The Assistants Speak

Posted: May 24th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 88 Comments »

The media was able to meet wit the assistant coaches yesterday and we got some quality information out of it.  The Philly writers were on their A-game and delivered some very good pieces.

Paul Domowitch talked to Bill Davis and wrote about the defense. The most interesting nugget was in reference to last year and the Safeties.

“Anytime you ask the secondary to be primary B- or A-gap run-defenders, you’re just asking for trouble on play-action and deep balls,” he said. “I hate to talk about last year since I wasn’t here. But just all the transition and all the different [mis]communications that happened . . . I don’t know how you fight through that and play good, I really don’t.”

Kurt Coleman is probably on the couch at his therapist’s office shouting “I TOLD YOU SO!!!”

These comments mesh well with what we heard from Nate Allen the other day, in reference to the Safeties now being able to focus on pass plays first and run plays second. This doesn’t mean that DBs won’t play the run. It simply means that their initial focus on a play will be the pass. Once they read run, they attack upfield and get involved.

Davis refused to commit to 4-3 or 3-4, but did explain things well. Check out Domo’s article for more on that angle.

I was also interested to see that Davis had taken time to study some of what Jim Johnson did on defense.  These comments were covered by Sheil Kapadia in his article on meeting with Davis. It sounds like Davis was impressed with JJ.

“Now he had some great dynamic pressures, and I’ve studied a lot of them,” Davis said today at the NovaCare Complex. “They were out-of-the-box thinking. But when you really break him down, it was more guys up in the A-gaps with the illusion of pressure than actual [sending] more than four rushers.

“There were times that he brought more. …But he did a great job of keeping offenses off-balance through both pressure, illusion of pressure and non-pressure. And you need all elements to attack an offense because there’s some times you pressure some of the stuff Coach [Kelly] does, you’re going to get eaten alive.”

This is absolutely true. JJ is known as a crazy blitzer, but that’s not the case. He was a careful blitzer. Until you got inside the Eagles 40-yard line, most pressure was going to be done in a relatively safe manner. Once inside the 40, there was no fear of giving up a big play so JJ would turn his dogs loose. There were exceptions. JJ knew when to sell out and take his chances (usually against Mike Martz and the Rams). JJ is the first coach I ever saw blitz both starting CBs on the same play. He did that in the 2001 season opener.

I don’t know if Bill Davis can be a good Defensive Coordinator, but I do like listening to him talk about defense. He does a good job of selling his ideas. He’s already infinitely better than Juan Castillo in that regard.

* * * * *

Rich Hoffman wrote about Ted Williams and the TEs.  Williams coached the Eagles TEs in 1995 and 1996. He then shifted over to RBs and stayed there until Chip Kelly got hired and shifted him back to TEs.  Williams has worked now under 3 head coaches and has seen a lot of changes in the game of football. This is especially true of the TE position. Things are very different today.

“The difference is, you actually expect the tight end to go out and win a route today,” Williams said. “Back then, you expected them to get open. But now, you’re advanced because they’re so much better athletes. They’re not just blockers. They’re pass receivers. They’re route runners. Everybody on the field is a viable target. You have to be good at it.”

One of the key selling points for me with Zach Ertz is that he is a terrific route runner. He doesn’t just get open by being bigger than the DB or LB. Ertz is able to get open by running crisp routes and using fakes and cuts to create the one-step of separation that is all QBs need in the NFL. That isn’t a huge deal for a TE who is in-line, but it can make a world of difference in the slot or out wide. Ertz will be moved around and his skills give him a chance to thrive in that role.

I am glad the Eagles kept Williams around. How many other coaches could bring up Ed West or Jason Dunn in an interview?

* * * * *

Tim McManus wrote about the QBs after talking to QBs coach Bill Lazor and OC Pat Shurmur.  The most interesting comment from Lazor was in regard to what qualities the staff most wanted in a QB.

“Accuracy and decision-making.”

I’ll let you guys debate who that helps/hurts. I do think that is the right answer. has a video of Dave Spadaro interviewing Bill Lazor. This had some interesting nuggets.  Apparently Matt Barkley is the first or one of the first players to get to the NovaCare building every morning. That’s impressive. He could come in here all cocky since he’s the stud QB from USC or all bitter since he slid in the draft. Instead, Barkley is hungry and focused.

Lazor told Dave that the coaches are evaluating the QBs on everything and then he gave examples. He even made mention of how they walk down the hallways. At first I thought he was making a joke, but then I realized there was a hint of truth.  This may some completely crazy to some people, but I completely get where Lazor is coming from.

