Posted: December 7th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 56 Comments »
We all love Nick Foles now. He’s the greatest QB ever. He’s Nickfoleon Dynamite.
But where did he come from? My guess was that a secret government lab combined the DNA of Ben Franklin, Brian Dawkins and Dr. J and created Nick from that. Jeff McLane seems to think he simply was drafted from the University of Arizona. That just sounds way too simple to land the greatest player in NFL history. But we’ll go with his version for now.
Great article here by Jeff McLane on how the Eagles got Nick Foles. Jeff talked to several people on how the scouting and drafting of Foles went down.
One day during the 2012 offseason, Marty Mornhinweg turned on the college tape of Nick Foles and liked what he saw. So he walked down the second floor corridor at the NovaCare Complex and into Andy Reid’s office.
“I said, ‘Have you seen this Foles kid?’” Mornhinweg said recently to The Inquirer. “So he watches him, likes what he’s watching and says, ‘Where’s Doug?’”
Doug Pederson, the Eagles quarterback coach, was on the road. He was working out other quarterbacks and by coincidence was scheduled next to be in Phoenix to visit Brock Osweiler, the 6-foot-7 Arizona State quarterback.
“We’re like, shoot, let’s get him over to work out Foles instead,” Mornhinweg recalled. “So we had our people redirect Doug to Tuscon.”
Who knew Marty Mornhinweg was so wise?
I fully admit that I wasn’t on the Foles bandwagon when he was drafted. I thought he was off target too often and that WR Juron Criner made circus catches on a regular basis that made Foles look better than he was. I didn’t see a very good athlete. And I’m not a huge fan of QBs that are 6-5, 240. I prefer guys that are 6-3, 225 and have mobility.
I was also nervous about some of Foles bad moments. He struggled as a Senior, although that largely due to a terrible OL. There was a bowl game in his Soph year when he was destroyed by Nebraska. Foles went 9-29-48. To be fair, Ndamukong Suh was literally unblockable that day. It was like watching a high school kid play football against 5th graders.
Foles got my attention in the 2012 preseason. He played when Vick went down and looked good. He was comfortable on the field and that was the first thing that I liked. Some rookies look overwhelmed. Foles acted like he belonged. He also played like it and that’s when Folesmania started.
I only think it is fair that Foles send Mornhinweg one of his Super Bowl rings.
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Let’s talk more about Brad Smith playing QB. In a previous comments section, AC Viking posted his argument against it. Why take Foles out of the game and put in a gimmick player? Would you do this with Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? This is a reasonable question and a good argument.
But I still disagree.
The Red Zone is a condensed space. Defenses are packed tightly and they play aggressively. If you can figure out a reasonable way to trick them, there is nothing wrong with that.
Is it bad to line up in the I-formation and then give the ball to the FB up the middle when you’ve got a star RB behind him? Is it wrong to run a reverse or end around and give the ball to a WR? What about faking to the RB and throwing to an OL or the #3 TE? These are all tricks.
Smith is a player that can run and pass. When you put him at QB, you have the option to run or throw the ball. His very presence on the field can affect the defense. That could make a simple hand-off to Shady McCoy effective. If the DE freezes for half a second because he thinks Smith might run, that could be enough of a delay for Shady to get up the field. If Smith keeps the ball, he’s athletic enough to make a 5-yard run without needing the defense to be completely fooled. Foles needs a ton of room. Smith doesn’t.
Using a player like Smith in certain situations is fine. That’s taking advantage of your resources. If you take Foles out as the QB on a regular basis, I’ve got a problem with that. If you simply use Smith from time to time, that’s fine. It gives the defense one other issue to deal with.
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How much of Foles 2nd half issues can be attributed to his youth?
Tough question. There is no doubt that things get different in a game where one team is trailing. They play more aggressively. They take chances they didn’t in the 1st half. Does he adjust well to the defensive adjustments?
The problem with figuring this out is that we don’t see him throw enough to really know. Foles doesn’t look lost out there, but he does seem different. Maybe that’s just perception. We know the offense changes, as there is more of an emphasis on working the clock.
Foles still has a ton to learn and he’s nowhere close to maximizing his talent. QBs need time to develop and perfect playing that position. Hopefully experience will help his play in the 4th quarter of games.
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I watched the HOU/JAX game the other night. Wow, Case Keenum and Chad Henne were both bad. Henne has started 47 NFL games, but still made some plays that would make you think he’s a rookie.
