More Bradford Talk

Posted: April 9th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 299 Comments »

Elliot Shorr-Parks came up with a new angle on the whole question of whether Sam Bradford is here to stay.

If the Eagles aren’t selling his jersey at their own stores, isn’t that a hint? Maybe.

I don’t think this means anything definitively, other than the merchandising people are waiting until after the draft because they don’t want to get burned.

When Chip Kelly says the Eagles didn’t trade for Sam Bradford with the intention of trading him away, I believe him. Totally. That deal was being talked about in early February. I don’t think Kelly is delusional enough to start planning at that point to deal for Bradford “knowing” he can then turn around and deal Bradford to get Mariota.

If Mariota falls and the right situation plays out, maybe Bradford does get dealt in a move-up for MM. Maybe. But there are way too many moving parts for anyone to say that is going to happen with any sense of likelihood.

Tampa is taking a long look at Mariota. It is still possible he goes #1 overall. Mike Mayock just put Mariota at the top of his QB rankings. That’s based on more research and analysis. And his rankings are also a reflection of what he hears from league sources. Maybe people are starting to wake up to the idea that Jameis Winston should scare the hell out of them.

The Titans are checking MM out. The Chargers are showing interest and there are rumors of them dealing Philip Rivers. Word out of Cleveland is that they’ve all but given up on Johnny Manziel. They could move up for MM. If he falls to them, would they really deal Marcus to the Eagles for Bradford and picks? Why not just keep the high character rookie QB? It isn’t like that team is built to win right away.

I would love for the Eagles to get Mariota. I still struggle to picture Bradford and Kelly standing on a podium holding the Lombardi. I don’t think Mariota is leading anyone to a title in 2015, but it would be exciting to see Kelly get a young, dynamic talent at QB that he could mold the way he wants. Michael Vick had talent, but was a veteran with a lifetime of bad habits already built in. Mariota needs plenty of work, but he’s already been taught a lot of the key principles of KellyBall due to his time in Oregon.

But I think MM to Philly remains a huge long shot.

I hope I’m wrong.

* * * * *

Many of you found my comments about WAS yesterday to be ironic. I mentioned that they often put their DBs in bad situations and that led to bad results. Your point…didn’t the Eagles do the same thing?

No. Not at all.

The Eagles DBs did some dumb things, but the basic coverage ideas weren’t an issue.

Nate Allen got burned in Arizona because he was careless and bit on a fake. He was focused on preventing a 1st down when the game situation dictated that he should have focused on preventing a TD. He didn’t and the Eagles lost.

Allen was to blame for some of Bradley Fletcher’s late season struggles. Allen was the deep Safety in the middle of the field. He should have cheated to Fletcher’s side, but instead sat right in the middle until the ball was in the air. That led to big plays by DeSean and Dez. Allen pulled his head out of his butt in the 2nd half of the WAS game and finally rotated to Fletcher’s side before the pass was thrown. Allen was able to pick off a deep throw. Funny how that works, huh?

The Eagles had bad DBs last year. I don’t think the coverage concepts were unsound.

The flip side of that is that the coaches didn’t do a good job of getting creative to try and come up with some solution to the situation. They stayed fairly basic. Some coaches can come up with complex coverages that do help protect vulnerable DBs.

You can argue that Fletcher should have been benched (as many of you did), but that’s still not a scheme issue.

Jim Haslett ran the WAS defense for 5 years. They averaged finishing 22nd in yards allowed and 24th in points allowed during that stretch. It amazed me that the man kept his job. The Skins never showed serious improvement.

Some of you will still disagree with me and that’s fine. I just wanted you to understand the thinking behind my comments. I’m not delusional about Bill Davis as a coach who is going to turn water into wine. I guess I just think he’s more fundamentally sound than Haslett.

