Dion Lewis Traded To the Browns For LB Acho

The Eagles have shipped Dion Lewis to the Cleveland Browns for linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

It was no secret that the 22-year-old Lewis was on the block. Chip Kelly sees three quality running back options in LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and second-year back Chris Polk. The 5-8, 195-pound Lewis apparently did not fit the bill for the new head coach.

Lewis slipped on the depth chart last season and finished with 13  carries for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Acho (6-1, 240) was drafted in the sixth round by the Browns last season.  The 22-year-old Texas alum was placed on injured reserve in 2012 with a leg injury and did not see any game action.

His linebackers coach in Cleveland last season was Billy Davis, the new Eagles defensive coordinator.

Acho, who played inside linebacker for the Longhorns, ran a 4.68 4o at last year’s combine. NFL.com offered this overview prior to the ’12 draft:

Acho is a strong physical talent out of Texas who has been a productive force inside for the Longhorns the past two years. There are certain hitches in his athletic ability and running motion that inhibit him on the field, but he shows up consistently and knows how to tackle and play well in the box. He has shown the ability to be a special teamer at the next level and seems to have the temperamant to contribute there.

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All-22: What We Saw From Foles This Week

Here’s the All-22 look at what we saw from Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense last week (when they weren’t fumbling, that is).

Play 1: I’ve heard Greg Cosell of NFL Films talk about young quarterbacks sometimes deciding where they’re going with the ball pre-snap. That might have been the case on this 3rd-and-3 incompletion to Clay Harbor.


Harbor ran a go-route down the left sideline. But he was matched up one-on-one with cornerback Leon Hall. That’s not a favorable matchup for the Eagles. Situation here is also important. Foles had Bryce Brown at the bottom of your screen. It was 3rd-and-3. He probably should have taken the easy throw and moved the chains. Instead, the Eagles had to punt.

Play 2: One of Foles’ best qualities is sensing pressure and creating space while keeping his eyes downfield. We see it every week. On this first-quarter throw, you can see he’s got nowhere to go when he takes his initial drop.


Foles feels pressure from both sides as the pocket begins to collapse.


But he scrambles to his left, and Jason Avant does a great job of helping him out by scurrying towards the sideline. The result is a 25-yard completion.


Play 3: When evaluating Foles, we must acknowledge that he’s playing with a bunch of backups. There was one point last week where the offense was without 10 of its 11 projected starters from the beginning of the season. On this third-down play in the first, Foles just has nowhere to go with the football.


The receivers are blanketed, and the Bengals send a blitz. Jake Scott fails to switch off to No. 93, who is basically rushing free at Foles. He has to get rid of the ball quickly.


Foles targeted Cooper on a slant, but the pass was broken up. The Eagles wanted a flag, but didn’t get one. I thought the loss of DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy really showed in this game.

Play 4: Andy Reid admitted after the game that Brown probably didn’t need to bounce a few of his runs to the outside. I wonder if this was one he was referring to.


It was a delayed handoff in the first. You can see King Dunlap, Evan Mathis and Harbor have it blocked pretty well if Brown cuts upfield, but instead, he tries to get to the edge and is pushed out after a 1-yard run.

Keep in mind, I’m showing this image with the benefit of several replays. And even then, I’m guessing. It’s a split-second decision for Brown. Looked like he had room though.

Play 5: Love the play-call by Marty Mornhinweg in the second quarter. Love the initial execution. Didn’t love the finish.

The Eagles took a play out of their opponents’ playbook. We’ve seen the defense get burned by this on multiple occasions. They ran a fake screen to Damaris Johnson and got the cornerback responsible for Jeremy Maclin to bite.


Johnson and Foles did a good job selling it, and Maclin got free down the right sideline. But two things could have been done better. One is Foles’ throw. He made Maclin slow down and come back for the ball.



And the other, which I mentioned earlier in the week, is Maclin’s inability to make the defensive backs miss in the open field. Maclin does a lot of things well, but I don’t know if he has that one skill that sets him apart. Remember, he’s a free agent after the 2013 season.

