Super Bowl Winning Coach & Owner Speak to Media

Posted: March 27th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Super Bowl Winning Coach & Owner Speak to Media

Is that a good headline? Probably not. But boy is it fun to write.

The NFL owners meetings are going on down in Florida. That always gives us a chance to hear from team management. Howie Roseman spoke to the media on Monday. I didn’t think he said anything all that significant. He’s in the middle of the offseason so he can’t really do that. You can’t give away plans and every comment could give a hint of  something the Eagles might want to do.

Doug Pederson spoke to the media for an hour on Tuesday morning.

Pederson had some interesting thoughts to share. The item that stood out to me was his take on Darren Sproles. In case you’ve somehow forgotten, Sproles is a free agent and is rehabbing from multiple injuries. He will turn 35 in June and I thought the Eagles were done with him. Sproles is still talented, but you have to move on at some point.

Pederson said he wants Sproles back and that he thinks Sproles wants to come back. You can make an argument for that, but the one factor Pederson didn’t talk about was money. Sproles made $4M last year. I can’t see any way the Eagles would pay him that this year. Is Sproles willing to pay for less?

We’ll see what happens, but don’t count on this. There is a really strong group of RBs in the upcoming draft. I would focus on adding one of them. If that doesn’t work out, maybe then you talk to Sproles and see what you can work out.

Pederson explained that a key concept in the Super Bowl actually came from Chip Kelly’s playbook. Pederson brought it to Philly as a similar play, but Sam Bradford told Pederson and the other coaches how Chip ran it and the QBs actually preferred that version. Pederson, being as open-minded as any coach I can remember, went with Chip’s version. Pederson’s lack of ego is just astonishing at times.

Pederson talked about how the offensive coaches look for plays all over the place. As they study draft prospects, they keep an eye out for interesting plays. He’s not afraid to borrow from anyone.

You really ought to watch the whole interview if you get a chance. There are plenty of items that are obvious, but Pederson does share some thoughts that are of interest on a variety of subjects (Wentz’s return, coaching changes, analytics, what’s going on at CB, the future of the Philly Special, etc.).

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Jeffrey Lurie also spoke to the media. He talked for about 30 minutes.

Lurie said he’s watched the Super Bowl seven times and still gets nervous (Pederson said something similar). I can absolutely relate to that.

Lurie talked about a variety of subjects: Eagles fans, Michael Bennett, kelly green uniforms, shaping the roster for the present and the future, rules changes, embracing digital/social media.

You can tell he feels validated by finally getting the team over the hump and winning the big game. He should be proud and happy. It took longer than we wanted, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. And Lurie helped deliver a championship that everyone can feel good about. The Eagles beat a legit team with Brady and Belichick, and did so with smiles on their faces. This was the most fun Eagles team I’ve ever watched and seeing them win made it all the more rewarding.

*****

Sheil Kapadia offered his Cliffs Notes on both.

Great, as always.

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A Bit More on Foles

Posted: March 27th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on A Bit More on Foles

Nick Foles is a complicated subject. He just led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl and that gives him a special place in team history. Heck, that arguably makes him the most important person in the history of Philadelphia, apologies to Ben Franklin, Julius Erving and Derek Landri.

Some people took yesterday’s post as an insult to Foles. I mentioned a few times that he wasn’t special in any way. That’s not an insult. That’s just reality. Foles would be the first to tell you that.

Some responded by talking about the fact he made some great throws in the NFC CG and the Super Bowl. Foles was great in those two games. That was him at his best and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Making great throws in two games doesn’t make you special. Watch Brady, Brees and Rodgers make spectacular throws, game after game, year after year. That’s on a different level.

There is a reason Foles was drafted in the 3rd round. There is a reason the Eagles traded him after 2014. And the Rams let him go. And that he didn’t have a ton of interest as a free agent prior to last season. Foles is talented, but he is flawed. The tape shows that.

There is a catch here. Scouting reports are constantly changing. The report on Foles now has to mention that he played well against the Falcons and then was lights out against the Vikings and Pats. Those were legitimately great performances. That doesn’t wipe out poor games from the past, but it does counter them to a certain extent. If Foles had played well for 10 or 12 games, then you might have a really different scouting report.

You just can’t take a small sample and turn that into definitive evidence, even with a Super Bowl win.

I’ll be fascinated to see Foles when he does get on the field next. I hope he doesn’t play important snaps for the Eagles this year, but only because I want Carson Wentz healthy.

I hope some team does give Foles a chance to start in 2019. I hope he does play really well and we can change the way we talk about him. When you scout a player, you aren’t just looking for highlights. You need to focus on what a player does on a consistent basis. Foles was great in the postseason, but had great circumstances. The O-line blocked well. His skill players made ridiculous catch after ridiculous catch. The running game was effective. Foles played with a lead for the vast majority of the 180 playoff minutes.

