Monday Practice Talk

Posted: July 28th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 83 Comments »

The Eagles were in full pads for the first time in the 2014 offseason and practiced at The Linc today. All the reports make it sound like a pretty interesting day.

Let’s start with Jeff McLane.

– The Eagles mixed up their defensive personnel yesterday, sometimes having the first team secondary rolling with the second team unit and vice versa. So when I saw Marcus Smith running with the twos I wasn’t sure if coordinator Bill Davis was simply shuffling things up. But Smith, who was with the third team throughout spring and the start of camp, was once again with the second team today. My guess is he’ll stay there backing up Connor Barwin at the “Jack” outside linebacker spot opposite Brandon Graham, who backs up Trent Cole at “Predator.” It’s difficult to say if Smith as earned the promotion or if the Eagles just want to see him playing against better competition, but it’s a natural step for the first round draft pick. Jake Knott was the other promotion, jumping from third team inside linebacker to the second team ahead of Jason Phillips. Looks like he’s out of the doghouse after being suspended four games.

– A few quickies … Zach Ertz made a strong grab in traffic when he hauled in a pass by Sanchez that was thrown slightly behind him. … But I’ll give catch of the day honors to B.J. Cunningham, who went over defensive back Davon Morgan to pull in a short-armed throw by Barkley. … Cedric Thornton, at least on one play, picked up where he left off last year when he sliced through the o-line and “dropped” McCoy. … Casey Matthews, after moving to outside linebacker last season, has been taking all his reps at inside linebacker this camp. … Celek dropped a pass from Foles. … The Damaris Johnson daily mistake came when he put the ball on the turf during a kick return. He retrieved it, but Johnson hasn’t done himself any favors through three practices.

It is good to see Marcus Smith moving up the depth chart. He’s now the backup Jack LB. No offense to Byan Braman, but I want Smith on the field as much as possible this summer. As McLane points out, there is also the benefit of getting to see him go against better competition. Right now he’ll be going against RT Lane Johnson a lot.

Also good to hear about Jake Knott. The Eagles coaches liked him quite a bit last summer. Things had been very quiet in regard to him this offseason, aside from his 4-game suspension. I wondered if Knott just hadn’t made progress or if he was in the doghouse for the suspension. I don’t know if Knott will challenge for a starting role down the road, but he can be a solid backup and good STer.

Damaris Johnson is headed in the wrong direction. He isn’t the type of WR Chip Kelly prefers so it is critical that Johnson stands out on STs. Right now he’s doing that, but in the wrong way. You want to stand out for good reasons, not mistakes. Johnson showed excellent promise back in 2012. It is really frustrating to see him struggle like this.

* * * * *

Another day, another fight. Jimmy Bama offers his take on things.

For the second consecutive day at Eagles training camp, a pair of Eagles fought at the end of a play. On Sunday, it was LeSean McCoy vs. Trent Cole. On Monday, Jeremy Maclin and Bradley Fletcher squared off and threw haymakers at each other. Interestingly, not only are all of those players locks to make the team, they’re all currently first team veterans.

Before practice on Monday, Chip Kelly likened football practice fights to little kids throwing temper tantrums.

“Yeah, their emotions got the better part of them,” said Kelly. “Those things happen. It’s no different than sometimes little kids don’t get along very well and throw Tonka trucks at each other. I (think) the fact that it made SportsCenter must have meant it’s the world’s slowest sports day, I can tell you that. That two kids push each other in practice somewhere… It’s not a real big deal.”

Not a big deal?!? Did Chip not go to grade school? Where I grew up, if a fight was brewing, somebody yelled “FIIIIIGGGGGHHHT!!!!!!” Everyone within earshot immediately stopped what they were doing and watched. Is that not what it was like growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire, Chip? Because we were far less mature down here in the Philly suburbs.

I have to side with Chip on this. Fights aren’t a big deal to me unless they get out of hand (which is very rare) or the two guys going at it have something noteworthy about them. Nick Foles vs Cary Williams? I want to read about that. Maclin vs Williams? Not so much. But I’m probably in the minority on this…so read Jimmy’s post and enjoy his artwork.

