Going on the Offensive

Posted: April 4th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 58 Comments »

We’re all still playing the guessing game when it comes to the Eagles and pick #4.  Sheil Kapadia put up an interesting post today with some thoughts on the subject.  Here is one comment worth discussing:

“2013 will be about getting Kelly’s system in place. The best way to do that is to solidify the offensive line and give the team’s playmakers a legitimate chance to be successful and learn their roles. That’s why I think the Eagles go offensive line.”

Sheil is completely logical here.  Adding an OT early would solidify the O-line and help the overall offense.

What I’m curious about is what Chip’s philosophy is.  Does he feel that a premium OL is needed?  If you go back and look at Oregon recruiting for the last 5 years, you won’t find any 5-star OL.  There were some 4-star recruits, but more 3-star guys.  The 5-star players came at other positions.

This could simply be because Oregon didn’t have many top OL in their recruiting areas or it could mean that Kelly felt his system didn’t require great blockers.  If you are running quick-hitting run and pass plays, you may be better served loading up on top skill talent and just finding some athletic blockers who fit your system.

I’m really curious to see how this draft plays out.

The Eagles have been checking out OTs, TEs, WRs, RBs, and QBs.  The team can’t add all those guys and totally ignore the defense.  They could go with more of an offensive slant than we originally expected.  As Sheil pointed out, if Kelly feels that getting his system in place is the key, adding the right pieces to the offense may be important to him.

I’m also curious to know Kelly’s football philosophy.  If given the choice of a great offense or great defense, which would he choose?  You can’t load up on offense and defense equally.  You have to focus a bit more on one side.  The Eagles offense is more talented right now, but Kelly is an offensive coach and may prefer to focus on that side of the ball.  The Eagles are a lot closer to having a championship offense than a championship defense.

The flip side is that Kelly never had anything close to a championship defense at Oregon.  That cost him in some games.  Will he want to focus on that side of the ball, thinking that he can coach up the offense since that group already has pretty good talent?

I look back at past Eagles teams and focus on the fact that the best ones had outstanding defenses.  That is true over decades, with a variety of players and coaches.  It just seems that the Eagles are at their best with a top shelf defense.  I’d love to see the draft focus on that side of the ball.

I won’t get mad if Kelly loads up on offense.  If he feels that building that side of the ball into an elite unit is the way to go, I’ll trust him.  All I ask is that all the players become Pro Bowlers and the offense average 45 points a game.  That’s reasonable, right?

* * * * *

Jeff McLane has been hesitant to buy into the notion of Nick Foles as the Eagles starter in 2013.  Today he posted a piece that asked if Foles could in fact be the Eagles starter.  McLane didn’t offer any new info, but you wonder if he’s hearing anything behind the scenes that has caused him to open his mind.

It is hard to watch Oregon games and picture Foles running that offense, but the Eagles reluctance to deal Foles makes you think they like him more than many on the outside think.  McLane has also written recently that he doesn’t expect the Eagles to draft Geno Smith.  You wonder how much stuff like that is influencing his thinking.

* * * * *

McLane also had an article up on Jason Peters.  The 2 most interesting nuggets are the fact that Peters felt healthy enough that he could have played late last season if needed and that he’s hoping to be in the 320-pound range this year.  Peters didn’t get on the field since the Eagles were terrible and there was no point to coming back.  I’m sure Nick Foles would have liked to have Peters on the field.  The goal in getting down to 320 is to be ready for Kelly and his up-tempo offense.

* * * * *

Star Lotulelei update.  Reuben Frank reports that Star will be at the NovaCare in the next few days.   I’m betting this is legit interest and not a smokescreen.

Gil Brandt reported that Star is not going back to Indy for a Combine medical re-check.  This is big news.  The NFL brings back any player that they have questions about.  If Star isn’t going back, that tells you that NFL teams don’t have any further concerns with his heart or they are okay with the condition and think it can be managed.

* * * * *

The Falcons released RT Tyson Clabo today.  It will be interesting to see if the Eagles have any interest.  He’s 6-6, 329.  The bad news is that he’ll turn 32 in October and isn’t a long term fix.  The good news is that he’s started 80 consecutive games and is a quality run blocker.

