On the Marcus Smith Project

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Billy Davis has a message for players who enter his office looking for feedback:

“Be careful what you ask, because you are going to get the truth. Just be ready to handle the truth,” said Davis, channelling his inner Colonel Jessup.

The truth is that Marcus Smith is struggling. Davis has talked to the rookie outside linebacker about it, and was candid about it at his press conference this week when he said, among other things, that “the game is moving too fast in his brain right now in my opinion.” He knew Smith would be listening.

“I was interested to see how he would respond even to our comments to you guys. I know that I am talking to them, too,” he told a small group of reporters Tuesday. “But I talk to them first and I try to keep the same message. He’s going to be OK. And he’s not playing great. We try to live in the truth.”

Davis says Smith has responded well to the critical analysis and believes the 6-3, 251-pound former quarterback has the athleticism and mental make-up to push through the learning curve and develop into a good player. The question is: how long will that take? Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: What Life’s Like For Marcus Smith II

Marcus Smith

Tra Thomas wasn’t wearing pads or a uniform. Instead, he was dressed in a black Eagles t-shirt and black shorts.

With his hat cocked to the side and dark sunglasses covering his eyes, Thomas settled into his stance at left tackle just as he’d done thousands of times throughout the course of his 12-year career.

Lined up across from him, angled to the left, was rookie Marcus Smith II. Thomas, now an assistant on Chip Kelly’s staff, started 174 games in the NFL and made the Pro Bowl three times. He’s seen 4-3 fronts, 3-4 fronts and everything in between. On some weeks, he faced the game’s best pass-rushers. On other occasions, guys that had no chance of getting past him.

In 1998, the Eagles took Thomas in the first round. In 2014, they took Smith. And on Monday after practice, the two were working together. Read more »

Notes: Kelly On Sanchez’s Trade Value, Injury Updates

Sanchez

Towards the end of today’s session with the media, Chip Kelly was asked about the future of quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Sanchez has gone 18-for-22 for 196 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the first two preseason games. How would the Eagles weigh potentially trading him against keeping Sanchez on the roster as the backup?

“Good question, cause Mark has played well,” Kelly said. “But we haven’t had anybody call or ask us anything. So that’s not something we’re talking about because you’re just spending time on things that could happen, should happen… I don’t know. Read more »

Smith Studying Clay Matthews Tape

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Eagles coaches have been clear about what they want from their outside linebackers: rush the passer, set the edge against the run and drop in coverage.

For first-round pick Marcus Smith II, one of those aspects will be more challenging than the other two.

“It’s very fair to say that,” said defensive coordinator Billy Davis when asked if the pass-rush will be the last thing to come. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Rookie Progress Report

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

From time to time, we like to check in on how the Eagles’ draft picks are doing. With the first preseason game a day away, here’s an update.

Marcus Smith, OLB – He’s been running with the second team at the Jack spot behind Connor Barwin. And in all likelihood, that’s where Smith is going to see most of his action this season. He has looked the part from the first day of camp – long, athletic and can move in space. A couple days ago, he showed some feistiness, mixing it up with James Casey after the whistle. Smith, who has never before been to an NFL game, will likely make some normal rookie mental mistakes tomorrow night, but overall, he appears to be on schedule to contribute. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Johnson/Kelly Comparison

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

When Peter King of The MMQB wrote about Chip Kelly earlier this week, he compared the Eagles’ head coach to Jimmy Johnson.

Before his first training camp practice of the season on Saturday, we spent time in his office, and when we parted, I thought how much he reminded me of Jimmy Johnson when Johnson entered the league 25 years ago. Respectful of the other coaches and teams, but they aren’t going to dictate what he’s going to do. Totally confident that his style will work in the NFL. Unlike Johnson, Kelly’s not brash on the outside. Like Johnson, he knows deep down his way will win. Johnson brought a small, fast defense into a league that was going bigger and bigger. It worked.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie read King’s piece and was asked about the comparison. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Checking In On Marcus Smith

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

At one point during 7-on-7s Wednesday, Marcus Smith found himself one-on-on with Jordan Matthews.

Smith stayed with the wideout well down field and was in decent position as the pass sailed to the corner of the end zone, but Matthews elevated and snagged the ball out of the air. Touchdown.

Or was it? Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Three Leftovers From Davis

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis met with reporters Sunday. Below are three things that stood out.

1. We’ve written plenty in this space about the high number of snaps guys like DeMeco Ryans and Connor Barwin played last year. Part of that had to do with the defense’s inability to get off the field. Part of it had to do with the team’s lack of depth at certain spots. Part of it had to do with pace and style of the offense.

But going forward, Davis wants to get those guys off the field a little bit more.

“It’s something we are very concerned about,” he said. “We don’t want any of them to play all the snaps. It’s too many snaps for any one defensive player. We know we had way too many. It benefits both us and the player and DeMeco or Mychal [Kendricks] that we get a rotation in there, too. We’ll get that rotation all the time through different packages and with the addition like you touched on of some new players. It will give us a little bit more flexibility. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: RB Training Camp Preview

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Leading up to training camp on July 25, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We have already covered the defensive linequarterbacks and outside linebackers. Now it’s on to the running backs.

The pressing question: Will Chip Kelly lighten LeSean McCoy’s workload?

On his way to setting the franchise record for rushing yards, McCoy led the NFL in carries (314) and touches (366). Only Chicago’s Matt Forte played more snaps. The Eagles added Darren Sproles in the offseason. Does that mean they want to give McCoy more of a breather in 2014? Read more »

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