Eagles Wake-Up Call: Andrew Gardner’s Ascent

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Three weeks ago, it was unclear who would be the Eagles’ starting right guard. Although Andrew Gardner was practicing a lot with the starting unit, Matt Tobin and John Moffitt also rotated in with the first-team offensive line.

Now, halfway through the preseason, it seems all but finalized that Gardner will be the week one starter.

“Andrew played another good game. We’re really pleased with how he’s playing right now,” Chip Kelly said before Monday’s practice. “There is no reason to rush [announcing a starter]. But he’s doing a really good job.” Read more »

Johnson: Confidence the Key With Bradford

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Asked about Sam Bradford’s performance Friday, Lane Johnson said his quarterback was “like a machine,” dispensing one accurate ball after the next into the hands of his receivers downfield. It was maybe his best day of practice in his short time in an Eagles uniform, and his teammates (along with the fans and media in attendance) took notice.

“He was throwing lots of touchdowns today. He’s very accurate,” said Johnson. “I haven’t seen accuracy like that from a quarterback in a long time.”

There has been some rust to knock off but Bradford is showing off his skill set more and more as we go along. The size (6-4, 224), the big arm and the accuracy are all pretty plain to see. He appears to have a quick mind and a quick trigger. Watch him for a while, and you understand why coaches and scouts are drawn to him.

With all of these things going for him, why haven’t the results been better on this level?  Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kelce On State Of the O-Line

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The rotating cast at right guard welcomed another member Thursday as newcomer John Moffitt stepped in with the first team.

There have been four training camp practices so far, and we’ve seen three different men fill the position. Matt Tobin has gotten the nod twice, Andrew Gardner ran with the ones on Monday and now Moffitt has had a turn.

No matter who wins out, Jason Kelce will be working with someone new on either side of him. Old partners Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans were both released this offseason, so Kelce is now charged with developing chemistry in short order with a pair of new dance partners. It appears that Allen Barbre will be one of them. He has consistently worked at left guard since the offseason program began and has the backing of his coaches and teammates. Right guard is another story. With no standout at the moment, the musical chairs could continue through the summer. Kelce says he’s OK with that. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: O-Line Training Camp Preview

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Leading up to training camp on August 2, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We’ve covered the running backs and wide receivers so far. Today, we’ll take a look at the offensive line.

The pressing question: Are the Eagles OK at the guard spots?

The Birds are in a strange situation with their offensive line. On one hand, it’s conceivable that they’ll finish the season with three Pro Bowlers up front in Jason PetersJason Kelce and Lane Johnson. Peters and Kelce have already proven themselves, and Johnson has a chance to take the next step in his development.

On the other hand, even if those three guys play well, this could be a mediocre unit overall because of who will be lining up at the two guard spots. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Can Lane Johnson Make the Leap?

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

In some ways, Lane Johnson has become a forgotten man on the Eagles offensive line.

Jason Kelce has emerged as a team spokesman of sorts. Jason Peters gets national accolades every year. And there’s been plenty of talk about Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin, guys who will be asked to take on bigger roles in 2015.

Many expected Johnson to make the second-year leap in 2014, but he was suspended for the first four games of the season and couldn’t even be in the team facility until the end of September.

“You could tell in the first game that he had been away from it a little bit in the Rams game,” said offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. “And then you could see as the year went on he progressively improved and got better.”

Johnson improved in pass protection, and while he was fine as a run blocker, he’s yet to become a consistent, dominating force. This offseason, he decided to try something new, spending time at Jay Glazer’s Unbreakable Performance Center in West Hollywood, Calif. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Lane Johnson’s Rigorous Training

NFL: St. Louis Rams at Philadelphia EaglesHere are some links and stories regarding the Eagles that are worth checking out this weekend.

Dave Spadaro of philadelphiaeagles.com reports on Lane Johnson’s offseason MMA workouts in California:

Johnson enrolled at MMA Athletics, a program founded by Mixed Martial Arts legend Randy Couture and FOX NFL insider Jay Glazer, an established program that takes athletes’ conditioning to an entirely different level.