We’ll just have to wait and see if he’s on the Eagles radar.  GM Howie Roseman made it sound like going after guys Clabo’s age wasn’t in the plans.

* * * * *

Just wanted to say thank you for all the kind words and supportive thoughts in the last post.  That really meant a lot to me.  You guys are the best.

_


  • http://www.facebook.com/jakwaggoner Jack Waggoner

    The thing that bothers me about Star is that he’s a little older, which may be deceiving in terms of estimating his upside.

    • Iskar36

      He turns 24 during the season. That’s not all that much older than most prospects.

      • ohitsdom

        Shariff Floyd is still 20, so that’s a pretty big gap. Still, I don’t think you should shy away from drafting a 24 year old. Rookie contracts are for 4 years, so even at 28 Star should just be hitting his prime.

        • D3FB

          The argument against looking at age when drafting is Amobi Okoye. He was only 19 and people were saying that if he would only be 24 when he came off his first contract, and he would just be finishing his development. Has been a marginal player

        • Iskar36

          There’s no question that there are younger prospects, but I guess I just don’t see 24 as particularly “old” for a prospect. It is when they are guys like Watkins or Weeden who were 26 and 28, respectively, that age puts up a red flag for me. At 24, I just don’t see it as a significant factor and would rather compare their abilities on the field.

          • Arby1

            I think if the Eagles have them ranked equally in terms of ability, potential, and fit, then the age difference would come into play as a determining factor among others.

          • Iskar36

            I’d have no argument with that at all, but I think you make a differentiation between the two based on ability, potential and fit. One of those two guys is likely the better player, so I guess I don’t think your assumed situation is likely to come into play.

  • Anders

    Tommy regarding the OL. Kelly did say in the great PDF we have all read, that the OL was very important to his offense because it all starts there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jakwaggoner Jack Waggoner

      Everyone says that, but some “live” it a lot more than others.

      • http://www.facebook.com/malcolmandjacinta.jones Malcolm N Jacinta

        Cought cough Chicagolisten cough cough

    • TommyLawlor

      Great point, but possibly flawed. He might believe in a strong OL, but he might prefer developing players rather than spending premium picks on top shelf talent. That’s sort of the question.

      • poetx99

        ie the denver (alex gibbs) approach. if your SYSTEM allows non-blue chippers to thrive and excel, you can basically discount the position and spend more draft capital elsewhere.

        now gibbs was guilty of hubris in this, by going to the extreme of only taking OL in the 6th and 7th rounds (to keep up the ‘genius’ label).

        all of that said, i’d be good with Fisher in the first, and anyone else being late rounds, assuming we are ok with depth from what we have now and FA.

        i think chip’s offensive philosophy is as impactful as gibbs’, maybe more, because his play design almost guarantees one on one matchups all across the line. it spreads the line horizontally (also a feature of the zone/one-cut system) and makes a position blocker almost as valuable as a drive blocker/road grader.

        what i like better about chip, though, is that he DOES value moving people off the ball and can run power when needed. philly, via shady, and, before him, westbrook, had an explosive run game that could never be counted on to convert short yardage. that was also true in atlanta (mora/knapp/gibbs) where the falcons had a run of leading the league in rushing, but not being able to convert short yardage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jakwaggoner Jack Waggoner

    What do we really know about Chip so far, as far as what he is going to do? Not a whole lot.

    *Prefers bigger, taller players for most positions, with some notable exceptions
    *Wants to run things up tempo, and likes multi-dimensional players to help make that possible
    *Does not use a traditional fullback, likes tight ends
    *Appears to be staffing the defense to run a one gap system, at least so far
    *Says as little about what he is going to do as Andy, only no one minds because he is better at distracting the press

  • bubqr

    I’m still putting my money on Ansah at #4, for no real reason other than “intuition”. I have the feeling that they could go defense on the top pick, then load up on skill players Chip could see working in his system after that (TE/WR/QB/RB). In terms of rock solid analysis/prediction, I can’t do more crappy than that but hey.

    I can’t see out of previous comment threads what is the consensus pick from the community here, if there is one?

    Fletcher Cox/Kuechly were clearly favourites last year, I kinda recall Jimmy Smith before that, for sure Earl Thomas the year before…

    • ICDogg

      It does seem that Fisher is the most frequently mocked player to the Eagles. Jordan seems to be the guy more Eagles fans are rooting to be the pick than any other. There’s no consensus, though. I personally see at least half a dozen guys I would be content drafting in the 4 spot.

