After Rocky Start, ‘Arrow Is Up’ For DBs

Eric Rowe. Photo courtesy of USA Today

Eric Rowe. Photo courtesy of USA Today

Cory Undlin threw down the gauntlet the moment he arrived in town.

“We’re looking for non-impostors,” he said, “meaning guys that get up and line up in press, and then the ball gets snapped, and then they open the gate, and then they just let the guy run down the field. We don’t want that. So my job is to get them to believe in themselves and believe in the technique. If they get lined up on any guy, I don’t care what guy it is, the starter or their fourth wideout, that they’re gonna play with the technique we’re trying to demand out of them.”

His new pupils raved about the improvements in their game right from the jump this spring. Malcolm Jenkins called Undlin the most important pickup of the offseason. Declared in early June the defensive backfield was already better than it had been at any point last season. Led by Byron Maxwell, the revamped secondary looked poised to take a big stride forward.

Then came the opener against Atlanta. Read more »

All-22: Inside the Eagles’ Secondary Struggles

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

It didn’t take long for the concerns to start creeping in. On one play, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan delivered a quick pass to Julio Jones, who picked up 17 yards. On another, Ryan found Roddy White wide open for a 25-yard gain.

And that was only Atlanta’s first two passing plays.

The Falcons’ receivers torched the Eagles’ secondary for 23 catches, 298 yards and two touchdowns in Monday night’s matchup. After giving up the second-most passing yards in the NFL last year, Philadelphia focused on fixing their secondary in the offseason. They signed free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell to six-year, $63 million deal and traded up in the draft to select defensive back Eric Rowe with the No. 47 overall pick.

After signs of progress in the preseason, their moves appeared to work. Although few expected the Eagles to make the jump to an above-average secondary, many expected the unit to at least rank among the middle of the pack.

In their first test of the season, however, the defensive backs came up short. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Three Keys For Carroll

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Nolan Carroll has been hyped up by coaches and teammates alike ever since training opened up back in April. Billy Davis says he’s had “one of the best offseasons I’ve ever been around.” Carroll has been winning all the Chip-Kelly designed competitions, took a stranglehold of the starting job opposite Byron Maxwell from the jump and, if you believe those who are around him on a daily basis, is poised for a bust-out campaign.

So what’s happened? How did Carroll go from a guy who couldn’t unseat Bradley Fletcher to the talk of the Eagles’ locker room? Read more »

Eagles Notes: Marcus Smith Smith Out 2-3 Weeks

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Marcus Smith told reporters that he will be out for two-to-three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury during Thursday’s practice.

“It’s not as bad as I thought it was,” he said. “Three weeks [out] is probably the most.”

There’s a chance, then, that Smith will miss the remainder of the preseason, but he’ll try to get ready for the finale against the Jets and is confident that he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener in Atlanta.

“I don’t think it sets me back at all,” he said. “I just think it’s something unfortunate that happened. I’m going to just rest and get the proper recovery protocol and just do what I gotta do to get back.”

Smith suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to leave practice early and receive an MRI.

“He really was taking some steps and coming on, but now he has had a setback,” added Billy Davis. That’s all it is, a setback. We don’t know how long the setback is, but we’ll know once we get some more information.”

Read more »

Mailbag: Bradford/Foles, Carroll And the Rookies

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

I’m pinch-blogging for T-Mac on the mailbag this week. Let’s get right to the questions.

The simple answer is upside. Regular readers know that I was never a huge Nick Foles guy. I like his size and toughness, but it always felt like he had limitations. Of course, the same can be said about a lot of quarterbacks.

Sam Bradford has a better arm, could be a better decision-maker (his 2.2 INT rate is third-best among active QBs who have thrown at least 1,500 passes) and matches Foles in the intangible categories (toughness, leadership, character, etc.). Clearly, Chip Kelly felt like what he can get out of Bradford at 100 percent will be better than what he got out of Foles. Read more »

Eagles Wake Up Call: On the Secondary Picture

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Chip Kelly conceded that the Eagles have only half of their secondary picture filled in at the moment, with the other two spots currently in pencil.

“I think our depth is better than it’s ever been in the three years,” said the head coach on Thursday. “Now we just have to figure out who exactly those guys are that will complement the two guys that are our starters [in] Malcolm [Jenkins] and Byron [Maxwell] right now.  The other guys are really competing.”

We will get our second peek at the new-look defensive backfield this afternoon. The first time around, Nolan Carroll was running with the ones at corner opposite Maxwell and Chris Maragos was paired with Jenkins at safety. Chances are, that will not be the foursome when the Eagles open up the regular season Monday, September 14 in Atlanta. Read more »

Carroll Running With the First Team

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

According to the team’s website, Nolan Carroll has been taking reps with the first team opposite Byron Maxwell this week to kick off OTAs.

“I’m not putting stock in it at this point, because we’re all getting the same amount of reps,” Carroll said. “Every time I’m out there I’m focusing on my technique no matter where I’m lining up. It’s not about going against the guy across from me, it’s about what I can do every single time and how much I can focus on my technique on every snap.

“We’re out there now and things are going so fast that you’re going to get tired after three or four reps and the next guy is up.”

Carroll, who played the role of dime specialist last season, will be competing with the likes of Eric Rowe and Walter Thurmond for one of the starting corner spots this summer. Both Rowe and Thurmond are new to the scene, so it would makes sense if Chip Kelly leaned towards Carroll in the early going given his familiarity with Billy Davis‘ defense. Read more »

Notes: On Foles, Cole And the Corner Spot

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Nick Foles continues to work alongside his teammates at practice. He’s ditched the knit cap for a helmet and has ramped up his level of participation of late, signs that his fractured collarbone is on the mend. But it didn’t heal fast enough for Foles to make a return to the lineup this season.

Come Sunday, Mark Sanchez and Foles will have started the same number of games this year. Considering that he hasn’t been in the lineup since November 2 and has yet to play a full season in the NFL, has the coaching seen enough to know what they have in Foles?

“I think we know what we have in Nick,” said Pat Shurmur. “We’ve seen a guy that by last count I think is 14-4 as a starter (under Chip Kelly). So that’s really how you judge a quarterback.” Read more »

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