Eagles Notebook

Posted: November 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 50 Comments »

Earlier in the week I wrote a column for PE.com calling for the Eagles to use the Ace Formation more.

This is it:

WR……………TE – LT – LG – OC – RG – RT – TE……………..WR

You obviously have a QB and RB behind it.  This gives you 7 guys on the LOS and it also can confuse the defense because they don’t know what the strong side of the formation is.

I think this would be a smart way for the offense to go.  Would help the OL.  Could help cut down on some hits on Vick. We used this in 2003 to great success.  I’d love Reid to go re-watch some of the games from that year and to see how effective the formation was.

* * * * *

Ready to hear about the Eagles-Cowboys game?

Jimmy Bama and I did a preview show this morning.  We labeled Sunday’s game the battle of 2 crappy football teams.  The 3-5 Cowboys take on the 3-5 Eagles for the right to see who sucks less.

I shared some ideas for how the OL can dominate.  One involved a hatchet.

I also think we could have the guys use stickum.  Just bear-hug DeMarcus Ware while covered in stickum and see if that slows him down.

I’ll write up some game previews for those who prefer to read my genius rather than listen to Jimmy’s annoying voice.  (don’t tell him I said that)

* * * * *

DRC told the press that the Eagles reputation with other teams is they are talented and pretty, but don’t like to hit.  There is definitely some truth to that.  Both DRC and Nnamdi are inconsistent tacklers. On occasion, you see them wrap guys and really hit.  Most of the time they grab.  They like to do what is called “drag down tackling”.  Pull the player down.  Let gravity do half the work.

Good tacklers hit hard.  They like contact.  DRC and Nnamdi have both shown the ability to do this, but don’t do it with any consistency and it drives you nuts.

The overall defense is aggressive.  Missed tackles do certainly occur, but not from a lack of physicality.  Once again, the problem is execution.  You must be in the right spot.  You must take the right angle.  You must get off blocks.  Then you must explode through the target and not just to the target.  This is where the Eagles have issues.  Players are off in one of these areas and that allows runners/receivers to keep on trucking.

Todd Bowles is working hard to fix this.  Sunday would be an ideal time to show some progress.

* * * * *

I know a few of you want to discuss the Howie Roseman extension story.  That deserves its own post.  Might do that on Saturday.

* * * * *

Reuben Frank wrote a column ripping the defense for their performance in the last 2 games (since Todd Bowles took over).

Reuben is completely wrong.  Bowles was promoted to clean up the 4th quarter.  The Eagles have given up only 1 FG in the last 2 4th quarters combined.  If Andy Reid wanted good defense the rest of the game, he should have made that clear when he promoted Bowles.

Joking aside, the defense has struggled, but I think the fact the games were both against teams with Top 8 scoring offenses and have star QBs has to be factored in.  It isn’t as if Bowles and his players were getting lit up by the Jaguars or Chiefs.

The next month or so will give us an idea if Bowles is a good DC or if the team did make a mistake by firing Juan Castillo.  Todd isn’t off to a great start, but you have to give coaches and players some time to work out the kinks.

We totally controlled Dallas last year.  If they eat up the defense and score 30 points, that’s going to look very bad for Bowles.  And the players.

* * * * *

One thing we’ve all been on Mike Vick this year (and in the past) is holding the ball too long.  Jason over at BGN put together a good piece on that using some numbers from PFF.  The playcalling isn’t ideal.  The OL play hurts us.  But Vick also has a big hand in this mess.  He does hold the ball too long.

The most frustrating part of the story is that the other QBs struggling to get the ball out quickly are rookies or 2nd year guys.  Not a good sign.

_


  • shah8

    People have been laughing at that particular time stat. Way too situational and scheme-related, and of course QBs that can move are at the top of the list, and QBs that can’t are at the bottom. And in general, yeah, it does indict the OL and the general dysfunction of the offense, overall.

    • shah8

      Oh wow, this particular thread about the stat was hilarious. JasonB really went into the pit to argue this all out, eh?

