PHI 20 , STL 7 – 2nd Half

Posted: October 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 554 Comments »

LeSean McCoy started slow and had a terrible fumble in the 1st half, but Chip Kelly didn’t give up on him. McCoy got going in the 2nd quarter and finished with 7 carries for 32 yards. He ran with more confidence and finally had some room to work with. He also caught 4 passes.

The Eagles threw the ball a lot in the 1st half. I think this was by design. Build a lead, get the defense running all over and try to tire them out a bit.

I fully expect the Eagles to run a good amount in the 2nd half. They may continue to throw on the opening possession, but after that I think we’ll see a lot of running, with both McCoy and Sproles.

The Eagles defense is having a solid day.

The STs scored another TD. Those guys are playing lights out.

Good 1st half overall, but still lots of sloppy play. The Eagles got to play with a lead for a very short period last week. An early turnover in the 2nd half completely changed that game. If the Eagles can move the ball and possibly score, they’ll get a chance to show what they can do with a lead.

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STL at PHI – 1st Half

Posted: October 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 389 Comments »

Gameday is upon us. We know the inactive list and there is a bit of news. Rookie WR Josh Huff will play in his first NFL game. So the answer to the timeless question of what does it take to get Jeff Maehl off the field is…another WR from Oregon. (cue rimshot)

We knew Mychal Kendricks wasn’t going to play this week. Keep your fingers crossed for next week.

Inactives:

QB Matt Barkley
WR Jeff Maehl
OL Dennis Kelly
OL Jason Kelce
DE Taylor Hart
ILB Mychal Kendricks
DB Jaylen Watkins

* * * * *

Let’s hope Lane Johnson is ready to go. We know he’s healthy and rested. We just don’t want him too rusty. His return can be a big boost to the run game.

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Unwritten

Posted: October 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 24 Comments »

Let’s talk about a team. Got off to a 3-1 start. Beat a pair of AFC teams. Beat an NFC East rival in a close game. The early loss was on the road against an NFC West team. Had to deal with some OL injuries.

So who is this?

The 2014 Eagles. And the 2012 Eagles.

You remember how things went in 2012. The 3-1 start turned into a 3-3 record with close, painful losses to Pittsburgh and Detroit. Then came the bye week. Andy Reid fired Juan Castillo and named Todd Bowles the defensive coordinator. Reid hoped Bowles experience would pay off in some close games. Instead, the Eagles fell apart. They went 1-9 the rest of the way and turned a promising season into an utter disaster.

Oddly, the Eagles have 2 more games this year and then the bye week. It is kind of eerie how 2014 mirrors 2012.

There are some huge differences, of course. Reid was at the end of his tenure and while the players still loved him they had started to tune him out. Chip Kelly is just in Year 2 and everyone is paying attention to everything he says. Reid’s coaching staff had serious issues. Kelly’s staff so far has been nothing but harmonious.

While I don’t know how the 2014 season will turn out, I feel pretty safe in saying the team won’t go 4-12. I am interested to see how this Eagles team responds to last week. That was a highly frustrating loss. The worst thing the Eagles can do is press. I hope they come out and try to run the ball. I do not want the first play to be a deep ball to a WR. I know the offense will be jonesing to score, but the focus should be on moving the ball. Move the chains and the points will follow.

I wrote about the run game and how that might get going this week for PE.com. I will be a happy camper if the first play of the game is a 5-yard run. The Eagles need to get LeSean McCoy going and to build some confidence for the O-line.

Sunday isn’t going to be a defining game for the Eagles any more than last Sunday was. But it is important for the team to play well and get back to winning. The Rams are a talented, but somewhat dysfunctional team. The Eagles are at home. This is the kind of game you need to win.

* * * * *

ILB Jake Knott was released the other day. He got an injury settlement so obviously he got hurt at practice. Man, 2014 is just not his year.

The Eagles have an opening on the practice squad.

* * * * *

Could the Eagles have any interest in Thompkins?

He started for the Pats in 2013, but fell out of favor this year. The Pats have made some odd decisions in the past couple of years so you can’t just say “he didn’t work out for them so no thanks”.

I think a WR-needy team like the Jets or Jags could claim him off waivers. If no team ahead of the Eagles does claim him, it will be interesting to see if the Eagles claim him. Thompkins has some size at 6-1, 195. He is a good, but not great athlete.

Thompkins is eligible for the practice squad, but it seems like some team is going to put him on their roster. The biggest hindrance to the Eagles having interest in him might be Thompkins lack of Special Teams ability. Chip Kelly likes his backup players to be good STers. That is one of the reasons that Jeff Maehl has a job. In order to cut Maehl and grab Thompkins, you’d have to be comfortable that Thompkins could be an effective role player. There is no question that Thompkins is more talented, but the guys at the bottom of the roster need more than talent.

In the end, this is likely much ado about nothing. Some other team will claim Thompkins and we’ll be on the lookout for the next player to replace Maehl.

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Just Do It

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 173 Comments »

Football is a game of adjustments and adaptation, but not in the way most people think. There are very few “aha moments”.  Chip Kelly is never going to fix the offense by remembering some great schematic twist from something he did at New Hampshire or that he read about in a football coaching book.

