Wednesday Night Update

Posted: January 28th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

There is a bit of Eagles news from today.

Bicknell has done a good job with the WRs in 2 years so I’m glad he decided to stick around. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper all had their best seasons under him. Jordan Matthews had a terrific rookie season playing for Bicknell. To be sure, playing in the Chip Kelly offense is the key to the stats, but coaching has been part of the success.

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We learned today that 2 more candidates for the personnel job won’t be talking to the Eagles. Tim McManus provides a full update on the situation.

Some teams have blocked candidates from talking to the Eagles.

Some candidates have said no, seeing this as a lateral move or possibly having concerns about the politics of the front office.

Is it possible the Eagles are waiting on someone from the Super Bowl teams? I don’t get the feeling that is the case, but you can’t rule it out at this point. Bob Quinn of the Pats, Trent Kirchner and Dan Morgan of the Seahawks could all make some sense.

Kelly is being choosy. That’s smart. He is trying to find someone to be his right-hand man. You don’t want to rush into that decision. It is frustrating that Kelly hasn’t been able to find someone yet, especially the guys we wanted. That said, the key is to hire the right guy. Who was Scott Pioli when Bill Belichick hired him? John Schneider wasn’t a household name when Pete Carroll chose him.

We should get a better feel for this situation by the middle of next week. There won’t be any more waiting on teams at that point. Kelly will need to poop or get off the pot.

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Looking for Mr. Goodbar

Posted: January 27th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 218 Comments »

Chip Kelly is still in search of Mr. Right.

That’s too bad. Fitterer is the guy I wanted.

Geoff Mosher posted an update last night.

Based on several conversations that took place last week in Mobile, Ala., at the Senior Bowl, industry sources believe Eagles executive Ed Marynowitz and Dolphins scout Chris Grier are the leading candidates to be coach Kelly’s personnel chief.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday night that Chris Polian, the Jaguars’ director of pro personnel, recently completed a second interview for the Eagles’ opening.

Polian has interviewed for the position and is also considered a legitimate candidate but has not interviewed for a second time, according to an NFL source with direct knowledge of Polian’s status.

Polian had interviewed during the first week of January, which CSNPhilly.com first reported, but the Polian source insisted that Polian’s initial interview is the only time he has formally met with Kelly about the position.

Another source told CSNPhilly.com that he believes Grier is coming in for another interview with Kelly.

I heard that Marynowitz was not going to get the job. I don’t know if this is a concern about his age or experience, or if the Eagles simply feel they need an outsider. Losing Tom Gamble and Howie Roseman took a pair of veteran talent evaluators out of the mix. You don’t need a certain amount of guys in the Personnel Dept, but there is something to be said for having a certain amount of guys with good experience.

I have no problem with Grier. He has worked for the Dolphins and Patriots. Grier has been in the league for a couple of decades so he knows his way around. I can’t tell you that he’s got a set philosophy on how to build a team or anything like that, but I do know that he’s been around smart football guys like Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick and Jeff Ireland over the years. They know about drafting players, signing free agents and building up a roster.

Stay tuned for more on the situation.

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Don’t Overlook Nick

Posted: January 27th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 395 Comments »

Nick Foles posted great numbers in 2013, but was then highly erratic in 2014 before getting hurt at midseason. Right now he is the Eagles best option heading into 2015.

Is that a bad thing?

Not necessarily.

We could speculate for days on why Foles took a step back in 2014. Those would all be guesses, though. Let’s stick to some facts for now. The first and biggest factor had to be the OL. Look at the group for each game.

1 – Peters – Mathis – Kelce – Herremans – Barbre

Those guys started. Barbre got hurt early and Andrew Gardner then played RT. Mathis got hurt and David Molk took over at LG.

2 – Peters – Kelly – Kelce – Herremans – Gardner

3 – Peters – Kelly – Kelce – Herremans – Gardner

Kelce got hurt and Molk played C most of the 2nd half. Peters got ejected in the 4th Qtr and Gardner took his place.

4 – Peters – Tobin – Molk – Kelly – Herremans

5 – Peters – Tobin – Molk – Herremans – Johnson

6 – Peters – Tobin – Molk – Herremans – Johnson

7 – Peters – Tobin – Molk – Herremans – Johnson

Herremans got hurt in the 4th Qtr and was replaced by Gardner

8 – Peters – Tobin – Kelce – Herremans – Johnson

Herremans got hurt in the 2nd half and was replaced by Gardner.

Think about this. Foles had 3 different OL start their first ever game in the NFL while blocking for him this year. Dennis Kelly started his first ever game at LG. Last year Foles had the same 5 guys blocking for him virtually every snap of the season.

