Field Position

Posted: December 3rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 41 Comments »

I really love listening to Bill Davis talk. You can see why Chip Kelly was so impressed by him when they met. Davis clearly doesn’t have a strong track record as a Defensive Coordinator, but the guy is smart and a good communicator. He is able to discuss complex concepts, but isn’t one of those football guys who loves to make things more complicated than they need to be…let’s call that Grudening. Davis can keep things simple when that’s all that is needed.

In his press conference, Davis was asked about how much of a help Donnie Jones has been in the last couple of weeks. Davis praised Jones and also talked about the offense. The Eagles have protected the ball well in the past 8 games, making life substantially easier on the defense. That means the opposing offense constantly has to drive a long field to score.

Since the Denver debacle, the offense has 8 turnovers in 8 games. The defense has 17 takeaways. That’s how you go 6-2 and start to look like a good team.

And that’s only looking at the numbers. More than half of the turnovers came from Matt Barkley. Several of those came at midfield or in plus territory. That’s crushing for the offense, but it doesn’t hurt the defense. They still get to protect a long field.

Special Teams has been huge, especially recently. Jones had 7 punts inside the 20 on Sunday and no touchbacks. That meant that 7 drives started inside the 20-yard line. That is 7 drives where Arizona needed to realistically drive about 50 yards to get in scoring position. Jones has nailed some really big punts when the Eagles were backed up. There was a 69-yard punt on Sunday that flipped the field in the 2nd half. The Eagles were pinned at their own 14 when Jones unloaded a bomb that backed the Cards up to their own 17. They hoped to be near midfield.

Late in the game Jones pinned the Cards at the 10. That put tremendous pressure on them since there was just 2:03 left in the game. The week before Jones launched a rocket that backed the Skins up deep on their final drive. That makes all the difference in the world when you’re protecting a lead.

We praise the defense for the 8-game streak of teams scoring 21 points or less, but that really is a team effort. The offense isn’t turning the ball over. The kickers are putting the ball deep. And the coverage units are getting downfield and making plays. How many times have we seen Brandon Boykin downfield waiting for the punt to land so he can down it? Subtle, but huge.

I’m glad a reporter asked Davis about this and he was able to discuss the subject.

* * * * *

In case you missed it, Oregon QB Marcus Mariota has decided to stay in school. He will return to Oregon for the 2014 season. Mariota is just a RS-Sophomore so I’m a fan of this move. RBs have only so many carries. One play can ruin them. Go pro and get paid. QBs have a longer shelf life. They need as much prep time as possible. Mariota is physically ready, but he’ll benefit from staying in school.

Smart move.

Mariota won’t say this, but I’m sure his decision was mainly based on GJ Kinne. Nick Foles is the QB for the next 1,000 years. Then Barkley is here for at least 237. By that time Kinne will be ready to take over for his 1,000 year reign. Mariota can do the math. That means he wouldn’t be the Eagles QB until almost the year 5000. Nobody wants to wait that long.

The media won’t acknowledge it, but clearly this is the Kinne Effect.


41 Comments on “Field Position”

  1. 1 Kristopher Cebula said at 6:21 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    I think it might be time for a Donnie jones extension

  2. 2 Anders said at 6:27 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    We cant do that before FA starts because of a new rule in the CBA. Same happened with Evan Mathis.

    Consider how much Kelly puts on ST and it seems like Jones likes it here, he will 99% come back

  3. 3 Insomniac said at 10:09 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    He’ll have a 100% guaranteed offer from us. You can’t be completely sure he’ll sign with us again though.

  4. 4 Kristopher Cebula said at 11:34 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    We’ll just have to make him an offer he can’t refuse. I doubt that we will have to get into a serious bidding war for a punter. I’m sure he may get other offers but it should not be that difficult to retain him.

