Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kelly And the ‘SIW’


Eagles Cornerback Brandon Boykin facing the field

Chip Kelly calls them self-inflicted wounds, or SIWs. It refers to preventable actions (turnovers, penalties, drops, etc.) that make it more difficult to achieve your objective.

That was the term that came to mind Sunday afternoon while pondering the state of the nickel position/secondary after JaCorey Shepherd went down. An MRI today will reveal the severity of the right knee injury. According to Les Bowen, they are checking to see if the rookie out of Kansas tore his ACL. We’ll wait to see just how long the Eagles will be without Shepherd’s services. At the very least, this is a scare that forces you to examine the depth. At worst, the news that is coming down will put that depth to the test.

Confidence in the young defensive backs factored into the team’s decision to deal Brandon Boykin to Pittsburgh for a conditional fifth-round pick. Shepherd in particular stood out this spring and appeared to be the favorite to fill Boykin’s role. But there was more to it than just a perceived surplus in DB talent. Boykin (5-10, 185) was not a measurables fit and was entering the final year of his rookie contract. Given that he was almost certainly not going to play in Philly beyond 2015, the Eagles were open to entertaining offers. The Steelers pounced.

“I’ve gotta tell ya, I was a little surprised the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to get him,” said Cris Collinsworth during Sunday’s NBC broadcast of the Hall Of Fame game between the Steelers and Vikings, shortly after a blitzing Boykin batted a Mike Kafka pass. “I thought arguably he was the best cornerback they had in Philadelphia, and he comes in and makes a play. The other day in practice he had a pick-six run back for a touchdown and apparently every time he makes a play, Mike Tomlin [is] screaming up and down the field, ‘I got it right!’ He felt great about it.”

While the deal makes some sense big-picture for the Eagles, it’s hard to make a case for how the Boykin move makes them a better football team in the here and now. The same could be said when it comes to Evan Mathis. It seems as clear as ever that his financial requests were out of whack and the two sides appeared destined for a split, but there’s no doubt that the offensive line would be in a healthier state if he was still on the team. He’d be at left guard, Allen Barbre would be at right, and the game of musical chairs would have been halted before it began.

We need to leave room for the possibility that everything will work out here. Billy Davis was probably going to play more base anyway, and it’s plausible that some combination of Jaylen Watkins, E.J. Biggers and maybe even Byron Maxwell step in to fill the void at nickel. Perhaps Matt Tobin or Andrew Gardner or John Moffitt or Julian Vandervelde eventually solidify that right guard spot. But the larger point is that there wasn’t a need for this level of finger-crossing. They had a pair of proven commodities that they opted to part with a year before they had to. The further we get along in training camp, the greater Kelly seems at risk for a personnel SIW.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Eagles observations: Josh Huff vs. Byron Maxwell; reaction to the flyover; and more.

“I kind of braced myself and I heard him hollering.” More on the JaCorey Shepherd injury.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

A couple of Jeff McLane‘s takeaways from yesterday’s practice.

8. Tebow was still the fourth quarterback up during 7 on 7s. He hit the fly swatter nettings that stand in for defensive linemen for the second straight day. He underthrew a deep pass to Cooper that S Chris Maragos batted away. Tebow ran on the zone read late in practice, and looked pretty good against the air defense. The crowd went nuts.

9. It’s going to take a strong push for someone to supplant Thurmond at safety. He’s constantly around the ball. He had the two interceptions today. He also rushed into the backfield on one ran play, past WR Jordan Matthews and wrapped up RB Raheem Mostert. I don’t know how good Thurmond will be compared to other starting safeties around the league. It’s too early to say. But the Eagles seem to like him more than the other alternatives (e.g.: Earl Wolff).

Some Eagles players weren’t too thrilled with the pro-Dallas banner that flew overhead during the national anthem Sunday. From CSNPhilly.

Earl Wolff said the move was “disrespectful.” Lane Johnson called Hardy a “hothead” and said the new Cowboy will have his hands full with Jason Peters this year. Bennie Logan didn’t take it very lightly, either.

“[Hardy] doesn’t quite understand the rivalry and the hate we have between each other,” Logan said. “My advice to him is to sit back and just learn before you try to have any input on the things the Eagles and Cowboys have.

“For that to fly over our stadium on Military Day, that just shows what kind of character they have. That’s pretty stupid of them.”

COMING UP

A day off for the Eagles. A significant day at Birds 24/7.