Aside from blocking, there were some receiver issues. Veteran slot receiver Jason Avant was replaced by rookie Jordan Matthews. It took Matthews a couple of games to get his feet under him. He was terrific once he did. Riley Cooper took a step back this year. He was a playmaker in 2013. Not so much this year, to put it mildly.

Foles still made too many mistakes, no matter what the reason. He failed to see some wide open receivers. He had the terrible fumble against the Rams that made that game tougher than it should have been. Foles threw a pair of terrible INTs in the Giants game. He was just sloppy.

At the same time, Foles went 6-2 as the starter. And the Eagles easily could have won the 2 games that ended as losses. Cooper failed to catch a great pass in the end zone that would have given the Eagles a lead with about a minute left in the SF game. There were numerous chances on offense and defense to win the ARZ game.

One of the biggest arguments for Foles is that he has the presence of a starting QB. Like it or not, intangibles matter at that position. Foles always takes the blame when things go wrong. He always shares the praise when things go right. His teammates seem to genuinely love him.

The Eagles had 3 impressive comeback victories to open the 2014 season. Foles made some really key plays in the wins over WAS and IND. He was clutch. Mark Sanchez won 4 games as the starter. There were blowouts of TEN, DAL and CAR. There was a tight win over the Giants in the season finale. When things were good with Sanchez, they were very good. He did lead the Eagles back from deficits in games against DAL and WAS, but ended up losing both. An INT by Sanchez really hurt the Eagles in the Cowboys game and an INT ended the Skins game.

Foles played in a huge game late in the 2013 season. He led the Eagles to a win over Dallas that secured the NFC East title and a playoff berth. When Foles left the field in the playoff game against the Saints, the Eagles had the lead. He’s not scared of the big moments. He can handle pressure situations, which is one of the key tests for how good a QB really is.

Watch these 2013 highlights. You forget how good Foles looked at times.

I’m not telling you Foles is the answer at QB and the Eagles are all set. I do think we might be a bit quick in dismissing him. I don’t know that the Eagles are going to find a better QB for 2015. And I think Foles can play a lot better than he did in 2014.

The one issue that can’t be ignored is durability. Foles has gotten hurt in each of his 3 NFL seasons. If he is the Eagles starter this year, they need a quality backup in place.

Chip Kelly will keep looking for QBs until he finds his guy, but it is possible that guy is already on the team. The 2014 version of Foles looked like someone you would want as your backup. The 2015 version better be a whole lot better if he plans on remaining a starting QB.

It is easy to say we’d prefer a true franchise QB to Foles. It would be great to have a clear-cut star to build the franchise around. But that is an abstract idea. Reality says we need to judge Foles against available players. Would you rather have Foles or Jay Cutler? Foles or Kirk Cousins? Geno Smith? Brian Hoyer? Would you trade Foles straight up for Johnny Football right now?

If somehow Marcus Mariota falls to pick 12 or 15 or something like that and you can go for him, fine. I just think that is extremely unlikely. There are too many other teams ahead of the Eagles that are desperate for QB help.

If Foles isn’t the guy for 2015, who is?

You can draft Brett Hundley or Bryce Petty or Blake Sims and try to develop them, but none of those guys are ready to play. Unless Chip Kelly can pull off a miracle, it sure seems like Foles will be the best option for starting QB in 2015.


Are the Eagles Close?

Posted: January 26th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 250 Comments »

Some of the fans who comment here, on Twitter or who hit me up via email think the Eagles are a descending team, not that far from coming apart. Jason Kelce thinks the Eagles are close to being a great team. I agree with Jason.

2014 was a disappointing season, but I think some people have trouble putting that in perspective. The O-line was a mess all year. The starting QB only played 8 games. The team led the league in turnovers. And yet that team went 10-6 and just missed going to the playoffs.

The Eagles just had the most guys in the Pro Bowl.

Have you ever seen a greater collection of football talent?

The Eagles have the best STs in the NFL.

They have one of the best offenses.

Chip Kelly is at the very least a good coach, maybe a great one.

Are there issues with this football team? Yes. Heck yes. But that is true of 30 or so teams. Because we follow the Eagles closely, we obsess on the trouble spots for this team. We say that the OL is getting old (and it is). But 2 of the starters are good young players. Change one more guy and the OL is mostly young. Some fans act as if all 5 starters are 34. Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce are young players who will be Eagles for quite a while.

Kelce sees the cup as half full, as the Eagles being close to greatness.

“I really believe that,” Kelce said on Friday following Pro Bowl practice for Team Carter at Scottsdale Community College. The Pro Bowl is played on Sunday night and Kelce, a first-time Pro Bowl player, is enjoying his time in Arizona with the game’s best players. “We won 10 games this year and there were a lot of points during the season when we were really, really good. Really what it comes down to is consistency and we know that.