QB is a position unlike any other on a football team. He is the leader of the offense, of the team, and of the organization. Everything a QB says or does is important. Tony Romo is a goofy, funny guy that likes to joke around. Bill Parcells told him that a clown can’t run a huddle. “Have fun – but don’t be the class clown.”  I remember seeing Mark Sanchez goofing off on Hard Knocks a couple of years ago and wondering what he was thinking. The QB can’t project a silly image.

Think about Barkley’s comments in regard to Foles and Vick. He’s thinks of them as teammates. They are competition for the QB job. A QB must be confident. He must look like he belongs, whether that is in the building or in the huddle. You don’t have to be stoic or super-serious, but you need to have the right presence about you. If you don’t, teammates just won’t buy you as their QB.

Lazor said good things about Foles and Vick, as well as Barkley. All 3 have a legit shot to win the job. One comment about Foles may raise some eyebrows. Lazor referred to Nick as being mobile. I think he was talking about moving within the pocket as opposed to being a good runner in space.

* * * * *

Want to know which 3 UDFAs got the most bonus money from the Eagles? I wrote about it here.


88 Comments on “The Assistants Speak”

  1. 1 sprawl said at 2:00 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    The comment about Foles’ mobility brings to mind that recent article looking at QB responsibility for their own sacks. Foles was among the best rated when it came to what he did with the ball on plays greater than 4 seconds and I imagine mobility in the pocket (or what was left of it) had a lot to do with that.

  2. 2 Anders said at 2:08 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Calling what Foles had last year a pocket is very generous to the ghost of Bell and Dunlap

  3. 3 GEagle said at 7:03 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Tom Brady would have been physically assaulting teammates and coaches if he was working out of a similar “ghost Pocket”

  4. 4 xlGmanlx said at 2:09 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    RE: QB’s – Of course you judge everything. It is leadership 101. If you have ever been in a position like that, you know everything you do is scrutinized, but you wouldn’t want it any other way. Lead from the front and set the example.

  5. 5 RC5000 said at 2:14 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    lol…hopefully they aren’t wasting time watching the QBs butt walking down a hallway.

  6. 6 TommyLawlor said at 3:34 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    You watch the way the guy carries himself. You watch how he interacts with others. Does he project the image of a QB?

    I grew up in a military town. You could tell who the leaders were by their presence. It might be the way they walked, talked, or chewed gum, but there was something about them. I always thought Robert Duvall did a great job of capturing this in Apocalypse Now. Forget the surfing and antics. Just watch his physical mannerisms.

  7. 7 xlGmanlx said at 4:05 PM on May 24th, 2013:


  8. 8 RC5000 said at 4:55 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    It was a joke and that was part of the point. You could tell pretty much just in a few seconds.

  9. 9 TommyLawlor said at 5:22 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Most of your answers are smart & well written so I should have picked up on that. Sorry for the confusion.

  10. 10 RC5000 said at 6:22 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Interesting you grew up in a military town. I’ve been around a good amount of military men my entire life but it didn’t dominate my life or anything. Neither of my brothers or I went into the military.
    My Dad was a Navy bomber pilot/officer in WWII in the Pacific. I also worked for a former Marine Corporal.

  11. 11 austinfan said at 6:00 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    And in the Great Santini.

  12. 12 TommyLawlor said at 6:44 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    So true.

  13. 13 GEagle said at 7:05 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Just look at the mess Cam Newtons Demeanor caused this year…Even if it wasnt a real issue, just the fact that it was talked about so much was an uneccessary distraction

  14. 14 Michael Winter Cho said at 12:31 AM on May 25th, 2013:

    I’m not on board with this one. Picking people because of how they look can cause a lot of bad decisions. Take for example, George Custer, whose main good quality seemed to be that he looked like a general: “He paid attention to his image; after being promoted to brigadier general in the Civil War, Custer sported a uniform that included shiny cavalry boots, tight olive-colored corduroy trousers, a wide-brimmed slouch hat, tight hussar jacket of black velveteen with silver piping on the sleeves, a sailor shirt with silver stars on his collar, and a red cravat. He wore his hair in long ringlets liberally sprinkled with cinnamon-scented hair oil. Later, in his campaigns against the Indians, Custer wore a buckskins outfit, along with his familiar red tie.”

  15. 15 micksick said at 2:22 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Thank god for no more Juan-damentals (fundamentals) when asked about what the defense will be about.

  16. 16 Dominik said at 2:24 PM on May 24th, 2013:


    Nice to have (apparently) two good Punters. But on the other hand, tough to let one of them go but still have Henery as Kicker. He’s not a bad kicker, don’t get me wrong, but at least he’s not a special one. He’s pretty accurate, but 51 yards as career long just isn’t ideal.

