Classic Big Red

Posted: July 19th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 57 Comments »

Andy Reid never won a Super Bowl. Andy Reid didn’t run the ball enough. He was too soft on players at times. And so on.

But he’ll always hold a special place in my heart. This story from Brett Favre is classic Big Red.

Great.

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Only if there is an injury or any of the young guys just looks awful. Other than that, let’s see what the young guys can do.

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Jimmy Bama has more on Fletcher Cox and giving him a big deal.

Jimmy also touched on a comment from a Dallas writer that Chip Kelly has the hottest seat of any coach in the NFC East. I don’t get that.

The guy’s point is that Kelly made some risky moves and what happens if they don’t pan out. He is right that Kelly did make some risky moves, but I don’t think Jeff Lurie just gave Chip all that power and would immediately fire him the minute something didn’t work. Lurie sees Chip as a special coach. You give that guy extra time to fix the franchise.

If Kelly has 2 years worth of bad moves…then we have a different discussion. But for now…Kelly isn’t getting fired unless something insanely bizzarre goes down.

A much more interesting question to me is what would Jerry Jones do if Dallas fell right back to 8-8. Would he keep Jason Garrett and go add a stud RB or would he view Garrett’s 2014 success as strictly a product of the players and possibly fire him?

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Good News for August

Posted: July 18th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 16 Comments »

Preseason football just got more interesting.

The Eagles have used a variety of analysts in recent years. The problem is that preseason football isn’t real football. X’s and O’s take a backseat to individual player evaluation. Brian Baldinger is a smart analyst and solid broadcaster, but he seemed lost when discussing some of the bottom of the roster types that were fighting for a job, either on the roster or practice squad.

Mayock should be more natural at this because of his draft analysis. He is used to studying individuals and talking about how they fit in or don’t fit in. He previously did Vikings games in the preseason and I usually enjoyed listening to him.

Glad the Eagles stepped up and got Mayock.

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Need an offensive refresher as we get closer to the 2015 season? ChipWagon has a new post up that will get you in the mood for some football.

Go check that post out. Lots of good info.

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Mark Saltveit has some thoughts up on the Eagles and their DBs.

In short, Chip covets INTs.

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Good Sign for Cox

Posted: July 17th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 136 Comments »

Anyone who saw the movie Rounders should remember the famous line John Malkovich delivered in a nasally, awkward Russian accent – “Pay that man his money.” That’s the way I feel about the Eagles and Fletcher Cox…pay that man his money.

There is some thought that you don’t pay 3-4 DEs big money. Their job is mostly to 2-gap. Find an athletic DT and move  him to DE, ala Cedric Thornton. You can get several years of good play for minimal money. Go spend big money on LBs since they are the true life blood of the 3-4.

That makes sense in a general way, but there are some players you make exceptions for. The Steelers just gave 3-4 DE Cam Heyward a 5-year deal worth $59.25M. The Pats gave big money to Richard Seymour when he was a star for them. JJ Watt deserves every penny that he gets paid.

I think Cox is a man you pay. He is the Eagles best defensive player. Cox makes the guys around him better because of his ability to eat up blockers and make plays. He can push the pocket and create sack opportunities for the OLBs. He can disrupt run plays with penetration and create easy tackle situations for other defenders. Chip Kelly has referred to him as the team’s defensive MVP in the past.

Losing Cox wouldn’t be the same as letting Mychal Kendricks go or losing Thornton. Those guys are good starters, but they aren’t the kind of talents you build a defense around.

Cox is signed through the end of 2016, but it seems like this is the time you’d want to go to him and talk about an extension. Maybe the Eagles want one more year off the rookie deal.

I sure hope the thought process isn’t that “We’ll get 5 good years out of him and then let him go get paid elsewhere.” Finding 3-4 DL who can make plays and 2-gap is hard. You don’t want to overpay someone who is just a good run defender. That’s why Thornton might not get the deal he wants from the Eagles. He is good, but that skill is replaceable.

If you put Cox and Thornton on the market, Thornton would get some phone calls. There are plenty of teams who could use his skills. Cox would talk to 31 teams. Everyone would have some interest in adding an impact defender.

Cox may never have heard of Cam Heyward before today, but you can sure bet he knows him now. 3-4 DEs getting paid is a good sign for Cox. Other than Watt, Cox just might be the best 3-4 DE in the league.

