Matthews To Watt: ‘Why You On A Knee, 99?’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

NFL Films has released field-level footage from the Eagles’ win over the Texans.

It’s not embeddable, so click here for the link.

Among the highlights:

* Running backs coach Duce Staley sending a message to LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles late in the game.

“We’re gonna finish this game pounding the [expletive] out of the ball,” Staley said. “That’s how we’re gonna finish the game. Alright?” Read more »

McCoy On Being Pulled: ‘I Wasn’t Pissed About It’

Photo Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Three days after the Eagles notched their fourth victory of the season, some in the city are still wondering why LeSean McCoy was on the sideline when the offense was trying to ice the game against the Rams.

Today, the Birds’ starting running back tried to set the record straight.

“What happened was after the game, they asked me do I take myself out when Darren [Sproles] comes in the game, yeah,” McCoy said. “The majority of the times, I take myself, I’m tired, I come out. Sproles can take over and do his thing, and we’re confident in him to do that. But the last drive, [running backs coach] Duce [Staley] pulled me out.” Read more »

Inside Zone: The Foundation Of the Eagles’ Offense

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Before the drill begins, Jeff Stoutland shouts out a two-digit number, signaling the call to his offensive linemen.

He sets up a couple yards behind the line of scrimmage as Jason Kelce prepares to snap the ball, flanked by guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. With 16 offensive linemen in camp, Stoutland is in charge of the largest positional group on the roster. But that can be a good thing on days like this. Before it’s their turn for reps, a couple backups hold orange blocking pads and set up as down defensive linemen. Two more stand behind them imitating linebackers.

It’s an 81-degree day in early June, and the Eagles are on the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex working on the blocking scheme for a familiar call: the inside zone. It’s a play Stoutland ran frequently at his previous stop, Alabama. And it was Chip Kelly’s go-to-work play during his time at Oregon.

When Kelly made the jump to the NFL last year, the inside zone served as the foundation for an offense that set franchise records in yards and points. So there’s a good reason why Stoutland yells the same number for the same call over and over again during practice. The pre-snap communication has to be mastered. The footwork has to be flawless. The combination blocks have to be executed. And the second-level linebackers have to be driven down the field with authority.

“It’s something we work on every day,” said offensive tackle Lane Johnson. “It’s always gonna be our bread and butter.” Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Fewer Touches For McCoy?

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The usage numbers for LeSean McCoy from the 2013 season are eye-popping.

The Eagles’ running back played 873 snaps, second-most among all ball-carriers behind only Chicago’s Matt Forte. McCoy’s 314 carries were tops in the NFL, as were his 366 touches.

Yet there were no real signs that the heavy workload slowed him down in the short-term. McCoy carried the Eagles down the stretch, piling up 519 yards and averaging 6.3 YPC in the team’s final four regular season games. In fourth quarters, he led the NFL with 441 yards and averaged 6.0 YPC (fifth-best), according to STATS, Inc. Read more »

The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Raiders

mccoy_400102713Editor’s Note: This feature will post every Friday. We’ll bring you nuggets from the locker room, scouting reports on the upcoming game, reader e-mail and more.

***

LeSean McCoy took heavy breaths in between sentences, his forehead glistening with sweat from extra conditioning work after practice.

On the surface, everything is good for the 25-year-old running back. At the halfway point of the season, he’s the NFL’s leading rusher (733 yards). He’s carrying the ball more than ever (19.5 times per game). And he’s averaging a healthy 4.7 yards per carry.

Yet McCoy is in the midst of a mental tug of war in his fifth NFL season. In the past four games, he’s averaging 3.4 yards per carry. The Eagles’ offense has scored just three points the last two weeks, failing to hit on explosive plays and finding difficulty in sustaining drives.

“Just more attention to really try and contain the backs, keep everything in front of them,” McCoy said when asked this week about opposing defenses. “The backers are way more into the line than usual. And everything just seems so cluttered, seems so packed. That’s probably the biggest difference I’ve noticed. Even on some of the fakes, if it’s a half-fake or an average fake, they’re all on it. So that’s probably the biggest difference I’ve noticed from just early in the season to the last couple weeks.”

Defenses game-plan for the Eagles and make No. 25 their first priority. With a shaky QB situation and one true dangerous threat in the passing game in DeSean Jackson, it’s really a no-brainer. But that has led to tough times for McCoy, who has been critical of himself after each of the last two games. Read more »

Duce Chooses McCoy Over Westbrook

LeSean McCoy alone running with football

The question came from about 20 feet away, a parting whaddyathink after a 15-minute conversation with Duce Staley about star running back LeSean McCoy.

So who’s better: B-West or Shady?

Staley turned and started walking back to a pair of reporters. “Right now? McCoy,” he said.

“Right now if I had to go back and get Brian Westbrook at the peak of his career and get LeSean McCoy at the peak of his career…if you were playing fantasy football, who would you pick?” Read more »

Staley Getting Backs Ready For A Ground Party

Jason Peters recently said that in this offense, there is “a lot of running the ball; the passing is mixed in.”  If you were to describe Andy Reid‘s approach, you would likely say the exact opposite.

The ground game is coming to Philly. Envious, Duce Staley?

“Ahhh, of course I am,” said Staley with a laugh Thursday. “If you’re a running back, you should be excited.”

Staley will have to settle for coaching this group of running backs, who are more important than ever to the success of the Eagles. And he has an intriguing group to work with.

In LeSean McCoy, a Pro Bowl talent that is coming off a down campaign and a rocky offseason. Staley serves as a mentor to the 24-year-old, and believes he is pointed in the right direction.

“LeSean will be the first to own up to the mistakes he’s made. Now he’s trying to move on and get better from those, learning from those so he won’t repeat them,” said Staley. “He’ll tell you first-hand that we’re on the same page when it comes to life and things that come along with life. I think he’s getting a better understanding when I explain certain things to him. By any means necessary he is going to get it and he’s going to correct it and he’s going to move on. He’ll be OK.”

Behind McCoy is Bryce Brown, who is as raw as he is gifted. In order to be a reliable No. 2, he will have to solve his fumbling issues.  Staley said that they are taking measures on the field and in the classroom to clean up that part of Brown’s games.

“The first thing you have to do is show him where the problem is. You have to show him the film over and over again to make sure he undertsands traffic,” said Staley. “That’s one of things that I talk about with Bryce all the time is traffic. When you look at the type of runner Bryce is, Bryce is an aggressive runner, he wants to hit the hole and he wants to break tackles. When you hit the hole and break tackles, it gives a chance for other people to catch up with you. He has to make sure he continues to pull that ball in tight.”

Chris Polk has dropped some weight and is quicker, according to Staley. He said that Felix Jones is looking good as well. Rookie Matthew Tucker rounds out the group.

Last season, Oregon averaged 53 rushes per game. Kenjon Barner finished with 278 rushing attempts. De’Anthony Thomas had 92; Byron Marshall 87.

History suggests that there is a sizeable workload coming for not just McCoy, but several of these Eagles running backs.

“I’m lucky to have some running backs where all those guys bring something to the party. It’s not like one guy has all the tools — if I had to say one had all the tools it would be McCoy right now — but every guy that I have brings something to the party,” said Staley.

“I think you have to add all those guys in the mix because we’re going to need all of them.”

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