Misc Eagles Notes

Posted: April 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 46 Comments »

Nick Foles spoke to the media today. There was no breaking news, beyond the fact he got married this offseason. He got peppered with questions about DeSean Jackson and what his absence would mean to the offense. Foles did a good job of saying positive things about Jackson, but also standing up for his current receivers and teammates. PE.com has the video.

The biggest takeaway for me is that Foles gets it. He said all the right things. He didn’t get defensive when the media talked about the Eagles possibly drafting a QB. Foles didn’t get defensive when questioned about holding the ball too long. He answered questions as best he could and I thought he did a good job of being tactful and honest.

Foles tried to say the right thing as he answered the questions, but I get the feeling those answers are genuine. Part of that may be him being a genuinely good guy. There may also be some youthful optimism mixed in. Foles talked about not worrying about his contract. That might change when he’s got a couple of kids and he sees the end of his career in sight. When he’s at the beginning, it is easy to talk about how money doesn’t matter. Right now he’s hungry for success, not money. That could change with time. It does for many players.

For those people who still aren’t big Foles fans, I hope you at least appreciate the fact he sure seems like the kind of guy you want to be the leader of your team and face of your organization.

* * * * *

Evan Silva of Rotoworld rated the pre-draft rosters. I was hoping he would have the Eagles in the Top 10. He had them at #8.

8. Philadelphia Eagles

QB: Nick Foles
RB: LeSean McCoy
WR: Jeremy Maclin
WR: Riley Cooper
TE: Brent Celek
TE: Zach Ertz
LT: Jason Peters
LG: Evan Mathis
C: Jason Kelce
RG: Todd Herremans
RT: Lane Johnson

Offensive Overview: Chip Kelly fielded the NFL’s most efficient 2013 offense, leading the league in both yards per pass (8.7) and yards per rush (5.1). Only three teams scored more points. Philly’s lone significant offseason loss was DeSean Jackson, whom the coaching staff seems to believe will be easily replaced. With Maclin back healthy and second-year breakout candidate Ertz ascending, the Eagles can continue to run a big-play passing attack with multiplicity, excelling out of various personnel groupings. The unsung heroes of Kelly’s offense play up front. 5-of-5 starters return from an offensive line that Pro Football Focus graded as the league’s best run-blocking group by a wide margin. The foundation of Kelly’s offense will remain the McCoy-led run game.

RE: Fletcher Cox
LE: Cedric Thornton
NT: Bennie Logan
ILB: Mychal Kendricks
ILB: DeMeco Ryans
OLB: Trent Cole
OLB: Connor Barwin
LCB: Bradley Fletcher
RCB: Cary Williams
FS: Malcolm Jenkins*
SS: Nate Allen

Defensive Overview: Billy Davis deserves credit for coordinating a defense that stayed competitive throughout 2013 despite a below-average assembly of players, particularly excelling versus the run. The unit still needs upgrades at all three levels. Cole is no longer a franchise pass rusher going on age 32, while Barwin is a better cover guy and edge setter than threat to enemy quarterbacks. The secondary played well as a unit last year, but lacks a high-end starter. The Eagles could use a bulkier nose tackle to take snaps off undersized Logan’s plate. I think this defense remains a work in progress, and I expect Philly’s draft approach to confirm they agree.

This doesn’t mean anything, obviously, but it is always interesting to see where a national analyst rates the Eagles.

* * * * *

Brian Solomon didn’t fully agree with my post from the morning, when I talked about how better coaching led to the Eagles being better tacklers. He talked about changes in scheme and personnel.

And he’s right.

But that ties into the coaching. I didn’t have the time to write a really long piece so I focused on the fact that the coaching staff really made it a point to focus on fundamentals and proper technique.

Obviously the best technique in the world does you no good if you don’t have players that are willing to tackle or they aren’t in good position to make tackles.

I did quickly cover the personnel issue.

Chip focused on bringing in tough, physical players. If you do that, you don’t have to work on their toughness. They just are.

Smart coaches know that they need the right players and the right scheme for their coaching to work. Kelly and his staff got players that were tough and coachable. They brought in a scheme that gave the players more realistic roles. This allowed the players to execute as they were taught.

One of the big issues I had with Andy in his final couple of years is that there was no rhyme or reason to some things. I think I used this line from Apocalypse Now a time or two.