Kelly is going to focus on execution more than plays. The key isn’t to find something new to throw at defenses. The Eagles simply need to execute better. That’s a boring answer, but it is the truth. Instead of trying to come up with new run plays, why not just do a better job of blocking on the ones being already used? Why not adjust what LeSean McCoy does and have him run more N-S?

Last year Kelly gave simple advice to Nick Foles when he was struggling. Instead of over-complicating the situation, Kelly simply told Foles to “Grip it and rip it.” The results were outstanding.

This year the whole offense is struggling. You can’t tell them to grip it and rip it. But Kelly has talked about one thing everyone can do to help the situation…quit trying to do too much. It feels like Foles wants every pass to be a long TD. It feels like McCoy wants every run to be a long TD. And so on.

The offense is much better when the focus is on moving the chains with basic plays. When that happens, big plays will come naturally. Think about some of the big plays that have already happened this year.

* Darren Sproles 49-yard TD run was a simple run play up the middle on 4th/1. It happened quickly and the Jags weren’t set on defense.

* The long TD pass to Jeremy Maclin in that game came off a play the Eagles had run over and over. It had been runs and intermediate passes to the TE. When the FS came up, Mac was open deep.

* The long pass plays to Sproles in Indy were a screen and simple circle route. Football 101. He just got the ball in space and made something out of nothing.

* The long pass play to Mac vs the Skins was a screen that was well-executed. Should have been an 80-yard TD.

The offense certainly needs to be creative and aggressive. It is important to throw the ball downfield so you stretch the defense out and put pressure on them to cover the whole field. But going deep over and over isn’t a high percentage play. Nor is trying to get outside on every run. I know LeSean McCoy is just dying to break loose, but he’s only making things worse. The old football adage is “Run for 4, hope for more”. In other words, focus on getting 4 yards. If you do that, eventually you’ll break a tackle or make a guy miss or a defender will fall down and you will get 10 or 15 or 50 additional yards.

I will be happy when the run game can put together a series of 4 and 5 yard runs. If Shady comes out Sunday and rips off an 80-yard run, that won’t tell me the run game is fixed. A good running game is consistent more than it is explosive.

The big message from Kelly and the coaches should be to “just do your job”. If each individual correctly executes his assignment, the offense will move the ball and score points. The Eagles have the talent. This isn’t Bubby Brister handing the ball to James Joseph and throwing to Victor Bailey or Maurice Johnson.

Do your job. Eliminate mistakes. We’ll score points.

* * * * *

The Rams will be coming to town as this week’s opponent. They are 1-2 and a bit of an odd team. They have some really good individual pieces, but the overall product is still lacking. Take the defense for example.

DE Robert Quinn – 1st round pick
DT Aaron Donald – 1st round pick
NT Michael Brockers – 1st round pick
DE Williams Hayes – veteran player
LB Alec Ogletree – 1st round pick
MLB James Laurinaitis – 2nd round pick
LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar – veteran player

That is a lot of talent, but they cannot stop the run to save their lives. They are 30th in run defense and allow 5.1 yards per carry, which is an awful figure.

I don’t have a good feel for what the problem is right now. I just hope the Rams don’t get it fixed before Sunday. A porous run defense is exactly what the Eagles need on the schedule right now.

Just as amazing…the Rams have only 1 sack this year. As we know, sacks are a complicated stat, but that is one talented front seven. You would expect them to have a few sacks. In their defense…they have faced the fewest passing plays in the NFL. But that’s because everyone is so busy running the ball on them.

A vicious cycle, huh?

 

* * * * *

Fran Duffy’s All-22 piece on the Rams is excellent, as you would expect.

He mentioned the fact that they like to run the ball with their receivers and boy was he right. I count 13 rushing attempts by receivers so far this year. And that is through just 3 games. The Rams are coming off a bye week. Those receiver runs have only gained 43 yards so far, but Tavon Austin is a threat any time the ball is in his hands.

* * * * *

This has been a long, awkward week because of the Eagles loss and how they played. I really can’t wait until the offense gets out there and scores a TD on Sunday. That will sure make the world seem like a better place.

If the Eagles win, they’ll improve to 4-1. The last time the Eagles got off to a 4-1 start was way back in 2006. The Eagles won the NFC East that year and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs at New Orleans. You might remember the Scott Young Game. Ugh.

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Detailed Game Review – SF 26, PHI 21

Posted: October 2nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 74 Comments »

Set aside schemes, smoothies, sports science and all the other bells and whistles of modern football. The game still comes down to blocking and tackling. The Niners blocked better. The Niners tackled better. The Niners won.

In my preview for PE.com I talked about how this game would be a physical test for the Eagles. SF might be down a few players, but that is still one tough, rugged team. Think of these 2 plays. Shady McCoy gets free for the first time all game and is headed for the end zone when Safety Antoine Bethea explodes through his legs and puts McCoy down just outside the 1-yard line. Frank Gore catches a pass in space he rumbles 30 yards before Safety Earl Wolff gets there. Wolff can’t bring him down (or anything close to it) and Gore scores an easy TD.

The Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year. Physical team. The Ravens before that. Physical team. Some team from New Jersey before that. Physical team. The Packers before that. Physical team. And so on.

Chip Kelly wants a big, strong, physical team. The Eagles are headed in that direction. They won more than a few physical showdowns on Sunday, but not enough. This team is still a work in progress.      Read the rest of this entry »