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Super Bowl, Here We Come

Posted: April 8th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 254 Comments »

On Tuesday the Eagles signed DB E.J. Biggers and WR Seyi Ajirotutu, giving them the single most talented collection of people united for a single cause since Patrick Swazye led his castmates in the 1983 production of The Outsiders, possibly the most important piece of artwork in the history of mankind.

(Was there really ever a time when C. Thomas Howell was that far above Tom Cruise? Yes, yes there was.)

Some of you may wonder if I’ve lost my mind. The answer is no. I’m just practicing my hyperbolic writing. You can’t just wake up in the morning and expect hyperbole to flow from your keyboard without a little practice. And in case you want to see more of the powerhouse The Outsiders, enjoy.

Biggers and Ajirotutu are nice depth signings, but that’s about it. One of the exercises I like to do is jotting down a depth chart. Look at a projected 53-man roster as well as a 90-man unit. Certain areas jump out as weak. That was certainly the case with WR and DB prior to yesterday.

That isn’t to say Biggers and Ajirotutu are answers. But they could be. The Eagles needed someone to take over for Brad Smith as a WR/STer. Ajirotutu can do just that.

Originally signed as a rookie free agent by the San Diego Chargers in 2010, Seyi Ajirotutu (pronounced Shay-EE Ah-jeer-uh-too-too) has appeared in 57 games with two starts over his five-year NFL career, totaling 420 yards and three touchdowns on 24 catches. In addition to providing depth at the receiver position, Ajirotutu (6-3, 215) was named the 2014 Chargers Special Teams Player of the Year and led the team in special teams tackles in both 2013 (12) and 2014 (17).

As for Biggers,  he can play S or CB. He just can’t play CB well. I have to think the Eagles see him as someone that could battle for a Safety spot, whether as a starter or backup. He does have experience.

A six-year veteran, E.J. Biggers was originally a seventh-round selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009 and spent the past two seasons with Washington. Biggers (6-0, 185 pounds) has appeared in 76 games (31 starts) and recorded 235 tackles, four interceptions, 38 passes defensed and one sack.

In 2014, Biggers, 27, saw action in 15 games with two starts, recording 31 tackles and four passes defensed. He originally joined Washington as a free agent in 2013 and started five games for the team in his first campaign, notching 51 tackles, one interception and five passes defensed. After missing the 2009 season, he appeared in 32 games over his first two seasons with the Buccaneers, totaling 105 tackles, two interceptions and 22 passes defensed. He started 12 of the 13 games in which he appeared for Tampa Bay in 2012.

The Eagles needed someone to be competition in camp, if nothing else.

History has shown some DBs will get better with time. I remember Mike Adams as a young player with SF (2005) as someone the Eagles torched over and over and over. He was an alternate for the Pro Bowl last year. Part of being a good DB is knowing what you do well and what you struggle with, and then playing accordingly. Hopefully the Eagles can figure out what Biggers does well and focus on that. It sure seems like playing man coverage over and over is not his strength (or anything close to it).

I do think getting Biggers out of WAS will help. They consistently exposed DBs to bad situations and the players struggled in part because of that.

The Eagles got veteran help by signing Biggers and Ajirotutu. Time will tell if that help is for summer competition or actual help in the regular season. And Super Bowl, of course.

* * * * *

The Eagles aren’t done.

This would be more about depth/competition. Still, it is funny that with Murray, Mathews, Sproles, Polk and Matt Tucker the Eagles would be looking at an outside back.

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Shady’s Feelings Got Hurt

Posted: April 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 255 Comments »

LeSean McCoy isn’t happy with Chip Kelly.

Jeff McLane spoke to Shady yesterday and got this quote.

“I don’t think he likes or respects the stars. I’m being honest,” McCoy told The Inquirer on Monday. “I think he likes the fact that it’s ‘Chip Kelly and the Eagles.’ “

Wow. Tell us how you really feel.

Then McCoy talked about Kelly’s explanation for the trade (money) vs Jeff Lurie’s explanation (running style).