  17. 17 TommyLawlor said at 2:56 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I think you are vastly underselling Henery. David Akers missed 21 FGs over the last 2 years. Henery missed 7 in that time frame.

    Akers kicked a lot more 50 yarders (9-15). Henery was just 1 of 3. Akers started his career off 1 of 3 from 50 or more.

    Reid never let Akers attempt more 5 50-yd’ers in a season. And that didn’t happen until Akers was a 10-yr vet. Andy believed in punting and letting the D go to work or going for it. He didn’t believe in long FGs.

    Jim Harbaugh did like long FGs in SF so Akers numbers went up big time. Reid didn’t let Henery kick long FGs either. That doesn’t mean he can’t do it. Remember that he nailed a long FG vs Tampa last year, only to have it wiped by penalty. He moved back 5 more yards and still had the leg, but the kick missed that time.

  18. 18 Iskar36 said at 3:04 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Edit: I commented to this post but for some reason it didn’t show up, so hopefully later today, two very similar responses don’t pop up.

    I think you need to look at the 51 yard career long in context though. From 40-49 yards out, Alex Henery has a spectacular FG percentage. He has connected on 15 out of 16 attempts (4-4 his rookie year and 11-12 his 2nd year). From 50+ yards, he has only attempted 3 FGs. He made the 51-yard career long FG. One of his misses was against the Falcons in Week 2 of his rookie season. That FG was a 63-yard attempt that was attempted with 2 seconds left in the first half (basically a cheap attempt to get points at the end of half). His other miss from 50+ came last season when he actually hit a 53-yard attempt (that would have extended his league leading consecutive streak and franchise record at the time of 22), but it was nullified because of an illegal motion. On the rekick of 58 yards, he had the leg, but missed by hitting the upright.

    So the issue is more that he has had few opportunities rather than he can’t make those kicks. The fact that he has such a high FG percentage though is very valuable, especially considering that he is very reliable from 40-49 yards.

  19. 19 RC5000 said at 3:15 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I think Henery had a pretty great year and he has excellent form and mechanics and he’s got a pretty solid chance to be our kicker for 10 years +. That would be special. I’m not a huge fan of kicking over 51-52 yards anyway unless the situation demands it like a 57 yarder to end the half or game and I don’t want to base my kicker on that. And it could get better.
    He also was successful in the winds at the Linc which I think is an important factor also. Not sure the sample size is quite big enough but I go to the games and so far I’m satisfied.

  20. 20 GEagle said at 7:08 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    In fairness to Henery..Andy Reid never really removed the shackles from him…He didnt get to attempt too many FG of over 50 yards from what I remember. It always stuck out to me how conservative Andy was with him..what that means, I have no idea. Cant remember what kind of Range he had in college

  21. 21 RC5000 said at 9:39 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Great accuracy to about 49 in college.

  22. 22 GEagle said at 6:56 AM on May 25th, 2013:

    Thanks RC

  23. 23 Iskar36 said at 2:24 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    One other piece of information that Davis provided that I haven’t seen talked about much was that the OLBs were LOLB and ROLB rather than SAM and Predator.

    Jeff McLane

    Davis confirmed what OLBs have been telling us, that he is teaching them as left and right OLBs, not strong (with TE) and weak-side.

    I think this is a minor, but important distinction. First off, it could partially explain Graham being on the left side (going against the RT, what we have been referring to as SAM). My understanding is that Graham has played on the left side basically his whole career (even since college), so at least initially, they wanted to keep him on the left side. The other important distinction here is that when the TE lines up on the left side of the formation, that turns Cole, the ROLB into the SAM. That may increase his coverage responsibilities on plays were the TE is lined up on the left side.

  24. 24 TommyLawlor said at 2:59 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    TEs tend to line up on the right side so the LOLB is often called the SAM. Not that many teams flop sides due to alignment.

    You are right about ROLB and LOLB for now, but trust me that Graham is going to be dealing with the TE much more than Cole.

  25. 25 Iskar36 said at 3:10 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    You’re right and I meant to add that fact (that the TE is more often on the right side than the left), so it isn’t that the left and right sides are the same position just different sides. Still, if the positions were SAM and Predator specifically, when the TE started on the left side, I would have thought that Graham would have followed to that side in the initial alignment. Certainly, Graham will be in coverage more often than Cole, but I guess the way I interpreted this, it meant that Graham’s coverage responsibilities would decrease slightly from what we believed he would be doing as SAM and Cole’s coverage responsibilities would increase slightly from what we believed he would be doing as Predator.