      • shah8

        Ironically, today’s xkcd cartoon is quite relevant to the “time to pass” discussion… Here is the link to the cartoon+discussion
        http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=98350

        It’s not one to one correlation, but the idea is the same. Your viewing perspective is of a raw, counting stat that isn’t attached to anything particularly relevant and hitching a meaningful conclusion to it. This when other probable reasons have much larger big possibilities and much smaller contrary possibilities, and a Bayesion mathematically connect plausible outcomes from one point to the next.

        For example, most doctors have to practice from a Bayesian perspective. Why? Because most people have common reasons to be sick. You don’t want a doctor looking at one measure, say, rectal temperature, and seeing frequent high temperature–and then concluding that you have ebola, rather than the flu, as she would have concluded, had she manipulated the acual probability of ebola against a bunch of probabilites of the various symptoms you have.

        That’s what’s going on with whether Vick “holds the ball too long” by using a count measure and assuming the success or failure of the play. PFF does this a teeny bit with QBR after holding the ball. However, this does not hold together with any sort of rigor. It’s so silly that normal people who aren’t committed to seeing Foles on the field are making sensible objections.

        If anyone here really wants to believe that the stat means anything, nobody can stop you. However, that won’t stop anyone from laughing at you, neither.

        What might be more productive for some of you is to do some probability measurement of the likelyhood that Foles will succeed. Take this webpage:
        http://www.draftcountdown.com/features/23qb/23qbs.php

        Check it out. In the last two decades, the most effective third round QB has been Matt Schaub. With Kordell Stewart distantly behind. NFL scouts simply do not make obvious mistakes. A third round QB might be good, if they are very physically talented, like Kordell Stewart of Tarvaris Jackson. Sometimes they were just hurt often, like Schaub. Then there’s the shrimp, Russell. A few just went to tiny schools in bad conferences and there’s no tape. In what way does Foles hide NFL starter talent from the scouts till round 3? When for the last couple of years, QBs have been severely overdrafted? Wasn’t hurt, good size, seen on ESPN often…

        • http://twitter.com/mannafromkevin Kevin

          Very interesting. Nice post.

        • Cal Setar

          I agree that holding onto the ball too long does not make Vick a bad QB. But could it be possible that, taking Nick Foles out of the equation altogether, Vick is still not a “great” QB? And thus, at the age of 32 and not likely to get exponentially better, not someone we’d want to hitch our proverbial wagon to?

          I don’t think Foles is going to do great things behind this O-line or with this team in general, as its currently constructed. I think people, myself included, just see his youth and potential to get better and wonder as to what his ceiling could be, and they look at Vick as what he is right now and conclude that most likely this is what he’s going to continue to be.

          Granted, whether or not he’s “great” is something you can argue until you’re blue in the face about, but you can’t deny that everyone on this offense get’s a piece of the failure pie, Vick included.

          • shah8

            I want competent QB play. Vick give us competent or better QB play. He has a better postseason record than guys like Romo or Ryan for a reason. Winning a Super Bowl is about luck as much as it’s about skill. Eli Manning is merely a pretty good QB, and he has two rings.

            I could give a bugger-all for Fole’s potential. I don’t generally want to see it, and if I do, it’s because Vick or another starter’s injured, and I hope he can hang in there until the starter’s back. Foles is not obviously starter talent. I’m not interested in a failed experiment, especially as there will be obnoxious fans that yell for it to continue after it’s hopeless, a lá the Colt McCoy deadenders in Cleveland. Youth? Don’t make me laugh. That’s not a reason for anything. Talent, talent, talent is. Vick has it. Foles does not.

