X’s and O’s

Posted: June 25th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 51 Comments »

Chip Kelly certainly made game reviews and All-22 articles a lot of fun to read last year. He brought in some new ideas and did things that we hadn’t seen before. We learned a lot last year, but still have a lot more to take in.

Matt Bowen of Bleacher Report wrote a great X’s and O’s piece on Kelly’s offense.

Matt is a former NFL Safety. I’ve met him at the Senior Bowl and he’s a friendly guy as well as being a technical guru and interesting writer. Be warned, though. Matt does mix in lots of football lingo.

It is great to read the X’s and O’s pieces by Sheil Kapadia, Derek Sarley and ChipWagon, but it is also fun to see what an outsider says. Bowen is a national writer and based out of Chicago. Plus, he brings a defensive player’s outlook to Kelly’s offense. Really good stuff.

* * * * *

Ed Kracz wrote his minicamp summary recently and made an interesting prediction.

  • Darren Sproles will return punts. Not a shaky limb to walk out upon, but there are many players practicing it. Sproles has done it and done it very well in his career.
  • Carroll will return kickoffs. This is a shakier limb, but the free agent cornerback has been practicing it — along with a half-dozen others — and doing it well. He’s never done it before, but said he is willing to do whatever he can to help team win.
  • Brandon Graham won’t be here for Sept. 7 opener. Graham has said he wants to be in Philly, but the outside linebacker position is filled with depth behind starters Trent Cole and Connor Barwin. The group includes this year’s No. 1 pick Marcus Smith and free agent pick-up Bryan Braman, whom outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern talked highly of last week.
  • Three Ducks will make the team. There are eight former players on the 90-man roster from Kelly’s previous coaching stop at Oregon. The ones who will be on the final roster are receivers Josh Huff and Jeff Maehl and defensive lineman Brandon Bair. Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi will be on the practice squad. Gone will be Casey Matthews, Will Murphy and Josh Kaddu.
  • Ertz will close gap on Celek. The second-year tight end came on strong as the season went along last year. Still, he played in just 41 percent of the offensive snaps to the 77 percent of veteran tight end Brent Celek. This disparity won’t be near as wide this season as the changing of the guard from Celek to Ertz slowly begins.

The Brandon Graham note is something we’ve wondered about for a while. We’ll have to see how that situation plays out. It was interesting that OLB coach Bill McGovern talked up Bryan Braman. I’ve focused on him almost exclusively from a STs standpoint.

The prediction that caught my eye was Brandon Bair making the team over Taylor Hart. That would be a big surprise to me. Bair did spend time on the practice squad last year so he’s not some random guy to speculate about. I just think Hart is a player the team has high hopes for. We’ll see how they play in pads.

* * * * *

Jimmy Bama had his list of 5 players who impressed in the OTAs.,

2) WR Jordan Matthews

Jordan Matthews’ work ethic has been well documented by now, which is fine and good, but Chad Hall had good work ethic too. The more important question is, “Can Matthews play?”

Yep, he can play.

Matthews isn’t just a try hard guy. He has great size at 6’3, 215-ish, he ran a 4.46 at the Combine, and he was the all-time receptions leader at Vanderbilt. He also stood out in OTAs and minicamp, making catch after catch after catch. It may take some time for Matthews to be an impact player at this level, but at a minimum, he should be a significant ‘day one’ upgrade over Jason Avant.

Great point about Chad Hall and effort. You love players that work and play hard, but they must be talented to really have any impact. Matthews is talented. We just don’t know how good he’ll be.

_


  • RogerPodacter

    i like jimmys article about foles:

    last year i wrote this about Foles “blah blah blah last year i wrote this about Foles…”

    we’re going back in time here lol

    • Ark87

      Yeah everyone in the comments were complaining about how confusing and poorly writtten it is. Jimmy has some haters, that’s how you know he’s made it, lol.

      • SteveH

        Most internet comment sections are cesspools of hate and anger. Igglesblitz is truly a rose among thorns.

        • Ark87

          It can get a little rough in here during the regular season when the amount of posters here balloons but for the most part (relative) sanity wins out. It’s a pretty good culture Tommy has going here, as diverse as it is.

          • RogerPodacter

            yea this place is great. thankfully, there are enough of us like-minded enough to more or less self-police the comments. its great when people see things differently and can have a good talk about it. its not so great when we get the people that see any opinion that is not their own as “drinking the kool-aid” or whatever the kids are saying these days.

          • SteveH

            Self-policing is key. When a community has a strong base of like minded individuals the bad apples tend to root themselves out (for the most part).