  26. 26 TommyLawlor said at 3:35 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    SAM and Predator were Davis In Arizona. We still don’t know for sure if they’ll be the positions here in Philly. And we can’t make too much of the defense until we see it in action.

  27. 27 GEagle said at 7:22 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    If Barwin ends up as the only one out of the 3 that is even capable of occasionally running with a TE, then I dont see any choice but to go with a predator and a SAM who switch sides depending on what side the TE lines up…

    My interpretation of the defense in OTA’s, is that they arent even close to knowing what positions guys can play..Davis reminded us that they are still in “Fact finding Mode”..and said “we are still finding out what guys are good at, and what they arent good at, and then ask them to do the things they are good at the majority of the time”…I think for OTA’s sake, going with a Right and Left side is just an easier way to evaluate what players can do….We are seeing Dlineman take reps all over the line..and they are using Right/Left with the safeties as well. Kelly said his goal was two interchangable safeties(after drafting Wolf), but said he doesnt know yet if he has the personel to do right/left instead of strong free…

    My guess is that Graham/Cole wont be able to cover TE’s, so we will have no choice but to use a Predator more often than not, who is never asked to drop back in coverage(Graham will have a breakthrough year at it, Cole backs him up)…I think many of us expect to play alot of 4man line on 3rd down(so Cole/Graham can be more comfortable on the money down)…Because of our 2013 personel, I think Barwin is going to be forced to log Heavy minutes as a SAM, not a Right/left Olb

  28. 28 Neil said at 8:42 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    The OLB playing over a TE will fairly seldom have the responsibility of covering that TE man to man. A pass rusher versus a large and mobile pass catcher is a mismatch for all of them except possibly Dion Jordan. With our personnel, the OLB’s main responsibilities besides rushing the passer will be things like bumping the TE then passing him off or backpedaling into short zones.

  29. 29 Flyin said at 8:53 PM on May 24th, 2013:


    What is your background. Coach/and/or player?

  30. 30 Neil said at 9:35 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Nah, I just watch game footage and read the ideas of a bunch of people who are smarter than me.

  31. 31 GEagle said at 9:21 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I agree..It wont be asked of our OLB’s often, but a defense will operate better if a LB can establish early on that he is a credible option to drop with the TE..Just to keep the TE off base..In todays NFL TE’s will almost always have mismatches against Saeties and LB’s..If you dont keep the TE off balance, and he knows exactly who he will be up against on each play, he becomes even tougher to stop..
    My Hypothesis:
    Aliotta’s 4-3Under, plus Billy Davis 4-3U, plus our personel and the type of Lineman we drafted leads me to believe we are going to be primarily a 4-3U in the base defense. When they talk 3-4, I believe they are refrencing a more TExans style single gap 3-4..In the case of the 4-3U, SAM would drop 30% of the time(which Im sure you know), and if thats the case I have a hard time believing Cole or Graham can handle that role better than Barwin. I dont expect Cole and Graham to do much dropping, outside of taking the flat on a zone blitz from time to time.

    I have a feeling Cole is playing limited snaps on 1st and 2nd down, and that he will rotate in as a pass rusher on 3rd down….

  32. 32 Telmert said at 8:11 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    It may increase Cole’s coverage responsibilties, but the offense can only send out 5 receivers. The Eagles can also use an ILB for the TE, or a safety, or can drop into zone. Davis may go in those directions if they think Cole will have trouble.

  33. 33 EaglesHero87 said at 1:23 AM on May 25th, 2013:

    Thanks for sharing that piece of information. This is where it gets interesting, as this reiterates the point I made in yesterday’s post. When team motions their TE to the left side, Cole is then given the responsibility of possibly covering the TE. If this becomes a weakness for Cole, can both Cole and Barwin swap sides in the pre-snap?

  34. 34 GEagle said at 11:08 AM on May 25th, 2013:

    In Theory, YES…There are some 4-3Under teams, that depending on which side is the strong side and which side is the weak side, dictates which side the predator and SAM line up on(they switch sides depending on the TE)…There are also teams that dont switch sides, and go with right and left….Now this is just my guess, but I think Chip would like to not have to switch sides and go with a Right and a left, but I dont think it will be possible with our personel this year and that we will end up seeing Barwin always lining up on the strong side…Justa guess, could easily be wrong

  35. 35 austinfan said at 2:59 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I think whether they run a 3-4 one gap or 4-3 under is basically irrelevant.
    The fact that they haven’t gone out and gotten a true 3-4 two gap NT suggests we won’t see that very often.
    And the base defense won’t be on the field more than 40% of snaps or so.

