Posted: December 8th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 24 Comments »
90 minutes til kickoff. Excited yet?
The inactives are:
QB M Barkley
RB M Tucker
OL D Kelly
OL M Tobin
LB N Goode
CB C Marsh
DB E Wolff
No major surprises for Detroit. CB Darius Slay is out while CB Chris Houston is active.
Big plays are going to be critical today. In the last 4 games, Nick Foles leads the NFL with 22 completions of 20 or more yards. Matt Stafford is 4th with 19. The Lions give up more big plays than the Eagles.
There is light snow in Philly already. Detroit is a dome team, but it is hard to say how much they’ll be affected by the weather. Detroit is obviously a cold-weather city so the players won’t be caught completely off guard. Also, they play away games in GB and CHI every year. You can bet that they’ve played in some cold weather in the past few years.
I’m interested to see how Nick Foles handles bad weather. This is another good test for him. Bad weather only usually affects 1 to 2 games a year, but it is something to keep in mind since it can be a factor in the postseason.
Riley Cooper has gone 2 games without a TD catch. I’m betting that changes today.
2 big concerns for me…tackling Johnson once he’s made the catch and handling stunts. Megatron is a force of nature. Eagles DBs need to use good form in pursuing, hitting and tackling him. The Eagles OL has had some issues with stunts this year. Detroit likes to do that. The Biggies need to communicate well and make sure they don’t let rushers come free after Foles.
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Want a quick non-Eagles distraction?
Dan Graziano reported today that Mike Shanahan almost quit last year due to concerns about the Dan Snyder-RG3 relationship. This would be a really interesting report…if it wasn’t Graziano. For those who don’t know, he seems to have a close relationship with the Shanny’s. He’s rarely critical of them and has gotten some odd scoops on the Skins. He feels like a designated source for them. If they want info out, they leak it to him. Nobody knows this for sure, but you can make a pretty good case for it.
The funny thing to me is reflecting on something Graziano said on Twitter back in the summer. He made the prediction that Chip Kelly would be the first of the NFC East coaches to either get fired or leave.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA … repeat that over and over.
Tom Coughlin, Shanny and Jason Garrett could all be gone before Kelly even gets the toilet in his Philly home broken in just right. That was an utterly absurd prediction from Graziano and boy did he get defensive when confronted about it. I don’t know if anyone has asked him about that prediction today.
No matter what you think of Graz’s report, the Skins are a mess. The Shanny’s are not happy. Snyder isn’t happy. And RG3 is a young QB caught in the middle of team drama. Have fun with that.
Posted: December 8th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 76 Comments »
There seems to be a subdued buzz for the Lions-Eagles game. This might be a good thing. That could help the Eagles players stay focused and not get too caught in the trappings of the game.
I wrote my preview for PE.com.
My prediction is Eagles 58, Lions 37.
No wait…that’s dumb. No NFL game could ever end in the score of 58 to 37. Silly of me.
I am willing to bet a 12-pack of PBR that the game won’t be a 6-3 defensive struggle.
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Mike Florio is at it again. After a couple of recent articles on the drafting of Nick Foles, Florio put up a gem of a post.
If you want to know the articles he’s referring to, here ya go.
Here is Jeff McLane’s story.
Here is Reuben Frank’s story.
Florio had this to say.
Now that Nick Foles has become Nick Freaking Foles, you’ll hear no chatter about what might have been in Philly. Instead, the current buzz centers on the front office’s foresight.
That’s the gist of the latest item from Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com, with extensive quotes from G.M. Howie Roseman: The Eagles saw in Foles that which no one else did.
Fine. So why did they nearly trade for Kaepernick? And why did they covet Wilson? And why did someone (possibly with the Eagles) leak that in September?
The competing, albeit chronologically separate, quarterback narratives hint at a certain amount of insecurity in the organization, especially as it relates to the selection of players before the arrival of coach Chip Kelly. While the Eagles successfully concealed for months the post-Andy Reid power structure, word eventually emerged that Kelly negotiated final say over personnel as part of his deal.
As a result, Roseman sets the table for Kelly. And Roseman needs Kelly to regard Roseman as a competent table setter. Otherwise, Kelly eventually could have the power to hire his own guy to set the table.
