Playmaker: The Rise Of Brandon Boykin

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Training Camp

On the basketball court is where Al Boykin first really took notice.

Big brother was a high school sophomore and had grown accustomed to having to drag Brandon along with him wherever he went. On this occasion, the setup was a two-on-two game against a couple of older kids in their neighborhood.

“At first, it started out as, ‘Man, I gotta play with my brother. He’s six years younger than us. It might not be much of a game,’ ” Al recalled. “And then we started playing. He was actually killing the other guy. At that point, it was like, ‘Yeah, you could play, bro.’ It was good. And we just rolled it from there.”

Alfred, their father, saw it on the baseball diamond at a much earlier age.

“When he was 5-years-old, I put him in T-ball,” he said. “And I saw that he understood exactly what he needed to do right away. I didn’t have to teach him or anything. He was just 5-years-old, a little kid, and he loved it. …He was a fast learner. He loved sports.”

In every class, there is a kid who seems to win every race. The guy who plays quarterback and shortstop. The one who’s able to climb the ropes with ease, while others struggle to make it past the bottom knot. The first one picked, and the last one standing.

In Fayetteville, Ga., that kid was Brandon Boykin. Read more »

All-22: The Eagles And Four Verticals

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At the start of training camp in July, Chip Kelly was asked about how Mark Sanchez was adapting to a new offensive scheme.

“A lot of things that all of us do, no matter where you’re coaching… it’s still four verticals,” he said. “We call it differently than the way Marty [Mornhinweg] called it, but they ran four verticals here at the Eagles. Marty runs four verticals when you watch the Jets tape. We run four verticals.”

Eagles offensive coaches mention four verticals often – usually when they’re trying to get the point across that they’re not doing anything all that innovative.

The passing concept is used around the league and really at every level of football. Quarterback G.J. Kinne says he remembers first learning it as a freshman in high school. Wide receiver Jeff Maehl says Oregon ran four verticals when he played for Kelly in college.

Once again, to help explain the concept, we called on our old friend Coach Flinn, along with some of the current Eagles players and coaches. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Davis Counting On the Blitz

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

By just about any statistical measure, the Eagles’ pass defense has plenty of room for improvement.

Football Outsiders had the Birds ranked 25th overall against the pass last year. Despite a focus on limiting big plays, Billy Davis’ unit was burned for 62 completions of 20+ yards, fourth-most in the NFL.

Any time the pass defense struggles, coaches point to two specific areas: pass-rush and coverage. The latter should see an improvement with Malcolm Jenkins filling in for Patrick Chung. The addition of cornerback Nolan Carroll II could help as well.

But the team did very little to bolster the pass-rush. The only significant addition up front was Marcus Smith II. And based on what we’ve seen in the preseason, Smith is unlikely to provide much pass-rush as a rookie. Combine that with the fact that illegal contact downfield is a point of emphasis for officials, and Davis thinks sending extra pressure might be his best chance for improvement. Read more »

Rule Emphasis Affects Man Coverage, Benefits Eagles

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Billy Davis felt like words alone couldn’t get his message across, so he reached over and grabbed the sleeve of a reporter’s shirt with his thumb and index finger.

“They’re throwing everything. They’re not playing. That one that got us off the field… [Tom] Brady to Curtis Marsh, the 3rd-and-3. I swear, it was that,” he said, barely yanking on the sleeve. “But it was that. He did it. So the flag was our’s. But it was only that. It wasn’t the pull where it moved his body. It was a feeler cloth deal. Can’t complain because we did it, but…”

Defensive coaches at the NovaCare Complex are walking a fine line. They don’t want to make excuses when asked about the new emphasis on illegal contact downfield. But they want to be honest in explaining that the job of defenders in coverage just got a whole lot more difficult.

What’s perhaps more fascinating, though, when it comes to the Eagles is how the emphasis affects the other side of the ball. Read more »

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