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.
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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.
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.
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Demetress Bell is going to be a Dallas Cowboy.
(just let that soak in)
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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.