Photo courtesy of USA Today
Here is a rundown of what the national media are saying about the Eagles this week.
ESPN.com teamed up with Pro Football Focus to figure out how close each team is to competing in the Super Bowl. Despite the Eagles missing the playoffs, the analysis suggested the team is just two players away from getting to the title game. Phil Sheridan notes the positions the Eagles could improve heading into next season:
Secondary: The Eagles’ pass defense truly broke down in the last month of the season. Opposing quarterbacks completed 61 percent of their passes for 1,177 yards and six touchdowns in December. During the three-game losing streak that knocked Philly out of the playoffs, the Eagles allowed 14 pass plays of more than 20 yards, the second-most in the league. Half the secondary starters — CB Bradley Fletcher and S Nate Allen — are scheduled to become free agents. A third, cornerback Cary Williams, could be on his way out, thanks to his $8.1 million cap number. Whether it’s through free agency or the draft, this beleaguered unit is in need of a major overhaul. Seattle’s Byron Maxwell would be worth a look. Read more »
Photo by: Jeff Fusco.
Today’s question comes via email from reader Matt:
I had a question about the Eagles drafting Mariota (you’ve heard of that possibility right???). I’ve seen the arm and a leg scenarios about what we’d need to give up to go from 20 to the top five. I’ve heard the names Cox and McCoy most often when talking about adding in current players in addition to draft picks…What I don’t think I’ve seen yet is Foles’ name mentioned as a bargaining chip. He has to have value around the league, right? Wouldn’t one of these teams at the top like the Bucs, Titans or Jets want to hedge their bets a little on drafting a quarterback and instead take Foles who has shown some success, plus our 1st round pick and maybe one more or a 2nd round? That would cut down on the amount of picks for us to give up, while still giving that team a viable starting option from Day 1. I know it’s a big gamble to give up on Foles, but if we think Mariota is the answer, there’s no point in having 2 QB’s right?
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Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA Today
Last night, some Eagles got to show off their talents in Glendale, Az., albeit a week earlier than they would have liked. Nine players ended up getting selected to participate in the Pro Bowl, but because of injuries and other reasons, six actually played in the game.
Below is a roundup of Eagles-related news and notes from the event.
Before the game, Jon Gruden gave Comcast SportsNet’s John Clark his thoughts on Nick Foles’ future as the Eagles quarterback:
“Foles can execute and make plays in this offense if he’s healthy,” Gruden said. “He’s been hurt two years in a row. That’s the number one obstacle with Foles, staying on the field. Chip Kelly is sure going to be looking for quarterbacks [in the draft], we all do, and I’m sure that he has Marcus Mariota on his speed dial. Read more »
Kirby Lee / USA Today
MOBILE, Ala. — Today’s question comes from reader Ricky, via e-mail.
I’m starting to think a big reason for Nick Foles’ decline in 2014 was the change at QB coach. Bill Lazor led Ryan Tannehill to a career year in 2014, while Bill Musgrave led the Eagles to a league-high 21 interceptions. Is it possible that the Eagles need to rethink their current QB coach heading into 2015?
I may need to make Ricky an official source for Birds 24/7. His e-mail came in at 2:03 p.m. About seven hours later, news broke that Musgrave was headed to Oakland to become the Raiders offensive coordinator.
As for the question, evaluating position coaches can be a difficult task. Basically, all we can go on is results and what the players tell us.
In one season under Lazor, Foles completed 64 percent of his passes, averaged 9.1 YPA and threw 27 touchdowns against two interceptions. In two seasons under other quarterbacks coaches, he completed 60.2 percent of his passes, averaged 6.7 YPA and threw 19 TDs against 15 interceptions. Read more »
Photo Credit Kelley L. Cox – USA Today
Nick Foles received a vote of confidence from a key member of the offense Friday amid speculation that the Eagles might be moving in a different direction at quarterback.
LeSean McCoy, during an appearance on the NFL Network, was asked if Foles can be “the guy” for Chip Kelly‘s offense.
“I think so. I like Nick,” said McCoy. “The person and the player that everybody thought he was, he is. There were a lot of injuries this year — Nick obviously got injured. He gets all the blame and he shouldn’t. I think Nick is a good quarterback, he is the leader of this team, and things just didn’t work out for him this year due to injury. But we’ve got his back.” Read more »
Photo courtesy of USA Today
Prior to Monday night’s national championship game, Chip Kelly took his public touting of Marcus Mariota to another level.
