The Philadelphia Eagles are 2-0 after beating the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football by a final score of 29 to 14. Here’s a look at 10 things to be learned from this game. Read more »
Less than 24 hours after Carson Wentz dazzled NFL scouts at his Pro Day, North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman joined 97.5 the Fanatic Morning Show today to discuss the quarterback that the Eagles may be interested in trading up for.
Klieman told a few stories, including how they changed the weekly captains meetings to Monday so Wentz could hunt all day Sunday, and how Wentz, without being asked, went through the next week’s game plan with his backup the day after he found out his wrist was broken. But one thing the coach addressed was one of the knocks on Wentz.
“The only thing that I’ve heard is his sample size is only 23 games,” Klieman said. “Well, you can take it both ways, telling me there’s a ton of upside, too, because there is only 23 games as opposed to the flip side. Well, he dominated the 23 games of football. He went 20-3 and led us to two national championships.” Read more »
Marcus Mariota joined Jon Gruden recently for ESPN’s QB Camp series.
Below are clips from their time together for those of you who are interested. Read more »
The Marcus Mariota-to-Philly buzz is only growing louder as we inch closer to the draft.
Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice said earlier in the week that he is becoming increasingly convinced that the Eagles will trade up to the No. 1 spot before the draft. He followed that up with this post today:
Every day, with little things I hear, evidence continues to build that the Eagles are going to make a strong play for Marcus Mariota. To note, this is something I had previously thought to be unrealistic, so as bits of information have trickled in, they’ve been absorbed on my end with skepticism. But it appears the Eagles are determined to get their guy.
As Kempski notes, predicting a successful trade is difficult because of all the variables involved. Namely, the team on the other end has to play along. What would it take to convince the Bucs, for instance, to pass on the opportunity to draft a franchise quarterback? Can they be swayed? Read more »
Gruden jumped on a conference call with reporters Thursday to talk about the upcoming season, and ESPN was kind enough to pass along the transcript. So here’s a Q&A on Eagles-related topics.
Note: Minor edits made for clarity.
Q: The opener, Redskins‑Eagles, figures to feature two of the more intriguing offenses this year, and offenses that are probably pretty reflective of what’s going on in college football. I wonder if the trickle‑off that we’re seeing where college football is influencing the NFL is something you think is here to stay, or is it a faddish thing, because it seems like the river is flowing the other way now and college football is influencing the pros?
Gruden: “That’s the million‑dollar question. I don’t think college football is penetrating the NFL, I think college football is in the NFL, and I think it’s here to stay. I see a lot of high school football. The game of high school football is different. Players are playing it differently, wide-open, no-huddle, spread systems, and that’s what’s in college football. That’s how we’re training coaches and players. It’s a big part of the National Football League.
“When you watch RG3 and the Washington Redskins, you’re going to see some similarities to what RG3 did at Baylor, and when you watch Michael Vick play with Chip Kelly, you’re going to see a lot of things we saw at Oregon in the last four or five years. But I think it’s here to stay. I’m not saying it really excites me as maybe it does some other people because I like the conventional way of moving the football, throwing it in a traditional style of offense, but some of these quarterbacks can really make it happen, and it’ll be fun to watch.”
Q: Jon, as you look at what Chip was able to do at Oregon, how much do you think he’s going to be able to translate and adapt that to the NFL game, and more specifically what about the pace of the game and how far do you think the officials are going to let them push that without giving the defense an honest chance to rearrange themselves?
Gruden: “Well, you know, let’s just start with this isn’t going to be the first no‑huddle offense the NFL has ever seen. Chip Kelly is a great coach, and he’s a no‑huddle guru, spread system master. But this isn’t the first time that an offense has gone with a no‑huddle offense. He’s going to mix his tempos and certainly put his spin on things for the entire length of football games.