    Some thoughts:

    Davis didn’t have his OLBs drop in coverage that often in Arizona, and pass rushing WOLBs drop less than 10% for many 3-4 teams. So it’s more a matter of passable pass coverage skills, especially zone drops, than being able to match up with a TE man to man down field. With the DBs playing pass first, it’ll make it hard to get someone open down field if they can bring pressure with the front five.

    Which is probably why tackling and breaking on the ball, not speed or even great hips, is the key for the DBs, if most plays are in front of you, making open field tackles becomes the key to shutting down the passing game, and seeing and breaking on the ball a key to pass defense. In this case, you may see man press underneath a cover 2 shell a lot.

    Stopping the run is easier if you line up 3 DL who are bigger than 300 lbs (Thornton 309, Geathers 324, Sopoaga 320, Logan 309, Cox 298) on run downs and even intermediate downs. It’s not just getting penetration, it’s being able to fight off blocks when you don’t get penetration and protecting the ILBs.

  36. 36 TommyLawlor said at 3:00 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Sopoaga isn’t a true 3-4 NT?

  37. 37 austinfan said at 3:10 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    He played the “5” more than NT for SF.
    He only started 9 games at NT in 2012.
    Started 15 games at NT in 2011, with McDonald and Smith.
    Started at the “5” with Franklin at NT from 2007-2010.

    I see Sopoaga as a player a lot like Logan, good size and athleticism, but not the classic 3-4 two gap NT.

  38. 38 RC5000 said at 3:26 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    That is weird. 49ers Comcast reporter said he was almost strictly a two down NT – can’t remember if he said this past season or not.
    I thought he was mostly going to be used as a two down NT although it is entirely unclear at this point how much they will be in the 3-4.

  39. 39 TommyLawlor said at 3:41 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I understand that Sopo didn’t have the spot all those years, but that wasn’t due to his lack of 3-4 NT skills. Franklin was a veteran player entrenched at the position.

    Sopo was a role player for 4 years before becoming a starter. When Franklin left, Sopo took the job. Sopo has plenty of size for NT. He can 2-gap. He is a run stuffer.

    Wilfork has played NT and DE. Ngata has played NT and DE. Some teams like big guys at DE to 2-gap and set the edge.

    Sopo may not have 100 starts at NT, but I think he is absolutely a 3-4 NT.

  40. 40 Ark87 said at 4:55 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Sounds like this will have to be settled with some yee olde fashioned tape study!

  41. 41 GEagle said at 7:27 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I thought our NT was going to Shade? I also think Sopo will occasionally lineup at the 5 for us…

  42. 42 SteveH said at 3:02 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Well, we didn’t have cornerbacks as primary A or B gap run defenders, so whats their excuse?!

  43. 43 TommyLawlor said at 5:24 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    The sun was in their eyes.
    The altitude got to them.
    They were disappointed in the the Oscar nominations.
    Mid-life crisis.
    They were confused by the final season of Lost.
    Jimmy Kempski. Always blame Jimmy Kempski.

  44. 44 A_T_G said at 8:10 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Their excuse was the safeties. Don’t you remember the pointing?

  45. 45 GEagle said at 6:58 AM on May 25th, 2013:

    so much pointing in the secondary I thought I was watching a Ludacris “Get Back” video lol

  46. 46 Anders said at 3:11 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Something that just popped into my head regarding WR’s. Kelly at Oregon never have had such a deep and talented bunch of WRs as he got right now. He have had similar talent at RB and to some extend TE (his TE last year is really good). He also have had some talent at OL, but not quite to the extend he got right now if everybody is healthy. Simply put right now Kelly actually got more talent on offense than he have ever had in his life.

  47. 47 TommyLawlor said at 3:36 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Absolutely. Kelly has never had weapons like this at his disposal. That’s why it is so hard to pinpoint what he’s going to do.

  48. 48 OregonDucker said at 4:56 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Chippah will come at you from all directions with this Eagle talent. Defense heads will be spinning as stand with their hands on their hips gasping for air.

  49. 49 ACViking said at 6:39 PM on May 24th, 2013:


    Isn’t the irony of Anders’ comment, particularly regarding the O-line, that if they’d been healthy, we wouldn’t be having this conversation . . . most likely.

  50. 50 TommyLawlor said at 6:46 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Yep. As miserable as 2012 was, I think it will prove to be good in the long run. It forced change. And upon reflection, change was needed.

  51. 51 ACViking said at 6:52 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    You have my join on the need for change — true even if the Eagles had gone 9-7.

