What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Here is some pre-game reading before the Eagles take on the Jaguars tonight at 7:30.

We’ll have a live chat with updates and observations during the action, so be sure to stop back.

Until then…

Andy Benoit of TheMMQB.com previews the Eagles. He’s not impressed with the team’s safety situation:

The situation at safety is just as bad. Hard-hitting Patrick Chung has never been a mentally sharp pass defender. His running mate, Kenny Phillips, has scintillating talent but chronic knee problems. If one of these downhill thumpers are unavailable, the Eagles will have to call on either former second-round stiff Nate Allen, the perpetually out of control Kurt Coleman or the athletically limited (but at least more reliable) Colt Anderson. In fact, taking the whole group into consideration, Philadelphia may wind up seriously considering fifth-round rookie Earl Wolff in a starting spot.

According to NFL.com, it looks like Nnamdi Asomugha is going to make the 49ers’ roster:

According to Rapoport, 49ers coaches realize Asomugha no longer is the player he was at age 25. They love the “chip on his shoulder” as he’s out to restore his reputation after two miserable seasons in Philadelphia, but they also plan to limit Asomugha’s snaps and spell him from time to time.

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times indicates that the Raiders could still have interest in Matt Barkley down the road:

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com offers a thought on tonight’s game:

Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew revealed this week that coach Gus Bradley wants to run roughly 85 plays per game. That would put them among the league leaders. They face a Chip Kelly-led Philadelphia Eagles squad that should play even faster. Every Eagles game, even in the preseason, is becoming a must-watch affair. Also keep an eye on how Jones-Drew looks in his most extensive action since foot surgery.

Jason Babin chimes in on facing his former teammates, via TheMMQB.com:

I think playing the Eagles, my former team, next week in the preseason, will be more like playing Chip Kelly than playing the Eagles. It’s not the guys that I left. I do have a few players, a few buddies who are still on the team that I talk with. They’re coming to our place, so we’ve got to represent.

Les Bowen of the Daily News identifies 10 Eagles on the roster bubble, including defensive tackle Antonio Dixon:

Everybody pulls for Dixon, in his second tour with the Eagles, who grew up homeless and has made a career for himself, taming a severe stutter in the process. When the Eagles went to a 3-4, he seemed a good fit at nose tackle. But a hamstring problem kept Dixon from making an impact, while rookies such as Bennie Logan and Damion Square forged ahead. Plus, coordinator Bill Davis stresses versatility on his defensive line, and Dixon is strictly a tackle. He needs a big night, and maybe for someone else to get hurt.

Paul Domowitch of the Daily News projects the 53-man roster. He’s got Clay Harbor making it:

Harbor is going to be a TE/WR swingman, which saves Chip Kelly a roster spot to use elsewhere. I think he’ll keep five wideouts in addition to Harbor, but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if he only kept four. If Shepard doesn’t make it and no one else claims him, he’ll likely be on the practice squad.

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Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

Time for another edition of Three Eagles Numbers That Matter:

80 – Where Cary Williams ranked last year in success rate, according to Football Outsiders. That’s out of a possible 87 cornerbacks who were targeted at least 40 times.

We’ve discussed success rate before in this space, but for those who need a reminder, here’s how FO defines the metric:

The percentage of passes that don’t manage to get at least 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third down.

Williams had a success rate of just 42 percent; only seven cornerbacks were worse.

The numbers on Williams seem to paint a pretty complete picture. He is not a shut-down corner. He’ll give up completions, but he’s a physical player who will limit yards after the catch. Per FO’s numbers, Williams allowed just 1.8 yards after the catch on average last season. That ranked second-best in the NFL.

Clearly, the Eagles looked at their secondary after the season and realized they were too soft. Williams should certainly help in that respect, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll provide an upgrade in terms of coverage.

In case you’re wondering, Nnamdi Asomugha’s numbers reflect what you saw with your own eyes: that he struggled all season long. Asomugha allowed 10.4 yards per attempt, which ranked 86th out of the 87 corners who were targeted at least 40 times. He also allowed 5.0 yards after the catch on average, which ranked 78th.

41 – The pass-tackle stop rate for both DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks in 2012, according to Football Outsiders.

What’s pass-tackle stop rate? It goes back to the success rate mentioned above and is the percentage of pass-tackles that prevent the offense from having a successful offensive play. In other words, tackling a tight end after a 27-yard completion is different than tackling him after a 7-yard completion on 3rd-and-9.

