Faster, Faster

Posted: May 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 66 Comments »

One of the ways that the Eagles can get better on offense is to be faster. There were times in 2013 when the offense moved at a blistering pace, but there were others when they almost looked conventional. Almost.

The media watching Thursday’s OTA session was impressed with the speed. It certainly got the attention of Ed Kracz.

Offensive plays came fast and furiously during seven-on-seven drills. Many times it was less than 10 seconds between snaps.

“Last year at this time we were trying to learn the offense,” quarterback Nick Foles said. “It was very vanilla. Every day was a learning curve and we had to redo the plays. Right now, we have a lot more stuff in and guys are very comfortable running what we have, and we’re adding more. I think it’s just a comfort zone with everybody. We can really go fast. It’s really helped the rookie learning curve because we have the vets who can teach them what to do and that helps a lot.”

Last year the players were learning the playbook and the style that Kelly wanted to play. Nothing was natural to them. There was a lot of thinking and that universally slows football players down. You want players playing, not thinking. It sounds like that is starting to happen this year and it could important as the offense tries to get even better.

* * * * *

Marcus Smith is playing the Jack LB spot right now. That means he is backing up Connor Barwin. We got very lucky last year that nothing happened to Barwin. There was no player on the roster who could really take his spot. I think there is definite wisdom in getting Smith snaps at that spot so that he could play there if needed. The Eagles could see that as his long term spot as well, but for now it makes sense to get him used to playing there.

With Smith at LOLB, that means that Brandon Graham remains the backup at ROLB. Zach Berman spoke to him and Graham is saying the right things.

“They want me here, I’m still here, all the rumors and whatever it is, it’s just rumors,” Graham said. “I feel like if it was something they wanted to do, I’d be gone.”

This part I’m not so sure about.

The Eagles might not have been able to find a taker for Graham, who has dealt with injuries, scheme changes, and position changes. He said he had weight issues last season while transitioning from defensive end to outside linebacker, but Graham is now at 265 pounds and said he is at the ideal weight for the spot.

“I’m able to move around a lot better,” Graham said. “I know the defense, I know what [the coaches are] looking for now in practice.”

I looked up an old story and Graham was down to 255 last year. Did adding 10 pounds help him to cover better and be more comfortable in space? I’ve got my doubts. Maybe the Eagles wanted him heavier, but then don’t sell us that you’re moving around better. Or maybe he lied last year about being 255. Weird.

We’ll see how he looks on the field. That’s the key. If he plays well, the weight isn’t a big issue. I’d love for Graham to prove me wrong and end up having a future with the Eagles. He’s got to impress the coaches enough to get on the field more.

* * * * *

One of the key battles in camp will be Nate Allen vs Earl Wolff.

Allen is starting for now. He is more experienced and I think Bill Davis puts real value in having a player back there who knows what he’s seeing and isn’t learning on the job. Wolff can still win the job by outplaying Allen. That won’t happen in a week or even two. Wolff has to show over time that he’s the better player and needs to be on the field.

I don’t care who wins the job. I just want one of the players to play well. Both Allen and Wolff looked good at times in 2013, but they need to be more consistent. Wolff is adjusting to the NFL. Allen is rebuilding his confidence after having major issues in 2011-12.

Safety could end up being a solid position.

_


  • Alex Karklins

    Is Bryan “Kill, Maim, Destroy” Braman more of a “Jack” or “Predator” at OLB? I’m curious to see if he earns any playing time on D.

    • Andy124

      Well, he was paired up with Graham so I guess he’s playing Jack for now.

      • Guest

        Graham is predator, behind cole.

        • Andy124

          And since Braman was paired up with Graham, that makes Braman the Jack, which is what I said.

          • GEAGLE

            Howie says his big ass runs something insane like a 4.4… That’s a Jack 4′sho

          • Andy124

            When something sounds too good to be true… It’s usually Nick Foles.

          • GEAGLE

            LOL

    • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

      STs

    • TommyLawlor

      Braman doesn’t have the pass rush skills to play ROLB. He would be a Jack, but is primarily a STer. I don’t know that he’ll see many snaps on D this year.

    • ohitsdom

      Braman was playing 2nd team Jack, Smith was playing 3rd team Jack.

  • MattE

    Smith is gonna learn the JACK and PREDATOR position, in reality he is the first linebacker we drafted to fit the new 3-4 scheme….. gotta start somewhere and take a gamble on someone, so why not a guy who can line up all over the place?