There was no method.

With Kelly there is a method. Personnel + scheme + technique = successful execution. Kelly has a reason for everything he does. In order for his coaching to work, he made the right decisions ahead of time.

Another reader commented that the Eagles shouldn’t have to coach tackling and that the players should already be trained in this. Every coach on Planet Earth agrees with that, but it just isn’t reality. ESPN destroyed tackling in modern football. Big hits get on TV, not form tackles. Kids go for big hits from an early age and tackling is awful at every level of football.

It is an absolute necessity for NFL coaches to teach tackling these days.

It shouldn’t be, but it absolutely is.

_


  • planetx1971

    I feel so lucky to have Foles on our team. Just think of the mess that such a large percentage of teams have at the QB position & what a NIGHTMARE that is. He seems so genuine & has that great character you want in your franchise QB. What an awesomely pleasant surprise he has turned out to be!

    • Media Mike

      I agree completely. It’s nice to have a guy, along with Luck and Wilson, who is going to be one of the better QBs in the NFL over the next decade and doesn’t have to rely on gimmicks and/or career ending playing styles (this means you RG3, Manziel, Kaepernick, Newton) to successfully pass the football.

  • TXEaglesFan

    Tommy, I live in Austin and Foles grew up in a pretty affluent neighborhood. He did go to public school high school but probably he wanted the best competition for his football/basketball prowess. I’m not saying making a big pay day is not important to him, but his background might shed light on his statements.

    • Cafone

      Yeah, it’s nice having a QB with a family that’s already worth tens of millions of dollars. Hopefully it will help when contract time comes.

    • JJ_Cake

      LOL, yeah I think Nick grew up comfortable and his eyes are focused on getting to the Super Bowl with the Eagles. It’s a great time to be an Eagle with some real standout players on the team. Real team oriented guys, and great leadership with Nick and Chip. Prediction: Nick and Chip will be the next Brady and Belichick. (except our coach doesn’t cheat :) )

    • ICDogg

      Unlike most of us, he has never had to worry about money a day in his life.

  • Weapon Y

    Tommy, I’d be curious to see what your Big Board looks like. Would you be willing to do a post on that? I’d be interested to read who you think the best QB is.

    • TommyLawlor

      I’ll post that stuff next week.

  • Mitchell

    Draft Countdown: T-minus 8 days. That is all.

  • Jamie Parker

    They should work on fundamentals all the time. It’s part of getting better as a player and staying on top. Becoming a better tackler is part of that. Defenders should always be working on that. Sheldon Brown was a great tackler. He used great technique and put out some awesome highlight hits. Look at that Reggie Bush hit. Perfect technique. Hit with his shoulders and wrap up with his arms.

  • Anders

    Regarding tackling. It is funny how much FO and PFF differ on broken tackles.

    PFF have Kendricks with 22 missed tackles where FO have him with less than 10

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2014/2013-broken-tackles-defense

    • Media Mike

      My eyes in focus would agree with PFF!

      Kendricks missed at least 10 in the San Diego game alone.

      • Anders

        I trust FO, but I have always done that as I find PFFs process way to rushed.

    • A_T_G

      Is there a difference in the definitions? To me, a broken tackle sounds like you got your hands on the guy but couldn’t bring him down while a missed tackle seems like a more subjective, “he shoulda got ‘im” term. For example, would the famed Marlon Favorite play have been a missed tackle but not a broken tackle?

      • Anders

        I think they mean the same.

        I know the Favorite play would never be a missed tackle for FO because he wasnt in a realistic position to tackle him.

        • A_T_G

          Well then, just put 11 Marlon Favorites on the field and we will never miss a tackle again!

          As an aside, I wonder how much our missed tackle ranking, relative to other teams, was boosted last year by not having to play against Shady.

          • Anders

            yea I also wondered that. How much did it suck for the Skins to play us twice?

  • Media Mike

    How do you all feel about this:

    The absolute second the season is over, sprint to Foles to get him to sign a 5 year / $80 million extension? I’d dump about $30 million of it into the first year using some roster bonus funny business given the $21 million we’re already under the cap added to the anticipated $ we’ll free up with cuts of Meco, Herremans, Celek, Cary Williams, and Cole.

