Getting Better in 2013

Posted: July 8th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 43 Comments »

The Eagles can do a couple of simple things to guarantee 2013 will be better than 2012…stay healthy and not turn the ball over.

Brent over at Eagles Rewind put up an interesting piece today on injuries. The 2012 team lost a lot of games and the players were important. There is no disputing that. The bad news from him is that you cannot count on the Eagles staying healthier this year. Brent explains that injuries aren’t always a one-year anomaly. He points out that some players are injury prone. I would also mention that when you have players coming off an injury, they can be susceptible to a follow-up injury. I don’t think of this as injury prone since it is time specific. Jason Kelce was healthy in college. He was healthy as a rookie. Since he tore his ACL last year, there could be an issue that will affect him this year. In the future, he may get right back to being completely durable.

We all hope the Eagles stay healthy this year, but I do think they’ll be better prepared to handle injuries. Think back to what happened last year.

Jason Peters hurt – team had career backup King Dunlap and oddball free agent Demetress Bell take his place

Michael Vick hurt – team had mid-round rookie QB replace him

LeSean McCoy hurt – team had late-round rookie RB replace him

Jason Kelce hurt – team had him replaced by player with no NFL experience

Todd Herremans hurt – team had Dunlap and mid-round rookie replace him

Those players were new to the Eagles, new to starting and/or new to the NFL. They had to learn on the fly. There were some painful lessons along the way. Dallas Reynolds was awful in the Arizona game (Week 3). He played much better down the stretch. I am comfortable with him as the backup C this year. He’s nothing special and isn’t a guy you want on the field every play, but proved to be adequate as a backup.

Foles and Brown made a ton of rookie mistakes. Both should be better players this year. Dennis Kelly spent time at RG and RT. He was up and down. I’m sure he’ll be better this year.

The obvious preference is for the injury bug to stay away, but if not we should reap the benefits of the backups having to learn in 2012. This doesn’t mean all the players will be significantly better, but you have to understand that rookies and new/young guys who are thrown into the action during the season face a major challenge. It is tough to learn on the fly.

As for turnovers, a new coach can make a difference. This can be due to his teaching methods (Coughlin and Tiki Barber) or due to the significance he places on ball safety. Marty Schottenheimer’s teams were almost always among league leaders in fewest giveaways. He preached ball security all the time. He beat it into the heads of his players. He also chose starters that were going to hold onto the ball.

Chip Kelly has already started teaching Mike Vick about how to hold the ball when he runs. Either Vick wasn’t getting this coaching in the past or he wasn’t listening. He is now. Foles also had a big fumbling problem. He lost the ball 8 times (Vick 11). I think Foles primary issue was inexperience. He either can’t hold the ball as long on some plays or he must be more protective. I think the coaches can fix that. Few rookies understand the speed of the NFL game. They think when they are in the pocket and no one is near them that they’re safe. Wrong. Some rusher is getting off a block and will be hitting you momentarily.

I’m sure Kelly and the assistants are all over Bryce Brown for his fumbles. His dynamic ability will go to waste if he doesn’t start holding onto the ball.

Interceptions are trickier. Vick threw 10, Foles 5. Neither of those numbers is all that bad, but that might be deceiving. Both QBs had more than a couple of INTs dropped or wiped out. Heck, Vick had a couple dropped in the season opener when he did throw 4. Foles had the disastrous play vs Dallas when he threw the terrible pick-6 to a LB that was erased by a Dallas penalty. He also had some Red Zone throws that got dropped. 15 isn’t bad, but you would prefer it to get down to around 10 or so for the QB position for the entire season.

Kelly will watch the tape closely and figure out what is poor execution (sloppy mechanics, bad throws) vs what is poor decision-making. He and the staff can fix both areas, but they require different solutions.

You also know that poor pass protection led to some QB turnovers. If the O-line is better this year, that will help the QBs protect the ball better.  The QBs should have a cleaner pocket to throw from. This can help with better mechanics and decision-making.

The other day when I was on 97.5, Phil asked me about the win total for the Eagles this year. Someone in Vegas has the over/under at 7.5. I took the over. Without hesitation.

It isn’t that I believe the Eagles are going to suddenly be dominant. I think the team will quit turning the ball over as much. I think the defense will be improved. I think special teams will be improved. I think the Eagles will either stay healthy or benefit from the backups who played last year and gained invaluable experience. Finally, the Kelly factor. I think his ideas and enthusiasm will affect this team and help them win 8 to 10 games. It probably also doesn’t hurt that the Eagles will be playing a last place schedule.

* * * * *

Many of you want to know what’s up with Jimmy Bama. Be patient. You’ll get the details soon enough.

