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.
Ron Jaworski‘s new quarterback power rankings are out, and Michael Vick comes in at No. 12. This is what Jaws had to say:
The Eagles easily could be 0-4, and nine turnovers through four games is too many, but his performance against the Giants convinced me to keep Vick at No. 12. He really got it going Sunday night, staying patient in the pocket, making his reads and only taking to the run when his passing options were exhausted. That’s how Philadelphia needs Vick to play from here on out.
Here are the 11 QBs Jaworski put ahead of Vick:
1) Aaron Rodgers
2) Tom Brady
3) Eli Manning
4) Peyton Manning
5) Drew Brees
6) Matt Ryan
7) Ben Roethlisberger
8) Joe Flacco
9) Matt Schaub
10) Phillip Rivers
11) Tony Romo
Romo and Vick seem to have a habit of winding up next to each other in these types of exercises. Jaws had the following to say about Dallas’ signal-caller.
Not all interceptions are created equal. Romo was victimized by a drop by Kevin Ogletree and a mental mistake by Dez Bryant. Yes, turnovers have been a common factor for Romo, but the score and game situations often prompt most of those miscues. The Dallas line is not good. Period. But Romo’s ability to avoid the rush, get outside the pocket and throw is probably second to none. He erases all kinds of mistakes for the Cowboys. Without him, Dallas may not win a game. He needs more help.
Vick and Romo’s numbers are pretty similar through four games.
Neither have been dazzling, as you can see, and might not be so high up on Jaworski’s list if they had different last names. They are 23rd and 28th, respectively, in quarterback rating. Romo has more interceptions than anyone in the league, and Vick is right on his heels. What Vick does have going for him is three game-winning drives in four games. Romo doesn’t have any.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Sheil makes his triumphant return with an All-22 look at the offense’s performance Sunday.
Vick and DeMeco Ryans have teamed up to form somewhat of a leadership partnership.
In my Twitter Mailbag, I break down the chances of Mychal Kendricks and Fletcher Cox taking home Rookie Defensive Player of the Year honors.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Les Bowen caught up with tackle Jason Peters, who is hopeful he can make a return to the playing field sometime this year.
“I’m running, doing everything,” Peters said, pausing briefly as he walked from the locker room to a training room. Asked if he has realistic hopes of playing this season, Peters said “yeah.”
Demetress Bell is expected to start again at left tackle this week. Dan Graziano goes to the coaches tape to evaluate Bell’s performance against New York.
The conclusion? Not too bad, though for most of the game the Eagles gave him a lot of help and little responsibility. Bell was on the field for 47 plays in the first three quarters, and he had either one or two tight ends lined up with him on 23 of those (48.9 percent). For some reason, though, the Eagles took away Bell’s help in the fourth quarter, lining up one or more tight ends on just four of his 21 plays in the fourth (19.0 percent).
Ten of the 14 experts at ESPN picked the Steelers over the Eagles.
The Eagles’ final practice of the week starts at 11:45 this morning. Andy Reid will speak afterwards. The team will leave for Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon.
Ron Jaworski believes the Eagles are in for a fight in Arizona. A guest on Mike & Mike this morning, Jaws spoke in glowing terms about the Cardinals’ attack.
“This Arizona defense is playing terrific,” said Jaworski. “I’m seeing some things that make me say, ‘Hmm, this defense could be really, really good.’ They love to play their 2-4-5 as a base — two down linemen, four linebackers, five defensive backs — and why not when you’ve got a Darnell Dockett and a Calais Campbell inside. Those two guys can pretty much handle the interior of any offensive line in the league.
“I think the Cardinals will give the Eagles all they can handle on Sunday.”
Campbell was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his effort against the Patriots. He registered 10 tackles, two quarterback sacks and three QB hits against New England.
“Yeah, he had 10 [passes batted down] last year, second in the league, and he gets his paws on the ball as he’s 6-foot-8,” said Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. “He has an excellent feel. You don’t do those things by accident. He’s just got an excellent feel. He also is a good pass rusher, so if he thinks he’s getting there, he’ll get there. If not, then he softens up, then tries to time his arms in there, in many cases, with a jump. So, yeah, that’ll be a part of the game for us.”
This is of particular note given Vick’s recent struggles with batted balls. He had 19 passes tipped at the line of scrimmage last year. It is also not an ideal week to be going up against such a disruptive front, particularly on the road, given that Dallas Reynolds (center) and Demetress Bell (left tackle) will both be making their first starts in an Eagles uniform.
“They have seven sacks in two games. They’re right up at the top in sacks in the league,” said Andy Reid. “They have a great pressure package is what they have. They’ll bring one or two extra guys. They do a lot of fire zone things, very similar to what [Pittsburgh defensive coordinator] Dick LeBeau did. I’m sure [Cardinals defensive coordinator] Ray [Horton] is probably getting tired of hearing that; it’s really what Ray does, but he came from that system and they’re doing it well. They have a lot of confidence and they have a lot of good athletes.”
We reached out to a handful of local sports figures to get their predictions for the upcoming season. What will the Eagles’ record be? Here’s what they had to say:
Name: Jeremiah Trotter
Credentials: Star Eagles linebacker, 1998-2001, 2004-06, 2009. Four-time Pro Bowler. Analyst, 97.5 The Fanatic.
Credentials: Seven-time PA Sportscaster of the Year. Emmy Winner. Host at Comcast Sportsnet since 1997. Talk-show host.
Credentials: Philadelphia Eagle, 1992-93. Two-time Pro Bowler. NBC 10 Sports Director. Goal-post puncher.
Credentials: Eagles quarterback, 1977-86. One Pro Bowl. 28,190 passing yards. ESPN Analyst.
Credentials: Eagles running back, 1986-92. Former 10th overall pick. One Pro Bowl. Analyst, YES Network.
Credentials: Eagles defensive back, 1977-85. Scored “Miracle at the Meadowlands” touchdown against the Giants. Former head coach.
Credentials: Sixers team President, 2003-07. Philadelphia-area resident.
What King lacks in football experience he makes up for in sheer optimism.
Meanwhile, another former Eagle believes that Andy Reid‘s club is Super Bowl bound. Here’s what Mike Golic had to say on Wednesday.
“I’m kind of buying all-in on them this year, to say this will be a year they stay healthy enough to get there,” said Golic. “Obviously this one could implode on me.”
Golic also has Michael Vick as his offensive MVP.
Follow Tim on Twitter and email him at email@example.com.