The sky is the limit for him, both on the field and financially.

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Some perspective on the deal from Mike Florio (who is great with contracts).

A source told PFT’s Mike Florio that Heyward’s deal is a five-year extension worth $59.25 million. The new money average of $10.45 million a year is higher than Corey Liuget of the San Diego Chargers and falls just behind Cameron Jordan of the New Orleans Saints.

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Looking for Mr. Right (and Tall)

Posted: July 16th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 116 Comments »

“Big people beat up little people.”

That might be Chip Kelly’s most famous line. Andy Reid liked some big players, but he was more interested in speed an athleticism. Kelly loves size, especially with his defensive linemen. Think about some of the guys he’s had come though Philly.

  • Clifton Geathers – 6-7, 299 – 37 3/4 arms, 11 1/8 hands
  • Joe Kruger – 6-6, 269 – 34 3/8 arms, 10-inch hands
  • Isaac Remington – 6-6, 298
  • David King – 6-5, 286
  • Daryell Walker – 6-6, 285
  • Brandon Bair – 6-6, 276, 33-inch arms, 10 3/8 hands
  • Taylor Hart – 6-6, 281, 32 3/4 arms, 10 1/8 hands
  • Alejandro Villanueva – 6-9, 277
  • Frank Mays – 6-9, 291
  • Brian Mihalik – 6-9, 302
  • Travis Raciti – 6-5, 285
  • BJ McBryde – 6-5, 304

Those are some big human beings.

Kelly isn’t being frivolous in his pursuit of big DEs. He wants them for a reason. That build helps the player be a successful 2-gap DE. Long arms are crucial to 2-gapping. Kelly likes to say that “long levers are strong levers”. When a DE extends his arms into the blocker, he keeps that guy off his body. Then the DE has to see the ball, shed the block and move in the direction of the ball. If the OL gets into the DE’s body, that changes everything.

The big frame helps the DE to keep from getting engulfed by the blocker. Jon Runyan is just going to overwhelm Brandon Graham if they go against each other (how’s that for Michigan on Michigan). If Runyan faces someone that is 6-6, 280, that is a very different battle.

You can tell by looking at the above list that finding big players that are good isn’t easy. The vast majority of high school and college teams aren’t going to use a 2-gap 3-4 scheme. Players just aren’t going to have a ton of experience with that when they get to the NFL. It takes time for them to learn how to 2-gap, let alone how to get good at it.

Think about a guy like Taylor Hart who did play in this scheme in college. He came to the Eagles at 281 pounds and struggled to handle NFL competition. Hart is now reportedly up to over 300 pounds and should be more physically ready for the NFL. This is a huge year for him. Joe Kruger was on a similar path, but didn’t show any real progress in his second season and was cut that summer. Hart is older and more mature so I tend to think he’ll pan out better than that, but whether he ever becomes a starting level player is anybody’s guess.

You can see Hart’s potential as an athletic playmaker in this video.

The key for him is to be able to effectively 2-gap and play the run consistently well.

Mihalik has the potential to be a good DE. I wrote a post on him with some gifs that show his physical ability. I think Travis Raciti has a chance to develop into at least a backup DE.

Kelly is going to keep bringing in big guys until he finds 2 or 3 that he likes. The starting DEs are set, but there is a need for backups and players to develop for the future. Hart, Mihalik and Raciti could be those guys. Maybe BJ McBryde shines in this scheme. He did flash at UConn when watching tape of him. I’m sure the Eagles would love Frank Mays to take a big step forward because of his size. He is massive.

Kelly now needs some of these young, talented players to turn that potential into reality this summer. If not, he’ll be looking at a new set of big guys next offseason.

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Always entertaining.

Needless to say, Dallas fans don’t agree. And they let Jimmy know it. Funny stuff.

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Jimmy on Chip

Posted: July 15th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 115 Comments »

Peter King’s site MMQB is doing a countdown of the 100 most influential people on the 2015 NFL season. Coming in at #3 on that list is none other than our beloved Chip Kelly. Here is the piece by Emily Kaplan.  There are some terrific quotes by Jimmy Johnson.