    • TommyLawlor

      This is an odd year. To me, there is no clear cut favorite.

      • poetx99

        it really is. kinda cool, though. i think there are a half dozen picks for whom the boards would not go apes*t if the eagles took them.

        chip is getting pretty good benefit of the doubt from the fanbase, too, it seems.

        • Ark87

          It can go both ways. Fisher, Joekel, Warmack, Jordan, Ansah, Geno Smith, Millner, Warmack and more, all viable picks. Most people have a preference for one or would have a strong negative reaction to many of those names.

          Point is, there is no crowd pleaser in the list. There are so many options, chances are most Eagles fans won’t get their dream pick. Anytime that happens there will be potential ape sh!t.

          Us civilized folk here on igglesblitz will live with the merits of whoever we pick, of course :-D

    • knighn

      How funny would that be? Andy Reid is gone and the Eagles take a BYU player in the first round?

  • xlGmanlx

    Personally I would love him to spot the next game changer at the new prototype of player on Defense in this years draft. I believe he has the potential, because I don’t think his eye for talent gets enough credit.

  • Iskar36

    It seems like we are visiting with a few guys multiple times. I think we have done this some in the past, but I don’t remember it being a very common thing. Is there anything to read into that? Or am I simply not remembering them doing this in previous years? What is gained from multiple visits?

    • TommyLawlor

      We’ve done this with plenty of guys in the past. That said, seems like this year it is really happening a lot. Part of that may be the fact we have the #4 pick and we know who will be on the board. When you’re at 15 or 20 or 25, that’s a whole other situation.

  • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

    What I’m curious about is what Chip’s philosophy is. Does he feel that a premium OL is needed? If you go back and look at Oregon recruiting for the last 5 years, you won’t find any 5-star OL. There were some 4-star recruits, but more 3-star guys. The 5-star players came at other positions.

    It could also be because the type of linemen Kelly wanted weren’t necessarily highly rated by the college recruiting process, but by the time their amateur careers are over those players are more coveted by the NFL. And it’s also the nature of the overwhelming physical changes that happen with men that size between the age of 18-22.

    Eric Fisher was a two star recruit. Chance Warmack and Jon Cooper were three stars. Lane Johnson was a QB. Kyle Long was a pitcher.

    A lot changes.

    • TommyLawlor

      Clearly a lot change in college. Still, it just feels odd that Chip had no 5-star OL. That seems almost by design rather than the way things worked out.

      Will that design carry over to the NFL or will it change? We can all come up with a theory and guess, but the bottom line is that we don’t know. I don’t care which way Chip goes. I’m just interested to learn how he thinks at the NFL level.

      • Steag209

        Could it also be that the 5 star big guys just didn’t want to have to get into the shape required for Chip’s offense? Maybe Chip tried to get some but they felt they could do less work at another school and get the same or even more playing time?

      • http://twitter.com/MFlicker Mike Flick

        What about our o-line coach? We assumed everything was Castillo or Mudd, not Reid. What kind of o-line did Reid like? It was based off the o-line coach.

        Now with a new guy, look at the o-line coach. Alabama had top o-line across the board. I think it is safe to assume that he wants top guys again. He might have a bigger influence than just taking Chips scraps.

        • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

          Another thing I was going to mention. Stoutland is used to coaching premier talent. And Oregon’s O-lines were well-regarded, even if they weren’t hot-commodity recruits.

    • holeplug

      Oregon still can’t recruit whoever they want b/c their state is so bad for high school prospects and Oregon is in the middle of no where. EJ Manuel wanted to go there b/c of Chip but didn’t want to live that far from home for example. They do really well b/c of Phil Knights $$ but I think its mostly Chip just made due with who he could get.

  • T_S_O_P

    The attention he payed to ST so far makes me think he is isn’t going to give equal attention to all facets. It is harder to know what will happen at OL because the coach is new too, but am i right in thinking that most zone blocking teams get by with lesser talent?

    I think above all else, he will look for athletic types. I’m hoping for Ziggy (or) Star(dust).

    • TommyLawlor

      Zone teams need athletic guys. They can get by without elite players.