“We need to make a couple of corrections in this offseason, get a few pieces and I think we’ll go from a good team to a great team.”

Kelce is exactly right about the need for consistency. The Eagles have the talent to be a 12-win team. They just didn’t play consistently well. They were sloppy and made way too many mistakes. The 2013 team didn’t make those mistakes and it helped them to get to the postseason.

I have no idea why the 2014 team made so many mistakes. There weren’t just one or two people to blame. The group took turns making mistakes. At least that shows togetherness, right?

It is easier to work with talented players on fixing mistakes than it is to go acquire talent. The coaches do have a challenge in getting this group to play better, but would you rather be Chip Kelly with that task or Gus Bradley with trying to find 22 guys who can play?

As Kelce mentioned, the Eagles do need to add talent. No one would tell you the Eagles are good enough as-is. At least half the secondary must be replaced. Players, coaches, fans and the media all know this team needs some help.

The key here is that there is a very good foundation in place. Kelly has got his program running and the Eagles are moving into Year 3 of Kellyball. The STs are the best in football. The offense is close to being a great unit. The front seven on defense is close to being outstanding. The secondary is a complete mess that needs a lot of work. Hopefully the hiring of Cory Undlin as DBs coach will be the first step in getting that group to be “okay”, if not better.

I wish the Eagles were the defending Super Bowl champs making a run at their second title. Unfortunately that’s the Seahawks. The Eagles are trying to get to that point. They need the current players to play better in 2015 and they need some outside talent if they are going to take the next step forward.

The Eagles aren’t there yet, but they are close.

Disagree with me all you want, but you can’t disagree with the sexiest man in Philadelphia.

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Closing in on Chris Polian?

Posted: January 25th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 147 Comments »

Chip Kelly’s search for a personnel director might be progressing.

Polian is not my preferred choice for the job, but there is a case to be made for him. First, he certainly has the experience. He began working in the NFL in 1994. Obviously Polian got into the league because of his dad, but he stayed for 20 years. Chris was fired by Indy after the 2011 season. He was then hired by the Falcons for the 2012 season. Longtime friend Dave Caldwell got the GM job in Jacksonville in 2013 and brought Polian along to be his Pro Personnel Director.

Chris worked with some really smart, really successful people. Guys like Dom Anile, Tom Telesco, Dave Caldwell, Tom Gamble and Thomas Dimitroff are all excellent personnel evaluators with strong track records.

Chris had chances to leave the Colts while working for his dad, but didn’t.

Dom Anile calls Chris Polian “the best research-and-development guy I’ve ever seen.” In recent years, his duties have grown to include contract negotiations, and he has helped modernize the team’s personnel department, aiding the transition to computers in a way that not only streamlined the college scouting process but helped merge it with the pro player-personnel system into one seamless whole.

When the Miami Dolphins came calling two years ago with an opportunity in their front office, owner Jim Irsay stepped up to convince the younger Polian to stay in Indianapolis. After talking with his wife about the possible new job, Chris Polian didn’t need much convincing. “I was talking with her on the phone and she said, ‘If your name was Joe Blow, and you were somewhere else, and had a chance to work with Bill Polian and Tony Dungy in Indianapolis, what would you do?’ I said, ‘We’d put the house up for sale and we’d get our ass up there.’ That settled it. One, she was right. Two, I guess other people’s interest in me confirmed that I had some competency. I’ve kind of made my peace with the fact that I’ve only worked for my father.”

Tom Gamble worked for the Colts from 1998-2004, alongside Chris. Chip Kelly thinks highly of Gamble. You wonder if he reached out to him to ask about Polian. There are some rumors that the reason Gamble left the Colts is that Chris got promoted over him and some others. I have no idea if that is true or just idle speculation.

I would not want Chris Polian to come to the Eagles as “The Man”. He had that role for 3 years in Indy and things did not go well. In his defense, the Colts were cutting back on scouting costs and he didn’t have the kind of resources the team used when they were built into a juggernaut.

Chip Kelly is looking for someone to be his right-hand man. He needs someone that can gather, organize and prepare information for him. I do think Polian can handle this task. He did a lot of that in Jacksonvill over the past 2 years. This video interview offers some good insight into his role.

Polian failed in Indy. You can bet that was a huge piece of humble pie for him and he’s going to be a very different guy if given another position of power. That could also help in dealing with Kelly and stepping into an awkward front office situation.

My preference is still Scott Fitterer from Seattle, but it just doesn’t seem like that is going to happen.

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Rick Gosselin put the Eagles as the #1 STs unit in the NFL. I wrote about that for PE.com. Beyond the good play, I wanted to look at how the group was built. It took a couple of offseasons, but Kelly fixed that unit. Let’s hope he can do the same with the defense.

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