  52. 52 xlGmanlx said at 8:14 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Agreed, it happened for the best because I believe Reid’s best chances to win the SB had already passed him by. He is already the exception not the norm in terms of statistics.

  53. 53 Flyin said at 8:32 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I think this change is a GOOD change. Timing worked out to get Chip. I really believe he has special leadership qualities.

  54. 54 EaglesHero87 said at 1:34 AM on May 25th, 2013:

    I know we’re all going to say that Chip Kelly is going to be creative and innovative with this much more talented offense, which is all the more reason to be exciting to see what he’ll bring this season.

    However, I want to employ some caution as I hope Kelly’s overly creativity and innovation doesn’t deliver the desired results we’d like to see. Perhaps mix in a bit of traditional, power football and some up-tempo plays?

  55. 55 GEagle said at 7:36 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    The Chipster certainly never had an arsenal like this at his disposal..
    Everyone always mentions that Chip will have his eye on Oregon’s Mariotta, but I think the next 8 years of Eagles QB is already on this roster…Me Thinks, The Ducks that Chip will aggressively go after are:
    1) TE, Colt Lyeria who I think is going to be an absolute Stud…Lyeria/Ertz/Casey is the Future..
    2)I also happen to think chip would love to get De’Anthony Thomas back in his arsenal…

  56. 56 Ark87 said at 5:42 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Been thinking about all our changes and trying to balance my excitement for the new coach and schemes against realistic expectations. Part of this was inspired by Jimmy Kempski’s critical assessment of Gil Brandt’s prediction that the Cowboys will be better this year and therefore win the NFC East.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I am going to give Chip a free pass in year 1. The cards are somewhat severely stacked against him.

    Firstly: Chip Kelly is not Jim Harbaugh. Jim was able to take the roster he inherited and maximized it to extreme success immediately. Whether this is because he just happened to get his dream roster for his scheme or he is one of the best coaches around at finding a winning formula with what he’s got, it doesn’t matter. Kelly doesn’t have that. Whatever strength that may have been able to find on this roster before doesn’t matter. There is clearly no real thoughts of building around the young talent (especially on the defense) on this team. This is not right or wrong, Chip is building a Philadelphia Eagles that he believes gives him the best chance to win with little compromise and plenty of casualties. It will take time to forge the Eagles into his vision.

    Secondly: our QB situation may or may not pan out, and there is no strong indicator which way it’s going.

    Thirdly: Chip is teaching some very cool but pretty advanced things in his scheme. An example: receiver route options, QB and receiver absolutely must get on the same page within seconds of lining up for the snap. This is only a few months removed from that abomination that took the field last season, where nobody was on the same page in an almost complete lack of chemistry and discipline. This might not be perfected until the second season.

    Lastly: I think Chip has a brilliant football mind and has a ton of Ideas. Year one he is going to try a lot of stuff with mixed results. He will use these results to hone his team.

    I’m not sure we will be much improved over last season (offense should be better, not so sure about defense (and that’s sad)), but I think this team will be dramatically transformed for the better within 3 years.

  57. 57 ACViking said at 6:37 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    The Vermeil theory.


  58. 58 xlGmanlx said at 8:08 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I don’t see how we can compare him to Harbaugh and when he hasn’t coached a meaningful snap. Not saying it isn’t a fair comparison, but at this time I don’t know if you can make the argument. While everyone says this team is “loaded” now, in 2011 we lost by 1 point. 2010, KK beat this team. I don’t see why it isn’t feasible that Kelly has a similar impact.

    From 2005 – 2010 the 9’rs won an average of 6 games/season, meanwhile the igg’s won an average of 9. Davis, Bowman, Iupati, Dixon all selected his first year in 2011. Crabtree, RJF, Willis, Staley, Davis, Lawson, Smith, Gore, Goldson were already on the roster that is now regarded as “loaded.” We can’t make the argument that you are good as your record says you are and then all of a sudden dismiss the talent on the igg’s roster, when they won more games over that same span. I personally don’t think it is that far off, and execution, accountability and scheme is what needed to change along with the culture.

    TL:DR – If chip has a winning season, the roster was loaded with talent a la harbaugh. If he struggles, he is rebuilding. Either way, Lurie I believe, based on his previous history, will give kelly the resources and the leeway to turn it around.

  59. 59 Ark87 said at 8:56 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Harbaugh didn’t bring in a dramatic change in personnel/scheme philosophy. He did very well to identify the cornerstones of his roster and build a scheme around that. You’re absolutely right, before Harbaugh, SF was considered to have some very nice pieces, but not loaded by any means. He took the roster he inherited and showed everyone that it was awesome. Look at what he did for Alex Smith.