    • poetx99

      good point. i mentioned something, up-thread, about zone blocking teams. it’s not so much lesser talent as ‘lesser VALUED’ talent. someone like kelce turned out to be a gem (6th round, right?), but, on paper, he wasn’t valued as much as say, the pounceys, who had late 1st round grades.

      basically, your scheme allows you to get by or even thrive with players who don’t have across the board elite measurables. sort of like running Tampa 2 allows you spend less at the CB position because you don’t need ‘shut down’ type guys. they are always playing with help. they need to be solid tacklers, and be able to keep folks in front of them and play with the boundaries and with help.

  • T_S_O_P

    The attention he payed to ST so far makes me think he is isn’t going to give equal attention to all facets. It is harder to know what will happen at OL because the coach is new too, but am i right in thinking that most zone blocking teams get by with lesser talent?

    I think above all else, he will look for athletic types. I’m hoping for Ziggy (or) Star(dust).

  • T_S_O_P

    As an add on, you mentioned Jimmy Johnson’s approach when he went to Dallas. I am still intrigued to see if we use that approach too, whether it be for defence or offense

    • TommyLawlor

      One big difference with Jimmy and Chip…Jimmy ran the whole show in Dallas. Chip is working with Howie.

      • xlGmanlx

        Or the same thing until Jerry Jones’ ego got in the way. Johnson was the eye for talent, Jones the execution. Hopefully Kelly is the eye for talent and Roseman is the execution.

  • Iskar36

    Tommy, since Star has been basically cleared medically, could you compare him and Sharrif Floyd? Early on in the draft process, most places I looked had Star clearly the number one DT prospect. Floyd seemed to surpass him after the combine, but it is hard to tell whether that is purely based on the medical issues or if scouts on all these websites were just catching up with their reviews of these players and ultimately Floyd would have been considered the better prospect regardless. Anyway, how do they compare? What advantages does Star have over Floyd and vice versa? Seems they would play slightly different positions, but both seem very versatile and could potentially play anywhere on the DLine.

    • T_S_O_P

      This was David Syversten’s take –

      2: Three horse race for the top defensive tackle

      I still think we will see three DTs taken before the top three OTs but the order in which they are taken is still up in the air. Star Lotulelei remains the number one guy on my board. His heart issue puts an asterisk next to his name but it appears to be not as serious as we initially were led to believe. If his extended physical checks out, he is the power force teams will want in the trenches. Sharif Floyd and Sheldon Richardson are both very good players that have the quickness to disrupt opposing backfields. They have freakish agility. But my question with both of them is do they have the length/power combination to anchor against power blockers in run defense? They may hurt the defense as much as they help with their aggressive style of play. Both of them may be more scheme and/or role specific than initially thought. That doesn’t spell top tier prospect in my eyes.

      • ICDogg

        I don’t really know what to make of Star’s heart issue but the way they’re making it sound is that it was some acute problem, perhaps a virus or infection, that created a temporary issue for him. If this is the case, it is great news for him.

      • deg0ey

        I still think that, when it’s all said and done, Hankins ends up being the best DT in this class. Call it a hunch if you will, but I’d happily take him at #4 except for the fact he should still be available later.

    • ICDogg

      Star is the rarest talent because of his combination of size and explosiveness.

    • xlGmanlx

      If I remember, before the combine, he was rated as the highest DL coming into the draft, and some were saying he is better than Cox when he got drafted last year.

  • Quelledeyez410

    I am sorry for your loss. You are an invaluable resource for Eagles fans. I am wishing you peace and healing in your timte of bereavement . God bless.

    • TommyLawlor

      Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.n.richwine Daniel Norman Richwine

    I’m so sorry about your dad, Tommy. prayers for your family.

    • TommyLawlor

      Appreciate that.

  • Eric Weaver

    I’ve been a little behind in my reading, but my biggest condolences to you and your family, Tommy.

    • TommyLawlor

      Thanks.

  • ceteris_paribus1776

    I’d caution against reasoning that because Kelly didn’t recruit 5-star OL in college he may approach the NFL the same way. Only in rare cases, which involve either HOF caliber QB or coaches can you get away with less that stellar Oline play. If Kelly has enough hubris the think his system can bypass Oline development we have bigger issues. “Systems” gain yards, players score points. Is why Andy Reid teams routinely struggled in the redzone unless the ball was in the hands of either Westy or McCoy.