Play 6: The Eagles had to settle for a field goal on a second-quarter drive, but had multiple opportunities to get in the end zone. Tough to blame Dion Lewis here. It looked like he initially had some room to the right, but if he cuts it back, he might score.


Play 7: And as much as we rip the Eagles for over-using the shovel pass, they probably would’ve scored had Brown held on to the football.


There was also Harbor getting stuffed at the 1 by a defensive back, Matt Tennant dropping a ball in the end zone and Dallas Reynolds being called for an illegal snap. In other words, Foles didn’t get much help from his teammates in the red zone.

Play 8: One more example of Foles having nowhere to go with the ball. This is off a play-fake. The Bengals send six at the quarterback and are in man coverage with one safety deep.


Everyone’s covered. Foles forced a short throw to Maclin that got called back anyway because of a holding penalty on Scott.

Play 9: I think Emil Igwenagu delivered the best lead block we’ve seen from an Eagles fullback all year. He starts out by chipping the defensive lineman.


Then Igwenagu gets to the linebacker.


Drives him back.


And takes him to the ground as Brown picks up 8.


Play 10: We’ve already been over the interception. Reid explained that it was a matter of mechanics, not arm strength. One thing to note: Maclin was not wide-open on the play. Take a look at the coverage at the time Foles released the ball.


Hall’s got a couple steps on him. On TV, it looked like Maclin ran past him because Hall slowed down and came back for the ball. Had the throw been better, maybe Maclin would have separated as Hall looked back. But obviously, it was a poor throw that got picked off.

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Eagles Snap Counts: Brasher Tightens DL Rotation

Here’s a look at Eagles snap counts from Thursday’s loss to the Bengals. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Bryce Brown4988%
Dion Lewis59%
Stanley Havili1120%

The Eagles are spelling Bryce Brown less than they did LeSean McCoy. The rookie running back only came off the field for seven snaps. He had 16 carries for 34 yards (2.1 YPC) and had the turnover on the exchange with Nick Foles in the third. After averaging 8.1 yards per carry in his first two starts, Brown has averaged 1.4 in his last two games.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Riley Cooper5598%
Jeremy Maclin5293%
Jason Avant3868%
Damaris Johnson916%
Marvin McNutt12%
Clay Harbor4682%
Emil Igwenagu1323%

Jeremy Maclin led the team with nine targets, but finished with just four catches for 73 yards. He also fumbled on the first drive. Jason Avant had three catches for 44 yards on four targets. Despite playing 55 of 56 snaps, Riley Cooper had just three catches for 20 yards.

Emil Igwenagu saw his first action of the season, but was not targeted. Clay Harbor started for Brent Celek and had three catches for 30 yards, but he fumbled too.

I suppose I should have included Matt Tennant here. The backup center has played one snap all season. It came in the red zone late in the first half. Foles targeted Tennant, but threw incomplete in the end zone. I’m guessing many of you are not shocked at the result there.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole6279%
Brandon Graham5267%
Fletcher Cox4963%
Cullen Jenkins4963%
Derek Landri3444%
Cedric Thornton2633%
Vinny Curry1519%
Phillip Hunt1418%
Darryl Tapp1317%

The Eagles’ first-team defensive line is playing more. Graham played 52 snaps, his highest total since Week 1 of his rookie year (per Pro Football Focus). Trent Cole played 62 snaps, his highest total in the past two seasons. Both were productive, combining for 11 tackles and 3.5 sacks, per the game stats.

Vinny Curry is still not seeing a lot of playing time. He was only on the field for 15 snaps. Fletcher Cox has seen a bump the last two weeks. He had 1.5 sacks.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans78100%
Mychal Kendricks7596%
Jamar Chaney3849%
Casey Matthews11%
Akeem Jordan11%

Jamar Chaney once again got the start at SAM, and Mychal Kendricks was at WILL. DeMeco Ryans led the team with nine tackles.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie7799%
Nnamdi Asomugha7697%
Brandon Boykin3950%
Curtis Marsh45%
Nate Allen78100%
Colt Anderson7799%

Colt Anderson once again filled in for Kurt Coleman and exceeded expectations. The Eagles didn’t have many (any?) noticeable breakdowns in the back end, limiting Andy Dalton to 127 yards on 13-for-27 passing. The Eagles didn’t allow a completion of more than 19 yards all game long.