    • Jerry Pomroy

      I’m very curious to see where this ultimately leads. Yeah, Smith II is a fluid athlete, but he’s also a more fluid rusher than Barwin. I may be getting ahead of myself, but I just can’t envision Smith playing left with Barwin playing right on a consistent basis. But for what we know so far, it seems that Kelly & Davis will want to use Smith in a similar role to how he was used at Louisville, minus lining up at DT. But I could certainly see him as one of the LBs in nickel and the lone LB in dime packages.

      • Chippah

        They also may be looking to tone down the number of pass rushes the PREDATOR takes. Chip and Bill keep saying they want maximum disguise. Not knowing which OLB will be rushing on any given play is a great way to do that.

        • A_T_G

          Agreed, and now I am wishing I had scrolled a little farther before replying to the last thread.

          • Chippah

            It was still a good point. I’m excited about the possibilities.

        • Steag209

          I didn’t even consider that, but if they go that direction, it allows them to use Kendricks’ blitzing ability even more, and if they can do it at the beginning of the game more often, maybe it allows them to calm Mychal down too. His problem seems to be that he’s just running everywhere and maybe a few good pops at the start will bring him down to earth a little

    • GEAGLE

      See how strong and free safeties have disappeared from Eagles defense, and we roll with two interchangable safeties now?

      When Cole is gone, the predator and jack will disappear and we will roll with two interchangeable OLBs

      • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

        No score yet.

  • ICDogg

    “Safety could end up being a solid position.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOKociU8t_Q&feature=kp

    /obligatory

  • Jerry Pomroy

    I’m very interested in watching 3 players. Smith, Watkins & Matthews. I’m very curious as to the reasoning for Smith practicing on the left side. I was very much a proponent for him to learn both spots, but am more curious as to where the coaching staff really wants him to reside. Watkins has plus speed and athleticism and I’m very eager to see how he does and where he ends up. Matthews, I’m mainly just eager to see a big target that can catch the ball in traffic and then turn on the jets.

    • Sean Stott

      re Smith II at LOLB, I think it’s just a matter of practicality at this point. Having 1. Connor Barwin 2. Marcus Smith II and 1. Trent Cole 2. Brandon Graham is a lot better than 1. Connor Barwin 2. Casey Matthews and 1. Trent Cole 2. Brandon Graham/Marcus Smith II

      • Jerry Pomroy

        That makes perfect sense. I’m just kind of looking ahead to where ultimately Smith II plays.

        • A_T_G

          Even assuming Smith will move to the other side, which I do, having him learn what Barwin does will pay huge dividends in terms of flexibility when they are the two primary OLBs. Having both guys able to do what Barwin does would allow for better disguise and adjustments. Think of a TE or running back going in motion and the LBs just nod at each other and flip where the rush is coming from.

          • GEAGLE

            Yup yup… We won’t have to wait to see what side the TE lines up on… Fielding two OLBs who can rush the passer, set the edge and drop into coverage will be an added dimension that we didn’t have last year.. Obviously Cole will still play plenty of snaps, so we won’t get to enjoy the interchangeable OLBs too much this year….but I think the future is extremely bright for the OLB tandem of BRAMA Bull Barwin and Maaaaaarcus Daaaaaarling

    • GEAGLE

      Wrote this yesterday: Barwin only rushes from the 9-5 gaps which is easiest for Marcus to start off with. Those are basically the gaps that a traditional 4-3DE would rush… Where as Cole gets pushed into the inside gaps often,,, Not only is rushing from those spots easiest to start a rookie off at..
      DF3 brought a great point that Marcus is the only one with the real skill set to backup Barwin… It makes much more sense to have Marcus back up Barwin with BG and Cole on the other side..

      I’d assume Travis Long is 3rd string on Coles side, with Braman on Barwins side
      ….

      My guess is Marcus learns the Jack/joker and when we replace Cole with Marcus eventually, the OLB spots become interchangable just like our safeties… We will have no box safety no cover safety, to tip off QBs about where our safeties will be, and we will have NO predator and No jack to tip off QBs about which our OLBs are we sending after him and which are dropping into Coverage… No jacks/predators.. Only OLBs!! No strong or free, ONLY Safeties…. Interchangable safeties and OLBs. Along with a Multi front defense is the most disguise a defense can ever hope to achieve… Brilliant blueprint to build our defense..
      .,
      Our defense will be nasty in the not so distant future

    • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

      for now we have cole AND graham at ROLB, thats the pass rushers, thats what they do best.

      What connor and smith does best is drop into coverage hence why smith is playing LOLB at the moment.

  • CrackSammich

    It’s probably a better idea to start Smith out by training him behind the only true OLB on our roster, Barwin. And say what you will about Cole’s age, but he still is the best pass rusher for the scheme on the team, and Smith shouldn’t take over his spot until he outplays him.

