Building Plans

Posted: January 29th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

When Jimmy Johnson took over as coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, he looked around the NFC East and saw the Eagles as the team he had to plan for. Johnson saw a team of athletic playmakers on offense and defense. He built Dallas to have enough speed and size to beat the Eagles. That didn’t happen for the first couple of years, but Dallas split with the Eagles in 1991 and 1992 and then swept the Birds in 1993 and 1994. I think Dallas might have won a Super Bowl or two, but I can’t quite remember.

Interesting note from Jeremiah, and one that makes sense.

But it also raises a question. Who do NFC teams build their teams to stop/deal with?

There really isn’t a clear team for the NFC to plan around. SF had a great year, but we don’t know if they’ll be able to sustain this level of success. We don’t know if Drew Brees is going to retire or come back to the Saints. Green Bay feels like a mystery team.

Seattle? The Rams? Minnesota?

I don’t know that there is anyone you specifically have to plan for.

The Eagles have to figure out how they want to approach the offseason. They could build up the offense, hoping to surround Carson Wentz with as much talent as possible. They actually tried that in 2019. Things just didn’t go right, in terms of injuries or players getting the job done.

The Eagles could look at how SF added weapons to their defense and decide to go that route.

There isn’t a clear cut answer. There isn’t a fool proof plan. The key is to do a good job of self-scouting so you have an honest accounting of the talent on hand. Then you need to add the right players to build on strengths and to fix weaknesses. And of course you have to hope they stay healthy.

One of the key things for the Eagles to figure out is what they want to do at WR. In the past, Howie Roseman has talked about rookie receivers struggling to contribute. We saw several rookie wideouts play well in 2019. Will that change the Eagles thinking? If not, then they may feel they need veterans at WR and addressing CB should be done in the draft.

The Eagles study positional production and age. This isn’t just Howie throwing some BS off the wall. That said, there is constant change in the NFL. If the Eagles thought they could bring in a couple of rookie WRs and get them to contribute right away, that would be ideal. It would surround Wentz with young talent that could grow around him.

The biggest thing for me is that the Eagles need to add good players. There are positions that must be addressed, but I don’t want the team to pass on a stud DT or dynamic S for a WR just because of need. I think more than a few fans are going to talk themselves into Pick 21 being a WR or CB…or failure.

Free agency will start to give us some answers, but that is six weeks away. Until then, we’ll continue to speculate and play GM from a distance.

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I was hoping South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw might last until 21, but after a good showing in Mobile, it sure doesn’t seem like he falls that far. I stood next to him on the field and that is one big man. It would be fun to see a young guy like that playing with Fletcher Cox.

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Berry to the Browns

Posted: January 27th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 7 Comments »

Andrew Berry is no Frank Gore, but his tenure with the Eagles didn’t even last a full year. Berry got some big news on Monday.

Good for Berry. I think.

Cleveland has been a dysfunctional organization for a while now. Berry will be a first time GM and running a team with that kind of history can be quite challenging. On the other hand, the Browns are coming off a highly disappointing season and should be open to whatever ideas Berry has to offer.

Talent certainly isn’t the problem. They need a better team culture. Berry could certainly take some of what he saw in Philly and use those ideas in Cleveland.

We don’t know exactly what Berry did for the Eagles. They seemed to have him handling a variety of tasks. It will be interesting to see if they try to replace Berry or if they just saw him as someone special that they wanted as part of the organization.

The Eagles knew Berry wasn’t likely to stay long term. I’m sure they planned with the idea that he could be gone at any point in the offseason.

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The Eagles have their feature back in Miles Sanders.

Boston Scott can be a good role player, with his speed and burst.

Elijah Holyfield fascinates me. He is 5-10, 217. Could he replace Jordan Howard as the team’s power runner?

Doing that in college is one thing. Can Holyfield be a tough, physical runner in the NFL?

Good run.

Holyfield isn’t just physical. He has good vision and good feet.

It would be great to bring Howard back, but there are concerns. How much would he cost? Would Howard be happy as part of a RB trio? He was a workhorse for the Bears. This year he started off as the Eagles workhorse before giving way to Sanders.

If you feed the ball to Sanders and still want to get touches to the primary backup and Scott, there could be some games with minimal touches. Howard might prefer to go somewhere he could have more touches.

Holyfield is young, cheap and would embrace any role you gave him. There would be real logic to taking a chance on him.

The Eagles do need competition in the backfield. They could go for young RBs or add a veteran or two. And there still is the chance they bring Howard back. He was off to a very good start this year before his stinger injury.

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Let the Hiring Begin

Posted: January 25th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

The Eagles have several openings on the coaching staff. It sounds like they have made their first new hire.

Nothing official from the team yet, but Tim is as trustworthy as any reporter out there. He doesn’t report information lightly. Tim makes sure it is solid.

Manuel is a former NFL player and has coached for multiple teams in the league, even getting to be a defensive coordinator. He has the experience and the background that you want in a position coach.