The good news is Ryans and Kendricks ranked tied for fourth overall in this category. The Eagles were the only team that had two linebackers with a rate of 40 percent or better.

In a previous edition of Three Eagles Numbers That Matter, we noted that Kendricks missed a lot of tackles last year. But this shows another side: He was around the ball a lot and has big upside, especially in coverage.

Ryans, meanwhile, made an art out of allowing opponents to catch the ball in front of him, but tackling them short of the first-down marker.

For years, the Eagles failed to identify talent at the linebacker position. But by trading for Ryans and drafting Kendricks in the second round last offseason, it looks like they might have finally hit.

8 – The number of times Nick Foles fumbled last season.

The point here is not to rip Foles. He was a rookie operating behind a leaky offensive line and was playing for a team that was a complete mess overall. But the idea that simply getting Michael Vick off the field will fix the Eagles’ turnover issues is off-base.

Foles fumbled eight times in 468 snaps, or once every 58.5 snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Vick fumbled 11 times in 684 snaps, or once every 62.2 snaps. Both rates are bad, but Foles’ is actually worse.

Sidenote: These are overall fumbles, not just fumbles lost. Fumble recovery has proven to be random.

Vick has long had a fumbling issue. He’s put the ball on the ground 10.7 times per season since 2010. It would be quite an achievement for Chip Kelly to suddenly fix that problem. But whatever work Vick is putting in to improve his ball security, Foles should be doing too. And others like LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown (four fumbles apiece) as well.

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Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

Here are three Eagles-related numbers that matter:

74 – Oregon’s red-zone efficiency (touchdowns scored) from 2010 to 2012. That was second-best in the nation, behind only Wisconsin (78 percent), according to CoachingSearch.com.

Obviously, there will be adjustments to be made in the NFL, but that’s a promising number for the Eagles. Last year, the Birds ranked 28th in the league in red-zone efficiency, and they haven’t been in the top-10 since the Super Bowl year in 2004. Take a look:

 
Percentage TDs
Rank
201244%28th
201151.52%14th
201052.46%16th
200949.06%21st
200847.89%25th
200745.10%25th
200654%12th
200553.66%12th

I’m intrigued by how Kelly will use his personnel in the red zone. For example, we know by now that DeSean Jackson is not a productive red-zone receiver. And it’s not just about size. His skill set does not include making tough, physical catches in traffic. With Jackson, it’s about stretching the field, and that’s negated when the defense can use the back of the end zone as an extra defender.

Jackson has four catches in the red zone in the past two seasons combined. There’s not really a reason for him to be on the field down there, unless he’s being used as a decoy. Perhaps Kelly will use someone like Arrelious Benn to replace him. Or maybe the Eagles will go to 2-TE or 3-TE sets now that they have Brent Celek, James Casey and Zach Ertz in the fold.

If the team practices red zone during one of the practice sessions we’re allowed to attend, I’ll keep an eye on this.

And thanks to friend of the blog Sam Lynch for the CoachingSearch.com link.

8.5 – The percentage of plays in which the Eagles’ defense missed a tackle in 2012, according to Football Outsiders. That was the highest mark in the league. In 2011, the Eagles’ number was 8.1 percent, which was second-to-last.

The numbers are broken down by individual players too. For example, rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks missed 15.1 percent of his tackle attempts, the worst mark among linebackers.

And the numbers in the secondary back up what you saw with your eyes on a weekly basis. Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomugha and Nate Allen were among the 10 worst tackling defensive backs in the NFL (no other team had more than one DB listed).

Rodgers-Cromartie missed 20.7 percent of his tackles, third-worst. Allen missed 16.4 percent, fifth-worst. And Asomugha missed 13.8 percent, 10th-worst.

The good news? Free-agent signee Cary Williams was among the best tacklers. He missed just 2.7 percent of his attempts, tied for third-best.

We spend plenty of time talking about scheme, but the basic fundamentals of blocking and tackling simply have to get better with this team.

26.5 – The number of seconds in between plays for the Eagles last year. Chase Stuart of Football Perspective did the leg-work, using time of possession and total number of plays to come up with a metric for tempo. And surprisingly, the Eagles ran the fourth-fastest offense in the league in 2012, behind only the Patriots (24.9 seconds), Saints (26.1) and Ravens (26.4).