In September, the message is that Roseman wanted Kaepernick or Wilson over Foles. Now, the message is that Roseman wanted Foles.
The Eagles did like Foles last year prior to the draft. But no one…and I mean NO ONE…thought Foles was going to play like this. Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, Howie Roseman and Foles parents would all tell you that this is a surprise. If anyone thought Foles could become a star QB, he’d have been taken in the 1st round or early 2nd.
No person inside the Eagles organization is trying to create the impression that the Eagles knew that Foles would play like this. They liked the guy. They thought he was a talented QB that could be developed. Simple as that. Howie Roseman went out of his way to give credit to Reid. How the hell is that Roseman trying to make himself look good?
Florio is obsessed with ulterior motives and conspiracies. Ugh.
The Eagles had other QB plans. Reid admitted that he went after Alex Smith last year. SF wouldn’t give him up. There are rumors that SF did offer Colin Kaepernick, but that didn’t work out. The Eagles then focused on Russell Wilson and Foles in the draft. You can bet that Reid coveted Andrew Luck and RG3, but just didn’t have the ammo to get them. Let’s not confuse the issue. One of the reasons the Eagles wanted Foles and Wilson is because they would be available outside the 1st round. The only QB who was close to the Eagles picking spot was Ryan Tannehill. I’ve heard mixed things about the Eagles interest in him.
As for Foles, let’s also eliminate this idea that he’s some incredible find. Foles played at a major football school. He started for 3 years. He played in 2 bowl games. He went to the Senior Bowl and Combine. Everyone in the football world knew about Nick Foles. Most people had him rated as a mid-round type of guy.
Trent Dilfer loved Foles. He said in December of 2011 that Foles should be a 1st round pick. Foles got the Senior Bowl invite because teams wanted to see him up close.
For whatever reason, Foles struggled in Mobile and at the Combine. He was up and down at his Pro Day. The Eagles went beyond that and scheduled a private workout. The Eagles were the only team to do that. Other teams felt that all the game tape and other workouts told them enough. The Eagles decided to be more thorough and it paid off.
No one person gets credit for the drafting of Foles. The scouting staff, assistant coaches, Reid and Roseman all had a hand in it. Just as importantly, Foles was developed well by Reid, his coaches, Kelly and his coaches.
Posted: December 7th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 115 Comments »
We all love Nick Foles now. He’s the greatest QB ever. He’s Nickfoleon Dynamite.
But where did he come from? My guess was that a secret government lab combined the DNA of Ben Franklin, Brian Dawkins and Dr. J and created Nick from that. Jeff McLane seems to think he simply was drafted from the University of Arizona. That just sounds way too simple to land the greatest player in NFL history. But we’ll go with his version for now.
Great article here by Jeff McLane on how the Eagles got Nick Foles. Jeff talked to several people on how the scouting and drafting of Foles went down.
One day during the 2012 offseason, Marty Mornhinweg turned on the college tape of Nick Foles and liked what he saw. So he walked down the second floor corridor at the NovaCare Complex and into Andy Reid’s office.
“I said, ‘Have you seen this Foles kid?’” Mornhinweg said recently to The Inquirer. “So he watches him, likes what he’s watching and says, ‘Where’s Doug?’”
Doug Pederson, the Eagles quarterback coach, was on the road. He was working out other quarterbacks and by coincidence was scheduled next to be in Phoenix to visit Brock Osweiler, the 6-foot-7 Arizona State quarterback.
“We’re like, shoot, let’s get him over to work out Foles instead,” Mornhinweg recalled. “So we had our people redirect Doug to Tuscon.”
Who knew Marty Mornhinweg was so wise?
I fully admit that I wasn’t on the Foles bandwagon when he was drafted. I thought he was off target too often and that WR Juron Criner made circus catches on a regular basis that made Foles look better than he was. I didn’t see a very good athlete. And I’m not a huge fan of QBs that are 6-5, 240. I prefer guys that are 6-3, 225 and have mobility.
I was also nervous about some of Foles bad moments. He struggled as a Senior, although that largely due to a terrible OL. There was a bowl game in his Soph year when he was destroyed by Nebraska. Foles went 9-29-48. To be fair, Ndamukong Suh was literally unblockable that day. It was like watching a high school kid play football against 5th graders.