            Sure, everyone’s getting a piece of the pie. What some deliberately fail to recognize is that Vick only has a small share of it–if anything, he’s basically among a very few starters who could be productive at all under the circumstances. Blaming Vick for not playing awesome under horrible circumstances is unfair. No, Tom Brady wouldn’t do well. I know this because whenever there is a real pass rush, Brady folds. Last Super Bowl was exceptional for Brady. Peyton Manning eventually crumbled in 2010 and lost a year for his part. The Cardinals QBs can’t stay on the field this year. Romo makes horrible mistakes when he has a really bad line, lots of interceptions with the yards. Ryan? Flacco? Don’t make me laugh. Big Ben is largely your only alternative, guys. Aaron Rogers also doesn’t really play *that* well with a really bad line–same as Romo, really. Barring a *young* and *talented* guy on the roster, I fail to see an alternative. The OL doesn’t have to be awesome, as it is for Brady, usually, but it does need to be functional. You know, not miss assignments.

        • A_T_G

          I agree that some people have hit pinned their hopes on the dream of Foles being the savior. On the other hand, while you recognize a blind spot in others, have you considered you might have one of your own?

          You listed out a laundry list of why certain QBs have exceeded expectations, here and the other day. The thing is, that list grew each time a player proved that scouts do make mistakes. Before Brady, sick and out of shape wouldn’t have been on your list. Maybe in a few years playing behind a bunch of freshmen will need to go on the list. Every year there are examples that scouts make mistakes. Never once in the history of the draft were players all taken in the correct order for how they turned out.

          Perhaps Jason’s attempt to quantify what people are discussing is flawed. It is also flawed to use that shortcoming to in dismiss anyone who reaches the same conclusion. After all, the patient might just have Ebola despite the insufficient diagnosis technique.

          • shah8

            Thing is, Ebola has a number of distinctive symptoms.

            So does talent. Obviously, looking back at affairs, you’ll find why there were errors. However, the longer we scout, the more we know about how scouts make errors, and the more we can check off as to what make make us wrong.

            Virtually the only way Foles’ talent could have been mistaken is if, as Dilfer sez, his entire offense just lets him down all the time. I am not an expert, but my judgement as to why Foles is down is a combination of two things. His arm is merely a plus, and not really a cannon, and that he wasn’t mobile. Remember, the real reason Mallet wasn’t drafted very high almost certainly has to do with his horrible 40 time. And that lead foot thing was on the tape. Same as with Foles. His OL wasn’t good, but he really couldn’t help them out beyond a bit of sliding around in the pocket. That he did well in preseason is most definitely a genuine surprise to me. I don’t translate that into real games because he wasn’t exceptional, and his talent certainly did not shine like Russel Wilson, for example. Furthermore, I think of the kind of adjustment Reid would make for Foles, more or less put him in the Kolb system, and I can’t see him being able to execute that offense. I imagine that he will largely look like a less talented Brandon Weeden with a bit better ability to throw from off his spot.

          • A_T_G

            I’m not really interested in arguing Foles merits because, as the words and phrases such as judgement, almost certainly, surprise, and imagine demonstrate, we don’t know.

            I was asking if perhaps the misguided confidence other’s place in an untested rookie might mirror your own misplaced confidence in an aging athletic wonder.

            As you said, “I’m not interested in a failed experiment, especially as there will be obnoxious fans that yell for it to continue after it’s hopeless…”. I think we are nearing the end of one such experiment.

          • Cal Setar

            I don’t think I could have said it better myself.

          • shah8

            I think we’re not talking about experiments. Vick was never an experiment. I don’t think Reid ever genuinely had an intention to start Kolb long term in 2010–just threw him out to the wolves to fail so he could play Vick with a minimum of controversy.

            You can talk and talk and talk about how Vick is controversial, and an experiment, and all sorts of other delegitimization phrases. What won’t change is what is. Vick is a capable starting QB in this league, with peaks and valleys. You can no more call Vick an experiment than you could Rogers–or, say David Garrard.

            Think about it. The same bull was said about Garrard, all the dang time, like how he was never going to get anyone over the hurdle. Just no good. We need young blood! Garrard was never healthy since before the 2011 season–but you can see the slow horror dawning on Jaguars fans’ faces as they contemplate a seriously horrible year this year. After another really bad year last year. Gabbert is better this year, but only slightly so. Henne, is, as you can guess from Miami, predictably awful. And it’s not as if there’s great QBs in the college pipeline or FAs next year. Geno Smith and that’s pretty much it. And he’s not exactly Mr. Awesome.

