Here’s what we saw during today’s Eagles-Cowboys game. Read more »
This morning we yield the floor to Jeremiah Trotter.
We asked the Axe Man to give his take on the Eagles’ linebacker play through six games, and he obliged. Pretty simple exercise: we fired a player’s name at Trotter, and he shot back with some analysis. This is how he sees it. Read more »
TAMPA, Fla. — Here’s a look at how the Eagles divvied up playing time Sunday afternoon against the Bucs. Read more »
Here are 10 things to know about how the Eagles’ defense matches up with the Giants’ offense. Read more »
It’s time to run to the mailbox and steal the report card before Mom and Pops get their hands on it.
OK, fine. Apparently, that’s not how things work nowadays. But you get the idea. We’re a quarter of the way into the season, so it’s time to give out some grades. We’ll do the defense today (position-by-position) and deal with the offense in a future post. Read more »
The thinking goes like this: The offense plays fast all game long, but doesn’t always score or string together long drives. This leads to short breaks for the defense, too much time on the field and late-game fatigue.
On its surface, the theory seems to have some merit. The problem? There’s no real evidence to back it.
“Each team’s gonna get their number of possessions in games,” Ryans said. “I don’t feel like it’s totally skewed one way or the other.”
And he’s absolutely right.
Football Outsiders tracks such things, and their numbers show that 11 teams have been on the field for more drives than the Eagles through the first three weeks of the season. The Eagles’ D has been on the field for 36 possessions; the league average is 35.
In other words, the offense is not putting the defense on the field more. The defense is just doing a poor job of getting off the field.
“It’s getting better on third down and getting ourselves off the field,” Ryans said. “I feel like we keep shooting ourselves in the foot so much that we’re playing more plays because of the mistakes that we’re making.
“The point is we have to get off the field. We’ve been on the field you said 40 minutes a game. Most of those times we probably missed a tackle, missed a play, missed an assignment where we could have been off the field, and that time could have been shortened. So as we focus on ourselves more and play better, tackle better, communicate better, we’ll get off the field. And we’ll spend less time on the field.”
The numbers back Ryans’ sentiment. The Eagles’ D has been on the field for an average of 6.47 plays per drive. That ranks 29th in the NFL, per Football Outsiders. They’ve forced a three-and-out 11.1 percent of the time. Only the Vikings have been worse.
Again, the issues right now on defense have nothing to do with the offense’s pace. The Eagles’ defense is not on the field for more possessions than the average NFL team. Projected over a 16-game season, the D will be on the field for 192 possessions. As friend of the blog Sam Lynch points out, that’s not really different from previous seasons.
From 2008 to 2012, the Eagles’ D averaged 188.6 drives per season. If the defense keeps its current pace, we’re talking about 3.4 more drives over the course of an entire season, an insignificant amount.
The bottom line? The defense needs to do a better job of getting off the field, regardless of what’s happening on the other side of the ball.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Billy Davis is turning to the Eagles’ past for help with Peyton Manning, writes T-Mac.
“If I was a betting man, I’d take the Eagles,” says LeSean McCoy.
All-22: Behind the read option, the Eagles have turned into the best rushing team in the NFL.
A roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles this week.
DeSean Jackson is looking forward to his matchup with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Also, be sure to give Birds 24/7 a follow on Twitter. In addition to sending out links, there will be additional contests/promotions. Rumor has it that T-shirt giveaways may even be involved!
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Doug Farrar of SI.com gives Chip Kelly a B for his performance so far:
The grade would be lower if I was expecting the Eagles to compete for the division this season, and if Philly’s secondary could do … well, much of anything. Kelly has revitalized Michael Vick’s career to a point, but the quick-quick nature of his offense also plays to Vick’s decision-making liabilities, and it’s clear that there are times when this offense is moving too quickly for just about everybody. On the plus side, he’s got a potential NFL MVP in LeSean McCoy, and everybody knows that this will be a process that takes multiple seasons, probably a different quarterback and definitely a few new pieces on defense.
Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com offers thoughts on fixing the defense:
Time and experience will only cure so many things. Some of the errors come down to guys just being sloppy and not executing well. Mychal Kendricks is too talented to miss as many tackles as he is. I think his biggest problem is playing too fast. He ends up off-balance and reaching or diving for the ball. Kendricks needs to play more under control and keep his feet under him so he’s got a good base and can be in good tackling position. Before you get too worried about him, remember that another Eagles 2nd round pick had tackling issues when he was young…some kid named Brian Dawkins.
The coaches are working with players to fix their issues. Some of the problems will go away this year. Others will take longer. Some will never go away, which may lead the player to go away.
We’ll hear from Kelly and the players. Tonight is Birds 24/7 Radio on 97.5 The Fanatic. We’ll be broadcasting live from Smiths at 6 p.m.
The Eagles dropped their second game in a row Thursday night, suffering a 26-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s plenty to discuss the morning after. Here are three leftovers from the locker room and press conferences.
1. The talk among offensive players was more about individual mistakes than Chip Kelly’s concepts not working.
The Eagles turned the ball over five times, Michael Vick played poorly, and the offensive line had issues all night long. LeSean McCoy, who still managed to run for 158 yards, was asked about the excitement following the victory over the Redskins, compared to where the Eagles are now.
“I don’t want to forget about that game,” he said. “We’re still that dominant offense. We’re still that dominant team. …I think as an offense, we’ve just got to make it easy for ourselves. Execute the play that’s called, get them guys tired, get the tempo up and keep going.”
Added Kelly: “We have to come back and not put ourselves in these situations. You can’t turn the ball over like that in this league and expect to win. We can move the ball up and down the field. We’ve proven that. But if we’re going to put the ball on the ground as we did in the first half and throw interceptions, that’s not going to win football games for us.”
2. The Eagles went for two after Vick’s touchdown pass to Jason Avant in the first quarter. The “swinging gate” formation is something Kelly used at Oregon, but when Alex Henery lateraled the ball to Zach Ertz, he was stuffed.
“We thought we’ve worked on it for awhile,” Kelly said. “We thought when we scored our first touchdown, we were going to try to line up. If the number count was right, we were going to fire it over there and see if we could get it in.”
Asked if the number count was right, Kelly said: “Yeah, we thought it was. The guy came from the inside and tackled us.”
It’s worth noting that the two-point conversion is not a pre-determined call. If they don’t get a look they like, they can shift back and kick the extra point.
3. For much of the game, the defense played pretty well. But early in the fourth quarter, when it looked like the Eagles might have a shot to steal a victory, Billy Davis’ unit came up short. The Chiefs had just botched their kickoff return and had starting field position at their own 5-yard line. Earl Wolff brought Jamaal Charles down after a 3-yard reception. And Brandon Graham then sacked Alex Smith for a 3-yard loss.
But that’s when Smith reached back and made his most impressive throw of the night, fitting the ball into a tight window between Bradley Fletcher and Nate Allen. Donnie Avery came up with the 15-yard reception, and the Chiefs were able to kill 8:15 off the clock before adding three more points to the scoreboard.
“It’s tough because we had them early,” said DeMeco Ryans. “We had ‘em in third-and-long. They make a play on us and I think that kind of took the energy out of us defensively. But we still gotta stand up and hold. But we had ‘em right there. Credit to them. They made a play.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Post-game observations from the Eagles’ loss.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com offers his thoughts on Vick:
Big-time regression from Michael Vick Thursday night. Yeah, the Chiefs are by far the best defense he’s faced this year, but the mistakes he made were awfully discouraging. You’d like to think he was beyond the poor decisions that led to the two interceptions he threw (two more were negated by penalties, another was dropped) and the five sacks he took. But it wasn’t just the mistakes. Vick was really inaccurate, too, misfiring on some pretty routine throws. He finished 13 for 30 for 41 percent — his second-lowest completion percentage as an Eagle. Without an efficient and productive Vick, the Eagles really have no chance.
Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com chimes in on Kelly:
With so much attention on the return of Andy Reid, Kelly’s predecessor, the first-year coach could have made a bold statement about the Eagles’ new world order. Instead, Kelly has lost his first two home games and seen his offense solved by an NFL defensive coordinator. Four days after admitting he didn’t manage the clock properly in the final minutes of a 33-30 loss to San Diego, Kelly has even more profound questions about the long-term effectiveness of his scheme.
We’ll hear from Kelly at 1 and have plenty more.