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Eagles Snap Counts: Dion Lewis Sees a Bump

Here’s a look at Eagles snap counts from Sunday’s win over the Bucs. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Bryce Brown5066%
Dion Lewis2634%
Stanley Havili1114%

Dion Lewis had been inactive for six of the Eagles’ first 12 games. But with LeSean McCoy sidelined, he’s been called on to complement starter Bryce Brown. Entering Sunday’s game, Lewis had played a total of 16 snaps all season, according to Pro Football Focus. But against Tampa, he was on the field for a career-high 26 snaps. Lewis only touched the ball twice – once on a carry that lost 4 yards and again on a swing pass that picked up 28. I’m still going through my game review, but Brown had some issues in pass protection early. That could be a reason why Lewis saw an expanded role.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Jeremy Maclin7599%
Jason Avant7193%
Riley Cooper7193%
Damaris Johnson1925%
Marvin McNutt57%
Clay Harbor5167%
Brent Celek11%

With Brent Celek knocked out on the first play from scrimmage, everyone else was called on to pick up the slack. Clay Harbor played 51 snaps – the second-highest total of his career.

Jeremy Maclin sat out only one play and was Nick Foles’ most-targeted (13) receiver. Jason Avant and Riley Cooper only sat out five snaps apiece, as the Eagles stuck with three-receiver sets for much of the game. Damaris Johnson had the muffed punt and played 19 snaps on offense. Rookie Marvin McNutt was active for the first time in his career and played five snaps.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole5374%
Fletcher Cox5069%
Cullen Jenkins5069%
Brandon Graham4765%
Cedric Thornton2535%
Derek Landri2535%
Vinny Curry1622%
Darryl Tapp1521%
Phillip Hunt1318%

Even with Jim Washburn gone, the Eagles went with a rotation along the defensive line, playing all nine guys who were active. Brandon Graham played 47 snaps, his highest number since 2010. Fletcher Cox played 69 percent of the snaps, his second-highest percentage of the season.

Vinny Curry only played 16 snaps, his lowest total in the last three games. You’d think that at some point, Curry would steal away Darryl Tapp’s snaps. But there are only three games left.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans72100%
Mychal Kendricks7199%
Jamar Chaney3346%
Casey Matthews46%
Akeem Jordan23%

The Eagles shook up their linebacker situation. Mychal Kendricks replaced Akeem Jordan at WILL. And Jamar Chaney took over for Kendricks at SAM. As you can see from the snap counts, Kendricks stayed on the field in nickel situations.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie6489%
Nnamdi Asomugha5881%
Brandon Boykin3549%
Curtis Marsh1825%
Brandon Hughes11%
Colt Anderson7097%
Nate Allen7097%

Nnamdi Asomugha left the game briefly and was replaced by Curtis Marsh. Colt Anderson replaced Kurt Coleman at safety.

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Eagles Snap Counts: Washburn’s Final Rotation

Here’s a look at Eagles snap counts from Sunday night’s loss to the Cowboys. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Bryce Brown5689%
Stanley Havili58%
Dion Lewis58%

There’s no easing Bryce Brown in at running back. Andy Reid is taking advantage of those fresh legs as the rookie played 89 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. Of course, Brown’s costly fumble came in the fourth quarter, and Reid said focusing on ball security becomes more difficult when a player is tired.

Even with LeSean McCoy out, Dion Lewis only played five snaps. And the Eagles ran mostly out of single-back sets as Stanley Havili also played five snaps.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Jeremy Maclin6197%
Riley Cooper6298%
Jason Avant5181%
Damaris Johnson58%
Brent Celek5587%
Clay Harbor1524%

Riley Cooper got the start and played all but one snap. He made a great play on a 15-yard touchdown and also caught a slant for 16 yards early on.