Foles got my attention in the 2012 preseason. He played when Vick went down and looked good. He was comfortable on the field and that was the first thing that I liked. Some rookies look overwhelmed. Foles acted like he belonged. He also played like it and that’s when Folesmania started.
I only think it is fair that Foles send Mornhinweg one of his Super Bowl rings.
* * * * *
Let’s talk more about Brad Smith playing QB. In a previous comments section, AC Viking posted his argument against it. Why take Foles out of the game and put in a gimmick player? Would you do this with Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? This is a reasonable question and a good argument.
But I still disagree.
The Red Zone is a condensed space. Defenses are packed tightly and they play aggressively. If you can figure out a reasonable way to trick them, there is nothing wrong with that.
Is it bad to line up in the I-formation and then give the ball to the FB up the middle when you’ve got a star RB behind him? Is it wrong to run a reverse or end around and give the ball to a WR? What about faking to the RB and throwing to an OL or the #3 TE? These are all tricks.
Smith is a player that can run and pass. When you put him at QB, you have the option to run or throw the ball. His very presence on the field can affect the defense. That could make a simple hand-off to Shady McCoy effective. If the DE freezes for half a second because he thinks Smith might run, that could be enough of a delay for Shady to get up the field. If Smith keeps the ball, he’s athletic enough to make a 5-yard run without needing the defense to be completely fooled. Foles needs a ton of room. Smith doesn’t.
Using a player like Smith in certain situations is fine. That’s taking advantage of your resources. If you take Foles out as the QB on a regular basis, I’ve got a problem with that. If you simply use Smith from time to time, that’s fine. It gives the defense one other issue to deal with.
* * * * *
How much of Foles 2nd half issues can be attributed to his youth?
Tough question. There is no doubt that things get different in a game where one team is trailing. They play more aggressively. They take chances they didn’t in the 1st half. Does he adjust well to the defensive adjustments?
The problem with figuring this out is that we don’t see him throw enough to really know. Foles doesn’t look lost out there, but he does seem different. Maybe that’s just perception. We know the offense changes, as there is more of an emphasis on working the clock.
Foles still has a ton to learn and he’s nowhere close to maximizing his talent. QBs need time to develop and perfect playing that position. Hopefully experience will help his play in the 4th quarter of games.
* * * * *
I watched the HOU/JAX game the other night. Wow, Case Keenum and Chad Henne were both bad. Henne has started 47 NFL games, but still made some plays that would make you think he’s a rookie.
Keenum is young, but made some awful throws. His INT, where Andre Johnson was wide open, was dreadful. Keenum needed to put the ball over the DB. Instead, he threw the ball softly and right to the DB.
Each of those guys flashed potential at times. But the more they played, the more you could see warts. Defenses adjusted to them and those QBs didn’t have the right answer.
Foles is in Year 2. He’s started 6 games this year. Teams know who he is and what he can do. But they aren’t stopping him. That’s a very good sign. Seeing that crapfest the other night made me really appreciate Foles.
Posted: December 6th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 44 Comments »
The Detroit Lions come to Philly on Sunday. They’re 7-5 and coming off a blowout win. Wait…that sounds familiar. The Cardinals came to town last week at 7-4 on the heels of a blowout win over the Colts.
The Cards had a terrific defense and hot offense. Detroit is the opposite. Explosive offense and hot defense.
Fran Duffy did a great All-22 preview of the Lions and what they like to do on defense and offense.
The question most people will focus on is how to slow down Megatron, WR Calvin Johnson. He is one of the most dominant players in the entire NFL. Think of him as the Donnie Jones of WRs.
In a way, the schedule-maker did the Eagles a big favor by having them play Arizona and Detroit in consecutive weeks. The Eagles got to try some things against Larry Fitzgerald last week. The coaches have to see what worked well and what can be done this week when they try to deal with Johnson. You don’t just put a CB on him. You don’t just give him a double team. You must be creative with Johnson. You’re not going to stop him. The goal is to make life difficult for him. By doing that, you also make things hard on QB Matt Stafford.
The Eagles did a pretty good job vs Fitz. They were physical with him. LBs regularly jammed him at the LOS. That kept Fitz from getting a clean release and into his routes smoothly. Other times the Eagles used bracket coverage, with one defender under Fitz and another over the top. Sometimes this was a LB and a S. Other times it was a CB and a S. Expect more of the same vs Megatron.
