2nd Half – PHI 17 , PIT 0

Posted: August 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 161 Comments »

This is the Eagles team we’ve been waiting for. Productive offense, solid defense.

The Steelers look like a mess. Preseason road games tend to bring out the worst in teams (just see the previous 2 weeks).

Lots of interesting stuff to discuss after the game. Fingers crossed on staying healthy.

_


PS #3 – PIT at PHI – 1st Half

Posted: August 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 334 Comments »

Stay healthy. Get the ball to the WRs. Keep the opponent under 40 points.

How are those for some goals?


Three’s Company

Posted: August 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 102 Comments »

Move over Alex Henery and Carey Spear. There is a new guy in town and his name is Cody Parkey. The Eagles dealt RB David Fluellen to the Colts for Parkey, a rookie PK from Auburn.

We don’t know a lot about Parkey. PE.com did have some details.

Undrafted out of Auburn, Parkey signed with the Colts following this spring’s NFL Draft. He went 2-for-2 on field goals with the Colts during the preseason, including a 45-yarder. At Auburn, Parkey finished his senior season 14-of-19 on field goals while ranking first in the nation with 69 touchbacks.

That last bit of info is key. Parkey has a strong leg and is very good on kickoffs. Even if Parkey isn’t good enough to win a roster spot now, he could be a practice squad candidate. It will be interesting to see how much work Parkey gets in the next 2 games.

As for Fluellen, he was impressive in the preseason opener, going 6-25 on the ground. I didn’t think he had NFL athletic ability based on college tape, but he was better than expected that day. Still, those numbers don’t jump out the way that Henry Josey’s did (8-56). Chip Kelly loves big plays. He’s going to side with the more explosive RB over the bigger guy in a lot of situations. He certainly did in this case. Fluellen’s health is also a factor. He missed the last game and UDFAs can’t afford to be hurt at this time of the year.

Good luck to Fluellen in Indy.

* * * * *

Is it fair for Chip (and other NFL coaches) to pressure players in the summer? Unfortunately, yes.

Football is a hard sport. Durability is generally the most underrated trait among players. We talk about guys being injury prone in regard to season-ending injuries (ACLs, shoulders, etc.), but we don’t always appreciate how hard it is for guys to make it through the daily grind and not have a sore back, hyperextended knee, sprained elbow, bum ankle, hamstring, etc.

Nolan Carroll was great in camp. But we have yet to see him in a preseason game. Curtis Marsh and Roc Carmichael haven’t exactly lit it up, but at least they’ve been on the field.

One of the key reasons David Fluellen was dealt is that he’s hurt. Chris Polk is under extreme pressure to get back on the field and show what he can do. The Eagles like him, but if he can’t go, he’s useless to the team. That’s the harsh, cruel reality of the NFL.

I really hope Polk and Tucker are able to go next week. Play well in the finale and a lot can be forgiven. Miss any more time and the Eagles might be looking for another RB.

* * * * *

A few of you had some questions you wanted answered.

Why didn’t the Eagles address ILB in the draft? Let’s focus on a couple of points here. First, let’s not make a mountain out of a mole hill. The Eagles have good starting ILBs. The question comes with the backups. And even that isn’t some crisis. Najee Goode played well off the bench last year. He might be just fine as the #3 ILB this year.

The disappointment is that Jason Phillips couldn’t make the full comeback from his ACL injury, Jake Knott hasn’t been healthy this summer and Emmanuel Acho looks so-so, but not nearly as good as he did last year.

All that said, the Eagles did want an ILB in the draft. The right guy wasn’t available at the right spot. ILB will be more of a priority position this year since DeMeco Ryans isn’t getting any younger.

What is the point of cross-training LBs? Is that hard?  Chip Kelly has done this kind of stuff since he got here. Remember Clay Harbor at LB and Jason Avant at DB? Kelly wants to get the most out his gameday roster that he absolutely can. That means backups often need to know multiple positions.

I think Long can play ILB. He lacks the ideal speed and range, but he is tough and relentless. He’s not afraid to battle blockers so he can stay clean on the inside and then get to the ball. And remember that we’re not looking for someone to be good at this. The only way one of these guys plays is due to lots of injuries. The player just has to be good enough.

Barner as a RS. Kenjon Barner isn’t Devin Hester or Brian Mitchell, but he does have experience. He posted solid stats at Oregon. He returned both punts and kickoffs. He had a TD in each category. No one is trying to make the guy out to be some star, but that’s a successful college track record as a RS. He’s not here in Philly to be The Guy, but rather to add depth and challenge for a spot.

_


Backup ILBs and More on Barner

Posted: August 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 126 Comments »

Jason Phillips is out. He had played okay through 2 games, but my guess is that the Eagles saw he no longer had the agility or athleticism to play in the NFL. He could attack downhill, but that’s just not enough in the NFL. ILBs must be able to cover a lot of space. They must be able to tackle athletes in tough one-on-one situations. That requires agility and body control.

The starting ILBs look just fine. That’s the good news.

Behind them is a bit of a mystery. Najee Goode is the #3 ILB. He played well last year. He played well in camp. But he has yet to stand out during the games. That’s not really a concern, but it would make you feel better if he had one game where you could go “Yep, that’s exactly what we wanted to see.”

After Goode, things are wide open. Jake Knott is the player the team hoped would have the #4 spot. Things are very complicated with him. Knott is suspended for the first 4 games of the year. Just as bad, he’s been hurt part of the summer. Knott hasn’t played yet in the preseason. The team would really love to get a feel for where he is. They need him to play in a game.

