Changes

Posted: July 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 32 Comments »

Les Bowen wrote an excellent piece on the Eagles QB situation. He made one point that we haven’t talked much about. As much as we want to know who will win the QB competition, it will also be interesting to see who starts the season finale. Ray Rhodes began his first season with Randall Cunningham, but switched to Rodney Peete by Week 5. Andy Reid began with Doug Pederson and switched to Donovan McNabb about midseason. Will Kelly follow this pattern?

Just because Mike Vick, Nick Foles or Matt Barkley wins the job initially does not mean they have the spot locked up. You keep it by playing well. There is no time to catch your breath and relax. Kelly is going to push the players to play at a high level. Winning the job is just the first step.

Kelly isn’t going to be unreasonable. One bad game isn’t going to sink a player. Kelly and the offensive coaches will constantly evaluate the players to make sure the right guys are starting. If the player has graded well for a month, one game will be looked at as an anomaly. If a player starts to struggle, a bad game will have more meaning. Kelly and the coaches won’t be going just off games. They’ll factor in meetings, practice and any other pertinent situations. There will be context. Decisions will not be emotional reactions.

Remember, the goal is to find the right player. Sometimes that is pretty obvious. Other times it can take a while to solve a situation. Before you look for outside help, the coach must push his current players to see if they can do the job.

It is easier for new coaches to push players. First, the new coach generally takes over because things didn’t go well the year before. That takes away the player’s mindset of “Why change, look at my results.” The coach also doesn’t have a relationship with the player. That makes the coach less sensitive to the player. Finally, there is often scheme change and that means the player has to learn something new. That lets the coach be critical in a more natural way.

What we see in September won’t be what we see in December. That’s true in most years, but seems especially true with new coaches. The 2013 Eagles are a combination football team and science experiment. Kelly will be getting to know his new players and his staff. There will be lineup changes as the staff looks for the right combination.

Think about last year’s OL. That group was a mess most of the year, but got better late in the season with Dunlap-Mathis-Reynolds-Scott-Kelly as the lineup. Dallas Reynolds figured out what he was doing and Jake Scott did some good things at RG. The line wasn’t good per se, but it was functional. And they did have some good moments. It took time, lineup changes and player development for the line to get to that point.

Injuries were the reason for the OL situation last year. Kelly won’t need injuries to happen for him to make lineup changes and to try different things. He’s a new coach with new systems and that’s all the excuse he needs to make as many changes as he wants.

* * * * *

Sheil Kapadia focused on the defense in his latest 3 Numbers That Matter column. The thing that jumped out was the stats about rushing the passer with 4 or 5 guys.

77.8 – The percentage of pass plays in which the Eagles rushed only four defenders last year; no team did so more.

And…

Last year, the Eagles rushed five 13.1 percent of the time. That ranked dead-last in the league, and it’s a number that will look completely different next season.

Bill Davis believes in blitzing. These numbers will go up. The other interesting note here is to look beyond the numbers. When the Eagles did rush 4, you knew which 4 were coming. That was the DL. Under Davis you don’t know who will rush. It could be any number of players. All 11 defensive players will rush the passer at some point in a game.

I do have one bone to pick with Mr. Kapadia.

If you’ve been reading Birds 24/7 for awhile, you know we’re driving the Fletcher Cox bandwagon.

Say what? I was driving the bandwagon 3 months before Cox got drafted by the Eagles. I’m a reasonable guy. I will keep Fletcher Cox and will give Sheil…Daryell Walker. That’s fair, right?

Or we could have a beer drinking contest. That way we’d all win.

* * * * *

Demetress Bell is going to be a Dallas Cowboy.

(just let that soak in)

* * * * *

For your entertainment…

I had some strange dreams last night. One was especially funny. Jimmy Bama came up missing. So naturally I turned to my neighbors to help. I should mention that the neighbors were Les Bowen and Ruben Frank. All Les did is offer a pasta recipe. Ruben at least had the courtesy to tell me he would go down to Delaware and check out the gun angle.

I have no idea what any of this means.

I did speak to Jimmy on the phone today, so he’s not missing. I can’t remember the pasta recipe and Ruben never followed up to share his news on the gun.

My hope is that tonight’s dream will have me, Jeff McLane and Geoff Mosher trying to disarm a nuclear device that was planted at the Funyuns factory. A world without Funyuns is a world without joy. If we save it, we’ll be heroes for life.

_


  • Weapon Y

    Jerry Jones is officially my favorite GM. He’s done more to hurt the Cowboys than anyone in the entire league. First the Romo extension, then the draft fiasco, now this. If this what he’s like at 70, I can’t wait to see the kinds of moves he’s going to make at 80. He’ll make Al Davis look sane. If nothing else, the image of Barwin, Graham, Cole, Cox, etc. steamrolling past the Revolving Door duo of Demetress Bell and Doug Free has me pumped for the season.

    • TommyLawlor

      JJ McQuade will definitely get a call.