* * * * *

Now onto Sheil Kapadia and his take from Monday.

12:44 - The Eagles have a “Formations” period every practice. The offense lines up against the defense, and it’s all about motioning, shifting, etc. Football coaches at all levels will tell you success depends on execution. But so much is determined before the ball is even snapped. Just think back to Week 17 last year when the Cowboys got Dez Bryant lined up on Chung. Anyone watching live or on TV knew that one was going to be trouble.

1:15 - We see one of these every day. McCoy and Darren Sproles together in the backfield. Sproles motions to the left, Foles fakes the handoff to McCoy to the right and then delivers the ball back to Sproles on a bubble screen.

1:20 - Perhaps the play of the day. Earl Wolff breaks on a deep ball near the sideline intended for Arrelious Benn and breaks it up. Excellent range and closing speed. Wolff is the best athlete the Eagles have at safety. If the coaches can get him to play to that athleticism, he’ll be on the field. Smith, Cary Williams and others give Wolff love for his effort.

Great point about the Formations period. Getting lined up correctly is huge. The best schemes in the world are meaningless if the players aren’t in the right spot when the ball is snapped. This isn’t as easy as it was 20 years ago when football was more static. There was less substitution. There was less going on in the way of formations and motion. You were going to see the Pro Set or the I-formation. It wasn’t hard to line up. These days a lot goes on before the ball is even snapped.

I need to write something more about Sproles. He has really grown on me. The players and coaches seem to love him. Kelly seems to have plenty of plans for him. Peter King pointed out the other day that the only reason the Saints let him go was salary.

I will not be the least bit surprised if Wolff starts opposite of Malcolm Jenkins. Wolff is more athletic and more physical than Nate Allen. Wolff needs to show he’s got the mental side of things. If he does that, he can beat out Allen. I don’t care which guys wins the job. I just want good Safety play this year. I think both will end up starting games at some point.

* * * * *

Geoff Mosher also had some good notes.

Trending upward
Maybe Chip Kelly really is the genius he’s often portrayed to be. After two days of having some of Matt Barkley’s reps handed to fourth-string quarterback G.J. Kinne, Barkley responded by having perhaps his best practice of the season. Barkley made some tremendous decisions in the scrimmages and showed some extra life with his passes.

Catch of the Day
B.J. Cunningham doesn’t get much press, but the second-year wideout turned in the day’s smoothest catch, leaping near the left sideline to reel in a fastball from Barkley despite being smothered by cornerback Davon Morgan.

Stock rising
Towering wideout Ifeanyi Momah, a 6-foot-7 prospect who didn’t make the team last year and didn’t sign with anyone, made two sterling catches — a fingertip grab across the middle and another against tight coverage on the left sideline. Should be a boost for Momah’s confidence.

Mosher was really impressed with Matt Barkley, which is good to read. “Best practice of the season”? I like that. Barkley can’t relax after a good practice or two. He must work his butt off if he’s going to push Sanchez for the backup job and really impress the coaches.

I’m still on the BJ Cunningham bandwagon, but I can’t say it feels like we’re going all that far. One practice at a time, I guess.

Momah sounds night and day better than last year, but he would need a phenomenal camp to push for a roster spot. The best hope for him is to play well enough to win a practice squad spot. Even that isn’t likely, but I’m certainly glad the young man is getting a taste of success after a miserable summer last year

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Hitting Time

Posted: July 28th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 81 Comments »

And so it begins. The pads go on today and hitting is live. The first couple of days of Training Camp were just players in shorts. There was contact, but not the full on hitting that we love to see each summer. Today’s practice will be at The Linc and is open to the public. I hope a lot of you are able to go and enjoy the day’s activities.

My PE.com column is about Training Camp and some of the players to watch. This is a huge opportunity for some players. Lives can change, good and bad. Back in 2011 some guy named Evan Mathis emerged as a starting OL after practicing well. Other players struggle and that can be the beginning of the end for them. This could be a young guy like Ifeanyi Momah or a veteran like Felix Jones.