            Can you not blame me for being seriously defensive? I absolutely *hate* the idea of what follows, even if we are so dang lucky like the Colts (and I’m not a huge Luck fan, worse tools than RG3, not a huge margin on refined QB skills, good though) and only have one horrific year. I pretty much consider Vick haters to be saboteurs. Not because I’m a fan of Vick (I am, I am), but because people like you willfully disregard what usually happens and how miserable that makes everyone. Just Donner Party bullheadedness.

          • A_T_G

            Your 2010 comments are revisionist to a delusional level. Reid never really intended to start Kolb? Really? That may actually be less accurate than when you compare Vick’s tenure to Rodgers’.

            When did talk and talk and talk about Vick being controversial? I think you may be arguing with someone else there.

            To me, what Vick most certainly is, is a symbol of hope and redemption. The character and class he has shown in over moving an upbringing that is often used to rationalize recidivism, the public forum where he did it and the quality of example he provides are inspiring. He deals with a lowlife brother, a segment of the fanbases that refuses to forgive, and the typical Philly media, holds his head high and rarely shows the burden he carries.

            The Eagles version of Vick is absolutely an experiment, however. An experiment to teach an extremely talented athlete the more traditional skills he would need as the athletic skills began to fade.

          • A_T_G

            (commenting issues)

            You can conjure images of Ebola and the Donnor party and failing white QBs, but if the best argument for Vick is that the next guy might be worse, it is hard to put him on par with Rodgers.

            Luckily, Once this is resolved we can continue to disagree on Luck and RGIII.

          • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy

            “His OL wasn’t good, but he really couldn’t help them out beyond a bit of sliding around in the pocket. ”

            I forget, were we talking about Vick or Foles?

  • Mac

    The key to o-line play is Bell. We need D. Bell to teach this technique to all our linemen.

    http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/1471083/rolletrip.gif

    • Ark87

      Loved that play! Freak trip aside, he was looking like the guy we hoped he would be on that play. Mathis would have been the goat of that game if not for shear luck (look a pun!)

    • TommyLawlor

      Genius.

    • A_T_G

      I knew what play it was before I even looked. I figure that is either a commendation to my Eagles knowledge or an indictment of Bell’s play. I wish it was the former.

  • Guest

    Tommy,

    With regards to the tackling, do you also think part of the problem is there is no gang tackling? The one play where NA missed the tackle on the running back, I remember 2 Eagles being around the ball but doing nothing. Do you see that mroe often when watching the tape?

    • aceandson

      Not many cornerbacks will consistently make solo tackles on RBs. It’s not a position that has a lot of “hard hitters”.

      The most you can ask is that the CB slow down at 225 lb back or TE and have LB or S finish it off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.verhoog Matthew Verhoog

    Would we use Avant (sometimes) as the TE in the ACE?

    • Ark87

      A “light” Ace with Avant and Cooper in would be a neat look. There should be a bad match-up in there. Either you have someone too big in the box to be responsible for them so you pass, or you have people too small in the box so you run. I think both of those guys have played enough special teams to be versatile enough to pull it off.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548999324 Matt Hoover

        Avant and Cooper on the outside with Harbor and Celek as the Tes would be a interesting lineup.

        • Ark87

          That variation could be an awesome redzone package.

  • eagles2zc

    In retrospect, was Reid forced to hire Castillo because no respectable DC wanted anything to do with the wide 9? Bowles was dealt a pretty short hand, no offseason to coach players exactly how he wanted and inheriting a dysfunctional system.

    Props to JasonB for quantifying what our eyes has been telling us. Vick is turning out to be just another athletic QB that falls to the wayside after slowing down a step.

