Big People: Eight Potential Eagles DL Targets

NFL: Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens

Defensive line is an under-the-radar need for the Eagles going into free agency and the draft.

Here’s what we know: The team really likes Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton as 3-4 defensive ends. It would be a surprise if they’re not two of the three starters going into 2014.

But there’s a lot we don’t know. For example, do the Eagles think Bennie Logan is the answer at nose tackle? There’s no doubt they like Logan, but maybe he’s more of a rotational guy who offers versatility and plays DT in sub packages.

There are more question marks with the backups. The Eagles want to rotate bodies up front, but they just didn’t have enough talent to do a ton of that last season. It’ll be a surprise if free agent Clifton Geathers returns. And Damion Square will have to battle for a roster spot next summer.

As we mentioned yesterday, it’s no guarantee that Vinny Curry returns.

Keeping all that in mind, look for the Eagles to add bodies and competition up front in the coming months. The “big people beat up little people” motto is especially true on the defensive line.

When taking a look at the free agent list, here are eight names that caught my eye: Read more »

On Thornton, Verner And Orakpo

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles announced today that they’ve signed Cedric Thornton to a one-year contract.

Thornton was an exclusive rights free agent, meaning he was under team control. If the Eagles wanted him back, his options were to either take the deal or not play at all. In other words, he was not allowed to negotiate with other teams on the open market.

Next year, Thornton will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Eagles will be in great position to retain him once again. Read more »

Offseason Outlook: Defensive Line

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles
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 ends and the offensive line. Now onto the defensive line.

PRESSING QUESTION: Will Bennie Logan go into 2014 as the starting nose tackle?

McManus: I believe he will.

Overall, I thought Logan acquitted himself well in his rookie season. The Eagles felt comfortable dealing Isaac Sopoaga and handing the starting job to the LSU product, who finished with two sacks, seven hurries and 43 tackles (two for loss). He took to the techniques taught by Jerry Azzinaro and Billy Davis and was part of a young defensive front that proved to be a strength of this team. Read more »

Final Eagles Pass-Rusher Rankings

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

For most of the year, we kept track of how productive Eagles defensive players were when rushing the passer.

With all 16 regular-season games and the playoff loss to the Saints in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for one final tally.

Sacks, hurries and batted passes are tracked by the Eagles’ coaches. The Penalties column tracks instances when the defender forces an offensive holding or an intentional grounding call. Chances are tracked by Pro Football Focus. And I calculated the final column as the percentage of times a defender did something (sack, hurry, batted ball, forced penalty) to affect the passer, given the opportunities. 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 »

Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Dallas

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Here’s a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ defensive performance against Dallas after having watched the coaches tape.

DEFENSIVE LINE

* This group limited DeMarco Murray to 51 yards on 17 carries (3.0 YPC). Cedric Thornton probably had the best game of any of the linemen. He combined with Bennie Logan to stop Murray after a 3-yard run in the first half. In the third, Thornton and Brandon Boykin dropped Murry for a 4-yard loss, putting Dallas in a tough third-down spot. Thornton finished with two tackles.

* Fletcher Cox was quiet – one tackle, no sacks, no hurries. Logan had three tackles. He pressured Kyle Orton and helped force him into a bad throw in the second.

* All three starting defensive linemen jumped early once, drawing flags. 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 »

Williams: Bring On Dallas, No Matter the QB

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles
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 »

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