    Chip has dramatically transformed this team already. This is most clearly demonstrated in the switch to the 3-4/4-3 under, despite having maybe 3 people in our front 7 that have a good chance of excelling in such a system ( Cox, Kendricks, Ryans). We had to load up on mid-level free agents just to put 11 guys that fit the system on the field. We did this at the expense of turning some bright young futures into giant question marks.

    There’s no doubt, Chip is recreating the Eagles. You make the team if you are good in his system. He isn’t making a system to maximize the old roster. That’s for sure. This is distinctly different from Harbaugh. Chip might have a solid year one, I’m not writing that possibility off. But make no mistake, at least in the case of the defense, he is rebuilding.

  60. 60 xlGmanlx said at 10:22 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    “But make no mistake, at least in the case of the defense, he is rebuilding.”
    I don’t disagree with that, I am just not sure why he couldn’t enjoy the same immediate transformation the 9’rs did is all.

  61. 61 GEagle said at 7:04 AM on May 25th, 2013:

    I think we were such a horrendously coached team, and more dysfunctional than a Maury Povich “YOU ARE NOT THE FATHER” show…that I cant be surprised to see us make a drastic turn around….We were all sorts of screwed up last year, but I find it hard to believe that we had 4win talent….The roster has improved, and after last years coaching, there was no where to go but up…we cut the cancers out of the locker room, and added alot of players from winning organization,..Im not going to sit here and predict playoffs, but I wouldnt be surprised if we were much better than last yeat, which isnt really saying much lol

  62. 62 ACViking said at 6:29 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Re: Chips’ Free Pass

    Ark87 makes the case for giving Chip a 1-year free pass as he builds the Eagles into whatever vision he has for the team.

    When then-owner Leonard Tose introduced new Eagles coach Dick Vermeil to the media in January 1976, Vermeil talked about a FIVE-YEAR plan. (And in year five, 1980, the Eagles went to the SB.)

    It’s striking how much football’s changed, principally I guess, because of free agency. See 1993 Packers & Reggie White.

    I wonder if Chipper could get away with a five-year plan now.

  63. 63 Anders said at 6:31 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Well he got a 5 year contract and if we see improvements in the first 3 years he will be here for all 5 years, but if the team stinks in both 2014 and 2015, he will be gone.

  64. 64 ACViking said at 6:36 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Anders . . .

    I should have added that Vermeil’s teams went 4-10 and 5-9 in his first two years (’76 and ’77).

    In ’75, the Eagles had also gone 4-10.

    So in terms of wins and losses, we saw no improvement. Though Vermeil clearly was building a team in his image.

    I think if the Birds went 5-9 again in ’78, Vermeil would have taken leave. But then came the Miracle at the Meadowlands and everything changed.

    The question I think for us is whether we see improvement, though not necessarily measured in terms of wins.

    I’m guessing that’s your point as well.

  65. 65 Anders said at 9:14 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    But they still end 9-7 in his 3rd year and I suppose the first two years you could see improvement on the field but it might not have reflected in the win/lose

  66. 66 xlGmanlx said at 7:45 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Lurie is smart enough to not pay kelly the money he is paying him and being hasty with his decisions.

  67. 67 Ark87 said at 8:29 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Free Agency definitely changed expectations. It’s amazing, before the draft, chip was able to demonstrate a dramatic shift in personnel and scheme philosophy, and managed to assembled a roster that had no glaring holes, albeit few positions of strength. Sadly, unless you project Bennie Logan to start, the defense is unchanged after the draft, but that’s a different discussion.

    I think it’s a pretty realistic possibility for things be pretty messy in year 1. It might even look straight up bad. Year 2 people will want to see a dramatic improvement. Expectations will likely be playoff appearance. Then year 3 the expectation will be for us to be contenders.

    Depending on circumstance (say we can’t establish a franchise QB in that time and it’s not Chip’s fault, or maybe year 3 we get decimated by injuries and you give chip a pass) i could see Chip managing to stick for 5 years as long as there is reason to believe chip can still make this team better and eventually contend for a Super Bowl.

  68. 68 Flyin said at 8:36 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    The team is already better with Chip. No doubt about it. I can’t guarantee any SB’s, but the odds have gotten much higher. Or maybe I’m just drunk on the Koolaid.

  69. 69 Ark87 said at 9:05 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I don’t see us getting above 500 in year one. We are rebuilding the D, with a man with a long history and little success at the helm of it. I think the O will be better as a product of O-line health more than Chip. How good our starting QB (whoever that is) will determine how far the O can carry the D while it undergoes its transformation. The QB does have a chance of having a nice year with a nice O-line and a complementary run game.