    The Eagles really need to get Foles’ contract done under the current QB deal structure in which Rodgers is a $22 mil / year and everybody is down the ladder after that. We especially need to get Foles’ deal done before Wilson and Luck negotiate deals under the larger cap.

    • Anders

      Foles, Kendricks and Boyking will all be extended next year, just look at Kelce and other deals done early.

      Cox will get the 5th year option and then they will get a deal done after that

      • GermanEagle

        Can they all play this season first? Especially Kendricks I want to see playing more consistently on a high level before giving him a lucrative long term contract.

        • Anders

          He cant get extended without getting a lucrative deal? If he plays inconsistent, maybe we can buy lower like we did with Cole, Herremans and Celek

        • ACViking

          All that

      • ACViking

        No guarantees with Boykin or Kendrick’s.

        Boykin will want outside CB money. Eagles may not pay.

        Kendricks is not an ideal Chip Kelly-sized ILB. If he doesn’t take a step up to a higher level if performance, he could be allowed to walk.

        • Anders

          What is an Kelly-sized ILB? As I have noted before the best ILB pair in the NFL is 6’0 and 6’1, do you think Kelly wouldnt want them?

          Also step up his performance?

          http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=5gPye

          I know he wasnt as consistent as we like, but he was in his 5th defensive scheme in 4 years.

          Regarding Boykin(g), do we know he wants starter money? Do we know the Eagles wont pay it (consider they say he is a starter).

          • tball_man

            Wow. Great stat pullup Anders!
            To help maybe clarify acviking’s thought… Consistent and reliable performance from our ILB is cmost critical than statistical exploits?

          • Anders

            I argue Kendricks was very consistent down the stretch.

            The LBs in a 3-4 also needs to be play makers

          • tball_man

            agree particularly after Denver game. I am most curious how his contract/extension opportunities play out, given he was not a Coach Kelly pick. Would love for him to become elite next to a Demeco clone in the coming years

        • bill

          I think Kendricks is safer than Cox, actually. IMO, the biggest point about DJax was money vs. positional impact. Cox is a great 1-gap DT. I get the feeling his ceiling as a 2-gapper is significantly lower than his ceiling as a 1-gapper. Beyond that, I don’t think the Eagles’ salary cap plan assigns a whole lot of money to the DE position – they’re supposed to be role players. I think when Cox’s time comes for FA, a 1-gap team is going to offer him big-time money, and the Eagles will let him walk (or perhaps trade him at a discount before that happens).
          On the other hand, as I think TL said yesterday, LB is the core of a 3-4 2 gap defense. They’ll spend money for playmakers there, and despite his issues, Kendricks is a playmaker. He might fizzle, but he also has the potential, if he learns to control himself, to be a top end ILB. If he does that, the Eagles will pay him a competitive salary.

  • xmbk

    Trent Murphy might be the best tackler in this draft. If they take/get him in rd2, I’m gonna join the civilian defense brigade at the Linc to hold off your pitchfork platoon. ;)

    He’s also more athletic than given credit. Plus, Stanford brains.

    • Anders

      Problem is he might test athletic, but do not look athletic on the field.

      • robo40

        Gonna have to disagree here. Makes plays using his size, might not look like a dancer but he definitely is a football player.

  • Anders

    I just read McCoy’s NFL scouting report and noticed this:

    “Runs out of control at times. Some of those cutbacks will not work against the speed of NFL defenses.”

    As we all know, yes the do work, better than some might have tought

    • ACViking

      It’s interesting that the focus was on McCoy’s cutbacks.

      The point should have been that he seems to have great vision, which is what prompts a RB to make a cut. And that would — and has — translated to the NFL

      • Anders

        That was in the negative, his vision was part of the positive.

    • A_T_G

      It is amusing now, but to be fair to the report, it was right to question whether full-speed jump cuts while shoving the defender’s arm out of the way with one hand and carrying the ball like he is preforming Singing in the Rain choreography was going to work against NFL defenses. There has been, what, one other player who had made that style of play successful?

      • Anders

        I would guess two, Sanders and Gale Sayers.

      • James Adair

        I thought he was going to be a fumble machine with the way he carried the ball. Credit to him, he cleaned that up.

        • Ben Hert

          Dunno if he cleaned it up, he just never gives guys an opportunity to get a clean hit on him.

  • Anders

    http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/nfl/47036/311/exploring-qb-hand-size

    Nice article and this even supports Kelly’s claim that he want big handed QBs.