  5. 5 theycallmerob said at 2:50 PM on December 4th, 2013:

    where else will he get compimentary Hulk smoothies?
    the hidden paycheck…..he’s a lock

  6. 6 Michael Jorden said at 6:35 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Grudening LOL Donnie Jones has been an A+ pick up. I’ve been impressed with the improvement on all phases of the team – it’s a real credit to Chip’s staff.

  7. 7 Bob Brewer said at 6:55 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    I will disagree with Tommy on the Mariotta decision. Everyone has a shelf life in the NFL and very, very few have the opportunity to be a top 5 pick. You simply can’t make that money up.

    And to anyone who says that it’s not the first contract that’s important, it’s the second contract, I say you don’t understand finance.

    But it’s his life. Enjoy it Marcus.

  8. 8 Cafone said at 8:38 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Yeah, I agree completely. Matt Barkley is a good example. Here’s an article by someone willing to do a lot of math on it:

    “In sum, Matt Barkley’s decision to stay at USC could eventually cost him anywhere between $13 million and $42 million over the next few years.”

    *And those estimates were done assuming Barkley was going to drop to the 30-40ish range. He was eventually drafted at 98

  9. 9 Anders said at 8:32 AM on December 4th, 2013:

    That is assuming he would get drafted as high as people claim he would.

    There is no way he would be drafted over the top 3 and who knows what the Browns thought about him. Most likely he would have been a 30-40 range QB in 12.

  10. 10 xeynon said at 1:37 PM on December 5th, 2013:

    Exactly. This kind of analysis assumes that Barkley’s stock wouldn’t have fallen through the draft process in whatever year he came out. That is a questionable assumption – every year in workouts, the combine, etc. guys who were discussed as top 5 picks at the end of the college season drop as their flaws as prospects are discovered.

  11. 11 D3FB said at 1:00 AM on December 4th, 2013:

    The big money is the second contract. So why not go back to school and have more time to work on things like your footwork and reading defenses. It’s a hell of a lot easier to practice and get better at those things when you have future camp body from Washington State lined up at DE vs. Aldon Smith or Quinton Coples. Say he comes out this year before he is ready. He is thrown to the wolves immediately (or within first 4-6 games) however having only started 20 something games in college he has less experience. So he doesn’t recognize a certain disguised coverage that maybe he would have seen had he stayed. He gets rattled by exotic pressures and his footwork disintegrates. His confidence goes to hell. The following offseason isn’t enough time for the coaching staff to fix all his issues, so he has another subpar season and the coach gets fired, the team has a bad record and all of a sudden there is a new starting QB in town. The more starts you can make in college before going pro the more polished you are as a player. Combine that with sheer talent and you increase your chances of succeding in the league. That’s how you get that second contract. It could be the difference between being a starter or backup caliber QB. Mariota should take out an insurance policy and stay in school at least through next year. Hundley should too.

  12. 12 A_T_G said at 7:04 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    “Special Teams has been huges, especially recently.”

    I don’t think there is an e in hugs.

  13. 13 TommyLawlor said at 8:38 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Typical elitist.

  14. 14 A_T_G said at 7:10 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    It is ironic that his decision to stay another year is based on the Kinne effect, since a decision to be a top-10 pick when the opportunity is there and get the longer leash and privileged status that goes along with it could have been viewed as the Barkley effect. I bet Matt has second thoughts about staying in school.

  15. 15 TommyLawlor said at 8:37 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Matt would not have been a Top 10 pick if he’d come out the year before. Thorough tape study would have revealed his flaws. I do think he’d have gone in the 2nd or 3rd. The shoulder issue hurt him.

  16. 16 Cafone said at 8:54 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    I don’t know man.. you might be over stating it a bit. People were calling him a 2nd or 3rd rounder this past year. The universal reaction to him dropping to the 4th round was surprise.

    Anyway, I guess we can hope that Mariota follows the same path and the Eagles grab him in the 4th next year.

  17. 17 ChaosOnion said at 9:34 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    I think Cleveland would have had a interesting choice between Brandon Weeden and Matt Barkley.