“I read what he said in the media and I agree with it,” McCoy said of Lurie’s comments. “There’s nothing wrong with that. Chip felt like I wasn’t a fit for his offense. But why not say that?

“It’s hard to say that because if you turn on that tape when that [offense] isn’t going I make that [stuff] happen. You see, he can’t say that. But I think that’s how he felt.”

Kelly was trying to be protective of Shady. Ugh.

Kelly didn’t want to say something negative about his former player so he focused on the financial side of things. In Kelly’s mind, that was taking the high road and being supportive. If Kelly goes out there and talks about how Shady dances too much, that’s going to open a can of worms.

Players don’t like to leave a good situation. I don’t blame Shady for not being thrilled with things. It’s just funny to hear Kelly is anti-star. Something tells me he’d take Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson or Adrian Peterson in the blink of an eye. I doubt Kelly would see JJ Watt is a guy he wanted nothing to do with.

Kelly wanted to change things. Shady wasn’t part of that plan. It just happens.

* * * * *

Jimmy Bama wrote a good piece on the Eagles and age. The Eagles have 10 players age 30 or above, which is one of the highest totals in the league. Still, it’s not as bad as it sounds. 2 of them are the P and LS. Miles Austin, Brandon Bair and Allen Barbre are also on that list. Very expendable guys. The point is…this isn’t like Chip Kelly has let the whole team get old all at once (see the Giants of a couple of years ago).

Good nugget here.

• There’s a notion that the Eagles got older this offseason. That simply isn’t true. As noted above, the Eagles subtracted five players over the age of 30 this offseason. They only added one, Miles Austin.

Read the whole piece. Jimmy is the master of rosters and age.

Imagine if he ever writes about the Eagles media. Between Les, Roob and Domo…they go through Geritol like I do Funyuns.

* * * * *

The Eagles are showing interest in late round OLB prospect Obum Gwacham. He started off as a WR at Oregon State and eventually moved to defense. He’s raw, but has good size and serious athletic ability. The Eagles recently brought him to Philly and he wrote about the trip.

It was different. I didn’t really get a chance to explore the city too much. I got in, I woke up the next morning, met with the coaches, met with some of the other staff members. We did a little training exercise and a few other tests. Then, we got in the room with the linebackers coach, Coach (Bill) McGovern, and he went through some of the defensive plays with me. We had lunch, I came back later and met back with him and went through some film and kind of (went through) the plays that he taught me. After that, met with some other staff members, got a Philly cheese steak and was back in Oregon the next minute. It was a pretty quick, efficient trip.

It was my first time (at an NFL facility) and I was taking it all in. It was definitely a lot different. Walking around, there were a ton of Hall of Famers on the wall, a lot of old guys that have played in the league showing up on the wall. It’s just crazy walking by and seeing that they walked through those halls, as well.

They see me as a 3-4 linebacker. Just going through some of the film, it’s definitely I’d feel like I’d be very comfortable doing. Because I’ll show up on the line and then occasionally I’ll be dropping into coverage. It’s definitely that I’ve been working on and not something that I’m too worried about.

A few questions they asked was just would I play against certain things an offensive tackle might do to me or certain blocks an offensive lineman might do to me. I feel like I gave them the right answers, because they were nodding their heads and agreeing with me on those.

I felt like they’re the knd of staff I’d like to be around. When I was with Coach McGovern, I feel like I picked up the same vibe as when I took my visit to Oregon State. Everyone was very welcoming. Everyone there, they went out of their way to introduce themselves to me and all that. Coach McGovern, he seems like a very good coach. He seems like the kind of coach that I’d want coaching me.

Nothing really caught me off-guard. Going into it, I spoke to my agent and he kind of told me what to expect. And then the night before, I was given an itinerary with the activities that we would be doing. So I wouldn’t say anything really caught me off-guard. Going into it, Coach McGovern said they weren’t going to try to trick me.