“He might be the fastest guy on the field. But his mind is even faster,” Kelly told ESPN during the pregame show. “(He) thinks like Peyton Manning.”
Kelly has not hidden his affection for the 6-4, 219-pound signal-caller, calling him the most talented player he coached on the college level. Ohio State’s 42-20 win against Oregon in the title game is unlikely to change his opinion of Mariota, who went 24-of-37 for 333 yards with two touchdowns and a last-second interception in defeat. Assuming he declares for the draft as expected, the Heisman Trophy winner finishes his college career with over 13,000 yards of total offense and 105 touchdown tosses to just 14 interceptions.
Opinions vary on how high Mariota will be selected in the 2015 NFL Draft, and therefor how likely it is that the Eagles can get within striking distance to land him. Standout executive turned ESPN analyst Bill Polian, for one, believes Mariota will go in the top three and possibly first overall. Read more »
Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj – USA Today
One of the Eagles’ priorities this past offseason was to find a way to reduce the number of hits on Nick Foles. Feeling that he held onto the ball too long at times, they wanted him to “ditch the ball earlier in the down” and reduce the number of shots he was taking in the name of staying healthy.
“We want him to be smart late in the down both with the football and also with his body,” said quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave.
Understandably, they were worried about their signal-caller staying upright. Unfortunately for them, that didn’t happen. Playing behind a makeshift offensive line, Foles was banged around quite a bit over the first eight games before Whitney Mercilus delivered the knockout blow in Houston. The fractured collarbone kept Foles out of action for the final eight games.
Foles has missed time in each of his three seasons at the NFL level because of injury. He broke his throwing hand late in his rookie season, and suffered a concussion against Dallas last year. Is there a concern that he is injury-prone? Read more »
Nick Foles did not receive a full endorsement from Jeffrey Lurie or Chip Kelly this week. But one key piece to this offense moving forward sounded quite confident that Foles would be the one throwing him the ball in 2015.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” said Zach Ertz. “Obviously I don’t make those decisions but as a player that has played with him, we’ve won a lot of games together. I think that’s the ultimate key of a quarterback is to win games, put your team in a very good position to win games, and at the end of the day we did that.
“I think we know what we have in Nick, I think management knows what they have in Nick, and we think he’s a franchise quarterback.”
Ertz and Foles developed a relationship early on last season when Ertz was playing sparingly as a rookie and Foles was still the backup to Michael Vick. Watch the pre-game warm-ups, and you’ll see them routinely emerge from the tunnel together to get in a one-on-one catch hours before kickoff.
The second-year tight end has always been complimentary of Foles. On Monday, he referenced one of the best signal-callers in the game when speaking about his quarterback’s potential. Read more »
Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco
Until today, Nick Foles had not said a word publicly since injuring his collarbone against the Houston Texans in Week 9.
He tried to assist Mark Sanchez and his teammates behind the scenes the best he could, and Foles was the NovaCare Complex daily. He watched his teammates drop three in a row in December to fall out of the playoff race, but there was nothing he could do to get back on the field.
“It’s definitely been tough,” said Foles. “Any time you’re injured and you can’t be out there with your teammates, it’s difficult to grasp that with all the preparing you do in the offseason during camp and through the first eight games. But at the same time, it was the hand I was dealt, and I knew that when it happened.” Read more »
Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco
Jeffrey Lurie said that quarterback always needs to be the top priority, and that the general approach when it comes to the position is to “try to win big and focus on that position at all times.”
So, will the focus be on upgrading that position this offseason?
Chip Kelly wasn’t ready to say anything definitive one way or the other.
“We haven’t made any evaluations of anything at any position,” he said.
“We have a long evaluation process. Time is on everybody’s side here. We don’t have to make any decisions today. You don’t have to make any decisions really until you get close to free agency in terms of how we want to start to shape the roster for 2015. I think we have a real good process in terms of how that works. There is no reason to be hasty in any decisions from that standpoint. You take a look at anything and everything you can. Our goal is to win this thing, and to do that you have to look at everything, no matter what it is. You don’t know what presents itself.”
What you haven’t heard, from the owner or the head coach, is a commitment to Nick Foles. Read more »