Don’t Be Afraid of Greatness

Posted: December 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 50 Comments »

The Eagles played a great game on Sunday night when they destroyed the Bears, 54-11. In other times, I’d enjoy that game and understand that it was an anomaly. Things may be different under Chip Kelly.

Kelly expects greatness. He pushes his teams to perform at the highest level. He’s not going to let good enough be good enough. And that’s a good thing.

There is no reason the Eagles can’t play at a high level each week. They have enough firepower to do it. Sure, the defense needs some work, but there is enough talent that they should play at a solid level. When they eliminate missed tackles and coverage breakdowns, that group can be pretty good.

A big part of being great is the mentality of the players and coaches. You must expect it. You must demand it. Players need to learn that being great isn’t like winning the lottery. It isn’t about luck. It isn’t random. Greatness is about preparation and execution.

Kelly was able to get his Oregon teams to play great football. He knew how to get his kids to stay focused on and off the field. They were talented and well-coached, but they also worked hard and played hard. One of the things that stood out to coaches who would study Oregon tape is the blocking of the wide receivers. There’s nothing glamorous about that. But Kelly sold his guys on the importance of it. And the players did it well.

The Eagles have embraced Kelly’s ideas and his message. They have bought in to Chipball. From sleeping more to smoothies to practicing on Tuedsays, the Eagles players are doing it all and doing it with a smile on their face.

Now the challenge is for Kelly to get the players to embrace greatness.

The Eagles have had great stretches in a lot of games. Sunday was their first taste of a complete game. Can they build on that? We’ll find out on Sunday night.

* * * * *

Want to feel good about the defense? Check out this piece by Greg Bedard of MMQB.

Defensive coordinator Bill Davis has worked wonders transforming his unit from a 4-3, wide-nine defense in Andy Reid’s final seasons, to a multiple 3-4 defense in just a year. As always, change takes time, and it has for the Eagles. Once near the bottom of the league in scoring defense (27.5 points per game allowed in the first four games), the Eagles have been near the top of late (19.2 in the last 11). Toss out the one outlier since Sept. 29—a 48-30 loss at Minnesota—and the Eagles have given up an average of 17.4 points without surrendering more than 21 points in that span. The Eagles are tied for second with the Seahawks in holding opponents under 21 points in 12 games this season. Only the Panthers (13) are better.

The Eagles have improved on the ground (holding opponents under 100 yards in nine of the past 11 games), and against the pass (after allowing a 107.2 passer rating in the season’s first month; they’ve held quarterbacks to 75.3 since).

* * * * *

Here is a great video from Matt Bowen on the Eagles offense and some of their schematic ideas. He explains how he thinks the Eagles will attack the Dallas defense.

* * * * *

Geoff Mosher shares his take on Kyle Orton and the Dallas offense. He makes one very good point.

The rapport Romo has developed over the years with Witten, his best friend, and more recently with slot receiver Cole Beasley can’t be duplicated by Orton with just one week of practice reps. Romo knows their routes and tendencies inside-out and had a great feel for how much time he had before he needed to get rid of the ball, especially against pressure. Romo also had tremendous pocket presence and an innate ability to dodge the pass rush with simple sidesteps.

Chemistry is important between QB and receivers. Orton has only thrown 15 passes in the last 2 years. And he also didn’t get a ton of reps in the preseason, which I don’t really understand.

* * * * *

Mike Kaye wrote a very cool piece for BGN, tracking the guys the Eagles cut last summer. Great work. A few of my favorites.

Eddie McClam, DE: The former Lions practice squad player was cut shortly after signing. He has yet to be heard from anywhere else.

Dallas Reynolds, OL: The BYU product and Andy Reid’s sole heir to his Neil Diamond eight-track collection, was cut in August. He spent a few weeks on the street before playing the roster dance with the Giants for several weeks. He has appeared in the last two games for New York. He is the third member of the 2012 Eagles to play for the 2013 Giants…

Clay Harbor, TE: The three-year Eagles tight end was released during final cuts but was picked up off waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Harbor has played well for Jacksonville, appearing in 15 games with seven starts. This season, Harbor has 22 catches for 281 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He also got to take a trip to London, which is pretty cool.

The Eagles haven’t made many, if any, bad personnel decisions since mid-August, despite all my whining about Chris McCoy and Emmanuel Acho getting cut. They were right. I was wrrrrr…not as right.

_


  • theycallmerob

    The Eagles are tied for second with the Seahawks in holding opponents
    under 21 points in 12 games this season. Only the Panthers (13) are
    better.

    Not sure where Bedard got this from, but it is inaccurate (noted on 24/7 site as well).
    The Eagles gave up 21+ their first 4 games, plus the MIN game. That makes only 10 games of =/< 21.