“I want to be elite at my position in the NFL, and I felt that this would help me get there,” Johnson says now, fresh off a training session at the NovaCare Complex. “I have a lot of confidence about what’s ahead of me.

“I think I’m getting close to being elite. Last year was a big stepping stone from my rookie year and I just have to be more aggressive and more violent going into Year 3.”
Read more »

Eagles Offseason Outlook: Offensive Line

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Throughout the next two weeks, we’ll take a position-by-position look at where the Eagles stand going into the offseason. We have covered the quarterbacks, wide receiversrunning backs and tight ends so far. Now it’s onto the offensive line.

STATE OF THE ROSTER

All five original starters from last season – Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans and Lane Johnson - remain under contract.

Peters turned 33 last month. He might not be the player he was four years ago, but there are no concerns about him manning the left tackle spot. Mathis was unhappy with his contract going into 2014, but he showed up and played well. I was particularly impressed with the way he missed seven games due to a knee injury, but returned and performed at a high level down the stretch. It’s worth noting, though, that Mathis is 33. Read more »

Sanchez Unable To Break Old Habits

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Chip Kelly said he didn’t spend much time studying Mark Sanchez‘s tape from New York, focusing instead on his skill set and physical attributes and relying more on the word of those who had been around him in a formal life.

“I talked to his college coaches more than I did that; I talked to his high school coaches and I knew what type of athlete he was and I knew what he could do,” he said earlier this month. “For me to study his tape from the New York Jets ‑‑ now I know other people studied his tape, but I personally didn’t study his tape because I know what he can do and I thought he could fit into our system.”

Sanchez had a sub-60 percent completion rate with the Jets. The Eagles felt that he could get closer to the level of accuracy he displayed at USC (64 percent), and sure enough, he has completed 64 percent of his throws in an Eagles uniform. There were elements of his game from New York that did carry over, though — namely, his propensity to turn the ball over.

Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Seattle

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Here’s a player-by-player breakdown of what we saw from the Eagles’ offense against the Seahawks after having re-watched the game.

QUARTERBACKS

Mark Sanchez – He obviously struggled throughout. Sanchez became the second QB this season to attempt at least 20 passes and total fewer than 100 yards in a game. The other was Andy Dalton. Overall, Sanchez went 10-for-20 for 96 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

The thing about facing a defense as good as Seattle’s is there are not going to be a lot of chances to make plays in the passing game. You have to make the most of your opportunities. And Sanchez did not do that.

On the first play, he stepped up, targeted Jeremy Maclin and was nearly intercepted by Richard Sherman. Sanchez threw short of the sticks to Jordan Matthews for a 6-yard gain on 3rd-and-10 on the first drive. Good decision to pull the ball and fire to Maclin for the 1-yard TD. Good throw on boot-action to his left, finding Matthews for a 17-yard gain in the first. Bad-looking deep ball intended for Cooper on the post against what I believe was Cover 3. He threw short of the sticks incomplete to Matthews on 3rd-and-9 in the second. Sanchez has had trouble on screens to the slot. He fired one high to Maclin in the second, which threw off the rhythm of the play on an incompletion. Read more »

All-22: The Challenges Against Seattle

avril_1a_all22

Go around the Eagles locker room and ask players what makes Earl Thomas so good, and you’ll get a variety of answers.

“He’s a freak,” said Jordan Matthews. “You can tell he has a desire to be the greatest in the game. No different than my lockermate, 27 [Malcolm Jenkins]. I feel like both of those guys have that same mentality. The dude is full speed every single play the entire game. You’ve gotta be able to match that intensity and go out there and play your hardest if you’re gonna compete against him.”

“His speed,” answered Mark Sanchez. “He’s just got a nose for the football. He diagnoses plays fast. One of the most intense players. The film doesn’t have any sound, but that guy almost puts a soundtrack to the film. You see him just completely sell out – against the run, against the pass, breaking plays up.” Read more »

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