Clay Harbor played 15 snaps and was a non-factor. Damaris Johnson played just five snaps on offense, but had the 98-yard punt return for a touchdown.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole4468%
Cullen Jenkins3757%
Mike Patterson3655%
Brandon Graham3148%
Cedric Thornton2945%
Derek Landri2843%
Darryl Tapp2437%
Fletcher Cox2031%
Vinny Curry1929%
Phillip Hunt812%

When Jim Washburn was hired, we heard all about the rotation he liked to utilize. Four men in, four men out throughout the game to keep fresh bodies going after the quarterback. With the Eagles often going with nine or 10 defensive linemen on gamedays, the rotation grew. Even though Brandon Graham got the start, he played just 48 percent of the team’s snaps. Graham produced with 1.5 sacks and four quarterback hits. Vinny Curry played 19 snaps. That number should increase down the stretch.

With Washburn out, it’ll be interesting to see if the Eagles continue to rotate linemen or just play their best guys more. Players like Graham, Fletcher Cox and Curry could surely benefit from more playing time in the final four games.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans6498%
Mychal Kendricks6397%
Akeem Jordan2945%
Casey Matthews812%

Nothing really noteworthy at linebacker. Casey Matthews saw some snaps when DeMeco Ryans went down briefly and was also on the field in goal-line and short-yardage situations.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Nnamdi Asomugha6092%
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie5686%
Brandon Boykin2742%
Curtis Marsh46%
Nate Allen6498%
Kurt Coleman5585%

This group continues to be a complete disaster. As I mentioned last week, we’re looking at a complete overhaul in 2013. Reid was asked if the backups deserve a shot at this point, but the truth is, the Eagles don’t have a lot of talented young players at either cornerback or safety. Curtis Marsh could maybe see some added snaps, but beyond that? Who’s he going to play? David Sims?

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Eagles Snap Counts: DL Rotation Without Babin

Here’s a look at snap counts for the Eagles during their Week 12 loss to the Panthers. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Bryce Brown4182%
Stanley Havili1224%
Dion Lewis816%

Even though he hadn’t had 15+ carries since high school, Bryce Brown carried the load in his first career start. He played the same number of snaps LeSean McCoy normally plays and had 23 touches, including 19 carries, for an Eagles rookie record 178 yards. There were of course the two costly fumbles in the second half, but Brown was one of the few players fans could get excited about.

Dion Lewis had five carries for 24 yards, but played just eight snaps. Stanley Havili had one catch and played 12 snaps.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Jeremy Maclin4998%
Damaris Johnson4080%
Riley Cooper3672%
DeSean Jackson1224%
Brent Celek4386%
Clay Harbor918%

DeSean Jackson left the game in the first quarter, and Jason Avant was inactive because of a hamstring injury. That left the Eagles with just three healthy receivers (newcomer Greg Salas didn’t dress). Behind Jeremy Maclin, Damaris Johnson saw the most action with 40 snaps. Johnson and Riley Cooper combined for just three catches and 20 yards.

I guess we’re seeing what this coaching staff thinks of Clay Harbor. Even though the Eagles only had three healthy receivers, Harbor played just nine snaps and was not targeted.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole4669%
Mike Patterson4466%
Jason Babin4060%
Cullen Jenkins3958%
Brandon Graham3045%
Cedric Thornton2639%
Derek Landri2334%
Vinny Curry2131%
Fletcher Cox57%
Darryl Tapp11%

With Jason Babin out, Brandon Graham figures to take over with the first team at left defensive end. Vinny Curry dressed for the first time all season and had five tackles on 21 snaps yesterday. He played right defensive end, but could also get a shot on the left side with Graham. Darryl Tapp was the odd man out yesterday, and Phillip Hunt was inactive. Tapp won’t be here next year. Graham and Curry figure to see a bump in playing time. And Hunt could get back in the mix too.

