The Journey

Posted: June 20th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

In case you forgot, the Eagles won the Super Bowl last year.

How do you take that fact and use it to help the current team? I think you look for specific lessons. Doug Pederson talked about the fact he wanted players to focus on the journey from last season and I think that’s a great message for the team.

The Eagles didn’t win the Super Bowl because of The Philly Special. Or Nick Foles. They won because they lifted weights and ran sprints in April of 2017. They won because they focused on footwork, hand-usage and taking good angles to the ball in May and June of 2017. They went to Training Camp and competed. Hard. They pushed each other to get better. They took the preseason seriously and used those games to get better.

The Eagles did something amazing in the regular season. They played one game at a time. They lived week to week. That’s Cliche City…Football Coach 101, but they actually did it. I’ve never seen any other Eagles team show that kind of focus. I wrote about the journey for PE.com and one of the things I pointed out is that we kept waiting for the dreaded trap game. Never happened.

There was a bad half here or there. Somehow the Eagles always found a way to fight through their struggles and come up with a win. The two losses on the year were tough road games against high quality opponents. And then there was the season finale, when Dak Prescott showed he could out-duel Nate Sudfeld in his NFL debut, 6-0.

I think Pederson’s key point is not to think about the Super Bowl itself, but rather everything that led up to that point. If the Eagles get back to the playoffs (which they clearly should), that’s when you start thinking about January of 2018 and how those games went. For now, focus on the 2017 offseason, Training Camp, preseason and season. What happened in that span is what actually built the Eagles into a championship team.

Doug Pederson continues to say smart, insightful things to his team.

*****

Speaking of Douglas…

This book will be coming out on Aug 28.

I can’t wait to read this. It is a rush job so chances are this won’t become a football classic (like Finding the Winning Edge), but I look forward to Pederson offering some detailed thoughts on how his ideas and philosophies came about.

He was influenced by Don Shula, Mike Holmgren and Andy Reid. That is a trio of great NFL coaches. But it could be that something from Pederson’s days as a high school coach turned out to be more important than something those coaches said or did.

One thing we absolutely know about Pederson, when it comes to football, he’s got an open mind. He’s willing to trust the people around him. There is no arrogance or hubris when it comes to him ( he’s the Anti-Chip).

One day I hope Big Red will write a book. I’d love to hear some of his stories. He bounced around college football for a while and you know he’s got to have some great stories from his journey to the NFL, as well as his time in Philly.

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Attention to Detail

Posted: June 19th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Coaches love to use the phrase “attention to detail”. Sometimes it is hard to grasp just what that means to them. The craziest story I’ve heard of is Kansas State coach Bill Snyder calling a hotel his team was going to stay at to make sure they had the right kind of butter packets for team meals. You laugh if you want, but then look at his record. The man obsesses over every detail he can think of.

The Eagles recently posted a video of DBs coach Cory Undlin working with CBs.

That’s a great example of attention to detail. He’s got them focused on their footwork. He wants them to use the correct foot and to move it the correct distance. Surgeons don’t just make a random incision to remove a spleen. They know it needs to be four inches or six inches or whatever the precise distance is. DBs need to move their feet in a similar manner. If they overstride, they can get off balance. Receivers only need a split-second to gain an advantage and create separation. It is critical that DBs know proper footwork techniques.

Undlin has done terrific work over the past two years. He developed Jalen Mills from a 7th rounder into an above average starter. Ronald Darby was a late addition last year, but ended up having a good season. Patrick Robinson had a career rebirth. Rasul Douglas showed real promise as a rookie. De’Vante Bausby has shown promise. It will be exciting to see what Undlin can do with Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox.

I don’t think enough fans understand just how important assistant coaches are. These guys can make a huge difference.

*****

Nick Fierro wrote a good piece on WR Shelton Gibson.

It is easy to overlook Gibson when thinking about the offense. He mostly played on STs as a rookie. The Eagles are being patient with Gibson because they know young receivers need a year, sometimes two, to really develop.

Gibson has big-time speed and that makes him valuable. He needs to show that he’s got a good feel for the offense and the drops of 2017 are a thing of the past. Gibson is headed in the right direction, so that’s encouraging. He needs to build on his good spring with a strong summer and preseason.

*****

Dave Spadaro wrote a good piece about getting his Super Bowl ring.

Some nice perspective there, with thoughts on his NFC champs ring from 2004 and the Lurie era overall.

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How Things Change

Posted: June 17th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

I like to look back from time to time. It is interesting to see just how much things can change in a year.

Last June I wrote a piece about Doug Pederson and whether we would see his offense develop an identity. Look at some questions I asked.

Can Pederson gameplan well?

Will he feed a hot hand?

Will he stop calling quick screens now that he has WRs who can actually run routes and catch the ball?

How creative will Pederson be?

Pederson did a pretty good job of answering those, huh?

