Even With Foles, Zone Read Here To Stay

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings
Funny to think how significantly the dynamics of the quarterback situation have shifted over the course of a year.

This time last offseason Michael Vick was splitting first-team reps with Nick Foles. And given the little that we knew about Chip Kelly‘s offense, you couldn’t help but think Vick had the leg up. Day after day we saw the Eagles practice the zone read, over and over. The QB would cross paths with the running back and, depending on how the defense responded, would either complete the handoff or keep it and head for the edge. This didn’t seem to be a particularly good sign for Foles, who once said: “If I can adapt I want to, but I’m not a zone read quarterback. Some people are gifted with different things, that’s just not one of my skill sets.”

Kelly phrased it this way at the beginning of training camp last season: “To be honest with you, if I called 20 read options with Nick Foles in the game, you should fire me.  We’re talking about practice right now.  I think we’ve got to figure out who our quarterback is before we understand the direction of where our offense is going.”

It took some time to get the QB position settled, but it eventually blossomed in the hands of Foles. And while Foles never kept it 20 times in a game (the most rushes he had in a single outing was nine), the zone read didn’t go away. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Eagles ran the zone read 304 times during the regular season — 135 times more than the next highest team. About 60 percent of those came when Vick was out of the lineup. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Kelce On Culture Change

Jason Kelce

Jason Kelce has developed into a respected voice over his three-plus years in Philadelphia, so his comments regarding the team’s decision to move on from DeSean Jackson — delivered just 20 minutes after the receiver was cut — carried some weight.

Some took this as evidence that Jackson’s teammates were glad to see the enigmatic receiver go. This theory was bolstered by a report — filled with anonymous quotes allegedly coming from various  members of the organization — suggesting Jackson was a “blatantly insubordinate” distraction that needed to be removed. Kelce was quick to distance himself from those who did not attach their names to their opinions (“You’ll never see me hide behind the title ‘Unnamed source,'” he said), and on Monday explained the intended meaning of his message as the clouds of controversy swirled outside the NovaCare walls. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: On Some Money Matters

Eagles QB Nick Foles talks to WR Desean Jackson during the Eagles-Cowboys game. 10/20/13
Now seems like a good time for a little cap clarity.

The 2012 draft class will be eligible for new contracts at the end of the season, and that’s a pretty big deal for the Eagles. Their philosophy is to identify the key young players, invest in them, and build out from there. The ’12 group consists of Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Nick Foles and Brandon Boykin. That’s a big part of the projected core moving forward, and includes a Pro Bowl quarterback that could be in line for a monster raise.

Howie Roseman recently suggested that releasing DeSean Jackson was financially-driven in part, and that tough decisions like that have to be made in order to build the team properly.

But was it really necessary?  Were there alternatives? What kind of money will Foles command? And what type of financial shape is the team in overall? For answers, we called on former agent and salary cap expert Joel Corry. Read more »

Some Old, Some New For Watkins

Watkins Matthews
If you’re trying to get a feel for what Jaylen Watkins is like as a player, talking with Jordan Matthews is a pretty good place to start. Watkins and Matthews both began playing college ball in 2010, and as conference foes in the SEC, went up against one another quite a bit.

“The thing that I remember is that I could never get away from him,” said Matthews. “I would  go outside and he’s standing there staring me in the face. And then I would go to the ‘Y’ in the three-by-one in any type of ’10’ personnel and he’s coming over and playing ‘one’ coverage over top of me, too. Jaylen is so versatile,” said Matthews. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: The McCoy Media Blitz

With 217 rushing yards LeSean McCoy broke the Eagles' all-time record set by Steve Van Buren in 1949
LeSean McCoy
blew through ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut campus Monday. By the time his media tour was done, he had predicted an Eagles Super Bowl, talked up Johnny Manziel and declared himself the best back in the game. The NFL world can thank him for a few drops of rain in a relatively dry week. Read more »

Matthews On His Mindset, ‘Murderleg’

NCAA Football: Compass Bowl-Vanderbilt vs Houston
Since the Eagles selected him 42nd overall back on May 9, stories have emerged about the extra lengths Jordan Matthews will go to ensure that he is putting his best foot forward.

Like how he broke down Eagles film prior to his visit to Philly (Matthews said he tried to do that for every team he had a meeting with during the pre-draft process); or how he asked for tape of the defensive backs he’d be facing at the Senior Bowl, then woke up before dawn to dissect it.

Big on precision, Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage said of the Vanderbilt wideout“I think when the offensive coaches say that we want you to run this route at eleven and three-quarters yards…he’s going to be at eleven and three-quarters yards. He’s going to do exactly what he’s told to do.”

Does the SEC’s all-time leading receiver consider himself a perfectionist? Read more »

Twitter Mailbag: Cole, Maclin And ‘Murderleg’

 

Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) prepares to throw the ball as Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole (58) and Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox (91) chase in the first quarter during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo |  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) prepares to throw the ball as Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole (58) and Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox (91) chase in the first quarter during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo | Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

Always follow the money, Nick.  Read more »

Eagles Exit Draft Without O-Line Help

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles
Dagger. Dagger in the heart. 

Those were the words of Howie Roseman when, moments after the 2014 NFL Draft concluded, a reporter brought up the fact that the Eagles came away with no offensive linemen.

“I firmly believe in building on the line of scrimmage.  That’s kind of how I was raised in the National Football League,” the general manager said. “I thought we’d have some opportunities to get some o‑linemen, but there was a run in the third round that was like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life.  It was like ‑‑ I don’t know, if someone gave me the numbers, it was like player after player after player, and it was like ‑‑ all of a sudden we looked back up and our board was depleted, and we weren’t going to reach.  That hurt because we went in thinking that we’d get some guys.” Read more »

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