  18. 18 Andy124 said at 10:23 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Matt would not have been a Top 10 pick if he’d come out the year before.
    I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, only the amount of confidence you say it with.

  19. 19 Mitchell said at 9:53 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Is it weird that sometimes I find myself chanting, “Please let Nate be a playmaking safety for the future, please let Nate be a playmaking safety for the future?”

  20. 20 BlindChow said at 10:30 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    You should totally get that going during the next game!

  21. 21 Mitchell said at 11:57 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    I’m actually extremely excited I actually get to watch the game this Sunday! I’ll get it going in my house. Prediction: Nate gets another int this week. You know Stafford is just dying to throw one.

  22. 22 Insomniac said at 10:05 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Can Donnie Jones teach Henery how to be consistently good?

  23. 23 Insomniac said at 10:21 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Waiting for the defense DGR. I saw the stat sheet and I liked how Cole had consecutive multiple sack games. If he keeps this up I think we might have to stick with him. Now I want to see what we do in FA before drooling over draft prospects.

  24. 24 ICDogg said at 10:22 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Light seems to be going on for Graham as well.

  25. 25 Insomniac said at 10:23 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Must be a change in the smoothie rotation.

  26. 26 shah8 said at 10:28 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Not surprised at all about Mariota staying in school. Lots of happy talk about how he’s the number two draft selection out there, but dude really wasn’t refined enough to be a serious out of the gate QB, and his ceiling wasn’t high enough to put up with that. He probably got quiet draft advice, and did what he really wanted to do anyways. It will be a challenge to boost his selection point over the next football season though, given the nature of his offense. Will need seperate QB camps on his own time. Of course, Jameis Winston would be crazy not to come out next year, if he has a similar season, so number 1 is probably not available for Mariota.

    Donnie Jones’ success really validates Gene Smith’s acumen with drafting Brian Anger in the third…right…right?

  27. 27 Andy124 said at 10:35 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    He’s no Joe Webb, that’s for sure.

  28. 28 shah8 said at 11:54 PM on December 3rd, 2013:


    I harp about Webb because Webb is prototypical, more or less at Kaepernick, Newton, Stafford, etc, etc, level in terms of physical talent. I know this is all sarcasm, but I can’t help but want to get that point across. I definitely am curious to see what happens to him in free agency in the off-season, and wonder if teams will think he’s too old to be a project.

    And no, Mariota is indeed no Webb, and again, the general lack of understanding about what talent is, and just how inseparable talent is from long term production–that’s a big part of why I point Webb’s way.

    I mean, look at the deal with Foles. I feel perfectly free to openly dismiss Foles as a prospect. It’s not really because I’m a Vick-stan, or that I hate Foles. It’s simply that he doesn’t exactly show that he has what it takes to be someone who will stick around. When I read comments by football players (like that deadskin Kapelia interviewed), or by football coaches, like Arians or Schwartz, there is a strong tendency to have a weird tone to their comments. There isn’t exactly a whole lot of interest for what Foles does, as opposed to his numbers. There are minimal comments about how we got to stop Foles, or control X good thing he does. Their focus tend to be on Kelly, and on Kelly’s scheme, when addressed in media gatherings.

    When I see so little caution about the *specific play* of Foles among the fans, it just makes me all public service announcement dude, even though that’s not really what said fans want to hear, and I’m not really doing a public service. How many people need advice on buying jerseys are there out there? But I see transcripts of Chip Kelly getting short with reporters who seem determined to make sure Kelly is “going steady” with Foles, and I feel for him. Foles has a long way to go, and he needs to be developed. I mean, you can’t have a QB who thinks that a basic slant is some exotic marsupial from Tasmania. At the same time, you constantly see that ball placement is an issue whenever Foles isn’t allowed to float it, especially outside of the middle third of the field. In a playoff race, teaching and learning by doing is an expensive luxury, so Foles will most likely ride this one out, however that goes, but I really don’t think Kelly truly wants to commit to Foles throughout the next year after this one is over.