Mike Patterson is one of the few good stories on this team. Not only is he back on the field, but with Cox going down with an injury, Patterson played starter’s snaps and had a sack.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans67100%
Mychal Kendricks6597%
Akeem Jordan2842%
Casey Matthews11%

Nothing really to say about the linebackers. The Eagles were in their base defense with Akeem Jordan on 42 percent of the snaps.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Nnamdi Asomugha6699%
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie6699%
Brandon Boykin3451%
Curtis Marsh23%
Nate Allen67100%
Kurt Coleman6699%

Issues continue in the secondary as Kurt Coleman and Brandon Boykin appeared to be responsible for the two early touchdowns. At some point, perhaps the unknowns like Curtis Marsh and David Sims will get an opportunity.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Trade Deadline Approaches

Philadelphia Eagles running back Dion Lewis.The NFL trade deadline will likely come and go today at 4 p.m. (EST) without much of a splash.

What are the chances the Eagles make a deal?

The answer is probably slim, but don’t rule out the possibility altogether. Scanning the roster, you can certainly find areas where the Birds could use some help. Offensive line and safety depth are the two that come to mind. A good special-teams player, regardless of position, would be helpful also. The problem is teams are unlikely to unload quality players who can contribute right away at this point in the season.

As for the Eagles, running back and defensive line are a couple areas where they could look to deal someone. Dion Lewis, for example, has been inactive for six of seven games, as Bryce Brown continues to serve as the team’s backup running back. Chris Polk has played special teams only and has not produced there for Bobby April. My guess is either guy could probably be had, but would a team give something up for Lewis or Polk? I’m not so sure.

On the defensive line, one name to keep an eye on is Darryl Tapp. Tapp has filled in for Trent Cole at right defensive end and has played 31.6 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus. But Jim Washburn could give those snaps to Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt or second-round pick Vinny Curry, who has yet to dress for a game this season.

Also keep in mind that the Eagles currently have 10 defensive linemen on their 53-man roster. They could very well add Mike Patterson (returned to practice last week) soon. Eleven would be a lot to keep, so you could see a preemptive move here.

The Eagles have made a trade (or tried to make a trade) near the deadline in each of the past three seasons. Last year, they tried to trade Ronnie Brown to the Lions for Jerome Harrison, but Harrison was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the deal didn’t go through. In 2010, they traded Mike Bell to Cleveland for Harrison. And in 2009, they sent a draft pick and wide receiver Brandon Gibson to the Rams in exchange for linebacker Will Witherspoon.

So don’t rule out the possibility of the Eagles making a move today.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Tim and I went All-22 crazy yesterday. He broke down Nnamdi Asomugha’s performance from last week, and I took a look at why the Eagles’ offense was a mess.

Andy Reid announced that Michael Vick will start Monday night against the Saints.

Here’s the weekly roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles.

And finally, Tim wonders whether Jeffrey Lurie was listening to the fans at the Linc last week.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Don Banks of SI.com has the Eagles 16th in his power rankings:

The Eagles’ problems at offensive line create so many ripple effects, but one of them is a passing game that doesn’t seem to challenge anyone vertically any more. Most of what Michael Vick has time to complete is underneath these days, and that means it takes Philly going on long and methodical drives to score. And given Vick’s penchant for mistakes in the season’s first seven games, long, methodical drives are in short supply.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, a former scout for the Eagles, thinks it might be time to give Nick Foles a shot:

Vick played soundly in the final four games of the 2011 season. He made quick decisions, protected the football and took what the defense gave him. He utilized tight end Brent Celek and took advantage of opposing safeties lining up extremely deep. I thought that I would see that version of Michael Vick this season, but that hasn’t been the case. In 2012, Vick hasn’t been getting the ball out on time. He’s forcing too many throws into coverage and failing to protect the ball as a runner.

There has been a lot of speculation that Eagles coach Andy Reid could make a change at quarterback in the very near future. Rookie signal-caller Nick Foles played well during the preseason; now might be the right time to see what he can do in a regular-season setting.