The Eagles have some tough decisions to make in regard to their secondary. Manuel could have real value in that process. He won’t come in with pre-conceived notions and friendships. Manuel can watch the tape and offer his unbiased thoughts on who should stay and who should go.

Manuel won’t be taking over a dynamic group like Bobby, Troy and Al or the Legion of Boom. He will need to find a way to get the most out of his DBs, even without any Pro Bowl players to work with. Obviously Manuel shared some good thoughts with Jim Schwartz, Doug Pederson and Jeffrey Lurie (and probably Howie Roseman) on how he could get the current DBs to play well in the Eagles scheme.

Manuel played for Schwartz in Detroit so they have a relationship and speak the same language. That will help Manuel to hit the ground running and pick up the Eagles scheme quickly.

Another selling point for Manuel is that he was able to help develop young DBs in Atlanta.

SS Keanu Neal
CB Demontae Kazee
CB Brian Poole
CB Isaiah Oliver

The Eagles have young DBs for Manuel to work with. They will likely add a couple of young DBs in this draft. It is critical that these young players start to develop better than they have in recent years.

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Interesting. Hadn’t heard that name.

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I said that during the Senior Bowl and people weren’t sure how to take it.

To be fair, it is good and bad. Both CBs have good size. Both have good ball skills. Neither has ideal speed.

Douglas has been very up and down in the NFL. I think he could be an effective starter, but something has to change. I don’t know if it is the way the team uses him or the coaching or something else. Douglas’s highlights are good. His lowlights…ugh. Still, there is something to work with.

We’ll have to wait and see if he’s part of the team’s plans or a piece to be moved.

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The Eagles have a pair of talented young RBs in Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. They signed Elijah Holyfield late in the season as someone to develop for the future.

The team has to decide what to do with Jordan Howard. He will turn 26 in November so he’s still got plenty of tread left on the tire. You just wonder about his cost and how effective he’ll be in a rotation.

There is a deep group of RBs in the draft. If the Eagles move on from Howard, they will have lots of options. One thing to keep in mind, the team could use returner help. They might target a RB with RS skills, something Howard can’t help with.

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Coaching Rumors

Posted: January 24th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles still haven’t made any hires, but we do have some good rumors to talk about.

It sounds like Manuel is the favorite. He would make sense, having coached in a similar scheme and having played for Jim Schwartz in Detroit back in 2009.

Manuel coached DBs in Seattle and Atlanta before becoming the defensive coordinator for the Falcons in 2017 and 2018. He was out of the league last year after being fired by the Falcons.

I like the fact he got to be a DC, even if it didn’t work out. He now should have a good feel for how everything comes together. It is easy for position coaches to focus on their unit. Someone who has been a coordinator understands the big picture. A former coordinator can be an even better position coach because of that understanding.

Walker has a wild coaching history, having worked for six colleges and five NFL teams. Walker coached the Browns secondary the past three seasons.

Both guys have the experience to handle the job.

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Adam Caplan has reported that Matt Burke is going to be the DL coach and that Jeremiah Washburn would get the job as the assistant DL coach.

We’ve already talked about Burke a bit. He coached LBs in Detroit, Cincinnati and Miami. Burke then became the DC in Miami. As I mentioned with Manuel, being a coordinator gives you a strong feel for how everything works. Burke can now take over a position he hasn’t coached and handle that.

Washburn is really interesting. He’s the son of former Eagles DL coach Jim Washburn, who was great at his job but could also be a complete jackass. Jeremiah isn’t a DL guru, but he’s also not a jackass.

The younger Washburn started off in personnel and then made the transition to coaching OL. He coached the Lions OL from 2013-2015. He then helped with the Dolphins and Bears OLs. The Eagles hired Washburn in 2018 to be an Advanced Projects Coordinator.

I watched Washburn coach OL prospects at the Senior Bowl several years back and was very impressed. He focused on specific issues the players needed to work on. He was patient, but also tough.

This could end up being a good duo.

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Nothing new on OC. Mike McDaniel was a rumor from a couple of days ago. He is the run game coordinator for SF so he’s obviously busy for the next week.

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SENIOR BOWL WRAP UP

Here are my notes from Day 3.

The Eagles talked to three prospects:

DE D.J. Wonnum – South Carolina
OG Ben Bredeson – Michigan
QB Jordan Love – Utah State

Love is the most interesting name there. He is incredibly talented, at times making throws that remind you of Patrick Mahomes. And I don’t say that lightly. Love will make some throws that will make you cringe. He can be wildly over-aggressive at times.

Love could go as early as the first round. Obviously the Eagles won’t be spending a high pick on him, but they are at least curious. QB is a premium position. It would be interesting to know just how high a pick they would spend on him, or any QB they liked. We always have to remember that talking to a player doesn’t mean they like him. Teams do research as they are figuring out who they do like.

