Eagles Wake-Up Call: On the 2014 Draft Class

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Today’s question comes from reader Jeffrey via email. He had a lot to say, so I will just paraphrase here to give you the gist:

I was reading your roster projection, and it made me think about what a colossal failure the 2014 draft has been. Other than Jordan Matthews and Beau Allen, it was total trash. Champions pick Pro Bowlers on Day 3 and don’t totally blow first-round picks. Chip Kelly’s player selection in the draft could be his undoing. Would love to hear your thoughts.

We projected roles for rookies last week, so might as well go over second-year players today. Here’s a player-by-player look at where things stand with the guys taken in the 2014 draft.

Marcus Smith, OLB – I have joked all offseason that I’m the only person on his bandwagon if anybody wants to give me company. The truth is there are not a lot of positives to point to so far. Only one first-round pick played fewer snaps than Smith last season. He jumped around from outside linebacker to inside linebacker. And this spring he’s battled a groin injury. Best-case scenario for 2015 is that Smith improves and gets on the field as the third outside linebacker behind Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham. Maybe he flashes pass-rushing potential, displays his versatility and competes for a starting spot in 2016.

But there are obviously no guarantees that those things happen. Smith has the measurables and appears to have the work ethic. It is just a matter of putting it all together. If he gets beaten out by Travis Long for the No. 3 OLB job, the cries of “bust” will be deafening. Read more »

Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

From the pass rush to a surprising Nick Foles stat to the run game, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.

29.6 – The percentage of pass plays last year in which the Eagles’ defense generated pressure. That number ranked first in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. It’s a pretty remarkable stat for a couple different reasons. The Eagles play a two-gap 3-4 in which they focus on stopping the run on early downs. And I don’t think they have a player who would be considered a premiere edge rusher.

Connor Barwin led the team with 14.5 sacks and 21 hurries (coaches’ stats) last year. Those are great numbers, but in many cases, he’s not blowing by (or running over) offensive tackles. He’s savvy and does a great job of anticipating where the quarterback is going to end up. To his credit, Barwin knows how to finish also. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Projecting Rookie Roles

agholor_940_060215

Over at the Philly Voice, Jimmy Kempski had a good post up on snap counts from rookies (draft picks) in 2014.

He found that only six teams got fewer snaps from their draft class than the Eagles. Jordan Matthews was the only pick who played more than 210 snaps for the Eagles last season. Marcus Smith played the second-fewest snaps among first-round picks.

What will these numbers look like next year? Below is a player-by-player look at the Eagles draft picks, what we saw in the spring and where things stand with each guy going into training camp. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: A Russell Wilson Hypothetical

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Today’s question comes via Twitter:

Let’s start with a disclaimer: Russell Wilson most likely isn’t going anywhere. But it’s June, we all have the football itch, and these are the types of questions fans casually discuss while we wait for training camp. So it doesn’t hurt to at least address it.

Wilson is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2016 season. According to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, he wants to be the highest-paid player in the NFL. So what are the Seahawks’ options? Read more »

Giants’ Weatherford Takes Jab At Eagles QBs

Steve Weatherford (Noah K. Murray/USA Today)

Steve Weatherford (Noah K. Murray/USA Today)

It’s not exactly LeSean McCoy vs. Osi Umenyiora.

But it’s June 28, so it’s something.

Giants punter Steve Weatherford appeared on WFAN recently and took a jab at the Eagles quarterbacks, according to NJ.com. Weatherford said he wouldn’t want Tim Tebow taking any snaps for his team and then weighed in on Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford. Read more »

Football School: Three Things We Learned This Week

Rich Kotite (USA Today)

Rich Kotite (USA Today)

Like many of you, I am a football consumer. And one reason I like this slow period from mid-June to early August is I can catch up on things I’ve been meaning to read, watch, listen to, etc.

So each week between now and training camp, I’ll share three items I find interesting. Here’s the first edition.

1. Bringing the Heat by Mark Bowden has been sitting on my shelf for a couple years. It chronicles the story of the 1992 Eagles, one of the first teams I remember following. The book is filled with colorful anecdotes and really illustrates how much has changed since that era.

Bowden tells one story of Marvin Hargrove, an undrafted free agent wide receiver who made a splash during training camp. Many around the team apparently felt Hargrove was getting a bit too cocky with his success. So one day, athletic trainer Otho Davis decided to knock him down a peg. He “gave him a couple of pills and rigged one of his famous menthol heat balm wraps that set Marvin’s nuts on fire – as intended.” Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Eagles To Reportedly Add OL Moffitt

John Moffitt (Chris Humphreys/USA Today)

John Moffitt (Chris Humphreys/USA Today)

In 2013, John Moffitt decided he’d had enough of the NFL.

A 2011 third-round pick by the Seahawks, Moffitt started 15 games at guard before being traded to the Broncos. In the middle of his first season with Denver, Moffitt announced he was retiring at the age of 27.

“I just really thought about it and decided I’m not happy. I’m not happy at all,” Moffitt told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Seattle. “And I think it’s really madness to risk your body, risk your well-being and risk your happiness for money.

“Everybody, they just don’t get it and they think it’s crazy. But I think what I was doing is crazy.”

Less than two years later, Moffitt has had a change of heart, and according to Ross Jones of Fox Sports, he’s signing a one-year deal with the Eagles. Read more »

What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Here’s a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com thinks the Eagles have the best backfield in the league:

NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout for the Ravens, Browns and Eagles, also placed Philly at No. 1, saying: “Murray gets all the headlines and attention, but I’m even more intrigued to see what the role is for Mathews and Sproles. The way they do it, you go out there for a series. I think it’s going to be a good fit. I kind of worry about those secondary runners when you get a carry here, a carry there. But the Eagles with their tempo, (Mathews is) going to get a full series and he’s going to get a chance to get into a rhythm.”

Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Can Lane Johnson Make the Leap?

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

In some ways, Lane Johnson has become a forgotten man on the Eagles offensive line.

Jason Kelce has emerged as a team spokesman of sorts. Jason Peters gets national accolades every year. And there’s been plenty of talk about Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin, guys who will be asked to take on bigger roles in 2015.

Many expected Johnson to make the second-year leap in 2014, but he was suspended for the first four games of the season and couldn’t even be in the team facility until the end of September.

“You could tell in the first game that he had been away from it a little bit in the Rams game,” said offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. “And then you could see as the year went on he progressively improved and got better.”

Johnson improved in pass protection, and while he was fine as a run blocker, he’s yet to become a consistent, dominating force. This offseason, he decided to try something new, spending time at Jay Glazer’s Unbreakable Performance Center in West Hollywood, Calif. Read more »

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