COMING UP

The Eagles are back at Novacare preparing for the Saints. We’ll hear from Andy Reid and the players, so be sure to check back early and often.

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Eagles Snap Counts: Babin, Graham Split Time At LDE

Here’s a look at snap counts for the Eagles during their Week 8 loss against the Falcons. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
LeSean McCoy5486%
Stanley Havili1422%
Bryce Brown813%

McCoy carried 16 times for 45 yards (2.8 YPC). Brown had just one carry for 5 yards. And Chris Polk played strictly special teams. He’s yet to play an offensive snap all season. At this point, Dion Lewis has no role. He was inactive for the sixth time in seven games yesterday. Havili, meanwhile, played his fewest snaps (percentage) since Week 3 against the Cardinals. Of course, part of that had to do with the Eagles getting down early.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Jeremy Maclin6298%
DeSean Jackson4978%
Jason Avant4673%
Riley Cooper1829%
Brent Celek5486%
Clay Harbor914%

At wide receiver, Cooper saw significant action, playing 29 percent of the snaps. He was the Eagles’ fourth wide receiver. Damaris Johnson was inactive for the second straight game. The question of who the team’s punt returner would be didn’t matter much as Atlanta was forced to punt just once all game. Presumably, Mardy Gilyard was going to handle those duties, but he got injured, and Brandon Boykin returned the lone punt.

So much for using Harbor more this season. He saw his fewest snaps (percentage) of the season. The last time Harbor played less than he played Sunday was his rookie season in 2010.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole5573%
Cullen Jenkins5168%
Fletcher Cox4459%
Cedric Thornton3648%
Jason Babin3344%
Derek Landri3243%
Brandon Graham3141%
Darryl Tapp1824%
Phillip Hunt00%

The most significant personnel move on defense was getting Graham more playing time. It was pretty much an equal time-share with Babin. Babin played 33 snaps, and Graham played 31, as the two rotated at left defensive end.

Cox had been playing starter’s snaps, but this was the first time all season he actually began the game on the field in place of Landri.

Hunt was questionable going in, but ended up playing. He got zero snaps on defense and was only used in a special-teams role.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans75100%
Mychal Kendricks5877%
Akeem Jordan3749%
Casey Matthews1925%

Kendricks was disciplined for what Bowles called “personal issues off the field, violation of team compliance” and sat for the first series. Per reports, he missed a team meeting on Friday. Matthews took his place.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Nnamdi Asomugha75100%
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie7093%
Brandon Boykin3851%
Curtis Marsh34%
Kurt Coleman75100%
Nate Allen75100%

Nothing really notable with the defensive backs. Boykin played 51 percent of the snaps as the nickel corner. Marsh spelled Rodgers-Cromartie for a few snaps at left cornerback.

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Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

Philadelphia Eagles right guard Danny Watkins.The following Eagles are inactive for today’s 1 p.m. game against the Falcons: Trent Edwards, Damaris Johnson, Dion Lewis, Jamar Chaney, Danny Watkins, Nate Menkin and Vinny Curry.

The inactives are the same as a couple weeks ago against the Lions, except for Watkins (Steve Vallos didn’t dress in that game).

Starting in Watkins’ place is 6-8 rookie Dennis Kelly. Watkins missed practice on Thursday and Friday with an ankle injury that Andy Reid described as “chronic.”

“Danny has kind of a chronic ankle and he has had it for years,” Reid said after Friday’s practice. “He disturbed it in the last game and he thought it would be fine, and it didn’t work out. He came back Monday and practiced, Wednesday he practiced and he just didn’t feel right. So back him up and let the thing settle down.”

The backups on the offensive line are also worth mentioning. Demetress Bell, who started the previous four games, is your swing tackle. King Dunlap gets the start at LT. And Matt Tennant, whom the team just signed last week, is the backup guard/center.

Elsewhere offensively, Lewis continues to be an inactive. He’s only dressed for one game this season. Johnson is inactive for the second straight game. Riley Cooper will be the team’s fourth wide receiver. Mardy Gilyard and DeSean Jackson will handle punt-return duties.