    • Ark87

      I’ve never been big on guys that burn you with amazing speed and that’s their game in a nutshell. They tend to have abbreviated careers. Take a step out of D-Jax’s game and he is just a small receiver. D-Jax is going to have to become a master route runner to combine with his good but not elite speed when he ages or his production will drop. It surprises me how many athletic QB’s (pretty much all of them) fall by the wayside as you say. There are so many skills that you can improve to compensate for a drop in athleticism at the QB position.

      • http://www.facebook.com/michael.w.cho Michael Winter Cho

        Just a note based on some other studies that I have heard of (not a very scientific statement there). I had read that unathletic guys who rely on highly-developed skills do not, as one might suppose, age well; but that actually, it is the freaks that can have long careers. The reason given was that the freaks, even with decline, have the required level of athleticism to play in competitive leagues, while the “old-man skills” guys, when they decline, are simply outclassed. YMMV!

        • Ark87

          I think the positions are a big variable in this discussion. IE the QB’s that play for 15-20 years last because it wasn’t crazy athleticism that got them to the league in the first place. MLB’s like Urlacher and Ray Lewis have clearly lost a step but find a way to get it done. Then you have the “freaks” like Champ Baily and Tony Gonzales. In many positions you simply cannot afford to lose a step. Others it seems like you can.

          In general yes, elite athletes can lose a step to age and be good athletes and still compete and stay in the league longer. But the sharp production drop-off is almost guaranteed unless they can pick up the “old man skills” or just happen to be age defying freaks

          • http://www.facebook.com/michael.w.cho Michael Winter Cho

            Position is definitely important in the equation.

        • eagles2zc

          How about the best of both worlds :). Yes I’m talking about a Aaron Rodgers or Big Ben, or even Luck or RG3. Call me spoiled

      • eagles2zc

        I imagine DJax’s career progressing similarly to those of Santa Moss’ or Laveranues Coles’, which is nothing to complain about but not amazing either. DJax is even smaller so he’ll have to step up his game even more as he ages. Speaking of DJax, has there been a single WR screen his way this year? What’s up with that?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548999324 Matt Hoover

      Chuck Cecil was unemployed and worked with Washburn with Tenn, you could argue he would be have been ideal for the job. I doubt he would have turned down the job, since he remained unemployed until Fisher hired him in STL.

      • eagles2zc

        I haven’t had the pleasure(?) of watching a Rams game this season, but their D looks very respectable at first glance from FO stats, which just made me question Reid’s decision to hire Juan even more. I know I’m bring up ancient history, but that decision still boggles my mind to this day and is/will be Reid’s downfall

  • ACViking

    Re: Ace Formation

    T-Law:

    Great point. You’re in excellent company — as maybe the greatest offensive passing mind in football history, Sid Gilman, was a big believer.

    And speaking of two tight ends . . . here’s a “Ray’s Reply” from Ray Didinger’s CSN column on exactly this point. Although from an historical Eagles perspective.

    http://phillyburbs.csnphilly.com/03/25/12/Rays-Replies-Sid-Gillman-and-two-TE-set/landing.html?blockID=676724

  • ACViking

    Re: Jon Gruden

    Please, no.

    Another Bob LaMonte client who insisted, while at Tampa Bay, that he control all personnel decisions.

    Gruden inherited a mature team, took them to a SB title, and then — with full control over football operations — drove the Bucs into the ground with horrible drafting decisions.

    The Bucs are just now recovering.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548999324 Matt Hoover

      He did build the Raiders in a contender and they died as soon as he left

      • ACViking

        Matt -

        Respectfully, the Oakland Raiders were always an Al Davis operation.

        Gruden just called the plays. Davis cast a long shadow.

        • Anders

          I wouldnt mind Gruden IF somebody else is primarily in charge of personal decisions.

    • Anders

      The Bucs also had to get rid of a big part of their team after the SB because of cap problems.

  • ACViking

    Re: Gruden — Big Receivers

    When Rhodes brought JG to Philadelphia, big receivers followed (after jettisoning Barnett and Williams, along with Randall, after ’95). They were Irv Fryar and Chris T. Jones.