You can’t count on favorable circumstances like that. Assuming he is with a new team in 2019, Foles has a chance to completely change his perception. He is a playoff hero in Philly, but could become a good starting QB for some other team. Right now, teams aren’t sure what to make of him as a starter. Other teams didn’t make a stronger run at him this offseason because they are scared he would be a very different QB for them than he was for the Eagles.

Some people talked about Foles as being clutch. There is a good argument to be made for this. He has been good in tight games over the years and was in 2017. He obviously played well when things mattered the most. When it comes to intangibles, Foles is off the charts. Great teammate. Great leader. Hard worker. Focused. Gives credit, takes blame. Low maintenance. Foles the person is absolutely someone you want on your team.

I will forever be grateful to Foles for winning the Super Bowl. I will be a fan of his because of that.

That said, I’m always going to be honest about players. No team should trade a 1st round pick for Foles. He’s not suddenly one of the 10 best starting QBs in the league. I know he can succeed with the right circumstances, but I don’t know what he would do with mediocre surroundings. Maybe the great play in the postseason has changed him and he is a different QB. Maybe not.

Foles is talented. He can play at a very high level. We just don’t know what to expect from the new and improved version of Foles over the course of a 16-game season.

I hope we get a chance to find out in the future. I’ll certainly be pulling for him.

*****

Great news. The D-line has a chance to be outstanding this year. Long made critical plays last year and was terrific off the bench. It will be great to have him back.

*****

Jeff McLane has your owners meetings update.

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Les Bowen has your Michael Bennett update.

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Coaching Matters

Posted: March 25th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

We haven’t had a Carson Wentz discussion in a while so let’s change that.

Well, you are allowed to say this about Wentz. I don’t think any reasonable person would say Wentz would be the same player in Cleveland that he’s been in Philly. Coaching absolutely makes a difference. Teammates absolutely make a difference.

NFL Philosophy (Joe) wasn’t a fan of Wentz’s coming out of college. He has since admitted he was wrong and changed his thoughts on Wentz. You can tell he still has his doubts about just how good Wentz truly is.

There are a couple of different angles here. First, Wentz vs Foles. Nick Foles was great in 2013 and then in the playoffs last year. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire 2014-2016. When Foles has good blocking and the right skill players, he can be a good QB. At times, he can even be outstanding.

Foles isn’t special in any way. When he is asked to carry the offense, things don’t go so well. He can’t create plays on a consistent basis. Blocking is a must for Foles. All QBs struggle with pressure, but it really gets to Foles. He has a history of backpedaling and making poor throws.

We have only seen Wentz play with mediocre personnel once, and that was his rookie year. Even with the worst set of WRs in the league and a constantly shuffling OL, Wentz led the Eagles to a 7-9 record and made his share of plays.

Wentz did get legitimate weapons in 2017 and the results were spectacular. Foles posted great numbers in 2013, but this is where having seen the tape is so crucial. Foles got a lot of lucky breaks that year, where underthrown balls or contested passes were caught by Eagles and turned into big plays. Wentz, on the other hand, made some ridiculously special plays.

If you watch those two highlight packages, you’ll see that one QB is special. The other guy got great results, but wasn’t special in any way. That is a massive difference in the two players. It doesn’t make Foles a bum or Wentz a god. Wentz is simply better. He is on a different level.

The fact he was lucky enough to end up with the Eagles is what gives him a chance to have a special career. Steve Young was a bad QB for the Bucs. He went to play for Bill Walsh and with Jerry Rice and ended up in the Hall of Fame. Young was talented in Tampa, but that was such a dysfunctional situation that he couldn’t overcome it.

Archie Manning played for bad teams and that limited his career. Peyton got lucky that the Colts drafted him. The very first huddle of his NFL career had Marshall Faulk and Marvin Harrison. Peyton spent the first decade of his career with elite skill talent and that helped him to have an amazing career.

Anyone who thinks Wentz has only been successful due to coaching and surrounding talent is way off. He was outstanding in college. He played well at the Senior Bowl. Watch his rookie season and you see hints of his special talent. There was a 50-yard bomb to Dorial Green-Beckham in the Steelers game that DGB dropped. There was a beautiful touch pass to Jordan Matthews along the sideline in the end zone. Only Matthews couldn’t get a second foot down. Dropped passes were a huge issue in 2016.

2017 was very different. Wentz was in his second year and played better. It was the second year of the scheme, which helped returning skill players. A new WRs coach made a tremendous difference. And the team added talented pieces like Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.

Wentz is lucky to be coached by Doug Pederson. He was lucky to have Frank Reich and John DeFilippo for the first two years of his career. Wentz has generally had good blocking and now has a good group of skill players. The flip side is also true. Doug Pederson isn’t getting hailed as a genius if Wentz doesn’t play at an elite level. Reich isn’t a head coach. DeFilippo isn’t running the Vikings offense.

