Wake-Up Call: Three Eagles Leftovers
Here are three Eagles leftovers to get to:
1. LeSean McCoy was one of the few Eagles who spoke up in support of DeSean Jackson after the team released Jackson during the offseason. And earlier this week, he unveiled a pretty hilarious impression of the speedy wide receiver.
We never got to see what a Chip Kelly offense would look like with McCoy, Jackson and Jeremy Maclin all on the field at the same time. Maclin tore his ACL in the summer of 2013, and Jackson was gone by the time this season rolled around.
McCoy was asked about the prospects of Jackson and Maclin teaming up in Kelly’s offense.
“Just a lot of big plays, a lot of space, a lot of yards,” he said. “That’s what I would think. But you never know.”
I know many in this space are tired of hearing about Jackson. But with a matchup against Washington looming, it’s worth pointing out that this didn’t appear to be an either/or situation with him and Maclin last offseason. Last year, Jackson had 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. This year, Maclin has 78 grabs for 1,207 yards and 10 scores with two games to go.
It certainly would have been fascinating to see how the two operated together in this offense, but instead we’re left with another “what if” scenario that will never yield any real answers.
2. There is a potential scenario setting up that’s going to be difficult for Eagles fans to deal with. It’s one in which the Birds go 11-5 and miss out on the playoffs, while an NFC South team sneaks in with seven or eight wins.
But don’t expect Kelly to lodge any kind of formal complaint if that’s how things play out.
“If we win 11 games and it’s not good enough to get in, shame on us because we didn’t win the right games,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. That’s what this whole deal is all about and we know it going in. What we can do is control how we prepare for Washington, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
I side with Kelly here. If the Eagles miss out on the playoffs, it will be because they came up short against the good teams in the conference – Seattle, Green Bay, Arizona, Dallas (once). It’ll be tough for anyone to make the argument that they’re getting hosed after looking at all those results.
3. I think Brandon Graham is going to play really well as Trent Cole’s replacement the next week or two. …The Eagles’ defense is eighth in DVOA – sixth against the run and 20th against the pass. The pass-rush has been outstanding. That should make offseason priorities pretty clear: upgrade at cornerback and safety. …The Eagles’ offense is 16th in DVOA. I know I sound like a broken record here, but this has been a mediocre unit all season long. They have turned it over on 18.2 percent of their offensive possessions. Only the Chicago Bears have been worse. …If you read the playoff primer post, you should know by now that you’re rooting for Jimmy Clausen this weekend. Guessing that doesn’t exactly inspire a ton of confidence?
WHAT YOU MISSED
The MMQB has an excellent feature up on former Eagles first-round pick Danny Watkins.
Good details from T-Mac on what Graham is seeking and what the Birds are offering.
An All-22 look at the Eagles’ defensive failures against the Cowboys.
Graham is viewing the next two games as an opportunity.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
John Gonzalez of CSN Philly discusses how Marcus Smith II and Bryan Braman could factor into Saturday’s game plan:
The question is how Smith factors in this weekend. Smith has played just 68 defensive snaps all season. That works out to seven percent of the reps. He’s been inactive twice. On six other occasions, including each of the last three weeks, he was active but didn’t get a single snap. Despite that, and considering the injury issues, both Kelly and Davis said Smith will have to play this weekend. But where — inside or outside?
“He’s got to play both,” Kelly said. “We don’t have any other linebackers. We’ve got one backup inside linebacker right now with [Emmanuel] Acho and Casey [Matthews] switching off at that position. Then there’s not another guy because we lost DeMeco [Ryans]. And because we lost Trent for this week, we don’t have another one. We have Bryan Braman and we have [Smith]. Those are the two backups. We’ll be a linebacker short.”
Braman has been used even less than Smith. Braman, a special teams specialist, has played only nine defensive reps this year. Kelly said Braman would be “in the mix.”
Zach Berman of the Inquirer talks about Chris Polk‘s role in the Birds’ backfield:
Chris Polk scored two touchdowns on Sunday, and he has now scored on six of 50 career carries. Of those six touchdowns, five have been from 10 yards are in.
“I know my role: short-yardage, goal line,” Polk said. “Run in there full speed and fall forward.”
The coaches are high on Polk, although with LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles ahead of him (and Bryce Brown last season), carries are hard to come by. So Polk has accepted his role as a situational rusher, which is where his 5-foot-10, 224-pound frame and powering north-south running styles are especially advantageous.
We’ll hit you with an Eagles-Washington scouting report and more.