They basically just told me to stay in football shape, because it’s gonna come really quick. As soon as the draft happens, it’s going to be the next season the next moment. Keep working out and not get out of shape. And when I do start learning all the stuff, I need to be very, very smart and comfrotable with it, because I’ll be coming in and trying to earn one of the veterans’ spots. That’s probably going to be a guy that’s been there for a while and has probably got the playbook down pat. Me, on the other hand, I don’t, so (McGovern) basically told me I need to really compete, because in order to make the team, you’ve got to take someone’s job. I told him I’m willing to do it. I’m definitely willing to work and put forth the effort in order to make that happen.

Gwacham would be a really interesting late round pick. He’s 6-5, 246. Runs 4.72 in the 40. 22 reps, despite having long arms. 36-inch vertical. Lacks ideal agility, but has good potential.

Here are some highlights.

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Wide Friggin’ Open

Posted: April 6th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 253 Comments »

I had some ideas on what might happen in free agency. I wasn’t anywhere close to reality. Chip Kelly made moves that I would have never come up with.

Because of that, I’m as excited for this draft as any I can remember. I wrote about that for PE.com.

There were times when Andy Reid would throw me a curve ball, but I generally knew what he was doing. Same with Howie Roseman. I don’t mean that I could predict every pick, but I had a good feel for the players they would like and when they might go after them.

I have some very basic ideas with Chip, but I also realize he could do shocking things in the draft. He could trade up, he could trade down. He could make surprising choices. The actual draft board was mostly put together by Ed Marynowitz and the scouting department so this isn’t as if Chip Kelly is going to take a long snapper in the 2nd round and then spend a 3rd round pick on a kid from Oregon that the rest of the league sees as a UDFA.

The scouts are looking for Chip Kelly’s type of players so there won’t be a lot of 5-9 CBs or 230-pound Safeties in the mix. But the scouts are grading players in a conventional way. They started this process last spring. Howie was the GM and ran the scouting department. Chip took over in January. I’m sure he communicated to the scouts what he was looking for, but he couldn’t completely overhaul how they graded players in a matter of days. I don’t know if Kelly even wants to do that. He’s just very specific with what he is looking for.

With Kelly running the show, the draft is wide open. Just about anything can happen. It will almost be disappointing if the teams stays put at every pick and makes seemingly normal selections. After the flurry of pro personnel moves, I think we all expect at least one pick where we say “What is Chip thinking?”.

Less than a month away.

Are you starting to get excited.

* * * * *

If the Eagles miss out out on CBs Trae Waynes and Kevin Johnson, and they don’t like Marcus Peters (possible character issues), I hope they go for Eric Rowe over Byron Jones. I love Jones athletic ability, but Rowe is smarter and more instinctive as a player. I value that in DBs.

The more I watch of Rowe, the more he grows on me. He’s not an elite corner or special player, but there is a lot to like about him.

* * * * *

Someone in the comments section found this snippet on Nick Saban.

What makes Saban such a fantastic coach is that he recruits players who fit his system. One example that I read in The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football, is that Saban follows what he called “the blueprint” for success. According to the book, Andy Staples in Sports Illustrated, stated that the “blueprint targeted high school athletes who fit certain character/attitude/intelligence criteria and position-specific height/weight/speed guidelines tailored to Alabama’s offensive and defensive schemes. Cornerbacks, for example, should ideally be between six feet and six feet two inches and about 190 pounds and run a sub-4.5 forty-yard dash; linemen should stand no less than six feet two because as ( Kirby) Smart (defensive coordinator) drily noted, ‘big people beat up little people.’”

They state that they might not be interested in guys who might be five-star players as seen by recruiting websites, if they don’t fit their parameters at Alabama. Smart states, “Sure there are exceptions to the rule, but we don’t want a team full of exceptions.”

Sounds very familiar, huh?

Just interesting to hear how much coaches can think alike, despite being very different.