I’d love to tell you that a lot of borderline players will look great for the Eagles and the summer will be nothing but good news. We know that’s not how things work. You don’t mind some bottom of the roster guys struggling. You get worried when veterans that had key roles don’t play well.

There isn’t one player that I’m overly concerned about. I guess a bad summer from Todd Herremans would be one thing that would get my attention. The OL has issues because of the Lane Johnson suspension. We need the 4 returning starters to all play well.

* * * * *

PE.com posted some good practice notes from Sunday. UDFA receiver Kadron Boone is an interesting prospect. I’m not sure he’s athletic enough for the NFL. I love his size and he has good skills, but I wonder about speed and quickness. He did test well, but that athleticism didn’t always show up on game tape. Boone has had some good moments in the OTAs and first days of camp.

In the final team drill, Barkley delivered another beauty deep down the left sideline for rookie wide receiver Kadron Boone, who scored the would-be touchdown.

“Matt threw a perfect ball and I just caught it in stride,” Boone said.

Boone signed with the Eagles as a rookie free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft. Playing at LSU behind first-round pick Odell Beckham and second-round pick Jarvis Landry, Boone finished his Tigers career with 44 receptions for 611 yards and eight touchdowns. The 6-foot, 202-pound Boone is used to making the most of limited opportunities.

“That was the situation for me in my last year. We had two good receivers who went early in the draft. One thing that I was always taught was when your number is called, be ready to make a play,” Boone said.

“I just brought the same mentality over. If I get five reps, I’m going to make the most of those five reps. The one thing about here is you’re going to get a lot of reps. With those reps, I just make sure I do what I’m supposed to do. And if it’s not catching the ball, then it’s being where I’m supposed to be. Make sure I’m on my block, focusing on the little things.”

Maybe the NFL will bring out the best in Boone. I’d love to see him push for a practice squad spot.

Those quotes came from a good interview that Chris McPherson did with Boone. I came away impressed with the young man.

* * * * *

Elliot Shorr-Parks is really focused on QBs this summer. He is keeping track of all the throws and compiling the information.

Mark Sanchez
Reps on Sunday: 34 reps (all with second team)
Stats on Sunday: 21/23, 1 TD, 0 INT
Analysis from Sunday: For the second day in a row, Sanchez was extremely sharp. Sanchez had a beautiful ball down the right sideline for a touchdown to receiver Jeremy Maclin that was about 45 yards. The veteran quarterback put the ball right where it needed to be, and hit Maclin in stride over his shoulder. What has been most impressive about Sanchez is how he is not taking chances with the ball. Given his reputation for turning the ball over during his time in New York, Sanchez has placed very few passes into double coverage. He did have one pass nearly picked off on Sunday, but that was one of only his only bad passes so far in camp. 
Total Stats 63 reps (all with second team), 38/44, 1 TD, 0 INT
Stock: Up

Go read the post to get the info on all 4 QBs. He’s got notes on Nick Foles. Some of you have asked for more info on Foles. The attention the first couple of days was on the backups since they played well after a poor spring. Foles didn’t have a great showing on Sunday, but he had a terrific spring and looked good on the opening day of camp. You’re not going to notice him as much unless he does make a mistake.

It is interesting to see Elliot keep track of the numbers. You have to be careful about putting too much into them. You need context to really have a good feel for how a guy looked. I appreciate the effort since I’m an out of town analyst and PE.com is no longer allowed to show extensive camp footage.

* * * * *

Bill Davis had his PC on Sunday. He didn’t say anything too wild, but I always enjoy listening to him.

Davis pointed out that for the first couple of weeks the defense would use a variety of groupings instead of strictly being 1′s and 2′s and so on. The goal is to see how different groups play against different competition. For instance, he wants the backup DBs to face the starting WRs. The DL rotates a lot so there will be times when the starting DL is out there with backup DBs.

Eventually this will all settle down and things will become more about starters and backups.

Davis admitted that the Eagles played DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks too much last year. He wants to give them more rest. That’s good news for Najee Goode and some other backup LBs. Sounds like the Eagles will do more with sub-packages and backup players.