There is no question that the success of Foles had a hand in that as well, but the first 13 games with Wentz at QB were proof that wasn’t luck or just a player on a hot streak, but rather great coaching and player development.

History happens when the right player and the right coach come together. We’ll have to wait and see if Pederson and Wentz have a historical run in them or not. They sure look like a special combo right now.

We’ll definitely know more about Wentz in 2030, when new head coach G.J. Kinne and offensive coordinator Paul Turner are running the show.

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The Other Guy

Posted: March 25th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Fletcher Cox is a dominant DT. It can be easy to forget about the guy who plays beside him, Tim Jernigan.

The Eagles were dominant against the run. which was a key to their defensive success. They put teams into 2nd and 3rd-and-long situations. That allowed the Eagles to play situational defense and they did a great job of that. Jernigan was a key part of the run defense.

Let’s look back at some Jernigan highlights from last year.

https://twitter.com/Philly__Nation/status/913458388864000000

Jernigan had 8 TFLs and 2.5 sacks in 2017. I think he can be even better this season. He’s now been in the system a full year and that should help him to get better at the little things. Jernigan has an outstanding combination of power and quickness. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet.

*****

Michael McCann wrote a good piece for SI.com on the Michael Bennett situation. This isn’t about innocence or guilt, but rather the technical side of things and how they might play out.

*****

Cool interview here with Mike Wallace.

He talks about asking some friends around the league where he should sign and they all said “Carson”. That is the power of a good, young QB. Players want to play with that guy.

Wallace also talks about wanting to hear Jason Kelce mention him in a speech after winning the Super Bowl this year. Again, pretty cool.

Last year a lot of people wanted Kelce gone. The Eagles kept him and he had his best season. Then he gave a legendary speech and now he’s pretty much the King of Philadelphia. How crazy is that?

*****

The Eagles love their current trio of DTs, but they are never going to be satisfied. This organization loves building up the players in the trenches and you know Jim Schwartz always wants more weapons for his D-line.

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Michael Bennett Indicted

Posted: March 23rd, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

If you believe the offseason hasn’t officially begun until there is some bizarre drama, the offseason has officially begun for you.

Newly acquired DL Michael Bennett was indicted in Texas for an incident that happened after Super Bowl LI…as in more than a year ago. Bennett was there to watch his brother Martellus play for the Patriots (in the crazy comeback over the Falcons). We’ll let Houston police explain what happened.

Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said Bennett, after the Patriots’ win, “forcibly opened locked doors” in the tunnels of the stadium, then ignored security and pushed several security personnel to get to the field. Acevedo also said Bennett told security, “Y’all must know who I am, and I can own this (expletive). I’m going on the field whether you like it or not.”

 Acevedo said there is no video of the incident, but that it was witnessed by a police officer, who checked on the health of the security personnel instead of attempting to detain Michael Bennett on the spot.
The 66-year-old woman sought medical treatment and was diagnosed with a strained back.

That’s a bizarre description. Bennett opened locked doors. How did that happen exactly? He pushed past security, one of which was an elderly paraplegic woman. I’ve never heard of stadium security quite like that, especially for one of the craziest events in the world.

Then we have a police officer witnessing the event, but doing nothing about it because he was busy checking on a person’s health. I guess the other security on the scene couldn’t have done that. The police chief said the officer on the scene did not deem Bennett a threat to anyone once he got past security so he did not try to arrest him.

Now, 13 months later, we have Bennett indicted by a grand jury. The Houston police said the case was put on the back burner while other more serious matters were dealt with. I guess things have been quiet in the Houston crime world recently so they found time to work through last year’s cases.

Bizarre, just bizarre.

If Bennett really did something dangerous and illegal, then he should be arrested and he should face the consequences. This just seems odd. The police chief said Bennett is “morally bankrupt” for putting his hands on a 66-year old lady in a wheelchair. I’m just finding it hard to believe Bennett actually did that. I could see him pushing someone and then that person making accidental contact with the lady, but Bennett specifically targeting an elderly woman in wheelchair and pushing her? I just find that hard to believe.

We’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out. Bennett is hiring an attorney (or law firm) to handle the matter. He will take this seriously.

You can bet the Eagles were not pleased about this development. The team won big on the field last year, but also stayed out of trouble off the field. If anything, the Eagles were a team you could be proud of. Not only were athletes speaking up, but they took actions to put meaning behind their opinions. They genuinely seemed to care about making a difference.

This could lead to a suspension, but I think the NFL has to let this play out because the salacious headline and the facts don’t match.

BENNETT INJURED ELDERLY PARAPLEGIC WOMAN

That reads a whole lot different than Bennett pushed his way past security to get on the field to see his brother.

No matter how this plays out, this is not a headache that Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman or Doug Pederson wanted to deal with. So much for the drama-free offseason.

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