    Talent is talent is talent. If you compared Joshua Nesbitt to the Georgia Tech quarterbacks that have succeeded him, Tevin Washington and Vad Lee, Nesbitt is the worst of the three in terms of passing ability. However, Nesbitt had the best *arm* out of any of them, and as bad as his accuracy could be, he could consistently get the ball roughly in BeBe Thomas’ vicinity. Beyond that, he was a tough and excellent runner that complemented Jonathan Dwyer. This wasn’t really a surprise. Nesbitt was a nationally recognized QB talent coming out of high school, and recruited by Chan Gailey to be a QB in a more traditional offense. When the nature of his position changed upon Paul Johnson’s arrival, he changed with it (though he probably should have transferred) and was very successful doing so, enabling Thomas’ future NFL success. You look at Nesbitt, and then look at what Tevin Washington or Vad Lee are doing…and…well, both have/are making much prettier passes, and both cannot make plays like Nesbitt, especially on the ground. Given just how much similarity the tenets of Kelly’s offense, particularly FolesMode, and the triple option experience makes me far more leery of Foles, and is a big part of why I’m vocal about this. Killer rushing offenses like the triple option are dependent on running backs breaking defenses. Not grabbing chunks of yardage like the Shanahan/Kubiak style of rushing. Those guys run, grab yardage, run some more, and do PA within a fully developed passing regimen (not so much RGIII last year). They can do it with slower guys like Alfred Morris, even if Clinton Portis/better electrifies that offense. A triple option offense, or the Oregon, or a spread offense like those…they are fundamentally dependent on big run plays because they are designed to break, rather than wear down defenses.

    If the offense doesn’t do that, then the passing game dries up. This is a major reason why teams are selling out so hard to stop the Eagle’s run game, and ignoring Foles as a rusher (unless the DC guesses right and has a Shaugnessy stay home on a critical down). Foles grabbing ten yards simply doesn’t matter, because defenses *want* to play that underdeveloped passing game. Sooner or later, accidents causing turnovers or critical down failures start popping up. It’s a credit to Kelly and Foles that this has gone on as successfully as it has, but there is no way coverage sacks doesn’t start piling up, that more DBs manage to adjust their instincts enough to know that there’s time to turn around for that soft incoming toss, that injuries start happening as our talent spends itself on carrying part of Foles’ load rather than on being their BAMF selves, and for DCs to start adjusting a zone coverage such that Foles is baited into zipping a pass to yet another (not actually open this time) seam or deep post.

  29. 29 anon said at 12:45 AM on December 4th, 2013:

    This was longer than a bill simmons article so i dind’t finish it, but it was intriguing. I take Foles as a slow Alex Smith. He sees the field, makes good throws — i was impressed by some of what he did on sunday — and he doesn’t turn the ball over. Unclear how high his ceiling will be he doesn’t seem SUPER physically gifted, but Kelly praises his intellect and i think that helps. I’m ok with him being what he is — he’s a second year.

  30. 30 RobNE said at 7:57 AM on December 4th, 2013:

    This may all be true but as a fan, what am I to do? I want the Eagles to win a SB so badly, and there are limited resources. I am not blindly thinking Foles is Tom Brady, but I’ve been kicked over and over the past few years by the team’s performance and like to feel encouraged and have hope. I trust/hope Kelly finds whatever tools he needs to win a SB. If that means replaces Foles, fine. But the tougher part is how and with whom, and when (e.g., do you give up a season by moving to someone else in order to develop the next QB).