While the Eagles tackled better last year than in the previous couple of seasons, Davis talked about the need to improve even more. The biggest issue he noticed was head placement. This is mostly in reference to tackling a player who you are attacking from the side. When a defender does that, he needs to take the correct angle and get his head in front of where the player is going. It will then be easier to wrap up with the arms. Last year too many Eagles were getting their head head behind the target and then they had to reach for the body of the runner/receiver. That led to missed tackles.

Paul Domowitch wrote about Davis comments on how the defense will look different this year. Expect it to be less vanilla. One comment stood out to me.

“A year ago, you saw more assignment football,’’ Davis said. “Guys were studying hard to know their assignment and what was asked of them, but didn’t really understand the whole picture and how they exactly fit with their teammates.

Good defense is about 11 guys functioning as one. They have to work together. You saw elements of this last year, but also saw plenty of times when the defense looked like 11 individuals on the field. That was to be expected because of the scheme change and new faces. This year they know the scheme and there is stability with the lineup. The defense should play more as a group. And better.

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QBs on the Rise

Posted: July 27th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 23 Comments »

One of the big concerns heading into Training Camp was the QB position. Everyone is high on starter Nick Foles, but the backups appeared to be a major question based on what we saw in the spring. Neither Mark Sanchez nor Matt Barkley stood out in their competition to see who would be the primary backup. Both struggled at times and didn’t generate much confidence.

Things have changed. Now 2 days into TC, both Sanchez and Barkley are playing much better. Each player has made multiple throws that impressed the media members watching the practices.

From Geoff Mosher’s practice notes:

Thread of the day
With great timing and some zip on the ol’ fastball, Sanchez placed one right between Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen to hit rookie Jordan Matthews in stride for a first-down along the right seam.

Sheil Kapadia mentioned this in his practice notes:

Matt Barkley, meanwhile, finds Damaris Johnson on a deep out, placing the ball perfectly over defenders. Barkley has looked much better in two summer practices than he did all spring.

And

1:17 - Barkley drops back and hits Kadron Boone in stride down the left sideline. The ball probably traveled 40 to 50 yards in the air and was on the money. Quite possibly the best pass we’ve seen Barkley throw in two years. That was a beauty.

Prevailing thought of the day: All three quarterbacks have looked really good the past two days.

This is very encouraging. Nobody is rushing to put Sanchez or Barkley in the Hall of Fame, but it is good to hear that the players are throwing the ball well and looking much improved over the spring. Chip Kelly talks all the time about how you need at least 2 QBs in the NFL. Last year the Eagles had Vick, Foles and Barkley all play significant snaps in at least 2 games. It would be great if Foles started all 16 games and only left the field in blowout victories, but you sure can’t count on that.

Sanchez playing better makes sense. He was new to the team and the scheme in the spring. Learning on the fly in the Chip Kelly offense isn’t the easiest thing in the world. By now, Sanchez has had a chance to really digest the playbook and get used to the pace of practice. He is a talented, veteran QB and should play well.

Barkley’s struggles in the spring are still a bit of a mystery. It might have been the result of his frustration with the fact the Eagles didn’t push him into the backup QB role. Or maybe it is simply the fact he’s a young player and they can be erratic. No matter the reason, his struggles were a real concern. Barkley figured things out, whether physically or mentally, and is looking better. Hopefully he’ll continue to improve and will start to look like the player that Kelly was so eager to draft in April of 2013.

* * * * *

More praise for CB Nolan Carroll.

From Mosher:

Mix and match
Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis got creative with personnel pairings, often mixing the starting front seven with the backup secondary or vice-versa. The looks gave Brandon Boykin extra reps at outside cornerback in base defense, along with Nolan Carroll. Carroll made a nice pass breakup.

Quote of the day
“He’s a very well‑rounded talent. He’s got size, he’s got length, he’s got speed. He’s a real tenacious competitor. I love his attitude out there the way he presses and competes and puts his hands on the people, and he’s got a good knack for the ball.” — Bill Davis, on free-agent corner Nolan Carroll.