  • Jerry Pomroy

    If anyone sees me write Joker, I mean Jack. Just always get hung up on liking that Joker name. So no need to correct me. Just force of habit.

    • HipDaDip

      Don’t you mean Jack?

      • Jerry Pomroy

        I apparently don’t know Jack.

        • GEAGLE

          That’s what She(Jill) said

  • Mike Cappelli

    I don’t know how likely it is that Brandon Graham has a good season, but if he does and becomes a legit predator then I think it makes the Eagles D a (borderline) elite unit. If Foles makes forward progress in terms of consistency and Graham finally makes a leap then I truly believe we can win the division and a wildcard game.
    I’m not taking any bets on Graham making that leap but I see him as someone who is in a unique position to make us a top 10 defense.

    • Keepingitreal

      I think Graham certainly can do so, and I agree whole heartedly. this is the first time Graham returns to the same defensive coach and scheme uninjured.

  • Jason

    Jimmy Bama and others speculated that Smith practicing at Jack could presage a Barwin shift to Predator. What if it actually means that Davis/Kelly are trying to achieve true parity/versatility between both OLB?

    Start training Smith in Jack coverage responsibilities so that Davis can work Smith in on early downs, where his coverage and run support can be maximized and allow more opportunities for Barwin to rush the QB. Eventually, Cole becomes more of a third down pass rushing OLB. Next season, ideally, you have mirror players on the outside in Barwin and Smith so that the offense never knows who is more likely to rush or who is more likely to drop in the scheme.

    • ICDogg

      Yep

    • GEAGLE

      That’s the impression I’m getting.
      ..
      Chip wanted to do away with “strong” and “free” when it came to the safety position…and he is right. QBs are too smart these days, so we have to make it difficult for QBs to not know where our safeties will be,…. The drafting of Marcus leads me to believe that we are doing away with Jack and predator down the road…QBs no longer get to look at our defense and know that a certain player will be rushing 85%’of the time and the OLB on the other side will usually be in coverage…Once Marcus is ready, we can just line up, not worry how the other team lines up because our right side mirrors the left….where as many defenses can’t line up until they see which side the TE is lining up on…..

      QBs not knowing which safety is in the box and which will be in centerfield…. QBs not knowing which OLB is coming, and which is dropping is going to be an asset for our defense..And I’m excited that this seems to be the direction our defense is headed

  • Neil

    As far as Smith playing LOLB, I think they’re looking at it like we absolutely really want Smith to learn only one position as he adjusts to the NFL, which is what they continually emphasised they were doing with Boykin, and they need somebody who could do what Barwin could if Barwin went down. And I think if Cole went down, they’d slide Barwin over to that side and get Smith in on the left still because Barwin seems cerebral enough to handle that. Graham would really have to impress to get on the field more than Smith.

    • Sean Stott

      “Graham would really have to impress to get on the field more than Smith.” Not necessarily, especially since Trent Cole takes a lot less snaps than Barwin.

  • D3FB

    Another thing to think about with Smith playing “Jack” right now is the fact that OTA’s are non contact practices. With the “Jack” position requiring much more responsibility, with moving around, knowing which receiver to cover, on top of all the run game fits, and blitzes, it makes more sense to have him learn the “Jack” now. It’s not like he could be working on pass rush moves, or controlling the point of attack against the run, so he may as well learn the more mentally demanding position when it’s just a glorified walkthrough.

    • Insomniac

      Obvious smokescreen is obvious. Smith is clearly going to be one of our starting safeties.

    • TommyLawlor

      Good point.

  • GEAGLE

    I feel for BG… But he doesn’t have a future here…

    The plan is to extend our young players before they reach free agency,..BG isn’t going to sign an extension with us…the ONLY change we could keep him, would be a Nate situation where he finds out there is no market for him! and he comes back on a one year deal… But even that isn’t likely…pass rushers are always highly coveted…

    But I find projecting this years OLB to be extremely hard. last year we only had 3. Connar,Brandon and Trent, we had to pretend Casey Mathews was the 4th…
    This year we are 6 deep with OLBs that I’m really not keen on losing. I would really like to see what BG can do year two in this scheme. I really don’t want to lose him without seeing what he can do in year two. But I’m conflicted because if I know that having BG past this season is extremely unlikely, it’s difficult for me to give up a young talent like Travis Long, just for a one year rental of BG… Travis has experience rushing as an OLB AND as a 4-3DE which is what our scheme requires…and I don’t believe we can sneak him on the PS… If we have to lose him, hopefully we can sell him on IR…

    This position illustrates what a good job we did of improving team depth. OLB was one of our weakest positions. It’s one of the 3 most valued positions in the game and we only carried 3 on our roster last year. We went from Casey Mathews being our 4 OLB, to now having:
    Jack: Barwin, Marcus darling, Braman (and all 3 are locks to make roster)
    ..
    Predator/elephant: Cole, BG, Travis Long,
    ..
    kadu/Villanueva battling for practice squad.