The Eagles got a bit of potentially good news today. Lions CB Darius Slay has now been listed as doubtful due to an injury. He’s their most talented CB. They have CB Chris Houston coming off injury from the previous game so that secondary could be vulnerable if the Eagles can give Nick Foles time to find the open guy.
Matt Bowen, former NFL DB and now an analyst for Bleacher Report, did a fantastic video explaining some of the route concepts the Eagles like to use. This is must-watch material.
* * * * *
I’ve got a slew of questions from people that I’ll answer in another post later this evening.
Posted: December 5th, 2013 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 122 Comments »
Big win for the Eagles. The Cards came to town with a 4-game win streak and lots of confidence. They had a top shelf defense and a hot offense. They had a veteran QB. The Eagles were going to have to earn this victory.
That’s just what they did.
The Eagles totally outplayed the Cards in building a 24-7 lead. The Eagles were better on offense, defense and STs. From that point on, things got a bit sloppy and the Cardinals started playing with some pep in their step. They made the game close at the end, but the Eagles were able to do just enough to hold on for the win.
Were the Cardinals exposed by playing their first tough competition in a while? To a certain extent, yes. But this is still a tough Cardinals team. Bruce Arians has them headed in the right direction. They need OL help in a big way, but having Palmer gives them a functional veteran QB and that is a huge improvement over the slop they’ve put on the field since Kurt Warner retired. Another huge point for them is the development of WR Michael Floyd. The Eagles focused on limiting Larry Fitzgerald. They did a good job of that, but Floyd was able to make plays and keep the offense going. The Cards won’t sink or swim based on Fitz anymore.
I don’t think this was any kind of statement game from the Eagles. They didn’t play with a chip on their shoulders. They didn’t do anything special. This was a tough, methodical win. It should impress you that the Eagles were able to play solid football and beat a 7-4 team. Even when the Eagles were up 24-7, they hadn’t played great. For every good thing they did, there was something sloppy. The Eagles still have yet to play one game where they hit on all cylinders. That’s good news. You’d rather have that happen later in the season. It would be ideal for that to happen in the final month. There are no guarantees the Eagles will play a great game. They certainly didn’t in 2012.
One of the big topics coming out of this game was the officiating. Bruce Arians sent 15 plays to the league that he wanted addressed. He wanted the calls/non-calls explained to him. After re-watching the game, I do think the Eagles got the better of the officiating. But I still don’t think Arians handled the situation well. There were bad moments for each team. Mychal Kendricks was clearly held by the C when he blitzed up the middle on a play. That happened to be the 43-yard TD pass to Fitzgerald. That was a huge, huge non-call. The Cards should have been facing 3rd/30. Now, you can argue that with the Eagles defense, they’d have still gotten the 1st down and sadly…I can’t strongly dispute that. The point is that both teams benefited from missed calls.
There was a lot of discussion about the officiating late in the game. The Eagles DBs got away with contact, while the Cards drew a penalty that ended the game. A lot of people are missing the key angle to this. The officials allowed contact downfield for both teams. The Eagles did get away with illegal contact. The Cards were flagged for holding. That is completely different from illegal contact. When Roc Carmichael grabbed a TE’s jersey and had his hands all over the guy, that got called. That went beyond contact. That absolutely affected the play and drew the flag. The questionable plays on the Cards final drive involved contact, but not holding or grabbing receivers down the field. Even Darryl Johnston, who had one of his worst games as an announcer, said on the air that the officials have let contact go the whole game. And frankly, that’s what we want. Let the players play. Don’t over-officiate. If there is no clear advantage gained, let it go. The penalty on Carmichael was a good call. He took away the receiver’s chance to catch the ball. I’m fine with the non-calls. Those receivers still had a legit chance to make catches. And the holding call on the Cards was absolutely the right call. The OLB didn’t let the TE release into his route. He had a hanful of jersey, clear as day. That’s the very definition of holding.
The Eagles are now 1-0 in December. They have a 2-game winning streak at The Linc. And they are tied for the 1st place in the NFC East with a 7-5 record. God, what a difference a year makes. Thank you Chip Kelly. Read the rest of this entry »