Emmanuel Acho looked like a combination of Byron Evans, Jeremiah Trotter and Chuck Bednarik last summer. He made a ton of plays in the preseaon. This year he’s been okay, but hasn’t stood out at all. He could be the #4 ILB for now, but that’s hardly written in stone.

Believe it or not, Casey Matthews can still make this team. He can be a good STer and he can play ILB or OLB. Chip Kelly loves versatility. Josh Kaddu is the forgotten man at ILB. He’s last into the games. Kaddu is the longest of long shots. Reportedly, Travis Long will get crosstrained. The Eagles like him as an OLB, but will also get him snaps at ILB.

You can bet the Eagles will be scanning the waiver wire to see who gets cut. Keep in mind, they don’t need a starter. They don’t need a veteran. The Eagles are looking for depth. There could be some player from recent drafts that gets cut who the Eagles had interest in. They don’t have to make a move, but if the right guy is available, they certainly could.

* * * * *

More on the RB situation.

Someone posed the question that “shouldn’t the Eagles have just kept Bryce Brown?”. No. The Eagles got really good value for him. And remember that Darren Sproles has taken his spot as the primary backup. Also, the Eagles want help in the return game. Brown got mixed in there a bit, but it wasn’t an area where he was much help. Barner has a track record of success from college. We’ll have to see how that translates to the NFL.

Should we be annoyed at adding another Oregon player? I’m not. Chip can add as many Oregon players as he wants, as long as they can fill the required role. If Chip names Barner the starting RB over Shady, I’ve got a problem. If he says Barner is here to compete for a spot in the RB rotation, I’m fine with that.

Chip isn’t over-drafting Oregon players. He’s not handing them deals that are out of line. He’s not giving them starting jobs for no reason. As of now, all of them are backups and role players.

Some of the guys are camp bodies. You have a 90-man roster. There aren’t always 90 guys available that you have a high grade on or think can definitely play in the league. Josh Kaddu and Will Murphy are camp bodies. They have virtually no chance of ever becoming NFL players. How many people remember WR McKay Jacobson or MLB Terence Thomas? They were camp bodies from late in the Reid era. I have no problem with Chip choosing some camp bodies from Oregon. Practice is critical for Kelly. He needs things done a certain way. If the 89th and 90th guys on the team already know how to practice, that saves the coaches having to spend time teaching guys that have no chance. Isn’t that actually a good thing?

_


Eagles Trade for a RB

Posted: August 19th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 111 Comments »

The Eagles had gone for months without making roster moves until Tuesday. Then the floodgates opened, so to speak. In the afternoon, the team cut ILB Jason Phillips. In the evening, the Eagles traded a conditional 7th round pick in the 2015 draft for RB Kenjon Barner of the Carolina Panthers.

While eating dinner tonight I was doing some roster projections. RB was one of the mystery spots. LeSean McCoy will be the workhorse. Darren Sproles (not Foles as I for some reason keep calling him) will be the primary backup and an offensive weapon.

That’s all we know for a fact.

The team wanted Chris Polk to be the #3 RB. They liked what they saw from him last year, but he’s been hurt this summer and hasn’t played in a game yet. Potential and ability are great, but you can”t make the club in the tub, as the old saying goes. Polk has to be considered somewhat of an unknown at this point.

Matthew Tucker had a chance to challenge for a roster spot. He played pretty well in the opener, but did have a bad fumble. He was hurt and missed last week’s game. Tucker is a player the team likes, but he’s still somewhat of an unknown.

UDFA rookie David Fluellen and Henry Josey have each flashed in the preseason games, but neither has looked so good that you are going to hand them a roster spot right now.

I think there is another angle to consider…Josh Huff. He hurt his shoulder in the Pats game. Huff was expected to compete for a spot as a RS. We don’t know if he’s just out for a couple of weeks or might end up on IR. He doesn’t need surgery, but does need time to recover.

Barner is a RB and RS. Kelly coached him for 4 years at Oregon. Barner lacks ideal size at 5-9, 196, but is a good fit for this running attack. He is a North-South runner. He isn’t explosive, but has deceptive speed. Barner has a smooth running style that makes it look like he’s not going all that hard. Barner has excellent balance and okay strength for his size. He doesn’t go down on first contact. He has good vision and moves his feet pretty well, but lacks the ability to make dynamic cuts.

Barner is a role player at RB. He could also help as a RS. From PE.com.

“He averaged 22.5 yards and scored one touchdown on kickoff returns, while averaging 10.1 yards with one touchdown on punt returns in college.”

This is a good move by the Eagles, as long as you keep it in perspective.

Barner wasn’t a lock to make the Panthers and isn’t a lock to make the Eagles. He provides depth for the final 2 preseason games and is here to challenge for a spot. Barner is a good fit for the Eagles running game so it should bring out the best in him. That said, he doesn’t project to be much more than a #3 or #4 RB and RS.

The value is good. The fit is good. Now it is up to Barner to show what he can do.

This is also a hint to Polk, Tucker and the other RBs to get healthy and stay healthy. Chip Kelly believes in the running game. He is going to have a set of RBs that he believes in.

* * * * *

The other big story of the day is that the Eagles are looking at other kickers.

As many writers noted today…this doesn’t mean the team will definitely make a move. They want an upgrade over Alex Henery if possible. The available kickers aren’t exactly great.

It is good to know they are at least watching this position. For a while they seemed awfully stubborn about Henery being the answer at PK. This might be too little, too late, but at least they are now addressing the issue, if only by actively studying players who might be available.

_