The Eagles have a decision to make when it comes to Jason Avant, and will need to make it fairly soon.
Avant has become a fixture in Philadelphia. Selected in the fourth round of the 2006 draft, he has spent the last eight seasons with the Eagles, surviving some lean years and a coaching transition. Only Todd Herremans and Trent Cole have been with the team longer.
Avant proved valuable to Chip Kelly in his first year. He deserves part of the credit for guiding the Eagles past the Riley Cooper situation, and helped set the right tone in the locker room with his work ethic and approach to the game. On the field, his stats dipped. While several of his teammates enjoyed career years, the 30-year-old had 38 receptions (he was targeted 76 times) for 447 yards. Those are his lowest numbers since 2008. He made strong contributions to the running game with his blocking, but his involvement in the passing game left something to be desired.
The Eagles will have to weigh all of that as they decide how to proceed. Complicating matters is that the veteran wideout is scheduled to receive a $1 million roster bonus, which kicks in the fifth day of the league year (March 15). Read more »
Before we get started: DeSean Jackson was named to the Pro Bowl on Friday. He replaces Andre Johnson, who is not participating because of an unspecified injury, according to the league.
Jackson is the fifth Eagle selected to this year’s Pro Bowl, joining LeSean McCoy, Jason Peters, Nick Foles and Evan Mathis. Peters has opted not to play in the game.
Now onto the mailbag: Read more »
Here’s this week’s roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles. Read more »
The Eagles have eight players that are set to become unrestricted free agents: Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Michael Vick, Nate Allen, Donnie Jones, Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson and Clifton Geathers.
Tim and Sheil will look at one free agent per day and give their take on what should and what will happen with these players. Maclin was up first. Now onto Cooper. Read more »
Some weekend links to pass along before the divisional round begins… Read more »
Jeremy Maclin‘s rehab is coming along well, he says. He is running now. The next step is being able to move side-to-side. He believes he’ll be able to participate in OTAs this spring. The question is: for what team?
Maclin is set to become a free agent. He has had preliminary discussions with the Eagles about his situation, but it’s no guarantee that he is back.
The 25-year-old was in line for a pretty nice pay day before tearing the ACL in his right knee during practice back in June. He planned on boosting his value by putting up big numbers in 2013 under Chip Kelly. Instead he has to build his value back up, and conceded that he might have to take a one-year prove-it deal depending on how the market shapes up.
“I’m a realist so I understand that’s a possibility,” he said. “Me and my agent, me and my team will kind of get together and talk about what’s best for me and what’s best for the whole situation and just go from there.” Read more »
Riley Cooper. Photo | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Minutes after Chip Kelly watched Shayne Graham’s 32-yard field goal split the uprights with time expiring at Lincoln Financial Field, he stood before a roomful of reporters and was asked to reflect on what his team had accomplished in his first year as the Eagles’ head coach.
“You’re probably right that it’s probably a little too soon for that,” Kelly said. “I thought we were going to be a good team when I met these guys for the first time because I know how hard they worked and how hard they wanted to invest in this. And then I watched it first-hand – them come to work every day and really invest in this whole process. It’s just disappointing right now. But I don’t think us winning the division or getting to the playoffs was a surprise to us. I just think everybody is really disappointed that we’re not moving forward.” Read more »
Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) prepares to throw the ball as Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole (58) and Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox (91) chase in the first quarter during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo | Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Going into Saturday night’s matchup with the Saints, the Eagles’ defensive gameplan focused on daring Sean Payton to take the football out of Drew Brees’ hands.
New Orleans has been a pass-first offense and was playing without its leading rusher in Pierre Thomas. Unlike most weeks, Davis figured he could pay less attention to the run game and instead scheme to limit big plays in the passing game. Payton responded by handing the ball off over and over again to the tune of 36 carries and 185 yards.
“That’s on me,” Davis said. “I made the calls for the passing game to make sure we keep the big plays off us. It was a lot more split safety and a lot more pass-oriented calls, so some of the runs leaked out. I could have called more of a run-based defensive game, shut that down, but we were trying to keep the points down and the big plays off us. So that run game comes down to me, not the players.” Read more »
Eventually, the Eagles players may find solace in the fact that they overachieved in their first year under Chip Kelly. They might look at the foundation that was built and realize their time and effort was well-invested. But on Saturday night, following a gut-wrenching home playoff loss to the Saints, they were in no mood to feed into that narrative.
Instead, they were struggling with the reality that they had let a very winnable game slip out of their hands.
“We lost to a team that wasn’t necessarily better than us,” said Cary Williams. “They weren’t better than us, but they were better tonight. They got the job done. It was more mental than physical out there, and we had a lot of mental busts.” Read more »
Here’s a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ offensive performance against Dallas.
* It was a tale of two halves for Nick Foles. For most of the first half (12-for-16 for 197 yards), he was comfortable, decisive and on-target. In the second half (5-for-10 for 66 yards), the pressure seemed to affect him.
* Early on, Foles found Chris Polk on a wheel route for 34 yards. He put some extra zip on the ball, squeezing a pass in to Riley Cooper in between defenders for a 16-yard pickup. He stepped up, avoided pressure and found Zach Ertz for 17. Again in the face of pressure, he showed patience and hit Ertz for 12 yards on 3rd-and-7. Still in the first, Foles slid away from pressure and found DeSean Jackson for 20. In the second, his receivers helped him out with a couple of great catches, and Foles took advantage of a blown coverage on the 14-yard TD to Brent Celek. He beat the blitz with a 17-yard completion to Avant and was 8-for-9 overall against the blitz for 128 yards, per Pro Football Focus. Read more »