    • D3Center

      Is it possible that Jerry Jones has become worse of an owner than Al Davis was at the end? And its only going to get worse?

      • Weapon Y

        That sounds almost too good to be true.

    • P_P_K

      Great post.

  • Wilbert M.

    Great insight on picking the right player. How did things come off the rails so badly at the end of Andy’s regime? We know he wasn’t a great talent evaluater, but how did he miss so badly on determining heart?

    • TommyLawlor

      That wasn’t just Andy. Whole thing got stale. Happens in many jobs and relationships. People change over time.

      • Wilbert M.

        Good managers don’t let things get stale. Don’t casually wipe away that Andy failed as a manager. I do understand that head coaches have an expiration date. Andy pushed for control and the more control he got, the worse things got. Hold him accountable.

        • TommyLawlor

          Oh I do, but you need context. Andy was a great coach from 1999-2010. We thought he would be an exception to the rule that coaches get stale (Landry, Noll, Grant, Belichick, etc).

          Unfortunately Andy proved to be an average to below average coach in his final 2 years. He proved to be…normal.

          • Wilbert M.

            I get it. What I would like to understand is what happened in those last two years that blew up the Andy regime. Not just obvious observations, but the actual decisioning that brought in Nnamdi, Juan as DC, Washburn, etc. Most of these decisions were outside of Andy’s norm. Why? Pressure from inside? Outside?

          • GEagle

            Combination of things led to Andy’s demise:
            1) He didn’t evolve, and his playbook became stale. Think back to how many times he ran a play these past two years that you 100% knew was coming. If we knew those plays we’re coming, then imagine how transparent Andy had become to his opponents that put tons of man hours into studying Andy and his tendencies…When defenses know exactly what you are doing, and opposing QBs all have their highest QBR against you because they know exactly what all 11 of our defenders were doing on any given play, and you combine that with just getting bullied and dominated at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball consistenty.,.you are left with a 4 win season.

            2)The first half of his career Andy had a fantastic staff. as his assistants started getting poached and promoted, he had been in his novacare bubble so long that he was out of touch with the new generation of young bright assistants…Andy’s staffs got worse and worse.
            ..
            3) I also got the impression that his ego got out of control in that he had so much success that he seemed to have a bit of the Midas touch syndrome, where he thought whatever he decided would turn to gold(Juan being promoted to DC). “We are smarter then everyone else” started to be less and less the case, til we became dumber then everyone else…
            ..
            4)The pressure of All those years without a Super Bowl mounted, and they abandoned their philosophies that his success was built on, pushed their chips “All In” almost to desperation…We were always a homegrown team, that would sprinkle in a free agent or two…a lockout offseason was just the worst possible time to add so many free agents penciled in for major roles. Then again, a couple years of really poor drafts really didn’t leave us with much choice.
            ..
            it was just a perfect storm of things, that had been slowly snowballing during the 2nd half of Andy’s tenure, and eventually it spiraled out of control and the wheels fell off and we went 4-12 with a 10 game losing streak.
            ..
            For much of his tenure Andy was a fantastic coach, but in hindsight Lurie shoulda pulled the trigger 3-4 years sooner.Andy was successful when he was ahead of the curve. the league caught up and eventually surpassed him. He didn’t evolve and he got left behind.
            ..
            Curious to see what he can accomplish in this next part of his career. Seeing him go outside the box with decisions like Nevada’s coach(pistol offense mastermind) indicate that he ATleast has acknowledged some of his mistakes and is ATleast attempting to rectify them…He has some very nice talent to work with, so it’s going to be very interesting to follow his KC career.
            ..
            Man, I’m a die hard Eagles fan, but this is a really turning into a Golden age. So excited to follow so many teams. a lot of exciting, but different style of football to wayears his year…to think we are just 20 days away from the first preseason game, where we will see a different brand of ball than we have seen in 14 seasons is just making me stir crazy

          • BobDole

            He didn’t evolve because Lurie was too stubborn to use a water stone on him. It that wouldve happened then Reid would have turned into Walreid (see below) and we wouldnt be having this conversation.

          • Weapon Y

            To be fair to Andy, all of those coaches (with the obvious exception of Belichick because he’s still coaching and doing so at a high level) eventually did come back down to earth. Grant missed the playoffs 3 of his last 4 seasons. Landry missed the playoffs 4 of his last 5 seasons. Noll missed the playoffs 6 of his last 7 seasons. It just took them a lot longer than most coaches. Andy didn’t last as long as them, but today’s NFL front offices aren’t as patient as the ones in the past decades. Maybe Andy doesn’t rank as highly as them, but the fact that he sustained success for an entire decade puts him well above most coaches. I’d say this validates the idea that all coaches do have an expiration date: some are just much longer than others.

          • Wilbert M.

            …and please don’t say I need context. I’ve lived the context for far too long. ;)

          • TommyLawlor

            Big part of things was 2010. I think Reid bought into the idea that we were close to being a SB team and just needed a few pieces.