What will happen to the H2H show? Nothing. Jimmy and I will continue to do that. Although, I have open invitations out to Alex Flanagan, James Earl Jones and Lindsay Lohan. Should any of them respond, I’ll send Jimmy packing in a heartbeat.

* * * * *

There is an ESPN special that you must watch. It is 20 minutes long, but this will be the best 20 minutes of your day, week or maybe year. It is incredibly inspirational.

Watch this story of how friendship, sports and hope changed the lives of 2 young men.

_


  • Iskar36

    “Chip Kelly has already started teaching Mike Vick about how to hold the
    ball when he runs. Either Vick wasn’t getting this coaching in the past
    or he wasn’t listening. He is now.”

    I fully buy the idea that for Foles and Brown, they can improve on their ball security from year 1 to year 2, but with Vick, I’m not buying it that easily. You went on a big rant about DRC claiming no coach ever pointed out his flaws. I agreed with you there that it was “player-speak” and anyone in the media truly buying into that is not paying attention. How is Vick claiming he is being taught how to hold the ball for the first time any different? To me, it’s the exact same thing. Sure Kelly will have a different approach in teaching, but in Vick’s career, plenty of coaches have tried to get him to hold onto the ball better and not fumble it and have come up short. Kelly is not the first one to work on Vick and it will remain to be seen if he will improve at all.

    • Jack Waggoner

      It’s a little different when we’re talking about a QB being taught by QB coaches… and the skill being referred to is more of an RB skill. I doubt that he hadn’t been taught how to hold the ball when running ever before, but it probably was never one of the things emphasized, either.

      • disqus_AJSAhteg45

        I find that incredibly hard to believe considering how Vick has played the game his entire career.

      • Iskar36

        After 2011 where turnovers were a major part of the problem, I just can’t believe the coaches didn’t make an effort to fix the TO problems. On top of that, Vick has always had an issue with carrying the ball and every person that watches him run with the ball comments on it. Even if you question his coaches in Atlanta, there is no way AR didn’t point it out and comment on it when Vick was an Eagle.

        Finally, Vick made the comment early in OTAs. Let’s not pretend that a couple of afternoons of working on carrying the ball will all of a sudden fix the problem when he has been in the NFL with so many different coaches who must have said something about his ball carrying. I just don’t trust him one bit to correct his carrying issue. If he does, great! I will be impressed with CK and Vick. But it has been a problem for so long with multiple coaches that Vick has to prove himself before I jump on the “he will be so much better carrying the ball this year because CK got to him.” The exact same reaction that Tommy argued against other media members where making about DRC.

    • TommyLawlor

      Tom Coughlin fixed Tiki Barber in the middle of his career.

      It is odd, but it can be done.

      • Iskar36

        Everyone uses this one example (and I’m sure there are a couple more) to prove that it CAN be done. I’m not arguing that. I’m arguing whether or not it is likely to happen. For every Tiki Barber, how many other players were not able to make the change this late in their career? And again, just because Vick says he is now being coached on it, why are we so quick to believe him but so quick to challenge DRCs comments? Didn’t Vick make the exact same comments about learning how to slide last year?

        That’s not to say that CK shouldn’t try to fix the issue. I hope CK puts a lot of effort into correcting Vick’s fumbling issues. I just am not going to buy it immediately until I see some actual progress.

        • TommyLawlor

          Vick is publicly acknowledging that Kelly fixed the problem. That tells you he actually paid attention to the coaching. We won’t know how much of a change it will make until there is live play, but I do think it is significant that Vick has listened.

          Donovan wouldn’t listen when WAS/MIN coaches wanted to make changes with him.

          • Pennguino

            C’mon Tommy. Those first two sentences are straight biased homerism. You tried to leave yourself an out in the third sentence but shut the door with “I do think it is significant that Vick has listened.”

            I would say that Andy made him a better passer. Apparently he listened. But, AR’s system is QB friendly. No one that has left ever did anything with a new team.

            Where are the reports where Miked worked with a QB/Coach guru in learning how to break film down. Learning how to recognize a defense and read the keys post snap? Where are the articles of how he learned to throw with anticipation instead of waiting for the guy to be open and then gun it to him? No. We get Ninja Sticks from McManus. How Vick worked with a track coach. A track coach? Are you F’n kidding me?

            The QB position is about reading, comprehending, executing. Yet he chose not to work on any of those. He does look buff. Straight up “Pimp Chiseled” He has my respect for the pounding he took last year and to last as long as he did.

            He didn’t listen. He didn’t start listening until either someone got into his ear or the light came on at the end of OTAs. It hit him that it is not his team. Kelly is not his buddy. There is no favoritism. He doesn’t have that big contract making him a starter. He realized that not only is he behind in the QB race, he is also facing the possibility of losing his job (roster spot) with this franchise.