    • TommyLawlor

      Good point.

      • Maggie

        Love the “wrr…not as right”. Aren’t we all.

    • Fyn

      Not sure if this is what he meant, but technically, the Eagles Defense didn’t give up 21 against either Washington in Week 1, or the Chiefs in Week 3. There were defensive TDs in each game that pushed the total points over 21.

      • bentheimmigrant

        Just went and double checked this only to come back and find your post… Jerk.

      • theycallmerob

        thanks, reckon that’s the case.

      • TheRogerPodacter

        what about ST TDs? i know there have been a few against us this year (Lions game, for example) and i wouldn’t really count those against the defense…
        was that already factored in to what you listed?

  • jackpotsdad

    Despite what many folks think, Chip had far less talent than many of the top collegiate programs. He might have had one top 20 recruiting class in his 6 years at Oregon. He certainly had almost no one noteworthy at New Hampshire and Columbia.

    This is a guy that wins by teaching his team the importance of effort, consistency, doing the little things (which end up being important), and emphasizing that the barometer of greatness can only be measured against yourself not your opposition.

    I think if you give Chip Kelly the relatively same talent level to the other coaches in the league, it almost isn’t fair. Kelly is used to playing with a handicap. The results this season were unsurprising to me since he was given a relatively even playing field.

    • Stephen Stempo

      I always thought that was such a stupid argument by some people in the media. “Kelly Can’t rely on good recruiting to get the best players…” You’re right now he gets to have 53 of the BEST 1,696 Football players on earth. I realize that there’s a disparity between the top tier in the NFL and lower tier guys but the drop off isn’t as much as in college.

      This is what happens when you give a guy like Kelly consistent talent.. If he could coach up those lower tier college guys and out own players imagine after a few drafts.

      • D3FB

        Great point. You can’t force that five star recruit to come to Oregon. But you can force them to sign their rookie deal when you draft them (technically you cant but still).

    • Maggie

      “…barometer of greatness can only be measured against yourself…”. True in every part of life.

  • Arby1

    “Eddie McClam, DE: The former Lions practice squad player was cut shortly after signing. He has yet to be heard from anywhere else.”

    Well, he obviously clammed up.

    • ACViking

      Clammed up or lawyered up . . . same difference.

  • Arby1

    For the record, I’d just be happy with a win tomorrow. Let it be by 1 point, I don’t care. Just let it be a win. All this confidence just makes me nervous. #longtimefan #longtermmemory

    • ACViking

      For the longtermer . . .

      December 8, 1979. Eagles hosting the Cowboys at the Vet in game 15. Eagles enter with a record of 10-4, Dallas at 9-5. The Birds had gone into Dallas on MNF four weeks earlier and upset the Cowboys 31-21.

      A win by the Eagles locks up the NFC East Title.

      The Eagles were on a 4-0 streak. The Cowboys were 1-3 coming into to the Vet.

      The Vet was rocking that day. 44 degrees, a 21 mph wind.

      At game’s end, the Eagles held Staubach to 105 yards passing and Dorsett to 36 yards rushing.

      Final Score: Cowboys 24 – Eagles 17.

      I take nothing for granted on Sunday night.

      • TommyLawlor

        That must have been one frustrating game.

        • ACViking

          T-Law:

          I was there. John Sciarra dropped a 4th-Q INT in the Eagles EZ. Next play, Staubach hits Butch Johnson for a 24-yard TD . . . pushing the Cowboys’ lead to 24-10.

          I didn’t feel that bad after a game until the 2002 NFC Title Game. (Known to my kids as, “The game when you punched a hole in the wall”. Not a good example, obviously.)

      • ICDogg

        Yeah, and the scary thing about that compared to this game is that the Eagles had just slaughtered the Lions, I think it was 44-7, and the fans were on the same kind of high they are on right now following beating the crap out of the Bears.

        • ACViking

          ICD . . .

          1979 was a heartbreaking season — and that game was the exclamation mark.

          You’re so right about the feeling. And then to see Tampa beat the Eagles and LA upset the Cowboys for the right to face off in the NFC title game. UGH!

          I remember the clock winding down against the Bucs in that playoff game. I turned off the TV. And didn’t watch football again until the 1980 pre-season.

      • jshort

        A year, month, and three days later, with the same feeling of doom. The beer freezing in my cup. Wilbert takes it to the house, sets the tone for the rest of the day. Eagles 20 Cowboys 7. The week before they knocked off the Vikings 31-16

        • ACViking

          Ah, great times. I froze at the Minnesota game. Eagles trailing early. Then steam-rolled the Vikes.