    We carried 3 OLBs last year, now we have 3 jacks who are a lock to make the roster.. How many predators are we going to keep.

    Predator Problems: Hard to keep 6 OLBs. Assumption is that there is a great chance Coles contract Gets the Axe after the season, and BG leaves for greener pastures.. So are we going to lose a young player like Travis Long, so that we can carry two one year rentals(Cole/BG)???

    This is all very confusing to me, and impossible to project. Ideally, Travis Long likes it here, realizes that Cole and BG could both be gone next year, and decides to fall to the ground screaming in Agony: “my neck, my back! my neck and my back” and sacrafices a year on IR vacation…really sucks to lose a young player over guys who won’t be here next year.

    I’m so torn, because not only do I want to see BG in year two, but we are a pretty strong team, who is trying to make a playoff run and Brandon is an NFL ready pass rusher we can throw at QBs….

    I guess the ideal scenario is get Travis to IR… BG has a great year, signs a lucrative contract With someone else and we get a decent compensatory pick. if we can’t IR Travis, than hopefully a serious Super Bowl contender who’s window is closing suffers horrible injury luck at pass rusher this summer and is forced to pony up a pick for BG in August,,,

    Since I believe Braman is a lock, I guess my projection is we keep 5:
    Braman, Barwin, Marcus, Cole, BG…

    Because we are keeping 2 more OLBs than last year, I wonder if Jaylen Watkins ability to play emergency safety means we only end up keeping 4 safeties, instead of 5 like last year…
    ..l
    And with Malcolm’s ability to play emergency corner, I wonder if the only Keep 4 corners, instead of 5 last year.
    ..
    If we are going to keep two extra OLBs, another position will be short. It can’t be the DL. We rotate 6 in each game, so like last year we have to keep 7 and only dress 6… So my guess is we only keep 5 CBs, and 4 safeties:

  • GEAGLE

    Ced/Cox = interchangeable DEs
    ..
    hart/Kruger = Interchangeable DEs
    ..
    Marcus/Barwin = Interchangeable OLBs

    Cary/Brad = Interchangeable CBs

    Jenkins/Wolff = Interchangeable Safeties

    Free and strong safeties will be gone. Jack and Predator will be gone.
    …,
    Multi front defense +interchangeable safeties/OLBs/DEs = MAXIMUM DISGUISE!!!!!

    • ICDogg

      Yeah, there’s something to that idea. Although I don’t see Ced and Cox as “interchangeable” parts. But not everything has to be.

      • GEAGLE

        On first and second down they are….
        ..
        But yeah, as long as the safeties and OLBs are interchangeable it provides maximum disguise

        • ICDogg

          Nah, because Cox is a much bigger threat to rush the gap while Ced will retain 2-gap responsibility nearly always.

          • GEAGLE

            Yeah, but it’s not a case to where, depending on how the offense lined up, they would have to switch Sides..

            And hart and Kruger are almost mirror images. on paper(in terms of basing this off last time I saw either player in action), I would give Hart a slight edge against the run, with Kruger being the better pass rusher. Krugs has a chance to win a spot in the interior pass rusher rotation…

            Really hope we can keep these 7′DL together.
            Think Beau and Bennie can grow to compliment each other as the perfect NT combo for this scheme.
            ..
            I also really love the potential of our two waves of DE’s Cox/Ced and Hart/Krugs with Curry being our joker wild card, change of pace fastball type… Think those 7 DL can develop into one of the strengths of this team…tho I imagine it’s not going to be easy to give 7 Young DL, second contracts…

    • RobNE

      it’s the Borg.

  • Ben

    If anyone is interested in hearing Nick Foles do his radio interview on WIP today then here’s the link. This kid ceases to amaze. http://nyc.podcast.play.it/media/d0/d0/d1/d5/dE/dW/d9/15EW9_3.MP3?authtok=5562416455004929630_9AsfjrzwZ40rOsKVKkSxNcVj3s

    • TommyLawlor

      Thanks for the link.

    • SteveH

      ceases to amaze you or never ceases to amaze you? I haven’t listened to it, so did he bomb or was he awesome?

      • GEAGLE

        Awesome as always

    • GEAGLE

      Thank you sir… As always, hearing Nicky BIGTIME is a TREAT!!!

