Eagles Wake-Up Call: Reader Mailbag

What's the biggest area of concern? What will be Darren Sproles' role? Should the Eagles have passed on DeMarco Murray?

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

With the preseason finale on tap and the regular season opener around the corner, we know you guys have plenty of questions. You can always email us or comment on our Facebook page, but follow us on Twitter so you know when we’re looking for submissions for the next reader mailbag.

Outside of injury and depth concerns, the biggest question mark to me is still the secondary. Byron Maxwell has looked good, Nolan Carroll has made impressive plays and Walter Thurmond has apparently morphed into a ball hawk, but I need to see this all in the regular season against good competition.

Aaron Rodgers sat out of Saturday’s game and Andrew Luck played only 11 snaps in the preseason opener. The secondary has been “lactose intolerant” so far, but they’re getting simpler looks than they will in the regular season. Will the safeties and corners in deep zone coverages avoid biting on the cheese underneath when their reads get more complex?

As for the nickel corner, I think Eric Rowe will win the job at some point this season. E.J. Biggers was less than impressive against the Packers and Jaylen Watkins has had his own shortcomings. Although Rowe certainly has room to grow—particularly in his man-to-man coverage—his early improvement with his technique makes me think he’ll take some big steps forward this season.

Yes, but not because LeSean McCoy is gone. The coaching staff has consistently said they want to get Darren Sproles involved more, and you saw why on Sam Bradford’s first touchdown pass against the Packers.

He’s a dangerous, versatile weapon out of the backfield who’s a threat both on the ground and through the air. If you get him matched up against a linebacker in space, the Eagles have the advantage. Pat Shurmur discussed Sproles before the preseason started less than a month ago.

“We’d like to get him the ball steadily and consistently, and he certainly is a unique, outstanding player,” Shurmur said. “We just need to make sure we get him the ball, and we have a plan to do that.”

The more you use Sproles, the more you can use him as a decoy as well. He draws a lot of attention from defenses, which is why I expect to see more two running back sets this season.

No. Addressing your latter point first, taking DeMarco Murray away from the Cowboys is obviously a plus. However, his value comes not from subtracting him from Dallas, but adding him to Philadelphia. He’s one of the best running backs in the NFL and will get yardage Ryan Mathews and Sproles simply can’t.

According to Pro Football Focus, Murray nearly eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards after contact last season and forced the second-most missed tackles with 55. He also recorded the fifth-highest percentage of rushes with at least four yards after contact among qualified running backs.

Unlike last year, the workload split among the running backs will be more even and won’t require the feature back to carry the ball more than 75 percent of the time. Having both Murray and Mathews ensures you’ll have a fresh running back in the fourth quarter, and lightens both of their loads.


“The Fletcher Cox show is about to begin.” What they’re saying about the Eagles.

T-Mac takes his final stab at predicting the final 53-man roster before tonight’s preseason finale.


Jason Kelce says athleticism is what separates the Eagles’ offensive line from others, writes Corey Seidman.

The right side of the Eagles’ offensive line, specifically RT Lane Johnson before he was taken out with an MCL sprain, neutralized All-Pro Packers pass rusher Clay Matthews. Bradford stood in the pocket, hooked up with his first read on a few occasions, hit his running backs with checkdowns, and showed some awareness getting the ball out to Burton, his second read, with a defender charging.

The O-line also opened up some sizable holes for DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews on both sides in the first two drives. The linemen maintained their blocks long enough for Murray to change direction on one rush, bouncing off a potential tackle and reversing course to pick up positive yardage on a play that could have gone for nothing.

Jeff McLane examines how Matt Barkley found himself fighting Tim Tebow for a roster spot.

When Kelly announced the Barkley pick, he spoke glowingly of his “repetitive accuracy” and of the times he faced him at Oregon. If he hadn’t yet had final say, sources familiar with that Eagles draft said that Barkley was predominantly Kelly’s selection.

The reason Barkley did not thrive here is not because he isn’t mobile. Kelly has clearly shown that he can win without multipurpose quarterbacks. Barkley’s problems have stemmed from a lack of arm strength.

At first, it was the shoulder. But even the marginal power he has gained over the last two years hasn’t offset the fact that he doesn’t do one thing great.


Tonight’s preseason finale against the Jets kicks off at 7 in New York.

Adam Hermann contributed to this post.