“I don’t know how the officials are going to do it any differently than they’ve done it for the New England Patriots or any other teams that feature the no‑huddle offense. I think what’s going to be interesting is if you go no‑huddle and play up-tempo the whole game, what’s the conditioning level of your players? You’re only allowed to have 47 men play on Sunday, and some of these are kickers and punters, and some of these guys play defense. So I’d like to see how it works with just 23 or 24 offensive players for potentially 85 and 90 snaps a game. I think conditioning and what it’s going to look like in week 9 or 10 or 13 when players can’t practice because they’re injured, I’m just anxious to see how the preparation works with the length of an NFL season with all these plays and tempo.”
Q: Jon, Chip Kelly’s offense is going to be very tight end centric. He could end up keeping as many as four tight ends on his roster, and he’s regularly played two and even three tight end sets most of the preseason. What kind of match‑up problems is that going to present for a defense?
Gruden: “Well, it depends on if the tight ends are any good.”
Q: Well, just assume they are.
Gruden: “Well, you can use them as a jokers, really. They’re good in any type of formation because you can create ‑‑ you can use a tight end as a classic, on the line of scrimmage tight end; you can put a tight end in the backfield and create a two‑back set; you can line up in a no‑back set, use them as wide receivers. You get tremendous pre‑snap looks when you put a tight end outside of wide receiver in terms of is it man or is it zone. You get bigger blockers on the perimeter when you throw these bubble screens and quick screens. You probably want to throw the quick screen to DeSean Jackson and have a tight end block.
“So you get size on the edge where Chip Kelly likes to get the ball, and you just have men that can do a lot of different things. We know (Zach) Ertz can catch. We know (Brent) Celek can catch. Clay Harbor has done some excellent things, and the guy that they signed from the Houston Texans is a jack‑of‑all‑trades. I’ve seen (James) Casey play fullback, I’ve seen him do it all. I’m with you; I’m excited to see how he pulls it off and utilizes these tight ends. With the absence of (Jeremy) Maclin, I know they’ll have to lean on them.”
Jon Gruden’s QB Camp series on ESPN has become must-watch pre-draft viewing for NFL fans.
Below is a three-minute clip of his session with Matt Barkley. If you want to watch the full episode, it’s scheduled to air this Thursday at 1:30 p.m. (EST) on ESPNU.
Gruden also offered his thoughts on Barkley in an ESPN Insider article:
I’ve seen Barkley up close. I’ve watched tape. He hasn’t hit his ceiling. In fact, they haven’t even tapped into his ability to run an offense like he’d be able to at the NFL level. Now, some people talk about “ceiling” in the sense that it’s when a guy can make every throw, carves up defenses deep and isn’t just throwing dink-and-dunk stuff. But that’s not true, and with Barkley the ceiling is higher because he can become less aggressive.
He completed a hair under 64 percent of his passes last season — again, a drop from 2011 — but I think that number could have been a lot higher. With the talent and the experience that he has, he should be a 70 percent passer. But he pressed. He was aggressive. If he had simply checked the ball down a little more and used a few more audibles here and there, I think he’s a 70 percent passer. But the circumstances made it tough.
Gruden compares Barkley to someone like Houston’s Matt Schaub. And while he is not considered the most mobile prospect, according to ESPN Stats & Info., Barkley completed 69.2 percent of his attempts with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions on designed roll-outs.
Jon Gruden’s quarterback camp is in full swing. Another year, another crop of QB prospects awkwardly interacting with Chucky in a film room setting.
The Mothership is getting even more out of the popular series this year. ESPN.com is printing Gruden’s scouting reports on the men he is working with. First up is Geno Smith:
Maybe the system [at West Virginia] is great, but I don’t know of a quarterback who has had as many decision-making opportunities as Smith had. And you know what? He made the right decisions. For instance: Every running play that was called, he had the option to hand the ball off, but he could also check out of the play and throw it. There were always options.
