Eagles Wake-Up Call: How Would WR Pieces Fit?

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

Update: The Eagles announced Friday afternoon that Jeremy Maclin is in the fold on a one-year deal.

From earlier:

The Eagles’ wide receiver situation got a little bit clearer Thursday morning when the team announced it had signed Riley Cooper to a new deal.

But there are still a couple chips left to fall. The Eagles are looking to get something done with Jeremy Maclin, and at this point it would be an upset if Jason Avant were to return.

As we wait to see what’s next, it’s worth exploring how the pieces might fit. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: A Search For Brawn And Brains

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Chip Kelly
‘s “big people beat up little people” line is a popular one, and will be recited plenty in the coming days with the combine getting underway later this week. Height, weight, hand size, wing span…all of these measurables mean something to Kelly, and can help lead us towards the players that may be of interest to the Eagles. But there’s another, less heralded quote that should also be kept in mind as the powers that be descend on Indianapolis to get up close and personal with the draft prospects.

“There’s a very cerebral part to this game that I don’t know if people give enough credit to. It’s about making good decisions. Dumb people do dumb things and smart people rarely do dumb things,” he said last April. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Ertz On Track

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings
Back in early October, Michael Vick made a bold prediction regarding rookie tight end Zach Ertz.

“There are three players that I told that they would be great players in this league: I always told Alge Crumpler that he was going to be great, I always told Shady McCoy that he was going to be a great player in this league, and I always told Roddy White. And now I’m saying Zach Ertz. And I think in time, he will be one of the best tight ends in this game.”

Ertz had all of five NFL catches at that point. Still working through a learning curve —  steepened by his inability to participate in the offseason program because of graduation rules — the Stanford product played a limited role initially. He was featured more as the year went on and ended with 36 catches for 469 yards with four touchdowns. While we still have a ways to go before determining whether Vick’s intuition is correct, it’s fair to say that there are encouraging signs. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: The Sherman Lesson

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Before scaring the hell out of Erin Andrews and setting social media ablaze with his unfiltered thoughts on Michael Crabtree, Richard Sherman made the play of the game. Despite the corner’s assertions, Crabtree is far from mediocre. Yet Sherman stayed stride-for-stride with the receiver down the right sideline, turned his body, leapt into the air and stretched out his left arm to deflect a would-be go-ahead touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick. Malcolm Smith came up with the interception, securing the Seahawks’ spot in Super Bowl XLVIII.

“There are not many guys who can make a play on this ball,” said Troy Aikman as the Seattle crowd boomed in the background.

Chip Kelly frequently calls the NFL a player’s league, and that sequence with under 30 ticks remaining Sunday night demonstrated his point. The fate of two franchises came down to a one-on-one matchup. If Sherman doesn’t get his paw on that ball, the Niners are playing for the title in New Jersey in two weeks. But he did, so the Seahawks advance. Read more »

Rookie Review: How the 2013 Class Fared

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

When asked how happy he was with the Eagles’ rookies this year, Chip Kelly offered a typical Chip Kelly response.

“It’s my favorite draft class for the Philadelphia Eagles,” said the head coach, sarcastically.

“I mean, I was really happy. I’m really, really happy with our young guys. I think they’ve all got really bright futures here. But is that going to happen every year? It’s a catch-22 because if it’s happened every year, then the top of your roster is not what it’s supposed to be. So if each year we’re bringing in 10 or 12 brand new guys and there’s only 46 guys active, they’re taking 10 or 12 guys that were on the team last year. So at some point in time, you hope you’re at a point in time when we’re not having anybody make the team as a young player because the older players we’ve got in place are doing a great job and we’re winning a ton of football games and we’re competing for championships. There’s that catch-22.

“But I think there was a lot of turnover early. I think that’s understandable. It’s a new coaching staff and new systems in every aspect of the game, so that part is a little bit different. But if we’re bringing in 10, 12 new faces every year, then that means we’re not where we need to be right now.”

Keeping that in mind, below is a player-by-player look at how the Eagles’ rookies performed in 2013 and what their outlooks are going forward. Read more »

Why They Believe In Chip

NFL: NFC Wildcard Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

When asked why he was so confident that his program could work in the NFL, Chip Kelly offered a somewhat surprising response.

“I wasn’t confident,” he said. “I had a system and a plan that we were going to go in, but I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be until it was all finished. But I think we played sound fundamental football, and I think that’s what we preach on a daily basis to our players. I think it’s still a game of 11-on-11, and I think a lot of things we do schematically match up 11-on-11. It’s a fundamental game, and I think that’s what our coaches teach. I thought we brought in a bunch of really good teachers that could implement the plan that we had in place, and we felt this would be the best plan for us this year going forward.”

Going into next season, new faces will be added, but many of the core players from the 2013 squad will remain the same.

Keeping that in mind, I posed one simple question to the players earlier this week as they cleaned out their lockers:

What did Kelly do in Year One that makes you believe he can lead this franchise to greater heights going forward? Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Dallas

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Here’s a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ offensive performance against Dallas.

QUARTERBACKS

* It was a tale of two halves for Nick Foles. For most of the first half (12-for-16 for 197 yards), he was comfortable, decisive and on-target. In the second half (5-for-10 for 66 yards), the pressure seemed to affect him.

* Early on, Foles found Chris Polk on a wheel route for 34 yards. He put some extra zip on the ball, squeezing a pass in to Riley Cooper in between defenders for a 16-yard pickup. He stepped up, avoided pressure and found Zach Ertz for 17. Again in the face of pressure, he showed patience and hit Ertz for 12 yards on 3rd-and-7. Still in the first, Foles slid away from pressure and found DeSean Jackson for 20. In the second, his receivers helped him out with a couple of great catches, and Foles took advantage of a blown coverage on the 14-yard TD to Brent Celek. He beat the blitz with a 17-yard completion to Avant and was 8-for-9 overall against the blitz for 128 yards, per Pro Football Focus. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Bears, the Day After

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles

As the Eagles prepared for their final possession Sunday night, Nick Foles stood on the sideline next to tight end Zach Ertz and quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor.

The offense gathered briefly before running onto the field. Foles had a green and black baseball cap on instead of a helmet. He paused his conversation, joined his teammates briefly, put his arm around James Casey and returned to the sideline as Michael Vick took a couple kneel-downs to end the game.

There was a hug from Chris Polk and a handshake from Brent Celek. Foles then made his way past cameras towards midfield to greet the Bears’ quarterbacks as the clock showed triple zeroes. He removed his hat, knelt down for the prayer circle with members from both teams and joined LeSean McCoy for an interview with NBC.

Foles’ performance will not be the first or even second topic of conversation among Eagles fans today. And that’s saying something considering he went 21-for-25 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 131.7. Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Vikings

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Here’s a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ offensive performance against the Vikings after having re-watched Sunday’s game.

QUARTERBACKS

* Tough game to critique for Nick Foles. He threw for 428 yards, three touchdowns (one INT) and averaged 8.9 YPA. Normally those are phenomenal numbers. And Foles did have some excellent moments. But I came away thinking he could have closed in on 600 yards. Keep in mind this is without the benefit of the All-22 (not released yet). There were a lot of times where he identified open receivers but was off-target with his throws. Read more »

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