Notes: Key Dates Approaching For Eagles, NFL

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

The NFL, it is a machine.

When we first pitched the idea of Birds 24/7, the powers that be at Philly Mag rightly asked: What about the offseason? To which we responded: What offseason?

This league has done an amazing job of staying relevant throughout the calendar year. Case in point: even though the 2015 season just wrapped, there are a number of key dates and events fast approaching. Here’s a breakdown (with an Eagles slant, obviously):

Feb. 16: The first day teams can designate franchise or transition players.

We made the case a little while back for why the Eagles should apply the tag to Sam Bradford. Here’s the boiled-down version: It allows you to put your best foot forward at the quarterback position in ’16 without committing to the QB long-term. If you strike it rich in the draft or find a trade that makes your team better, great. If not, you ride with Bradford and try to lock him up if he thrives under Doug Pederson. It’s a costly move (the tag number is expected to fall between $19-20 million) and comes with its own set of risks and drawbacks, but there is an argument to be made for it being the team’s best option.

The front office apparently disagrees. The Eagles are reportedly not expected to use the tag on Bradford and will see how things play out on the open market.

Feb. 23-29: NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis.

The unofficial start to free agency. With the entire NFL world gathered in downtown Indy for the event, this is where meetings between teams and agents take place (even if they’re not technically supposed to) and where the skids are greased for eventual signings.

Plus, spider charts. After this event, we’ll have spider charts.

Josh will be there to cover it all.

March 1: 4 p.m. is the deadline for clubs to designate franchise or transition players. Last call for Sammy B.

March 7-9: The legal tampering period. Clubs are permitted to enter into contract negotiations with the agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents.

March 9: Start of the 2016 league year. Free-agency officially opens at 4 p.m.

As Joel Corry points out, this is when the salary for the 2016 option year with 2012 first-round picks becomes fully guaranteed. That number is $7.79 million for Fletcher Cox if he’s not under a new contract by then.

It is also when the remaining $2.3 million of LeSean McCoy‘s base salary fully guarantees.

March 20-23: Owners meetings, Boca Raton, Florida.

A chance to question Jeffrey Lurie and see if “100 percent accountability” is finally realized. Plus the AFC-NFC coaches breakfast. Wonder if Chip Kelly will have any familiar faces sitting at his roundtable?

We’ll be there.

April 4: Clubs with new head coaches can begin offseason workout programs. Our first chance to see the Doug Pederson-led Eagles.

April 22: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets. Matt Tobin and David Molk are the Eagles RFAs.

April 28-30: 2016 NFL Draft, Chicago.

“With the 13th pick in the NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select…”

And that’s just the start of it.


An interesting read from Vic Carucci for the Buffalo News on why the Bills defense flourished under Jim Schwartz in ’14 and fell off when Rex Ryan ousted him.

A familiar theme in Schwartz’s defense is players not performing nearly as well when they’re no longer in his system. That happened to Mario Williams, who saw his sacks plummet from 14.5 in 2014 to five. That happened to Hughes, whose sacks fell from 10 to five after the Bills gave him a $45-million contract to prevent him from becoming a free agent. That happened to Dareus, whose sacks also dropped from 10 to five after the Bills gave him a contract extension worth up to $95.1 million.

In Ryan’s scheme, substitutions were made liberally as he attempted to match just the right defense with whatever the offense was showing. That prompted hesitation before calls were made to determine the corresponding front and coverage, and players were sent running on and off the field.

Once the play clock hits 15 seconds, the communication system between the sideline and the signal-caller, Brown, automatically shuts off, meaning that sometimes the entire call isn’t heard. Facing opponents, such as the New England Patriots, that run a fast-paced, no-huddle offense only further complicates the communication process.

This generally wasn’t a problem in Schwartz’s scheme because he mainly used one-word calls. Those could be colors, names, cities, even cartoon characters. A typical call in Ryan’s defense might go something like this: “46 Nickel Delta Weak Double Dog Trade.” The same call in Schwartz’s scheme would simply be, “Delta.”

In case you missed it, Fran Duffy put together a really good breakdown of Schwartz’s defense for the team’s website.