In this class, I definitely think he’s a guy you could take at No. 1, or at least in that range if it’s your top need. Sure, a lot of people say he’s not as good as Andrew Luck or Griffin. Well, last time I checked, those guys aren’t in this draft. It’s supply and demand. In this league, you need a quarterback, and if you’re a general manager or a coach you can’t just operate with the idea you’re content to wait until you’re in the perfect position to take a can’t-miss prospect. In this class, the closest thing to that is Smith. And if I needed a quarterback, I’d be willing to take him high.
Gruden talks about Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson here.
Seperately, in an interview with Peter King, Gruden sang the praises of Ryan Nassib and EJ Manuel.
“Here’s a guy [Nassib] who went 3-0 against Geno Smith,” Gruden said. “Imagine this pressure: Syracuse is expected to be pretty good last year, and they start 0-2, and they’ve losing to Stony Brook at home at halftime the next week. He brings them back there to win. They beat Louisville. They win at Missouri. They really handle West Virginia in the bowl game. Those are some good wins, now. And they do it after changing their offense two weeks before the start of the regular season. I like the way he plays. I like the way he handled his own people booing him.”
As for Manuel: “He’d be a fun guy to coach. Very fun. Can call any play. He can run any play. Upbeat. Powerful vibe around him. People just like him. They want to be around him. Loves the game. I really, really like this kid.”
Regarding Nassib and Manuel: “You want Nassib and Manuel on your team. You want to be around Nassib and Manuel. If you like those guys, you’re on the right track.”
In case you’re interested, a schedule of when Gruden’s QB camp episodes will air can be found here.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Greg Cosell gives us four players that seem like a fit with Chip Kelly.
Sheil reports that the Eagles have checked out running back Marcus Lattimore.
Our draft profiles continue with athletic defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson.
Kapadia offers three numbers that matter.
Why many of the holes on the current roster can be traced directly back to the 2011 draft.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Chris Steuber has released a two-round mock draft. He has the Eagles selecting Dion Jordan with the No. 4 pick, and Manuel at 35.
Tommy Lawlor makes the case for taking an outside linebacker with the No. 4 pick.
Let’s go back to the depth chart for a minute. I’m sure a few of you could point out that the O-line and secondary also look like they could use some help. I totally agree, but that’s where you need to understand the draft class. Check out this recent tweet from Daniel Jeremiah:
“Not a lot of options for teams looking for a pass rusher in RD 2….Plenty of RD 2 options at every other defensive position.”
If you want a stud pass rusher, you need to go for him at pick #4. CB, S, and OL are positions that are fairly deep this year. You can address them in the 2nd, 3rd, or possibly even 4th rounds. You might be able to find a pass rusher outside the 1st round, but there are no guarantees.
New Bill Kevin Kolb has set some lofty goals.
“I’m here to win a Super Bowl. Period,” Kolb said.
It’s a big goal, considering the Bills haven’t made the playoffs since the 1999 season. However, Kolb sees that as an advantage, “It’s good to come to an organization like this. They’re hungry,” Kolb said. “It’ll be nice to come out and surprise some people.”
We are now 16 days away from the draft.
Jeffrey Lurie’s statement made it clear.
“There is no certain formula here,” he said, when asked if the Eagles were open to hiring a college coach. “Everything is on the table. There are some outstanding college coaches out there and some outstanding coordinators out there. There are outstanding coaches that used to coach in the National Football League out there. [We’ll leave] no stone unturned, and we’re open to it all.”
As of this morning, it’s been two weeks since the Eagles fired Andy Reid and Lurie made those comments. He has stayed true to his words (for the most part). He’s looked at college coaches (Chip Kelly, Bill O’Brien, Brian Kelly). He’s looked at coordinators (Gus Bradley, Mike McCoy, Jay Gruden). And he’s looked at previous head coaches (Brian Billick, Lovie Smith, Mike Nolan).
With every new day, it seems like a new name surfaces. But through it all, one has been missing: Jon Gruden.