    In Tampa, he had Keyshawn Johnson, Kennan McCardell, and Joe Jurevicious (he’s still running).

    And in Oakland, his best season had Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Jerry Porter (though Brown and Rice gobbled up most of the passes).
    ________________

    T-Law:

    If Gruden were to come aboard next year (and I hope not, at least if he has *any* say in personnel), then I could easily see Dwayne Bowe coming to the Eagles. And J-Mac leaving.

    But what about D-Jax? He’s not a Gruden-type WR.
    _________________

    Re: Eagles Free Agents

    I commented a couple days ago that, after seeing how the Eagles 2011 veteran acquisitions have performed, I’d rather not go after Dwayne Bowe.

    In response, it was pointed out that those players did fairly well.

    True . . . but as individuals.

    Team chemistry on the Eagles has become worse and worse the past two seasons — nothing like the 2000-2008 Eagles.

    That’s all I meant in saying I’d like the Eagles to stay away from FA’s — and, for better or worse, stick the in-house development.
    ________________

    Re: The Safeties

    How ’bout that Phillip Thomas . . . back on the Eagles.

    Coleman and Allen have been at best mediocre. Coleman is physical, but undersized and not good in coverage this season (or seems not to be).

    Allen is very athletic, but not physical. And not making plays (or seems not to be).

    Go with PT. Get him out there if the Eagles hit 8 losses.

    • Arby1

      It is ironic that when Reid strayed from his philosophy to build through the draft how badly it backfired on him.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548999324 Matt Hoover

      Would Gruden want Cooper to have a big role in the offense since he is our biggest wr on the roster, and what about McNutt and Cunningham on the PS?

  • tag1555

    Funny how earlier in the year when we were winning, teams were calling us the dirtiest team in the league. Now, we’re considered soft and don’t like to hit. That was a quick turnaround.

    • TommyLawlor

      Brilliant. Didn’t even think of that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/salmonofcapistrano Mike Roman

    Tommy,

    I’ve been of the opinion that given Reid’s legacy there is no way that he gets fired during the season. Then I really got thinking about it…what if we lose a 5th straight game, at HOME, to the COWBOYS? Worse yet, what if we look as inept as we did these last two weeks while losing? Things could get really ugly, really fast. Thoughts?

    • TommyLawlor

      You could “punish” Reid by doing that, but who would take over? You must have a successor ready. I don’t see one on the staff.

      • http://www.facebook.com/salmonofcapistrano Mike Roman

        I thought about the successor part of this scenario, but with mid-season firings is any owner really expecting long lasting results? I was also thinking about a possible firing as a mercy killing. If things go bad this week, why prolong the inevitable? Why parade Andy out in front of the fans and media for another 7 weeks to take questions that he doesn’t have answers for?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548999324 Matt Hoover

          Well Romeo Crennal did well enough to get brought back this season but it doesn’t look like he makes it to next season, the best hope was Todd Bowles really turning this defense into a power house and scoring on the HC interview to replace Reid, doesn’t look like that will happen now.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548999324 Matt Hoover

        Firing Reid and promoting Marty wouldn’t solve anything, Fire Reid and Bring Castillo back as Interim HC..I kid, seriously to me Marty and Reid are 1 and the same, unless you fire both nothing will change. And who on this staff can play call for the offense besides Reid and Marty? Mudd? I don’t think so, David Culley maybe? Certainly not a Duce Staley or Matt Nagy? Ted Williams or Doug Pederson? Doubt Reid goes anywhere till after the season, But firing Marty and promoting David Culley to Oc and have Reid playcall might be possible?

      • bdbd20

        This may sound crazy, but I’d get rid of AR and MM and let Bobby April run the show for the rest of the season. I wouldn’t want Bowles to get a bad reputation coaching a bunch of guys who’ve packed it in. April has been around and doesn’t seem eager to become an OC or DC.