Part of the Eagles’ tempo relates to the fact that they were often trailing in the second half. But there were weeks when the no-huddle was a part of the game-plan. Sometimes, it was a very slow-moving no-huddle, while other times the Eagles pushed tempo.

Chip Kelly has been quick to point out that the Eagles might not always go at a fast pace, but they want to have that option in their back pocket.

“I think the game is about making quick decisions,” Kelly said. “It’s a game of 60 to 70 to 80 four‑second plays. So once the ball is snapped, it happens at that tempo. We’re just trying to force them to – everything we do has to kind of be ‑ reflect what the mission is, and the mission is to be prepared to play a four‑second play.  You need to have that kind of (snapping fingers) to get that done, so I think that’s why we’re practicing like that.”

Stuart’s chart also shows that using an up-tempo offense is not a new phenomenon. He goes back to 1991 and shows that four of the five fastest offenses of the last 21 years were teams that played in the 1990s. Three were the Buffalo Bills (1991, 1992, 1993), and the other was the 1995 Patriots.

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Nnamdi: ‘I Wanted It To Work Out So Badly’

Philadelphia Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha.Nnamdi Asomugha isn’t making excuses for his two down years in Philadelphia, but insists that the dip in production had nothing to do with age.

The newly-minted Niner took part in a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday night, and was asked why his two seasons with the Eagles did not work out.

“I tried my hardest for it to work out. I believed all the way up until the end that it was going to work out. I wanted it to work out so badly,” said Asomugha, via CSN Bay Area. “I wanted to win in Philadelphia. I wanted to be great in Philadelphia. I wanted everything to fall into line and work out, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. I think the more level-headed you can be during those difficult moments is how you bounce back, and I think I’ve been pretty level-headed about it. I don’t like to sit and talk about reasons why it didn’t work out. It doesn’t feel right to me.”

Just two seasons removed from being the hottest free agent on the market and landing a five-year deal with the Eagles with $25 million guaranteed, Asomugha signed a one-year contract in San Francisco with exactly zero dollars guaranteed. The Eagles are paying him $4 million this season so he is still being well-compensated, but the modest deal he got from the Niners shows just how far his stock has fallen.

The 31-year-old addressed the doubts that he can still play at a high level at this age.

“Yeah, I know it. Like I said, I know what things went wrong and didn’t work in my favor. I know how those things are fixed. And I know the level I can play at,” he said. “So that’s where I stand with that. I don’t think it’s an age thing. I think it’s based off of not playing well during a difficult two years and being removed from that situation and that environment and just having a rejuvenated opportunity.”

Asomugha added that he has had a chip on his shoulder every year that he has played in the league, but ” it’s bigger this year because of the adversity I went through in Philadelphia.”

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Cary Williams: ‘I Model Myself After Nnamdi’

Cary Williams knew his answer might raise a few eyebrows, but when the new Eagles cornerback was asked Friday who he modeled his game after, he delivered an honest reponse.

“You might not like this, but I model myself after Nnamdi [Asomugha],” Williams said. “He didn’t have much success here, but I don’t plan on going down that path. I always see myself as him because he’s a taller, leaner guy, and a guy that I actually liked with a skill set.

“When he was in Oakland, everybody in here knows he was a force out there. As a guy growing up watching the guy, that’s the guy who I watched was Nnamdi. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to duplicate that success here, but I plan on doing otherwise.”

Asomugha, of course, was released on Tuesday after two highly disappointing seasons with the Eagles. But Williams was obviously talking about the Asomugha who played in Oakland, the guy who made the Pro Bowl three times and was considered an elite cornerback.

As for size, the two are similar. Asomugha is listed at 6-2, 210, and Williams is 6-1, 190.

One area where the two are definitely different is on-field demeanor. Asomugha is low-key and sometimes shies away from contact. Williams, meanwhile, has never been afraid to mix it up.

“Intimidation is huge in this game,” Williams said. “I think it’s one thing to intimidate, but also to go out there and play physical each and every week, week-in and week-out, guys look at film, and they notice those things and take those things to heart.”

Considering his aggressive style, it’s surprising that Williams was only called for six penalties last year, according to Pro Football Focus; 18 cornerbacks were flagged more (including both Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie). In 2011, Williams was only called for five penalties (tied for 22nd).