This is not about finding someone fiery or appeasing the sports-talk calling masses. It’s about leaving no stone unturned, as Lurie put it. So let’s review the key points and questions on both sides of the Gruden argument, one-by-one:
Is Gruden’s resume really that impressive?
Everyone discusses the Tampa years, but Gruden’s first shot as a head coach came in Oakland. He inherited a team that had gone 11-21 the previous two seasons. Gruden had a pair of 8-8 years and then turned the Raiders into a playoff team. They went 12-4 and 10-6 in 2000 and 2001, making the playoffs both years. In the 11 seasons since Gruden left, the Raiders have had a winning record once. That was in 2002, the year after he departed.
And then there’s Tampa. An overall 57-55 record with the Bucs is not all that impressive. It’s true that Gruden inherited a team that had made the playoffs the previous three seasons. But Tampa had also experienced first-round exits in back-to-back years. In 2002, with Gruden, they won the Super Bowl. He had a lot of Tony Dungy’s players, but as this article explains, there were some changes made to the roster that year. Gruden’s Tampa teams finished with a winning record in four of seven seasons and made the postseason three times.
What went wrong during the end of his tenure there?
If I’m an owner, this is one of the first questions I pose to Gruden, and also one that I do a lot of my own homework on. After the Super Bowl season, Gruden’s teams missed out on the postseason in four of six years. During his final season in Tampa, the Bucs closed out the season on a four-game losing streak and finished 9-7 after starting out 9-3.
Things got ugly. Simeon Rice called Gruden a “scumbag.” Wide receiver Michael Clayton called him a turncoat. Assistant coaches had some not-so-nice things to say about Gruden and his ego. And so, he was shown the door.
Gruden never developed a young quarterback.
This is true to a point. Then again, unless I missed something, the guys he was working with didn’t exactly go on to bigger and better things – like Pro Bowls and Super Bowls – when Gruden was out of the picture. I mean, we’re talking about Brian Griese, Chris Simms and Bruce Gradkowski here.
On the other hand, Gruden helped Rich Gannon (95.5 QB rating in 2001 at the age of 36), Brad Johnson (22 TDs, 6 INTs at the age of 34 during the Super Bowl year) and Jeff Garcia (92.2 QB rating in 2007-2008 at the age of 37) to some very productive years.
What about his personnel decisions?
This is an important one. How much control are you willing to give Gruden, given his track record? How much say would he demand? Those are questions a team like the Eagles would have to ask itself. It’s true that Gruden wasn’t responsible for building Tampa’s Super Bowl team. But the Bucs had just one pick in the first two rounds in Gruden’s first two seasons there. In other words, building his own core for the long-term was challenging.
Does Gruden want to coach? Why aren’t the Eagles talking to him?
On the final day of the regular season, reports surfaced that Gruden and the Eagles could be a realistic match, but nothing ever materialized (publicly, anyway). Ron Jaworski, a friend of Gruden’s, indicated last week that Gruden could be interested in the Eagles, but the team hasn’t reached out to him. Mike Mayock and Dick Vermeil, two well-connected members of the NFL community, recently called for the Eagles to go after Gruden too.
No coach has ever won a Super Bowl with one team and gone on to hoist the Lombardi Trophy with a second team. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Gruden’s only 49, and there’s at least a chance that he learned from his previous experiences and comes back improved. Ray Didinger explained this theory well on Daily News Live last week.
“He’s had the advantage of being out of it a little bit, but not too long,” Didinger said. “Four years is a good time to kind of catch your breath, re-charge, and when you’re around the game the way Jon’s around the game now as a broadcaster… he’s spent four years now traveling around the league, broadcasting games, spending time with every coaching staff, looking at tape, picking people’s brains. I’ve seen guys do this before. They get out of the game, are away from it a little bit, but continue to learn. And when they come back and get an opportunity to be a head coach again, they come back a better version of what they were. And I think Jon’s a smart enough guy that if he gets that opportunity, I think he’ll do that. …Whoever gets him next, I think, is going to get a very good coach.”
