During Thursday’s practice at the NovaCare Complex, Eagles rookie Marcus Smith had to wait his turn.
First he watched veteran Connor Barwin run with the first team. And then he kept his eye on free agent addition Bryan Braman, who ran with the twos.
This is the way Chip Kelly has done things since he arrived, and there are a couple reasons for his philosophy. One is relatively straightforward: Make rookies earn their standing. Let them know that nothing will be handed to them.
And the other is more practical. To maximize efficiency and practice fast, guys have to know what they’re doing and where they’re supposed to be on every rep. If one player is confused, the pace slows down, and as far as Kelly is concerned, that’s unacceptable.
“I’m a patient learner,” Smith said. “I try to take everything in that my coaches tell me and I try to integrate [it] every day in practice. If I mess up on something, I try to ask my coaches exactly what I messed up on so I can look at in on film and be able to correct myself.” Read more »
For the first time this spring, Eagles practice was open to the media. Here’s a running diary of what we saw: Read more »
Before Thursday night, only a couple teammates had voiced their opinions publicly about DeSean Jackson and his future with the team.
But as several Eagles strolled in to Todd Herremans’ Hoops 4 Help fundraiser, they knew what the topic of discussion was going to be when approached by a small group of reporters.
None could come up with a clear explanation for why the Eagles would be looking to move Jackson, but the general sentiment seemed to be that they would move forward with whatever decision the organization settled on. Read more »
Here are three free agency-related Eagles numbers that matter.
18 – The number of missed tackles last year for Panthers safety Mike Mitchell, according to Pro Football Focus. That was tied for most among safeties.
As we’ve mentioned in this space, the Eagles are one of the teams that has looked into signing Mitchell. But it seems like many of you would be against the move based solely on the missed tackles number. And that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Read more »
It’s no secret that the Eagles are in need of outside linebacker help.
Connor Barwin showcased his versatility last year and is a keeper on the left side. He’s not a prolific pass-rusher, but Barwin is excellent against the run, can line up in a variety of places and is good in coverage.
On the other side, Trent Cole did an admirable job of transitioning to a 3-4 OLB. But he’ll turn 32 next season and is still a bit of a square peg/round hole option. And the coaching staff saw Brandon Graham as purely a rotational player last season.
It’s possible that the Eagles go into 2014 with those same three rotating, but the better bet is that they add a piece either through free agency or the draft.
Keeping that in mind, here are four guys who will be on the market when free agency starts Tuesday. The two biggest names – Brian Orakpo and Jason Worilds - are staying with the Redskins and Steelers, respectively. So this is a watered-down group. Read more »
Connor Barwin was not among the first wave of new players the Eagles signed last offseason.
On the first day of free agency, the team added five new players, three of whom ended up starting games on defense (Isaac Sopoaga, Bradley Fletcher and Patrick Chung).
But with Barwin, the Eagles waited to see how the market played out. They had him on their list, but Howie Roseman wasn’t sure what the demand would be for the outside linebacker. Barwin followed up an 11.5-sack season in 2011 with just three sacks in 2012. Clearly, teams were not convinced he was an elite pass-rusher, and so the Eagles saw a chance to pounce, signing the 26-year-old to a deal that included $8 million in guaranteed money.
Barwin ended up being one of the Eagles’ best free-agent acquisitions. He provided leadership, energy and was by all accounts a great teammate. In terms of production, he was arguably the Eagles’ most consistent defender. Read more »
This week, we’ll continue to offer offseason outlooks for the Eagles, position-by-position. Each day, we’ll answer a pressing question and rank the position on the priority scale. First up was quarterback. We covered running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line and defensive line. Now let’s talk outside linebackers.
PRESSING QUESTION: Will there be a new starter on the outside in 2014?
McManus: I will say no, at least to start the year.
Connor Barwin may not be an elite pass-rusher but there is great value in his versatility. I think his starting job is secure. Trent Cole‘s spot really is the one to focus on. Cole is extremely well-respected within the organization and was regularly lauded by Chip Kelly and Billy Davis during the season, both noting that the numbers don’t tell the whole story when it comes to Cole’s impact on the game. And the numbers weren’t bad. Despite playing OLB for the first time in his nine-year career, he finished with eight sacks, 15 hurries and 10 tackles for a loss.
Still, Cole is 31, his pass-rushing production wasn’t consistent and the Eagles absolutely need to bolster this position. Brandon Graham contributed three sacks this season, but it’s still questionable whether he’s a fit for this team. Read more »