Keenum is young, but made some awful throws. His INT, where Andre Johnson was wide open, was dreadful. Keenum needed to put the ball over the DB. Instead, he threw the ball softly and right to the DB.
Each of those guys flashed potential at times. But the more they played, the more you could see warts. Defenses adjusted to them and those QBs didn’t have the right answer.
Foles is in Year 2. He’s started 6 games this year. Teams know who he is and what he can do. But they aren’t stopping him. That’s a very good sign. Seeing that crapfest the other night made me really appreciate Foles.
Posted: December 6th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 44 Comments »
The Detroit Lions come to Philly on Sunday. They’re 7-5 and coming off a blowout win. Wait…that sounds familiar. The Cardinals came to town last week at 7-4 on the heels of a blowout win over the Colts.
The Cards had a terrific defense and hot offense. Detroit is the opposite. Explosive offense and hot defense.
Fran Duffy did a great All-22 preview of the Lions and what they like to do on defense and offense.
The question most people will focus on is how to slow down Megatron, WR Calvin Johnson. He is one of the most dominant players in the entire NFL. Think of him as the Donnie Jones of WRs.
In a way, the schedule-maker did the Eagles a big favor by having them play Arizona and Detroit in consecutive weeks. The Eagles got to try some things against Larry Fitzgerald last week. The coaches have to see what worked well and what can be done this week when they try to deal with Johnson. You don’t just put a CB on him. You don’t just give him a double team. You must be creative with Johnson. You’re not going to stop him. The goal is to make life difficult for him. By doing that, you also make things hard on QB Matt Stafford.
The Eagles did a pretty good job vs Fitz. They were physical with him. LBs regularly jammed him at the LOS. That kept Fitz from getting a clean release and into his routes smoothly. Other times the Eagles used bracket coverage, with one defender under Fitz and another over the top. Sometimes this was a LB and a S. Other times it was a CB and a S. Expect more of the same vs Megatron.
The Eagles got a bit of potentially good news today. Lions CB Darius Slay has now been listed as doubtful due to an injury. He’s their most talented CB. They have CB Chris Houston coming off injury from the previous game so that secondary could be vulnerable if the Eagles can give Nick Foles time to find the open guy.
Matt Bowen, former NFL DB and now an analyst for Bleacher Report, did a fantastic video explaining some of the route concepts the Eagles like to use. This is must-watch material.
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I’ve got a slew of questions from people that I’ll answer in another post later this evening.
Posted: December 5th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 122 Comments »
Big win for the Eagles. The Cards came to town with a 4-game win streak and lots of confidence. They had a top shelf defense and a hot offense. They had a veteran QB. The Eagles were going to have to earn this victory.
That’s just what they did.
The Eagles totally outplayed the Cards in building a 24-7 lead. The Eagles were better on offense, defense and STs. From that point on, things got a bit sloppy and the Cardinals started playing with some pep in their step. They made the game close at the end, but the Eagles were able to do just enough to hold on for the win.
Were the Cardinals exposed by playing their first tough competition in a while? To a certain extent, yes. But this is still a tough Cardinals team. Bruce Arians has them headed in the right direction. They need OL help in a big way, but having Palmer gives them a functional veteran QB and that is a huge improvement over the slop they’ve put on the field since Kurt Warner retired. Another huge point for them is the development of WR Michael Floyd. The Eagles focused on limiting Larry Fitzgerald. They did a good job of that, but Floyd was able to make plays and keep the offense going. The Cards won’t sink or swim based on Fitz anymore.
I don’t think this was any kind of statement game from the Eagles. They didn’t play with a chip on their shoulders. They didn’t do anything special. This was a tough, methodical win. It should impress you that the Eagles were able to play solid football and beat a 7-4 team. Even when the Eagles were up 24-7, they hadn’t played great. For every good thing they did, there was something sloppy. The Eagles still have yet to play one game where they hit on all cylinders. That’s good news. You’d rather have that happen later in the season. It would be ideal for that to happen in the final month. There are no guarantees the Eagles will play a great game. They certainly didn’t in 2012.
One of the big topics coming out of this game was the officiating. Bruce Arians sent 15 plays to the league that he wanted addressed. He wanted the calls/non-calls explained to him. After re-watching the game, I do think the Eagles got the better of the officiating. But I still don’t think Arians handled the situation well. There were bad moments for each team. Mychal Kendricks was clearly held by the C when he blitzed up the middle on a play. That happened to be the 43-yard TD pass to Fitzgerald. That was a huge, huge non-call. The Cards should have been facing 3rd/30. Now, you can argue that with the Eagles defense, they’d have still gotten the 1st down and sadly…I can’t strongly dispute that. The point is that both teams benefited from missed calls.