From Sheil

Later, Foles runs play-action, rolls to his left and looks for Ertz near the sideline, but Carroll breaks it up. I repeat myself every day, but Carroll gets his hands on more passes at practice than any other defensive back, and it’s not even close.

Carroll has been a terrific free agent pickup to this point. He is pushing the starters and seems to stand out in every practice. Carroll can steal a starting job if he continues to shine. The Eagles like starters Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, but don’t love them.

Several of you wonder why the common thought is that Carroll is challenging Fletcher and not Williams. Since Williams is older and more expensive, shouldn’t he be the guy Carroll replaces? The Eagles want the best players on the field. They seem to like Williams better. One of the simple differences between he and Fletcher is reliability. Williams started all 16 games. Fletcher started 13. Beyond that, Fletcher missed time in games. Williams played 1067 snaps. Fletcher played 850.

The Eagles will put the best CBs on the field. We don’t know what combination of Williams, Fletcher and Carroll that will be. It is up to the players to decide that.

* * * * *

Trent Cole and LeSean McCoy got into a fight today. McCoy was ticked off that Cole and other defenders were being too physical with him on pass routes. This makes for a nice story for the media, but it isn’t a big deal. McCoy and Cole have played together since 2009. This was just an emotional flare-up during a summer practice session.

* * * * *

Here is some STs stuff from Jimmy over the last couple of days.

• In the kicker competition, both Alex Henery and Murderleg went 4/5 on field goal attempts. Murderleg was 4/4 until his final kick, and he had a chance to win the day… but he pushed it right.

I also watched them on kickoffs. Henery kicked off three times during one portion of the practice, and his kickoffs were as follows: 4 yards deep in the end zone, 7 yards deep, 2 yards deep. Murderleg on the other hand, had two kickoffs that I observed. One was fielded at about the one yard line, the other at the 14 on a wobbly line drive. It’s not a good sign when Alex Henery is clearly better than you on kickoffs.

• Staying with special teams, Damaris Johnson fumbled in a non-contract drill and Josh Huff muffed an ugly looking line drive kickoff.

And 

• Damaris Johnson had his second muff in as many days. Jordan Matthews also had a punt eat him up. On a short punt, he wasn’t able to run up and field it in the air. Then when he tried to catch it on the bounce, it deflected off of him, and bounced further down the field. Then instead of jumping on it, he tried to pick it up and run, but missed it again. That all happened right in front of the Chippah, who likely reminded Matthews that that sequence was ugly.

• This is something that was already known, but Brent Celek is the emergency long snapper. He got some long snap reps today. No offense to Brent, but Jon Dorenbos is better at long snapping than Brent Celek.

Go read the whole posts to see Jimmy profess his love for Donnie Jones.

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Barbre It Is

Posted: July 26th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 73 Comments »

Chip Kelly held a press conference this morning and announced that Allen Barbre will be the RT for now. Kelly believes in competition so he’s not anointing Barbre as having locked down the job. To Kelly, everything has to be earned. By what he did last year and in the OTAs, Barbre earned the first shot at being the RT while Lane Johnson enjoys his September vacation.

Kelly was asked if the Eagles considered moving Todd Herremans to RT, but indicated that the plan all along was to go with Barbre. Kelly said that the Eagles really like him and that’s the reason they signed him to an extension. There was some speculation that Barbre got the extension because of Johnson’s suspension. That wasn’t the case.

Barbre will get all the reps with the 1′s. Lane Johnson will work with the #2 offense. You got the feeling that Kelly was pretty pissed off at Johnson for the whole situation. He didn’t throw him under the bus, but made it clear that the focus would be on getting the starters ready for the first 4 games. Johnson will have to do everything he can to be ready to challenge for his job when Game 5 rolls around, but it sure doesn’t sound like he’ll jump right back into his old job with no questions asked. Kelly is going to make him win that job.

“We’ve got to prepare for our first four games, so we’ve got to get the guy who is going to be the starting right tackle for the first four games in there,” Kelly said.

Kelly understands at the same time that Johnson, last year’s first-round pick, still needs to continue to develop.

“He’ll get reps, but they won’t be with the first team right now,” Kelly said.

