All-22: Close-Up On Kelly’s Use Of the Mesh

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Chip Kelly went into his first year unsure of exactly how opposing defensive coordinators would match up with the Eagles.

What he found out fairly quickly was that the most common strategy was a ton of man coverage. Crowd the box against LeSean McCoy, play with one deep safety and force the Eagles’ passing attack to make plays over the top.

For the most part, Kelly had answers. The offense set franchise records for yards, points and touchdowns. The Eagles also led the league in pass plays of 20+ yards. And one of the most popular concepts the Eagles employed against man coverage was the mesh.

To break down the mesh concept, we called on Villanova wide receivers coach Brian Flinn. Flinn has studied Kelly’s offensive concepts for years and was kind enough to go over the intricacies of this particular one with Birds 24/7.

Meanwhile, Kelly did a film series with PhiladelphiaEagles.com and talked about this play at various points throughout the season. His explanations are also mixed in. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Kelce On Culture Change

Jason Kelce

Jason Kelce has developed into a respected voice over his three-plus years in Philadelphia, so his comments regarding the team’s decision to move on from DeSean Jackson — delivered just 20 minutes after the receiver was cut — carried some weight.

Some took this as evidence that Jackson’s teammates were glad to see the enigmatic receiver go. This theory was bolstered by a report — filled with anonymous quotes allegedly coming from various  members of the organization — suggesting Jackson was a “blatantly insubordinate” distraction that needed to be removed. Kelce was quick to distance himself from those who did not attach their names to their opinions (“You’ll never see me hide behind the title ‘Unnamed source,’” he said), and on Monday explained the intended meaning of his message as the clouds of controversy swirled outside the NovaCare walls. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: On Some Money Matters

Eagles QB Nick Foles talks to WR Desean Jackson during the Eagles-Cowboys game. 10/20/13
Now seems like a good time for a little cap clarity.

The 2012 draft class will be eligible for new contracts at the end of the season, and that’s a pretty big deal for the Eagles. Their philosophy is to identify the key young players, invest in them, and build out from there. The ’12 group consists of Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Nick Foles and Brandon Boykin. That’s a big part of the projected core moving forward, and includes a Pro Bowl quarterback that could be in line for a monster raise.

Howie Roseman recently suggested that releasing DeSean Jackson was financially-driven in part, and that tough decisions like that have to be made in order to build the team properly.

But was it really necessary?  Were there alternatives? What kind of money will Foles command? And what type of financial shape is the team in overall? For answers, we called on former agent and salary cap expert Joel Corry. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Grading the Offseason

NCAA Football: Louisville at Connecticut

The Eagles’ roster is unlikely to undergo any major changes between now and the Week 1 opener against the Jaguars in September.

There will be depth moves throughout the summer, but the 22 guys who will win starting jobs are likely already here.

Keeping that in mind, a five-man crew over at ESPN.com (Insider) handed out offseason grades for every NFL team. Overall, the Eagles received a B. An anonymous GM was consulted for the piece:

“They wanted [safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix] at [No. 22], but it didn’t work out for them, so they took Marcus Smith, who was closer to a second-round talent and not a great scheme fit,” the GM said, in reference to Clinton-Dix coming off the board at No. 21 and Philly then trading back with Cleveland to No. 26, where the Eagles took Smith.

If forced to hand out a grade, mine would be less generous, but for different reasons. Below is a quick review of what I liked and didn’t like, now that we have a chance to see how it all pieces together. Read more »

Fairness Argument With DeSean a Tough Sell

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The timing was curious, to say the least.

At 12:05 p.m. on March 28, NJ.com published a story saying the Eagles were concerned with DeSean Jackson’s alleged ties to gang members. At 12:40, the Eagles sent out a 25-word statement saying they had released the wide receiver.

And then silence. For 30 days.

The strategy seemed obvious. Use the gang affiliation story as cover for what would be deemed a peculiar and unpopular decision by many. Yet the way the team’s brass explains it, the Eagles were actually doing Jackson a favor by releasing him when they did. Read more »

Chip: DeSean Release Was A Football Decision

Chip Kelly sideline watching
Football decision.

That was the term Chip Kelly (as well as owner Jeffrey Lurie) kept going back to when addressing the release of DeSean Jackson for the first time.

Kelly, speaking at the Eagles 18th annual playground build at Prince Hall School in North Philadelphia, suggested the move was about x’s and o’s and not related to off-field behavior or concerns about the receiver’s influence on the locker room.

“It has nothing to do with anything that was ever written in a newspaper article or any off-field behavior from him,” said Kelly. “DeSean was great in the year that I was with him. Wish him nothing but the best in terms of where he is going to be.

“I know he’s down in Washington now, we’ll face him twice a year. I have nothing but good things to say about DeSean.” Read more »

Lurie: DeSean Not a Good Fit In Chip’s Offense

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets

Jeffrey Lurie’s impressions of DeSean Jackson’s on-field performance in 2013 seems to be different than that of most other observers.

Speaking at the Eagles’ 18th annual playground build at Prince Hall Elementary School in North Philadelphia, the team’s owner addressed Jackson’s release for the first time.

“Really it was a football decision,” Lurie said. “Chip [Kelly] and his people were incredibly clear that for us to get better, we needed to take a step back and reconfigure the wide receiver position. Common to a lot of really smart coaches, he knows exactly what he wants at every position. And for Chip on offense, it just wasn’t a good fit. It just was not a good fit for what he asks for wide receivers to do. He can explain that to you, but it just was not a fit. He was so clear that we had to get better.” Read more »

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