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More Eagles Draft Talk

Posted: April 4th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 123 Comments »

Before we get into draft stuff, a couple of things. Many of you want a podcast or at least a podcast update. We tried to record a show each of the past 2 weeks, but there were last minute issues that came up. I promise you we will do everything possible to put out a show this week. Feel free to blame Jimmy Bama since everything bad is always his fault.

* * * * *

BGN had an interesting piece the other day. I’m not familiar with Matt Harkenreader, but he wrote a column about Chip Kelly and how he might look at things from a numerical standpoint, and in a slightly different way than you might think. The piece isn’t about analytics, but rather an engineering outlook on team building.

I don’t agree with all of his thoughts, but it is an enjoyable piece with some interesting ideas.

* * * * *

The Eagles were at Maryland’s Pro Day. They were checking out ILB Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil.

Cudjoe-Virgil ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 to 4.6 seconds, according to NFL scouts.

The 6-foot-2, 244-pound Towson High graduate also bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times. He had a 4.25 short shuttle, a 7.2 three-cone drill and a 9-10 broad jump before 30 NFL teams. That included the presence of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio.

“I had a pretty good day,” said Cudjoe-Virgil, who wasn’t able to work out at the NFL scouting combine in February due to a knee injury. “I’m excited. I feel like I did well. I’m just trying to get more opportunities.

“It was definitely a big crowd, more than I even expected. It was definitely a good day for a lot of us trying to make a name for ourselves at the next level.”

Following the workout, Cudjoe-Virgil did board work for the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers.

YCV, as I’ll affectionately call him here, is a late round or UDFA target. The Eagles are being extremely thorough with their research on ILB prospects. They are talking to Top 50 prospects and guys that won’t be picked. It is really going to be interesting to see who they do pick or sign. It will also be interesting down the road when we hear who they really wanted but missed out on (should that happen).

* * * * *

One of my favorite CBs in the draft is PJ Williams from Florida State. He’s tough, physical and very talented. And apparently very, very dumb. He got a DUI this week.

He was driving the rental car on a suspended license, according to court records.

Williams, 21, stopped during a green light at the intersection of Dewey and Tennessee Streets before turning onto Tennessee Street.

He swerved over the center line several times and the outside line nearly hitting the curb before he was stopped, court records show.

The FSUPD officer noticed Williams’ eyes were red and watery and he spoke with slurred speech, according to court records.

He told officers he was coming from local bar Recess. His stance swayed and he braced against the door of the vehicle when officers asked him to exit.

He refused a field sobriety test and to give a breath sample at the Leon County Jail.

Williams told police he played football for FSU and he “just wanted to go home,” before being transported to the jail, the arrest report states.

He’s already got a suspended license. Then he drives drunk. Then he tries the old “Do you know who I am? I just want to go home” trick.

Does this sound like a Chip Kelly guy? I’m kinda leaning a bit toward no.

There is no way he goes in the 1st round to any team.  Someone will take a chance on him, probably in the 3rd round. There just aren’t enough good cover corners. Some team will be willing to roll the dice. If you had a veteran secondary that could help the young guy, that might be the best situation. Clearly the Eagles don’t fit that description.

* * * * *

The Eagles are checking out QB Cody Fajardo from Nevada. Tim McManus has the details.

The former Nevada quarterback  has had one private workout to this point, he said, and that was with Eagles QB coach Ryan Day.

“I felt that he was pretty interested,” Fajardo said in a phone conversation with Birds 24/7. “We had a great lunch together and he asked me some typical questions and then some off-the-wall questions. It was definitely a good time. I got to learn a little bit of the system in the private workout, what types of routes they run and how they do their play-action, so it was kind of an inside look at what the Eagles do.

“He said I threw the ball really well.”

I can’t say I’m a big fan of his. I do need to watch some older games to make sure I get more of a complete picture. Fajardo is a good athlete and he’s got a lot of experience. I’m sure Kelly would enjoy having a mobile QB to work with.

I’ll watch more of him and write up what I see.

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