Here’s a roundup of national media predictions for Sunday’s Eagles-Cardinals game.
Some links to pass along as we inch closer to Eagles-Cardinals:
Read more »
Here’s a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles this week.
If you’re a coach, you’re going to get fired. If you’re lucky you’ll get another gig in another city, and you’ll move your family there and hope the stay is long enough to grow some roots. But it probably won’t be.
Given the transient nature of the profession, it is understandable that a coach would insulate himself and zero in only on the Sunday in front of him until he is told that there will be no more Sundays with his current team.
“I have no idea. I have no idea. I hope it’s good,” said special teams coach Bobby April, when asked what the future holds for him in Philadelphia. “I like living in the neighborhood over here on 20th Street. It’s a good place, plus the city’s a great place and the organization’s great. But I don’t know. I have no idea. I couldn’t tell you.”
Of course, most who follow the situation could tell April that his chances of staying on the Eagles coaching staff beyond this season are remote. Same for Marty Mornhinweg and Todd Bowles and their leader Andy Reid. All of these men have to recognize the reality of the situation, but they seem programmed in such a way where the valve that allows that type of thinking is turned off.
“I haven’t gone there. Sometimes, the end is the beginning of something new. However, I don’t think any of us have gone there,” said Mornhinweg. “We are trying to get – my responsibility is these players and making sure that we’re getting better every day. That is our whole focus here. This is what we do for a living and one of the only things I have ever done except for working at the gas station there in South San Jose in high school. This is what we do. It’s not very hard, I think, to keep our focus on this next ballgame and the game plan, making sure that we get better every day. This is an important time for many of our players, some veterans and some young guys. Very, very important for them this week. I take that part very, very seriously there.”
While the rest of us have moved straight past the Giants and onto the bigger issues at hand, players and coaches find real value in every game they play, regardless of whether it has playoff implications or not. A chance to teach, a chance to play, a chance to put quality work on tape. A chance to absorb some knowledge to help you in your next stop.
“I’ve learned a ton of football from Reid. I’ve learned a ton about treating people, about management,” said Bowles. “I’ve learned a ton from my players. I’ve learned different personalities. I’ve learned different schemes. I’ve learned different parts of the game, as far as people and how to use them and different pieces.”
Nobody has faced more questions about the inevitable end than Reid, who has fought hard to keep those thoughts out.
“It looks to me like he is thinking about nothing else other than this next ballgame. I’m saying he’s a rock. He pretty much motors through anything,” said Mornhinweg.
Reid will have to motor through a good deal more in the coming weeks. Like many of his assistants, he in all likelihood will be forced to relocate and start over. But in a coach’s mind that’s never far from your reality, so why not focus your energy on the task at hand while you’re still here?
“You always walk the plank as a coach,” said April. “No one’s infallible.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Sheil takes a deeper look at Mike McCoy.
In the latest Twitter Mailbag, we throw some cold water on the idea that Michael Vick is dying to play for Chip Kelly.
Kapadia breaks out the All-22 tape to dissect Nick Foles‘ final performance of the 2012 season.
The Eagles were shut out in the Pro Bowl voting. Many believe that Evan Mathis deserved to make the team.
DeMeco Ryans explains why the label that he can’t play in a 3-4 is false advertising.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Don Banks of SI.com has a “Black Monday Primer” and gives some names that the Eagles could target:
If Kelly doesn’t materialize in green, some within the league expect Lurie to take a page out of his past and try to identify the next Andy Reid: A young position coach or coordinator with obvious upside potential. Denver’s McCoy, Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter or Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell might make the radar screen in Philly. And don’t overlook one of the league’s better special teams coaches, like San Francisco’s Brad Seely, Dallas’ Joe DeCamillis, San Diego’s Rich Bisaccia or Atlanta’s Keith Armstrong. Remember, the Eagles had John Harbaugh on their staff for years, and the former Philly special teams coach has led the Ravens to five playoff berths in his first five years on the job.
Alex Marvez of FoxSports lists 12 potential head coaching candidates, one of which is Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer:
The man knows defense. Cincinnati ranks second in the NFL in sacks with 47 and has 92 over the past two seasons. That total is only eight less than what the Bengals produced in their previous four seasons combined. Zimmer has achieved defensive success largely through the development of draft picks — led by Geno Atkins, whose 12.5 sacks lead all NFL defensive tackles by a wide margin.
