Wake-Up Call: A Search For Brawn And Brains

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Chip Kelly
‘s “big people beat up little people” line is a popular one, and will be recited plenty in the coming days with the combine getting underway later this week. Height, weight, hand size, wing span…all of these measurables mean something to Kelly, and can help lead us towards the players that may be of interest to the Eagles. But there’s another, less heralded quote that should also be kept in mind as the powers that be descend on Indianapolis to get up close and personal with the draft prospects.

“There’s a very cerebral part to this game that I don’t know if people give enough credit to. It’s about making good decisions. Dumb people do dumb things and smart people rarely do dumb things,” he said last April. Read more »

Offseason Outlook: Safeties

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This week, we’ll continue to offer offseason outlooks for the Eagles, position-by-position. Each day, we’ll answer a pressing question and rank the position on the priority scale. First up was quarterback. We covered running backswide receiverstight endsoffensive line, defensive lineoutside linebackers, inside linebackers and cornerbacks. Now let’s look at the safeties.

PRESSING QUESTION: Should the Eagles make a splash in free agency at this spot?

Kapadia: The signals coming out of the NovaCare Complex in regards to free agency so far have been fascinating. The company line (and take that for what it’s worth) is that the team is not looking to go big in free agency. They’ll follow the same methods as a year ago: see how the market plays out, add some mid-tier guys who fit the scheme/culture and are willing to compete, and go from there.

But I think safety has to be an exception. Read more »

Rookie Review: How the 2013 Class Fared

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

When asked how happy he was with the Eagles’ rookies this year, Chip Kelly offered a typical Chip Kelly response.

“It’s my favorite draft class for the Philadelphia Eagles,” said the head coach, sarcastically.

“I mean, I was really happy. I’m really, really happy with our young guys. I think they’ve all got really bright futures here. But is that going to happen every year? It’s a catch-22 because if it’s happened every year, then the top of your roster is not what it’s supposed to be. So if each year we’re bringing in 10 or 12 brand new guys and there’s only 46 guys active, they’re taking 10 or 12 guys that were on the team last year. So at some point in time, you hope you’re at a point in time when we’re not having anybody make the team as a young player because the older players we’ve got in place are doing a great job and we’re winning a ton of football games and we’re competing for championships. There’s that catch-22.

“But I think there was a lot of turnover early. I think that’s understandable. It’s a new coaching staff and new systems in every aspect of the game, so that part is a little bit different. But if we’re bringing in 10, 12 new faces every year, then that means we’re not where we need to be right now.”

Keeping that in mind, below is a player-by-player look at how the Eagles’ rookies performed in 2013 and what their outlooks are going forward. Read more »

Allen And the Safety Situation

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Howie Roseman
began waxing nostalgic when the safety position was brought up to him once again on Monday.

“You know, it’s amazing, Brian Dawkins was at the game and when you see a guy like that, you really appreciated him when he was here but the longer he’s away, you really get more and more of an appreciation for what a great, great player he was,” said Roseman. “A Hall-of-Fame caliber player at a position that is so hard to find. Man, we were spoiled for a long time with Brian Dawkins.”

The safety spot is starting to become Roseman’s — really, the organization’s — white whale. Read more »

Why They Believe In Chip

NFL: NFC Wildcard Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

When asked why he was so confident that his program could work in the NFL, Chip Kelly offered a somewhat surprising response.

“I wasn’t confident,” he said. “I had a system and a plan that we were going to go in, but I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be until it was all finished. But I think we played sound fundamental football, and I think that’s what we preach on a daily basis to our players. I think it’s still a game of 11-on-11, and I think a lot of things we do schematically match up 11-on-11. It’s a fundamental game, and I think that’s what our coaches teach. I thought we brought in a bunch of really good teachers that could implement the plan that we had in place, and we felt this would be the best plan for us this year going forward.”

Going into next season, new faces will be added, but many of the core players from the 2013 squad will remain the same.

Keeping that in mind, I posed one simple question to the players earlier this week as they cleaned out their lockers:

What did Kelly do in Year One that makes you believe he can lead this franchise to greater heights going forward? Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Curious Ending For Wolff

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Earl Wolff
sold out to break up a pass in the second quarter against the Bears and came up limping. He had missed the last four games with a hyper-extended right knee, and found himself back on the trainers table just moments into his return.

“When I tweaked it against Chicago, Cary [Williams] came over when I was sitting with [the doctor], and was like, ‘Earl, man, we need you out there. C’Mon, man. We want you out there, man.’ I was like, ‘Bro, I want to be out there. I guarantee I want to be out there and play.’ But I couldn’t.”

There were rumblings late in the season that Wolff had been given the green light for a return by the medical staff  but decided to hold  himself out. We asked Wolff if there was any truth to that. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Saints, the Day After

Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) prepares to throw the ball as Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole (58) and Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox (91) chase in the first quarter during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo |  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) prepares to throw the ball as Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole (58) and Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox (91) chase in the first quarter during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo | Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Going into Saturday night’s matchup with the Saints, the Eagles’ defensive gameplan focused on daring Sean Payton to take the football out of Drew Brees’ hands.

New Orleans has been a pass-first offense and was playing without its leading rusher in Pierre Thomas. Unlike most weeks, Davis figured he could pay less attention to the run game and instead scheme to limit big plays in the passing game. Payton responded by handing the ball off over and over again to the tune of 36 carries and 185 yards.

“That’s on me,” Davis said. “I made the calls for the passing game to make sure we keep the big plays off us. It was a lot more split safety and a lot more pass-oriented calls, so some of the runs leaked out. I could have called more of a run-based defensive game, shut that down, but we were trying to keep the points down and the big plays off us. So that run game comes down to me, not the players.” Read more »

Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders

The following Eagles are inactive for tonight’s game against the Saints: QB Matt Barkley, WR Damaris Johnson, CB Curtis Marsh, safety Keelan Johnson, RB Matthew Tucker, G/C Julian Vandervelde and OT Dennis Kelly.

The big news here is that safety Earl Wolff is active. Wolff had missed five of the previous six games with a knee injury. The guess is that he’ll be part of a rotation with Patrick Chung at one safety spot. Kurt Coleman could get in the mix too. Wolff tried to play two weeks ago against the Bears, but only lasted one series. The coaches will likely have to just see how he holds up early in the game. Read more »

Wolff Questionable For Saturday

Eagles Safety Earl Wolff defends against Chargers

Eagles safety Earl Wolff is listed as questionable for the team’s Saturday night playoff matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

Wolff told Birds 24/7 Thursday that his knee was improving.

“I just know that it felt a lot better today than it did before. They kind of recorded me moving around a little bit, doing some functional stuff, and it didn’t bother me,” he said.

“It was football activity, basically like what I would go through in a game, and it didn’t really bother me. Of course I felt it a little bit –I’m going to feel it a little bit — but it’s nothing that’s going to hold me back.” Read more »

Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders

The following Eagles are inactive for tonight’s game against the Cowboys: QB Matt Barkley, safety Earl Wolff, safety Colt Anderson, CB Curtis Marsh, RB Matthew Tucker, guard/center Julian Vandervelde and OT Dennis Kelly.

Wolff had missed four games in a row before returning last week briefly against the Bears. But his knee issue re-surfaced, and he won’t go. Nate Allen and Patrick Chung will start at safety. Kurt Coleman (hamstring) will be the first backup. He missed last week’s game. The Eagles also have Keelan Johnson as a backup. Read more »

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