Sorry Birds Fans, but the Eagles Won’t Win the Super Bowl This Year

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

I am as excited about this coming season as any Eagles fan. I gobble up every item from Sheil Kapadia and Tim McManus on Birds 24/7. I jockey between the two Philadelphia talk radio stations to catch every Eagles point. I’ll even watch the meaningless fourth pre-season game to see if Ifeanyi Momah can make the team.

Excitement is fueled by expectations; and expectations were fueled by The Statement.

It was a statement that can launch the already high hopes of excited Eagles fans into the stratosphere of unreasonable expectations. The Statement came from none other than NFL booth expert Cris Collinsworth. When asked to name his Super Bowl favorite, the first team out of his mouth was “Eagles.”

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Eyes On Barbre As Johnson Suspension Looms

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

One last cameo for Lane Johnson before he disappears for four weeks.

Once the rosters are finalized on Saturday, Johnson’s four-game suspension kicks in. He is not allowed to participate in team activities, use the team’s facilities or have contact with any club officials (except to arrange off-site medical treatment) during this time. Johnson will play in the preseason finale Thursday night against the Jets, and then he’s cut off. Read more »

Playmaker: The Rise Of Brandon Boykin

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Training Camp

On the basketball court is where Al Boykin first really took notice.

Big brother was a high school sophomore and had grown accustomed to having to drag Brandon along with him wherever he went. On this occasion, the setup was a two-on-two game against a couple of older kids in their neighborhood.

“At first, it started out as, ‘Man, I gotta play with my brother. He’s six years younger than us. It might not be much of a game,’ ” Al recalled. “And then we started playing. He was actually killing the other guy. At that point, it was like, ‘Yeah, you could play, bro.’ It was good. And we just rolled it from there.”

Alfred, their father, saw it on the baseball diamond at a much earlier age.

“When he was 5-years-old, I put him in T-ball,” he said. “And I saw that he understood exactly what he needed to do right away. I didn’t have to teach him or anything. He was just 5-years-old, a little kid, and he loved it. …He was a fast learner. He loved sports.”

In every class, there is a kid who seems to win every race. The guy who plays quarterback and shortstop. The one who’s able to climb the ropes with ease, while others struggle to make it past the bottom knot. The first one picked, and the last one standing.

In Fayetteville, Ga., that kid was Brandon Boykin. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Getting Cut By Chip

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

For Emmanuel Acho, cut-down day last year was all positive. The Eagles’ linebacker had played well in the preseason and earned a surprise spot on the 53-man roster.

But things change quickly in the NFL, and two days later, Acho got a call from GM Howie Roseman, telling him the team was letting him go in favor of Najee Goode.

Acho made his way to the NovaCare Complex, but it wasn’t just to turn in his playbook. He met separately with Chip Kelly, Billy Davis and linebackers coach Rick Minter. The process wasn’t exclusive to Acho. The Eagles offer the same courtesy to every player who is let go.

“Obviously every guy that’s here that’s part of the 90-man roster, their lifelong dream is to be an NFL football player,” Kelly said. “To be the one to have to tell them that it’s not gonna happen here is difficult, and it’s something that is inevitable. You have to go from 90 to 75 and from 75 to 53. It’s part of the job, but it’s not a fun part of the job. We make sure that every player meets with me, every player meets with his position coach, every player meets with the coordinator on their side of the ball. You try to be as human as you can with it, but it’s always a difficult time when someone’s goal is to play in this league.” Read more »

All-22: The Eagles And Four Verticals

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At the start of training camp in July, Chip Kelly was asked about how Mark Sanchez was adapting to a new offensive scheme.

“A lot of things that all of us do, no matter where you’re coaching… it’s still four verticals,” he said. “We call it differently than the way Marty [Mornhinweg] called it, but they ran four verticals here at the Eagles. Marty runs four verticals when you watch the Jets tape. We run four verticals.”

Eagles offensive coaches mention four verticals often – usually when they’re trying to get the point across that they’re not doing anything all that innovative.

The passing concept is used around the league and really at every level of football. Quarterback G.J. Kinne says he remembers first learning it as a freshman in high school. Wide receiver Jeff Maehl says Oregon ran four verticals when he played for Kelly in college.

Once again, to help explain the concept, we called on our old friend Coach Flinn, along with some of the current Eagles players and coaches. Read more »

Chip And the Up-Tempo Movement

Foles Steelers
Bill Walsh
predicted the up-tempo movement in his 1997 book titled, Finding the Winning Edge.

In a chapter called “Determining the Future Dynamics of Offense in the NFL,” he envisions a league where teams only huddle when the clock is stopped and use single-word audibles to call out a play.

The quarterback will look to the sideline the instant the whistle blows on the previous play to see which personnel combination is entering the game. The designated coach indicates the formation to the quarterback and whether he should audible his own play or will receive a play call from the coach. All of these steps will occur without a huddle.

The movement is upon us. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Davis Counting On the Blitz

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

By just about any statistical measure, the Eagles’ pass defense has plenty of room for improvement.

Football Outsiders had the Birds ranked 25th overall against the pass last year. Despite a focus on limiting big plays, Billy Davis’ unit was burned for 62 completions of 20+ yards, fourth-most in the NFL.

Any time the pass defense struggles, coaches point to two specific areas: pass-rush and coverage. The latter should see an improvement with Malcolm Jenkins filling in for Patrick Chung. The addition of cornerback Nolan Carroll II could help as well.

But the team did very little to bolster the pass-rush. The only significant addition up front was Marcus Smith II. And based on what we’ve seen in the preseason, Smith is unlikely to provide much pass-rush as a rookie. Combine that with the fact that illegal contact downfield is a point of emphasis for officials, and Davis thinks sending extra pressure might be his best chance for improvement. Read more »

Rule Emphasis Affects Man Coverage, Benefits Eagles

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Billy Davis felt like words alone couldn’t get his message across, so he reached over and grabbed the sleeve of a reporter’s shirt with his thumb and index finger.

“They’re throwing everything. They’re not playing. That one that got us off the field… [Tom] Brady to Curtis Marsh, the 3rd-and-3. I swear, it was that,” he said, barely yanking on the sleeve. “But it was that. He did it. So the flag was our’s. But it was only that. It wasn’t the pull where it moved his body. It was a feeler cloth deal. Can’t complain because we did it, but…”

Defensive coaches at the NovaCare Complex are walking a fine line. They don’t want to make excuses when asked about the new emphasis on illegal contact downfield. But they want to be honest in explaining that the job of defenders in coverage just got a whole lot more difficult.

What’s perhaps more fascinating, though, when it comes to the Eagles is how the emphasis affects the other side of the ball. Read more »

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