The NFL announced on Wednesday that Johnson will miss the first four games after violating the league’s policy regarding performance-enhancing substances. The Eagles’ open the season at home against Jacksonville, then travel to Indianapolis before hosting Washington and going back on the road to face the San Francisco 49ers.

Johnson can participate in Training Camp and the preseason, but is not allowed to be with the team once the suspension begins. He will be eligible to play in Week 5 against the St. Louis Rams.

“We’ll see,” Kelly responded when asked how Johnson will adjust upon his return. “The ball’s in his court in a lot of these situations.”

We don’t know what happened with Johnson. Was this an accident or did he get caught cheating? Everyone can have an opinion, but we don’t know for a fact. The key to the situation is that Johnson learns from it and moves on. He’s got to work his butt off this summer and then be ready for October. If he handles this situation the right way, all is forgiven. If Johnson doesn’t handle it well, this could snowball into something bigger. Johnson has the right kind of people around him. Let’s hope they help him get through this with minimal problems.

Barbre isn’t as good a player as Johnson, but he is a veteran who fits the Eagles system well. He looked very good last year vs the Packers when Jason Peters got hurt and missed part of the game. Barbre can be an adequate replacement, maybe even better than that. He’ll have plenty of time to get ready for his 4 games as the RT.

* * * * *

The Eagles practiced in shorts today. Some quick tweets of interest.

We’ll have full TC reports later on. Lots of positive comments about Mark Sanchez on Twitter. Sounds like he’s much better than he was this spring, which is good. Need someone to emerge as the backup QB.

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Beware of Shiny Objects

Posted: July 25th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 59 Comments »

There was a lot of speculation in the spring about whether the Eagles would draft Johnny Manziel. Chip Kelly had recruited him to Oregon so it was widely assumed that Kelly would want him in Philly. No matter what happens or what is said, the notion that Chip covets a mobile QB just won’t go away.

I didn’t expect the Eagles to go after Manziel, but I’ve been wrong before. I was relieved when the Eagles dealt the pick away and Cleveland then drafted Manziel back in May.

Manziel is one of the best college QBs that I have ever seen play. He did things that look like crazy scenes from a bad movie about a college football superstar. You know how in every football movie the director feels the need for every play to be some over-the-top moment? That was Manziel for 2 years at Texas A&M. He made the impossible seem almost common. I’m glad I got to see him play and I’ll never forget Johnny Football.

But I wanted no part of him for the Eagles.

The first thing that got my radar up was the Manning Passing Academy incident, where Manziel was sent home early. Did he simply oversleep or was he hungover? I don’t know what happened, but I know things didn’t go the way they should have. Then there was the brilliant piece by Wright Thompson from last summer. Manziel came off as a spoiled brat with a huge sense of entitlement.

The last year featured a lot of moments that were awkward, if not awful. Manziel doing his little money thing with his fingers just feels so wrong. He did it in games and even at the draft. Hanging with Justin Bieber, who doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation, probably isn’t ideal. The photo of the rolled up $20 bill from the bathroom, which loosely insinuated cocaine use, was another head-scratcher.

I have no idea what kind of NFL player Manziel will be, but I sure don’t like his personality and I sure don’t trust him. And that’s the biggest thing. No matter how well Manziel plays, you’re always going to be scared to pull up Twitter or PFT or turn on ESPN because Bad Johnny is always lurking.

Apparently the Browns have already seen this side of him (and it’s not even August!).

The Browns have been ‘alarmed’ by some of Johnny Manziel’s antics since the draft — especially a photo of him rolling up a $20 bill in the bathroom of a bar — and some in the organization feel he’s lost ground in the quarterback competition heading into camp, sources have told Northeast Ohio Media Group.

And…

Team officials had bought into Manziel’s pre-draft promises to tone down the partying and leave his frat-boy lifestyle back in College Station, Texas, and they’ve been stunned by his non-stop antics, sources said.