          • SteveH

            Yeah that can be understandable though. Emotions tend to run pretty high during/after the games. We still do a solid job of not directing the frustration at each other on the whole.

          • Ark87

            Not just the passion of the season kicks up, but we also get folks stumbling straight out of the internet wilderness all juiced up on like internet troll rabies going buck wild flaming people they don’t agree with and such. But they are a tiny the minority of the new faces. Most of the new faces around here have been reading Tommy’s articles and the comments sections for months or longer who finally want to partake in the conversation. So I want to be clear, the upped volume of readers/posters here are welcomed and are overwhelmingly a positive thing during the season, but the occasional crazy does inevitably show up. But relative to every other site… iggles blitz still can’t be beat.

      • RogerPodacter

        hahaha i don’t see anything wrong with it. its like Inception or some crap. personally, i love most of Jimmy’s writing.
        i wouldn’t be surprised if Jimmy did it on purpose just to get those commentors going. hah

        • Ark87

          Same here. Jimmy is great, I’m happy for him, but I do kind of miss blogging the beast where he could really let loose. Still his writing is so fresh for philly.com, which badly needs it.

  • Mike Roman

    Thoughts on the NBA draft, Tommy?

    • RobNE

      not Tommy but I’m excited to see what Hinkie will do. Could be anything. I don’t even follow the NBA but Hinkie has me excited. We’re lucky to have him and Chip.

      • Mike Roman

        Same here. The buzz about MCW last year got me paying attention for the first time since Iverson’s heyday. Now I’m actually intrigued to watch the draft tomorrow. Hell, I may even start watching games this year.

        • RobNE

          well hold on there. I haven’t watched games. But I read all about the last draft and this one is interesting. I’ve taken to read Liberty Ballers blog now and then.

          The NBA is just so lopsided in talent. The soft cap makes it so hard to go from bad to good. But Hinkie seems to totally understand the rules of the game. Should be fun.

          Hinkie seems to be the anti-Amaro

          • Mike Roman

            I heard Sir Charles wants to be a GM someday. Since we already have Hinkie, maybe he can just replace Amaro!

          • Insomniac

            Sir Charles would gamble all of our hope away.

        • Sean Stott

          MCW is way overrated right now. Need to trade him before his value plummets.

    • SteveH

      Sixers got screwed in the worst possible way when Embiid broke his foot. They were all set to pick up either Parker, Wiggins or a healthy Embiid, now might have to settle for an injury question mark Embiid, someone like Exum or trade back and pick a lower impact guy.

      Winless for Wiggins came so close to fruition too…

      • Mike Roman

        I hope they don’t pick Exum. MCW with one less year of pro experience (from what I understand about basketball). If they can’t trade up for Parker or Wiggins, I guess at this point I hope they trade back, land an extra pick, and maybe draft Embiid and stash him. I dunno.

        First they got screwed getting the 3rd pick. Then things weren’t so bad when it seemed like Cleveland would take Embiid. Then Embiid got hurt and here we are.

        • RobNE

          I hear you both. We did not get lucky with either the lottery or the injury, but I have faith in Hinkie and the process and that he will make smart decisions. The luck will come and go at times.

      • Vik

        Trade MCW to Lakers for the 7th overall. Draft Exum at 3, Embiid at 7 and Saric at 10. Suck for another year. Get a top 5 next year. That way team will have a solid core with Exum at 1, Saric at 3, Noel at 4 and Embiid at 5. But that would mean another year of terrible play from the 6ers. But whats one more year.

  • ICDogg

    Bowen writes these great articles and puts them in Bleacher Report, of all places. Considering B/R’s typical level of article, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Or should I say a good thumb among nothing but sore thumbs.

  • RobNE

    I don’t think Maehl makes it. He just seems like Benn without as much talent. Of course I am projecting on Benn, but I’m optimistic and Maehl never seemed to do much last year. I don’t see us keeping both.

    • Dominik

      Was shocked about that one, too. Hart doesn’t make the team?? Remember, Chip admitted he wanted him in the third round. Third is serious business. Blair makes the team instead? Without having seen him, I don’t think so. If, then Kruger will be PS’d again. And don’t forget that OTAs aren’t made for Linemen. I don’t think Hart could have done anything so wrong at this point to cut a 5th rounder (and PS means cutting in the first place).

