Eagles Wake-Up Call: Three Leftovers From Chip
After the Eagles selected Jordan Hicks with the 84th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Chip Kelly noted that they probably spent more time around Hicks than any other player during the pre-draft process.
Was that coincidence? Intentional? And what did he learn that convinced him to pull the trigger?
“Probably coincidence I would say leaning towards intentional,” Kelly responded on Monday, “because obviously he was someone that caught our eye. But when you sit down and meet with him at the Combine and your coaches come back and say, ‘Hey, we had a really good meeting with him, we think we really need to…boy, he’s pretty sharp from a football standpoint’, that leads to you to want to dig a little bit deeper and find out a little more about him.
“Right from the jump when we first started the interview process, when you meet him and talk football with him, he’s a very, very intelligent football player and it showed when we got a chance to sit down and talk with him, and it showed when we got here in OTAs and in minicamp. He’s one of those guys, and it’s a compliment when we say it, he never acted like a rookie. He’s got a maturity to him and he’s got a real good football mind in terms of being able to pick things up and diagnose things.”
Hicks not only got his first NFL start at MetLife Stadium Sunday, but played all 79 defensive snaps against the Jets — 23 more than DeMeco Ryans — and handled that responsibility quite well. The plan originally was to have Hicks play primarily on special teams his rookie year while learning from Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso. Over the last two games, the linebacker out of Texas has made a statement that he is deserving of more regardless of the injury situation.
It’s only two games, but early returns suggest all the work the Eagles put in on Hicks may have been worthwhile.
— Kelly has called Darren Sproles the best practice player he’s been around. On Monday, he was asked to expand on that thought. Kelly’s response both offered insight into Sproles’ work habits and showed the level of respect the head coach has for the 32-year-old back.
“There’s one speed with Darren. Every time he catches a punt he scores a touchdown [in practice]. And then when he goes out on the field, every time it gets blocked up pretty good he’s going to score a touchdown. There’s a consistent approach to Darren Sproles. I’ve talked to our players about it, we point it out all the time as coaches. I’ve never been around a guy — and I’ve been around a lot of guys — that practices as consistently hard as Darren does every single day. We’re done telling him to slow down in walkthrough because he’s not going to slow down in walkthrough, he goes full-speed. If we have a walkthrough punt he’s going going to catch the punt and run 60 yards with it and try to score a touchdown. You can ask Donnie Jones, I’ve stopped Donnie from trying to chase him because I’m afraid Donnie will pull a hamstring.
“But’s that’s just the way he’s built and the way he’s wired. We always talk about, ‘You sink to the level of your training.’ And what you see on Sundays from Darren is what we see every single day whether it’s a walkthrough or a practice. It’s an amazing thing to watch. I wish more players would emulate it because it seems like a pretty good formula that’s working.”
— The repetitive accuracy that we saw out of Sam Bradford in training camp and the preseason has not been there through the first three regular season games, including Sunday. He completed just 50 percent of this throws against the Jets. And while some of that can be pinned on drops, it was plain to see that Bradford was off target a good bit and frequently threw behind his receivers. Kelly attributed those misfires to a simple technical issue.
“Just setting his feet. On some of those he had time to set his feet and was just off-target with the throw, so that’s just kind of a fundamental thing. But then there’s some other times, he made an unbelievable throw [when he] got flushed on a zero blitz and hit Jordan [Matthews] on the crosser that got it down to the half-inch line and then Sprolsey ran it in for the touchdown. And then the one where they brought a zero blitz again and he scrambles out of the pocket and hits Sprolsey on a wheel route right in his hands. Those are two outstanding throws. It’s just, with everybody on the offensive side of the ball, there has to be more consistency in terms of what we’re doing,” he said.
When asked about the dip in accuracy since Bradford left the more controlled environment of training camp and the preseason, Kelly pointed out that he was on-target when getting decked against Green Bay and that Bradford sometimes “reacts better when there’s distess,” noting that some of his best throws came while scrambling away from pressure.
While that’s a positive, Bradford operates mostly in the pocket. It’s there where he needs to settle in and execute.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles placed Cody Parkey on injured reserve Monday afternoon, ending his 2015 season.
Kelly touched on Marcus Smith, Ryan Mathews and more on Monday afternoon.
A roundup from the rest of the NFC East, including an efficient but ineffective quarterback.
“That was probably the worst play in NFL history.” Comprehensive day-after notes from the Birds’ first win of the season.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Doesn’t sound like very good news on the Andrew Gardner front. From Les Bowen.
The Eagles also might have lost starting right guard Andrew Gardner for the season just before halftime Sunday, when Gardner suffered a serious sprain of his right foot. Gardner most likely will need surgery, which would end his season, a source said. Matt Tobin replaced Gardner against the Jets.
Howard Eskin says Gardner has a Lis Franc sprain. He was in a boot and using crutches as he left NovaCare.
In its last 10 quarters, the Eagles’ defense has been among the league’s best, writes CSN Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank.
Since halftime on opening day, the Eagles’ defense has allowed 36 points in 2½ games, which prorates to about 14½ points per game.
They allowed 20 points on the first eight drives they faced this year and they’ve allowed 36 points on the last 33 drives they’ve faced.
They held the Falcons to six points after halftime, they limited the Cowboys to 13 points in the home opener, and on Sunday they allowed 17 in the team’s first win of the year, against the Jets at the Meadowlands.
Since halftime on opening day, only three teams — the Steelers, Jets and Texans — have allowed fewer defensive points than the Eagles, not counting the Chiefs and Packers, who play Monday night in Green Bay.
Washington week. The coordinators will talk prior to today’s 12:20 practice.