          Looking back, thank god the Cowboys came back from a 34-21 deficit in the 4th Q against the Falcons, so the Birds didn’t have to go back to Fulton County Stadium to play Atlanta for the NFC title . . . the site of the infamous “Eagles Have No Place-Kicker” playoff game in ’78.

          Don’t know why, but Steve Bartkowski owned the Birds in that period.

          And nothing was sweeter then that frozen beer, was it.

          Game over when Wilbert took off. Greatest Eagles’ moment to date . . . because it was for the SB birth and against the ‘Boys. Who totally quit because it was too cold.

    • Crus57

      I’ve only been following the Eagles since about 2001, but that’s enough time as a fan that this game has my Let Down Alarm at deafening levels.
      Despite telling myself I’d be very happy with 8-8 this season, given the way last season went and all the offseason changes, after the season we’ve had not getting in to the playoffs will leave a bitter taste with a looong time to go before we can wash it away.

  • ACViking

    The defense’s performance since week 4 is better, no question. (I made that argument before the Minnesota game, citing many of the same stats as Bedard, and then felt pretty stupid afterward.)

    But the 21-point baseline for comparing the Eagles to Seattle and Carolina is more than a bit misleading. Less thoughtful readers might be led to think the Eagles and Seattle have relatively comparable defenses.

    I don’t think so. And I don’t think informed reader here believes that. And looking a little deeper at just the points-allowed numbers prove it.

    Seattle’s defense has 9 games of allowing 17 points or less, plus 7 games of 13 points or less, and 6 games of 10 points or less.

    The Eagles defense has 5 games of 17 points or less, 2 games of 13 points or less, and 0 games of 10 points or less.

    As for Carolina, their defense is right there with Seattle — and well ahead of the Eagles. The Panthers’ have 10 games of allowing 16 points or less, 8 games of 13 points or less, and 5 games of 10 points or less.

    Sure, before Minnesota I felt better about the defense. And it was nice what happened against Chicago.

    But I’m not ready to mention the Eagles in the same breath as Carolina or Seattle. Need to see a run of games where the Birds hold teams to 17 points or less.

    (It’s like saying Foles is second to Brady for the NFL record of most
    TD passes with no more than 4 INTs. But Brady had 36 TDs to Foles’ 25
    TDs.)

    • TommyLawlor

      Clearly the Eagles aren’t as good as those units. That said, they’ve faced 1086 snaps.

      Carolina 906, Seattle 940. Those teams play ball control offense and that helps their defenses to play at a higher level.

      Carolina has essentially played 3 fewer games. Seattle – 2.3.

      The fact the Eagles have done so well in scoring defense is pretty amazing.

      • ACViking

        Maybe the Carolina and Seattle defenses have faced less snaps because they’re just a whole lot better — even including the less aggressive offenses.

        The Eagles’ defense allows .331 points per play.

        Seattle is at .236.

        And Carolina is at .244.

        Yes, the Eagles are better. But that point-per play differential stills seems like a lot of distance — whatever the reason may be.

        • theycallmerob

          Maybe the Carolina and Seattle defenses have faced less snaps because they’re just a whole lot better

          Correct. Another measurable statistic is being able to get off the field, esp. on 3rd down.
          Sporting charts has team’s listed by opponent third down efficiency %. Although the Eagles D has faced the 4th most attempts against on 3rd down, they’re in the bottom quarter of the league (24th) in terms of efficiency % against
          http://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/team-opponent-third-down-efficiency/2013/

          For the sake of this thread, Carolina and Seattle are 9 and 11, respectively.

          • A Roy

            Just to temper the criticism slightly, 24th is not the bottom quarter of the league, although close.

      • ACViking

        T-Law:

        One other item . . . on the time-of-possession angle you argued.

        The Eagles are last in TOP, as we all know, at 26 minutes per game.

        Carolina’s at 5th, with 32 minutes per game.

        But Seattle’s only at 29 minutes per game in TOP.

        All that aside, I’ve argued before the Eagles’ defense has made big strides this year.

      • TheRogerPodacter

        i would also guess that this style of offense is leading opposing teams to be more desperate in their play calling. they know they have to keep up in a shootout, either get the lead fast/keep the pace early, or they have to come from behind.
        we’ve seen plenty of time where opposing teams have piled on yards & points late in the game when it was already out of reach (the raiders game is the first that comes to mind… OT, but isn’t that one of the few games we allowed a rusher with > 100 yards?)

  • http://www.aceandson.com/blog Richard O’Connor
    • TommyLawlor

      Ha. That’s a great clip.