      I would be very upset if Maehl makes this team. Guy has barely any NFL talent. He making the team would mean a bad TC for Smith and Benn. I hope that won’t happen

  • eagleyankfan

    This is an awesome June read but let’s be careful. Last year we read how well DJ was doing. Once the season started, he had a hard time getting on the field. Oh my. Since he’s practicing — that makes it all ok because if he wasn’t practicing, than I’d have to raise an eye brow. Graham — baring injuries — is probably gone. As we’ve seen, injuries have a way of helping people make the squad who were destined to be cut.
    Wait – CM is still on the team?
    I was a bit surprised about that Maehl guy.

    • Sean Stott

      You mean BG is gone after 2014, if anything. He is dirt cheap for his talent.

      • RobNE

        no I think he means like Avant last year, Graham this year will be cut if there aren’t injuries to others, b/c he just doesn’t fit (like Avant last year) and we have more depth this year. If it’s between one year of cheap Graham, who will never fit, or someone else that is/could be part of the future, Graham will get cut. Ideally, traded.

        • eagleyankfan

          Exactly.

        • Sean Stott

          No way in hell they cut Graham before the 2014 season is over. Makes no sense. He is a cheap, high quality pass rusher that at the very least is worth his salary for nothing but 3rd down nickel packages.

          • anon

            “high quality” is questionable — but agree doesn’t make sense to cut him this year — next year he’s gone, but he’ll have a ring by then so it’s all good.

          • eagleyankfan

            I think in the past, Eagles kept players because they were cheap. I think Chip keeps players who are multi-faced and productive. I’m not sure Graham fits that bill in this scheme.

      • Ark87

        I agree, while plenty of the guys on this roster have gotten sacks, most of them have been as blitzers coming through unblocked, or recognized far too late to make a proper block, the only one’s I’ve seen beat their blockers for a sack (where coverage isn’t forcing the QB to hold onto the ball too long) are Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, and Fletcher Cox. Those are the only guys we’ve got who have proven they can beat their man in the NFL and get after the QB. That’s just not enough. Keep BG while Marcus Smith earns his wings I say. Of course camp and preseason can change my mind a bit.

        • GEAGLE

          I would have liked to see what BG could do in his second year of OLB, but he won’t make this roster. Our coaches won’t want to lose Travis Long to keep BG for a year and then watch him leave in free agency at the end of the year…..Travis Long isn’t some LONGSHOT Undrafted free agent type of talent. The dude had some serious game, and went Undrafted because of a knee injury happening at a horrible time…Travis back to good help is like adding another 3rd to 5th round talent edge rusher who will be a great backup to Cole this year, having experience rushing out of two and three point stances… If both Travis and BG’s contracts expired at the end of the year, BG would probably make this roster, but we aren’t going to want to loss a promising talent like long who we have under contract for a guy that we know odds are high that he leave us at the end of the year……..

          Expect to keep 5 OLBs THIS year:
          Jack: Barwin, Marcus, Braman(ST specialist)
          Predator: Cole and Travis long
          ..

          • Ark87

            I agree, Brandon Graham (probably) has 0 long term value for us, but I do believe there is sort of a minimum bar for how many legitimate pass rushers (again, people that can take on a blocker and win rather than scheme for a free rush) that you should go into a season with. Yes I’d rather go into the season with someone with more long term value than BG, but can we afford to? Seriously, if we put a top 10 defense on the field this season, we are super bowl contenders. While our best years are ahead of us, I believe in this year too.

            I’ll put it this way, it does seems like BG is expendable given his long term value to this football team, but for me, someone needs to make him expendable first. So I want to see Travis or Marcus step it up this preseason and show me we can count on at least one of them to rush the passer (I believe in both of these guys long term, but have something to prove for the short term). And it isn’t even about sack numbers, it’s getting the QB to bring his eyes down and start thinking about where he is going rather than where the ball is going.

          • GEAGLE

            I would actually prefer being wrong about this, feel much more comfortable having BG back and I’m also curious to see what he can do I’m his second year at OLB…I just don’t see,how he can realistically make this roster…think we are high on Travis Long, and we should be if he is anything close to being back to his pre injury form when he was a beast pass rusher…

            What a difference a year makes… This is the most improved position on the entire team
            last year at OLB we had:
            1) Barwin our one real OLB
            2) Cole/BG two 4-3DE making transition
            3) ILB Casey Mathews was backing up Barwn

            Look how far we have come. Casey Mathews was our 4th OLB last year, now we are talking about two guys we don’t want to lose BG vs. Long battling for the 5th OLB spot…

          • Sean Stott

            Also if T.Cole can play like he did late in the season, that would be huge. Would love to see him restructure and stick around.

          • anon

            I think BG plays the season — I can’t imagine they’d screw him over like that. If they were just drop him after the draft.