He wasn’t just good with gameplans, he was great. Pederson proved to be masterful with his ability to figure out what would work each week.

The Eagles tended to spread the ball around. There were some times when the Eagles would feed the ball to a player, especially on specific drives.

I was not a fan of the WR screens in 2016 and thankfully Pederson used them less. The Eagles threw the ball more aggressively in 2017. It turns out that having real receivers did make a difference.

As for creative, don’t take my word for it.

Coaches, analysts and football writers love the Eagles. They love Pederson and the offense that he and his staff put together. I think they love the X’s and O’s, but also the fact Pederson is willing to praise other teams and coaches. He has given credit to Chip Kelly multiple times. Pederson gains nothing from that. He’s just being open and honest.

If you ranked the top offensive minds in the NFL as of June 1st, 2017, Pederson would not have been in the Top 25. He would have been looking up at Ben McAdoo, Jim Bob Cooter, Mike Shula, Adam Gase, Doug Marrone and Hue Jackson.

Now, Pederson is near the top of the list. The rest of the NFL is studying him. Pederson didn’t bring the RPO to the NFL, but he brought it to the masses. Even casual fans now know RPO (even if analysts still struggle to properly identify it).

It will be interesting to see how things play out this year. The Eagles appear to be loaded on offense. Defensive coaches have been studying the offense to come up with answers, but Pederson has already talked about having his own answers for their answers.

My money is on Pederson.

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Rings and Things

Posted: June 16th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

It looks like I forgot to mention the Eagles got their Super Bowl rings on Thursday night.

Wow.

And how freaking cool is this?

I wish Dawk had gotten that as a player, but he was part of the team last year so he absolutely deserves that. So great to see him getting to enjoy being part of a Super Bowl team.

Jeffrey Lurie is an interesting guy. Jason Peters says they are close friends. I’ve heard that he was close to LeGarrette Blount and now we see this.

Not your typical billionaire, to say the least.

It was cool to see all the guys who left come back for the event. I’m not sure if that happens every year. It just reinforces how close and special the players on the 2017 Eagles were. They will need as much of that chemistry as possible this year. 31 other teams will be coming for them.

This is going to be a challenging season.

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Minicamp – Day 2 Notes

Posted: June 14th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Here is your roundup of practice notes from Day 2 of the mandatory minicamp. I spent yesterday at my nephew’s high school graduation so this will be a quicker version than normal.

The Links

Brandon Lee Gowton

Jimmy Bama

Jeff McLane

Sheil Kapadia

PE.com

The Notes

Nate Sudfeld had a strong showing. He’s looked good the past two days. It is important that Sudfeld play well because he is the team’s backup QB for now. While Wentz is doing a great job in his comeback, there are no guarantees he will be ready for the opener. There is always the possibility of a set-back. The Eagles need Sudfeld ready to play…and to play well. It isn’t likely that Wentz will have an issue and that Foles will get hurt, but if that does happen, Sudfeld needs to be ready.

He is showing good touch and accuracy on his deep balls. Several guys have talked about his mobility, especially his ability to move in the pocket. So far, so good for Sudfeld.

***

TE Dallas Goedert had a good day. He continues to catch everything thrown his way. He might be a rookie from South Dakota State, but sure isn’t playing like it. He’s shown the ability to get open and he’s a natural pass-catcher.

***

Jalen Mills broke up a couple of passes and has played well all spring. He took a huge step forward from 2016 to last year. If he takes another big step forward, the Eagles are going to be very happy. Mills makes his share of mistakes, but he is a good player and the Eagles want him to remain aggressive. If Mills can cutdown on the mistakes a bit, he’ll become a pretty darn good CB.

***

Jimmy is worried about Cameron Johnston’s punting. Go read his piece for the details. The hang time on Johnston’s punts isn’t what it needs to be. He also is struggling with accuracy. It could be that the Eagles are working on some particular element of his game and he’ll be fine by Training Camp. Or the team might need to go find the best veteran punter on the street to come in here and challenge him.

***

Jimmy also had some praise for Joe Callahan. As long as he is better than Matt McGloin, Callahan will be a rousing success. It is possible that with improved coaching, Callahan could turn out to be a much better backup QB here than he was in Green Bay.

***

WR Bryce Treggs had his best day of the spring. He played well last year in the camps and in TC. Treggs just wasn’t good enough to get on the field. This is a crucial year for him. Treggs needs to impress someone (Eagles or another team) and actually get some playing time. You can’t be fringe roster guy forever.

***

Nate Gerry picked off a pass. According to Jeff McLane, Gerry is playing SAM and Kamu Grugier-Hill is over at WLB. The young LBs seem to get noticed everyday. And for a good reason. You don’t want coaches noticing you for mistakes. Gerry and KGH are playing well so far.

***

Zach Ertz is still Zach Ertz. And that’s a good thing. A very good thing.

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