DeMeco Update

Posted: March 30th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 198 Comments »

Today was apparently Give Injured Veteran Players Money Day.

DeMeco Ryans was signed to an extension. Jimmy Bama has the details on that.

Chip Kelly loves Ryans. He values him as a player and as a leader. Now Ryans will be an Eagle in both 2015 and 2016. On the surface, this seems like bad news for Mychal Kendricks. Kelly loves Kiko Alonso and Ryans. He doesn’t seem as emphatic when talking about Kendricks.

But Kelly might be willing to keep 3 starting ILBs. The Eagles generally play the most snaps in the league on defense. You could rotate the 3 ILBs to try and keep them all as fresh as possible. And all 3 have had recent injuries. Imagine if when Kendricks got hurt last year, you had Alonso and Ryans. Or that when Ryans got hurt, you had Kendricks and Alonso.

It is possible the Eagles will deal Kendricks. I don’t want them to do this any more than you do, but my opinion apparently matter’s less than Chip’s. Kendricks is entering the final year of his deal so if you aren’t committed to him long term, this is the time to deal him. Having him play this year and then leave as a free agent…that is the worst possible outcome.

We’ll know in about 6 weeks.

Now on to the Miles Austin side of things.

The more I think about this, the more I see Austin in the slot, like Jason Avant in 2013. Avant didn’t play on STs. He was just a solid veteran WR.

Some have asked if Austin could replace Riley Cooper. I guess that is possible, but I don’t feel that’s a likely scenario. If you get rid of Cooper, you want a clear upgrade. Austin would be more of a lateral move there.

There are a lot of good WRs in the draft. The Eagles could add one or two and have a much better looking receiver corps. You can’t count on those rookies to play like Jordan Matthews. That’s why you need someone like Austin who can be productive right away. He has limitations, but you know what you’re getting.

The one concern with Austin is durability. He’s had a lot of nagging injuries in his career, especially hamstrings. This could be the ultimate test for sports science.

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Miles Austin to the Eagles

Posted: March 30th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 202 Comments »

It looks like the Eagles have found a veteran WR to add to the mix. Miles Austin is in town. If he passes his physical, it sounds like he will sign with the team.

I preferred Hakeem Nicks, but that was based more on talent than fit. Austin is bigger. He can play the slot or outside. I can’t honestly tell you which guy is a better blocker. That’s something I’d have to watch tape to find out. I do think Austin is more of a high character guy.

Trying to figure out where Austin would fit in is a bit awkward.

You could have Matthews and Cooper on the outside, with Austin in the slot. Austin can play outside, but he’s not a guy you feed the ball to.

You still have Josh Huff and a rookie or two to add to the mix.

It will be interesting to see if there is any kind of a signing bonus or if Austin gets a minimal deal.

Do not think of this as Austin replacing Jeremy Maclin. The Eagles needed a veteran (or two) to add to the mix. Brad Smith is a free agent. We don’t know if Jeff Maehl is coming back. There was room for a veteran. With Matthews, Huff and at least one rookie, you’ll want a veteran receiver on the team to help them develop.

Hardly a compelling move, but does make some sense.

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So Far, So Good

Posted: March 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 219 Comments »

The offseason began in January. There have been coaching changes, front office changes, cuts, trades, signings and just about anything else that can happen to a team.

For my PE.com column, I took a look at what Chip Kelly set out to do and how things have gone.

There are 2 big misses: not getting FS Devin McCourty to leave the Patriots and losing Jeremy Maclin to the Chiefs. Of course, if they had pulled those moves off, other ones might not have taken place. McCourty would have been huge because that is such a tough position to fill. Maclin would have been good for the sake of continuity.

Obviously judging the offseason centers around how you assess the Sam Bradford trade. If you think this is doomed to fail and a complete waste of time and resources, you are going to be down on the offseason.

I’m keeping an open mind with the Bradford deal. That’s the guy Chip wanted. They talked to the Rams off and on for a month. This wasn’t a casual decision. I’m trusting Chip on that one.

I do like the fact the offense will be more physical and that the defense should be improved.

There are still holes to fill. WR, OL, S and CB still need help. And the draft is about adding overall talent to your roster.

There is no such thing as a perfect offseason. You’ll always come away wishing you could have done something else. The key is to make enough good moves and not to leave any glaring holes.

Remember that moves will take place into early September. Sometimes you can find key answers down the road. Just think about the impact of Cody Parkey, who came here in a trade on August 20. Not every key move happens in early March or on draft weekend.

* * * * *

I’ve got some interesting stats in the column in regard to Murray vs Shady. I was surprised at the numbers.

* * * * *

Jeff McLane wrote about Sam Bradford and how he’ll fit in Kelly’s offense. There were some good comments by Jason Kelce.

