What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Here is what the national media are saying about the Eagles this week.

Cornerback Byron Maxwell, a Charleston native, discussed last week’s shootings in Robert Klemko’s Monday Morning Quarterback:

“When it happens in your hometown, you have a different perspective,” Maxwell told me by phone Thursday night. “When it’s about race, it affects everybody. Honestly, that could’ve been my family. He could’ve walked in anybody’s church and did that. It’s hard to accept that.”

“At first you feel shock. Anger. Disgust. Then the next question is, what do we do about it?” he said. “How do we stop things like this from happening?”

The answer isn’t clear. Dylann Roof’s purported manifesto is something more sinister and more intelligent than the ramblings of a madman. The violent fracture of Charleston’s peace has spidered into familiar debates over gun control and the appropriate place for the Confederate flag. Maxwell wonders if the same symbols and words that alienated him as a boy enabled Roof’s development into a killer.

“You experience being called the n-word growing up,” Maxwell says, “and you just say, alright, cool. Until I left Charleston, I just figured that was a part of every community in America. I think the racism in the South is just more in your face.”

Klemko’s entire column is worth a read.

Robert Mays of Grantland offers his thoughts on Chip Kelly’s release of Evan Mathis:

Shipping LeSean McCoy to Buffalo or letting Jeremy Maclin walk in free agency seem to be moves aligned with that same type of system-centric thinking, but in both cases, there was at least an argument to be made that, either schematically or financially, both moves were in the Eagles’ best interest. McCoy is being replaced by two downhill (if injury-ridden) running backs, and Nelson Agholor, Philly’s first-round pick, has a lot in common with Maclin and costs a fraction of the price.

Rationalizing the Mathis move is more difficult. He may have wanted a raise, but as is the case in the majority of these scenarios, the Eagles owned just about all the leverage. Even in Kelly’s world, where he seems to believe he can turn anyone into a reasonable player, it’s hard to argue that Mathis was overpaid. And from a schematic point of view, Mathis is pretty much a perfect zone-blocking guard for Kelly’s scheme. Even before Kelly arrived, Mathis had begun to flourish in Andy Reid’s zone-heavy offense after wandering the NFL desert for the first six years of his career.

Doug Farrar of SI.com breaks down some of Mathis’ tape with a little help from Mathis himself:

I tweeted out a preview to this piece on Wednesday, and Mathis contacted me. We started a dialog, and I asked if he would be willing to respond to the five plays presented below with his own thoughts. So, what you’ll see here is my take on those five plays, followed by his responses. Those of us who grind tape all the time, even if we know the player responsibilities and understand the playbook, don’t know the random elements of particular plays unless we’re told.

Mathis asked me to specify that I was digging for negative plays for this piece, which is true. In trying to present a total picture of a player who has earned a reputation for stellar play, I wanted to unearth the less impressive stuff and see if it indicates a larger problem. And while I think there are issues worth addressing, Mathis’s responses do present a different picture.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports released his ranking of the top 100 players in the NFL. Jason Peters was the highest-ranked Eagle coming in at 28:

This 33-year-old remains one of the steadiest left tackles in the league. He is really good in pass protection, but can also be nasty in the run game. Playing him is a challenge for any defender lined up opposite him.

Newly-signed running back DeMarco Murray was ranked 41st, a whopping 48 slots ahead of his predecessor, LeSean McCoy:

He is coming off a season that saw him lead the league in rushing with 1,845 yards with 13 rushing touchdowns. That led to his signing as a free agent with the Eagles.

The third and final Eagle listed was Fletcher Cox who was slotted at No. 55:

It’s a shame he didn’t go to the Pro Bowl last season. He was hurt by his lack of sacks with just four, but he is much more of a presence each week than that number. He dominated games at times.

John Clayton of ESPN.com thinks Mark Sanchez not only has a chance at starting in 2015, but he could be very successful in Kelly’s scheme:

Bradford hasn’t been doing the 11-on-11, but he still has the edge over Sanchez because he has more of a tendency to go downfield with his throws. What no one can take away from Sanchez is how well he did in Kelly’s offense last season.

In eight starts, he averaged 30 points a game, compiling more than 30 on five occasions. His 63.8 completion percentage was more than respectable considering he was a 55.1 percent thrower with the Jets. His 2,216 yards in eight games in 2014 would put him on pace for a 4,432-yard season. As a Jets starter, he had only two seasons of 3,000-plus yards.

Sanchez’s play last season was hard evidence that Kelly’s system does indeed get the most out of a quarterback.

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com offers his thoughts on the Eagles’ QB situation:

The battle is not truly between Bradford and Mark Sanchez. It’s between Bradford and his surgically repaired knee. Perhaps he’ll be fine when training camp starts, but this offseason was a reminder that Bradford is entering uncharted territory. We haven’t seen a starting quarterback attempt to play after successive ACL tears, and this recovery is taking longer than Bradford’s first injury.

Consider that Carson Palmer, 35, is practicing without limitations before Bradford, despite suffering his ACL injury three months after Bradford. Sanchez has reportedly looked “substantially” better than he did a year ago in practices, which isn’t a huge surprise in year two under Kelly. It would not be a surprise if the Eagles chose to bring Bradford back slowly and Sanchez started the season.