            We won’t know how much of a change it will make until there is live play, but I do think it is significant that Vick hasn’t listened throughout his 10 year career.

            Sorry Tommy. I didn’t mean to call you out. But that struck a nerve for some reason. I do love your work.

  • Mac

    Clicked the link from your twitter feed. A truly amazing story to read, brought me to tears. Thanks for sharing the link, I will be passing it along as well.

    • Jack Waggoner

      Yes, I definitely recommend both the video and the accompanying article.

    • TommyLawlor

      I teared up as well. Love to see young people getting to chase a dream. Also love to see when people’s lives change because someone on the outside gives a damn and helps them.

      • Ark87

        ditto on the link T-Law. I come here to talk Eagles and end up feeling better about the world afterwards??? I don’t even know how to process this! Also passing it along, thanks for sharing.

  • A_T_G

    The interceptions should be down just based on the expectation that there will be fewer throws, and hopefully less pressure on the QB to save the day. More running and a better defense should encourage the QB to make fewer risky throws.

    • TheRogerPodacter

      then i would guess that there would be more fumbles from the RBs getting more touches. someone has to touch the ball on each play haha

      • A_T_G

        Shhh! Don’t go clouding an encouraging thought with your logic.

        • TheRogerPodacter

          lol sorry, didn’t want to sound like a downer, but i guess that was going to happen no matter what.

  • sprawl

    I’m sure adding Felix Jones and Kenny Phillips will help curb the injury bug.

    • Eagles1991

      Agreed. Not sure our injury bug can get as bad as last year. Odds are slim that a team gets that banged up for a second consecutive year. Loosing 4/5th of your Oline in back to back years would be freakish though right?

    • TommyLawlor

      Now this is funny. Well done, sprawl.

    • Ben Hert

      Maybe they’ll absorb some of our injury quota.

  • Eagles1991

    Tommy:

    I too share your win totals for our birds. Great work as usual. Regarding Jimmy, i bet he is taking some time to pick up those darn Oakley sunglasses you sold me a couple years back? Still haven’t gotten those in the mail and I ordered them from a reputable site like Iggleblitz.

    • TommyLawlor

      If he hasn’t delivered them by Labor Day, we’ll send you a free 2nd pair.

      • Eagles1991

        Brilliant!

  • Mitchell

    Jaws just did a segment on NFL32 called “worst to first.” He said,” Sorry Eagles fans but I dnt see the Eagles winning the division.” We’ll see about that Ron!!!!!

  • ACViking

    Re: Vick and Ball Protection . . . Memory Lapse or Fantasy Land?

    Below’s a link to a November 2001 article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — Vick’s rookie season.

    The article ($2.95 to view) discusses, among other things, how the coaching staff led by Dan Reeves worked on and emphasized ball protection to Mike Vick when he ran. The Falcons’ offense under Reeves was considered arcane and conservative. Ball control, no less than ball security, were central to his scheme.

    Reeves, by the way, played QB in college at the University of So. Carolina before converting to RB in the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Cowboys.

    http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=AT&p_theme=at&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EFBE9BD0E2322F6&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM

    • Iskar36

      Thanks for the article!

    • TommyLawlor

      Problem is that back then…Vick was partying and worried about Ron Mexico more than Vick the QB.

      Different player now. More importantly, different man now.

      • shah8

        Vick played pretty well under Reeves as far as turnovers went.

        Also, it’s generally a style of play. People that play comparatively similar like Big Ben, in attempting to extend plays (Jay Cutler a bit as well) also have relatively similar fumble numbers. The missing part for Vick, compared to Roethlisberger is that good combination of completion % and Y/A.

      • ACViking

        But T-Law . . .

        My impression from Vick’s interview is that, by his recollection, no one had tried to show how to hold the ball correctly — not that he was a slacker who cheated his teammates and coaches with a lack of effort.

        I agree that he’s matured.

        What I’m impeaching is his claim that Kelly’s the first coach who showed him how to protect the football.

        And we’re not even getting into what his excellent college coach, Frank Beamer (best ST coach in college football), may have done with him on the ball-protection front.

        • TommyLawlor

          Players are the worst source of information. Some lie. Some forget. Some are just stupid.

  • GEagle

    Talks between Jarius Byrd and the Bills are completely off!!!
    they won’t even attempt to spend the last week trying to reach an extension.

    Hopefully Howie “Splash” Roseman will swoop in and pull of the coup if the offseason. young stud leader, at position that has been a crucial need for years, from a bills team that has no leverage left whatsoever.

    • GEagle

      ESPN: “The bills own Website recently ran an item stating that Byrd is a candidate for a preseason sign and trade”
      ….
      Come On Howie!!!! Git-R-Done!!!