So, are the Eagles interested? There’s been little indication lately that they are. But remember, Lurie and company can be secretive when they choose to be. Admitting interest in Gruden and then hiring someone else would be a public-relations disaster. We didn’t find out about the O’Brien interview until after he already decided to stay at Penn State. We didn’t find out about Billick until several days after they met with him. And just recently, a report surfaced that they made a call or two about Bill Cowher.
If the Eagles looked into the Gruden possibility and decided against it, that’s OK. Maybe there are issues from when Gruden was the Eagles offensive coordinator back in the 90s. Maybe he’s making unreasonable contract demands. Maybe he wants full personnel control. Or maybe the story of how things fell apart in Tampa is even worse than we know. After all, it hasn’t been just the Eagles. No team has expressed interest publicly in Gruden this offseason. If Lurie and Howie Roseman did their homework and decided Gruden would be a bad fit, that’s fine.
But there’s always the possibility of another surprise candidate, especially if Lurie’s not smitten with any of his current remaining options.
Considering his comments at the beginning of the search and the nature of the process, Lurie would be making a mistake if he didn’t at least look into Gruden as an option somewhere along the line.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles have reportedly interviewed Billick. Tim’s got some details.
The Birds are in the mix for CFL and former USC defensive tackle Armon Armstead.
Now that Brian Kelly has decided to stay at Notre Dame, is the pressure on the Eagles?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune has some details on the Eagles’ pursuit of Brian Kelly:
In a phone conversation with the Tribune on Saturday, athletics director Jack Swarbrick laid out the timeline of the entire process: The Eagles first contacted Kelly, who had them contact Swarbrick, which they did the day after firing coach Andy Reid in late December.
Swarbrick asked that any conversations wait until after the BCS title game. Meanwhile, back in early December, Swarbrick had assured Kelly that a new deal was forthcoming.
… A league source said Kelly never received an offer from the Eagles. Which is logical, because the franchise had asked for a second meeting with Kelly to take place next week, if he desired it. No offer would have arrived before then.
It’s not directly Eagles-related, but Dan Le Batard has a must-read piece on Jason Taylor and the pain of playing in the NFL in The Miami Herald:
Dolphins legend Jason Taylor, for example, grew up right before our eyes, from a skinny Akron kid to a future Hall of Famer, his very public path out in front of those lights for 15 years. But take a look at what was happening in the dark. He was just a few blessed hours from having his leg amputated. He played games, plural, with a hidden and taped catheter running from his armpit to his heart. His calf was oozing blood for so many months, from September of one year to February of another, that he had to have the equivalent of a drain installed. This is a story of the private pain endured in pursuit of public glory, just one man’s broken body on a battlefield littered with thousands of them.
Jay Gruden is expected to interview with the Eagles today. We also have our last Birds 24/7 show on 97.5 The Fanatic from 6 to 7. Stop by Smith’s at 19th and Chestnut if you’re in the area.
Mike Mayock called into 97.5 The Fanatic Thursday to give his take on Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.
“He is highly charismatic. He is very much a CEO,” said Mayock. “He understands how to hire people, he understands how to delegate. But when it comes to his offense, he’s the guy. He’s a play-caller, and I’m not so sure I believe in that in the NFL at this point.”
The term “CEO” is interesting, because it was used by Howie Roseman this week when talking about what it takes to do this job.
“Being a head coach in the National Football League is a big job, and you’re a CEO, so you have to have a plan and know what you’re doing in every area,” he said. “You would be surprised at how detailed these people are, when it comes to strength and conditioning or training staff or equipment or video, they have the answers. It’s very interesting to hear.”
Jeffrey Lurie seems to like the idea of college coaches who are proving that they can handle everything that goes along with running a successful program. Lurie also wants someone who offers a modern and flexible approach to the game, which Mayock seems to think Kelly has.