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Eagles Release Nnamdi Asomugha

Philadelphia Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha.The Eagles will officially release cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha today.

“Coach Kelly and I each had a chance to speak with Nnamdi earlier and he took the news with a lot of class,” said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman in a team statement. “We expected nothing less than that from him. He has been a true pro on and off the field for this organization and our community and we wish him all the best as he continues his NFL career. We spoke to his representatives at the Combine about his future status with the team and wanted to take time to analyze and make a decision. In the end, Coach and I both felt we needed to move in a different direction at the cornerback position for 2013 and beyond.”

Billed as the second best cover corner in the league behind Darrelle Revis, the Eagles made the splash of the  2011 offseason by locking Asomugha up to a surprise five-year, $60 million contract. His two seasons in Philadelphia were highly disappointing, and the contract soon became out of whack comparative to production.

In the regular-season finale against the Giants, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles ended up pulling Asomugha from the game in the second half.

The 31-year-old was slated to make $15 million this season —  $4 million of which is guaranteed, meaning the Eagles will have to eat that amount. There was some talk of trying to restructure the deal, but the Eagles ultimately opted to let him go.

With the departure of the much-hyped cornerback comes the end of the “Dream Team” experiment that fell flat. The Eagles threw haymaker after haymaker in the post-lockout summer of ’11,  signing Asomugha, Cullen JenkinsJason Babin, Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith and dealing for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a trade.

After 12 wins in two seasons, none of those players are currently under contract with the Eagles.

As for the Birds’ cornerback situation, look for them to address the secondary in free agency (potential targets here). Alabama’s Dee Milliner could be an option with the No. 4 pick, or the Eagles could address cornerback in the second or third round of the draft.

Sheil Kapadia contributed to this post.

Despite 2011 Mistakes, Expect Eagles To Be Aggressive

When the summer of 2011 came around, the Eagles’ decision-makers felt they were close.

The team was coming off a 10-6 season in which it suffered a 21-16 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round. The previous year, the Eagles won 11 games. And in 2008, they made the NFC championship.

Major moves were made (Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, etc.) to fill in the gaps. And as we know, those moves didn’t work out. The Eagles went 12-20 the next two seasons, Andy Reid was fired, Chip Kelly was hired, and well, here we are.

Now, with free agency just six days away, the question has to be asked: How will the disastrous decisions from two summers ago affect the Eagles going forward?

“For us to not look back and see what happened at that time and why it happened… we’ve spent a lot of time doing that since Coach [Kelly] has gotten here – about where we were in our program. And it’s very different than where we’re at now,” general manager Howie Roseman said during an interview with Birds 24/7.

“I think it’s a different situation than coming off a 4-12 season. For us, we’re always going to try to be smart and be aggressive. But at the same token, to not learn from that and how important it is to build a team and to build the right environment… I think that’s key going forward.”

Don’t take Roseman’s words to mean that the Eagles are gun-shy and plan on sitting back and observing during the free-agency period.

They key is still to build through the draft, but with the draft comes unpredictability. The Eagles can project when certain prospects will be picked, but they have no way of knowing who’s going to be on the board when it’s their turn to pick. Reaching to fill certain needs can lead to mistakes (see: Jaiquawn Jarrett).

That’s where free agency comes in – for filling specific needs. With the Eagles, there are plenty of those – cornerback, safety and nose tackle, to name a few. The key will be to identify the young talent at those need spots and build the core of the roster.

“In free agency, you’re looking to fill a need,” said former Colts GM and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian during a conference call earlier this week. “In free agency, you’re absolutely looking at the finished product.  Those players are not going to get any better than they are now at 26 or 27.  They’re at their peak.”

The other factor, of course, is value. According to CBSSports.com, the Eagles have the fifth-most cap space in the league at $33.4 million. Keep in mind, that figure could very well see a bump if and when the team cuts ties with Nnamdi Asomugha.

Bottom line? The Eagles have defined needs, and they have money to spend.

As always, the key will be to choose wisely. But come Tuesday at 4 p.m., don’t expect things to be quiet at the Novacare Complex.

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What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Here’s a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles this week.

ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano thinks the Eagles should make a play for Darrelle Revis:

With eight picks in the upcoming draft and about $33 million in salary cap room right now ($44 million if they cut Asomugha), the Eagles have the wherewithal to make any move they want. Assuming the Jets are as motivated as they seem to be to trade Revis, the Eagles might be able to get him with a package led by their high third-round pick. That’s a better pick than the Jets are likely to get as compensation if Revis leaves via free agency next year, and if the Jets wait for that to happen, Revis could end up signing with the Patriots and terrorizing the Jets twice a season for the rest of his career.