    I hear everything you are saying, but my frustration (if there is any, which there really isn’t) is that this is in a vacuum. I can say I want my QB to be elite and maybe this guy isn’t elite. Chances are you are right, he is not elite. But then what? Can Kelly/Howie hide Nick’s weaknesses that you point out, and use their resources instead on a rushing OLB and premier safety etc. and win a SB? Isn’t that their balancing out, to decide which way to spend resources? If the offense is getting the job done despite Foles’ weaknesses, isn’t that just a moneyball positive for the Eagles who can then look to improve other areas without spending picks etc. on QB?

  31. 31 Andy124 said at 8:17 AM on December 4th, 2013:

    Look, it’s fine that you have this theory that arm strength is soooo important and that Foles doesn’t have enough of it. It’s fine that you have this theory that Foles isn’t accurate enough. Everybody starts off with theories.

    But football is a real life laboratory, and your theories have been debunked over and over and over again. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s how we all learn. Many have explained the reasons why your theories don’t accurately predict results, but there’s no need to anymore because reality makes a stronger case that opposing logic ever could.

    When the theory is debunked, it’s time to reconsider. You refuse to do so. This can only be a product of arrogance, haivng so much faith in yourself that YOUR theory couldn’t possibly be wrong, so you assume that if you wait long enough the results of the experiment will finally change to conform to your theory, or having an agenda that will not allow you to move on from your debunked theory. The agenda could be your own personal entertainment or some bias against Foles or something else entirely. Doesn’t matter.

    Pretty much everyone has attempted to help you see reason. You refuse to do so and insist you’re right and everyone else, including reality, has insufficient understanding of a sport we’ve watched for 25+ years.

    This leaves me with 4 options:
    1) Continue to bang my head agains a wall trying to make someone see reason who refuses to do so: Rejected.
    2) Maliciously insult you: Rejected.
    3) Completely ignore you: Rejected.
    4) Laugh about it.

    I’m going with laughter. This may feel like option #2 to you at times, but I assure you we’re being very nice out of respect for Tommy, his site and this community.

  32. 32 bill said at 8:52 AM on December 4th, 2013:

    I agree with your analysis, but I’d suggest 3) is better than 4), for many reasons, but mostly for the reason you point out: 4) and 2) in practice are virtually indistinguishable.

  33. 33 Andy124 said at 9:27 AM on December 4th, 2013:

    That is what occurs the majority of the time. No one here is about to start stalking his every post to ridicule him. At least I hope not. But when someone spends thousands of words insisting that 1+1=3, laughter will follow.

  34. 34 theycallmerob said at 2:48 PM on December 4th, 2013:

    well said.
    and might i add…..Ryan. Leaf. Jamarcus. Russell.
    Man, life sure does have a way of disproving nonsense 🙂

  35. 35 RobNE said at 10:58 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Did you give him the quiet advice? Tell him he can’t make all the throws?

    I am joking and appreciate your views.

  36. 36 D3FB said at 12:50 AM on December 4th, 2013:

    Right now it looks like Jameis going to jail vs going number one are even money.

  37. 37 ICDogg said at 10:57 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Google image search for Kinne

  38. 38 A_T_G said at 6:10 AM on December 4th, 2013:

    We are not sharin’ Kinne with anyone.

  39. 39 Joe Minx said at 11:15 PM on December 3rd, 2013:

    Funny you should mention Boykin being so good on STs when PFF specifically singled him out in their STs rankings for being poor. Those guys kill me.

  40. 40 Anders said at 5:50 AM on December 4th, 2013:

    They blows. Boykin is one of the best gunners in the nfl

  41. 41 Mike Flick said at 7:51 AM on December 4th, 2013:

    The more Billy Davis talks the more I like him which is a stark contrast to Juanita. I remember thinking that Juan sounded like a position coach and tried to picture him making strategic decisions or thinking on the fly.

    I know that there is a different skill set between giving a press conference and coordinating a defense, but you get the feeling that Billy has an understanding and an ability to explain things really well.

    In contrast, Pat is pretty painful at press conferences. He is so flat-lined that it is easy to think that there is no one home. He had a hard time explaining a crossing pattern to reporters.