Weekend Reading: Defending the Changes
Here are some Eagles-related links to check out this weekend.
David Murphy of the Daily News thinks Chip Kelly’s drastic moves were necessary for the Eagles to compete in 2015:
The point, then, is this: The Redskins made significant improvements to their defense. The Giants and Cowboys didn’t get any worse (at least until the Fourth of July), and they likely got at least marginally better (with the potential for significant improvements out of some young players). If all three teams in the division aren’t any worse defensively than they were last year, which is true, and at least one is significantly better, which is true, and if the Eagles went 10-6 and failed to win the division last year, which is true, then it would make sense to conclude that the Eagles’ best course of action wasn’t sitting back and hoping that the gang would pull through if given another go-around.
You can argue that they certainly weren’t making themselves better when they allowed Jeremy Maclin to walk, or when they cut Evan Mathis, or when they traded a healthy quarterback for Sam Bradford. You can argue that DeMarco Murray isn’t an upgrade over LeSean McCoy. But you’ll have a very difficult time arguing that nothing needed to change, and even if every single one of these moves blows up in Kelly’s face, there is a certain logic behind them. Murray and Ryan Mathews have the potential to improve the team’s performance in third-and-short and goal-to-go situations. The money that would have been spent on Maclin has the potential to improve the secondary with the additions of Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond. Sam Bradford has the potential to be something Nick Foles never could.
Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation reports that Kelly has assembled the tallest roster in the NFL:
Chip Kelly wasn’t joking around when he said he believes “big people beat up little people.” After calculating the average height and weight of every team in the NFL for a piece in the Eagles Almanac, I have found the Philadelphia Eagles have the NFL’s tallest roster. Here’s a look in chart form:
The Eagles just barely lead the league at an average of 74.41 inches. That’s over 6-2. Last year the Eagles ranked fourth overall at around 74.13 inches.
Reuben Frank of CSN Philly has high hopes for the duo of Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor:
In Matthews and Agholor, the Eagles have two 22-year-old wideouts taken high in the draft who are now playing in an up-tempo offense that has been ranked in the top-5 in the NFL in each of Chip Kelly’s two seasons as head coach.
Matthews had the greatest season ever by an Eagles rookie wide receiver a year ago, and some believe Agholor will surpass his numbers as a rookie this year.
Can they be the first Eagles wideout tandem with 1,000 yards in the same season?
I’d be surprised if they’re not.
In fact, considering their age, their ability, the nature of Kelly’s offense and the fact that they’re both signed for the next several years, I believe Agholor and Matthews will go down in history as the greatest 1-2 wide receiver tandem in Eagles history. And I think it will happen soon.
Phil Sheridan of ESPN thinks the Eagles’ new coaching in the secondary will help in 2015:
That covers a lot of ground (unlike [Bradley] Fletcher). Coaching means the overall defensive scheme, which is the responsibility of coordinator Bill Davis. It means deciding which players will be on the field and what their responsibilities are, which is Davis’ job with input from coach Chip Kelly. And it means working with players individually to make sure they understand the game plan and are fundamentally sound. That is the role of the defensive backs coach.
John Lovett coached the Eagles’ defensive backs for two seasons. After the 2014 season, Kelly replaced him with Cory Undlin, who most recently coached the Denver Broncos’ secondary under John Fox. The Broncos had three defensive backs in the Pro Bowl. The Eagles haven’t had a DB selected for the Pro Bowl since Asante Samuel after the 2010 season.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins said during organized team activities that Undlin was already having a huge impact on the secondary. Cornerback Brandon Boykin praised the attention to detail, as Undlin works with the players on technique and fundamentals.
Chris Burke of SI.com named the 2002 NFC Championship Game as the worst loss in Eagles history:
Sometimes, an entire game delivers a long, drawn-out ‘gut punch’. Such was the case in the 2002 season’s NFC championship for the Eagles. They were in front of a rabid home crowd, hosting a Tampa Bay team they had beaten during the regular season, with wind chills dipping below 20. What could go wrong?
Well, after Philadelphia grabbed an early 7–0 lead, pretty much everything. The Bucs scored 27 of the game’s final 30 points, capped by Ronde Barber’s 92-yard interception return for a touchdown off Donovan McNabb. To make matters worse, Tampa Bay then rolled to a 48–21 victory against the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.