Elliot Harrison of NFL.com thinks 49ers safety Dashon Goldson would be a nice addition for the Eagles:

The Eagles’ secondary has been a real problem. The draft is a great tool, but Philly could potentially use three new players in the secondary; in order for it to get better, some work must be done in free agency. Nnamdi Asomugha could be cut. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a free agent. The safety position is no great shakes, either. Philadelphia’s back four made every quarterback — save for maybe Brandon Weeden — look like the love child of Aaron Rodgers and Dan Fouts, allowing 33 touchdown passes while picking off just eight. That’s unbelievable futility. Philadelphia has more than $30 million in cap space. Perhaps making a push to sign safety Dashon Goldson might be the first, most appropriate move (although signing Ed Reed would be cool, too).

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com has Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie 29th on his list of free agents:

It’s not a great sign that two teams have seemingly given up on DRC in his young career. But how much cash would he have commanded if on the market after his second pro season?

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com has Rodgers-Cromartie 19th:

He wasn’t great last season, but he has a ton of athletic ability. It’s almost as if people are waiting for it to show.

Clark Judge of CBSSports.com offers up his free-agency plan for the Birds:

The Eagles haven’t had a quality safety since Brian Dawkins left four years ago, and while this draft is loaded at the position I might start there when looking for veteran help. There is quality up and down the line, with someone young like a Chris Clemons of Miami or William Moore of Atlanta available. Of course, so is San Francisco’s Dashon Goldson, but reports have him seeking $8 million a year. Plus, he turns 29 in May. They could look for cornerback help here, too, with guys like Shaun Smith, Cary Williams or Greg Toler expected to hit the market.

Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports has the Eagles taking Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson with the fourth pick:

Johnson’s stock has been rising since a dominant Senior Bowl, and his combine tests proved what he already knew — he’s a very mobile lineman with freakish athletic tendencies. New head coach Chip Kelly may adapt some of his Oregon offensive principles for the NFL, but don’t expect him to stray from the idea of a multiple zone-blocking system that provides optimal flexibility. Perhaps more than any other lineman in this class, Johnson has the pure athleticism to bring it in Kelly’s schemes.

Chris Burke of SI.com includes Rodgers-Cromartie on his list of free agents who hurt their value in 2012:

Let’s just say that things never really worked out for DRC in Philadelphia. He was looked upon as one of the game’s premier young cornerbacks when the Eagles acquired him in that Kevin Kolb trade. Two years later, he’s probably in the second-tier of available corners.

Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus calls Nnamdi Asomugha one of the most over-valued players in the NFL:

Safe to say the Eagles didn’t really get what they were expecting out of Asomugha. Looking a step slower, Asomugha gave up completions on 66.7 percent of balls into his coverage, with five of those being touchdowns. His 15.9 yards per reception allowed was the seventh-highest in the league as he struggled to keep up with the NFL’s top receivers.

Dave Dameshek of NFL.com includes Michael Vick on his list of quarterbacks who can’t win the Super Bowl:

Not even Vick can delude himself into believing he’s anything more than a placeholder in new coach Chip Kelly’s system.

Obstacle: Inaccuracy; slowing foot speed; never-ending string of injuries.

Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com looks at the QB outlook for all 32 teams:

Vick agreed to a restructured contract to play under new head coach Chip Kelly, whose wide-open offensive system may be a better fit for him than Reid’s West Coast-style scheme. Foles isn’t as athletic as Vick, but the Eagles feel strongly enough about his potential that overtures about a potential trade to Kansas City where Reid is now head coach were rebuffed.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Three Combine Takeaways

The NFL Combine continues today, but the media portion (player interviews) is over. Back from Indy, here are three Eagles-related takeaways.

1. We’ve discussed at length how the Eagles need to overhaul their secondary this offseason. In case you missed it over the weekend, here’s my take on the Nnamdi Asomugha situation. Even if Asomugha returns, the Birds are in dire need of cornerback help. And they could use a pair of safeties as well.