On the defensive side of the ball, Phillip Hunt was questionable, but he’ll play. There was a chance that rookie second-round pick Vinny Curry would dress for the first time this season, but that won’t happen.

Be sure to join me and Tim for a live chat during the game at 1 p.m.

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Mailbag: Revisiting the 2011 Draft; Expectations For Foles

I’m pinch-blogging for T-Mac with the reader mailbag this week. These are e-mails I’ve received in the past few weeks (edited slightly for viewing purposes).

I just spent five minutes looking at the Eagles’ 2011 draft and came to the conclusion that perhaps it’s one of the reasons why this team is having problems. Thoughts?

-Don

SK: I think you’re on to something, Don. The Eagles took 11 players in that draft, and three (Jaiquawn Jarrett, Greg Lloyd and Brian Rolle) are no longer on the team. Of that group, Jarrett, a second-rounder, is obviously the biggest miss. Especially when you consider the Eagles are having trouble on special teams and currently have zero depth at safety.

Losing out on Lloyd and Rolle is really no big deal. In the seventh round, you’re taking fliers on guys. However, it does reflect somewhat poorly on the coaching staff that Rolle went from being a starter in 2011 to getting cut this season.

Really, in most drafts, the first-rounder can make or break the class. The Eagles took Danny Watkins with the 23rd pick in the first round. If you’re going to take a guard in the first round, your expectations are that the player has a Pro Bowl ceiling. Watkins hasn’t come close to that. Right now, the Eagles would settle for reliable starter. Instead, Watkins has been average at best and too up-and-down. He shows flashes at times, but overall, has been a disappointment.

The Eagles took Curtis Marsh in the third round. Before the season, the thought was to get him some playing time this year, with the possibility that he could start in 2013 should Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie be gone. While Marsh looked good at training camp, he’s played exactly nine defense snaps, and we have no clue whether he’s a starting-caliber player.

The fourth-round picks were Casey Matthews and Alex Henery. Matthews plays special teams and is a backup at multiple linebacker spots, which isn’t bad for a fourth-rounder. Henery has been fine, although you can certainly debate the merits of taking a kicker so early.

Dion Lewis (fifth round) was supposed to be LeSean McCoy’s backup this year, but has only been active for one game. It would come as no surprise if he were to be off the roster completely at some point in the next month or two.

Julian Vandervelde, a sixth-rounder, is back on the practice squad after getting cut before the season. Jason Kelce (sixth round) and Stanley Havili (seventh round) look like the best of the bunch. Kelce projects as a quality center for years to come (assuming he’s healthy), and Havili has been a pleasant surprise at fullback this year.

But overall, yes, I think it’s fair to say that lack of production from the 2011 class has led to issues in some key areas (pass protection, safety, running back depth and special teams).

Colt Anderson is not even close to an NFL-caliber safety.  If he’s our third guy, then we’re in trouble whenever one of the starters goes down (like the last game).  Need another alternative.  David Sims must be better.

-David

SK: It’s a fair point, David. This team just can’t seem to get the safety position right. Remember, they tried a few different things this offseason. They were interested in free agent Yeremiah Bell, but he signed with the Jets. They signed Oshiomogho Atogwe, but he couldn’t stay healthy at camp and was cut. And they wanted Jarrett to fill a backup role, but he just didn’t pan out.

I remember in the first couple weeks of the season thinking that safety depth was a major issue. Then I kind of forgot about it because Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen stayed healthy. Last week, when Allen got hurt, Anderson had to come in, and it wasn’t pretty (although he’s a great special-teams player).

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles worked out a safety or two in the coming weeks, but the truth is, there doesn’t seem to be a lot out there. We’ll see if they groom Sims, but remember, he’s only been a special-teams player too and has never played a defensive snap in the NFL.

Do you think the Eagles could/should/will re-sign C Jamaal Jackson?

