Day-After Notes: Crossing Up Coverages

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — You saw it time and time again in the Eagles’ 39-26 win over the Packers: crossing routes. Philadelphia used them on touchdowns, big plays and first downs, and Green Bay seemingly had no answer for them.

“It’s a main-staple in our offense,” said Jeff Maehl, who caught a nine-yard touchdown pass last night. “We have a lot of guys going different ways and since we get so much man coverage, it’s hard when two guys cross with each other to either stay with your guy or pass him off. Coach [Chip] Kelly does a great job of putting us in the right position and giving us a chance to make plays.”

Because of the Eagles’ success with the passing concept, you’d think defenses would switch to zone more often. However, as Sam Bradford noted after the game, the Packers ran a lot of man-to-man coverage.

The reason for that, according to Maehl, actually has nothing to do with the passing game. Read more »

Sam Bradford Perfect Against Packers

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — After his rusty Eagles debut last Saturday, Sam Bradford turned in a perfect performance in Philadelphia’s 39-26 win over the Packers, completing all 10 of his passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns.

“I thought he was really poised out there, had a really good command of what we were doing, [and] really located the football,” Chip Kelly said. “I thought he played really well.”

Bradford led the Eagles to a 38-yard scoring drive on the first series of the game after Raheem Mostert’s 67-yard kick return. He capped it off with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles (video below courtesy of the Eagles). Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: DeMarco Murray’s Debut

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

It’s not a monster. Not yet, at least. But after Saturday’s showing, it’s well on its way to becoming one.

DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles displayed only a sliver of their powers in the Eagles’ 40-17 win over the Ravens, yet the trio still produced 10 carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns.

“Obviously, we have a good group of running backs,” Murray said. “It’s going to be hard for teams to really focus on one running back and I think it is going to be good that we are all going to be fresh and going in and out of the game.” Read more »

Staley: ‘We Won’t Have Any Problems’

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

The members of the original three-headed monster had to swallow their pride. Playing for a pass-happy coach like Andy Reid, carries were hard to come by anyway. Now they were being asked to divide those limited touches three ways. Correll Buckhalter led the team with 126 rushing attempts (only 7.8 carries per game) in 2003. Brian Westbrook got 117 carries. Duce Staley toted the ball just 96 times.

More than a decade later, Chip Kelly has assembled his own talented three-man group. The question is worth asking: are there enough carries to go around?
Read more »

JaCorey Shepherd Injured During Practice

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

The Eagles depth at corner may be a little thinner today after JaCorey Shepherd was carted off the field with what seemed to be an injury to his right leg.

Shepherd collided with Darren Sproles on the far sideline after the running back made a catch and turned up field. He stayed down after the play and was attended to by the Eagles training staff before he was able to stand up and gingerly walk to a nearby cart that took him back to the training room.

The rookie sixth-round pick appeared to be the favorite to land the nickel spot vacated by Brandon Boykin, but that could very well change depending on the prognosis of his injury. Chip Kelly talked about the depth the team has at corner on the first day of training camp and explained the different guys who would be competing for that spot.

“We’re going to run everyone through there, to be honest with you,” the coach said. “We have so many training sessions between now and when we play against the Falcons, we’ll get enough reps [to determine] who will be the nickel at that time, there’s a lot of candidates. [Walter Thurmond] will stay at safety right now, you won’t see him at nickel. JaCorey Shepherd will be in there, you’ll see [Jaylen] Watkins in there, E.J. Biggers has played in there so we’ll mix and match and try to get as many reps as we possibly can for those guys.” Read more »

Running Diary: Eagle Practice Observations

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Here’s what we saw during Friday’s practice at the NovaCare Complex.

11:36 – Let’s start with who’s here. DeMarco Murray’s back, but he did not participate fully as he recovers from an illness.

Kiko Alonso (concussion) was out for the second day in a row. Mychal Kendricks was on the field, but not in pads and did not participate. No reason was given by the team. And the same can be said for Zach Ertz. Read more »

Eagles Wake Up Call: RB Training Camp Preview

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Leading up to training camp on August 2, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. Let’s start with the running backs.

The pressing question: Can DeMarco Murray do it again?

The reigning rushing champ racked up 1,845 yards on the ground and outgained his closest competitor (Le’Veon Bell) by nearly 500 yards in 2014, yet has curiously faced a degree of criticism from some members of the running back fraternity for not doing more.

Former teammate Joseph Randle kickstarted the narrative by saying he felt like “there was a lot of meat left on the bone” last season.  Emmitt Smith followed that up by suggesting Murray could have run for 2,500 yards behind that Cowboys’ offensive line. LaDainian Tomlinson agrees. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Ertz Putting In the Work

Photo Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Ertz has spent the 2015 offseason tracking down extra edge.

He sought the counsel of tight end great Tony Gonzalez. Studied under former offensive line coach Hudson Houck to improve his blocking. For strength and conditioning, he joined Darren Sproles out in San Diego to work with renowned trainer Todd Durkin.

LaDainian Tomlinson was Durkin’s first NFL client, and the tree quickly grew branches from there. Tomlinson brought in Sproles and other Chargers teammates like Drew Brees, who has now been with Durkin for 12 years. The client list also features Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer and Reggie Bush, among others. Scroll down to the bottom left and you’ll find current Eagles tight end coach Justin Peele, who played 10 seasons in the league. Seeing the benefits of training with Durkin, Peele recommended that Ertz make the trip out west.

“The big thing that we want to do is number one, get Zach in the best shape of his life and then make sure he has the mental frame approach because he has been working with some of these elite guys,” said Durkin a couple weeks back. “Zach is one of these guys that has the ‘it’ factor. He has that mental ability and desire to be great, and he’s doing everything he needs to do to put himself into the upper-echelon of tight ends in the league. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Eagles Players Gather On West Coast

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

A good number of Eagles gathered in San Diego this week to get some work and a little bonding time in before the start of training camp.

There were 11 team members in all, including Mark Sanchez, Darren Sproles and Zach Ertz, who joined forces to host their own mini minicamp of sorts.

Sanchez has held offseason get-togethers dating back to his New York days — a week that was once known as “Jets West.” This year was more of a collaborative effort, as it was conducted with the help of renowned trainer Todd Durkin and his staff at Fitness Quest 10. Durkin, whose client list includes stars such as LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees, has been working with Sproles for the past seven years and with Ertz since February. Together, they came up with a comprehensive program for the week.

“Every day they’ve had field work where they’ve been on the field and doing their install,” said Durkin. “After they do the weight room work they go over to the high school and they watch film for about an hour and then we do our warm-up with them and bring them through all their agility and movement stuff, and then Mark leads their install and they do all that.” Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Sproles’ Role In 2015

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

There has been a lot of turnover in the Eagles backfield the past few months, but one thing has stayed the same: the presence of Darren Sproles.

Sproles was acquired last offseason in a trade with the New Orleans Saints and immediately made an impact. In the season opener against the Jaguars, he took a handoff on 4th-and-1 and raced 49 yards to the end zone. The very next week, Sproles torched the Colts for 152 receiving yards and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

However, fewer opportunities and an injury he sustained against the Giants slowed Sproles’ production down the stretch. There were times after Mark Sanchez took over where the pair had chances for big plays in the passing game, but they were unable to capitalize. Read more »

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