  • GEAGLE

    I hate to say it but If we can’t get anything for BG, he will get cut. Kraez is right about BG not making this roster, but his reasoning is off. The 4 OLBs he listed were never in doubt, the reason we have to cut BG, is because we won’t want to lose Travis Long, talented young player we have under contact for a few years, over BG who everyone knows will leave us when he hits free agency at the end of the year. We will keep Barwin,Marcus, Cole,Long, Braman

    Completely disagree about sticking hart on the practice squad,.. There is no reason for it. Taylor is NFL ready. We had to redshirt Kruger for a year and get him on the strength program in order to get him to Taylor Harts size…the value in Taylor was one of the few NFL ready 4 techniques…you have to be an imbecile to try and sneak him on the practice squad because a team like the steelers will poach him with the quickness. We aren’t going to risk Taylor hart for Bair… That’s some seriously idiotic ish to write.
    ..
    A few of us were having a discussion about looking forward to the 3rd quarter of the preseason to see what the tandem of Braman and Long can do at OLB…Long is a predator type so he will allow us to cut BG…Braman is more of a jack type. Braman is supposed to be a really fast, freak athlete…I’d bet he explodes nicely off the line and has good bend so hopefully a great teacher like McGovern can develop him into an extra 3rd down pass rusher..
    ..
    For what it’s worth, I got Braman to promise that he would hit Tony Romo really hard lol so I’m rooting for the kid

    • Sean Stott

      I’m sorry, but if you think BG is not even gonna make the roster you must be an autistic child.

      • GEAGLE

        K… Remember I said it… The child IMO is the one who assumes a guy who has no future here will be kept as the 5 OLB lol

        • Sean Stott

          You make it sound like the Eagles are the Sixers, thinking only of long term. Chip wants to win now, so does Jeff Lurie and so does Howie. No one dumps a good, very cheap player because he won’t be around in a year’s time. Even if he is just a 1 year rental, which he very well may be, he is tremendous value for a proven pass rusher. He is by far the third best OLB on the team, head and shoulders above everyone beyond T.Cole and Barwin. You don’t cut a guy like that. They WON’T cut a guy like that.

          • Insomniac

            4th best OLB*

          • Jernst

            I don’t think the thought of graham getting cut is outlandish at all. And, I’m not sure I’d even call him a proven pass rusher.

    • GENETiC-FREAK

      Isnt there some dead money if Graham gets cut? Think he only gets cut if he gets outplayed.

      • GEAGLE

        Think there would def be some dead money to eat..
        ..
        But we have 4 OLBs who roster spots are more guaranteed this year than BGs: Cole,Barwin!Braman and a marcus…

        And then we have BG vs. Travis long

        • Sean Stott

          Braman is never going to see the field on defense.

          So, 4 LB’s: LOLB: 1. Barwin 2. Smith ROLB: 1. Cole 2. Graham. Honestly what you’re saying doesn’t make sense at all.

          • GEAGLE

            I’m saying Travis long makes it over BG…yeah doesn’t make sense at all lol
            .,,
            No offense, but there is always someone like you talking shit telling me I don’t make sense..we will see.
            ,,
            Trade/cut, BG won’t be on this roster in September…and I’d rather you prove right then me…we’ll see tho.,. Don’t be made to look stupid by an autistic child…that would. Not be a good look

        • GENETiC-FREAK

          I see 5 CBs n 5 S n possibly 7 DL.. So it will come down to ILB, OLB for who gets the extra spot.. 4 ILB n 5 OLB..? Either way think its gonna be Graham, Braman n Long battling for a spot for OLB

          • GEAGLE

            Think the 5 OLB I named…tho one of them, Braman is just a ST player…anything we get out of him at OLB is gravy.
            .
            Def keeping 7 DL(dress 6) think this is easiest position to project:
            Thornton,Logan,Cox
            Kruger, Beau, Curry
            hart
            ..,
            5 CB:
            Cary, Brad, Nolan
            Boykin, Jaylen
            ..
            5 safeties:
            Malcolm, Wolff, Nate
            Reynolds, maragos..

            ILB is what I struggle with….

  • anon

    Interesting Foles is no. 1 — seems like he’s played “worse” this year than last (in shorts). Not saying he’s not impressive, think the other guys have impressed moreso (maybe just b/c they’re new).

    • A_T_G

      Upon what are you basing that he seems worse than last year? Last year he and Vick were swimming trying to handle the new ideas and the pace. This year I have read repeatedly how he has taken charge, how accurate he looks and how he is driving the ball into tight windows.