“In his DNA, he wants to spread the field, he wants to throw the ball 40 or 50 times, he loves the mobile quarterback. He is perfect for where offenses are heading this day,” said Mayock. “However, the reason I like him is he knew the strength of his team this year was his defense. There are a lot of coaches who let ego get in the way of wins and losses, and I thought he managed that offense beautifully.
“I’m really a big believer of this guy. The only downside is he has no familiarity whatsoever with the league and would really have to be paired I believe with a highly-competent general manager who is ready to hit the ground running.”
The takeaway would be that Mayock is unsure if Roseman and Kelly would be a fit.
Asked who the ideal candidate is for the Eagles job, Mayock brought up a familiar name.
“I think you load up the truck, and you get in it with a bunch of money and you drive down and find Jon Gruden,” said Mayock. “There’s nobody more ready to jump in than him. He’s gonna cost you a lot of money, but if I’m the Eagles, I’m camped outside his office because I wanna have a conversation.”
The entire interview is worth a listen.
Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.
From @CTel92: Do you get the sense that the Eagles have a preference for a proven commodity (Lovie) or a guy with upside ( Bradley, McCoy)?
The fervent pursuit of college coaches leads me to believe the answer lies somewhere in between — someone who has proven themselves on a big stage but is still considered part of the new wave.
I question whether Smith fits the bill. I think he is a sound leader and a hell of a defensive coach. But he never really found a way to get his offense humming in Chicago, and that has to be concerning. The Eagles have a quarterback to develop.
Jeffrey Lurie has emphasized the importance of landing someone who has an understanding of where the game is headed and will lead the way. I’m not sure Smith is that guy. Maybe Bradley and McCoy aren’t either, but as up-and-comers they hold a certain amount of promise that is hard to generate when you are more of a known entity.
From @SHOOD1970: why for the love of all that is holy are we not talking to Jon Gruden??
Not the only question I got about Gruden as you might suspect.
There are working theories out there: Gruden and Lurie don’t have the best relationship; Gruden doesn’t want to step on his baby brother’s toes; Gruden already made it known through back channels that he didn’t want the job. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that the love affair between Philadelphia and Chucky is much stronger than the one between Chucky and the Eagles.
Someone close to Gruden suggested a couple weeks back that he was on the team’s early list of candidates. But there have been no indications since to suggest that a courtship has ensued. Unless the Eagles are throwing up some major smokescreens, it’s best not to have your heart set on him.
From @brookman_doug: What is the point of interviewing a guy in Brian Kelly, who got rocked vs Saban, and couldnt even speak @ HT interview on ESPN?
I have heard this argument a lot since word came down that the Eagles interviewed Kelly on Tuesday. And for the life of me I don’t understand it. My reaction was the complete opposite: I kept looking at the bottom of the screen during Alabama’s absolute beat down of the Irish, and thought, How is this team ranked No. 1 in the country? You can tell me it’s the shoddy college system or Notre Dame’s schedule or whatever, but you have to admit that it took a tremendous coaching job out of Kelly to get that team into that title fight against that juggernaut.
The BCS championship game was not Kelly’s finest moment and I have no idea whether he would be a good pro coach, but I don’t make my decision off one game against a superior opponent. The Irish were more physically outmatched than they were outsmarted.
From @JesusZoidberg: Do you believe that the Eagles place more of a value on the interview process compared to other teams?
Sure seems that way. At this pace, Kapadia will be interviewing sometime early next week for the post.
“Jeffrey has been very adamant with us that the key is getting the right guy,” said Howie Roseman. “The key isn’t getting the right guy as quickly as possible. So that’s what we’re going to do.”
They are thorough and I can’t hold that against them (even though my wife does). If you feel like you are under the gun than you might skip over important parts of the vetting process.
The coach has to fit with the owner, the general manager, the president, the players, the staff, the city. It takes some time to figure out if you have the right guy (and even longer if a coach you targeted decides to stay in college). I do feel they are approaching it the right way.
Be sure to check out our coaching tracker for all the latest.