Zone Read: Eagles-Cowboys, the Day After

Tim Heltman/USA Today

Tim Heltman/USA Today

ARLINGTON, Texas — Bennie Logan insists he wasn’t trying to create a stir.

The Eagles’ nose tackle was asked during the week about the Cowboys’ offensive line, and he made it quite clear that he wasn’t impressed. His comments seemed somewhat out of character, but Logan’s fellow defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton backed him up. They felt like they were a good group that has been flying the under the radar, and they were not going to be intimidated by the one of the league’s best rushing attacks.

“People had their own opinions about teams and things like that,” Logan said after the Eagles’ 33-10 win. “I’m a nobody. I’m a nobody. We’ve got a lot of nobodies up front. People don’t give us the credit and things like that. We just play football. We have fun when we do it. It wasn’t any big talk or anything, no big pressure or anything like that. We just wanted to go out there and have fun and just play our style of defense.”

The Eagles’ defensive line showed up in a big way, limiting DeMarco Murray to 73 yards and 3.7 YPC. Both numbers were season lows. This was just the second time in 12 games Murray failed to gain at least 100 yards. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Thursday Factor

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

The Eagles traveled to Seattle for a Thursday night game back in December of 2011. Trevor Laws predicted that his team was poised to “blow out” the Seahawks but it went the other way on him, as Seattle cruised to an easy 31-14 win at CenturyLink Field.

Recognizing the difficulty of playing all the way across the country on a short week,  the NFL established new guidelines for scheduling Thursday night games following that season. With the exception of an occasional divisional matchup, teams are no longer asked to travel more than one time zone to play a Thursday road game.

Dallas is just a time zone away but the Eagles still have to hop a nearly four-hour flight for their Thanksgiving showdown with the Cowboys this week. The fact that Dallas played in New York on Sunday night should help balance the travel factor out some, but it’s a challenge nonetheless.

The Eagles hope that they are designed to deal well with the quick turnaround, particularly as it applies to physical recovery and game-plan installation. Read more »

All-22: Forming the Wall And Stopping the Stretch

stretch2b_all22_112514

Billy Davis was asked Tuesday about the difficulty in making potential scheme changes, given that teams are approaching Week 13.

“It’s tough to change who you are at this point in the season,” he said. “You have to stick with what you have success with and try to correct and get better at the things you’re struggling with.”

Davis’ comment applies to teams around the NFL. In the offseason, coaches assess personnel and decide what they want their squads to look like from a schematic standpoint. They then practice, tweak and practice some more. Wrinkles can be added, and ideas can be scrapped. But as we approach Thanksgiving, for the most part, identities have been established.

And for the Dallas Cowboys, that identity is clear: A balanced offense that is finding success running the football on a weekly basis.

The Eagles, meanwhile, are a team that focuses on stopping the run. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Titans, the Day After

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline - USA Today

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline – USA Today

Ever since Josh Huff played for Chip Kelly as a true freshman at Oregon in 2010, his head coach has asked the same question on the field before games.

Are you scared?

“He always asked me that before every game,” Huff said. “And every game I tell him the same answer: No I’m not scared, and I’m ready to make a play. And that was evident today.”

Huff was 7 yards deep in the end zone when he fielded the opening kickoff against the Titans. He said he knew regardless of where he received it, he was going to bring it out. And so he did.

Key blocks from James Casey, Trey Burton and Zach Ertz sprung Huff as he headed towards the right sideline. He delivered a stiff-arm to Titans kicker Ryan Succop at the Eagles’ 37 yard line and kept the ball in his right hand.

Near the Tennessee 20, he delivered a second stiff-arm, throwing a Titans defender to the ground. Huff crossed the goal line, faked a spike and tossed the ball behind him as his teammates began celebrating.

As he returned to the sideline, he got a handshake from Bryan Braman, a congratulatory headbutt from Chris Polk and a hug from his position coach, Bob Bicknell.

Then Huff met Kelly – his head coach for four of the last five seasons. They embraced for a few seconds, and Kelly had some words for the rookie wide receiver. Read more »

Inside Voices: Kelly And the Balance Of Power

(Photo courtesy of USA Today)

(Photo courtesy of USA Today)

Jeffrey Lurie designed the power structure so that the proper checks and balances were built in.

When he hired Chip Kelly, he set it up so that both the head coach and general manager Howie Roseman would report directly to him. He decided to give Kelly final say on the 53-man roster to even the scales, he said, which would suggest Roseman had heavy influence over the draft and free agency.

“It made sense to balance the player personnel and head coaching, and empower them both, and force a complete collaboration,” Lurie told the Inquirer last September. “That was the strategy behind it. You didn’t have to force it. Happened naturally.”

Kelly seemed on board with that concept. At his introductory press conference, he said that he wasn’t looking for full control and had little interest in owning various titles.

“I just want to coach football,” he said.

His reach has extended well beyond the x’s and o’s, of course. Kelly watches college film on Saturdays during the season and hits the road (often with vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble) in the offseason. By all accounts, he attends more Pro Days than any other head coach in the league.

Roseman spearheads the draft process and there is a host of quality personnel men searching for talent year-round, but it’s impossible to ignore the Kelly influence over the past two drafts.

“We haven’t really gotten there,” Kelly said, when asked who has final say over draft choices. “I think everybody wants to know that, like really what happens in there. But it never gets to that point. I think we look at it, analyze it and kind of come to the same conclusion. But I haven’t yet sat there and I want him and he wants him and then, you know, are we going to box for it?”

Up until recently, the Eagles’ higher-ups had presented a unified front when it came to the personnel process. But when one of his players came under fire a couple weeks back, Kelly put on the gloves for the first time publicly. Read more »

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