The Eagles will introduce Doug Pederson as the team’s 23rd head coach at 2:00 this afternoon. Meanwhile, rumors continue to swirl about Pederson’s potential head coaching staff. We’ve put together a collection of Birds-related reading material to tide you over until this afternoon.
Outside of Canton, there may be no greater shrine to the legacy of professional football than the headquarters of NFL Films, hidden away on a nearly invisible road in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. The entrance to the house that Ed and Steve Sabol built is lined with archival photographs, game-worn helmets and, in the lobby alone, 71 gleaming Emmy statues, with scores more scattered throughout the winding halls. It’s a Tuesday during the season, and as usual, Ron Jaworski sits at his desk on the second floor. In sharp contrast to the glitz elsewhere, the walls of Jaworski’s lair are adorned with only a few relics from his playing days — snapshots, a locker nameplate, a couple pigskins on a shelf. There are five other guys in here, most hunched over computer screens, logging game film or unearthing obscure stats. It feels sort of like a locker room, with furniture from IKEA. For Jaworski — the first quarterback to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl, 35 years ago — that’s just fine. He’s a married father of three who settled in South Jersey when he joined the Birds and never left. But this is his natural habitat. Read more »
The Eagles honored their alumni Tuesday afternoon before their open training camp practice at the Linc.
Ron Jaworski wasn’t in attendance, but Brian Westbrook was, as the organization announced he would be inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame. In separate interviews during the day, the ex-players offered their thoughts on the state of the Eagles’ roster and expectations for 2015.
“When I look at the cumulative talent on this offense, it is outstanding,” Jaworski said during a spot on 97.5 The Fanatic’s Morning Show. “I know there is a question at right guard, and is [Allen] Barbre going to be the left guard or Andrew Gardner? But the only question mark I have on this team, quite honestly, on the offensive and defensive side is how quick this talent can come together.
“I think the second half of the season, they will be very good. I think there’s going to be an adjustment period early in the season. There could be nine or 10 new starters on the team.”
Once a week, we’ll take a spin around the NFC East to check in on what’s going on with the Eagles’ division rivals.
Ron Jaworski had some interesting things to say about Nick Foles‘ struggles in the opener against the Jaguars.
Like most of us, he saw a quarterback on Sunday that didn’t seem to be processing information quickly and who was holding onto the ball too long.
But Jaws believes there was more to the story; that part of the problem was that Jacksonville had a bead on what the Eagles were doing on offense. Read more »
Even when a quarterback has made the Pro Bowl eight times, won a title and thrown 363 career touchdowns, we find a way to point out flaws.
It’s the nature of the position.
Which brings us to future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, the veteran QB who will arrive at the Linc this weekend on a mission to end the Eagles’ season.
Brees just finished a regular season in which he completed 68.6 percent of his passes for 5,162 yards, 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. But the Eagles have something working in their favor, says ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski. Read more »
When Chip Kelly was hired, Ron Jaworski decided to sit down and study tape of five or six Oregon games.
Last week, he looked at a couple more. And the former Eagles quarterback just doesn’t see Kelly’s concepts translating to the NFL.
“It’s going to be interesting to see if this style of offense projects to the NFL,” Jaws said during an interview with Harry Mayes and Nick Kayal on 97.5 The Fanatic earlier this week. “I’m going to say no.”
“I just don’t see NFL passing concepts in this offense. It’s a movement offense by the quarterback, off the run-action, off the read-action. A lot of short, quick passes, dart routes, bubble screens. Very few plays down the field with NFL passing concepts.”
Jaws added that he’s had several conversations with Kelly and hopes he’s wrong. But he offered an honest assessment of what he’s seen on tape.
Of course, we don’t know exactly what Kelly is planning offensively and how it will compare to what he ran at Oregon. We know the Eagles aren’t going to huddle, and we’ve seen an emphasis on the running game, the read option and bubble screens at practices that have been open to the media.
But we’ve also seen the quarterbacks take a fair number of shots downfield.
Jaws’ other concern stems from the fact that opponents faced time constraints when preparing for Kelly’s offense in college. That won’t be the case in the NFL.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Yeah, it worked in college,’ ” he said. “But then I looked at a game like Stanford. Stanford, a good defensive football team, shut them down. I hope it works. I like the innovation, but I think it’s going to be very difficult.
“The NFL is a different league with fast players that have all week to prepare for you. At the collegiate level, you have 20 hours to prepare for that Oregon offense. Take out three hours of game time. You’ve got 17 hours in the course of a week to practice and prepare for that style of offense. It kills you in college. But in the NFL, these guys work 17 hours a day. A day, not a week – 17 hours a day getting ready, so there’s no secrets.”
Kelly has said all along that he’ll adapt his offense to personnel. We won’t know until next season starts how much the NFL version resembles what he did at Oregon.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles have received league approval to make significant changes to the Linc.
Matt Barkley is showing an early command of the offense. Tim explains.
The national media roundup includes one analyst who thinks Lane Johnson is a “horrific fundamental pass blocker.”
The Eagles are experimenting with a 3-3-5 nickel look that uses the outside linebacker in a “joker” role.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Josh Norris of Rotoworld takes a closer look at fifth-round pick Earl Wolff:
On the point of tackling, Wolff loves to throw his body around, especially when lining up his target on the edge. That same physicality can be seen when closing in coverage, extending his arms to disrupt the catch point and cause an incompletion. Despite those flashes of violence, Wolff also understands when a conservative angle is necessary, specifically when working as the last line of defense from a single high alignment. There are areas of improvement as a tackler, including not recognizing crack back or seal blocks to open the edge, but Wolff is willing and showed a controlled aggression when dipping under blocks or working through trash.