Bradford has been omnipresent at the NovaCare Complex since the trade and has already begun learning the offense with center Jason Kelce.

“I think he’s a guy that comes off very cerebral, very smart, very quick,” Kelce said. “He’s had a lot of bad luck in his career as far as injuries are concerned. And as far as – and I don’t want to throw any offensive lines under the bus – I think he’s much better now with us.

“I think he has a good chance to be very successful in this offense.”

* * * * *

A bit more on Mariota. I seem to be confusing some people.

Marcus Mariota is one of the top prospects in this draft. I think he can be a good starting QB. I do not think he is a special prospect that only comes around once every few years. Alex Smith and Andrew Luck both went #1 overall. Luck was a special prospect. Smith was the best QB in a weak group. Big difference.

I think Chip Kelly would love to draft Mariota. He knows how talented the guy is and what a good fit he would be in this system. That said, I think Kelly understands Mariota isn’t special. He’s not someone you sell out to get.

I think Mariota will go in the Top 10. A lot of teams are now showing interest in him. Some of this is pre-draft BS, but not all of it. There are too many teams that need a QB and he is a good one. That said, it is possible he will slide. If Mariota does make it outside the Top 10, I’m sure Kelly will make calls to see what the asking price is to move up. If reasonable, he might go for it. I just think this is a highly unlikely scenario.

If you had a time machine and knew how good Mariota could be, he might be worth selling out to get. But that is the difference in being a player and being a prospect. Players are known (or somewhat known) commodities. Prospects are complete projections. Would you trade 3 1st round picks for Aaron Rodgers? Probably. You know he is a special player. Mariota could be a Hall of Fame talent or a complete bust. I don’t think even Chip Kelly feels strongly enough about him to break the bank (in terms of picks).

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Slowly the Dream Fades Away

Posted: March 28th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 167 Comments »

Is it time to completely give up on Marcus Mariota as an Eagle? If not, it sure seems the time is drawing closer.

The Bucs and Titans have checked him out. That’s pick #1 and #2. Now the Skins (5th), Jets (6th) and others are taking a long look. The Chargers are interested. The Browns too. Possibly the Rams.

As I thought when all the Mariota talk started months ago, if he is truly a top QB prospect, teams ahead of the Eagles will want him. It would make for a great story to have Mariota get reunited with Chip Kelly, but reality is a great dream killer and that’s what seems to be happening here.

This could all be pre-draft BS, but I think Mariota is too good for none of these teams to have legitimate interest. I don’t think he’s got much of a chance at making it outside the Top 10 and I don’t think the Eagles have much chance at moving up that high to get him. I tend to trust Chip when he says he’s not mortgaging the future to get one player.

* * * * *

What’s going on at ILB?

The Eagles have:

Mychal Kendricks
Kiko Alonso
DeMeco Ryans
Brad Jones
Najee Goode
Emmanuel Acho
Brandon Hepburn

That is a pretty deep group.

But the team continues to check out ILB prospects aggressively. Could they really add someone else?

It sure seems that way. I can’t get a read on how Kelly feels about Kendricks. We know he loves Ryans and Alonso. He’s said plenty of good things about Kendricks, but did mention durability in regard to him the other day. I would love to see the Eagles extend Kendricks and keep him around.

That said, if they think his asking price is going to be too high, there is something to be said for dealing him now and adding a talented rookie to the mix.

I know the Eagles are improved at ILB. That’s good because it is a key part of the 3-4. I don’t know what the short term and long term plans are. That’s frustrating, but I am definitely curious to see how this all plays out.

* * * * *

In my recent mock draft I had the Eagles getting CB Eric Rowe in the 4th round. Yeah…that’s not going to happen. He will be going in the 2nd round most likely. There is some chatter that he could even go in the 1st.

Zach is a Seahawks fan/writer/draftnik who focuses on athletic prospects. From a height-weight-speed standpoint, Rowe does make sense in the 1st round. We’ll see what happens. There certainly is a lot of buzz about him right now, and the Eagles are part of that.

Chip stopped by the Utah Pro Day on his way home from the owners meetings.

Cornerback Eric Rowe (6-0 1/8, 203) stood on his numbers from the combine, which were outstanding (he was among the top performers in his position group in every drill). Rowe had a very good pro day workout, justifying Kelly being there (given the Eagles‘ glaring need at the position). The 2014 season was Rowe’s first at cornerback after having played safety prior. He had a slow start to the season due to an injury. However, he’s come alive during the draft season, having a very good combine and pro day.

Rowe certainly fits what the Eagles want to do. He can press. He’s big and tall. Runs well. Will he last to their 2nd round pick? Is he worth 20? Do you move back and then draft him in the late 1st?