  • iceberg584

    I sort of get the feeling that Dallas is going to come out hot tomorrow, and the Eagles are going to be a little bit tight. Sometimes the pressure is the toughest when you are expected to win in a high stakes situation. Dallas almost has nothing to lose at this point. Part of our success against Chicago was how loose and explosive we looked early on, and much of that could be attributable to the game being without real consequence to us.

    I still think we’ll win, but the first quarter might be ugly.

    … I also get this feeling that Mike Vick better be ready to go…

    • P_P_K

      “I also get this feeling that Mike Vick better be ready to go…”

      You realize that if anything happens to Nick we are coming for you with pitchforks and torches.

  • ACViking

    Re: Greatness and Great Coaches

    T-Law:

    Leslie Frazier looks to be out in Minn (a plus for the Birds). Houston has an opening. Maybe the Jets, Bucs, Raiders, Oilers (can’t say Titans).

    Who on the Eagles’ staff, if anyone, would you think gets an interview?

    You’ve mentioned QB-coach Bill Lazor as a possible college candidate. Any NFL candidates?

    If only to do some intelligence-gathering on the Tao of Chip Kelly?

    • TommyLawlor

      I don’t think anyone gets a look from NFL teams. Lazor might get looks from college teams.

      • ACViking

        T-Law . . .

        Not even for “intel”?

        Put your GM cap on. Would you bring in Davis or Shurmur just to pick their brain on the Tao of Kelly?

        In NYC, you’d get a free look for a reason. Seems dumb not to at least check out the merchandise.

        No?

        • TommyLawlor

          Those guys are so new to Kelly and his systems that I think GMs would understand that they wouldn’t be getting all that much info.

  • ACViking

    Re: Back to the Defense

    T-Law:

    I want to get on record here, in light of my earlier comments, saying that Davis has done a marvelous job.

    I’ve always had a warm place in the heart for the 3-4 because the arrival of Marion Campbell as Vermeil’s D.C. in ’77 turned the Eagles into a very, very good — and damned physical — defensive team. Campbell — like Jim Johnson — ran a defense that kept those ’77-’81 Eagles in lots of games.

    Right now, Davis’s defense is at least 2-3 years behind Carolina and Seattle in terms of gathering the kind of talent the NovaCare Brain-trust want for this defense. And I don’t think the Eagles will ever have the luck of Carolina in doing poorly enough under Kelly to draft at No. 9 to get a Luke Keuchley-type player.

    Even back when Campbell installed the 3-4 in ’77, the Eagles’ talent on the defensive side was actually pretty good. Probably better all around than this group.

    Considering the head-start that Carolina and Seattle have had in populating their defenses with their kind of players, I think what the Eagles have done — despite the meltdown in MN — has been nothing less than great.

    Now, in 2-3 years if the Eagles’ defense is still allowing 21 points per game, I’ll be very disappointed.

  • SteveH

    Eff that, I still think acho would have been better.

    • Maggie

      Acho has had a few chances both here and elsewhere. He has been evaluated by a number of different coaches and coordinators. He still hasn’t beaten anyone out.

      • SteveH

        I stubbornly maintain my position.

  • Vick or Nick

    Foles got snubbed. Plain and simple.
    He should have made it over Wilson.

    • iceberg584

      And Brady and Newton for that matter.

    • Maggie

      Hasn’t played the full year. And the voting “fans” never heard of him until recently.

      • ICDogg

        wasn’t even on the ballot for a good portion of the voting season.

  • Vick or Nick

    There’s been a lot of numbers thrown around but really just look at one thing:
    The EYE test. This team passes it.

  • P_P_K

    Chip has been getting his just deserved props but I say it’s time to raise a glass to Bill Davis. The guy took a defense in disarray and instituted a brand new scheme, and he is getting everything working right. Plus, Chip was working with a ton of talent and two Pro Bowl (snubs not included) players. BD hardly has the same talent on his side of the ball.

  • Vick or Nick

    Also my criteria to judge Nick Foles at Dallas this week:
    Did he put his team in position to win?
    I don’t care about numbers. Did me make the crucial throws? Third down, Red zone, 4th quarter.
    Win depends on how well D plays and the rest of the offense. But you can judge Foles off those categories.

  • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

    As much as I/we love to get on Romo’s case…I’m much happier/more confident with Orton back there instead. Orton may not lose you a game, but he certainly isn’t the type that will win you one like Romo can.
    And without Sean Lee… the Dallas D is the pits.
    Baring a major injury (namely to Foles, Shady or DJax) and/or a complete ST collapse, we should win this one going away.
    (And remember, AR ain’t stubborn-coaching this one this time.)

  • A_T_G

    Don’t be afraid of greatness – this was won of hard lessens inn every part of adolescence of Mayan. I halve excepted my grateness in every as pecs except homonyms and homophones.