Eagles Roster Breakdown: The 90-Man Rating System

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Back for the second straight year, it’s the 90-man Eagles roster rating system.

Allow this to serve as your training camp primer. The idea is simple. Below you will find every player placed into one of five categories.

Tier 5: These are the longshots. If any of these players land on the 53-man roster, consider it an upset. They will have really opened up some eyes during the summer.

Tier 4: These are the fringe or bubble guys. Don’t count them out, but they’ll very much be fighting for roster spots over the next several weeks.

Tier 3: These are your backups. They might not play a lot this season, but going into camp, they look like pretty good bets to make the team.

Tier 2: These players will be expected to contribute significantly. They’re either starters or true rotational players.

Tier 1: These are your difference-makers. They’ll be the guys responsible for determining how many games the Eagles win in 2014 and what direction the franchise is headed in going forward.

It’s not rocket science (or even sports science, for that matter). So let’s get started, beginning with the bottom of the roster. Note that certain players require longer write-ups than others. Read more »

All-22: How the Eagles Lean On Cover 3

cover3a_all22

Your 2014 Eagles Almanac is now available for pre-order.

If you’ve missed this publication the past two years, it’s a comprehensive look at the season ahead with contributions from a variety of talented writers.

There are also some untalented writers who are allowed to pen chapters. That’s where Tim and I come in.

My piece this year focused on the defense as a whole. What did Billy Davis run in his first year as the Eagles’ coordinator? What were the strengths and weaknesses? What changes are in store going forward?

Below is part of what I wrote, focusing on one of the Eagles’ primary schemes on the back end: the Cover 3.

And remember, order your Eagles Almanac today! Read more »

Kelly Knows Foles Can Hold Up In Hot Water

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Chip Kelly first unveiled the line after the Eagles selected Matt Barkley in the fourth round of the 2013 draft.

“I’m going to steal a quote from [former Cleveland Browns head coach] Sam Rutigliano,” Kelly said. “He used to say, ‘With a quarterback, it’s like a tea bag. You don’t know what you have until you put it in hot water.’ ”

Kelly recycled the quote last summer when Nick Foles and Michael Vick were preparing to square off for the starting job. But now, he can probably fold that reference up and put it in a safe place because it doesn’t need to be brought up again in regards to the 2014 season.

There’s no predicting how Foles will perform going forward (that’s not to say we won’t try), but if there’s one thing he’s proven, it’s that he can bounce back. In the middle of last season, Foles found himself in the hottest of waters. With a chance to stake claim to the starting job against the Cowboys, he turned in his worst game of the season, suffering a concussion in the process. Read more »

Eagles Training Camp Preview: Cornerbacks

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Leading up to training camp on July 25, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We have already covered the defensive linequarterbacksoutside linebackers, running backs and inside linebackers. Now it’s on to the cornerbacks.

The pressing question: Can Nolan Carroll II push for a starting job?

The best bet for the Eagles’ defense going into 2014 is that this unit will return 10 of 11 starters from a year ago – the only exception being new safety Malcolm Jenkins.

But if you want a position battle to watch on that side of the ball, it’s at cornerback. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher were the starters last year, but the team signed Carroll from the Dolphins in the offseason. The 27-year-old started 12 games in Miami last year and 10 more in 2012. He has adequate size, plays with great effort and only missed seven tackles the past two seasons, per Pro Football Focus. Read more »

Kelly: ‘There Should Be No Closed Doors’

Chip Kelly

On the day he was introduced as the Eagles new head coach, Chip Kelly was asked whether he planned to be in Philadelphia for the long haul.

“I’m all in,” he said. “I think it was [Hernan] Cortes who burned the boats. I’ve burned the boats so I’m not going back. I’m in. I’m an NFL coach and this is where I want to be. If there was any indecision in terms of [not wanting to be in], I wouldn’t have made the jump. I made the jump and I’m here and I’m excited to be here.”

With that proclamation came a larger implied point: Kelly would closely examine every aspect of the way the Eagles were run, make changes to the organization where he saw fit and mold the entire franchise into his vision. This wasn’t a quick fixer-upper. There would be significant restructuring.

With Year 2 on the horizon, Kelly met with a roomful of reporters at the end of June’s’ minicamp and expanded on many of his philosophies. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Kelly’s League-Wide Influence

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

A week from today, Birds 24/7 will be on the sidelines at the NovaCare Complex observing the Eagles’ first training camp practice.

We can already smell the unique mix of fresh-cut grass, body odor and sun block in the air.

Football season is pretty  much here. But for now, let’s get to some weekend reading. Read more »

Inside Zone: The Foundation Of the Eagles’ Offense

insidezone1a_all22

Before the drill begins, Jeff Stoutland shouts out a two-digit number, signaling the call to his offensive linemen.

He sets up a couple yards behind the line of scrimmage as Jason Kelce prepares to snap the ball, flanked by guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. With 16 offensive linemen in camp, Stoutland is in charge of the largest positional group on the roster. But that can be a good thing on days like this. Before it’s their turn for reps, a couple backups hold orange blocking pads and set up as down defensive linemen. Two more stand behind them imitating linebackers.

It’s an 81-degree day in early June, and the Eagles are on the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex working on the blocking scheme for a familiar call: the inside zone. It’s a play Stoutland ran frequently at his previous stop, Alabama. And it was Chip Kelly’s go-to-work play during his time at Oregon.

When Kelly made the jump to the NFL last year, the inside zone served as the foundation for an offense that set franchise records in yards and points. So there’s a good reason why Stoutland yells the same number for the same call over and over again during practice. The pre-snap communication has to be mastered. The footwork has to be flawless. The combination blocks have to be executed. And the second-level linebackers have to be driven down the field with authority.

“It’s something we work on every day,” said offensive tackle Lane Johnson. “It’s always gonna be our bread and butter.” Read more »

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