There was a lot of discussion about the officiating late in the game. The Eagles DBs got away with contact, while the Cards drew a penalty that ended the game. A lot of people are missing the key angle to this. The officials allowed contact downfield for both teams. The Eagles did get away with illegal contact. The Cards were flagged for holding. That is completely different from illegal contact. When Roc Carmichael grabbed a TE’s jersey and had his hands all over the guy, that got called. That went beyond contact. That absolutely affected the play and drew the flag. The questionable plays on the Cards final drive involved contact, but not holding or grabbing receivers down the field. Even Darryl Johnston, who had one of his worst games as an announcer, said on the air that the officials have let contact go the whole game. And frankly, that’s what we want. Let the players play. Don’t over-officiate. If there is no clear advantage gained, let it go. The penalty on Carmichael was a good call. He took away the receiver’s chance to catch the ball. I’m fine with the non-calls. Those receivers still had a legit chance to make catches. And the holding call on the Cards was absolutely the right call. The OLB didn’t let the TE release into his route. He had a hanful of jersey, clear as day. That’s the very definition of holding.
The Eagles are now 1-0 in December. They have a 2-game winning streak at The Linc. And they are tied for the 1st place in the NFC East with a 7-5 record. God, what a difference a year makes. Thank you Chip Kelly. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 4th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 174 Comments »
There is an old saying in sports that sometimes the best moves you make are the ones you don’t make. That is certainly true in regard to the 2013 Eagles.
* Missing out on DL Ricky Jean-Francois turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Ced Thornton and Fletcher Cox are better DEs than him. They’re also younger and cheaper. RJF would have affected the development of some young DL, whether Thornton or Bennie Logan or some other part of the rotation.
Secondly, the money the Eagles put into RJF might have kept them from spending on some other player. It was disappointing to see him go to Indy back in March, but that actually turned out to be a great thing.
* Not trading Nick Foles is looking to be a huge move. We don’t know how close the Eagles ever got to actually dealing Foles. I tend to think they wanted to keep him, but I’m sure Andy Reid did inquire about him at some time. Chip Kelly could have pushed Foles out while going for a more athletic QB, but wisely kept Foles around. That could turn out to be a franchise-changing type of move.
* Passing on Geno Smith and EJ Manuel. The Eagles had the 4th overall pick. There were more than a few people who thought for sure that the Eagles would spend it on a QB, even though there wasn’t great value. Smith was the guy getting the early buzz. Then Manuel became the flavor of the month. The Eagles checked both guys out thoroughly. And passed. Both guys might pan out, but the Eagles have Foles playing at a Pro Bowl level right now so he looks like the more sure thing of the trio.
* Not dumping Riley Cooper. This was far from a no-brainer back in the summer. Cooper’s concert incident is one of the worst Eagles-related memories in a long time. The team could have taken the easy way out and cut him. Cooper wasn’t a star player. They didn’t have a high pick or much money invested in him. The whole world would have gotten behind the Eagles for dumping Cooper. They chose the tougher path and kept him around. To be fair, the Eagles were thin at WR. But again, Cooper was just a guy back then. He had 5 TD catches in 3 years.
A ton of credit goes to Jason Avant for being the guy who kept the peace. He and Riley are friends. Jason is incredibly respected in the locker room so him sticking by Cooper meant a lot. I think Chip Kelly also handled the situation wisely by not ignoring it, but also not going overboard with it. I think he gauged the pulse of the team and saw this was something the players could handle.
Cooper has turned out to be a key player, especially in the last 6 or so weeks.
* Not trading Vinny Curry. Eagles fans loved what they saw from Curry this summer. Coaches did not. They looked past the plays he made and focused on the fact he wasn’t playing within the framework of the defense. The coaches could have given up on Curry and told Howie to deal him to a 4-3 team. Instead, the coaches kept coaching Vinny. They worked on fundamentals over and over. Curry got on the field in Week 3 and showed ability right away. Since then, he’s actually started to play well in the base defense as a 2-gap DE. I don’t know if Curry will ever be a starter, but he could be a critical role player for the Eagles. Patience paid off.
* Passing on Eric Winston. Remember when the Eagles were linked to Winston at least once a month? The team decided against that and focused on finding a RT in the draft. They took Lane Johnson 4th overall and he looks like he could be a stud OL.