Since they traded up to draft him in the first round, No. 22 overall, on May 8, he’s partied hard in New York City, Las Vegas twice, Los Angeles with hip-hop star Drake, Austin, Tex., Houston, Tex. and at pop star Justin Bieber’s house in Beverly Hills with the likes of world boxing champ Floyd Mayweather.

The romp across the country — complete with photos of him drinking magnums of champagne and spraying it around clubs — has been completely opposite of what Manziel told the Browns during his private workout for them at Texas A&M and during his pre-draft visit to Cleveland. It’s also been contrary to what he said publicly in the months leading up to the draft and after the Browns traded up to No. 22 to select him.

Is this the guy you want to build your franchise around? I know some people will point out that he’s a rich kid and that stuff happened in the offseason. Why not let him have his fun? We all have trade-offs in life. If you work at Burger King, nobody will care what you do away from work. If you work at a factory, no one will expect you to take work home with you. Put in your 40 hours and go home. If you want to be an NFL QB, you are on the job 24/7. Everything you say and do will be heavily scrutinized. That may not seem fair, but that’s just how it is.

And this isn’t a morality tale. It is about how you play. Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick both focused on having a good time more than how to find holes in the opposing defense. They both did remarkable things on the field, but left the game as underachievers. They didn’t work hard enough to develop their natural gifts.

Think about Nick Foles and how he carries himself. He’s boring, and I mean that as a compliment. Foles just wants to spend time with his family. He talks about the team in interviews and prefers not to focus on himself. Foles is a guy that you can absolutely build a team around, in terms of the kind of person he is. The test for Foles is for him to show that he can be that good on the field (for a full season…we all loved what he did for 10 starts in 2013).

I hope Manziel pans out as an NFL player because the league is more fun when there are great QBs to watch, but I am glad the Eagles passed on him. It would have been nerve-racking to follow his every off-the-field move. Nick Foles won’t have your jaw hitting the floor on many Sundays, but he also won’t have you cringing every time time you hear his name in the offseason.

* * * * *

If you want to hear Nick say boring things, PE.com has his press conference from today.

Bliss.

* * * * *

Great stuff from Philly writers on Chip Kelly.

Les Bowen

MY FAVORITE instance of Chip being Chip came last August, when he named me the Eagles’ starting quarterback.

Kelly, harried by reporters (darn those reporters!) who wanted to know how he possibly could avoid naming Michael Vick the starter over Nick Foles, given Vick’s 13-for-15 performance through the first two preseason games, was trying to make the point that naming someone a starter in the preseason wasn’t that big a deal. So he said if we had to have a name, fine, Les Bowen was the starter.

My tenure only lasted a few days, before Kelly had a chance to sit down with Vick and Foles and tell them what they’d undoubtedly figured out – that Vick had won the preseason competition. Of course, Mike, like me, eventually fell victim to Chip’s fickle nature (also to Foles throwing seven TD passes in Oakland, and Mike not being able to stay healthy.) By Thanksgiving, Chip had sarcastically proclaimed Nick the starter for the next thousand years.

But Mike and I know Nick shouldn’t count on that.

That’s great stuff from Les.

Domo was less funny, but offered interesting insight.

Paul Domowitch

WHEN ANDY REID was the Eagles’ coach and wanted to go to a Phillies game, he usually had someone from the organization call over and arrange for him to enter through a private entrance so he wouldn’t have to mingle with the common folk.

Reid liked the city’s sports fans, liked their passion. But he liked them a lot better from a distance.

Not Chip Kelly. The guy owns a place in Center City. He eats and drinks and shops in the city. He is as approachable as an insurance man and enjoys shooting the bull with the natives.

When he goes to a Phillies game, he picks up his tickets himself and enters through one of the main gates and sits with the working-stiff peeps, not up in a hoity-toity luxury suite. Maybe all of that will change if he has a losing season and the fans unload on him. But I doubt it. He is who he is.

Asked recently about the perception that he doesn’t take himself or anything else too seriously, he replied: “I have great respect for the game [of football]. I always will have great respect for the game. But I don’t think anybody should take themselves too seriously. I take my job very seriously, but I don’t take myself very seriously.”

I think Chip Kelly is one popular coach, with just about everybody.

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