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I got to meet Joe Douglas and Andy Weidl down in Mobile. Both are genuinely nice guys.

Weidl is the key figure for the Eagles draft this year so let’s hope he does a great job.

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I was watching practice on Thursday when I heard “DUUUUZZZZZZZZZ” behind me. I turned to see Brent Celek embracing Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi. Celek was excited to see Narduzzi. They seemed to be catching up rather than talking football, but this is something to watch in the future. Narduzzi was the DC at the University of Cincinnati when Celek played there.

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We know Jim Schwartz loves CBs who are tough and competitive.

Expect Davis to be someone that Schwartz will like. He battled on every rep. He took everything personally, but in a good way.

I need to study Davis’ game tape before I can offer a good opinion, but he sure looked like someone Schwartz would love based on what I saw in Mobile.

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We know the Eagles like interchangeable safeties. Jeremy Chinn makes sense as a target. He can play in the slot, in the box or back deep.

There are multiple safety prospects who fit the Eagles scheme this year. There are no excuses for not addressing the position.

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Doug Pederson has shown an affinity for big WRs. There are going to be some big guys available this year as well. Chase Claypool from Notre Dame measured in at 6-4, 229. Some people thought he should bulk up and move to TE.

Claypool had a good week in Mobile. He played big, but also showed the ability to get open. He was more agile and flexible than anticipated.

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The Senior Bowl game is Saturday at 2:30. Should be a fun watch. There will be lots of potential Eagles targets.

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Senior Bowl and Coach Talk

Posted: January 23rd, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

There is more than a bit of frustration with the Eagles search for an offensive coordinator. This should not be the case.

The goal isn’t to get your staff set as soon as possible. The goal is to find the right guys and hire them. If that takes a couple of weeks. so be it.

My only frustration is the lack of info out there. Are the Eagles being super-secretive or have they just not done many interviews? That I can’t answer.

They had interest in Graham Harrell. That didn’t work out. They had interest in Mike Kafka. That didn’t work out.

Adam Caplan is reporting the Eagles have interest in Mike McDaniel, the run game coordinator for SF. He is a young coach who has been part of some good NFL offenses. He is an interesting target.

I think Doug Pederson understands just how important this hire is and he’s taking his time with the process. That is smarter than making a knee-jerk hire just so you can announce to the world your staff is set.

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Some of you wondered about Howie Roseman not being in Mobile. You can be critical of Howie for various things, but this shouldn’t be one of them. Going to the Senior Bowl is something GMs and scouts enjoy. You get to watch actual football. The Combine is the event they’d like to skip. The Senior Bowl is a place everyone wants to be.

The fact Howie stayed in Philly tells you he is working on important matters. He could be helping with the coaching search. He could also be working on self-scouting. Teams study their rosters to figure out where they need to improve so they can make plans for free agency and the draft.

Howie isn’t avoiding Mobile by choice. Good football, good barbecue and cold beer. This is a place you want to come to.

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Jimmy Bama reported yesterday that Scot McCloughan has been helping the Eagles with scouting reports for the past three years.

Scot is one of the best talent evaluators in football. He doesn’t work for a team right now for complicated personal reasons. Instead, he acts as a consultant for multiple teams.

How can someone work for multiple teams? He is just writing scouting reports. I assume the Eagles would only have him study players they think are a scheme fit. You aren’t asking Scot to make decisions. You just want him to help you identify good draft prospects.

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Here are my notes from Day 2 of the Senior Bowl.

The Eagles talked to a lot of DL on Wednesday.

  1. Trevon Hill, DE, Miami
  2. Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah
  3. Leki Fotu, DT, Utah
  4. DaVon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State
  5. Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
  6. Darrion Daniels, DT, Nebraska

Fotu is hurt and not practicing. I don’t think he’s an ideal fit for the Eagles, but they are likely just doing their due diligence.

Hamilton looked really good yesterday. He’s big, but has some athleticism as well. Think of him as a more talented version of Anthony Rush.

Gallimore is an ideal scheme fit.

Daniels doesn’t fit at all in my mind. I see him as s 2-gap DT.

Both Anae and Hill make sense as DE fits. The Eagles already have a boatload of DEs, but you keep your eyes open to see if you can find someone better.

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Kyle Dugger is a small school star that some projected to LB. He is here and playing safety. At 6-1, 217, he has tweener size. Dugger has been very impressive so far at S and might just stay there.

As much as the Eagles need help at CB, a difference-making safety would also make a lot of sense. Look at what Tyrann Matthieu does for the Chiefs. They don’t have great CBs, but Matthieu is an impact player and makes the whole secondary better.

Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins are solid vets, but don’t have that kind of ability.

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I’m feeling more and more encouraged that the Eagles will find some WRs who can help them in 2020. This is a deep class and has a variety of players. Big…fast…shifty…there are a lot of choices. Thankfully the Eagles have a lot of picks this year so they can invest in a couple of WRs.

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