What They’re Saying About the Eagles
Here’s what the national and local media are saying about the Eagles after their first joint practice with the Ravens.
Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun gives us a look at the joint sessions from a Ravens’ perspective.
Eagles defense loud: Perhaps because there just aren’t many vocal characters on the Ravens offense, they were drowned out by the Eagles defense early in practice. They whooped it up after every big play and taunted Ravens running back Justin Forsett after stuffing him in the backfield.
Steve Smith Sr. a peacemaker? Ravens veteran wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. made no qualms about not being fond of these joint practices, and intervened after Eagles outside linebacker Brandon Graham tackled fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the flat. Smith used colorful language to let Graham know what would happen if he kept tackling. I think Graham got the message. Juszczyk said afterward it meant a lot that everyone had his back in that situation. Smith said “nobody punks my Juice but me.”
The whistle is meaningless: Receivers and running backs are encouraged during Ravens practices to sprint through defenders’ touches in noncontact drills, even if the play is dead. That played right into the Eagles’ defensive strategy. After each play, even well after the whistle, their defenders tried to punch the ball out of the Ravens ballcarrier’s hands. Tight end Nick Boyle and receiver Tom Nelson fell victim to it, and fullback Kiero Small took exception to it and held onto the ball, jawing with the defender as he did.
Wednesday marked a homecoming for not just John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco but also Juan Castillo (offensive line coach) and now Ravens’ quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhingweg. More from Jeff Zrebiec.
“It hit home a little bit. Eighteen years in a place, it’s tough,” Castillo said. “Think about how many games we won here. I’m not sure but Coach Reid probably won more games here than anybody else did. We got to go to five NFC championships. Unfortunately, we only won one [but] we gave the Philadelphia fans a lot of fun.”
The returns of the three coaches — along with Flacco practicing so close to home — were prominent topics after a business-like — and surprisingly uneventful — practice between the two teams at the NovaCare Complex, the Eagles’ training facility.
Though brawls have marred joint practices between the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams, there were no tenuous moments between the Ravens and Eagles. One minor altercation broke out among backups — Ravens cornerback Asa Jackson played a role in it — but it was dispersed quickly by a number of players, including Eagles quarterback Tim Tebow.
There wasn’t a whole lot of fraternization between the two teams although a few players and coaches chatted between drills. Executives from both teams exchanged greetings on the field and Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome watched the practice from a patio area with Ed Marynowitz, the Eagles’ vice president of football operations.
Robert Klemko of MMQB stopped by camp and offered these takeaways.
1. The LeSean McCoy-DeMarco Murray swap was an even better deal for Philadelphia than you think. Of course, it wasn’t a pure swap — Murray signed with Chip Kelly’s Eagles in free agency and the Bills swapped McCoy for Kiko Alonso – but it’s all the same. The feeling in Philadelphia, despite Murray’s limited exposure on campus, is he will leave far fewer yards on the field and will eliminate the negative yardage plays you get with the shifty McCoy.
2. The additions of Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso make this defense significantly better. Maxwell joins a pass defense that finished near the bottom of the league, and his presence should help ease the transition of Walter Thurmond into what is a new position at safety. Maxwell looks good in camp and has expressed eagerness to shed the notion his success in Seattle was a product of the talent assembled around him.
3. Sam Bradford will not win you any fantasy titles, but he may just dethrone Alex Smith as football’s best game manager. He’s been uber-accurate in camp and has built a nice rapport with first-round rookie wideout Nelson Agholor in camp. Kelly’s offensive identity is more about maintaining tempo and ball security and less about the quarterback taking matters into his own hands, and Bradford seems to be the right man for that job.
Andrew Kulp of the 700 Level agrees that Bradford is looking good, particularly inside the 20.
1. For the second straight day, it looked like Sam Bradford executed very well inside the red zone. Bradford threw touchdown passes to Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Riley Cooper and Brent Celek, and had another would-be score hit the turf on a play Celek might’ve been interfered with. The Eagles ranked 23rd in the NFL inside the red zone in 2014, converting just 49 percent of their opportunities into six, but the offense has been drilling those situations hard all camp, and it’s encouraging to see Bradford has consistently been able to find windows. That, passing downfield and getting rid of the football are the areas he’s really set himself apart from the rest of the quarterbacks in camp.
2. Bradford’s favorite target on Wednesday was Matthews. The Ravens didn’t seem to have any answer for the second-year wideout over the middle, be it shallow crosses or intermediate seam passes, and his touchdown grab was a thing of beauty, beating his man clean to the outside and extending to make the catch. Of course, this is nothing altogether new — Matthews has been tearing it up all camp. Regardless, it was nice to see him as a focal point of the Eagles’ offense while going up against another team. Big things appear to be in store for Matthews this season.