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz offers thoughts on Michael Vick’s recent comments:
Vick is both right and wrong, as is so often the case with players. Fans do tend to go to extremes. If the guy couldn’t read defenses, coaches would have given up on him a long time ago. That said, it isn’t something he does consistently well. Part of this is due to ingrained habits. Vick has always been a playmaking QB. That often meant holding the ball and waiting for plays to develop. Going from that to getting the ball out quickly and accurately is a major change. Vick has shown progress, but it still isn’t a strength for him and likely will never be.
We’ll take a look at the safety picture and the depth chart at running back.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith worked out for teams around the league Thursday during his Pro Day.
According to a USA Today report, 29 of the NFL’s 32 franchises had a representative there, including the Eagles, who sent senior scouting adviser Tom Donahoe.
Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman did not need to attend because they already worked Smith out earlier in the week. The coach and GM were joined by owner Jeffrey Lurie on Monday in Morgantown.
Ron Jaworski was in attendance Thursday and asked Smith about his meeting with the Eagles’ brass.
“He said the Eagles gave him a pretty rough workout,” Jaws told Mike Missanelli during an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic. “He threw almost a hundred balls on Monday. He said a lot of those were the movement-type throws – sprinting right, sprinting left, coming back against the grain. A lot of those types of throws that we know in Chip Kelly’s offense, he’s going to demand mobility from the quarterback.
“He also said the meeting was very intense at the blackboard. It was Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman, and of course Chip Kelly. He said he felt very comfortable with them. He seemed to think they were comfortable with him. But he said it was a pretty grueling, intense workout they put him through.”
As we mentioned earlier in the week, there are two possibilities here. One is that the Eagles are considering Smith with the No. 4 pick. And the other is that they want to create the impression that they’re interested in Smith for trade purposes.
I tend to lean towards the former.
As for Jaws, he said he’s already seen improvement from Smith since the end of the college season, now that he’s working with pro QB coaches. Asked about Smith’s fit in Kelly’s offense, Jaws said, “I think he’s a guy that’s going to play in this game for 10 to 12 years, be your prototypical pocket passer.
“I would almost say a little bit like Russell Wilson. He’s a guy that will take the running opportunities. And they’ll design some runs for him [Wilson] out in Seattle. But I think when you look at Geno, he’ll play from the pocket, but he can also beat you with his legs.”
Jaws quickly added though that Kelly will have to adapt his Oregon offense in the pros, so it’s difficult to project potential fit without knowing exactly what he’s looking for.
“The offense that we saw at Oregon will not be run in the NFL,” he said. “I will tell you that right now, categorically, it will not work.”
Jaws likes Smith’s arm and athleticism, but said interested teams need to make sure Smith possesses the right leadership qualities.
Asked if he thinks the Eagles will snag Smith with the fourth pick, Jaws said, “I would probably say it’s 50-50.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles signed cornerback Cary Williams and safety Kenny Phillips.
Williams says he wants to show he’s not a crazy, wild man.
T-Mac talks Geno Smith in his weekly mailbag.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Now with the Broncos, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie talked about his time with the Eagles. From Pro Football Talk:
“When you have a lot of talented guys like that a lot of things are expected of you,” he said. “Don’t get caught up in the hype of names of people on the roster.”
“It seemed like we had everything,” he said. “The coaches, the players — sometimes in football it just doesn’t go your way.”
Dan Graziano of ESPN.com offers his take on the Barwin signing:
While it’s entirely possible that Trent Cole and Brandon Graham, who were defensive ends last season when the Eagles lined up in a 4-3, can handle the likely change in roles, it’s also possible that they cannot. Bringing in someone such as Barwin augments the pass rush with someone the Eagles know can handle it, deepens the pass-rushing talent on the roster and improves the Eagles’ versatility on several fronts.
We’ll talk to Williams and Phillips this afternoon. And who knows? Maybe another signing or two will come down today.
Until all five of the remaining head-coaching openings are filled, Jon Gruden’s name is going to continue to come up.
The Gruden conversation revolves around two key questions:
1. How interested is he in returning to coaching?
2. How interested are teams in bringing him on board?
There have been plenty of rumors, but Ron Jaworski has discussed the possibilities directly with Gruden.
“Jon has gotten a lot of discussion,” Jaws said during an interview with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic Monday. “It’s just not as public as some of the other ones. I spoke to Jon earlier, and we spoke about it. He’s had numerous meetings. He has told teams that he is not interested in certain jobs. There are jobs that he’s interested in, but no one at those teams has reached out to him, or they may even have a coach in place.”
The obvious follow-up was: Are the Eagles one of the teams he’s not interested in?
“No, I didn’t say that,” Jaworski said. “They haven’t reached out to Jon.”
Opinion on Gruden is mixed. In 11 seasons with the Raiders and Bucs, his teams got to the playoffs five times. Gruden won a Super Bowl with Tampa in 2002. After that season, though, he went 45-51.
A league source told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer yesterday that the Browns were showing some interest in Gruden. But Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk aggressively shot down the report. Between the Browns report and Jaworski’s comments, it sounds like the market for Gruden might not be as inviting as one would expect.
Any owner or GM looking into hiring Gruden would need to do thorough homework on what happened with him during the final six seasons in Tampa. But one thing Gruden has going for him is that he’s been very much involved in the game since leaving the sidelines. As an analyst for ESPN, he watches film and talks to coaches/players/executives on a weekly basis. Shortly after he was fired by the Bucs, Gruden spent time with Chip Kelly to learn about his spread offense.
The Eagles have plans to interview Jay Gruden, Jon’s brother. They appear to be in the middle of what looks like an extremely thorough search, especially now that Kelly is off the market.
If the plan is to leave no stone unturned, you would think they would at least have a conversation at some point with Jon Gruden.