The Running Men

Posted: July 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 46 Comments »

When I became an Eagles fan back in the Buddy Ryan era, the team’s best RB was actually QB Randall Cunningham. After him, it was FB Keith Byars. The Eagles just didn’t  have a truly good RB. That was ironic for a couple of reasons. First, Buddy Ryan was desperate to run the ball. He wanted to run so he could control the flow of the game and help his beloved defense.

The other reason the lack of a good RB was ironic is that Eagles history is loaded with good, and even some great, RBs. I wrote about the Eagles long tradition of RB excellence for PE.com.

Aside from the all-time greats, the Eagles have had some good short term RBs. The top of that list would be Leonard Weaver. He was a RB/FB tweener that came over from Seattle. He was supposed to be the lead blocker for Westy and Shady in 2009, but Westy missed half the season. That meant Weaver got used in plenty of 1-back sets. He ran for 323 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Andy Reid should have gotten him the ball even more (what’s new?).

Expectations were sky high for 2010, but Weaver suffered a devastating injury in the season opener and never played again. It really is a shame. He had the potential to be a really interesting player.

Dorsey Levens played with the Eagles in 2002 and 2004. Both years he was signed to replace Correll Buckhalter after injuries ended his season. Levens was a great backup. In the 2 combined seasons, he ran for 821 yards and 5 TDs, while averaging 5 yards per carry. Levens was big and strong, but still had a bit of wiggle. I really enjoyed watching him, especially in 2002.

Heath Sherman played for the Eagles for 5 years, but only one of those seasons stands out. Sherman got used a lot down the stretch in 1992. He finished with 583 yards on the ground and averaged 5.2 ypc. He also averaged more than 12 yards per reception. He ran for 105 yards in the wild card win over the Saints that year. Sherman just wore down because of his physical running style and injuries cut short his career.

Earnest Jackson ran for 1,028 yards in 1985, but Buddy Ryan arrived after the season and got rid of him. Jackson was no superstar, but he was better than the RBs Buddy ended up putting on the field.

Remember when Bryce Brown was the new Bo Jackson? That didn’t last long but it was fun. His combination of size and speed was special. He just struggled with the little things that it takes to be a consistently good player.

Eagles fans have seen some really great RBs over the years.

I can’t wait to see what the guys do this year.

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Thank god this finally happened.

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Do you want to read this?

Jimmy laid out the reasons that each of the NFCE teams could stink this year. In order to show his journalistic integrity (insert joke here) he even did the Eagles.

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Bradford Update

Posted: July 20th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 184 Comments »

Sam Bradford’s name came up on Twitter a couple of times today and the topics seemed worth discussing.

Bradford is smart to play out his deal. He made plenty of money on his rookie contract so he’s not in the same situation as someone like Russell Wilson, a player who is dying to get paid big bucks. Bradford could sign a safe deal now, but he’s smart to let this season play out. If he believes in himself, the Eagles and Chip Kelly’s offense, this is a no-brainer. QBs fill the stat sheet in this offense.

Obviously Bradford’s health is the X-factor, but he’s never played behind such a good O-line and that should help him. “Should” being the key word. The line will have a pair of new starters and all it takes is one missed block for a QB to take a big hit.

The Eagles hope the problem next February or March is trying to figure out Bradford’s value after a great year. That would be a good problem to have. If Bradford only has a so-so season, both sides will have to figure out what to do. That would be the worst possible outcome. If Bradford just stinks or he gets hurt, you just acknowledge the mistake and move on.

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This is somewhat of a bogus argument.

Does anyone fear Nick Foles? I sure don’t. And yet Nick Foles had one of the greatest statistical seasons in NFL history. Why? He played in the right offense at the right time.

Bradford isn’t here as the franchise savior. He’s not here to carry the team on his back. He is here to be a piece of the puzzle. Bradford has very good pieces around him and a great offensive coach. Bradford can thrive in that role. That doesn’t mean he will, but he can.

If the Jaguars dealt for Bradford and expected him to magically lead them to the playoffs, that would be foolish.

No one should fear Bradford right now. Let’s see what the guy does in this system. He might be Drew Brees 2006 or Kurt Warner 1999. Or he might turn out to be just another high pick who played his best football in college.

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Jimmy Bama is still insane.

And right.

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Classic Big Red

Posted: July 19th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 57 Comments »

Andy Reid never won a Super Bowl. Andy Reid didn’t run the ball enough. He was too soft on players at times. And so on.

