco Ryans to Cary Williams’ future, here are three Eagles leftovers.

1. The Eagles’ two outside linebacker positions were not created equal in 2013. Trent Cole made the transition from defensive end, usually lining up on the right side. Barwin’s spot was labeled the “jack” by Billy Davis, as in jack of all trades. That meant Barwin usually lined up on the left side and dropped back into coverage far more often than Cole.

According to Pro Football Focus, Barwin dropped 42.3 percent of the time on passing downs and rushed the QB 57.7 percent of the time.

“I can do it so it fits my skill set and I’m fine with it,” Barwin said last week. “Whatever way Billy [Davis] wants to use me. And I’m sure, who knows how it’ll evolve next year? I could see myself being in a similar role or I could see it being different. It just matters how this defensive evolves, what happens. But I don’t mind at all. I think it makes our defense better. I think Billy did a great job of utilizing the talent that we had.” Read more »

All-22: Why the Eagles’ Offense Stalled

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With 3:54 left in the third quarter of last week’s playoff game against the Saints, the Eagles’ offense took the field for the ninth time.

The results of the first eight drives were ugly: six punts, one missed field goal and a touchdown. The Saints finished fourth in the regular season in scoring defense, and for much of Saturday’s game, Rob Ryan’s group got the better of the Eagles.

Nick Foles and company scored on their final three possessions to give the Eagles a 24-23 lead, but ultimately, it wasn’t enough.

Defense and special teams certainly shared responsibility for the 26-24 loss, but given the way the offense had played all season, it’s worth exploring why that side of the ball struggled for the first 41 minutes of the game. Read more »

Why They Believe In Chip

NFL: NFC Wildcard Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

When asked why he was so confident that his program could work in the NFL, Chip Kelly offered a somewhat surprising response.

“I wasn’t confident,” he said. “I had a system and a plan that we were going to go in, but I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be until it was all finished. But I think we played sound fundamental football, and I think that’s what we preach on a daily basis to our players. I think it’s still a game of 11-on-11, and I think a lot of things we do schematically match up 11-on-11. It’s a fundamental game, and I think that’s what our coaches teach. I thought we brought in a bunch of really good teachers that could implement the plan that we had in place, and we felt this would be the best plan for us this year going forward.”

Going into next season, new faces will be added, but many of the core players from the 2013 squad will remain the same.

Keeping that in mind, I posed one simple question to the players earlier this week as they cleaned out their lockers:

What did Kelly do in Year One that makes you believe he can lead this franchise to greater heights going forward? Read more »

Inside the Drive Gone Wrong

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First-and-10 from the Saints’ 15, late in the opening quarter. Drew Brees had just thrown his first interception of the day, the crowd was smelling blood and the Eagles were threatening. It was the first chance to establish superiority. Instead, a nightmare sequence developed.

Brent Celek was dropped for an eight-yard loss on a screen play.  Then Nick Foles, with all day to throw, never pulled the trigger and took an 11-yard sack. A play later, Alex Henery knuckled a 48-yard field goal attempt wide left.

“Part of the turnover thing as I’ve talked about before is if our defense does create them we need to do something with them offensively, and we didn’t capitalize the way we need to when our defense creates turnovers like that,” said Chip Kelly.

What went wrong? Let’s take a look: Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Dallas

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Here’s a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ offensive performance against Dallas.

QUARTERBACKS

* It was a tale of two halves for Nick Foles. For most of the first half (12-for-16 for 197 yards), he was comfortable, decisive and on-target. In the second half (5-for-10 for 66 yards), the pressure seemed to affect him.

* Early on, Foles found Chris Polk on a wheel route for 34 yards. He put some extra zip on the ball, squeezing a pass in to Riley Cooper in between defenders for a 16-yard pickup. He stepped up, avoided pressure and found Zach Ertz for 17. Again in the face of pressure, he showed patience and hit Ertz for 12 yards on 3rd-and-7. Still in the first, Foles slid away from pressure and found DeSean Jackson for 20. In the second, his receivers helped him out with a couple of great catches, and Foles took advantage of a blown coverage on the 14-yard TD to Brent Celek. He beat the blitz with a 17-yard completion to Avant and was 8-for-9 overall against the blitz for 128 yards, per Pro Football Focus. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Cowboys, the Day After

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

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 »

A Unique Opportunity

Brent Celek scores in the first quarter.
Wale’s “Ambition” featuring Meek Mill and Rick Ross was booming out of the speakers inside the practice bubble as the Eagles entered the “stretch” portion of practice Tuesday.

Brent Celek had the head bobbing and the hands waving and when it was his turn to do knee lifts, his knees soared all the way up to his chest. This is Week 17, two days removed from a Sunday Night game against the Bears.

To get a gauge for how his players are feeling and the strength and conditioning program is working, Pat Shurmur looks to Celek. The seven-year vet pushes his body hard and plays through injuries others might not. That can wear you down over time. So Shurmur checks in with Celek and if he’s feeling good, chances are the majority of the guys are feeling good, too.

The guys are feeling good. Read more »

The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Cowboys

Trent Cole had one sack in the Eagles’ first 10 games. He has seven in the last five, including three against the Bears.

Here is a complete breakdown of Sunday night’s Eagles-Cowboys matchup.

THE BIG PICTURE

It’s pretty simple: Winner hosts a first-round playoff game next weekend, while the loser goes home.

The Cowboys have been up and down with two losses in their last three games, but they pulled out a 24-23 victory over the Redskins in Week 16.

The Eagles have won six of seven and are averaging 39.3 points per game in their last three. Read more »

All-22: Kelly’s Principles At Work

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When Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker met with reporters Monday, he noted that the Eagles basically used the same five run plays out of different formations Sunday night to pile up 289 yards on the ground.

If Chip Kelly heard that assessment, it would probably put a big smile on his face – because it’s true.

By now, we’ve seen Kelly’s Eagles team take the field 15 times, and we have a pretty good idea of what he head coach values offensively. He wants his offense to play fast – which means simplifying things and going back to the same concepts until the defense proves it can stop them.

He wants to run first and take shots downfield. He uses packaged plays to put defenders in situations of conflict. And he wants to spread the field both horizontally and vertically.

Sunday’s 54-11 victory against Chicago was a pretty good example of all those things at work. Read more »

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