Barring something unforeseen, Reid’s last practice as head coach of the Eagles.
Through the first 13 games, the Eagles’ defensive line had accounted for 20 sacks, or about 1.5 per contest.
Against the Bengals, Tommy Brasher’s group sacked Andy Dalton six times and kept him uncomfortable all game long (13-for-27 for 127 yards). So what was different about the performance of the defensive line this time around? Here’s a look at all six sacks, using the All-22 shots.
Play 1: Brandon Graham can thank Dalton for his first sack. You’ll see what I mean below. In the first image, you can see Graham’s lined up wide against right tackle Andre Smith.
You’ll also see Hawkins is wide-open, beating Brandon Boykin. Dalton pumped, but decided not to let the ball go. Here’s another angle.
Play 2: On third down in the second quarter, Graham got sack No. 2. Take a look at the pre-snap look.
After the ball is snapped, Ryans starts rushing to towards the B-Gap between the right guard and right tackle.
The Bengals once again had a chance for a big play to Hawkins. He ran a stop-and-go and got Nate Allen to bite.
Play 3: Trent Cole played one of his best games of the season. On his sack in the second quarter, he got some help from the Bengals left guard.
Cole and Cullen Jenkins run a stunt on the right side.
Play 4: On Jenkins’ sack, he looped all the way outside Cole from his left defensive tackle spot.
Play 5: Remember earlier, we showed Ryans threatening to blitz? Same thing here. On this play, he lines up in the A-Gap between the center and right guard.
1. As we’ve discussed on multiple occasions, this team has some major decisions to make in the secondary this offseason. Nnamdi Asomugha, who would be owed $4M if released, was asked if he thinks some of the players (presumably on defense) have shown in the past two weeks that they deserve to be back.
“Here’s the thing that I know. Everybody wants to be back,” Asomugha said. “We don’t know how it’s going to shake out, but I can tell you everybody believes in this team and knows the direction that we’re going. We think it’s up. So I know everybody wants to be back.”
I understand what Asomugha was saying. He’s pointing out that the defense has improved the past two weeks. And I know the players in the locker room have to try to stay confident. But to say the direction is pointing up after the ninth loss in 10 games just seems a little off to me.
2. The other starting corner, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, is a free agent after the season. He shadowed A.J. Green all game and won his share of battles. Green finished with six catches for 57 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. After the game, Rodgers-Cromartie was asked about playing for a contract.
“I ain’t playing for money. That’s going to come. I’m not worried about that. My main thing is I’m just trying to go out and finish strong,” he said.
“I know what I have in me. I know what kind of player I am. If nobody can see it, then that’s just them.”
Evaluating Rodgers-Cromartie is going to be one of the most difficult things this front office has to do. He’s got talent, he plays well in stretches and by all accounts is a good teammate. He holds himself accountable and is only 26. There’s no question that Rodgers-Cromartie has a (multiple) Pro Bowl ceiling.
But there’s a reason why he could be on his third different team before he turns 27. He’s incredibly inconsistent, often shies away from contact and is a terrible tackler. That’s why whoever’s coaching this team in 2013 has to be the one who decides whether or not Rodgers-Cromartie is worth keeping around.
3. And then there’s the guy coaching Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie: Todd Bowles. If there’s one person who has a lot to gain from the final two games, it’s him. Remember, this is someone who was considered to be on a path towards being an NFL head coach before the season. In six weeks with Bowles as defensive coordinator and Jim Washburn as defensive line coach, the Eagles allowed opponents to complete 76.3 percent of their passes. In the past two weeks, without Washburn, that number is 44.3 percent.
With a strong finish, it’ll be pretty easy to sell the Washburn was the problem narrative. Of course, there’s no telling where he’ll be coaching next. Bowles’ name has been mentioned in connection with the Temple head coaching job.
“It was good. It’s my alma mater.,” Bowles said of his conversation with the Owls. “We had a good talk. We had a good conversation. … We’ll see how it goes.”