      • TommyLawlor

        I should ban you for saying “Git-R-Done”. Torture to my brain.

        • GEagle

          Lol…exactly what I was going for! Lol

  • shah8

    You know, I can think of a number of LT that after they first got hurt, they kept getting re-hurt.

    • Ark87

      Factor in age, yeah, definitely a concern. Can only hope the Lane Johnson and maybe Dennis Kelly can develop into solid book ends.

  • SteveH

    That opener against Cleveland was just brutal. My favorite part was the Browns LB dropping the gimme game clinching interception at the end. So the stat line should have been 5 interceptions and an Eagles loss. Honestly it felt like we deserved to lose that game.

    I don’t know about everyone else but after that game was over, I had an impending sense of doom about the rest of the season despite the win.

    • TommyLawlor

      Just the opposite for me. Normally we lose games like that. I wondered if that was a sign the team might be pretty good and a bit lucky.

      Oops.

    • atb124

      IIRC, the linebacker was a UDFA no less. To me at least, that made it worse.

  • Daniel Norman Richwine

    RE: Vick
    I was in my early 30s when I started getting my act together. Part of it was working with someone New. I cannot imagine Vick is too old to learn. I learned more in my 30s than I had in the first 3 decades.
    The question is health. hopefully a New OL will turn the trick.

  • Pennguino

    THANKS for the link to the story. Tear jerker

  • Weapon Y

    I agree that the Eagles have better depth on offense this year. The defense is alarmingly thin, though. We have only one defensive end, Fletcher Cox, who we can count on. Thornton, Curry, Geathers, and Logan are all question marks. Isaac Sopoaga might not be Vince Wilfork or Casey Hampton, but he’s capable of doing the job. After him, it’s Dixon, Logan, or Geathers. I’m not sure I’ve seen enough from any of them to feel comfortable if Sopoaga can’t play. We have only one outside linebacker who has played in a 3-4 scheme, Connor Barwin. Graham and Cole are both very talented, but we don’t know if they’re going to be effective in Davis’s defense. I’d be more comfortable if Chip signed another 3-4 OLB just for depth, even if he didn’t have as much talent as Barwin, Graham, and Cole. I like both Ryans and Kendricks as our ILBs. I actually like Jamar Chaney as a backup and Jason Phillips is a good special teamer, so ILB might be the one position I’m comfortable with. Cary Williams makes me uneasy due to his frequent blown coverages. While I like Bradley Fletcher, I am concerned that St. Louis worked really hard to upgrade the CB position while he was there. Curtis Marsh might have some talent, but I just haven’t seen enough of him to feel confident. Boykin has a ton of ability, but I’d prefer him to remain a slot CB. Poyer is an unknown. The safety situation could be a disaster once again. It’s clear that Phillips is still being very cautious with his knee. Chung got benched last year for underperforming and I’m worried about him if he starts. Allen was a player I liked when he was a rookie, but I fear that he might not be salvageable. I never want to see Kurt Coleman playing safety for the Eagles again. Colt Anderson could be a good backup, but I can’t see him as a reliable starter. Earl Wolff is a complete unknown.

    To play armchair GM, I’d jump all over the Jairus Byrd situation. He’s only 26 now and should be a good player for at least 5 more years, maybe longer. He’s definitely worth a 2nd round draft pick, although I’d try to pay less than that. Get Byrd in here, and if by some miracle Kenny Phillips doesn’t get hurt, we’d actually have a competent and talented safety duo. I’d also sign a defensive end and an outside linebacker who have experience in the 3-4 after rosters get cut to 53. One other idea I’m toying with is to sign Casey Hampton, who is amazingly still a free agent, as a nose tackle and move Sopoaga to one of the DE positions.

  • eagleyankfan

    Ok Tommy — Naïve or wishful thinking re: Vick and his fumbling problems? I’ve read your remarks and you’ve bought into what Vick is slinging. I’m not. One, Vick is, was – always will be – a diva. Diva’s don’t change. Since that is argumentative, my evidence is Vicks inability to slide feet first. I haven’t seen any comments about him learning that. I do recall comments from Atlanta coaches saying that Vick WAS coached how to slide feet first. I’d imagine those coaches thought Vick was listening too. Just like he says he is now. As of last year, Vick is still sliding head first(and fumbling).

    Re injuries. They are like a flu. One gets sick, others catch it to too for some reason. I do think part of it is conditioning, which the Eagles are doing different this year. I’m not saying all injuries go away. I do believe there are “serial” injury prone people(just ask Vick or Kevin Youkilis) With that said, I do think(pray) that 3 of our of 5 offensive lineman don’t get hurt because of better conditioning program set up by Chip.