Three-And-Out: Eagles-Redskins Predictions

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
Player I’ll be watching

McManus: Emmanuel Acho. 

Chip Kelly says that both Acho and Casey Matthews have been splitting reps at inside linebacker in Mychal Kendricks‘ absence, but the thought here is that Acho will get the starting nod and the bulk of the playing time.

Before injuring his calf late in the third quarter against Indianapolis, Kendricks was playing at an elite level. He had a team-high 13 tackles against Jacksonville and has 20 tackles, a sack and three hurries in all. Billy Davis sent Kendricks after the quarterback 24 times in the first two games. He is the highest-rated pass-rusher among all inside linebackers in the early going, according to Pro Football Focus. Along with Fletcher Cox, Kendricks has arguably been the biggest difference-maker on defense so far.

He will not play Sunday and if we’re talking about a Grade 2 strain here, could be out 2-3 weeks. The defense will not be the same without him. There’s really no getting around that. Davis doesn’t need Acho (or Matthews) to be a standout, but can’t afford for him to be a liability. Alfred Morris is currently the league’s fourth-leading rusher and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Backup running backs Roy Helu and Silas Redd are both averaging over five yards per carry. It would be nice if Acho could get after quarterback Kirk Cousins on occasion, but the Eagles will be satisfied if he helps to keep the run game and short-to-intermediate pass game in check.

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All-22: McCoy’s 3rd-And-15 Run

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Chip Kelly admitted afterwards that the call wasn’t part of some grand plan. He was, in fact, deciding to be somewhat conservative and play to the game situation.

The Eagles were down 20-13 in the third quarter against the Colts and facing a 3rd-and-15 from the Indianapolis 31. That’s when Kelly decided to go to old reliable: an inside zone run.

“I was actually thinking if we could get into field goal range,” he said. “They were doing a great job when you get into real long yardage situations… they are going to rush three, they are going to drop everybody in coverage. There are not a lot of holes in there to fit a ball in, so I said, ‘Screw it. Let’s run it and get out of it.’ ”

That was the thought process, but 21 yards later, LeSean McCoy had a first down. Darren Sproles would score from 19 yards out three plays later to tie the game. Read more »

Inside Voices: How the Eagles Landed Sproles

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Sproles found out about his impending release from the Saints via Twitter.

Three seasons. Over 5,500 yards. Twenty-one touchdowns. No heads up.

“They didn’t call me and tell me nothing,” said Sproles following Thursday’s practice. “I just felt that it was disrespectful, you know what I’m saying? Y’all could have told me first.”

Instead he learned of his fate on social media and quickly contacted his agent. Word was spreading throughout the league as well. Read more »

Kendricks Sidelined, Seems Unlikely To Play

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Mychal Kendricks did not practice Thursday. He is “day-to-day” with a calf strain according to Chip Kelly, though it seems unlikely that the linebacker will be ready for Sunday’s game against the Redskins.

“I don’t know what his status may be until the end of the week. We’ll see if there’s something he can do tomorrow or maybe Saturday but right now, he’s very doubtful,” said Kelly.

Asked to clarify, Kelly meant that him being “very doubtful” applied to today’s practice as opposed to the game, then allowed that there really was no doubt at all — Kendricks would not be practicing. Emmanuel Acho and Casey Matthews are both rotating in with the ones in his absence, per the head coach. As Sheil reported yesterday, Marcus Smith is getting time inside as well while they deal with a shortage at the inside linebacker spot.

Kelly does not like discussing injuries, and grew frustrated when reporters continued to ask about Kendricks’ calf. Read more »

All-22: The Emergence Of Zach Ertz

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With 5:15 left in the third quarter of Monday night’s game against the Colts, the Eagles needed someone to step up and make a play.

They were trailing 20-6 and faced a 3rd-and-11 from their own 43. They had a good hunch of what the Colts were going to do on defense: rush three and drop eight.

Zach Ertz lined up in the slot. He would run an over route downfield to the opposite hash mark. Read more »

Chip Kelly’s Secret Weapons Are College Professors

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is known for his meticulous attention to detail in improving his football team: The players get customized smoothies. He runs an up-tempo offense in an attempt to keep the defense off guard. And he brings in college professors to learn more about building a winner.

Kelly, obviously, learns from other football coaches. But he also has invited college professors from subjects that run the gamut from cognitive psychology to African-American history. “Chip says, ‘This guy, with his social sciences or psychology or statistical model or his understanding of African-American history, let’s bring him in and see if there’s even one idea or one sentence that is a piece of trying to get done what I’m trying to accomplish,’” Harry Edwards, a professor emeritus at the University of California-Berkeley and expert on race relations who has advised Kelly, told the Wall Street Journal. “He is always searching for the missing piece and he realizes it could be a piece you can’t find in the athletic arena.”

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Highlights From Chip Kelly’s Press Conference

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

The Eagles were able to escape Indianapolis with a 30-27 win and a 2-0 record. They are on top of their division and have the No. 1 ranked offense in the league through two weeks. And yet much of the conversation in the locker room late Monday night was about the need to clean up various aspects of their game.

“I think they’re very honest in their assessments and that they can improve,” said Chip Kelly of his players at his day-after press conference. “No one should be patting themselves on the back anywhere. We’re fortunate to be 2-0, we’ve done a great job of coming back in both games but there’s a lot of work in every aspect of the game that we need to work on. That’s the great thing about this group, they understand that.” Read more »

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