4. I still need to re-watch the game, but Andy Reid and Nick Foles seemed to offer different explanations for the third-quarter interception.
“He’s got a real strong arm,” Reid said. “You can put his arm up against anybody in this league. You just have to make sure that he’s taking time to look people off, and you have to make sure you don’t spend too much time doing that. You have to make sure you get your feet around and that you have enough momentum to get your body and legs into the throw.”
Reid’s explanation makes sense. He also indicated the issue was one of mechanics. Foles had an issue of staring down receivers in his first couple of starts. We pointed out last week how he did a better job of looking safeties off against Tampa.
But Foles seemed to just think he threw a bad ball.
“I just made a horrible throw,” he said. “The ball came out bad and it had a little bit of wobble to it. You really have to cut it and I didn’t do that. I just have to spin it and it started fluttering towards the end. I underthrew Jeremy and the guy came back and made a play. So it’s a bad throw. It’s one that I can’t have. But it happened, and I just have to, next time it happens, just really throw it out there.”
According to STATS, Inc., Foles is just 3-for-16 on balls that have traveled more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. That’s certainly one area for improvement.
5. As for some of the other mistakes, Reid said Marvin McNutt was where he was supposed to be on the punt block. Ryan Rau was supposed to be in, but Clay Harbor made a heads-up play and filled in for him. That had nothing to do with the block though. McNutt just got manhandled.
Cedric Thornton took responsibility for the fumbled kickoff return. It’s funny. I remember at training camp watching some of the offensive linemen and defensive linemen fielding kicks and wondering: Why are they wasting their time with this? Now, I understand.
“Definitely should have been a fair catch,” Thornton said. “That was my fault. I was running, looking to make a big play and should have fair caught it. That was my fault. Next time I will be more focused and I will call a fair catch.”
But at some point, you just can’t argue with the numbers.
Through six games with Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator and Jim Washburn as defensive line coach, the Eagles were allowing quarterbacks to complete 76.3 percent of their passes – a historically bad number.
But in the last two games, since Andy Reid fired Washburn and added Tommy Brasher, the Eagles’ defense appears to be much-improved, limiting Josh Freeman and Andy Dalton to just 44.3 percent completions. Against the Bengals, they did not allow a single completion of more than 19 yards.
To point the finger squarely at Washburn would be unfair. And to simply blame the Wide-9 would not be accurate. Eagles defensive ends still line up way out there on occasion. But there’s no arguing that the change up front to a read-and-react system has taken stress off of the back end and helped the defense as a whole.
“You probably have to talk to Todd. I think he’s been able to do a few more things. He’s been calling some creative things in the back end that we kind of hadn’t had before,” said cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. “The D-Line is playing a little differently, so the safeties aren’t as focused on the run as much as they’ve been in the past, so they’re able to stay back a little bit more. It helps us to get our hands on footballs, which we’ve done the last two weeks, and the D-Line’s playing great too.”
Eagles defensive linemen accounted for 20 sacks through the first 13 games. In one game against the Bengals, they had six. Brandon Graham had 2.5; Fletcher Cox had 1.5; Trent Cole and Cullen Jenkins added one apiece.
“I think it’s helped a lot, doing the reading and react stuff,” Cole said. “I think it’s helped a lot. It’s tough. When you’re losing games, you’ve got to have everybody. It takes a team to win a game. You can’t go out there and try to win with the turnovers, the mistakes, you just can’t win with them.”
The box score will show that the Eagles allowed 34 points, suggesting a disastrous defensive performance. But that was not the case. All five of the Bengals’ scoring drives started in Eagles’ territory: at the 44, the 11, the 40, the 13 and on the 33. The Bengals’ other touchdown came on defense – the result of a fumble between Nick Foles and Bryce Brown.
The improvement on defense is nice, but with the Eagles at 4-10, it’s obviously too little, too late. The truth is many of the players currently on the field aren’t going to be here next year. And the same can almost certainly be said for the coaches. With two games left, the defense will continue to try and build towards something.
“We saw progress in certain areas,” Bowles said. “But not enough to win the ballgame, so we’ve got to keep working.”
Temple has contacted Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles about its vacant head-coaching position, an NFL source tells CSNPhilly.com.