      I don’t know how the hell we lucked out and landed this coach, this QB, this defensive coordinator…. But I couldn’t feel more fortunate as an eagles fan. Our hearts, are In very good hands!

    • Mark F

      So, you’re definitely no longer amazed by him…

    • Ben

      Okay never ceases to amaze me. Sheesh. You guys are a tough crowd. LOL

      • SteveH

        Sorry, I was genuinely confused as to what you meant when you posted it :). I’ve since listened to it and yeah Nick is amazing at these interviews. Wonderful self deprecation near the start: “I’m just not that interesting of a guy”. Love the fact that he doesn’t see himself as a media personality. Seems to really commit to the idea of being a team player rather than just giving it the lip-service a lot of players do. Real genuine sounding cat overall.

        I don’t *need* to have likable players on the Eagles, but it is nice when it happens.

    • Phyxius

      Thanks for this!

  • GEAGLE

    I can’t get over some of these boneheads around the NFL..

    Josh Gordon is expected to get slapped with. 16 game suspension…so what does the genius do? Memorial Day weekend he gets a ticket for speeding, and the passenger in his car gets charged with marihuana possession.,,SMH.. Good luck trying to appeal your suspension now pal….when did drivers start not getting in trouble when a passenger gets caught with an illegal substance?
    ..
    What are the chances that the weed really didn’t belong to Gordon?
    ….
    Daryl Washington IMO, is one of the best LBs in the game. losing his is a major blow for the cardinals…anyone hear any rumors about what substance he got in trouble for using? If I’m the owner of a playoff caliber team, and one of my best players can be so stupid and selfish that he would let down an entire franchise and city like that. I would be furious…

    When I was younger I used to echo that football isn’t a game of choir boys and we can’t rule out every great player who isn’t a model citizen….but as I get older it really makes me start to appreciate the emphasis we put into bringing intelligent, high character human beings into our locker room
    ,,,
    Football is such a physical game. Injuries play such a huge role in our entire seasons unfold. It’s bad enough that due to the nature of this game you are going to suffer injuries to key players. Losing guys to injury Is bad enough, but on top of that teams are losing key players due to stupidity…and I’m really thankful that our leaders and decision makers are trying to create a culture that doesn’t have to worry about that…

    If our spots science/training keeps us one of the more healthy teams, and the emphasis we put into character ensures we don’t lose many players to stupidity like suspensions…it will be a major advantage for us compared to a lot of franchises…

    We dealt with so many Drama filled offseason for various reasons..TO contract disputes, QB battles, Racist-Riley-gate…… I would like NOTHING more than a peaceful offseason..,, look around the league and see some good teams with top players like Vernon Davis talking about sitting out from some offseason activities due to contract disputes….
    ,,,
    Really really makes me appreciate the culture we have already established and the leadership we are getting from our coaches/FO/team leaders!!

    • GEAGLE

      Lol @ teams like Cowboys/cardinals who have to “kick the tires” on starting a guy like one of phillies favorite idiots, Ernie “shark in his teammates water” Simms…

    • Rambler

      Daryl Washington’s agent said in a statement that it was a result of marijuana. That makes little sense to me to warrant a full season ban. Thinking maybe its a combo of the trouble he has been in that landed this lengthy suspension. Its hard for me to relate to these young athletes that play a game for a living, and make millions of dollars doing it. But I agree with you… how the heck do you not take your career and livelihood seriously?

      • GEAGLE

        Smh,., his suspension is going to cost him 3million dollars. I don’t care what it is, coke. Booze, pot, funyans..How could you like ANYTHING more than you like 3 million dollars?
        ..,
        Bad enough teams have to lose players due to injury…you can’t be also losing top plays due to selfish stupidity…whatever Daryl smoked, was it really worth letting down an entire franchise and City? And they still have to worry about the Honeybadger lol

        Hate Bruce Arians…but I would be really disgusted if say, Mykal Kendricks just got suspended for the season for whatever reason…

  • GEAGLE

    Bennie Logan is hysterical on the PE.com podcast. Really shy dude, hates attention. I don’t think he realizes how funny he is

    Talks about how much he loves playing NT, because he is usually picking on centers with arms much shorter than his… Was surprised to see how Lane dunks…our RT is a freak

    • SteveH

      If you click on the PE.com link it takes you to the press enterprise website. PhiladelphiaEagles.com is where the podcast is right?

      • GEAGLE

        Yeah..sorry

  • Joe Putin

    Might be time to update that Iggles Blitz logo, Tommy.

    • GEAGLE

      That’s what they said when they took Kelly green away! Booooooo!!!!!