* Not cutting Nate Allen. The Eagles could have easily let Allen go in the offseason. He didn’t play well in 2012, actually getting benched late in the year. The fans hated him. But the Eagles decided to keep Allen around and see if the new staff and system would get Nate back to the form he showed as a rookie. That has worked and Nate is playing the best football of his career. Nate’s future is up in the air, but the fact he’s made Eagles fans discuss re-signing him is arguably the biggest miracle of 2013. Not just Eagles 2013, but all the events in the world. Crazy. Great job by the staff and Nate.
I might be forgetting a non-move or two. Let me know if I’ve overlooked something good.
Posted: December 4th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 118 Comments »
We all know the Eagles are hot, having won 4 games in a row. But I didn’t realize just how good the numbers are.
That is pretty freakin’ impressive, huh.
For the year, Football Outsiders has the Eagles up to 9th in DVOA. They are 3rd in offense, 25th in defense and 19th in STs.
Every time I try to go and calm down expectations with this team, someone finds a stat that makes you start to wonder just how good this group can be. Can they sustain this? Can they improve on it?
I wrote about that angle for PE.com. I think this is a lot more than a hot streak. I see the Eagles as playing good football. As I studied the Cardinals 4-game win streak, that felt more like a solid team taking advantage of circumstances. I don’t believe in the Cards. I do believe in the Eagles. Time will prove if that is wise or not.
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Will the Eagles re-sign Jeremy Maclin in the offseason?
My guess is that the team will try to do that. It would make sense for both sides to do a 1-year deal. Mac is coming off a torn ACL. He’s going to have a limited market. The best thing would be to stay with his current team, doctors and rehab people. Get back on the field and then show all 32 teams where he is. Mac is still young. If he has a good year in 2014, he could go get a big deal the next offseason.
I’m sure seeing what Riley Cooper is doing has to get Mac’s attention. He is a better WR than Coop, in terms of positional skills and athletic ability. Mac has to know he could make some big plays and post good numbers.
We know the Eagles love bargains. Getting Mac at a reduced rate, even if just for a season, has to be an attractive idea. If Mac thrives, you work on an extension. If he doesn’t, you let him walk.
The Eagles have other factors to consider. Cooper is a free agent. I’m sure they’d like him back, but at what cost? I have to think Jason Avant is gone. He is a skilled veteran, but seems very replaceable in this offense. Avant has great value as a person and leader, but as a WR he isn’t a compelling player. DeSean Jackson’s contract can be torn up, but the Eagles have to want him back. There may need to be some re-working of the numbers, but I’d expect that situation to work itself out.
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Cardinals coach Bruce Arians went on a radio show and again complained about officiating. He’s highly frustrated by the inconsistency of calls and how different crews call games.
Compare that to how Chip Kelly and Bill Davis deal with officials. They don’t publicly complain. Kelly loves to say “That’s the call they made so it must be the right call.”
Davis admits that different crews calls games in different ways. He talked at his press conference about how he tells his players to adjust to the officials. “If they’re letting you play, do it. If they’re calling it tight, back off with the contact.” Davis isn’t complaining at all. You simply adjust.
And as he points out…calls tend to even out over the course of a season.
I love the fact the Eagles coaches are not looking for excuses or something to complain about. They’re focused on the opponent. That’s something they can control and do something about. Complaining about officiating is a waste of your time and energy. If the NFL told Arians he was right about all 15 complaints, would that change the game? Would it make him feel better? Would it help him prepare for the Rams this week?
Bruce is a long-time NFL assistant and someone that is highly respected, but the more he complains, the less I like him.
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Jimmy Bama might be the hackiest hack in the whole hack world, but the man knows punters. And he loves Donnie Jones.
• In 2012, 40 of the Eagles’ 71 punts were returned. That’s 56.3%. Half of the returned punts (20) went for at least 10 yards. This season, only 22 of the Eagles’ 65 punts (33.8%) have been returned. A grand total of 1 punt return has gone for 10+ yards.
• In 2012, the Eagles were 31st in net punting average, at 36.9. This season, the Eagles’ net punting average is 41.3, which is good for 7th in the NFL.
• In 2012, the Eagles were dead last in punts inside the 20, with 15 of them. This season, Jones already has 29 punts inside the 20, which is 2nd in the NFL.
Go read the whole post. It is basically Jimmy’s love letter to Donnie. I’ve got Megan Fox. He gets Donnie Jones. That seems fair to me.