According to OwlScoop.com, Bowles will interview for the position today.
Bowles was a defensive back for the Owls from 1982 to 1985. He has never been a head coach at the college level, but served as defensive coordinator at Morehouse College in 1997 and Grambling State in 1998-99.
After serving as the interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins at the end of last year, Bowles joined Andy Reid’s staff as the secondary coach in the offseason. He was promoted to defensive coordinator after Reid fired Juan Castillo earlier this season. The Eagles’ defense was terrible through six games under Bowles, allowing opponents to complete 76.3 percent of their passes with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions. But the Eagles showed signs of improvement yesterday against the Bucs.
Former Owls coach Steve Addazio left Temple last week to take the Boston College position.
1. As always, we start with what’s important: draft positioning. If the season ended today, the Eagles would have the fourth overall pick. The teams ahead of them are the Raiders, Jaguars and Chiefs. Oakland already lost Thursday night and is 3-10 going into the final three. Kansas City is at Cleveland, and Jacksonville hosts the Jets. Those are the two early games to keep an eye on (as you chat with us during Eagles-Bucs, of course). According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles have an 8.6 percent chance at getting the top pick and a 48 percent chance of landing a top-three selection.
2. The Bucs enter Sunday’s game fourth in the NFL, averaging 27.8 points per game. Football Outsiders has them 10th in overall offense – 11th in passing and eighth in rushing. Tampa is coming off back-to-back losses to the Falcons and Broncos. The Eagles, meanwhile, have lost eight in a row and are coming off a 38-33 loss to the Cowboys. They are 26th in scoring defense, allowing 26.7 points per game. Football Outsiders has the Eagles ranked 25th defensively – 31st against the pass and eighth against the run. According to their numbers, only the Raiders have been worse against the pass this season.
3. Tampa’s offense starts with rookie running back Doug Martin, who is third in the NFL with 1,106 yards. Only Adrian Peterson (17) and C.J. Spiller (11) have more runs of 20+ yards than Martin (9). According to Pro Football Focus, Martin has broken 47 tackles, tied with Peterson for most in the league. Only Arian Foster and Marshawn Lynch have carried the ball more than him (236 attempts). Martin’s coming off a pair of sub-par outings against the Falcons and Broncos, where he averaged just 2.7 yards per carry on 39 attempts. Opponents are averaging 4.1 yards per carry (13th) against the Eagles.
4. Most of Martin’s runs (67.4 percent) have come out of two-back sets, according to STATS, Inc. He’s averaged 5.6 yards per carry on those attempts. That means the Eagles will be in their base personnel for much of the game. DeMeco Ryans has shown up every week, but he didn’t play particularly well against the Cowboys. Akeem Jordan played poorly. And Mychal Kendricks was up-and-down. The Eagles will be without Mike Patterson (illness). Asked if the defense will still rotate defensive linemen, coordinator Todd Bowles said, “They’ll rotate. You still have to let Coach [Tommy] Brasher get comfortable with the guys and then we kind of react and go from there as he gets more comfortable with them at the end of the week, seeing what they can and can’t do from his own eyes. I’d like to give him a fresh perspective on that.”
5. Josh Freeman ranks 31st in the NFL, completing just 55.9 percent of his passes. But he’s in luck because opponents are completing 76.3 percent of their passes against the Eagles since Bowles took over. Freeman’s averaging 7.74 yards per attempt (sixth). He’s tossed 23 touchdowns (sixth) and just eight interceptions. In the last six games, the Eagles have given up 16 touchdown passes and come up with no interceptions. On the season, opponents are completing 62.2 percent of their passes against the Eagles (17th) and averaging 7.8 yards per attempt (26th). Only four defenses have allowed more touchdown passes than the Birds (23).
6. Vincent Jackson is one of the league’s premier vertical threats. He’s got 50 catches for 1,014 yards in his first season with Tampa and is averaging 20.3 yards per reception, which is tops in the NFL. Only Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas and Reggie Wayne have more catches of 20+ yards than Jackson (19). While the Bucs like to run the ball, they’ll take plenty of shots downfield. According to Pro Football Focus, 15.9 percent of Freeman’s attempts have traveled 20 yards or more downfield. That is third in the league, behind only Joe Flacco and Andrew Luck. Eagles safeties Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen have played poorly all season. Coleman’s out with a chest injury, and Colt Anderson will get the start. The Eagles will try to avoid complete breakdowns in the secondary for the first time in weeks.