            There are some other factors that I can’t really go into. Let’s just say that some of those issues are now in Cleveland.

          • GEagle

            No fair on the last sentence….now curiosity is going to kill this cat! Lol

          • bdbd20

            Man, I didn’t realize Dion Lewis had such an impact.

          • TommyLawlor

            Well done, bd.

          • msalt

            Do you really think Belichick has gone stale? He seems to be doing alright for himself.

  • Flyin

    I’m going to the store to stock up on Funyuns… just in case.

  • Weapon Y

    Similar to your point, Tommy, I argue that the most important thing regarding the QB situation is that we know by Week 17 whether or not we can trust any of these guys to be a starter in 2014 who is capable of helping the team make a playoff run. For Vick, it’s playoffs or bust. This year. For Foles, he needs to look like an experienced QB and show significant improvement from last year. For Barkley, he needs to at least match Foles’s 2012 performance and preferably top it. If they can’t meet their respective standards, we need to look to the 2014 rookie class of Bridgewater, Boyd, Manziel, and Mariota.

    • TommyLawlor

      It would help if we could get an idea about the long term potential for Foles and Barkley. The problem is that you can’t force them into the lineup and abandon the 2013 season. They have to earn playing time.

      • Weapon Y

        I agree that we shouldn’t abandon the 2013 season. The standard of success for Vick, however, is higher than it is for Foles and Barkley. If Vick is clearly better than Foles and Barkley in training camp and the preseason, I definitely make him the Week 1 starter. The problem is that he has no long-term potential because he won’t be around for more than a few years. The idea behind keeping Vick is that his potential is so great that he can produce an MVP-like performance as he did in 2010, or more realistically perform at a level adequate enough to get to the playoffs immediately. The moment Chip realizes Vick is incapable of getting the Eagles to the playoffs (if that should happen), he needs to pull the trigger on Foles or Barkley, and give us evidence that shows if they are good enough to justify passing on the 2014 QB draft class. That QB draft class appears to be a very good one as of now. The 2013 draft showed us that good pro QB prospects aren’t always easy to find.

        • GEagle

          Couldn’t agree more. I have no faith in Vick, but first and foremost chip has to prove to these players that he is a man of his word. He spent the past 6 months telling his players that “they are the ones that set the depth chart” and that this would be a real competition, so he know he has to prove to be a man of his word, and start the 22 players who win the competitions, inspight of how Old or how young they are….
          ..
          I would have been much happier just turning the page on the Vick era, and going into this competition with Barkley,Foles and Dixon…but if Chip is going to allow Vick to compete, then Vick needs to be the starting QB if he out performs the rest of the QBs on this roster. our Foundation going forward will be stronger if Chip proves to his players that he is a man of his word, and that when he says, “you set the depth chart”, that he absolutely means it..

      • OregonDucker

        Good points Tommy!

        I do worry that the complexity of the offense will stymie these QBs. Accurate pre-snap reads, checkdown patience, WCO timing issues, blitz and stunt pickups, disguised coverage ID, turnovers, these could be the downfall of the starter QB and destroy the Eagles season.

        Given these challenges, my hope is that the starter will be way ahead of the rest, and there will be no controversy. If not, it could be a very long season.

        • GEagle

          Yeah I’m with you..I think I have reached the point that I don’t even care who the QB is, like you said hopefully the starter is significantly better than the rest because I would really like some QB peace after the preseason…A controversy during the season is like a worst case scenario for me…whether its Vick, Foles, Barkley, whatever, as long as one is head n shoulders above the rest

    • eagleyankfan

      Great points Weapon Y. T-Law – why do you say “forced”? A few teams last year were “forced” to start rookies and did quite well. In no way am I saying Barkly is ready(maybe he is). I think(and just a fan view) that with Chip’s training camp, any of 3 will be prepared for game 1. Game 1, Vick as starter throws a pick(or fumbles) — it becomes a “here we go again’ scenario. Foles/Barkley throws a pick(or fumble) and it becomes a “have to learn from” scenario.
      I wonder — how can any of the 3 be “head and shoulders” above the other 2? IF that’s possible, wouldn’t that already be evident? All 3 should get better as TC moves forward. I just don’t see a scenario where Chip names a starter and we all say “thank goodness because he’s head and shoulders about the other. Again, if THAT is true, if that starter gets benched or hurt — do we then say “OH SH!T, our new QB was head and shoulders LESS than the starter so we’re now screwed?” I’m not buying it….just like the nickname “chipper”…not buying it…

  • GEagle

    at some point, Wheteher it’s starting the season opener, or Vick getting injured, Foles will play this year. What he does with that playing time dictates if we see Brakley or not this year…if Foles plays well. And we are in the playoff hunt with 4 games left, he will finish the season…if we are out of playoff contention chip will take a look at Barkley

  • Phils Goodman

    I don’t know if contingency scenarios will influence Kelly’s choice, but it seems like it would be easier to go from Vick to Foles during the regular season than vice versa.

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