  • Scott J

    It’s funny how some players perform better in contract years and others flop. I guess some players see it as a distraction and others see it as incentive. It’s all how their mind works. It will be interesting to see how Foles plays this year.

  • austinfan

    Why would Foles worry about money, he just got married (lot’s of sex, no kids), he’s still clearing about $400K a year, at age 25 I certainly would have had a great time, and worst comes to worst, he’ll make a million a year or more as a top backup QB for a decade. Ask Kyle Orton if it’s a bad life.

    Foles was clear about having to speed up his decision making and get the ball out, and I think that wasn’t kowtowing to the press, I’m sure that something Chip has been stressing to him for a while – have to get rid of the “big play” AR/MM mindset and focus on execution of the play, not trying to make a play. That is one reason I think Chip hasn’t thought twice about DeSean’s absence, he wants a different offense than last year, crisp and efficient where the big plays come from execution, not extending plays and taking sacks.

    Interesting that Foles went out of his way to praise Benn, I’ve got to see him healthy, but you could look at him as a prototype “Chip WR,” when looking at draft prospects, 6’1 219, 4.44, 6.79 cone, 37″ VT. Big, athletic athlete who’s got enough burst to get downfield but primarily works underneath, not 6’4 and not 5’10, i.e., good sized target but not the long legged WR who takes time to build up speed. The closest guy in this draft – Latimer.

  • Ramsay

    Having a brain fart on how this works, but do we get a compensatory pick next year for Jackson or not since we cut him?

    • A_T_G

      The second one.

  • shah8

    Leadership isn’t earned because you speak well and say all of the right things…

    Remember, I had Christian frickin’ Ponder for three years. He never looked anything other than a nice corporatroid speaking about leadership and the papers never did anything but show how tough, mature, and hard working he is. If it weren’t for his play, he’d be the perfect face of the franchise, and that had *everything* to do with management sabotaging everyone else who could do the job, from McNabb to Cassel.

    Leadership is earned when the other players *trust* you. They trust you to do the job right, they trust you to help make them shine so that they can have good paychecks. They’ll help make the QB shine, as much as they are able, for only so long. Sooner or later the QB must reciprocate, and you know, Foles does have big shoes to fill in that locker-room–pretty evident that people trusted Vick (not necessarily because they like or love him, but because they trust Vick’s professionalism and cool). That’s only going to come about when Foles can make plays on his own (and friends within the locker room and with the media).

    In a sense, “face of the franchise” is a sickening term. When you have to say it, like Tommy is here, it means that the dude isn’t. You can’t press these things.

    • A_T_G

      I think you are blurring the line between necessary and sufficient conditions. Speaking well in front of the press is a necessary condition for a team leader, as Tommy discussed. Speaking well in front of the press is not a sufficient condition to name someone as a team leader, as you are pointing out. The two positions are not mutually exclusive.

      • shah8

        No it’s not, but I’m just reminding people that Foles still has a long ways to go to *earn* trust, and it’s not really people like you or me he has to earn the trust of, but his teammates, the Eagles org (which he’s doing), and then the rest, in that order.

        Remember, when the most important stuff isn’t taken care of, you have blowups like Percy Harvin and muttering sufferers like Jared Allen. Guys like AD and Jennings will say all of the right things for the corp, but the play and enthusiasm gets vastly better when they believe in the QB. Leadership isn’t a “produced” commodity. You can see it youself if you look out of the corner of your eyes, who people flinch towards when they are uncertain or when they are trying rally themselves towards better play. One reason I’ve appreciated Joe Webb as a Vikings player is that, aside from the playoff game, his teammates (as a whole) play a hell of a lot harder for him than they did for Ponder. When he was sidelined for 2012 and 2013, and you read articles about Vikings practices, it’s hard not to notice sometimes just how much of a leadership position Webb had in practices and film sessions.

        You watch what other people do around the person you’re interested in, and not the person itself. Skeevy or malign people, like Ben Roethlisberger, for example, do not tend to have very many friends on the team, or people who like him very much at all. He’s a leader too, but a very brittle one on the basis of his own competence and his own fierce willingness to win. However, nobody really talks about Big Ben as the face of the franchise, for the same reason they don’t talk about Aaron Rogers. Besides being a piece of work, he doesn’t need the puffing.