“When you have one guy making the decisions—like I was in Dallas or Miami, like Bill Belichick is in New England, and now like Chip is—you don’t have a lot of devil’s advocates. You don’t have a lot of people who work for you second-guessing you. If you have a committee involved in the decision-making, 95% of the time, you’re going to be conservative. There’s always going to be one person saying, ‘Oh, I don’t know about this,’ or, ‘Wait, let’s think about that.’ When one guy makes the decision, you take chances. That’s what Chip has done this year.

“I’m a fan of Chip Kelly. I like what he’s doing. The biggest concern I have is that even though they’ve been the healthiest team in the league the last couple years, because of his holistic approach with sports science and nutrition, he’s taking some big risks trading and obtaining players with major injuries. That’s the only concern I have.

“You don’t let media or pundits affect you, but of course you are aware of what they’re saying. It was both comical and hurtful. Even though you found it comical because you knew they had no idea what you were trying to do, nobody wants to be criticized. At times, it would almost feel personal. It had nothing to do with your decision-making, it had to do with the fact that they just didn’t like you—because you rubbed somebody wrong. Maybe you didn’t do right by one of their favorite players, which Chip has done, which I did, which Belichick has done. With Belichick, he has the credibility so people accept it. Late in my career, they began to accept it. With Chip right now, people are not accepting it. Some people are not accepting trading LeSean McCoy. Some people are not accepting cutting Evan Mathis. Until you win big, people are going to criticize you.

“Chip and I have talked a couple of times, and he’s a very private guy; so much of what we discuss should not be shared. But I did give him one piece of advice this year. He wanted to know what it’s like to be the decision maker as well as the coach. I told him this: You have an advantage in the draft because you know these players. You’ve been in a lot of their homes, you’ve watched them play closely. So the draft is when guys like you and I have the advantage. The problem I ran into in Miami (I didn’t have it in Dallas because free agency had just begun) was that during the season, I was so busy that I couldn’t stay on top of all of the things I wanted to: picking up players from the street, making some moves, especially on the bottom end of your roster. You’re so busy prepping with your current team for that week’s game that you can’t do it all by yourself. The job is overwhelming to do it 12 months of the year all by yourself. I found that out. My advice would be to have somebody—and not a group of people, just one person that you trust, that you like, that’s loyal, that’s like-minded—do those type of things. That will help because during the season itself, the job can be a little overwhelming. But in the offseason? The draft and free agency? Take advantage of your talents. You’re good at evaluating players because you did it in college just like I did in college, so that’s where you can shine. But during the season is when you’re going to need a little bit of help.

“Here’s the big question: Do you want to play it safe and be good or do you want to take a chance and be great? If you’re not afraid to fail, you can do some great things in this league. But most people are afraid to fail, so they play it safe. I always liked to take risks because I was always confident in my abilities. I think—no, I know—Chip is confident in his abilities, too.”

Chip isn’t afraid to fail. I know I’ve said that a few times and I’m sure some of you are sick of hearing it. But I can’t stress enough how important that is.

The old axiom in football is that more games are lost than are won. Avoid mistakes and you won’t lose. Joe Paterno preached this. Marty Schottenheimer was a huge advocate in the NFL. Don’t turn the ball over. Avoid penalties. Don’t be afraid to punt. You do win a lot of games if you have some talent and get your players to play it safe. But you won’t win many championships.

That isn’t to say if you suddenly take risks you are going to win. You have to keep them in your arsenal, though. And they can’t be “safe” risks. You don’t go for it on 4th/1 at the opponents 39 and think of that as a risk. If you fail, the opponent is still on his side of the field. Go for it when the other team isn’t expecting it…from your 39. That’s a risk. You make that call because you have prepared your players on how to execute the play properly and think they’ll do it. You expect the play to work, but you’re willing to deal with the circumstances if it fails.

Risk might be a personnel move or a coaching hire. It might involve who you draft or the kind of scheme you run. Kelly has taken plenty of risks since coming to Philly. More have worked than failed, but this year will be the real test with the moves that brought in Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray, Kiko Alonso, and Byron Maxwell, as well as the non-moves that led to Allen Barbre at LG, a competition at RG and Walter Thurmond playing FS.

Not all of those moves are going to work. And yet if one or two pans out better than hoped, that might help put this team over the hump.

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