    • shah8

      OL is what sets the premium programs in college football from the rest. Georgia Tech really needs crazy good athletes on the OL, but they can’t really get them, no matter that Coach Johnson definitely goes after OL talent. Chip Kelly probably faced the same issues at Oregon.

  • new coach

    I think OL will be a focus. It has to be. Relying upon a line that was bad last year, had 2 key injuries, and a key player (Herremans) who will be 31, would be a mistake.

    Saw Kiper has us taking Geno Smith, saying he is perfect for a Chip Kelly offense. weird.

  • T_S_O_P

    Tommy, which coach tree(s) does Chip Kelly have ties to?

    • xlGmanlx

      He is his own tree

      • T_S_O_P

        Are you saying he is a Chip off nobodies block?

        • xlGmanlx

          Well played, but to be serious for a second, I think he might end up being a trend setter in the NFL. Yes he learned from others, but I think he has an angle nobody else in the NFL does.

          Until he is successful it doesn’t matter, but I think when it is all said and done, coaches will be described as coming from a Kelly tree, and it meaning something positive.

  • Fred

    I’m sorry for your loss Tommy, I’ve only just read your post from the other day and my heart goes out to you and your family.

  • ACViking

    Re: Kelly & The Coaching Tree

    T_S_O_P asked a question I’d been wondering, too . . . “which coaching tree(s) does Chip Kelly have ties to?”

    The answer is, in the traditional sense, one RIP ENGLE — the great Penn State coach whom Joe Pa succeeded in ’66.

    When Kelly played college football at New Hampshire, his head coach was a guy named Bill Bowes. Bowes played at Penn State from ’62-’64. As UNH’s head coach, Bowes — like Joe Pa — ran his offense using the I-formation.

    Kelly coached under Bowes for at total of 6 seasons as RB and OL coach.

    In 1999, Bowes retired. UNH’s new head coach was a UNH grad named Sean McDonnell.

    McDonnell turned the offense over to Chip Kelly, making him the OC that year.

    Kelly picked up where Bowes left off . . . using the I-formation.

    But, as we’ve all learned, Kelly began to tinker with the offense. And eventually he added the “Pistol Formation,” picked up from the great U-NV coach Chris Ault, to the UNH playbook.

    By the time he went to Oregon as OC under HC Mike Bellotti, Kelly’d already developed the foundation for his offense.

    [Kelly’s brief time as an ass’t coach at Columbia-U was under HC Ray Tellier, who had no particular connections to anyone in the NFL or big-time college football. Tellier, a great HS running back, played at Connecticut in the early ’70s.]

    Bottom line . . . Kelly’s coaching tree-connection is most directly to Rip Engle and the I-Formation running game.

    That said, it seems like Kelly’s borrowed from everyone from Knute Rockne to Mouse “Chuck and Duck” Davis.

    Kelly’s very much the Renaissance Head Coach.

    But I think deep down, that I-Formation is still the foundation of his offense — revamped to be sure. But at the keystone in the corner to his playbook.

    • T_S_O_P

      Thanks. Does that Renaissance stuff have any ties to Joe Gibbs? We have a zone blocking scheme and incorporating the use of a H-B or F-B which came from Allen and then onto Gibbs.

  • JB in P-Town

    I would love our focus to be on becoming an elite defense again. Hold a team to 20 points or less and I feel our offense will win 80+ percent of the games. I live in Portland now and have watched Chip put on a Pac-12 clinic for a few years. Man could the Ducks score under Kelly.

    I feel like last year’s draft added some good pieces but with the scheme change I am skeptical about how our second round selections fit into this new D (Kendricks & Curry – mostly Curry)? Cox is going to be great for many years no matter the scheme. I loved that pick. Boykin is going to get better and be a solid slot guy. I would be ecstatic for us to pick up a safety in the 2-4th rounds and another disruptive force on the DL (Star, Floyd or Richardson) in rounds 1-2.

    If one of the two premium OTs are on the board at 4, and nobody is wanting to trade, I just can’t see passing up on a franchise player like that. Especially since we will be picking in slots 28-32 from now on…not many elite tackles at the end of the first round historically and our tackles are getting old.