The good news is this draft appears to be loaded with defensive backs. It’s not top-heavy, but remember, the Eagles have three picks in the first 67. I would be shocked if at least one of those three did not include a corner or safety. Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently listed his top-55 prospects, which include six cornerbacks and six safeties. Gil Brandt of NFL.com has nine corners and eight safeties in his top 100.

Alabama corner Dee Milliner and Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro appear to be locks to go in the first round, and a couple others could sneak into the top-32, but even if the Eagles don’t end up with either of those players, they still have a great opportunity to rebuild their secondary through the draft.

2. Who’s going to be the top pass-rusher (DE/OLB) off the board? That’s a very difficult question to answer right now. Georgia’s Jarvis Jones has medical concerns, and according to Pro Football Talk, some teams are removing him from their draft boards. Oregon’s Dion Jordan could be an option, but he’s scheduled to have shoulder surgery and is facing a three-to-four month rehab stint.

Florida State’s Bjoern Werner? Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore? BYU’s Ziggy Ansah?

Teams put a premium on pass-rushers. And it’s likely that at least one of the names I just mentioned goes in the top five. I’m just not sure who it’s going to be.

3. The first QB domino that is expected to fall once the trading period begins (March 12) is an Alex Smith deal. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that the Chiefs have shown a lot of interest. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com says the 49ers have a deal in place and are just waiting for it to be official. If Kansas City does acquire Smith, the chances of the Eagles trading Nick Foles would go way down.

And then there’s the draft. Geno Smith ran the fastest 40 time of any quarterback in Indy. But there’s little consensus about where he’ll be picked. I’m not ready yet to rule him out completely for the Eagles at No. 4.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Eagles are reportedly interested in Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith.

Think Kelly would like to get his hands on West Virginia’s Tavon Austin? Austin ran a 4.34 40.

Jeff Stoutland’s message to his offensive line at Alabama: Make your opponent feel you.

Oregon RB Kenjon Barner uses a story from last year’s ‘Civil War’ game to explain Kelly’s genius.

Tom Coughlin once tried to hire Kelly. Now he’ll coach against him twice a year.

Kelly’s specific preferences will affect the Eagles’ draft board.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown talked about his brother Bryce. From Chris McPherson of PhiladelphiaEagles.com:

“I was proud of my brother just being able to see him be successful, accomplishing his goals,” he said. “When the odds were against him, he continued to push forward and he is where he is and he’s done a great job of what he’s doing.”

Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has been diagnosed with a heart condition, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen:

Lotulelei was discovered to have an abnormally low Ejection Fraction, detecting that the left ventricle of his heart was pumping at only 44 percent efficiency, sources said. The normal range is between 55-70 percent efficiency.

The 6-foot-2, 311-pound Lotulelei will undergo further testing in Salt Lake City in an effort to seek more clarity with the condition, a source said. If it’s a confirmed chronic condition, medical experts consider it an indication of possible heart damage.

COMING UP

A lot to get to between now and free agency on March 12. We’ll have you covered.

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Ball Will Likely Be In Asomugha’s Court

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi AsomughaHowie Roseman will meet with Nnamdi Asomugha’s agent, Ben Dogra, this morning, according to multiple reports.

The reality here is that the ball will likely be in Asomugha’s court. The original contract he signed in the summer of 2011 calls for him to be paid more than $15 million in 2013. Anyone who watched his performance last season knows there’s no way the Eagles are paying that number.

But the key here is that the Eagles owe Asomugha $4 million if they cut him.

In other words, Asomugha will have to weigh two options from a financial perspective.

1. Whatever the Eagles offer him over $4 million in a newly re-structured deal.
2. What he thinks he could potentially get from a new team on the open market.

In other words, Asomugha can pocket the $4 million AND make whatever a new team offers.

Chip Kelly and Roseman know what everyone else knows: That the soon-to-be 32-year-old cornerback was a huge disappointment last season. He gave up too many big plays, failed to make plays when the ball was in the air and was a poor tackler. Whatever skills he had in Oakland are not going to suddenly return at this point in his career.

So, why would the Eagles even consider re-structuring his deal? Again, they’re on the hook for $4 million regardless. The Eagles likely will have to fill the other cornerback spot unless Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie unexpectedly returns.

If Asomugha agrees to a major pay cut, the Eagles could choose to ride with him in 2013, knowing that finding a pair of starting corners in free agency and the draft could be difficult.

Then again, the team is not in “win-now” mode and might just decide it’s time to cut ties.

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