What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Frank Reich explains why he's been so impressed thus far with Carson Wentz.

Carson Wentz and Frank Reich. (USA Today Sports)

Carson Wentz and Frank Reich. (USA Today Sports)

This week’s roundup of the best Eagles links around the web.

Frank Reich raved about Carson Wentz yesterday during a SiriusXM interview.

Carson, he’s very smart. He picks everything up very fast and then physically — he’s a dominant athlete for the position. … His aptitude is off the charts. I’m not sure I’ve been around a guy who has as high of an aptitude as him at this age. It’s really, really good and then he has the work ethic to go along with it. But he also has a maturity and a class about him to understand his role and understand he’s gotta earn his stripes. And he’s doing that. He’s got a great attitude about it.

Sam Bradford was not good against the blitz in 2015, writes our old pal Sheil Kapadia.

What’s interesting about Bradford is defenses had very little success sacking him when they blitzed. Opponents brought him down 2.1 percent of the time when sending pressure, the second-lowest number among all quarterbacks. The problem? Although Bradford got rid of the ball, he rarely did anything positive with it. Bradford completed 50 percent of his passes (second worst) against pressure. His 65.9 passer rating was ahead of only Foles, and Bradford’s 28.0 QBR ranked 32nd.

NFL.com’s Judy Battista explains why the Bradford situation is one of her top storylines this summer.

Considering that even Peyton Manning went into retirement knowing the Broncos no longer had a use for him, the cold shoulder shouldn’t have come as a surprise for the rest. But [Ryan] Fitzpatrick, Nick Foles and Sam Bradford had their eyes opened when they realized — the draft really crystallized things — their teams didn’t value them as highly as they expected.

They did not handle it particularly well. Bradford wanted a trade and missed some workouts with the Eagles, Foles skipped all Rams workouts after the draft because, as Rams coach Jeff Fisher publicly volunteered, he suspected he was not long for the roster. Fitzpatrick’s contract dispute has devolved into a bitter staredown with no end in sight.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson reiterated late last week that Bradford will, barring injury, start the season opener in September. But the Foles and Fitzpatrick situations bear watching. If the Rams release Foles, he could be a pawn if the Jets try to pressure Fitzpatrick to sign. Or he could be a legitimate veteran roster addition if the Jets move on from Fitzpatrick and like Foles as Geno Smith insurance. Whatever happens, it will almost certainly be before training camps open.

NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks has some Wentz predictions for this season.

Best-case scenario: The Eagles allow Wentz to sit behind a pair of veterans to learn the nuances of the game from the sidelines. The red-shirt season provides the rookie with an opportunity to master the playbook without the pressure of having to perform at a high level as a first-year starter. Most importantly, the patient approach affords head coach Doug Pedersen and his staff with enough time to craft a long-term game plan that sets up Wentz for success when he eventually steps onto the field as the team’s starting quarterback in 2017.

Worst-case scenario: The disappointing play of Sam Bradford and/or Chase Daniel forces the Eaglesto scrap their red-shirt plans for their rookie passer. Wentz steps into the lineup following the team’s Week 4 bye to lead an offense desperate for a spark at the quarterback position. The 6-foot-5, 237-pounder flashes big-time talent and playmaking ability, but his transition from small school standout to NFL starter is littered with costly mistakes and turnovers against the stellar defenses in the NFC.

My projection: 2,300 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions; 300 rushing yards and four scores.

Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com summarizes the start of the Pederson era and how it affects some of the younger players.

The return to NFL orthodoxy is going to be good for everyone. It has been compelling to hear players like Lane Johnson, Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor talk enthusiastically about the way Pederson’s offense will operate.

These are players whose entire NFL careers have been with coach Chip Kelly, so they have no other perspective. They were immersed in Kelly’s uptempo offense, with its slim playbook and specific principles, and are now learning a whole new way of doing things.

For them, Kelly’s ways might as well have been the norm. Pederson could be the outlier.

But those players are excited by what they’ve seen so far. Johnson talked about how valuable it is to vary snap counts and add a moment’s hesitation to the defenders lined up across from him. Agholor and Matthews are enthused by the number of offensive plays and the variations within those plays — giving them new tools to use as they try to get open against various coverages.

The Eagles have the fifth-best roster in the league, pens Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus for ESPN Insider.

Top five players: DE Fletcher Cox, OT Jason Peters, S Malcolm Jenkins, DE Brandon Graham, QB Sam Bradford

Starters who should be upgraded: LB Nigel Bradham, OG Allen Barbre, WR Nelson Agholor, LB Jordan Hicks, CB Nolan Carroll

The Eagles imploded around Chip Kelly, but the roster still has a lot of good players, and more may see the field after their offseason of personnel moves designed to move away from Kelly’s way of doing things as fast as possible. Cox has been a monster and could improve with a transition to a four-man line in which he will no longer have two-gap responsibilities, allowing him to simply attack gaps and wreak havoc in the backfield. Graham and Vinny Curry are both able edge rushers, and Bennie Logan should be a fine nose tackle in a 4-3 scheme, giving the Eagles a formidable front. Jenkins and Rodney McLeod look on paper to be one of the league’s best safety tandems, and if Eric Rowe can take a step forward, this defense looks very impressive.

There are still a lot of pieces in place on offense. The line has talent, but it has been inconsistent. Skill position players Zach Ertz, Darren Sproles and Jordan Matthews provide dangerous weapons from their roles. Second-year receiver Agholor needs to be much better in 2016. Plus there’s the quarterback competition, which will be the headline grabber, but Bradford played pretty well in 2015.

Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo had some choice words about the Eagles’ offensive line to describe why DeMarco Murray struggled last year, writes Jason Wolf of the Tennessean.

What might have contributed to Murray’s disappointing season in Philadelphia?

“There’s a lot of factors that may play into it,” Orakpo said. “Wrong style, not getting along with the coaching staff, offensive line being garbage. I mean, it’s a lot of things that can be attributed to the way he performed or the way he didn’t perform as well as everybody wanted him to. But I really feel like the Titans is the team for him, and like I said, he’s been great so far.”