Inside Voices: The Value Of Avant

Eagles WR Jason Avant dives for a pass against the Cowboys. 10/20/13
At first glance, it looked like DeSean Jackson was screaming at Jason Avant. The wide receiver was overheating on the sidelines after a Nick Foles interception in Minnesota Sunday. Jackson was being restrained as he barked in the direction of Avant just a few yards away. Turns out, his words were aimed at receivers coach Bob Bicknell; Avant was just moving in to gain control. And that’s exactly what he did. After a quiet moment of counsel with Avant away from the rest of the team, Jackson hopped to his feet and returned to the pack without further incident.

“He kind of understands, he’s like a big brother, a voice you can listen to,” said Jackson.

Later in the game, Cary Williams lost his cool and was benched following an unnecessary roughness call and an apparent misunderstanding on the sideline. There was Avant again, sitting next to Williams on the bench, diffusing the situation.

“When those situations come up, because I have a relationship with everyone, I talk to everyone constantly — when something goes on in their family I want to see about them – because we have a relationship usually I can go and talk to them, maybe not like the coach can or another player because they haven’t established their relationship,” said Avant. “It gives me a voice a lot of times that I can go over and they receive it even when they’re mad because they know who they are talking to.”

“Every NFL team,” said Williams, “should have a guy like that in their locker room.” Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Vikings

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Here’s a position-by-position look at the Eagles’ defensive performance after having watched the All-22 from Sunday’s game.

DEFENSIVE LINE

* Going in, the Eagles should have expected to dominate the Vikings’ ground game, given that Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart were out. And that’s what happened. Matt Asiata needed 30 carries to get to 51 yards (1.7 YPC). The pass-rush could have been better, but Matt Cassel did a good job of getting the ball out quick, and most of the problems through the air were the fault of the secondary. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Vikings, the Day After

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Going into Sunday’s game against the Vikings, the Eagles appeared to be peaking at the right time.

They had won five straight, were in the driver’s seat in the NFC East and looked like a team capable of making some noise in the postseason.

Less than 24 hours after kickoff, the outlook has changed a bit. The 48-30 loss to the Vikings was either just one bad letdown game or a true reality check of where this team is.

Keeping that in mind, let’s take a point-by-point look at some of the issues that surfaced in Minnesota, debuting The Kapadia Concern Scale. Each issue is given a ranking from 1 to 10. Read more »

Inside Voices: Eagles Getting Stronger

Philadelphia Eagles left guard Evan Mathis.The idea that a football team would be getting physically stronger as the season goes along seems counter-intuitive. The Eagles are 13 games into their campaign. Add training camp into the equation, and the grind has been going on for more than four months now. You would think the body would start wearing down right about now. Yet some players believe the opposite is happening in Year One under Chip Kelly.

“You can tell just from the reps that we do. I’m not saying that I’m just jumping up crazy, but what used to be hard to me is starting to become a lot easier towards the end,” said Brandon Graham. “Like the other day I put 405 on the bench [and did three sets of three] and it was pretty easy, and I feel like next week I want to go up a little more because that’s how good I feel right now.” Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Lions

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles

Here is a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ defense after having reviewed the All-22 tape.

DEFENSIVE LINE

* This group led the charge. Joique Bell needed 23 carries to gain 69 yards (3.0 YPC). And the Lions failed to gain more than 8 yards on any single run. Cedric Thornton was outstanding, leading all defensive linemen with six tackles (per team stats) and a forced fumble, which the Eagles turned into a takeaway. Thornton helped blow up a Bell run that gained 3 in the second and was disruptive throughout. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Lions, the Day After

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles

Chip Kelly and his coaching staff worked all week on a special gameplan to neutralize the aggressiveness of the Detroit Lions’ defensive front.

Screens, draws, read-plays that would have left linemen unblocked. Those were all part of the plan as of Sunday morning.

“We had a lot of plays in the gameplan to attack their scheme and attack a lot of their explosion and things like that,” said center Jason Kelce. “I was excited to run them coming into the game because I thought they were awesome. But the weather really took them out of their typical way that they played football because they couldn’t get their footing, they couldn’t get upfield as fast.

“I think the coaches got to some more downhill stuff and some more vanilla stuff where we could just kind of get together and get double teams and get moving vertically.”

The word vanilla has been used in the past as a jab at Kelly’s offense. On Sunday, vanilla was what saved the Eagles. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: How the Eagles Impact the Crime Rate

Mychal KendricksThe casual conversation with Mychal Kendricks was about Philadelphia, and how much nicer of a place it is to live when the Eagles are winning. Kendricks shot a look like, Man, you aren’t kidding.

“The vibe, people’s moods, everything,” said the linebacker on how the outcome of the game impacts this city. “There is even more crime when we lose…Look it up, it’s a fact.”

Crime goes up? Where was he getting this?

Kendricks explained that Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey visited the team prior to the 2012 season  and suggested that the city was a kinder, gentler place to live after an Eagles victory and that the streets were meaner following a loss.

“He basically said crime rates jump up significantly when we lose,” Kendricks recalled. “He told us that, and I was like, ‘Damn, if that’s a real statistic, we better start winning.’ ” Read more »

Inside Voices: Brown Stuck In Neutral

Eagles RB Bryce Brown with NFL capAt the beginning of the year, Chip Kelly was feeling so good about his stable of running backs that he said he would put his group up against any in the National Football League. There was talk of creating a  nickname for the trio of LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. “Earth, Wind and Fire” was the apparent leader in the clubhouse.

It’s turned into more of a solo show. McCoy is the league’s leading rusher with 1,009 yards through 11 games. He is also second in carries (behind Adrian Peterson) with 213, and is on pace to comfortably set a personal high in that department.

Meanwhile, Brown has failed to get off the ground. He has carried the ball 53 times for 165 yards (3.1 avg.) and has just one run of 10-plus yards on the season — a 32-yarder against Oakland. After back-to-back scintillating performances last season against Carolina and Dallas, when he posted 347 yards and four touchdowns, expectations shot up for the seventh-round pick. This season, though, the images most closely associated with Brown are of him fruitlessly bouncing it to the outside or slipping to the turf before he hits the hole.

What gives? Read more »

Eagles-Cardinals Injury Report

Earl WolffHere is the Eagles’ injury report for Sunday’s game against Arizona:

Out: S Earl Wolff (knee)

Probable: S Colt Anderson (ankle), CB Bradley Fletcher (pectoral), LB Mychal Kendricks (knee), LB Jake Knott (hamstring).

As you can see, the Eagles exit the bye in pretty good shape. Read more »

Self-Scouting: Taking Stock Of the Defense

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay BuccaneersWe went through the offense yesterday. Here’s a position-by-position look at where the Eagles’ defense stands going into the final five games.

DEFENSIVE LINE

The guys up front have been the key to the defensive improvement. Cedric Thornton leads all the team’s linemen with 58 tackles and has looked like a natural in the two-gap scheme since Week 1. He’s versatile, powerful and has been perhaps the Eagles’ most consistent defensive player all season long.

Fletcher Cox has really come on and has 13 tackles the past two weeks. He has three sacks and leads the team with 19 hurries; no other player has more than eight. Bennie Logan has been a huge upgrade over Isaac Sopoaga at nose tackle. He’s got 15 tackles in the last three games. That’s just three fewer than Sopoaga had in the first eight games.

Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers and Damion Square round out the rotation. Curry has been the team’s most productive pass-rusher and is tied for the team lead with four sacks. Read more »

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