7. Third-year receiver Mike Williams has also been productive with 43 catches for 718 yards (16.7 yards per reception) and six touchdowns. As for the Eagles, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie seems to be getting worse every week.
“As I look at film just from a personal standpoint, in my head I have a whole lot of wows,” he told Tim last week. “Like, ‘Wow, what are you doing?’ At some point, I think as the season keeps going bad, bad, you try to fight so hard and don’t want to do wrong until you end up just doing wrong and you don’t allow yourself to just go out and be [yourself].”
Not only is Rodgers-Cromartie giving up too many big plays, but he continues to consistently shy away from contact. And according to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers-Cromartie leads all cornerbacks with 11 penalties.
8. Up front, left tackle Donald Penn has started every game for Tampa since the start of the 2008 season, and he made the Pro Bowl in 2010. He’ll go up against Trent Cole, who was not a factor last week against the Cowboys and has just two sacks on the season. Vinny Curry played just 19 snaps last week. That number needs to increase. Tampa is without All-Pro guard Carl Nicks. The Eagles’ pass-rush was non-existent in the second half of last week’s loss to the Cowboys. Fletcher Cox, Curry, Phillip Hunt, Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, Darryl Tapp and Cedric Thornton combined for no sacks and no hurries. Brandon Graham had 1.5 sacks, four hurries and eight tackles – the most by any Eagles defensive end in a single game all season. Freeman has been sacked just 17 times all season.
9. The Eagles have just 10 takeaways through 12 games. That’s the second-fewest total in the league, ahead of only the Colts. The Bucs, meanwhile, have just 12 giveaways. In the NFC, only the Redskins have fewer. Overall, the Eagles are minus-18 in turnover differential. Only the Chiefs (-21) are worse.
10. Leftovers: According to Football Outsiders, opponents are starting drives at the 30.28 yard line against the Eagles, the second-worst mark in the league. …The Eagles are sixth in red-zone defense, allowing opponents to score touchdowns 45 percent of the time. The Bucs are the second-best red-zone offense in the league, scoring touchdowns 66.7 percent of the time. …Tampa is converting on 34 percent of its third-down chances (26th). The Eagles are 21st in third-down defense, allowing conversions 39.7 percent of the time.
“Me and Wash had a good relationship,” Bowles said. “Wash is a good man, and he’s a good coach. He was never a problem for me.”
Did Bowles have any input into Andy Reid’s decision to let Washburn go?
“No, I found out when everybody else found out,” he said. “I didn’t have any input.”
Bowles also refuted the idea that Washburn’s dismissal now gives him full authority over the defense, saying he’s had that authority since he was named defensive coordinator.
Even though the move came with just four games left, Bowles said he’s not surprised by anything in the league anymore.
“You take a coaching job in this league, you learn not to get surprised by anything,” Bowles said. “But things happen during the course of the year. Players get hurt, coaches get let go, that’s called body blows that you have to take and just move forward.
“Everybody’s responsible, the way we’ve been playing. Wash wasn’t let go, made out to be a scapegoat or anything like that, but moving forward, we’re all responsible to do our jobs as coaches and players.”
As for the players, Eagles defensive linemen continue to stick up for Washburn. We’ve previously heard from Brandon Graham and Cullen Jenkins. And today, Fletcher Cox, who has had an outstanding rookie season under Washburn, praised his old defensive line coach.
“I was a little surprised when I heard it happened,” Cox said. “And I got a little sad or whatever, but I also realize that this is a business and you see players in and out. Same thing for coaches. Coach Wash, he was a great coach. Everything he knew, he laid out on the table for us. He lost his job, and Coach Reid brought somebody new in. We’ve just got to learn what Coach Tommy [Brasher] likes to do.
Cox didn’t get a chance to see Washburn before he was dismissed, but has gotten in touch with him since.
“I texted him, sent him a message, let him know that I’ll stay in touch with him,” Cox said. “No matter what happened, I’ll stay in touch with him.”