There isn’t a ton to see here, but take a look if you want.

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Chip and the Truth

Posted: March 26th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 335 Comments »

I finally got to see the entire Chip Kelly breakfast talk. For those brave souls with an hour to kill, PE.com has the whole thing posted. I enjoyed it, but I’m one of those wackos that loves listening to football coaches speak.

If you try to compare some of what Chip says to his actions, to what Jeff Lurie said and to other bits of info, you will find some inconsistencies. Sheil Kapadia noted a couple of these in an excellent piece he wrote. Here’s one of them.

6. Kelly and Lurie offered two different stories when discussing the McCoy trade. Lurie said Kelly preferred a different style of runner, a one-cut back who didn’t dance. Kelly said it was purely a financial move to free up cap space.

We’ve been over this before, but believe the owner here. I can understand why Kelly doesn’t want to sound like he’s criticizing McCoy, but the Inquirer reported that the Eagles didn’t approach the running back about redoing his deal.

And in the end, the deal they gave DeMarco Murray is essentially the same over the next three years as the one McCoy was on. The only difference is Murray’s getting $18 million guaranteed, and McCoy was not. In other words, they had more flexibility with the McCoy contract.

Yes, it’s true that McCoy had a bigger cap hit in 2015, but that could have easily been restructured by guaranteeing some of his salary.

Bottom line: Kelly wanted a different style runner, and he wanted Kiko Alonso. That’s why the deal was made, not because of McCoy’s contract.

Kelly had a love-hate relationship with LeSean McCoy for 2 years. Like all of us, Kelly loves the dynamic runs. McCoy makes guys miss better than any RB in a long time. The problem is that McCoy struggled to embrace the 4-yard run. He was always looking to bounce a play outside or to cutback and find wide open space. That led to too many negative runs. (See this great ChipWagon post for some examples of poor decisions)

McCoy also made strange decisions down the field at times. Most notably, he made a cut in the Snow Bowl that turned a 70-yard TD run into a play where Ndamukong Suh caught him from behind and the play only went for 20 yards. That really bugged Kelly. The play worked. The blockers did their part. The offense had a long TD. Instead, a poor read and poor cut turned it into simply a nice gain.

As great as the highlight runs are, there is something about a physical, downhill runner. They are going to have fewer negative plays. They are going to wear down defenders. Good look at a list of Super Bowl winners. I don’t think you’ll see many in recent years where the leading runner’s best quality was elusiveness. I’m not saying you need Earl Campbell, but you want RBs that get behind their pads and attack up the field.

Instead of talking about football philosophy, Kelly chose to focus on money. He mixed in some comments about liking one-cut, downhill runners, but he didn’t focus on that.

It doesn’t benefit Kelly to talk about what he really wants in RBs. He’d rather have the other 31 teams think this is all about money that to truly know his thinking. If those teams study things, they’ll figure out the truth. But why make it easy on them?

A good coach will pick and choose when to be honest. Fans and the media want honesty. It eliminates guessing and tells them exactly what is going on. Coaches are trying to protect their ideas, strategies and desires. Can you imagine Seattle telling the world they were targeting Russell Wilson in the 3rd round going into the 2012 draft? Andy Reid really wanted him and would have known to move up.

Heck, sometimes teams go out of their way to deceive others. Under Tom Heckert and Howie Roseman, the Eagles would bring in a few draft prospects to the NovaCare that they actually didn’t have on their draft board. They wanted to keep the rest of the league guessing. Do the Eagles like that guy or not?

Kelly’s primary goal when lying is to protect the team, not to deceive us or fool the media. Andy Reid did much of the same. Reid often lied to protect his players. That drove fans nuts, but led to guys being incredibly loyal to him. As much as fans wanted Reid to rip Todd Pinkston, it served no purpose.

Study actions, not words, and you’ll have a better idea of what a person really thinks.

When Chris Polk took over on goal line plays last year, that was a big hint that McCoy might not be in the long term plans. Does anyone remember Ricky Watters, Duce Staley or Brian Westbrook leaving the field inside the 10-yard line in the prime of their careers?

There is no real benefit to spilling the beans and sharing all your thoughts and ideas in the NFL. That’s one place where honesty most certainly isn’t the best policy. Lie, lie and lie some more.

Those of us who want to know the truth will follow the bread crumbs and try to figure out what’s really going on.

* * * * *

I had an interesting thought tonight when thinking about RBs.

This will be Kelly’s third year. Look at the RBs he’s had here.

LeSean McCoy
Bryce Brown
Chris Polk
Darren Sproles
DeMarco Murray
Ryan Mathews

Wow, that is one impressive group. Long way from the days of Anthony Toney, Mark Higgs and Robert Drummond, huh?