But he’ll always hold a special place in my heart. This story from Brett Favre is classic Big Red.

Great.

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Only if there is an injury or any of the young guys just looks awful. Other than that, let’s see what the young guys can do.

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Jimmy Bama has more on Fletcher Cox and giving him a big deal.

Jimmy also touched on a comment from a Dallas writer that Chip Kelly has the hottest seat of any coach in the NFC East. I don’t get that.

The guy’s point is that Kelly made some risky moves and what happens if they don’t pan out. He is right that Kelly did make some risky moves, but I don’t think Jeff Lurie just gave Chip all that power and would immediately fire him the minute something didn’t work. Lurie sees Chip as a special coach. You give that guy extra time to fix the franchise.

If Kelly has 2 years worth of bad moves…then we have a different discussion. But for now…Kelly isn’t getting fired unless something insanely bizzarre goes down.

A much more interesting question to me is what would Jerry Jones do if Dallas fell right back to 8-8. Would he keep Jason Garrett and go add a stud RB or would he view Garrett’s 2014 success as strictly a product of the players and possibly fire him?

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Good News for August

Posted: July 18th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 16 Comments »

Preseason football just got more interesting.

The Eagles have used a variety of analysts in recent years. The problem is that preseason football isn’t real football. X’s and O’s take a backseat to individual player evaluation. Brian Baldinger is a smart analyst and solid broadcaster, but he seemed lost when discussing some of the bottom of the roster types that were fighting for a job, either on the roster or practice squad.

Mayock should be more natural at this because of his draft analysis. He is used to studying individuals and talking about how they fit in or don’t fit in. He previously did Vikings games in the preseason and I usually enjoyed listening to him.

Glad the Eagles stepped up and got Mayock.

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Need an offensive refresher as we get closer to the 2015 season? ChipWagon has a new post up that will get you in the mood for some football.

Go check that post out. Lots of good info.

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Mark Saltveit has some thoughts up on the Eagles and their DBs.

In short, Chip covets INTs.

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Good Sign for Cox

Posted: July 17th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 136 Comments »

Anyone who saw the movie Rounders should remember the famous line John Malkovich delivered in a nasally, awkward Russian accent – “Pay that man his money.” That’s the way I feel about the Eagles and Fletcher Cox…pay that man his money.

There is some thought that you don’t pay 3-4 DEs big money. Their job is mostly to 2-gap. Find an athletic DT and move  him to DE, ala Cedric Thornton. You can get several years of good play for minimal money. Go spend big money on LBs since they are the true life blood of the 3-4.

That makes sense in a general way, but there are some players you make exceptions for. The Steelers just gave 3-4 DE Cam Heyward a 5-year deal worth $59.25M. The Pats gave big money to Richard Seymour when he was a star for them. JJ Watt deserves every penny that he gets paid.

I think Cox is a man you pay. He is the Eagles best defensive player. Cox makes the guys around him better because of his ability to eat up blockers and make plays. He can push the pocket and create sack opportunities for the OLBs. He can disrupt run plays with penetration and create easy tackle situations for other defenders. Chip Kelly has referred to him as the team’s defensive MVP in the past.

Losing Cox wouldn’t be the same as letting Mychal Kendricks go or losing Thornton. Those guys are good starters, but they aren’t the kind of talents you build a defense around.

Cox is signed through the end of 2016, but it seems like this is the time you’d want to go to him and talk about an extension. Maybe the Eagles want one more year off the rookie deal.

I sure hope the thought process isn’t that “We’ll get 5 good years out of him and then let him go get paid elsewhere.” Finding 3-4 DL who can make plays and 2-gap is hard. You don’t want to overpay someone who is just a good run defender. That’s why Thornton might not get the deal he wants from the Eagles. He is good, but that skill is replaceable.

If you put Cox and Thornton on the market, Thornton would get some phone calls. There are plenty of teams who could use his skills. Cox would talk to 31 teams. Everyone would have some interest in adding an impact defender.

Cox may never have heard of Cam Heyward before today, but you can sure bet he knows him now. 3-4 DEs getting paid is a good sign for Cox. Other than Watt, Cox just might be the best 3-4 DE in the league.

The sky is the limit for him, both on the field and financially.

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Some perspective on the deal from Mike Florio (who is great with contracts).

A source told PFT’s Mike Florio that Heyward’s deal is a five-year extension worth $59.25 million. The new money average of $10.45 million a year is higher than Corey Liuget of the San Diego Chargers and falls just behind Cameron Jordan of the New Orleans Saints.

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