  70. 70 Flyin said at 9:15 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I fully respect what you are saying, and agree about the concerns. I just see a cohesiveness of team building that may overshadow our weaknesses. I know I’m optimistic, but my gut tells me it’s the way to go. There are so many positives, I can’t think negatively.

  71. 71 Ark87 said at 9:27 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I hear you. I’m not trying to write this team off so much as express that even if the team doesn’t look good in year one, I’ll still be drinking the Kool-aid in season 2.

  72. 72 Flyin said at 10:05 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I feel like we are a .500 team… with upside

  73. 73 GEagle said at 6:56 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Azzinaro is “The Lord of Bones” lol

  74. 74 ACViking said at 6:58 PM on May 24th, 2013:


    Just another note of thanks for this incredible project called

    It’s what Hyde Park in London must have been like in its heyday — only virtual.

  75. 75 Ark87 said at 9:39 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    such incredible diversity in personal backgrounds and ages, people from all over the globe, all contributing great thoughts to this discussion. All for the love of the game and this team. This is what it’s all about, right here. Why sports matter.

  76. 76 TommyLawlor said at 11:27 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I thank all you guys for being so smart and interesting. Sadly, ATG is the only one who is sexy. We’ll have to work on that side of things.

  77. 77 GEagle said at 7:01 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I dunno Tom…because when he was calling Nick Mobile, he was talking about what a great basketball athlete he was, but Joked that Foles refuses to play him one on one(I read it that he was talking about more than pocket mobility)

  78. 78 SteveH said at 7:19 PM on May 24th, 2013:
    That poor chair, it never had a chance…

  79. 79 Flyin said at 7:52 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Classic! I would love to hear Tommy’s thoughts on how he projects him and AC’s history on the largest/heaviest human being to play in the NFL.

  80. 80 Flyin said at 8:06 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    I have watched almost all the vid’s on since Chip Kelly was hired… players and coaches. I really feel like something special is forming and didn’t know best how to describe that key element, however, I ran across this quote today that really ties in…

    “Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a
    thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it
    with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and
    faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever
    achieved without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson*

    *Trent Cole inspired me to post this.

  81. 81 TommyLawlor said at 11:28 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Great quote.

  82. 82 Ark87 said at 9:16 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Hey Tommy, much has been made of good players that may unfortunately not fit here anymore. Notably you have some concerns for Avant. Why put him on the field over a more explosive Damaris Johnson or bigger Benn/Momah/Cooper, etc, etc.

    I was wondering what your take is on Brent Celek and his fit here. Seems like similar arguments could be made. Seems like the ideal set would have Ertz and Casey shifting all over the offense. That combo can be a slot/TE, TE/FB, double TE. Celek is just a TE that only lines up at TE.

  83. 83 Anders said at 9:25 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    Celek is clearly the best blocking TE on the team and he is very underrated as receiver. Celek is got incredible YAC skills, he was 2nd in the NFL in 2012 for TE with at least 60% of his teams snaps and he actually lead TE’s in 2011.

  84. 84 Ark87 said at 9:31 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    He’s my favorite player on O by far. People forget it was only in the past few seasons that Celek became a solid blocker. He is a weapon first and foremost. But I do wonder if his lack of versatility will cost him snaps in this system.

    Or perhaps chip will explore his versatility and kick him out to slot occasionally?

  85. 85 Anders said at 9:32 PM on May 24th, 2013:

    He is a good enough blocker and as said underrated pass catcher, that he will stay.

  86. 86 xlGmanlx said at 12:18 AM on May 25th, 2013:

    best blocking TE isn’t saying much for this group though.

  87. 87 Calderone said at 7:05 AM on May 25th, 2013:

    Really sounds like BD is giving Allen and Coleman a pass for last years debacle.. I watched every play of every game and I’m sorry but u can’t blame everything on the two departed CBs and sub-standard coaching. Naamdi and DRC were abhorrent, but the safety play was just as atrocious. Guys were constantly running loose in the pass game and the safeties did barely better in their run support, missing more times then not on attempted tackles (or taking bad angles to the ball). If I ran the team both Allen and Coleman would be gone too.. But they’re here, and as a birds phan I hope the new defensive scheme does allow them to make more plays in the pass game, etc… But last year wasn’t just on the coaches and the corners, though they share the blame. I can only hope that Chung stays healthy and Phillips gets healthy, ‘else we’re in trouble back there.

  88. 88 Scott J said at 10:41 AM on May 25th, 2013:

    I wouldn’t say Eli Manning carries himself like a leader. He always comes off as a dork.