-Tjade

SK: I don’t see it, Tjade. Howard Mudd clearly wanted a more athletic center when he took over last summer. Given Dallas Reynolds’ struggles, it doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world to me. Jackson won’t be able to do all the things Kelce did, but you’d think he would know his assignments and do a better job of keeping Michael Vick upright. I have no idea what kind of shape Jackson’s in, and while I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles make a move at center, it doesn’t look like he’ll be the one getting the call.

What I would like to know is the possibility of a change – not to Nick Foles, but to Trent Edwards.  I understand that Foles is listed as the No. 2 QB, but my thinking is Edwards has NFL starter experience and he would be more of a “game manager” not an impact QB that carries the high risk/high reward type of play. What are your thoughts?

-Joe

SK: A few people have asked me about this. I see zero point to playing Edwards. Let’s start with the fact that he hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2010. And don’t confuse “game manager” for “takes care of the football.” Edwards has 26 career touchdowns and 30 career interceptions. He’s been picked off once every 30.9 attempts. That’s barely better than Vick this year (once every 28.9 attempts).

There aren’t many things that would shock me with this team, but playing Edwards would be one of them.

I have to say I get really annoyed when people dismiss the idea of Nick Foles as throwing in the towel. WHY? Because rookies will make too many mistakes? Is he going to turn the ball over FIVE or SIX times per game?? I think he reads and reacts more quickly than Vick and throws with better ACCURACY. Also, do people really mean to tell me that this kid is not in the same ballpark with Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton?? No one was impressed with those picks last year and they have done fairly well so far despite the skepticism. And I think he has more pedigree than both of them!! Why is it so easy to assume he would fail??

-Jeff

SK: Jeff is fired up!

The truth is, you’re right that Foles is an unknown. And that works both ways. To say he reads and reacts more quickly than Vick and is more accurate is not a fair statement because you’re basing it on his college and preseason performance. Regular-season NFL games provide a different level of competition.

But it’s also not fair to say that playing Foles would be a clear move for the future. There is at least the possibility that he turns the ball over less than Vick. As a point of comparison, here are Vick’s numbers compared to the league’s rookies who are playing this year:

 
Comp. %
YPA
Touchdowns
INTs
Michael Vick58.97.188
Andrew Luck53.46.777
Robert Griffin III70.28.352
Ryan Tannehill59.67.346
Brandon Weeden55.86.6710
Russell Wilson59.47.087

If anything, the table shows that production is often based on expectations. All of the rookie quarterbacks, except Griffin, have had their share of issues with interceptions. And keep in mind, these were all first-round picks, except for Wilson. The table doesn’t take running numbers or fumbles into account. But you can see how Vick stacks up to the rookies from a passing standpoint.

Having said that, Andy Reid may come to the conclusion at some point that he can’t deal with Vick’s turnovers and mistakes. And he might be intrigued with the thought of playing Foles. I know some will argue that such a move would be to save his job and convince Jeffrey Lurie that he’s the right guy to develop the franchise’s next quarterback.

I don’t see it that way. I think Reid likes being the Eagles’ head coach. But he also knows he’ll get a job elsewhere if he gets fired. He put his imprint on the team’s offseason moves and believes the Eagles are built to win now. That’s part of the reason why he fired Juan Castillo even though the defense had played relatively well.

In other words, if Reid goes to Foles, it will be because he thinks the rookie can give him a better chance than Vick to win this year. Not because he’s looking ahead o 2013 and beyond.

Teams are stacking the line or putting eight in the box and daring the Eagles to burn them. Do you see the same thing?

-Bill

After we spent so much time talking about how teams play their safeties deep, that seems crazy to say, Bill. But guess what? You’re at least partially right.

It’s not every week, and it’s not every play, but there are absolutely times when defenses gear up to stop the Eagles’ run. Take a look at this image from last week’s game:

Detroit has all three linebackers and a safety ready to attack the line of scrimmage.

I’ll write more about Vick and the deep ball in a later post. But I’ve definitely seen defenses say: We will either be able to get to Vick, or he’ll miss the throw in regards to the Eagles’ deep ball. And in many cases, they’ve been right.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

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